Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 9, 2015

Reformed Doctrine proclaims “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone) – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Today’s devotion comes from Judges 11:29-40.

“29 Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.  30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31 then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”  32 So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand.  33 He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim.  So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.

34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter.  35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter!  You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me;  for I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.”  36 So she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the Lord;  do to me as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.”  37 She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me;  let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions.”  38 Then he said, “Go.”  So he sent her away for two months;  and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity.  39 At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made;  and she had no relations with a man.  Thus it became a custom in Israel, 40 that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.”   Judges 11:29-40.

——————-

Today’s Scripture show the harsh consequences of making a rash and foolish vow (which appear to be that Jephthah’s daughter could not have relations with a man thus likely depriving Jephthah and his daughter of descendants).

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’;  anything beyond these is of evil.”  Matthew 5:33-37.

But, there is more that we can learn from today’s Scripture than the simple and superficial lesson that we should not make vows.

The deeper, more important lesson is that the LORD loves His elect, His chosen ones, and gladly gives them what is good without the need for us to make a bribe, vows, or somehow otherwise earn the gifts of God.  

“Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.  So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.  For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.”  Deuteronomy 10:15-17.

Reformed Doctrine understands and teaches that we cannot earn God’s grace.  It should make sense that if indeed our natural condition was one of “Total Depravity”, the “T” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, then there is nothing within us that could motivate God to save us or otherwise give us good gifts.

One of the Five Solas of the Reformation is “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone).  “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 2:4-8.  “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”  Romans 11:6.

Therefore, we do not need to bribe the LORD or otherwise try somehow to earn His favor and gifts.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  Romans 8:32.

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