Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 11, 2018

“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind” – “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD”

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.


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