Site Meter
|The Thirsty Theologian| |Sola Gratia| |Sola Fide| |Solus Christus| |Sola Scriptura| |Soli Deo Gloria| |Semper Reformanda|
|The Thirsty Theologian| |Sola Gratia| |Sola Fide| |Solus Christus| |Sola Scriptura| |Soli Deo Gloria| |Semper Reformanda|

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: What God Ordains

What God Ordains Is Always Good


What God ordains is always good:
His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me,
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed in ev’ry need
knows well how He will shield me;
to Him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His righteous way,
and never will He leave me.
I take content what He has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness
will turn my tears to gladness.

What God ordains is always good:
His loving thought attends me;
no poison can be in the cup
that my Physician sends me.
My God is true; each morning new
I trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

What God ordains is always good:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm
though many storms may gather.
Now I may know both joy and woe;
some day I shall see clearly
that He has loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good:
though I the cup am drinking
which savors now of bitterness,
I take it without shrinking.
For after grief God gives relief,
my heart with comfort filling
and all my sorrow stilling.

What God ordains is always good:
this truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, for with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
so to my God I yield me.

Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017).


New arrangement by Josh Bauder

The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

For Murderers and Sunday School Teachers

Last week, I watched the movie The Green Mile again. I’m not one to use movies to teach, but in the case of this film I believe there is something that we would do well to take note of and learn. In addition to being a compelling story, The Green Mile presents theology, as most of the world understands it, in stark terms. For those who have not read the book or seen the movie, The Green Mile is the story of Paul Edgecomb, played by Tom Hanks, the man in charge of Death Row at a state prison during the 1930s. I won’t spoil it by giving the plot, which does not matter for our purposes. I will just share a couple of scenes that are pertinent to my point. In the first scene, a prisoner, Arlen Bitterbuck, has just had the top of his head shaved in preparation for execution in the electric chair. Edgecomb is sitting with him in his cell, and Bitterbuck asks, “Do you think, if a man sincerely repents on what he done wrong, that he might get to go back to the time that was happiest for him, and live there forever? Could that be what heaven’s like?” Edgecomb replies, “I just about believe that very thing.” In the second scene, Edgecomb is faced with executing a man he believes to be innocent. Speaking with his wife, he tells her, “To tell you the truth, Honey, I’ve done some things in my life that I am not proud of. This is the first time I’ve ever felt real danger of hell.” Aside from the faulty view of heaven, there is a fallacy presented in these two scenes that represents the world’s view of damnation: men are damned for committing wicked deeds. If Arlen Bitterbuck had not committed the crime that landed him on death row, his soul would be safe. If Paul Edgecomb can find a way around executing a man he believes is innocent, he will have nothing to fear. Implicitly, these two men were on the road to heaven until they reached a certain fork in the road. The first took the wrong turn, and is now looking for a way back. The second is at the fork, and has little choice but to take the wrong turn. Both fear that their souls are in jeopardy because of what they have done or are about to do. Sadly, this is how most of the world, at least those who believe in life after death, see it. But what does Scripture say? Scripture says we’re not damned for what we have done, but for what we have not done. Regardless of who we are, or what evil we have avoided, we have failed to live up to God’s perfect standard. Lest we think “perfect” is an exaggeration, that maybe our best is good enough, Romans 3:23 assures us, “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” All have fallen short. Every one of us has failed. We have fallen short, we have failed to measure up, and not to just any standard that we or any other mortal can set or even conceive. We have failed to measure up to the glory of God. Before any death row inmate committed his crime, he was in as much need of salvation as after. After he committed his crime, he was no more in danger of hell than before. The most kind, gentle, generous, moral person is lost and utterly without hope if he is trusting in his own goodness to save him. Both the convicted murderer and the good husband, father, and corrections officer stand on level ground before God, both in need of grace. In your communications with unbelievers, when the opportunity arises, are you bringing that message? Or do you come across as a moralist? Are you encouraging your wicked acquaintances to change their evil ways, while the righteous whitewashed sepulchres get a pass? Are you assuming the overtly sinful are more in need of salvation than the nice family man who goes to church and coaches Little League? Are you leading the outwardly unrighteous to believe that they need to change their ways to gain God’s favor, while lulling the inwardly unrighteous to believe they have it? If so, you are bringing a false gospel. Are you a good person, doing your best, who imagines that your best is good enough to get you into heaven? Forget it. God requires absolute perfection. Can you deliver? I can’t. I have sinned. Worse than that, I am sinful. I can no more change that than a leopard can change his spots. I am by nature a rebel against God, and God’s justice requires a penalty. That penalty is death (Romans 6:23). Well, someone did die. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be born a man and live a perfect life so he could be the perfect sacrifice in your place and mine. He bore the full wrath of God against the sin of all who believe in him when he was crucified. He paid the death I owed. He won the victory over sin and death when, three days later, he rose from the dead. And his righteousness, his sinless perfection, is credited to all who trust in him. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we can stand before God spotless and without blemish. That righteousness is required of all men, from the Sunday School teacher to the murderer on death row—and it is available to both, without distinction. July 28, 2008

Self-Denying Christianity

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing. “Even Christ pleased not himself” [Romans 5:3]. Let us in this respect be His true followers; bearing burdens for Him; doing work for Him; not grudging effort, or cost, or sacrifice, or pain; spending and being spent for Him; abjuring the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day. A self-indulgent religion has nothing to do with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or of that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after him, renouncing ease and denying self. Our time, our gifts, our money, our strength, are all to be laid upon the altar. We are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). —Horatius Bonar, Christ Is All, ed. Darrin R. Brooker & Michael Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 197. July 25, 2008

The Gift of Guilt

I believe in . . . the forgiveness of sins. Today’s gospel often strives to relieve sinners of their feelings of guilt. This is a great error, for without the consciousness of guilt, we can never find hope. Christians who fail to understand the true notion of sin deny themselves the only hope they have in Jesus Christ. False teachings on sin will inevitably lead to a works righteousness, a cheap gospel, and a Christ senselessly murdered. God’s plan of redemption through Christ need not have happened if sin is easily conquerable by human initiative. The dread of sin and its consequences leads all to the need for God’s grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the great paradox of the Christian life. The world longs for us to run away from our guilt. Guilt is seen as an enemy that must be killed. Self-help books fill the shelves of bookstores as people ruthlessly try to squash the inner feeling of guilt. For the Christian, however, guilt is a gift. That feeling of unquenchable, unyielding guilt, leads us to the only hope we have. Sinners must embrace the infinite guilt they live in if they are to find the infinite grace of God. As we embrace our guilt, then and only then can we come to that crimson fount of hope, the blood of Jesus that washes us dean. —Albert Mohler, The Apostles’ Creed (Crossway, 2019), 180–181.

Only Human Flesh

The incarnation was essential to but not adequate for the atonement. Sinclair Ferguson writes, Atonement was impossible without an incarnation. Hebrews explains why the Son of God “had to be made like his brothers in every way.” It is so “that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17, NIV). Our salvation requires not only the conquest of our enemy, Satan, but the removal of a yet more terrifying enmity: the wrath of the holy God of heaven. “Purification” and “atonement” must be made “for the sins of the people” (Heb. 1:3; 2:17, NIV). This was made clear to the people of God in the Old Testament by the constantly repeated ritual sacrifices they were required to make. They thus learned that they deserved death because of their sins; but they also were taught that in grace God Himself provided a sacrifice to take their place. However, even an Old Testament believer could see that the animal sacrifices could not in themselves make adequate atonement (Heb. 10:11). Otherwise there would have been no need for them to be repeated. The flesh and blood of bulls and goats could not atone for the sins of human flesh and blood (Heb. 10:4)! Only human flesh and blood could be an appropriate substitute-sacrifice. So the author of Hebrews says: When [Christ] came into the world, He said: “. . . a body you have prepared for me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come’ In the volume of the book it is written— To do your will, O God.’” —Hebrews 10:5–7 Jesus offered Himself as the substitutionary atonement! Sometimes theologians have spoken misleadingly, as though the incarnation is itself the atonement (the “at-one-ment” of God and man in Christ). It is not. But without it there could be no atonement. He took our nature in order to bear our punishment. Only thus can we be at peace with God. —Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Reformation Trust, 2007), 26–27. July 24, 2008

The Vexed Soul’s Refuge

This one true goal or resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted, is Christ Himself. Not the church, but Christ. Not doctrine, but Christ. Not forms, but Christ. Not ceremonies, but Christ. Christ the God-man, giving his life for ours; sealing the everlasting covenant, and making peace for us through the blood of His cross; Christ the divine storehouse of all light and truth, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Col 2:3]; Christ the infinite vessel, filled with the Holy Spirit, the enlightener, the teacher, the quickened, the comforter, so that “out of his fullness we may receive, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. This, this alone is the vexed soul’s refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in till the great temper be bound and every conflict ended in victory. —Horatius Bonar, Christ Is All, ed. Darrin R. Brooker & Michael Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 171. July 23, 2008

Lord’s Day 13, 2020

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:16–18 Hymn 53. (C. M.) The pilgrimage of the saints: or, Earth and heaven. Lord! what a wretched land is this, That yields us no supply! No cheering fruits, no wholesome trees, Nor streams of living joy! But pricking thorns through all the ground, And mortal poisons grow, And all the rivers that are found With dangerous waters flow. Yet the dear path to thine abode Lies through this horrid land; Lord! we would keep the heav’nly road, And run at thy command. [Our souls shall tread the desert through With undiverted feet, And faith and flaming zeal subdue The terrors that we meet.] [A thousand savage beasts of prey Around the forest roam; But Judah’s Lion guards the way, And guides the strangers home.] [Long nights and darkness dwell below, With scarce a twinkling ray; But the bright world to which we go Is everlasting day.] [By glimm’ring hopes and gloomy fears We trace the sacred road; Through dismal deeps and dangerous snares We make our way to God.] Our journey is a thorny maze, But we march upward still; Forget these troubles of the ways, And reach at Sion’s hill. [See the kind angels at the gates, Inviting us to come! There Jesus the forerunner waits, To welcome trav’llers home!] There on a green and flowery mount Our weary souls shall sit, And with transporting joys recount The labours of our feet. [No vain discourse shall fill our tongue, Nor trifles vex our ear; Infinite grace shall be our song, And God rejoice to hear.] Eternal glories to the King That brought us safely through; Our tongues shall never cease to sing, And endless praise renew. —The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book II: Composed on Divine Subjects (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: If Thou but Trust
Miniature Gods
Dogma before Life
How Economics Roll
Values without Value
Lord’s Day 12, 2020

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: My Shepherd Will Supply
The Holy Catholic Church
Right Theology, Right Ecclesiology
He Will Testify
Morality at the Expense of Theology
Sell It Not
Lord’s Day 10, 2020

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Thou Sweet Beloved Will of God
A God to Suit
The Forgiveness of Sins
The Communion of Saints
The Four-Leaf Clover
Be Discriminating
Lord’s Day 11, 2020


Who Is Jesus?

The Gospel
What It Means to Be a Christian

Norma Normata
What I Believe

Westminster Bookstore

  Sick of lame Christian radio?
  Try RefNet