Today’s devotion comes from Luke 8:4-15.

“When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable:  “The sower went out to sow his seed;  and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  Other seed fell among the thorns;  and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.  Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.”  As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant.  And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.

“Now the parable is this:  the seed is the word of God.  Those beside the road are those who have heard;  then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.  Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy;  and these have no firm root;  they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”   Luke 8:4-15.

——————

To other doctrine, it seems so unfair that only some are “granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND” (verse 10) that other doctrine ignore such Scriptures and nevertheless teach that God loves everyone, Christ died for everyone, and that everyone has an “equal playing field” such that what determines one’s salvation is not God, but man.  Under such other doctrine, man’s works or at least man’s alleged free-will determines whether he or she will be saved.

To other doctrine, it seems so unfair that only some are given such “an honest and good heart” that they “hold it (word of God) fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (verse 15) that other doctrine ignore such Scriptures and nevertheless teach that God loves everyone, Christ died for everyone, and that everyone has an “equal playing field” such that what determines one’s salvation is not God, but man.  Under such other doctrine, man’s works or at least man’s alleged free-will determines whether he or she will be saved.

But, Reformed Doctrine sees that regardless of how man may want salvation determined, Scripture clearly and repeatedly teaches that God’s  sole sovereignty determines who will be saved.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.  …  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”  Romans 9:15-16 and 18.

The Apostle Paul recognized that it seems so unfair to many, but that God has the right as God to choose those whom He will save.

“You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?”  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,  even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”  Romans 9:19-24.

Throughout Scripture, we see that “Salvation belongs to the LORD”.  Psalm 3:8.

Consider the following articles from the Canons of Dordt, FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination.

Article 1.  As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle, Romans 3:19, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”  And verse 23:  “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  And Romans 6:23:  “for the wages of sin is death.”  FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination of Canons of Dordt.

(In Bill’s words, just because God chose to save some does not mean that God is unjust because He did not choose to save all.)

Article 7.  Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.

This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification;  and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace;  as it is written:  “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love;  having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Ephesians 1:4,5,6.  And elsewhere: “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called;  and whom he called, them he also justified;  and whom he justified, them he also glorified,”  Romans 8:30.

Article 9.  This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended;  but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good;  from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle:  “He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,”  Ephesians 1:4.

Article 10.  The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election;  which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation;  but that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, “For the children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil,” etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca):  “the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” Romans 9:11,12,13.  “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,”  Acts 13:48.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”  Ephesians 1:3-5.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 8:1-3.

“Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God.  The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses:  Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”  Luke 8:1-3.

——————–

It is surprising that these women are singled out for mention as contributing to the support of Jesus and His disciples out of their private means.  Who thought Mary Magdalene would have the necessary mental ability, financial resources, and discipline to earn money, save money, and contribute?!  Who thought Joanna, possibly connected to “THE” wicked Herod who killed male babies in Bethlehem and John the Baptist, would have any desire to contribute?!  Who is Susanna?  Why are no men mentioned?  

“… God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

And, why would Jesus, Who could miraculously provide all the support that He and His disciples need, be willing to receive any support?!

“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;  you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.”  2 Corinthians 9:10-14.

In summary, Scripture teaches us that God uses our contributions to increase our righteousness, to produce our thanksgiving to God for enriching us in everything to be so liberal in giving, to cause others to glorify God and to be thankful to us for our obedience to the gospel and for the liberality of our contribution to them (and thus strengthening the relationship of them to us), to cause them to pray for us, and to even cause them to yearn for us because of the surpassing grace of God in us.

Wow!  That is a lot of blessings to us for contributing!!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  Galatians 6:9.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 16, 2018

“We love, because He first loved us.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:36-50.

“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner;  and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  “A moneylender had two debtors:  one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.  So which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”  And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”  Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave Me no kiss;  but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.  For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much;  but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”  Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”  And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you;  go in peace.”  Luke 7:36-50.

—————–

We see these gifts from Christ:  forgiveness of sins, love for God, faith in Christ, and peace with God.

Other doctrine falsely teach that Christ’s gifts follow our faith in Christ. 

But, Reformed Doctrine truly teaches that Christ’s gifts includes our faith in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  …”  Ephesians 1:3-7.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.

Forgiveness of sins preceded the woman’s love for God.  We see this clearly taught from Jesus’ parable.  “A moneylender had two debtors:  one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.  So which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”  Verses 41-43.

Other Scripture also teaches us that God’s love of us precedes our love for God.  

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  …  We love, because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:9-10 and 19.

Scripture also teaches us that faith precedes peace with God.  “And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you;  go in peace.”  Verse 50.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;  and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  …  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man;  though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,  we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Romans 5:1-2 and 5-9.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior.  Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works.  However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.  But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.  Belgic Confession.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 14, 2018

“Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:31-35.

“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?  They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;  we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’  For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’  The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”  Luke 7:31-35.

————–

John the Baptist was vindicated.  Even though Jesus admitted that John the Baptist was different (see Luke 7:24-25), Jesus highly praised him (“there is no one greater than John” Luke 7:28).

Jesus was vindicated.  Even though Jesus admitted that while disciples of John the Baptist often fasted and offered prayers, His disciples ate and drank, Jesus excused it on the basis that His disciples were celebrating His presence with them.  See Luke 5:33-34.

In superficial appearance and superficial behavior, John the Baptist and Jesus were very different, and people were eager to criticize both persons.  Yet, both John the Baptist and Jesus were vindicated by the good that they produced.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus entrusted themselves to the righteous judgment of God “WHO WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.”  Romans 2:6-11.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 13, 2018

“I will accomplish all My good pleasure”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:24-30.

“When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken by the wind?  But what did you go out to see?  A man dressed in soft clothing?  Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!  But what did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written,

‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,
WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’

I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John;  yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”  When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”  Luke 7:24-30.

——————

God planned everything out according to His purpose.

God chose some for salvation.  

“…  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

“…  He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”  Ephesians 1:4-5.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

And, God chose some to be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.

“The Lord has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.”  Proverbs 16:4.

“Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”  Romans 9:21-24.

God sent John the Baptist, His messenger, to prepare the way for Jesus by leading people to repentance and humility and pointing to One who would come after him.  “John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water;  but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals;  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Luke 3:16.  “Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  Acts 19:4.

“When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.”  Verse 29. 

The repentant and humble acknowledge God’s justice.  

“8 Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.”  Psalm 25:8-9.

“But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”  Verse 30.

The unrepentant and proud may think their alleged free-will is in control.  They may think that they rejected and escaped God’s purpose for themselves.  

“2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”  Psalm 2:2-3.

But, God remains in total perfect control of everything and accomplishes all of His good pleasure.    

“4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.”
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”  Psalm 2:4-6.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 12, 2018

“it is these (Scriptures) that testify about Me (Jesus)”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:18-23.

“The disciples of John reported to him about all these things.  Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”  When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’”  At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits;  and He gave sight to many who were blind.  And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard:  the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.  Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”  Luke 7:18-23.

——————–

Why did Jesus not simply answer “Yes.” to the question of the disciples of John the Baptist:  “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”?

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus.  Jesus loved John the Baptist.  One could expect that Jesus would give a simple, straight-forward, and crystal-clear answer.

But, instead of a simple answer “Yes.”, Jesus quoted Scripture (Isaiah 35:5 and Isaiah 61:1).

We do not know why Jesus replied the way he did.  But, in any event, the following truths are worthy of meditation in this devotion.

First, Scriptures bear witness of Jesus.  Maybe, Jesus wanted Scripture “to do the talking”.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life;  it is these that testify about Me;”  John 5:39.

Second, God has chosen faith to be the “instrument” by which we “embrace Christ our Righteousness” and “that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits”.  Article 22 of the Belgic Confession.  Maybe, Jesus’ reply was better at building the faith of the disciples of John the Baptist than a reply of “Yes.” would be at building faith.

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope;  for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  Romans 8:24-25.

Third, more generally, we do not get answers nor guidance by a literal clear voice out of heaven.  We get answers and guidance through Scriptures known as the word of God.  Maybe, Jesus wanted to answer the question of the disciples of John the Baptist through Scriptures and also show that the Scriptures were fulfilled through Him.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105.

“147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
148 My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.”  Psalm 119:147-148.

“7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true;  they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.”  Psalm 19:7-11.

Fourth, in regards to Jesus’ concluding statement in His reply (“Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”), there were those in Jesus’ day and there are also those today who are offended by Jesus.  Maybe, Jesus wanted to humble the disciples of John the Baptist.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were offended by Jesus and wanted to kill Jesus, because they were jealous of Jesus, convicted of their sin, and fearful of losing power.  There are also those today who are offended by Jesus, because they are proud and do not want to admit that they are spiritually “poor”, so to speak, and need a Savior.

“But He gives a greater grace.  Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  James 4:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:11-17.

“Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain;  and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd.  Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow;  and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her.  When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”  And He came up and touched the coffin;  and the bearers came to a halt.  And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak.  And Jesus gave him back to his mother.  Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”  This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.”  Luke 7:11-17.

————–

Jesus had both the desire to do the miracle and the power to do the miracle.  We see Jesus’ desire in His compassion for the widow, and we see Jesus’ power in making alive the young man who was dead.

The widow did not ask Jesus for anything, and the dead young man obviously did nothing to contribute to the miracle.

And yet, other doctrine continue to focus on man’s contribution and puff it up, putting its trust in man.

But, Reformed Doctrine focuses on God and what He has done, putting its trust in God, from beginning to end:  from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, as more fully taught in the Reformed creed Canons of Dordt.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:4-9.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Reformed Doctrine teaches us that we should not only trust God’s power but also trust God’s desire to the extent that our belief in God necessitates both elements.  God is able, and God is willing.  

Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;  who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;  on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;  and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;  for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.  Heidelberg Catechism.

Do we trust God to have both the power to save us and the desire to save us (and also otherwise provide all that we need)?

Or, do we trust ourselves to contribute something that distinguishes ourselves worthy of salvation over another person whether it be our wisdom, our works, or our alleged free-will “choice of Christ”?

We see in today’s Scripture that neither the widow nor the young dead man contributed any wisdom, any works, or any alleged free-will choice of Christ.

Moreover, when we consider man’s natural condition of “Total Depravity”, that is, man is dead in sin, unable to understand, hostile to God, and enslaved to sin and Satan, why would we trust in man?!

It is not sufficient for us to claim that we trust in the LORD.  God can see into our hearts and see whether we really trust in God or trust mankind (in ourselves or in others). 

“The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’  But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.”  Deuteronomy 1:30-32.

“For thus the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,

“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,”  Isaiah 30:15.

“5 Thus says the LORD,

Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:5-8.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 7:1-10.

“When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.

And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.  When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.  When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him;  for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”  Now Jesus started on His way with them;  and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof;  for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me;  and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”  When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.”  Luke 7:1-10.

———————

Today’s Scripture again points to the authority and power of Jesus.  We remember a recent Scripture that we covered.  “And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message?  For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.”  Luke 4:36.

Other doctrine try to puff up alleged free-will of man as the determining factor as to whether or not something will be done, particularly in regards to the salvation of man.

But, Reformed Doctrine, consistent with Scripture, points out the sovereignty of God, the authority and power of God, to command and get done whatever He pleases.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

God is sovereign with sole authority and power to determine who will be saved and who will not be saved.  “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

God says to one:  “Come to Christ.”  And, that person comes to Christ.  

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  John 6:37.

“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  John 6:39.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;  and I will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:44.

“And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  John 6:65.

God is sovereign over all things.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

“But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.”  Psalm 115:3.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 6:46-49.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock;  and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation;  and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”  Luke 6:46-49.

——————-

Other doctrine rests on the foundation of man’s alleged free-will, man’s wisdom, and man’s works.  Its foundation is so shaky and so cracked that it can be said in the language of today’s Scripture that it is “without any foundation”.

But, Reformed Doctrine rests on the foundation of God’s will, God’s wisdom, and God’s work.  God does everything that man needs for salvation from beginning to end:  from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, as more fully taught in the Reformed creed Canons of Dordt.  “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.  What a solid foundation!

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”  2 Timothy 2:19.

“The Lord knows those who are His”, because the Lord unconditionally elected them for salvation.

“Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”, because Christ died for God’s elect and obtained all the saving gifts that God’s elect need for sanctification and salvation.  Christ is the cornerstone of the foundation.

“Therefore thus says the Lord God,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.”  Isaiah 28:16.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ”  1 Corinthians 3:11.

“10 “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
12 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
13 “All your sons will be taught of the LORD;
And the well-being of your sons will be great.”  Isaiah 54:10-13.

“When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”  Proverbs 10:25.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 6:43-45.

“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.  For each tree is known by its own fruit.  For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good;  and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil;  for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”  Luke 6:43-45.

——————

Inconsistent with today’s Scripture, other doctrine teaches that everybody is basically alike and that the reason for the difference why some people produce good fruit and other people produce bad fruit is that the people who produce good fruit make better use of their own wisdom and their own alleged free-will than the other people.

But, consistent with today’s Scripture, Reformed Doctrine teaches that the good trees are “new creatures” of God.  The good trees are God’s elect whom God made alive and created and caused to bear good fruit.   

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  

Article 12.  And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation:  a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.  But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted;  but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable;  not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares;  …  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.    

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;  the old things passed away;  behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”  John 15:16.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23.

“8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”  Psalm 52:8-9.

“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.”  Matthew 7:17-18.

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