Never think of the Church of God as if she were in danger. If you do, you will be like Uzza; you will put forth your hand to steady the ark, and provoke the Lord to anger against you. If it were in danger, I tell you, you could not deliver it. If Christ cannot take care of his Church without you, you cannot do it. Be still, and know that he is God… When you begin to say, “The Church is in danger! The Church is in danger!” what is that to thee? It stood before thou wert born; it will stand when thou hast become worm’s meat. Do thou thy duty. Keep in the path of obedience, and fear not. He who made the Church knew through what trials she would have to pass, and he made her so that she can endure the trials and become the richer for it. The enemy is but grass, the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
Your people will volunteer freely in the day of your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew. PS 110:3
The following is an excerpt from Vol. 3 of the works of Thomas Brooks, a puritan pastor from the 17th century. He is developing the idea that: those that are lowest in their own esteem are highest in God's esteem, proved... 18 properties of a humble soul.
Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you more of Thomas Brooks, but for now, enjoy pondering these 18 searching proofs.
1. A humble soul under the highest spiritual discoveries, and under the greatest outward mercies, forgets not his former sinfulness and his former outward meanness
2. He overlooks his own righteousness, and lives upon the righteousness of another, to wit, the Lord Jesus.
3. The lowest and meanest good work is not below a humble soul
4. A humble soul will submit to every truth of God, that is made known to it; even to those divine truths that are most cross to flesh and blood.
5. A humble soul lives not upon himself, nor upon his own actings, but upon the Lord Jesus and His actings.
6. He judges himself to be below the wrath and judgments of God.
7. A humble soul doth highly prize the least of Christ.
8. A humble soul can never be good enough, it can never pray enough, nor hear enough, nor mourn enough, nor believe enough, nor love enough, nor fear enough, nor joy enough, nor repent enough, nor loathe sin enough, nor be humble enough.
9. A humble soul will smite and strike from small sins as well as for great, for those the world count not sin, as well as for those that they count gross sins.
10. A humble soul will quietly bear burdens, and patiently take blows and knocks, and make no noise.
11. A humble soul will in all religious duties and services, trade with God upon the credit of Christ.
12. A humble soul endeavors more how to honor and glorify God in afflictions, than how to get out of afflictions.
13. A humble soul seeks not, it looks not, after great things.
14. A humble soul rejoices in the graces and gracious actings of others as well as in its own.
15. A humble soul will rather bear wrongs than revenge wrongs offered.
16. A humble soul, though he be of never so rare abilities, yet he will not disdain to be taught what he knows not, by the meanest persons.
17.A humble soul will bless God, and be thankful to God, as well under misery as under mercy; as well when God frowns as when he smiles; as well when God takes as when he gives; as well under crosses and losses, as under blessings and mercies.
18. A humble soul will wisely and patiently bear reproof.
...for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pt 5:5)
Posting a blog was really not even on my mind tonight as I was sitting here preparing for tomorrow's sermon from Psalm 110. There are only a few things that can distract me on a Saturday evening from my sermon prep, one of those things is blatantly faulty exegesis. Studying through verse 2 of Ps. 110 [The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion], my curiosity was piqued over how one of my reformed brother's would "explain" Zion. My reformed friends usually howl whenever I suggest that they too often spiritualize the biblical text to make it fit their theology instead of allowing the text to say what the text says, and thereby informing their theology and understanding.
This is a classic example of what spiritualizing a text looks like:
The link is to an "exposition" of Zechariah 8:1-23 (never mind the Joel title at top as it is wrongly applied). While this is actually more of a devotional than an exposition, what I want you to notice is how the author interprets this passage. Notice particularly that in his exposition that Zion is no longer a specific geographic location but is representative of the the church. What?!? Notice how he handles the other explicit images in this text. The few ones that he does deal with, and they are scant - just like his "exegesis" (typical of a reformed hermeneutic when dealing with passages such as these), they are reinterpreted or reapplied to apply to the church.
A literal hermeneutic reads this text and does not see the church, but a national Israel in view, and the promises of a real, yet realized,future for her. The events foretold in this passage are mainly related to a future millennium, which are vividly described in this passage as a time when "old men and old women will sit again in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age (vs 4), and a time when "ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of Jew saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." ' I am advocating that these are not events which we are free to reinterpret or reinvent to fit our presuppositions, but rather ones we must seek to understand and allow to inform and direct our theology/eschatology.
This past Wednesday evening (Nov 5) we spent some time looking at the message Malachi unflinchingly delivered to his arrogant, unrepentant, backslidden nation. They had all the trappings of religion, but their hearts were far from God. For example: they were offering the LORD "seconds" in their worship (1:7 ff), had become weary and bored with worship (1:13 ff), were divorcing their wives and marrying pagan women (2:10 ff) which was a flagrant violation of the covenant, were believing that God was actually blessing the wicked who were prospering (2:17), were robbing God by not giving generously (3:8 ff), and were seriously questioning if serving God was really worthwhile (3:14). It seems that the root cause of their condition is identified immediately by Malachi in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 1:
"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob;"...
Their sinful, shortsighted, and arrogant attitudes were a result of forgetting God's sovereign electing love (God loved Jacob, but hated Esau - Rm 9:13). They had come to believe that they somehow deserved God's special favor and love. They treated lightly God's gracious love and consequently became arrogant and indifferent to the God who chose them.
What a timely lesson for each of us! God's indictment of these people who lived some 2,400 years ago could easily be made against each of us. At the risk of offending some with the "E" word, maybe it is time that we all reflected a little more on this crucial aspect of God's love for us. It certainly is a great comfort and source of strength when things seem to be going very badly. And ultimately, it brings great praise to the God who loved us!
At the following link, the author draws and number of contrasts between God's eternal election and the election that is probably on your mind right now. I encourage you to read it and then rejoice in the free grace of our great God and Savior.