It has been a while since last we visited Gurnall’s exposition on Ephesians 6:10-20.
We pick up in verse ten, where Paul writes, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
We are now on page 25 of Gurnall’s work, and an incredible thought came from his pen. He is working with “An amplification of the direction, ‘and in the power of his might’”. (Gurnall, 24) His goal is to present several doctrinal implications and their respective outflow in the life of the believer. It is wonderful. In his exposition, however, he develops an idea that I shall reproduce in its entirety:
As a father in rugged way gives his child his arm to lay old by, so doth God usually reach forth his almighty power for his saints to exercise their faith on, [as He did for] Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose faith God tried above most of his saints before or since, for not one of those great things which were promised to them did they live to see performed in their days. And how doth God make known himself to them for their support, but by displaying this attribute? ‘I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by the name of God Almighty,’ Ex. vi. 3.This was all they had to keep house with all their days: with which they lived comfortably, and died triumphantly, bequeathing the promise to their children, not doubting, because God Almighty had promised, of the performance. (Gurnall, 25)
Whoa! I suggest you read and reread that again. Though the language is archaic, its point is nonetheless potent. These men lived incredible lives of faith on the Word of God. How wonderfully limited this Word was! And yet, the faith was not in the amount or clarity of words, but in the One Who is the Word. I was gripped by two thoughts:
- If these men were able to accept the revelation given by God, though limited in comparison to today, how can I speak otherwise.By this I mean, how can I question God with the vast amount of revelation we have in the Scriptures? Though by human nature I may seek more knowledge, greater clarification, or understanding to God’s work in the world, this should never leave me frustrated or angry with God. I must rejoice in the vast amount of revelation that I so often take for granted.
- Secondly, do I enjoy the blessings of God more than the God of the blessings? I think this happens to everyone. It is easy to enjoy the creaturely blessings with which God blesses us. While working through Gurnall’s work I have also been reading Ephesians almost daily. The opening paragraph speaks of the spiritual blessings believers have in Christ. Paul, however, opens with the focus on God. He writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3, ESV) God, let my focus remain on You and You alone!
I close with the words of a prayer titled Longings After God, from Banner of Truth’s Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.
My Dear Lord,
I can but tell thee that thou knowest
I long for nothing by thyself
Nothing but holiness
Nothing but union with thy will.
Thou has given me these desires,
And thou alone canst give me the thing desired.
My soul longs for communion with thee,
For mortification of indwelling corruption,
Especially spiritual pride.
How precious it is
To have a tender sense and clear apprehension
Of the mystery of godliness,
Of true holiness!
What a blessedness to be like thee
As much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator!
Lord, give me more of thy likeness;
Enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness:
Engage me to live more for thee.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences,
And when I feel at ease after sweet communings,
Teach me it is far too little I know and do.
Let me climb up near to thee,
And love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with them
And pant for deliverance from the body of sin,
For my heart is wandering and lifeless,
And my soul mourns to think
It should ever lose sight of its beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love,
And keep me ever desiring thee,
Always humble and resigned to thy will,
More fixed on thyself,
That I may be more fitted for doing and suffering.