The Reason(s) for Preaching the Gospel to All

This post is a response to Dr. R. Scott Clark’s recent essay entitled The Gospel is not Common. This is a provocative title since Clark is devoted to the doctrines of common grace and the well-meant offer of the gospel. Clark knows and explains in the article that the Christian Reformed Church affirmed the well-meant offer of the gospel in connection with the first of the three points of common grace adopted and declared by the CRC Synod of 1924. Clark believes and ardently defends the notion that in the preaching of the gospel God bestows common grace on every listener (elect and reprobate). But the gospel, he writes, is “not common.”

Clark explains the uncommonness of the gospel this way:

However many things that believers have in common with unbelievers the gospel is not one of them. The gospel declares that God loves sinners so much that he gave his only and eternally begotten Son (John 3:16) but the way to God is narrow. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7:13–14; ESV). Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The gospel is that there is a Savior, that he has come, that he has accomplished redemption for his people and that he is efficaciously applying that salvation to every one of his people. The gospel, however, is particular. Believers and unbelievers do not have the gospel in common. It separates us. It distinguishes between belief and unbelief. In that way the gospel is not like the falling rain or the shining sun. Those are general blessings and mercies. The gospel is not a general blessing. The gospel does not say, “I have done my part, now you do yours.” The law says: “you do.” The gospel says, “Christ has done. It is finished.”

Although Clark’s identification of “the falling rain” and “the shining sun” as “general blessings or mercies” is wrong, he seems to be on the right track in this paragraph in one respect. Clark seems to recognize that, if there is a common grace in distinction from saving grace, the gospel falls into the category of saving grace. Clark’s language could be sharper but is clear nonetheless. He does not speak of the gospel as grace to the elect as opposed to the reprobate, but this is his meaning when he writes that the gospel is “particular” and declares that Jesus came to redeem and apply salvation to “his people.”

This ought to lead Clark to conclude that the 1924 CRC Synod of Kalamazoo erred when it spoke of a “general offer of the gospel” as proof of a non-saving, common grace of God in the 1st point of common grace. After the paragraph above one could reasonably expect Clark to criticize this act of the CRC Synod proclaiming—‘the gospel is particular, saving grace for the elect! Therefore, the saving grace of the gospel is not proof of a common grace of God.’

However, Clark does not continue with such clarity of thought. Instead he continues by writing,

Because the gospel is not general, because it is not common, it must be proclaimed to all universally, seriously, and freely. The first of Synod Kalamazoo’s Three Points was the free or well-meant offer of the gospel. God reveals himself as willing that none should perish. So, despite the protestations of a noisy minority, the Reformed have widely taught the doctrine of the free or well-meant offer of the good news. We offer Christ and his grace to all because we do not presume to know whom God, from all eternity, in Christ, has elected. Just as we who believe are the unworthy recipients of favor earned for us by Christ, we offer that grace to all.

In his explanation of why the gospel should be preached promiscuously Clark combines an uncommon gospel of saving grace with the common (non-saving) grace of the well-meant offer of the gospel. It would be logical to conclude, having established that the gospel is not common, that the grace of God in both the gospel itself and the preaching of the gospel is particular. But Clark’s position is that God’s grace in the gospel is not common while it is common in the preaching of the gospel.  In fact he seems to argue that a gospel of uncommon grace necessitates the bestowal of a common grace of God in the preaching of the gospel.

I have to admit that I am not exactly sure what Clark means when he says that the gospel must be preached to all because it is not common. My best guess is that he means that the gospel must be preached because there are unsaved people in the world, and the gospel is the means by which they can be saved, so the gospel must be preached to them. If this is what Clark means here, his thinking is not wrong but incomplete. The presence of unsaved people in the world does not necessarily mean that God wants the gospel to be preached to them. God could have commanded the church to keep the gospel to itself. So to say that the gospel must be preached to all just because not all are saved is insufficient.

But this may be why Clark brings up the well-meant offer as a reason why the gospel must be preached to all. The well-meant offer supposes that God loves and desires the salvation of all men. Thus the thinking is that because God desires all men to be saved the church must preach the gospel to all who are unsaved as she has opportunity. Seems logical.

However, things are not as simple as they may seem on the surface. Clark’s argument is based on a premise that is both unstated and unproven. That premise is that the only reason God would want the church to preach the gospel to unsaved people is that he desires the salvation of all people. Clark has not stated that this is his belief in so many words in anything I have read of him. But he has written in another place that the doctrine of the well-meant offer that he learned from John Murray and Bob Strimple “provided a clear biblical, exegetical, and theological rationale for the proclamation of the gospel[1].” Clark’s position is that the well-meant gospel offer provides the “rationale” for preaching the gospel to all. If God does not desire to save all in the preaching of the gospel, what rationale would there be for preaching to the lost? Clark’s answer seems to be that there would be none. Thus it is not a misrepresentation of Clark’s position to state that he believes the only reason for preaching the gospel to everyone is that God loves everyone (presumably with a common, non-saving love).

But the premise that the only rationale for preaching the gospel to lost sinners is that God desires the salvation of all who hear the preaching is false. God does not have to love every lost sinner to desire that the gospel be preached universally, seriously, and freely. It is enough that God loves His elect who are lost. Surely the church has ample reason to preach the gospel to everyone she can because she knows God has determined to use the preaching as the means to gather his eternally beloved elect from among the unconverted in the world.

Clark gives a good reason for why the church does not limit the preaching only to the elect when he writes, “we do not presume to know whom God, from all eternity, in Christ, has elected.” Hopefully Clark understands that this is the position of those who reject the well-meant offer. We do not presume to know who the elect are because we don’t know who they are! The logic of our position is very clear and consistent. The elect have not all been converted and brought to the knowledge of salvation. God desires their salvation. The means that God has instituted to convert the elect is the preaching of the gospel by the church. God has not revealed to the church who among the unconverted are elect. Therefore, for the sake of the salvation of the elect, who are known to God but unknown to the church, the church must preach the gospel to all. This is both logical and more importantly in complete harmony with scripture and the Reformed creeds.

And yes, the members of the church do know they are unworthy recipients of God’s sovereign particular grace. Humble gratitude for the amazing grace of God impels the church to preach the gospel to lost sinners wherever she has opportunity—confident that this amazing grace will shine to the glory of God in the salvation of all his elect.

 

[1] This is from Clark’s essay entitled Janus, the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel, and Westminster Theology found in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine. Edited by David VanDrunen (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 149. 

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What's in the May 1 Standard Bearer?

Read these articles and more in the upcoming May 1 issue of the Standard Bearer

Not a subscriber? Purchase a hard copy subscription or an esubscription today.

 

MEDITATION | CAST THY BURDEN UPON JEHOVAH

 

EDITORIAL | WHAT IT MEANS TO BE REFORMED - CALVINISTIC: IMPLICATONS

 

ALL AROUND US | THE ASHERS BAKERY CASE

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Herman Hoeksema's Triple Knowledge Republished!

 

The RFPA is excited to announce that the first five volumes of the Triple Knowledge republication are now available! Found in these volumes is the most extensive commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism in English. This fine exposition on man's misery, deliverance, and thankfulness clearly sets forth the distinctive truths of the Reformed faith in a warm, personal way. These handsome volumes will make a fine addition to any library.

Volumes 6-10 will be available in August 2015. 

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The Triple Knowledge was originally produced in a ten-volume set by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company beginning in 1943 with In the Midst of Death. Putting this series back into the 10 volumes—the way Rev. Hoeksema divided them—will bring the reader closer to the themes represented in the Heidelberg Catechism. 

Found in these ten volumes is the most extensive commentary on the fifty-two Lord's Days of the Heidelberg Catechism in English. This fine exposition on man's misery, deliverance, and thankfulness clearly sets forth the distinctive truths of the Reformed faith in a warm, personal way.

 Order Today 

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What It Means When a Denomination Approves Gay Marriage

The PC-USA made the news recently because of its decision to approve of gay marriage, defining marriage as “a unique commitment between two people,” rather than a union of one man and one woman. What does this mean for the PC-USA?

First, it means that the PC-USA has aligned itself with spirit of the age in approving homosexuality. The Rob Bells of the world will applaud the denomination for deciding to be “relevant.” And even secular people will applaud the denomination for no longer “discriminating” against LGBT people. Approving gay marriage will make things go easier for the denomination from an earthly point of view. The burden of bearing the reproach of Jesus Christ has been lifted from the PC-USA.

Second, it means that the PC-USA has had much deeper problems for many years. Tolerance of homosexuality is a symptom of the fact that a denomination no longer requires belief in the divine inspiration of scripture. Inevitably all of the central truths of the Christian faith are rejected when the Bible is no longer believed to be God’s Word. The recent reports that the PC-USA approves homosexuality are appalling. But much more appalling are the things written by a PC-USA minister in this article entitled, “I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God.” This article is the reason I decided to write this post about the PC-USA’s decision to approve gay marriage. Here are some of the things this “minister” in the PC-USA professes to believe (these are his own words):

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife 

Third, it means that God’s fierce wrath has fallen upon the PC-USA in judgment for its other serious sins. Many Christians seem to take homosexuality seriously while they fail to recognize the seriousness of other sins. Reports are out that an alliance of churches representing 15 denominations and thousands of congregations is threatening to sever ties to the PC-USA because of its decision to approve gay marriage.  Apparently this alliance did not and does not condemn the denomination for its toleration of the denial of the central truths of the Christian faith. This is the opposite of God’s attitude. God is angry with the PC-USA for tolerating those who deny His very existence, who deny that the Bible is his word, and who deny the truth of who Jesus is as set forth in the Bible. God has expressed his intense hatred for these things by giving the denomination over to the abominable sin of homosexuality.

Fourth, it means Jesus is coming! What we see in the PC-USA is a fulfillment of scripture. 2 Thess. 2 speaks of the “falling away” (vs. 3) from Christ that we see today in the PC-USA and many other denominations. The chapter also speaks of the coming of “that man of sin” who will seek to replace God, “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Perhaps the individual “man of sin,” the personal antichrist, has not yet appeared in the PC-USA to be worshipped. But the spirit of antichrist is at work in the PC-USA, replacing the worship of God with the worship of Satan. We are saddened. But not shaken! For we know this is a sign “that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thess. 2:2).

Finally, it means that those whom “God hath from the beginning chosen … to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” need to heed the admonition to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught” (2 Thess. 2:13, 15). When we behold the judgment of God ravaging the PC-USA we need to see it as a reminder not only to maintain the Bible’s teaching about the sin of homosexuality, but even more a reminder to maintain all of the teachings of scripture that have been handed down to us, as they are summarized in our Reformed confessions.

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Why Do I Love My Unbelieving Neighbor? (2)

I do not love my unbelieving neighbor because I know that God loves him. But I do love him for God’s sake. Love for the neighbor is not rooted in a desire simply to be a decent human being. Atheists believe it is possible to love the neighbor without any love for God. Some of these atheists expressed their faith in a general human capacity for goodness with advertisements in 2008 that read: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” Contrary to that the Bible teaches and the believer knows that true love for the neighbor is rooted in a love for God. Without the love of God in my heart I cannot love my wife, my children, my governor, my parents, my brothers and sisters in Christ, or my unbelieving neighbor. God’s love must come to me first, transform me so that I love him, and then for his sake I can love my neighbor.

In his exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism Rev. Hoeksema explained that loving the neighbor for God’s sake is the requirement of the summary of the law. He wrote,

When the Lord teaches us in Matt. 22:38 and 39 that the great commandment is the love of God, while the second commandment, concerning the love of the neighbor, is like unto the first, the meaning is, of course, that the love of God is the principle of the whole law and that without it there is no love of the neighbor possible. The latter is rooted in the love of God. It is evident, therefore that the law requires that we love the neighbor for God’s sake.

True love for the neighbor is always an expression of love for God that is controlled by the law of God. Men do not love their neighbors when the kindness they show to them measures up to their own human standards. Men might think it is a loving-kindness to the neighbor when they tolerate and even encourage the neighbor’s sins. In reality that is hatred for God and therefore hatred for the neighbor. When men seek to “love” their neighbors in such a way they are pursuing the neighbor’s material good at the expense of his spiritual well-being. Christians love others according to God’s law in order to “promote the advantage” of the neighbor both materially and spiritually (Lord’s Day 42, Q/A 111 of the Heidelberg Catechism).

Since Christians love the neighbor for God’s sake, they love the neighbor for the same reason that they love God. GRATITUDE. Why are Christians filled with gratitude to God?  For the personal salvation God has graciously given to them for the sake of Jesus Christ. The reason I love my unbelieving neighbor is not because God loves him but because God loves me! If I had a Muslim neighbor next door, my thought would not be, ‘because God loves him I am required to love him.’ But my thought would be, ‘because God loves me I must love him.’ Gratitude is expressed in love for the neighbor because of the personal knowledge that says, ‘I am an unworthy sinner loved by God, so I will also love my neighbor, who may be an unworthy sinner, but no more unworthy than me.’

Why did Paul love and desire the salvation of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles? Why does a believing wife cleave to and love an unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3)? Why do Christians honor and pray for the salvation of wicked rulers? Why do Christians give a reason of their hope to Muslims and other unbelievers and pray for their salvation? Such love for the neighbor is not rooted in a knowledge that God loves everyone with whom Christians have contact. Christians love others, are kind to others, and desire the salvation of others because they are thankful for how great a salvation God has given them!

In the future I plan to take the time to examine some Scripture passages that demonstrate that Christian love for the neighbor is based on God’s love for us, not his love for all men. And perhaps in another post I will answer the question, do Christians love people that God does not love, and if so, why?  

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Why Do I Love My Unbelieving Neighbor?

The title of this post is a question that I asked myself after reading the title of a “Breakpoint” message by John Stonestreet—Our Muslim Neighbors: Christ died for them, we could at least love them. The title seems to suggest that Christians ought to love unbelievers (specifically Muslims) because God loves them. The Bible clearly teaches that God sent Jesus to die for sinners as an expression of his love for sinners. And the logic of Stonestreet’s argument seems to be that if God loves unbelievers in the cross of Jesus Christ then that love of God is the reason that Christians also must love unbelievers.

The issue here is not that God loves unbelievers and sent Christ to die for them. The Bible is very clear that in his love for his people who were yet sinners, hardened unbelievers, God sent Christ to die for them. The issue here is the extent of God’s love for unbelievers that was displayed in the death of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus’ death an expression of God’s love for all sinners or only for some?

Stonestreet’s title suggests that God’s love in the cross of Jesus Christ is universal in extent—it is a love for all sinners. Stonestreet does not explicitly say in the title or in the body of his article that Jesus died for everyone. This is the inference that I am drawing from his assertion that Christians should love people because Christ died for them. In the body of the article Stonestreet speaks of the calling of Christians to “love our enemies,” to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” and to “reach out to all our neighbors (emphasis his).” If we are to love all of our neighbors, and Christ’s death for the neighbor is the basis of that love, then Christ must have died for all of our neighbors. So Stonestreet seems to find a love of God for all men in the cross of Jesus Christ as the ground that necessitates the love of Christians for their unbelieving neighbors.

The idea that Christians must love all men because God loves all men is quite prevalent in the church today. Even in many Reformed churches where the idea that Jesus died for all men is rejected, it is still popular to teach that God loves all men. In these churches they deny that God loves all men in the death of Jesus Christ, but they teach that God loves all men in the preaching of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is a “well-meant” offer of salvation to all men in which God sincerely loves all men and desires the salvation of all men. It is commonly said this is what drives the church to do missions. Why does the church do the most loving thing it can do for sinners and preach the gospel to all men as it has opportunity? Because God loves all men. Therefore, the church must love all men and seek the salvation of all men too.  So whether it is because God loves all men in Jesus’ death, or because he loves all men in the preaching of the gospel, the conclusion is the same, the reason that Christians must love the neighbor is because God also loves the neighbor.

There is no question that Christians must love their enemies, do good to all men (Matt. 5:43, Gal. 6:10). There is no question about the duty of the church to preach the gospel to all men as it has opportunity (Matt. 28:19). There is no question about the duty of the individual Christian to love and desire the salvation of his unbelieving neighbor whether he be an atheist or a Muslim.

But the calling of a Christian to love the neighbor cannot be grounded upon the love of God for all men. Christian love for the neighbor cannot be grounded upon the love of God for all men because God does not love all men. God did not love all men in the cross of Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches that Jesus died for His elect sheep alone (John 10:15). God loved only the elect in the cross of Jesus Christ. And God does not love all men in the preaching of the gospel. In the preaching of the gospel God also only loves and desires the salvation of his elect (Matt. 13:11-17, Matt. 22:14).

Scripture teaches that God’s love is powerful. It does not matter if one says that God’s love for all men is found in the cross of Christ or in the preaching, either way, if God loves everyone with his powerful love then everyone would be saved. But everyone is not saved. Which means that God’s love must be a weak love if his love is universal. There is no hint of a weak universal love of God that fails to save those who are the objects of that love in Scripture. God’s love is powerful and saving for those chosen by God in eternal election (Rom. 8:29-30).

Christ did not die for all men. God does not have love for all men. Christians then do not love their unbelieving neighbors because they know God loves them.

Oh yes, Christians must love Muslims and their other unbelieving neighbors. Why?

We will answer that question in the next post.

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Monday Morning Devotions: Rest

Matt. 11:18 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

What is Sabbath rest? How can we enjoy Sabbath rest even during the week when we are busy working? Rev. Hoeksema answers these questions (and others) in chapter 7 of Peace for the Troubled Heart. Here is today’s excerpt:

With unrest he fills the heart until every last basis of self-confidence is removed, until from the heart the cry is wrung, “O, God, be merciful unto me, a sinner!”

When all the wisdom and prudence, all the righteousness of works, all self-conceit and self-confidence to carry our own burdens and remove them is uprooted, and the heart longs for a righteousness that is not its own but God’s, he stands forth in all the beauty of his salvation, in all the glory of his power and says, “Weary toiler, it is finished. The task you labor to accomplish is completed. The work is done!”

“It was done for you.”

“Completely finished by me.”

“I will give you rest!”

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The Plain Reading of Genesis

Today I point you to this outstanding article entitled The Genesis Crisis. If anyone needs to be brought up to speed on the creation “debate” that is raging in the churches today this article is a good place to start. Here are some of the questions that the article answers (the answers are gleaned from the article—direct quotes are indicated with quotation marks):

Why do so many in the church today refuse to accept the plain reading of Genesis?

Answer: “Regardless of historical science’s inability to get its story straight, its various conjectures are given unquestioned authority and exert enormous academic and ideological pressure. And in the face of that pressure, many theologians and biblical scholars attempt to harmonize creation and evolution in hopes of maintaining both their academic credibility and their orthodoxy.”

What organization is militantly attacking the truth of creation and promoting the unbelieving theory of evolution?

Answer: BioLogos.

Who are some of the well-known and much too well-thought-of supporters of BioLogos?

Answer: N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Bruce Waltke.

What is one of the false charges made against those who accept the plain reading of Genesis?

Answer: That we are anti-science.

How should we respond to the charge we are anti-science?

Answer: “It’s worth remembering that true empirical science is measurable, testable, repeatable, and observable. Therefore evolutionary theories require at least as much blind faith as the Genesis account, if not more. And yet the wonky religions of Big Bang Cosmology and Darwinian Evolution have done an amazing job of frightening theologians with their façade of pseudo-scientific evidence.

Theologians who refuse to compromise and cave to that façade are not ‘anti-science.’ They are against bad science. If a scientific theory conflicts with God’s inerrant Word, it is the theory that requires revision; not Scripture. True biblical scholarship seeks to arrive at exegetical conclusions in conformity with the biblical text, not impose humanistic conclusions upon the text, thus changing its meaning. Those who insist on mixing oil with water combine pseudo-science with pseudo-exegesis and come up with convoluted solutions that neither scientists nor scholars can agree on.”

What errors are “evangelicals” developing as a result of their refusal to read Genesis 1 as history?

Answer 1: NT Wright does not believe that Adam and Eve were the first of their kind who lived alone in the garden of Eden. He sees them as “a primal pair in a world of emerging hominids” that God called out from that group of hominids to live in the garden of Eden. The implication is that Adam and Eve did exist, but they were not created, they descended from some pre-human ancestors—including various animals, plants, and rocks.

Answer 2: Tim Keller is open to the idea that “God forming man from the dust of the ground could be a description of evolution.”

Why is refusing to accept Genesis 1 as a historical account of creation so important?

Answer 1: It denies the authority of Scripture.

Answer 2: It also leads to a denial of the gospel. The article quotes John MacArthur who writes, “If Adam was not the literal ancestor of the entire human race, then the Bible’s explanation of how sin entered the world makes no sense. Moreover, if we didn’t fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ, because Christ’s position as the Head of the redeemed race exactly parallels Adam’s position as the head of the fallen race: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18–19). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13–14; Jude 14).

So in an important sense, everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1–3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture.”

There is one important question that the article does not answer. What is the most subtle and therefore most dangerous view of Genesis 1 that denies that it is a historical account of God’s work of creating the heavens and earth?

Answer: The Framework Hypothesis.

Where can you go to read more about the Framework Hypothesis?

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In the Beginning God

COMING SPRING 2015!

The 1960s were years of challenges to the infallibility and inspiration of scripture. These attacks were precipitated by the increasingly popular theory of evolution, which was making inroads into Reformed churches and schools. In contradiction to this creeping heresy and in unequivocal defense of the doctrine of scripture, the Reformed Free Publishing Association published In the Beginning God.

Since then the conflict between creation and evolution as the explanation of the origin of the world has intensified, and the doctrine of scripture is increasingly compromised, even in historically Reformed churches and schools.

God’s people must be knowledgeable regarding the doctrines of scripture and of creation so that they are able staunchly to defend these truths. To this end the Reformed Free Publishing Association is pleased to republish this explanation and defense of these timeless truths.

  • 144 pages
  • paperback
  • ISBN 978-1-936054-76-3
  • Retail price $9.95
  • This book will be automatically sent to Book Club members.

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Monday Devotions: Compassionate Remembrance

Psalm 103:14 “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Has he forgotten how frail we are? Rev. Hoeksema says our experience seems to tell us he has. We suffer persecution, sickness, the death of loved ones, and many other things. And all of this comes from God! What does Psalm 103:14 tells us? Rev. Hoeksema writes,

He never forgets.

A load of sickness and pain never breaks the dust-frame of his children because he was forgetful of its frailty and overburdened it. It never breaks accidentally. When it does break it is only because he comes to break it. And when he comes to break that dust-frame, he does so in his mercy and compassion because he know that thus it is best.

He never makes his children bear a load of grief and pain, of sorrow and distress, of tribulation and persecution, without mercifully remembering that the bearing frame is dust. And when the load becomes too heavy for mere dust-children to carry, yet it must be borne, he adds grace to dust and mercifully makes his strength perfect in weakness.

And, oh, what wonders are accomplished when the strength of his marvelous grace is made to sustain the frailty of human dust! Then the Lord’s dust-formed children pass through the fire, and it does not burn them; then floods submerge them, yet they are not drowned; then the night of tribulation can be frightfully dark, yet they rejoice; then suffering day-by-day may be their lot and may wreck their mortal frame, yet they sing,

           Though I am weak God is most high,

            And on his goodness I rely;

            Of all his wonders I will tell,

            And on his deeds my thoughts shall dwell.

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