1ST COVENANT

THE TWISTED FIRST COVENANT

“The ten commandments are based on a call for faith in the God of the exodus, just like the moral teachings of the NT are based on a call for faith in the Lord of Good Friday and Easter” John Piper (ref#277).

FATHER, from Genesis to Revelation Your entire Bible holds the one theme: Your people trusting in You.  The subject of “faith” did not instantly appear with Your 2nd Covenant.  It would be well for all Your chosen ones if we would just trust in Your instructions.  However…

For some simply trusting You is not an immediate concept.  I, for one, spent many years trying to love and be loved by You through my own efforts.

“Sin is essentially man’s failure to trust in God, an act or state of unbelief” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p13, [Gen 3:6]).  “…the human heart would much rather offer to God its works, no matter how costly, than humble itself to confess sin.  That is the reason why man is always predisposed to go the way of works” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#100, p80).

“…concerning Israel…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom 9:27, 10:2-3 ESV).  “…in…the covenant God had made with them, they perverted His grace by seeing it as dependent on their own law-keeping” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1631, [Rom 10:3]).

“Why did Israel fail to achieve right standing with God through the law?  They did not pursue obedience to the law in humble trust, but tried to make it a means of establishing their own righteousness” The ESV Study Bible (ref# 125, p2174, [Rom 9:32]).

“…many in Israel twisted the Mosaic law into legalism.  That is, they severed it from its foundation of faith…and thus turned the commandments into a job description for how to earn the wages of salvation” John Piper (ref#277).

“The law never commanded anyone to try to merit his salvation.  The law is based on faith in God’s promises, not on legalistic strivings.  The mistake of Israel was not in pursuing the law, but in pursuing it by works instead of by faith” John Piper (ref#277).  “The Jews’ zeal and sincerity does not lead them to salvation.  The broader principle is that many sincere, ‘religious’ people are wrong in their beliefs” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2174, [Rom 10:2]).

FAITH

CHRIST, MY OBJECT OF FAITH

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love” Henry Scougal (ref#220, p304).

“When we are satisfied with our counselor we will do what he counsels.  But more than that.  True faith delights in all that Jesus is—his character, his personality, his nature.  This means that his counsel itself will be beautiful to us.  We will love holiness because it is an expression of the personality of the One whose personality we cherish” John Piper (ref#220, p250).

“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation” (1 Pet 1:8-9 MSG).

“…The conquering power…is our faith.  The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5 MSG).

“By the indwelling of the Spirit, and realized by faith, Christ abides in the believer and the believer abides in Christ.  ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one’” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 6th).

“Faith is receiving Christ” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p92).  “The Christian faith is faith inChrist.  Its value or worth is not in the one believing, but in the one believed—not in the one trusting, but in the one trusted” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

FAITH

FAITH IN CHRIST NOT IN THINGS

“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb 12:2 ESV).

“Would you have more faith?  Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p196).

“Is there anything in the true Church of God that would…indicate a proneness to substitute for Christ something in the experience of the believer?  Indeed.  Examples are…only too common.  When the act of faith is substituted for the object of faith…Faith is only the channel through which…blessings are received.  And yet, who has not detected in his heart a tendency to look to faith for the evidence of his Christianity instead of to Christ, thus making the act of believing a substitute for the object in which we believe” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 29th)?

“…where there is true faith, Christ will always be known and realized, as an actual living personal Friend.  He that knows nothing of Christ as his own Priest, Physician, and Redeemer, knows nothing yet of believing” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p191)!

“We glorify God when our service comes from faith in his strength, because the one who gives the strength gets the glory….1 Pet 4:11” John Piper (ref#220, p212).

FAITH

SUPERNATURAL FAITH

“I need emancipation; I need to be lifted to another realm; I need a force and a strength and a power that I do not have myself.  That is my need, and here is the answer: I am given faith—I am given an outlook and understanding—I am introduced to a source of power” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 7th).

“Faith means you take God at his word, you never let yourself think that you’re smarter than him, and you live inside his boundaries….We tend to live by sight, by personal experience, by collective research, or by good old intuition, but faith isn’t natural” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, April 17th).

“The highest rational knowledge of God cannot profit without the knowledge of faith….In the Scriptures, Christians are not called knowing persons, but believers” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p151).

“…trusting God to shape the right living in us…It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is…God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead….You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation….” (Rom 10:4-10 MSG).

“The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith.  The same dynamic is at work at every stage of the Christian life.  The power of God’s grace that saves through faith (Eph 2:8) is the same power of God’s grace that sanctifies through faith” John Piper (ref#220, p245).

 “…God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power…” (1 Cor 2:4-5 MSG).

FAITH

SAVING FAITH

“Saving faith is to cast myself and my own soul upon Christ for salvation” Thomas Cole (ref#225, p308).

“Believing in Christ is no mere intellectual assent…Doubtless there must be some knowledge before we can believe.  There is no true religion in ignorance.  But knowledge alone is not saving faith” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p182).

“Believing on Christ…is not mere feeling something about Christ.  This is often no more than temporary excitement…We may be pricked in conscience, and feel drawings toward the Gospel…We may even tremble and weep, and show much affection for the truth…And yet all this time our hearts and wills may remain utterly unchanged, and secretly chained down to the world.  Doubtless there is no saving faith where there is no feeling.  But feeling alone is not faith” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p182-183).

“True saving faith is not the kind of belief in the facts of the gospel that leaves the heart and life unchanged.  If it were, then God’s pleasure in obedience would indeed be bad news.  He would be saying that we are saved by faith, and then, to please him with obedience, we must move beyond faith to something else in order to produce good behavior.  This is not good news.  The good news is that saving faith is by its nature a life-changing power” John Piper (ref#220, p243-244).

“The moment that the conscience is convinced of sin, and the head sees Christ to be the only One who can save, and the heart and will lay hold on the hand that Christ holds out, that moment there is saving faith” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p183).

“…faith expresses itself in works…a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works…” (James 2:21-24 MSG).

FAITH

UNBELIEF

“’…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all’” (Isa 7:9 ESV).

There is a significant difference between amazement and faith.  God doesn’t just want to blow your mind; he wants to rule your heart….You can be amazed by the grand sweep of the redemptive story in Scripture and not be living by faith…You can be amazed by the great worship music you participate in every Sunday and not be living by faith….You can be amazed by the wonderful biblical preaching and teaching that you hear and not be living by faith” David Paul Tripp (ref#190, June 27th).

“There is nothing really mysterious and hard to understand about saving belief.  But the whole difficulty arises from man’s pride and self-righteousness….They cannot understand it because they will not stoop” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p182).

“’…my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him’” (Heb 10:38 ESV).

“…faith…the more it is exercised, the mightier it becomes…God never places His child in any difficulties or throws on him any cross except to call faith to exercise; and if the opportunity of its exercise passes away without improvement, the effect will be a weakening of the principle and a feeble exertion of power in the next trial” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 27th).

FATHER, what scary information—that the less faith I have the less faith I have.  This hits on the subject of obedience.  How many times does my memory tell me of my disobedience?  Please keep me in remembrance of these four words: “disobedience flows from unbelief” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2366, [Heb 3:15-19]).  My disobedience is caused by not trusting You fully.  Oh to have great faith!

“…the real trouble with most Christian people is not so much in the realm of their conduct and practise as in the realm of their belief” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p39-40).  “The commandments of God are only as hard to obey as the promises of God are hard to believe” John Piper (ref#220, p250).

“Nothing more effectually…obscures our view of Christ than the sin of unbelief.  Not fully believing His Word, not simply and implicitly relying on His work, not trusting His faithfulness and love…”  Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 1st).

“…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23 ESV).

FAITH

FAITH IS

“To believe, in the language of the New Testament, is simply to trust….Every one that believes on the Son of God, and trusts his soul to Him, is at once pardoned, forgiven, justified, counted righteous, reckoned innocent, and freed from all liability to condemnation” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p181).

“…doing something by relying on the strength which God supplies simply means doing it by faith” John Piper (ref#220, p245).  “…it is simply going out of yourself and taking up your rest in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 22nd).

“A true faith includes more than a mere belief; it is accepting the gospel…It is something more than a mere assent of the understanding, because it is called obeying the gospel…(1 Pet 4:17)” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p93).

“…anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35 ESV).

“…faith is trusting God and responding to him” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2104, [Acts 10:35]).  “Faith consists in two things: in being persuaded of the promises and in embracing them…(Heb 11:13)” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p94).

“True belief in Christ is the unreserved trust of a heart convinced of sin, in Christ, as an all-sufficient Saviour.  It is the combined act of the whole man’s head, conscience, heart and will” J.C Ryle (ref#273, p183).  “The belief of an individual involves ‘the mind, emotions and the will’” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“Faith is likened to looking to Christ, and following Christ, and fleeing to Christ….Faith brings nothing to Christ but an empty hand, by which it takes Christ and all that is in Him” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p18).

“Faith is the ceasing from all nature’s efforts, and all other dependence; faith is confessed helplessness casting itself upon God’s promise, and claiming its fulfillment; faith is the putting ourselves quietly into God’s hands for Him to do his work” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p83).

SCRIPTURE

THE BIBLE, GOD’S GIFT TO ME

“God’s Word has a claim…upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p47).

“Every word that God has given us in this Book claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him that spake it…God’s claim to be heard lies also in the condescension that has led Him to speak to us….Thou art so full of lovingkindness and tenderness that Thou wilt stoop out of heaven to converse with Thy sinful creatures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p46-47).

FATHER, You did not speak Your Word to me just to increase my knowledge but that it move me to change my conduct. Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p187)

“…to make progress in all the good things that he gives us, we must have his Word so we may be built upon it and grow more and more through it.  To bring this about, we must be teachable.  From day to day , we must labor to seek help in the Word to strengthen our faith…” John Calvin (ref#164, Oct 12th).

“We don’t see ourselves with clarity, but we think we do, and we don’t know ourselves with accuracy, but we are convinced we do….” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).  “…the mind was designed not to defend what we want, but to discover what is ultimately true….The purpose of the mind is not to rationalize subjective preferences, but to recognize objective reality and to help the heart revel in God” John Piper (ref#220, p261, underlining mine).  “Only when the Word of God is applied to a person’s life does he realize how deep and wide is his corruption” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 13th).

FATHER, I am reminded again what a great gift Your Word is as the SPIRIT convicts me of utilizing my mind all too often to “rationalize subjective preferences.”  How refreshing it is to follow “objective reality” reading Your Scriptures, instead.

“…we all need help.  It comes to us in the gift of God’s Word…” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).

SCRIPTURE

INFLUENCE OF SCRIPTURE

“Our convictions and values will come from society around us (the world), or they will come as our minds are renewed by the Word of God.  There is no third option” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p167-168).

FATHER, like no other book Your words change my very nature.  Externally I conclude, by the actions of the HOLY SPIRIT, that the Bible is unique in that every book in it agrees with every other book in it.  I also grasp the internal evidence.  I feel in my reading that it is Your Word explicitly.  The HOLY SPIRIT too, brings this to me. (ref#189, Dec 14th)

“The human task of thinking about God on the basis of his Word is the place where God ‘grants understanding.’  It is a gift….(Prov 2:2-6)” John Piper (ref#220, p285).

“…the word of God…performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thes 2:13 NASB).

“Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 19th PM).  “…the Holy Scriptures cannot be penetrated by study and talent is most certain.  Therefore our first duty is to begin to pray, and to pray to this effect that if it please God to accomplish something for His glory—not for yours or any other person’s—He very graciously grant you a true understanding of His words….You must, therefore, completely despair of your own…ability and rely solely on the inspiration of the Spirit” John Piper (ref#220, p291).

“The Word of God…is the weapon that God designs to use in penetrating the kingdom of darkness and gathering the children of light…His whole redemptive plan for the universe hangs on the success of his word…” John Piper (ref#220, p222).  “The great design…is to reveal the love of God to His people, and thereby recover their love to God, that they may love Him again who first loved them” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p128).

SCRIPTURE

THE POWER OF SCRIPTURE

“…’the Book’…is a fountain for spiritual thirst, food for the soul, a revelation of God, a living power and a two-edged sword” John Piper (ref#220, p292).

FATHER, the more familiar I become with Your Bible the more I approach it with respect and fear.  One read through cements the fact that it is indeed a supernatural book.  Ordinary books inform or entertain; the Bible changes my very nature.  UTMOST LORD, I thank You for providing the SPIRIT who guides me as I read.

I can easily fall back into reading with the mind of my flesh, using my natural “sense and reason without the Holy Spirit…” (Rom 8:6 AMP).  But by reading this way I’m only looking for information to help me.  Without the SPIRIT to help, Your Word is external.  It does not change me inside.  It only gives me advice to act independently of You.

“…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12 ESV).

“…the ‘word’ is pictured as God’s personal utterance, living, active, sharp, piercing, and discerning…with eyesthat expose….The Word of God then acts as God himself, so that one’s innermost thoughts and intentions are exposed.  This happens constantly in Christians’ lives” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2367, [Heb 4:12-13]).

If the ESV translation is hard to understand, try the Message: God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Heb 4:12-13 MSG).

I praise You, LORD, that Your Word “is a sifter…of the reflections and conceptions of the heart” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p519, [Heb 4:12]).  Its energy seeks to get into and stay with me. It has the ability to stir me and work in me to a degree that I can’t get away from it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83)

“We are being drawn more and more under the transforming influence of Scripture, or we are being progressively drawn into the web of an ungodly society around us” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).