“The occasion of God’s renewing comfort is our failure” by Ray Ortlund

“There is an end to the disciplines of God. Faith is not all struggle. It is also release and hope and new beginnings.

God’s deepest intention toward us is comfort. How could it be otherwise?

If the focus of Christianity were our sins, our future would shut down. But in fact Christianity is all about the saving grace of God.

He overrules our stupidity with His own absolute pardon through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Do we sin? Yes. Do we suffer for it? Yes. Is that where God leaves us? No.

When His discipline has done its good work, God comes back to us with overflowing comfort. See in God not a frown but a smile, not distance but nearness.

Even when we don’t act like the people of God, He still identifies with us: ‘… My people… your God.’ (Isaiah 40:1) He stills calls us ‘Jerusalem,’ even when we’re far away in exile. (Isaiah 40:2)

Do you have glad expectations of God? You may, even as a sinner.

Do you see God as coming down to you as you are, with your mission still unfulfilled, but with His renewing mercies? You may and you must see God that way, or you’ll get no traction for holiness.

The Bible says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). John Calvin explains that no one will ever reverence God but he who is confident that God is favorable toward him.

The occasion of God’s renewing comfort is our failure.”

–Raymond Ortlund Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Preaching the Word) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 235.

“An infallible interpretation” by Richard Barcellos

“Let us consider Genesis 1:2 once again.

While Genesis 1:2 says, ‘And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,’ Psalm 104:24 says, ‘O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions–‘ and in Ps. 104:30 we read, ‘You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.’

In Job 26:13 we read, ‘By His Spirit He adorned the heavens.’

These texts (and there are others) outside of Genesis echo it and further explain it to and for us. These are instances of inner-biblical exegesis within the Old Testament.

When the Bible exegetes the Bible, therefore, we have an infallible interpretation because of the divine author of Scripture.

Scripture not only records the acts of God, it also interprets them. If we are going to explain the acts of God in creation, God’s initial economy, with any hope of accurately accounting for those acts, we must first know something of the triune God who acts.

And the only written source of infallible knowledge of the triune God who acts is the Bible and the Bible alone.”

–Richard C. Barcellos, Trinity and Creation: A Scriptural and Confessional Account (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2020), 23.

“The throne of God’s saving grace” by Robert Traill

“I know no true religion but Christianity. I know no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ: of His divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Col. 1:15); of His divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, 1 Tim. 2:5); of His divine righteousness, (He is the Lord our Righteousness, Jer. 23:6; which name is also called upon His church, Jer. 38:16) and of His divine Spirit, (which all that are His receive, Rom. 8:9).

I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in His saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in Him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.

Ministers and Christians of this spirit, have for many years been my brethren and companions, and, I hope, shall ever be, whithersoever the hand of God shall lead me.

Through the Lord’s mercy to me, (as to many in London), I have often heard what is far more worthy of the press, than anything I can publish.

Whatever you may think of my way of managing this subject, (and indeed there is nothing in that, either as designed or expected by me, or that in itself deserveth any great regard); yet the theme itself, all must judge, who have spiritual senses, is of great importance, and always seasonable.

It is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Jesus Christ, and revealed unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and mens great need of those blessings.

May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with His blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord shall have the glory; for of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Robert Traill
London
March 25, 1696″

–Robert Traill, “Preface to The Throne of Grace,” The Works of Robert Traill, vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1810), ix-x.

“The never-failing springs of covenant grace” by John Owen

“Besides the continual supplies of grace that constantly, according to the tenure of the covenant, are communicated unto believers, which keeps them that they thirst no more as to a total indigence, there is, moreover, a readiness in the Lord Christ to yield peculiar succour to the souls of His, according as their occasions shall require.

The apostle tells us that He is ‘a merciful High Priest,’ and ‘able’ (that is, ready, prepared, and willing) ‘to succour them that are tempted,’ (Heb. 2:18); and we are on that account invited to ‘come with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,’ (Heb. 4:16)—that is, grace sufficient, seasonable, suitable unto any especial trial or temptation that we may be exercised withal.

Our merciful High Priest is ready to give out this especial seasonable grace over and above those constant communications of supplies of the Spirit which we mentioned before.

Besides the never-failing springs of ordinary covenant grace, He hath also peculiar refreshing showers for times of drought; and this is exceedingly to the advantage of the saints for their preservation and growth in grace.”

–John Owen, “Indwelling Sin in Believers,” in The Works of John Owen, Volume 6: Temptation and Sin (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2009), 6: 288.

“There is mercy and never-failing compassion in God” by John Owen

“There is mercy and never-failing compassion in God, so that though my own present condition be full of darkness, and I see no deliverance, yet I purpose still to abide waiting on Him.

Who knows what those infinite stores and treasures of mercy and relief that are with Him may at length afford unto me? (Lamentations 3:21-23)”

–John Owen, “An Exposition of Psalm 130,” in The Works of John Owen, Volume 6: Temptation and Sin (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2009), 6: 417-418.

“Christ is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays” by Herman Bavinck

“Finally the designation ‘word of God’ is used for Christ Himself. He is the Logos in an utterly unique sense: Revealer and revelation at the same time.

All the revelations and words of God, in nature and history, in creation and re-creation, both in the Old and the New Testament, have their ground, unity, and center in Him.

He is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays.

The word of God in nature, in Israel, in the NT, in Scripture may never even for a moment be separated and abstracted from him. God’s revelation exists only because He is the Logos.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 1: 402.

[HT: Nick Gardner]

“This is life eternal” by Stephen Charnock

“We may behold God in Christ as a tender and condescending Father.

To conclude; let us behold His justice, to humble ourselves under it.

Let us behold His pardoning grace, to have recourse to it under pressures of guilt.

Let us sweeten our affections by the sight of His compassions, and have confidence to call upon Him as a Father in our necessities.

Any discovery of God in Christ is an encouragement to a forlorn creature. His perfections smile upon man. Nothing of God looks terrible in Christ to a believer.

The sun is risen, shadows are vanished, God walks upon the battlements of love, justice hath left its sting in a Saviour’s side, the law is disarmed, weapons out of His hand, His bosom open, His bowels yearn, His heart pants, sweetness and love is in all His carriage.

And this is life eternal, to know God believingly in the glories of His mercy and justice in Jesus Christ.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse on the Knowledge of God in Christ,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Volume 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1865/2010), 4: 163.