Trust, Delight, Commit, Be still, Wait for the Lord


Psalm 37 is an encouraging  Psalm for the believer.  David encourages us that the LORD will not forsake those who are His.  He begins the Psalm setting the stage, a stage we are all familiar with… “Fret  not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of  wrongdoers!” (Psalm 37.1)

This drama, if you will, is one we see acted out before our eyes on a daily basis.  Questions often arise like, “Why do they get away with that?” “Why do they prosper when they don’t deal honestly?”  “Why do I do what I’m supposed to, when they never do as they are supposed to and they continue to succeed?”

Legitimate questions.  Real questions.  I have been known to ask these.

But David reminds us… “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” (Psalm 37.2)

However, we are told that we all will fade like the grass, we all will wither (Isaiah 40.6-8).  So, where is the encouragement here?  Sure, it is somewhat encouraging to know that the evildoer will not remain forever.  But aren’t we just as frail.  The moment we take our first breath, we begin to fade, and die.  The encouragement is found in the verses that follow, mainly: vs. 3, 4, 5, 7, and 34.  For these verses have imperatives, commands for the believer.  This is an encouragement because 1 John 2.17 says, “And the world is passing away along with  its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

While the world is passing away, the righteous will abide with God forever.

Look at the imperatives:

1. Trust
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)
Trust here is the Hebrew bāṭaḥ, meaning “to be stretched out; taut”
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says,
“In general, the OT contrasts the validity of that sense of confidence which comes from reliance upon God with the folly of any other kind of security. It is made plain that all such trust will end in disgrace and shame (Ps 31:14), whereas those whose hope is in God alone will be delivered from their enemies (Ps 22:4); their prayers will be answered (I Chr 5:20); they will walk in straight paths (Prov 3:5); will be given joy and gladness (Ps 16:9; 33:21); will know inner peace and absence of fear (Ps 4:8; Isa 26:3); etc. Hence, the repeated admonition to trust in the Lord (Prov 16:20; Isa 30:15; Jer 17:7).”

Oswalt, J. N. (1999). 233 בָּטַח. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (101–102). Chicago: Moody Press.

Is “trust in the LORD” a catch phrase for you and your church?  Or a description of your obedience to the Word of the Lord?  We like to use this phrase a lot in our conversations…but I fear we can’t as often use it to describe our obedience.

2. Delight
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)
This is an interesting thought in the Psalm.  This word in the Hebrew means “to pamper, refresh oneself, to take one’s pleasure in”
This is not a hard imperative if we stop at “Delight yourself.”  We are professional man pleasers.  We take the gold medal in making ourselves happy.  However, this is the root of sin, if we stop at “delight yourself.”  For we were created to “Delight ourselves in the LORD.”  It is your purpose, your reason for being made.

We pray wrongly for this.  We think if we pray for God to give us the desires of our heart it is fulfilling this passage.  However,  we pray this when we stop at “delight yourself.”  When we begin to “delight yourselves in the LORD” then the desires of our heart will be righteous desires…desires that all find their fulfillment in the LORD and he will not withhold himself from us if we truly delight in Him.  For that is why we were created.

Philippians 3:1, 4:4; Matthew 6:33

What do you delight in?  Is your true delight the LORD?  Or is your delight, the desire of your heart, devoid of the LORD?  A true believer finds his delight in the LORD and not in that which is passing away (1 John 2.17).

3. Commit
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5)

Commit is the Hebrew word gālal, which means to roll some object on, upon, away, in, against, from, together, unto, or down.

This figure is used for rolling oneself on the Lord and so to trust the Lord (Ps 22:8) or to commit one’s behavior or life to the Lord (Ps 37:5; Prov 16:3) or remove such non-material things as reproach and contempt (Ps 119:22).

Kalland, E. S. (1999). 353 גָּלַל. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (162). Chicago: Moody Press.

Psalm 22:8 is a statement made by mockers but is actually ironically a true statement. “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  Isn’t it interesting how the mocker sees the one who is committed to the Lord as trusting in the LORD and delighting in the LORD?  Even the mocker can see this kind of lifestyle as demonstrating commitment, delight, and trust.

Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust him, and he will act.”

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”

Our commitment to God comes with the promise of God’s faithful working on our behalf.  But it is when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness.  When we commit our life to the glory of God, the LORD will see to it that it will be established!  Amen!

4. Be still
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7)

This carries the warning to not act on your own impatience and do not continue to act in doubt within your own thinking, more precisely, do not worry.  There is a time when you must be still and wait for the LORD.  Be still in prayer, be still in meditating upon the word of God, be still in resting and sleeping.  TRUST in the God of your salvation.

Psalm 62:1, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”

Lamentations 3:25-26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

Are you still before the LORD?  Are you still in prayer, in meditation, in rest…knowing the LORD is your salvation and he will act?  We need to repent of our inability to be still before the LORD.  Repent of your doubting heart, your worrying heart, your impatient heart.

The last imperative is like the one before it:
5. Wait
“Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.”  (Psalm 37:34)

Wait is from the Hebrew word meaning to “wait, look for, hope.”
This is not the hope of the world.  When someone buys a lottery ticket they are “hoping” they will win the jackpot.  That kind of hope is more of a wish.  It is rooted in nothing firm and solid.  It is like attempting to run across the top of a lake…you may hope you can make it, but as soon as your feet touch the water they will break the surface and sink.

The believer’s hope is rooted in a firm, solid word from the Lord.  It is an expectation of the future events that will take place.  We eagerly wait for the coming King!  “Surely I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20)   We can wait, looking to the skies for our Lord and King’s return.  All that is wrong and evil and cursed here will one day be made right by our Lord and Savior and righteous Judge.  He is coming, He is mighty, He is faithful…and so we wait.

We eagerly await our full adoption as sons and daughters.
We eagerly await our glorification.
We eagerly wait for sin, sickness, and death to be ended.
We eagerly wait for the Lord to conquer the wicked.
We eagerly wait to receive our portion, Who is the Lord.
We eagerly wait to see Him face to face.
We eagerly await eternity with Him.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” – Revelation 22:20-21

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Do I Need Help? (Of course I do!)


Written by Adam Johnson, Originally Posted in EBC Blog  April 5, 2013

In today’s church, there are hurts, there are conflicts, there are fears, there are marriages, there are those wanting to be married, there are adult children with ailing parents, there are high school students debating their future, there are children learning to obey their parents and live in a society with rules and responsibilities, there are baby Christians, there are mature Christians, there are unbelievers who think they are saved, there are unbelievers who know they don’t believe, there are senior saints with wisdom to impart, there are “Pauls” and “Timothys” and pastors and shepherds, brothers and sisters, believers struggling with unbelief, struggling with fear, needing joy, needing hope, needing help,…

 

If you look, before long you will see all these and more within the fabric of the church. We are all in different stages, places, and levels of help to give and levels of needs to be met. One thing is true we all need help, counsel. Every man, woman, boy and girl, every senior saint and every new-born Christian, those with obvious struggles and those who think they are doing pretty good…we all need help; we all need counsel. This is true today and it was true before the fall. Adam and Eve in the garden needed counsel, as we will see further down. We were created to need help even when God said we were made perfect before the fall, we needed counsel. Part of being made perfect was that we were made to be dependent. Not only do we need counsel, we need a specific counsel; God’s counsel. God’s counsel from the Word of God. We were dependent, created dependent, upon God. And finally, we will see from some various passages, that all believers are called to counsel; all believers are called to give help from the Word of God and if you are in Christ, you are qualified.

I. All Believers (and unbelievers) Need Counsel.

It is even easier to say that all mankind needs counsel. Needing counsel, needing help was a character trait of man even before the fall. God created us perfect before the fall, before sin,

and yet man still needed help. Genesis 1:26-31 shows us that God set out to make man (and woman) and after He did, it says, “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” In the next chapter God clarifies what man was to do (work the garden and keep it, multiply and fill the earth, rule over all that I have given you) and what man’s boundaries were (“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.”)

Man needed help. He needed to have direction given to him to know what to do and he needed boundaries set for him in order to establish God’s authority, holiness, and rule in his life. You see from the beginning man needed help. Man had a purpose, but he needed God to give it to him. Man had boundaries but he needed God to set them and show them to him. Man is created; and God, who is uncreated, made him for a purpose. However, man needed God to give him that direction. Jay Adams says, “that means that from creation on, man was made to be molded by counsel (which is the directive Word of another, given from the outside).” You see, you need help, and it cannot be found in yourself. You are not the answer that you need.

When man seeks to be autonomous of God, his Creator, it is rebellion. When you read in the third chapter of Genesis, you read of man’s rebellion against his Creator, when man listens to a different counsel other than God’s counsel.

II. All Believers (and unbelievers) Need God’s Counsel.

When the serpent enters the dialogue in chapter 3, man begins to listen to another counselor. A counselor that sought to lead others in rebellion against the Creator God. One thing we need to know is any counsel, or help, that is not based in the Word or truth of God is against God. The deceptive statement, “All truth is God’s truth” needs to be cross-examined with this: “Does it square with God’s standard for truth–the Bible?” (Jay Adams). If it does not, then it is not counsel you need to follow.

But beware, most of the time, the serpents counsel is not a visible all-out attack against God. Remember, Satan is the deceiver. Psalm 1:1 demonstrates the progression of evil counsel. It is sometimes a slow process.

“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;”

You see it is a progression. Satan is deceptive. False counsel redirects our path just off of Truth’s path and we are walking in the counsel of the wicked. It is so subtle we may not even see the difference. Yet it is still sinful.

Do you know the Word of God well enough to see the subtle attacks of Satan upon God’s truth?

Then we begin to take this new counsel to heart. We begin to stand on this new way. And this is where we make the choice to remain in this counsel. We should have removed ourselves from this path in the last step but, instead, we have chosen now to remain in this counsel, and here to take our stand.

Finally, we begin to promote this counsel to others. Now we direct others off the path of God’s counsel unto the “new” way of counsel. No longer does God’s Word lead and guide us. Now we look to psychologists, science, and the world for answers. Not only that, but we lead others to do the same.

The man who was blessed in Psalm 1 avoided this subtle path change and instead remained in the Word of God. “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The man who is blessed is the man who knows what is God’s counsel and what is the deceiver’s counsel.

My question for you, those who are struggling with fear, pride, marriage problems, tough decisions, lack of joy, lack of peace…is your delight in the law of the LORD? Do you seek it out day and night? Or are you being led by the lie of health, wealth, and prosperity?
You do not have the answers inside of you.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

The One who made you, He understands it. And He calls you to seek Him, and His ways.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” – excerpts from Psalm 23.

Not only do believers (and unbelievers) need counsel. Not only do believers (and unbelievers) need God’s counsel. But,

III. All Believers Are Called to Counsel

If you notice, the first two parts said “believers (and unbelievers).” This last section says “believers” alone. This is because only believers are called to give this counsel. Unbelievers may quote God’s truth and benefits may come from it (Philippians 1:15-18), however, only believers are called to counsel the Word of God.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Galatians 6:1-2, 10 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The purpose of the counsel we are to give varies depending on the spiritual nature of those we are communicating with:

• Unbelievers need to hear the truth of the Word of God and the Gospel for the converting of their souls. They need to be given truth to lead them to repentance of sin and faith in God.

• Believers need to hear the truth of the Word of God and the Gospel for restoration, repentance, growth, sanctification.

And all this for the glory of God the Father. Only in God’s order would it be true that broken vessels are used to help other broken vessels. Remember, believers, you too need help and counsel even when you give that help and counsel to others. This is the benefit of the church: mutually encouraging and growing together in Christ through the work of the Word being shared among us.

Two questions for application:

  1. How is the Word being used in your life to give you help and counsel? And if it is not being used, how are you, today, going to seek help from the Word of God and stop seeking help from the world?…get off the subtle path of the wicked, sinners, and scoffers (Psalm 1).
  2. How are you using the Word of God in the lives of believers and unbelievers around you to lead them to Christ and to walk in Christ?

We all need help, God’s help.

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25

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Trusting in God’s Providence


God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

– William Cowper. (1774)

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Amazing Grace / Amazing Pain


One of the flagship songs of the Christian faith is the hymn by John Newton, originally titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation,” better known these days as “Amazing Grace.”  I love this hymn.  It is a joy to sing and to think about the hope we have in the grace of Jesus Christ which saved us.  One verse that makes me want to open up and sing loud is the last verse which was added later by a man named John Rees.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

Isn’t that wonderful?  It fills my heart with joy!  As it should.  I love singing God’s praise here on earth now, but can’t wait for the day that I will see my Savior face to face and be able to sing to Him with unveiled face!

Let’s think about this verse for a minute.  This is not a verse just anyone can sing.  Only those who have been saved can sing this with true expectation and longing in their hearts.  What about those who don’t have that faith and hope?  What will they bemoan? It will not be joyful singing on their lips, it will be grief and gnashing of teeth.  They will not sing of the joys of heaven, they will cry out of the torments of hell…

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
in torment and in pain,
the wrath of God, no end in sight
for eternity we are slain.

May this be a catalyst to you sharing the gospel with someone this week.  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14

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Lloyd-Jones on the Psychological Use of the Bible


open-bible

Thank God, the Bible always faces things as they are, even at their worst.  That is why to me a psychological use of the Bible is of the devil.  It is a mis-use of it, because the Bible is not concerned simply to ease a situation.  It has a strength and a power; it is concerned about courage, but in terms of its own truth so it looks at the world as it is, at its worst.  People say, ‘Why, that is depressing!’  Well, if it is depressing to you, it is because you do not accept the teaching of the Bible.  To be realistic should not be depressing to those who think straightly and clearly, and this is a realistic book.

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, from his book “Fellowship with God”

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Inauguration Day Exhortation (1 Tim 2:1-4)


US_Flag_BacklitToday is the 57th Presidential Inauguration for the United States of America.  It is exciting to watch the ceremonies and the activities that surround the traditions of swearing in the President.  Whether I am a fan of the current President or not, I think all the excitement around the Inauguration is fun to take in.

Today, as the history of our nation continues on, let’s remember 1 Timothy 2:1-4.  Often we would rather complain about decisions made, laws passed, and choices made by the leaders who run our country, but that is not what Scripture tells us to do.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”


Defining these exhortations according to MacArthur’s Study Bible notes makes them clear:

supplications – from the word meaning “to lack” “to be deprived” or “to be without.”  This prayer is made because of a need the person has for which we are praying.  The lost have a great need for salvation.  And we, as believers, need to be pleading to God to fill that need and save our leaders.

intercessions – from the word meaning “to fall in with someone” or “to draw near so as to speak intimately.”  This word is used to point to the way that Christ and the Spirit intercede before the throne of God on behalf of the children of God.  We are to plead on behalf of our leaders that they understand the depths of their pain and misery, and come to intimately plea to God for their salvation.

thanksgivings – we need to be thankful for those who lead our country and thank God for them.  Along with supplications and intercessions, I believe we need to thank God in faith for hearing our supplications and intercessions and believe that in His will and plan He will work all things out for His glory.

1 Timothy 2:3 says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,”

Paul exhorts us to pray for it is pleasing in the sight of God to do this.  My complaining about the laws passed the moral depravity of my leaders and the corrupt decay of our nation is not pleasing in the sight of God.  However, when I stop complaining and start praying for my leaders, I please my God, my Savior.  And I am not praying so that I can complain to God about the issues I just mentioned but, instead, I am praying for the salvation of my leaders.  And THAT is pleasing to God because of what 1 Timothy 2:4 says, [God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

“Well,” you say, “I just can’t bring myself to pray that for the man whom I would never have voted into office.  I don’t believe he has any place in that office anyway.”
Paul doesn’t say anything about that.  That’s not important.  You are still commanded to pray for them.  Whether you voted for them or not.  Whether you agree with them and their decisions or not.  Pray for them.

First Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

You see, Paul reminds us that Christ Jesus Himself mediated on our behalf.  And Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for us.  What if Christ said, “Well, I just can’t bring myself to pray for that wretched sinner __(insert your name here)__.  I will not be the ransom for such a wicked person.”

You were an enemy of God.  You committed high treason against the God of the universe when you sinned.  But Jesus Christ died to reconcile you as an enemy and make you a child of God.  Romans 5:10-11, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Christ gave His life for my Ransom.  Christ died in my place.  Christ was my Substitute, my Reconciler, my Redeemer, my Mediator, my Savior.  And when I pray for my leaders and intercede on their behalf I begin to look more like my Savior.  I begin to act like He does.  And that is what I want.  To be like Him.

So, today, on this Inauguration Day 2013, and everyday, Praying manlet us pray for the leaders of our country that they would:

1) be saved

2) and come to the knowledge of the truth.

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Suffering’s Three-fold Purpose from 2 Tim 2


You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
 – 2 Timothy 2:1-13

 

 

Two commands come right out of the gate at the start of this chapter:

Command #1: Be strengthened by the grace in Christ Jesus. (2:1)

Command #2: Teach to faithful men what I’ve taught you. (2:2)

 

Then there is a third command supported by three illustrations and one exemplary model:

Illustration #1: A Soldier (2:4)

Illustration #2: An Athlete (2:5)

Illustration #3: A Farmer (2:6)

The Exemplary Model: Jesus Christ (2:8-9)

Paul, then reiterates Command #3: Endure Everything (2:10)

Listen closely to why Paul says to “endure everything.”  This is the point of this post.
Paul says, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
We are exhorted to endure the suffering for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain salvation.

 

See how this part of a prayer from the Valley of Vision titled, Conflict, echoes the thoughts from this passage: 

O Lord God,
Thou art my protecting arm, fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
Uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmovable;
Equip me and I shall receive no wound;
Stand by me and Satan will depart;
Anoint my lips with a song of salvation and I shall shout Thy victory;
Give me abhorrence of all evil, as a vile monster that defies Thy law, casts off Thy yoke, defiles my nature, spreads misery.
Teach me to look to Jesus on His cross and so to know sin’s loathsomeness in Thy sight.
There is no pardon but through Thy Son’s death, no cleansing but in His precious blood, no atonement but His to expiate evil.

(from The Valley of Vision, pg 100)

 

There is no pardon but through Thy Son’s death.
No cleansing but in Christ’s precious blood.
No atonement to expiate evil, but Christ’s atonement.

This passage in Second Timothy 2 leads me to see there is a three-fold purpose to my suffering:

1. My suffering…reminds me of that which Christ suffered on my behalf on the cross.

2. My suffering…allows me to join in Christ’s suffering and be molded more in His image.

3. My suffering…is for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus.

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