Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

In his exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20, William Gurnall notes the need for the Christian to wear armor. He plainly writes, “The Christian must be armed for the War.” (Gurnall, 45)

In his opening discussion of Ephesians 6:11, he provides the importance of regeneration. Without God’s saving grace, the individual is in “a Christless graceless state.” (Gurnall, 45) He goes on to describe this terrible situation, “A soul out of Christ is naked and destitute of all armour to defend him against sin and Satan.” (Gurnall, 45)

CONSIDER THE ENEMY

This thought should immediately strike fear into our hearts. Satan is no thin, red devil running around with a pitchfork. He is the prince of darkness (Eph. 6:12, cf. Col. 1:13), and the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). He has vast power, so much so that even Michael would not bring an accusation against him (Jude 9). He walks around like a lion “seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, ESV). While Christians should fear God, we must be careful not to approach the great enemy of our souls in a haphazard manner.

CONSIDER THE STATE OF THE UNREGENERATE

As Christians, our greatest privilege is to share the Gospel with people. We seek to evangelize the lost, to see Satan’s kingdom of darkness overcome with the light and love of Jesus. But in our efforts to preach the Gospel, we must remember the state of those to whom we preach.

Gurnall offers four “notions” of those in this Christless state. (Gurnall, 46)

“IT IS A STATE OF ALIENATION FROM GOD” (Gurnall, 46)

Paul encourages believers to remember their hopeless state before Christ (see Eph. 2:12). All people, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, political view, economic status, or any other class, who have not been born again at in a state of alienation from God. Gurnall states their sad case, “He is without God in the world; he can claim no more protection from God, than an out-lawed subject from his prince.” (Gurnall, 46) The people to whom we communicate the Gospel have no protection from the God of heaven.

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IGNORANCE, AND SUCH MUST NEEDS BE NAKED AND UNARMED” (Gurnall, 46)

This spiritual war, unobserved to the natural eye, wages all over. The sad state is one of complete ignorance. Gurnall remarks, “He that cannot see his enemy, how can he ward off the blow he sends?” (Gurnall, 46) As we share the Gospel, the Christless people of earth have no idea of the enemy’s attacks. They are open, exposed, like a nerve without a tooth. They experience great pain, but are unaware of the enemy’s affliction. Let us pray that God will deliver them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light!

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IMPOTENCY” (Gurnall, 47)

The souls to whom we preach are impotent. They cannot fight their own flesh, let alone the devil. What hope have they? They have no armor, nor a Protector. They have no weapons, nor a Defender. Gurnall describes their plight, “What the Spirit of God doth in a saint, that in a manner doth Satan in a sinner. The Spirit fills the heart with love, joy, holy desires, fears; so Satan fills the sinner’s heart with pride, lust, lying.” (Gurnall, 47) Imagine the desperate plight of these bearers of the image of God!

“THE STATE OF UNREGENERACY IS A STATE FRIENDSHIP WITH SIN AND SATAN” (Gurnall, 47)

The state of Christless souls is one of friendship with sin and Satan. Remember  James’ words, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NASB). No Christless soul can be a friend of God, nor can it be an enemy of Satan. Gurnall even discusses the possibility of when an individual seems to be fighting against sin and Satan. He writes, “Sometimes indeed there appears a scuffle between Stan and a carnal heart, but it is a mere cheat, like the fighting of two fencers on a stage. You would think at first they were in earnest, but observing how wary they are, [and] where they hit one another, you may soon know they do not mean to kill; and that which puts all out of doubt, when the prize is done you shall see them making merry together with what they have got of their spectators, which was all they fought for.” (Gurnall, 47-48)

CONSIDER OUR DUTY

As Christians, we are to don this armor in order to fight our own wars. We still have indwelling sin, and we are told to fight against it in the power of God’s might. We must remember, consider, meditate upon the destructive nature and devilish desires of our enemies.

As Christians, we are to fight against the powers of darkness through the grace of God. Gurnall discusses the weapons of our warfare later, but for now we need to remember the plight of the Christless soul. What are we doing to tell people the Gospel? How are we evangelizing the lost?

May we be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!

 

MORE IN THE SERIES

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

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A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 3)

Psalm 119 has seven verses that mention the word affliction. These references help form a framework from which the believer, the child of God, can endure, learn from, and thrive in, affliction.

Of course this idea seems to be a complete contradiction. But as we mentioned before, God’s workings are quite beyond our ability to comprehend (see Isaiah 55:8-9). The fact that we can endure affliction and thrive and learn in it is astounding.

Our second verse is Psalm 119:67. David writes,

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (KJV)

This single verse provides an interesting timeline of events. Like the Order of Service printed on a church bulletin, this verse shows the progression of David’s experiences in affliction and the result of facing them.

MISLEADING AND DECEPTION

David plainly states, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” That is, before David experienced trouble, he went astray. The phrase went astray is an interesting one. It comes from one Hebrew word, and though there are several shades of meaning, the basic concept is one of deception.

Another was to describe this is misled. Misleading can come in a variety of ways. For example, David experiencing a form of misleading when he was transporting the Ark of the Covenant. In II Samuel 6, David decides to take a large number of people (30,000, according to 6:1), to retrieve the Ark. It must have been a thrilling experiencing! All of those people celebrating the return of the Ark, surrounded by music and joy (6:2-5)!

Then something terrible happened. Tragedy struck a man named Uzzah. As they (Uzzah and Ahio, brothers, 6:3) drove the cart, the Ark slipped and began to fall and “Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it…And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6-7).

Can you imagine how David, and the people, felt? It seemed as if they were doing everything right and then tragedy struck.

MISLEADING AND US

Does that not happen to us? Do we not proceed with life thinking we are doing well, but like Uzzah we face some affliction? The question is, “Why?”

Why did God strike Uzzah down? After all, he was trying to save the Ark. Why would God do that?

Affliction was a tool used in Uzzah’s, the people’s, and David’s life to remove that misleading. We are human beings, prone to deception and faulty thinking (see Ephesians 2:3; 4:17-18, for example). We believe we are doing right. We may think our motives are right, and therefore justify the means. We may think the end is right, and therefore justify the means.

This is what happened during the transportation of the Ark. David, leading the people, thought that by bringing the Ark back to the land they were doing good. This affliction, no doubt, drove David to consider God’s truth about the Ark. He would have been sent to the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) in which he would have read Numbers 4:15, 16, and 20.

And this is what happens in our own lives. Far too often we justify unbiblical ways of doing deeds, thinking thoughts, or spreading speech by the motive, the ends, and even the means. And, perhaps unbeknownst to us, we sin.

MISLEADING AND CORRECTION

However, God in His infinite mercy and marvelous sovereignty, uses our failures and deceptions to conform us to the image of His dear Son and our Savior, Jesus (Romans 8:29; cf. Gen. 50:20). David, brokenhearted and confused, “was afraid of the LORD that day” (II Sam. 6:9). Before David experienced this affliction he went astray. He was deceived.

Like us, we often need affliction in order to be driven to the God we worship. Like bumper bars in a bowling lane, affliction keeps us, like it did David, from being misled into the gutters of sin.

MISLEADING AND GOD’S WORD

Affliction is a unique tool in the hand of our sovereign, good God. He uses it so that we, like David, can say, “now I have kept thy word.”

Brothers and sisters, let us keep the Word of God! Let affliction be our guides to read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word!

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 2)

A NERDY INTRODUCTION

In our last post we began to examine Psalm 119:50. We used the ESV translation, which states, ” “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

The ESV chose an interesting way to translate the word אמרתך. The word is translated promise. However, in the NASB and the NKJV, is is translated word.

According to Logos, the word  אמרתך (or its derivatives) is translated one of three ways: word(s), speech, and command.

Psalm 119_50_Word Graphic
The results from a word search on Logos 8, gathered from the NASB95. The graph represents the occurrences of each translation of the Hebrew word. The total amounts of translation are: word(s): 32; speech: 4; and command: 1.

Generally, then, the אמרתך is used to describe word, speech, or a command. In the case of Psalm 119, we can safely presume it refers to God’s Word. Almost every verse of Psalm 119 (176 in total) refer to God’s Word in one form or another. The next question is, How does God’s Word (or promise, as the ESV renders it), provide comfort in affliction?

A PROFOUND TRUTH

Books can be written to answer that question. To limit our discussion (and the length of this post), I want to focus on a few verses from this Psalm in particular.

To begin with, there is a specific happiness that accompanies biblical obedience. The psalmist begins the wonderful chapter with these words, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk int he law of the LORD.” (Psalm 119:1, NASB) During times of affliction, whether spiritual or physical, comfort is gained from the joy of obedience (compare this with Hebrews 12:2).

Or take another verse, Psalm 119:6, “Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.” (NASB) When we look at God’s commands. Of course the word entails more than simply looking with one’s eyes. It involves observation, intent attentionprolonged and purposeful examination. Even during affliction, observance of God’s Word frees one from shame.

SO WHAT?

So what does this mean for you? Well, it depends upon the affliction facing you. What are you going through? What troubles are attacking your body or soul? What family members are experience tumultuous times?

Do you turn to the only place that can provide true help? As Dr. Berg bluntly states, “It is, rather, mutinous for created beings to turn to themselves for solutions when they were created to depend upon God Himself.” [Jim Berg, God Is More Than Enough: Foundations For a Quiet Soul (Greenville, SC: Journey Forth, 2010), 6.] We are so prone to turn to everything but God, and He has graciously provided His Word to help us during times of affliction. When dealing with anxiety, we can turn to the God Who holds everything together. When struggling with sexual temptation, we can find satisfaction in the wonders of Jesus Christ. The afflictions will vary in kind and intensity, but the answer is always the same: God’s Word.

As we continue to journey through these verses in Psalm 119, I hope that you realize that God’s Word is such a treasure-trove of comfort and delight.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 1)

In a previous post, we begin a brief overview of affliction as it appears in Psalm 119. The subject of affliction appears seven times in the mammoth psalm. We begin with the first appearance of affliction in Psalm 119:50.

David pens these words,

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” (ESV)

A BRIEF DEFINITION

Affliction is translated from the Hebrew word עני, which, according to one lexicon, means “affliction, poverty.” Another possible definition is “misery.” No matter which one you choose, the picture is not pleasant.

The connection with affliction and the trials we face are obvious. We are all afflicted with a variety of problems. They vary in significance and intensity, but they afflict us all. This broad understanding helps us in every situation, and is another evidence of the complete sufficiency of God’s Word for all our problems.

CAN THERE BE COMFORT IN AFFLICTION?

If you are like me, you may find yourself asking the question, “Can there be comfort in affliction?” It would appear to be an oxymoron to many of us. Imagine finding comfort while mourning the loss of a spouse. Try to find comfort when the doctor informs you that you have six months to live. Look for comfort when your bills are more than your income.

These are all severe cases, but what about the “little things”? Can you find comfort when you are late to work? Is there comfort for your car breaking down once again? Does a severed relationship with a friend at school make room for comfort?

Can comfort be present in affliction, severe or little?

David’s answer is a resounding yes. Contrary to the marred thinking of sinful human beings (see Ephesians 4:17-18), Christians can find comfort during times of affliction.

A LIFE CHANGING TRUTH

Is this not wonderful news? Regardless of the scenario of affliction, the believer can receive comfort. Though the trials will vary in intensity and timing, we can find comfort, true and life-infusing comfort.

The idea is consolation. We all need to be comforted, to feel that everything will be alright. God’s Word comforts us. Like feasting on chicken noodle soup after a bout with sickness, God’s Word provides healing down to the very depths of our souls.

LIFE GIVING PROMISE

How does David find comfort during times of affliction? David says, “your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50, ESV). The promise found in the sacred Scriptures provide life-infusing comfort during those times of adversity.

The question remains, what promise?

For that, you will have to wait until the next post.

God’s Mercy and Our Daily Bread

Thomas Manton’s An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer has been a remarkable work. My soul has been filled, my heart has been challenged, and my joy has been stirred. The depth to which the Lord’s Prayer can be plumbed is, in my estimation, unimaginable.

Yet Thomas Manton has performed a wonderful work by presenting one more beautiful facet of the Lord’s Prayer. It comes on the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11, NASB)

Though his treatment of this verse spans seventeen pages, I found one point particular spectacular. Manton writes,

Ps. cxxxvi. 25, you have there the story of the notable effects of God’s mercy, and he concludes it thus: ‘Who giveth food to all flesh; for his mercy endureth forever.’ Mark, the psalmist doth not only ascribe those mighty victories, those glorious instances of his love and power, to his unchangeable mercy, but our daily bread. In eminent deliverances of the church we will acknowledge mercy; yea, but we should do it in every bit of meat we eat, for the same reason is rendered all along.

….It is not only mercy which gives us Christ, and slavation by Christ, and all those glorious deliverances and triumphs over the enemies of the church; but it is mercy which furnisheth our tables, it is mercy that we taste with our mouths and wear at our backs.

(Thomas Manton, Works, Volume 1, 154-155)

I just read that Psalm this morning in my private reading. What powerful thoughts! Every time we pray for God’s provision for our daily sustenance, it is because His mercy endures forever.

What a glorious thought! Have you contemplated this truth today? Do you realize that everything you have been gifted is all because of God’s mercy and provision? Imagine how different our lives would be if we, like Jesus instructed us to, prayed “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

Disciple: 5 Lectures for the Help of the Church

In July-August of 2018 I was allowed to lead one of our Life Seminars (a Bible study). I chose the topic of discipleship, as, in my humble opinion, churches can improve in this area.

I broke the subject down into five lectures. Below are my own lecture notes and accompanying study notes. If they are helpful, praise God! All mistakes are my own, and any glory belongs to our gracious and sovereign Heavenly Father.

WHO IS A DISCIPLE?

Who Is a Disciple? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 1

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE BELIEVE?

What Does a Disciple Believe? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 2

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, GENERALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Generally? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 3

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, SPECIFICALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Specifically? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 4

HOW DO I MAKE DISCIPLES?

How Do I Make Disciples? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 5

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

Recently I have experienced some incredible times of God’s presence. I have been reminded of His powerful sovereignty. I am revived by the sufficiency of God’s Word for all of our problems.

What is the cause of these sweet times with my Father? I can answer that question with one word: affliction. I will not go into details, but the last few months have been incredibly difficult for our family. Now, I do not mean that every day has been a struggle. Quite the opposite, we have enjoyed many joyful times in our private and ministerial life. However, we have experienced an increase in affliction.

Shortly before these afflictions began, I started reading Psalm 119. The psalm is packed with references to God’s Word, and I desired to see how intricate His Word is for the life of the believer. This personal study has produced an incredible yield of fruit in my own life, and consequently, in the life of others. My hope and prayer is that this brief series would encourage you with the sufficiency of God’s Word, the sweetness of God’s sovereignty, and the all-sufficient supremacy of God above everything.

In my personal study, I focused on Psalm 119:92. David writes, “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (NASB) One afternoon I had some additional personal study time in which I jotted down just a few thoughts.

  • God’s Word must be meditated on because
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of God
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of ourselves
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of our successes and failures
  • God’s Word must be meditated on constantly
    • Because we often forget about God and ourselves
    • Because we are constantly beset with sin
    • Because our problems are new every day

After reading these thoughts to my wife, she asked if I was preparing a sermon. Though I usually am, it was meant simply for personal edification. However, it turned out that I was given an opportunity to preach, and so I set to work developing these points further.

After the sermon, I realized that there was much more contained in this psalm, and so I spent more time studying.  One goal I had was to develop the idea of affliction as it is used in Psalm 119.

I found seven uses of the English word affliction in the NASB. These are Psalm 119:50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 107, and 153. In my research I found that the word translated as affliction comes from two Hebrew words.

In the following posts, I hope to provide an overview of affliction as presented in Psalm 119. I am amazed at how God’s Word is always the answer to our afflictions. I hope that these tools will find their way in your tool box, for past, present, and future afflictions. I pray that you and I will, like David, cry out “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.”

 

On the Meditation of Scripture

David declares, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97, NASB)

As Christians, we should love God’s law. Peter says we desire it like new born babies desire milk (1 Peter 2:2). It should be our constant meditation. Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to meditate. Our impression of meditation is sitting with our legs crossed while humming.

Meditation is not that. The word used for meditation can also mean reflection, prayer, musing, and devotion. In other words, it is something you think about. Of course, there are a variety of ways to think about something. This word, however, gives the impression of eagerness and delight. For example, when I come home from work, my children run out shrieking with excitement. It is seriously one of my favorite parts of my day. I think about it throughout the day with increasing excitement. I imagine their smiling, fruit snack-covered faces giving me kisses. I muse on it. Or, to put it in a biblical way, I meditate on it.

That is the idea here. The question, then, is how do we do this?

As with many things in the Christian life, there are a variety of ways to meditate on Scripture. Depending upon your personality and way of learning, you may meditate differently. For some, meditation takes place with pen and paper (I am thinking of Jonathan Edwards here). For others, it may take the form of writing songs (perhaps an Isaac Watts?). The list could go on, but one thing I have found helpful is to briefly jot down some main thoughts.

In order to provide some structure for this, I created a little document I call “Personal Notes on Scripture Reading.” You are free to download it here: Personal Notes on Scripture Reading

I organized it in a way that suits my study habits and personal quirks. Let me breakdown what I have, and perhaps it will help you meditate on God’s Word.

PASSAGE READ

This would be the Scripture you read. It may be several chapters, a chapter, or a section of verses. It simply depends upon your time and ability to consume Scripture. Don’t worry about the amount you read, focus on the content of what you read.

MAIN THOUGHTS

What are the main thoughts of the passage? Is is a story? Is it a letter? The literary genres in Scripture are vast. The different people and points are also expansive. The idea here is to capture the main points (or thoughts) of the passage. This will help you remember what you read throughout the day. (For a little more treatment on this, check out this post.) Besides help in remembering what you read, this also helps in writing the thoughts in your own words. In other words, it helps with retention.

THOUGHTS FOR FURTHER INQUIRY

The third section is for questions that come up during your reading. In my example, my question for Psalm 119:71 is, “Why does affliction bring about greater learning of God’s

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Word?”

When reading Scripture, we need to be asking questions. Will this create more work? Yes, it will. However, it will yield fruit lasting for years. Imagine if you took a few more minutes each day to read Scripture in this way. The gems mined from your daily readings would invigorate your love for God’s Word. It would provide a feast for you for years to come. It would help you understand God, His ways, and our purpose, with ever-increasing clarity. 

 

PRAYER POINTS

The last section of my “Personal Notes on Scripture Reading” is called prayer points. What I am looking for here is how can this shape my prayer life. Using Psalm 119:71 as an example, I wrote, “Rather than praying for the removal from affliction, I should pray for learning during affliction.” This is a personal application. I can easily turn that to a prayer for my family, friends, my students, their families, our church, etc.

Every verse or passage may not lend itself to easy application. It may take more work to fill in this chart for a narrative than for an epistle. But you know what? As I continue to learn and apply God’s Word, I find myself, more and more, crying out “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

 

How do you meditate on God’s Word? I would love to hear about it!

 

Edwards and Self-Examination: Remembering Life Without Christ

We read in Ephesians 2:11-12 (ESV),

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

Paul, encouraged the Gentile believers to constantly remember their estate before Christ. He wanted them to remember their hopelessness, so they could marvel at God’s amazing grace (see Ephesians 2:8-).

We, like the Gentile believers, are in need of remembrance. How easy is it to forget that we were once lost, completely blinded by sin, and spiritually dead! We are all prone to this forgetfulness. Which is why we need to obey Paul’s exhortation to remember.

I am currently reading through Iain Murray‘s biography on Jonathan Edwards. It is, second only to the Bible, my favorite book. I love Jonathan Edwards, and I am always personally challenged when I read about his life.

As I was reading, I came across this reference to Edwards’ dairy. Though it is long, I think it is helpful to reproduce here for our own edification. May we, as we read Mr. Edwards’ words, be propelled to contemplate on our own wickedness in order to marvel at the majestic grace of God. Edwards writes,

Often, since I lived in this town, I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together; so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion. It has often appeared to me that if God should mark iniquity against me I should appear the very worst of all mankind-of all that have been, since the beginning of the world to this time, and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell.

My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge or mountains over my hear. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often, for these many years, these expressions are in my mind, and in my mount, ‘Infinite upon infinite…Infinite upon infinite!’ When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell.

I have greatly longed of late for a broken heart, and to lie low before God; and, when I ask for humility, I cannot bear the thoughts of being no more humble than other Christians. It seems to me, that though their degrees of humility may be suitable for them, yet it would be a vile self-exaltation in my, not to be the lowest in humility of all mankind. Others speak of their longing to be ‘humbled to the dust’, that may be a proper expression for them, but I always think of myself, that I ought, and it is an expression that has long been natural for me to use in prayer, ‘to lie infinitely low before God.’ And it is affecting to think, how ignorant I was, when a young Christian, of the bottomless, infinite depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy and deceit, left in my heart.

(Jonathan Edwards in Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008 reprint), 101-102.

This kind of self-examination is needed. We need to remember what we were, but before Christ saved us and even after He saved us. We are all creatures of His exquisite grace, and were it not for His wonderful grace we would all perish under the righteous wrath of God.

Paul, shortly after penning the words found in Ephesians 2:11-12 (ESV), writes “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

 

 

 

(Photo Credit)

4 Ways to Minister Like the Angels: A Word from T. Manton

In his exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, Thomas Manton provides biblical insight, pastoral application, and enthusiastic advice. Jesus prays in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (NKJV)

In developing the idea of the execution of God’s will on earth like it is in heaven, T. Manton discusses the angels. One thing I love about the Puritans is they were extremely practical. “How does this apply to my life?” was a question they incessantly asked of every passage of Scripture.

Manton mentions four ways you and I can minister like the angels.

“IN CONFORMITY TO THE ANGELS, WE MUST SERVE GOD READILY” (148)

As Scripture pictures angels with wings (see Isaiah 6:2) to execute God’s will swiftly, so we must seek to do God’s will in haste. Manton remarks in his typical fashion, “It is not enough to keep God’s commandments, but we must make haste; that is, before the strength of the present impulsion be lost, and those fervours which are upon us be cooled.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148)

One way to minister like the angels is to do so immediately.

“WILLINGLY AND CHEERFULLY, WITHOUT MURMURING” (148)

How many of us are guilty of begrudgingly serving our Lord? We ‘do’ His will because we have to do so. In this we are more like the devils, as Manton remarks, than the angels.

He writes, “When we do things with reluctancy, murmuringly, we are more like the devils than the angels. When the devils obey his word, they are forced to do so by the absolute power of Christ; yet they do it not with willingness and freeness, as the good angels do.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148)

Does our execution of God’s will mimic the angels, or the demons?

“CONSTANTLY AND UNWEARIEDLY” (148)

We are prone to weakness of the body. Our spirits give up after long bouts with temptation. We are reminded to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV)

This is why a daily time with God is so vital. We need God’s grace to be saved. We need God’s grace to be like Him. Manton remarks, “God in communion is ever new and fresh to them; the face of their heavenly Father is as lovely as at the first moment; no weariness or satiety creeps upon those good spirits. Thus should we do it without weariness, and then we shall reap if we faint not.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148-149)

Be like the angels and constantly do God’s will (in His strength, of course!).

“FAITHFULLY, NOT PICKING AND CHOOSING” (149)

The angels do God’s will regardless of what it is. For personal edification, using a concordance (or a online Bible), look up angels and see the variety of tasks to which they are assigned. They always do God’s will.

Like the angels, you and I are assigned different tasks. Perhaps we are given a glorious work (like announcing the arrival of the Messiah, Luke 1:8-14). Or, we may be given a behind-the-scenes task (like ministering to saints throughout the ages, Hebrews 1:14). Either way, we never read of angels bucking at God’s will or only doing part of it.

One important point Manton makes is, “‘They hearken to the voice of his word,’ whatever it be, be it to ascend or descend. So we, if it be to go backward for God, though it be against the bent of our hearts.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 149)

Has God called us to descend? Let us do it with trust in our sovereignly, good Heavenly Father.

These are four ways we can minister like the angels. Let us always, in all places, circumstances, and experiences, pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NKJV)