God gives us two different days. He gives us the day of prosperity, and He gives us the day of adversity. We must recognize that “surely God has appointed the one as well as the other” (Eccl. 7:13–14).
In 1686, shortly after Jean Claude, the famous Huguenot theologian, had left France because of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (which had allowed for toleration of the French Reformed Churches) he preached a sermon on that passage to a crowd of Dutch citizens and Huguenot refugees in The Hague, Netherlands for a day of fasting. Claude could not have chosen a more appropriate text. The Dutch had enjoyed the prosperity and blessing of the Lord in a free, Protestant land. The Huguenot refugees were still mourning their flight from their French homeland and attempting to put the pieces together in a new land.
Claude’s sermon was recently translated by Rev. Charles Telfer and printed in Vol. 19 of the Mid-America Journal of Theology (purchase it here). This sermon is a powerful exposition of that particular text as well as an excellent illustration of the power of Huguenot preaching. It is also one of my favorite sermons.
When Claude arrived at the point of application in his sermon, he addressed each group (the Dutch and the French) within the congregation separately. To those who had lived in prosperity he encouraged them to be grateful and use what they possessed to God’s glory: Continue reading “Joy in the Day of Prosperity; Learning in the Day of Adversity”
This figure that Jesus Christ presents to us under the image of food is itself very full and beautiful, being founded on an almost infinite number of comparisons or relationships that there are between the body and blood of our Savior in regard to our spiritual life and food in regard to our bodily life. At this point, I will not make an exhaustive list, it will be sufficient to notice three that can serve as a door to the others.
First, food is something naturally outside of ourselves that changes into our substance when we partake of it, and it is so absolutely necessary that without it we cannot exist so that the desire for food is violent and insatiable. In the same way, Jesus Christ is a principle of life which is outside of us, but being received by devotion and faith, communicates Him to us in such a way that we are filled with the power of His death and resurrection. Further, this is so necessary for the rest and peace of our consciences that without Him we cannot have any holiness, consolation, hope, or even the least spark of joy or spiritual life. That’s why the anxieties of a soul deprived of this great support are compared by Jesus Christ to hunger and thirst. “Blessed are those,” He says, “who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled” (Mt. 5).
Second, just as there is delight in taking food, since nature wanted to join pleasure to the usage of something so necessary and just as the body feels established and a certain tranquility after eating, so is it with Jesus Christ. The Christian soul cannot meditate on Him without an indescribable pleasure nor receive Him without enjoying a perfect rest.
Continue reading “Jesus As Food”
The Bible teaches that those who have once believed in Christ are secure forever in their salvation. This does not mean that God does not care about the remaining sin in His children. The Bible also teaches that our heavenly Father is displeased with His people’s disobedience and will chastise them for it, determined to lead them away sin. This distinction is presented beautifully in Psalm 89:30–33:
If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
Huguenot theologian Jean Daillé’s comment on this passage is to the point:
God here says two things: first, that he will chastise them, next, that he will not, on that account, cast them out of his covenant. O wonderful, tempering fo the kidness and severity of God! In which he finds his own glory, and believers their safety!
God will not break His covenant with His people, but He does interact with them, delighting in their obedience and chastising their disobedience.
Continue reading “Avoiding Legalism & Antinomianism”
The following selection is Martin Luther’s comments on Ecclesiastes 1:15: “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.”
Cicero writing from his own experience says, “Alas! How constantly it happens that as sure as anything has been devised, and planned for the best, and with the greatest industry, it turns out so badly and so strangely!” God however herein does well, that He blows away and brings to nothing whatever man meditates and undertakes. For as soon as any plan of us men succeeds a little, from that hour we begin to take the honor to ourselves. Forthwith ambition begins to stir within us, and we think to ourselves, this I have done, for this are my country and fellow men indebted to me; and we grasp at the honor which belongs alone and entirely to God. Wherefore, if God is to continue Lord, and to assert and maintain His first commandment, He must only suffer the lesser part of our thoughts to turn out well, and both in the courts and councils of kings and princes, and in all other affairs, so soon as, and whenever anything has been deliberated and determined, show that the words “if God wills it” still retain their full force. Continue reading “What Is Crooked Cannot Be Made Straight”