Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 10, 2015

“Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God”

Today’s devotion comes from Judges Chapter 12.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+12&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“1 Then the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the sons of Ammon without calling us to go with you?  We will burn your house down on you.”  2 Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the sons of Ammon;  when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand.  3 When I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the Lord gave them into my hand.  Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”  Judges 12:1-3.

————

Compare trusting in man with trusting in God.  In verse 2, we see the result of trusting in man:  “you did not deliver me from their hand.”  In verse 3, we see the result of trusting in God:  “the Lord gave them into my hand.”

We also see this simple and sharp contrast of trusting in man versus trusting in God in the following Scripture.

“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.

And yet, we see something more in today’s Scripture and in Jeremiah 17:5-8.

Jephthah (and we too) could be boastful and think:  “I was wise enough to trust in God.  I exercised my free will to choose to believe in God and trust him.”   But, it would be wrong to be boastful and to think that way.

In today’s Scripture, we notice that Jephthah admitted that he called them (men of Ephraim) to help him, and that when he saw that they would not help him, he took his life in his hands.  Verses 2-3.  By doing these things, he first trusted in man (in men of Ephraim and later in himself).  Only at the end did he recognize that the LORD gave them into his hands.

In Jeremiah 17:5-8, we notice that there is more than just “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind”, we read that this man “makes flesh his strength”.  In other words, it is not just that he trusts in mankind, he actively builds up (“makes’) his faith in man.

In Jeremiah 17:5-8, we also notice that there is more than just “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord”, we read that this trust “is the LORD”.  In other words, this trust comes from the LORD.  The LORD gives and infuses this trust in the LORD in this man.

Here is what the Canons of Dordt state in part about this gift of faith.

“Article 14.  Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure;  but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ;  but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE  Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.”

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:1-3.

“For who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  1 Corinthians 4:7.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;  but 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.  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 1:26-31.

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