Category Archives: Good Works

“The Living Lord is with us” by William Milligan

“Our Lord Himself connected both the obligation and the encouragement of Christian work with the thought of His condition now, when after His resurrection He said to the disciples:

‘All authority hath been given unto Me both in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)

Once before He had sent them forth, but it was in other terms, ‘Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ (Matthew 10:5-6)

The time had not yet come for the practical work of the Church to be presented to her in all its extent. Now it has come, and every limitation has disappeared. The Kingdom of God, no longer realised, though imperfectly, in one nation, is to be realised in its highest perfection among all nations.

The love of God is revealed in its fulness in a Redeemer who, exalted in spiritual glory, is equally near to men, whatever be the clime or the age in which they live.

The eye of the Church’s Head travels to every corner of the world—no spot so remote but He is there; no labourer so apparently unnoticed amidst the throng of universal life but He is beside him; no home so poor but He is ready, in the power of His Spirit, to illuminate its darkness and to heal its sorrows.

“Lo, I am with you always,’ is His language— ‘I, to whom all authority has been given both in heaven and on earth, who have alike the power and the right to rule, whose grace shall be sufficient for thee, and whose strength shall be perfected in weak- ness.’

In fulfilling His great commission we need have no fear that we may be out of harmony with God’s eternal plan, and none that our task may prove too much for us to accomplish.

The Living Lord is with us, who once knew every such disappointment as we experience, and every such cause of despondency as weakens us; who once sighed over the stubbornness of men more deeply than we can sigh, and shed more bitter tears for those who refused to listen to Him than we can weep.

Yet He triumphed; and He comes to us now that He may communicate to us His joy of victory, and that, in doing so, He may afford us an earnest of our own.

Thus it is, then, that everything most distinctive of the Church of Christ, alike in her inward and outward life, in her relation to her various members and to the world, flows out of the fact that she is the representative not only of the humbled and suffering but of the Exalted and Glorified Lord.

The great Head from whom she draws all that is most characteristic of her being and her duties is no longer upon earth; He is in heaven,—His humiliation over.

His cup of sorrow drained, His eternal and glorious reign begun. To that Head the Church is united in the bonds of closest fellowship.

She is one with Him who in all His Divine majesty, in all His heavenly power, with all the influences of His Spirit, is at the right hand of the Father, that she may dwell in Him, and may produce even here below the fruits of that tree of life which grows by the river of the water of life, which bears its fruits throughout the year, and the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.

The Church of Christ is not an institution of this world’s policy, nor does she exist for this world’s ends.

It is presumption on the part of men clothed with mere worldly power to think that they can lend her strength or that they can save her when she is in danger.

She can lend strength to them and save them; they can do none of these things for her.

Her spirit, her strength, her life are from above.

She is the child of heaven upon earth, that she may witness to the heaven which she now partially introduces, and for the full manifestation of which she prepares and waits.”

–William Milligan, The Resurrection of our Lord (New York: Macmillan, 1917), 220-223.

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“Praying earnestly” by William Plumer

“Anything is good for us that puts us to praying earnestly (Psalm 30:8).”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 383. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 30:8.

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“They could not be in better hands” by William Plumer

“Even in this world of sorrow no small part of our fit work is praise (Psalm 30:1).

As long as life lasts, especially in the case of the righteous, mercies greatly abound.

Much more will they be called to praise in heaven.

Let us extol Him here with heart and voice, for life and all its blessings; then may we hope to spend our eternity in His blissful presence and service.

If God exalts us, let us exalt Him.

If He humbles us without destroying us, let us count it a great mercy, and give thanks.

All the vicissitudes of our earthly existence are subject to His sovereign disposal.

They could not be in better hands.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 382. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 30:1.

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“The memory of God’s loving-kindness” by William Plumer

“Never is speech better employed than in commending Christ, glorifying God, praising the Holy Spirit, uttering all the memory of God’s loving-kindness.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 384. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 30:12.

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“His name is the glory of the universe” by William Plumer

“Though to the wicked the night of death is followed by a night of endless despair, yet to the righteous the longest and darkest night has its morning of joy (Psalm 30:5).

Sharp as are the trials of the saints, they are but short.

Great is the mercy to us that God is slow to anger and that His anger endureth but a moment.

If He delighted in punishing, who could stand before Him?

While the Scriptures assure us that God’s anger is short, they as clearly teach us, that His mercy endureth forever.

Oh that the saints would study God’s character!

Wonderful love, mercy and purity shine in it all.

His name is the glory of the universe.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 383. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 30:5.

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“Free unbounded grace” by C.S. Lewis

“The experience is that of catastrophic conversion. The man who has passed through it feels like one who has awaken from nightmare into ecstasy.

Like an accepted lover, he feels that he has done nothing, and never could have done anything, to deserve such astonishing happiness.

Never again can he ‘crow from the dunghill of desert.’ All the initiative has been on God’s side; all has been free, unbounded grace.

And all will continue to be free, unbounded grace. His own puny and ridiculous efforts would be as helpless to retain the joy as they would have been to achieve it in the first place.

Fortunately they need not. Bliss is not for sale, cannot be earned. ‘Works’ have no ‘merit’, though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once.

He is not saved because he does works of love: he does works of love because he is saved. It is faith alone that has saved him: faith bestowed by sheer gift.

From this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratchings, all the Protestant doctrines originally sprang.

For it must be clearly understood that they were at first doctrines not of terror but of joy and hope: indeed, more than hope, fruition, for as Tyndale says, the converted man is already tasting eternal life.

The doctrine of predestination, says the XVIIth Article, is ‘full of sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort to godly persons.'”

–C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Excluding Drama) (New York: HarperCollins, 1954/2022), 38.

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“His works preach His existence all the time and in every place” by William Plumer

“Everything God has made and everything God has spoken, with all the relations and uses of each, may teach us some valuable lesson, (Psalm 19:1–6).

His works declare, preach, show, publish His existence all the time and in every place.

Tholuck: “Though all the preachers on earth should grow silent, and every human mouth cease from publishing the glory of God, the heavens above will never cease to declare and proclaim his majesty.”

The smallest piece of granite or of old red sandstone, the least shell or insect as truly requires a Creator as the heavens above us.

Morison: “It is impossible to direct even a cursory glance to the greater and lesser lights which rule by day and night, without being compelled to think with reverential awe of that incomprehensible Being who kindles up all their fires, directs all their courses, and impresses upon them all laws, which contribute alike to the order, beauty and happiness of the universe.”

Well did the apostle say that all men, even the heathen, are without excuse. Even one day or one night proves that there is a God, as there is but one being that could cause either.

Everett: “I had occasion, a few weeks since, to take the early train from Providence to Boston; and for this purpose rose at two o’clock in the morning. Everything around was wrapt in darkness and hushed in silence, broken only by what seemed at that hour the unearthly clank and rush of the train.

It was a mild, serene, midsummer’s night—the sky was without a cloud—the winds were whist. The moon, then in the last quarter, had just risen, and the stars shone with a spectral lustre but little affected by her presence.

Jupiter, two hours high, was the herald of the day; the Pleiades just above the horizon shed their sweet influence in the east; Lyra sparkled near the zenith; Andromeda veiled her newly-discovered glories from the naked eye in the South; the steady pointers far beneath the pole looked meekly up from the depths of the north to their sovereign.

Such was the glorious spectacle as I entered the train. As we proceeded, the timid approach of twilight became more perceptible; the intense blue of the sky began to soften; the smaller stars, like little children went first to rest; the sister-beams of the Pleiades soon melted together; but the bright constellations of the west and north remained unchanged.

Steadily the wondrous transfiguration went on. Hands of angels hidden from mortal eyes shifted the scenery of the heavens; the glories of night dissolved into the glories of the dawn. The blue sky now turned more softly gray; the great watch-stars shut up their holy eyes; the east began to kindle.

Faint streaks of purple soon blushed along the sky; the whole celestial concave was filled with the inflowing tides of the morning light, which came pouring down from above in one great ocean of radiance: till at length as we reached the Blue Hills, a flash of purple fire blazed out from above the horizon, and turned the dewy tear-drops of flower and leaf into rubies and diamonds. In a few seconds, the everlasting gates of the morning were thrown wide open, and the lord of day, arrayed in glories too severe for the gaze of man, began his state…

I am filled with amazement, when I am told that in this enlightened age, and in the heart of the Christian world, there are persons who can witness this daily manifestation of the power and wisdom of the Creator, and yet say in their hearts, ‘there is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1)”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 262–263. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 19:1-6.

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“The formal and principal act of justifying faith” by Francis Turretin

“The nature of faith cannot be rightly perceived unless these two things are known: (1) of what acts it consists; (2) what is its object…

The fifth is the act of reception of Christ or of adhesion and union, by which we not only seek Christ through a desire of the soul and fly to Him, but apprehend and receive Him offered, embrace Him found, apply Him to ourselves and adhere to and unite ourselves to Him.

For as God freely offers His own Son in the gospel to the sinful soul, burdened and cast down and broken by a sense of his sins, and Christ offers Himself with all His benefits and the fulness of salvation residing in Him, so the soul (firmly persuaded of the fulness of salvation in Christ, seriously flying to Him and earnestly desiring communion with Him) cannot help embracing with the highest freedom of the will that supreme good offered, and the inestimable treasure, selling all for Him (Mt. 13:44), resting upon Christ as the sole Redeemer and delivering and making himself over, and so firmly retaining Him that he is prepared to lose anything else rather than reject Him.

This is the formal and principal act of justifying faith, usually termed “reception”:

“As many as received Him” (i.e., “who believed on His name,” Jn. 1:12); believers are said “to receive the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:17); “to receive Christ” (Col. 2:6); “I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go” (Cant. 3:4); sometimes “meat and drink” (Mt. 5:6; Jn 6:51); the “putting on of Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

And because the soul thus apprehending Christ reclines upon Him and rests upon and cleaves to Him, faith is also sometimes described as an act of “reclining” (Ps. 71:5; Isa. 10:20; 48:2; 50:10; Mic. 3:11); as also an act of adhesion and binding closely, and of the most strict union by which we are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh and one with him; and Christ Himself dwells in us (Eph. 3:17) and we in Him (Jn. 15:5).

From this union of persons arises the participation in the blessings of Christ, to which (by union with Him) we acquire a right (to wit, justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification).”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 2 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 2: 560, 563.

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“The Christian should be an inexhaustible source of forgiveness” by Herman Bavinck

“The metaphors of turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, surrendering your coat, and adding the cloak are explained in Matthew 5:44: ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’

The idea is that evil must be repaid with good, curses with blessing, hatred with love, sin with forgiveness, misery with compassion.

God acts this way, too (Matt. 5:45-48).

Once more, that is not apathy, no Stoic passivity, no condoning the enemy’s behavior. On the contrary, Jesus rebukes His enemies and pronounces woe upon the Pharisees. But while He is reprimanding the sin, He is loving and blessing the enemy.

Indeed, He commands us to forgive those who wrong us as often as seventy times seven– that is to say, countless times, again and again (Matt. 18:21-34).

The Pharisees said that one must forgive three times. Peter boldly says: Isn’t seven times enough?

But Jesus will have nothing to do with numbers or calculations here. The Christian should be an inexhaustible source of forgiveness.

After all, Christians need forgiveness themselves (Matt. 18:33).

Certain evidence that we love our enemies is when we pray for them in all sincerity. Righteous anger is certainly permissible and obligatory, but it must be an anger without sin, not long-lasting, and not rising rashly (Eph. 4:26-27; Ps. 4:4; 37:8).

‘The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God’ (James 1:20; cf. Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7). And vengeance is never fitting; it belongs to God (Deut. 32:35).

Love thinks no evil (1 Cor. 13) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 439-440.

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“The Christians changed a funeral into a feast” by Herman Bavinck

“Holy Scripture gives us no specific prescriptions with regard to burial. We have an example in the tender way Jesus was buried by his disciples; the same is true of Stephen (Acts 8:2).

We are allowed to mourn and to be sad as appears from both the Old Testament (Gen. 23:2; 37:34-35; 50:1-3; 1 Sam. 25:1) and the New Testament (Luke 7:12-13). Jesus himself (John 11:33-35), Mary (John 20:11), and the disciples (Mark 16:10; Luke 24:17; John 16:20) mourned, and the church at Ephesus mourned for Paul (Acts 20:37).

Death is an evil. Yet Christian mourning is different from pagan mourning. No sorrowing without hope (1 Thess. 4:13), no worldly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10).

The Christians changed a funeral into a feast of celebration and triumph.

They buried their dead not at night but during daytime, in the full light of day, dressed in white robes, accompanied by retinues and spectators, without wailing women, without wreaths on the body or the coffin.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 433.

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