Thus saith the Lord

Paul writes to his “son in the faith” in 2 Tim 3:16

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness

All Scripture is God-breathed (Gr. θεόπνευστος). Not only did God choose to breath the universe into existence as we read in Ps 33:6 – “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth,” but God choose to breath out Scripture. Scripture is not a product of man, but of God. 359 times do we read these words, “Thus saith the Lord.” It is God-breathed and thus carries divine authority and is profitable for the guiding of both faith and life.

The Holy Bible

Concerning faith it tells us in whom to believe, the one true God of the Bible, in what to believe, His Holy truth. Concerning life, Peter explains it best in 2 Pet 1:3 – “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” All that this life entails for the believer, everything under the sun, and more importantly walking in “the newness of life” (Rom 6:4), we have been provided with the sufficient and sustaining power to manifest godliness, holiness, and obedience to His precious Word.

The church cannot simply give lip service to this great doctrine, but must weave this great thread of truth into the fabric of church governance and living. Depending on their “diet,” it may take a church body a while to attain to a high view of Scripture. Just “think in every line you read that God is speaking to you” is what the Puritan pastor Thomas Watson would say to us.

To this day, we only transmit what we have received. The human authors received their message directly from God. Jeremiah testified, “the word of the Lord came to me” (Jer 1:4). God put His words in his mouth (v. 9). Paul did not “confer with flesh and blood” (Gal 1:16). He received his message directly from the Lord. The Apostle John was explicitly told, “what you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches” (Rev 1:11). Though no apostles exist today, we continue that same level of commitment to transmit only what we have received. I love the practical advice Paul gives to the church at Corinth, “learn not to exceed what is written” (1 Cor 4:6).

At times we may have to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3) because of the culture we live in, but we must be faithful to declare to all, “thus saith the Lord.”

It begins in the pulpit. It is lived out in the attitudes of the people as they remind one another that our opinions or feelings are not the end-all, but it is what God has revealed in His Word that matters. Truth matters. May God instill in us a greater love and appreciation for His Word and may we be faithful to not “turn aside to the right or to the left” (Deut 5:32), but to “observe to do just as the Lord” our God has commanded us, for His glory, for His Name’s sake.

An Acquiescence in the Lord’s Will

Jerry Bridges in his book, Respectable Sins (NavPress 2007), addresses the topic of “Anxiety and Frustration[1][ch. 8]. In it he quotes John Newton, who writes a letter to his friend, saying:

 

Respectable Sins

[One of the marks of Christian maturity which a believer should seek is] an acquiescence in the Lord’s will founded in a persuasion of his wisdom, holiness, sovereignty, and goodness.… So far as we attain to this, we are secure from disappointment. Our own limited views, and short-sighted purposes and desires, may be, and will be, often over-ruled; but then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord may be done, must be accomplished. How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker! and how necessary is it to our peace! This great attainment is too often unthought of, and over-looked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to his purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good. From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings [i.e., complainings], which are not only sinful, but tormenting; whereas, if all things are in his hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient;—then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue.… How happy are they who can resign all to him, see his hand in every dispensation, and believe that he chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves![2]

 

If I know God to be “the only wise God” (Rom 16:27), then why don’t I trust him? If I know Him to be “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” (1 Tim 6:15) then why don’t I lean on His providence in my life?

Surely I am limited and short-sighted. Is it not the Lord who said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways” in Isaiah 55:8.

I must yield myself to this all-knowing, all-powerful, all-mighty-over-all-sovereign God. I have no clue “about tomorrow.” I know that “tomorrow will care for itself” (Matt 6:34) yet I struggle in my flesh to bring all things under “the direction of his providence and purpose.” Therefore I resolve to pray and ask God to grant me faith to believe that His providential will for me in difficult circumstances (as well the “good” circumstances) comes to me in His infinite wisdom and goodness. Therefore I rely upon God and not on me. Therefore I acquiesce to His Will for my life.

 


[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007), 66.
[2] John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), 137.

Increasing our Faith

The Christian Ministry
By Charles Bridges

It has been admirably observed on this subject— ‘In order to prevent perpetual disappointment, we must learn to extend our views. To seek for the real harvest produced by spiritual labours only in their immediate and visible results, would be not less absurd, than to take our measure of infinite space from that limited prospect, which the mortal eye can reach; or to estimate the never-ending ages of eternity by a transitory moment of present time—It often happens, that God withholds his blessing for a time, in order that, when the net is cast in “on the right side,” it may be clearly seen, that “the multitude of fishes” inclosed are of the Lord’s giving; lest men should attribute their success to a wrong cause, and should “sacrifice unto their own net, and burn incense unto their own drag.”1 We may add to this the recollection of the extensive results from “the day of small things.” Only two souls appear as the immediate fruit of the vision of “the man of Macedonia;” but how fruitful was the ultimate harvest in the flourishing Churches of that district!2 Our plain and cheering duty is therefore to go forward—to scatter the seed—to believe and wait.

Yet must there be expectancy as well as patience. The warrant of success is assured—not only as regards an outward reformation—but a spiritual change of progressive and universal influence. The fruit of Ministerial labour is not indeed always visible in its symptoms, nor immediate in its results, nor proportioned to the culture. Faith and patience will be exercised—sometimes severely so. But after a pains-taking, weeping seed-time, we shall bring our sheaves with rejoicing, and lay them upon the altar of God, “that the offering up of them might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”3

Meanwhile we must beware of saying—“Let him make speed, and hasten his work that we may see it.”4 The measure and the time are with the Lord. We must let him alone with his own work. Ours is the care of service—His is the care of success.5 “The Lord of the harvest” must determine, when, and what, and where the harvest shall be.

 

It was December 2010 when our council met around a dinner table and began, as always, to discuss the ministry at GVC. There was uncertainty in the “transitory moment of [the] present time.”  It seemed as though God was withholding his blessing for a time, but for how long? We knew that some in the church even struggled with what seemed “perpetual disappointment” as we all waited on God.  I remember praying fervently yet admittedly looking back I believe there was a seed of doubt within me.

I wonder how many of us struggle to believe and patiently wait upon the Lord as I did.  We read in the psalms, “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” (Ps 27:14), “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Ps 37:7a).  We even read in Scripture of such testimonials that say “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry” (Ps 40:1).  And the promise is still the same: “The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness” (Ps 147:11).  Admittedly it is difficult to wait on Him for our hearts are so impatient.  Can we not see the results now of all our prayers and of our service unto the LORDHow long LORD? How long?

The truth is that our faith and patience must be exercised.  They must be strengthened with resolution of the will to believe in the Lord and trust Him wholly.  We must “let him alone with his own work.”  Our work is to be faithful – faithful in doing what we know we ought to be doing.  What is that you ask?  Believing on Him.  Serving Him.  Let God take care of the harvest for He is the “LORD of the harvest” (Mt 9:38).  You take care of being the faithful worker and laborer who beseeches the LORD and patiently waits upon Him.  As it is written, “we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Lk 14:22).

Fast forward nine (9) months and the present looks different than it did before.  I most of all am convicted of unbelief and yet resolved now more than ever, with resolution of heart, that God is the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:15).  He will build His church, one life at a time, beginning with me, beginning with you.

Yet my beloved, there is much to be and much to do.  May He strengthen your sails with His abiding presence to continue serving Him and growing ever more in faith toward Him.  For “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph 4:15-16).