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|

Lord’s Day 16, 2018

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”


Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed,
and be still. Selah.

—Psalm 4:4

XXIX. Communing with our hearts. Psalm iv. 4.


Return, my roving heart, return,
And chase these shadowy forms no more;
Seek out some solitude to mourn,
And thy forsaken God implore.

Wisdom and pleasure dwell at home;
Retir’d, and silent seek them there:
True conquest is ourselves t’ o’ercome,
True strength to break the tempter’s snare.

And thou, my God, whose piercing eye
Distinct surveys each deep recess,
In these abstracted hours draw nigh,
And with thy presence fill the place.

Thro’ all the mazes of my heart
My search let heav’nly wisdom guide,
And still it’s radiant beams impart,
Till all be search’d, and purified.

Then with the visits of thy love
Vouchsafe my inmost soul to chear;
Till ev’ry grace shall join to prove
That God hath fix’d his dwelling there.

—Philip Doddridge, Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures (Salop, 1755).

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: Sing Hallelujah

Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! Bechler Sing hallelujah, praise the Lord! Sing with a cheerful voice; exalt our God with one accord, and in His Name rejoice. Ne’er cease to sing, O ransomed host, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, until in realms of endless light your praises shall unite. There we to all eternity shall join th’angelic lays and sing in perfect harmony to God our Savior’s praise; He has redeemed us by His blood, and made us kings and priests to God; for us, for us, the Lamb was slain! Praise ye the Lord! Amen. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently 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.

The True Meaning of the Gospel

This was the whole reason God the Son became a man: “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:17–18). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Those statements show that divine mercy extends far beyond empathy merely for our physical sufferings. Of course, the lovingkindness of God includes a heartfelt concern for our temporal, earthly, physical welfare—but it is infinitely more than that. Both the compassion of God and the earthly work of Christ must be seen ultimately as redemptive. In other words, our Lord’s tenderest mercies are concerned primarily with the salvation of our souls, not merely the suffering of our bodies. . . . Those physical healings were vivid displays of both Jesus’ power and His compassion. They were proof of His deity and living demonstrations of His divine authority. They established His unlimited ability to liberate anyone and everyone from the bondage, the penalty, and the consequences of sin. As such, the healing ministry of Jesus was illustrative of the gospel message, a true expression of divine compassion, and a definitive verification of His messianic credentials. But physical healing was neither the central point of His message nor the main purpose of His coming. Again, He came to make propitiation for sin and to purchase redemption for sinners. And He did that by suffering in their place—dying for their sins. . . . The true meaning of the gospel—and its central truth that God is a saving God—is bound up in an accurate understanding of that famous prophecy in Isaiah 61:1–3, which Jesus read aloud in the synagogue in Luke 4:18–19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” The “poor” whom He promised to bless are “the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The “captives” to whom He proclaims liberty are “those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:15)—meaning those who are in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:17). The “blind” who recover their sight are those who “turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified” (Acts 26:18). And the “oppressed” who are set at liberty are those who were formerly under the oppression of sin and Satan (10:38). In other words, what the gospel announces is something that the physical healings merely symbolized—something more vital, more lasting, more momentous, and more real than temporary relief from the pains of earthly affliction. The gospel gives us the only true, abiding remedy for sin and all its guilt and repercussions. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 117–120.

God Is Not Moody

[O]ften when the subject is God’s mercy, the Bible stresses His faithfulness and immutability. Indeed, God—as Savior of His people—is the one true constant in all the universe. This is why He redeems His people rather than summarily destroying them when they sin: “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6). His wrath against sin is real, but it does not provoke Him to alter His Word, revise His will, revoke His promises, or change His mind: “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). The necessary implication of God’s immutability is that He is not subject to shifting moods, flashes of temper, fluctuating dispositions, or seasons of despondency. In theological terms, God is impassible. That means He cannot be moved by involuntary emotions, suffering, pain, or injury. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God is “infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions” (2.1). . . . Divine impassibility is not an easy concept to grasp. . . . Nowadays, even some Christian theologians shun the idea of divine impassibility because they think it makes God seem cold and aloof. But that’s a false notion. To say that God is not vulnerable, that He Himself cannot be hurt, and that He isn’t given to moodiness is not to say He is utterly unfeeling or devoid of affections. Remember, Scripture says God is love, and His compassion, His lovingkindness, and His tender mercies endure forever. “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23). The main problem in our thinking about these things is that we tend to reduce God’s attributes to human terms, and we shouldn’t. We’re not to imagine that God is like us (Ps. 50:21). His affections, unlike human emotions, are not involuntary reflexes, spasms of temper, paroxysms of good and bad humor, or conflicted states of mind. He is as deliberate and as faithful in His lovingkindness as He is perfect and incorruptible in His holiness. The unchangeableness of God’s affections is—or should be—a steady comfort to true believers. His love for us is infinite and unshakable. “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:11). His constant mercy is a secure and dependable anchor—both when we sin and when we suffer unjustly. “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (v. 13). Far from portraying God as unsympathetic and untouched by our suffering, Scripture emphasizes His deep and devoted compassion virtually every time it mentions the unchangeableness of God. Notice that I have quoted almost entirely from Old Testament texts to establish the connection between God’s compassion and His immutability. The commonly held notion that the Hebrew Scriptures portray God as a stern judge whose verdicts are always unrelentingly severe is an unwarranted caricature. In fact, God’s lovingkindness is often given particular emphasis in the very places where His fiery wrath against sin is mentioned (e.g., Neh. 9:17; Ps. 77:7–10; Isa. 54:8; 60:10; Hab. 3:2). Even the prophets’ most severe threats and harshest words of condemnation are tempered with reminders of God’s inexhaustible kindness and sympathetic mercy (Jer. 33:5–11; Hos. 14:4–9). —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 114–116.

Why would God choose to love finite, fallen, sinful human beings at the cost of His own Son’s life? Why didn’t God just write us all off as wretched sinners, make us the objects of His wrath, and display His glory in judgment against us? It is truly a mystery even angels might find bewildering. Moreover, why is it that He lavishes us with the very riches of His goodness? Couldn’t God have displayed His mercy in a lesser way than giving His Son to die for us? Or having redeemed us and guaranteed us entry to heaven, couldn’t He have given us a lesser position? Yet, He has made us joint heirs with Christ. He has elevated us to the spiritual heights. Indeed, He has already given us His very best. He has already bestowed the most priceless, eternal blessing in all the universe—His own beloved Son. Therefore, we can be absolutely confident that He will withhold no good thing from us. “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him over for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Have you ever truly pondered the mystery of such great love? Why is it that God’s greatest love isn’t bestowed on the faithful angels who never fell and who steadfastly throughout all time have been loyal to love and worship the God who made them? In short, why would God even love us, much less pay so high a price to demonstrate His love? Frankly, the full answer to that question is still shrouded in mystery. It is an immense, incomprehensible wonder. We do not know the reasons God chooses to love fallen sinners. And I must confess, together with each true child of God, that I do not know why God chose to love me. I know only that it is for His own glory, and certainly not because He finds me deserving of His love. In other words, the reasons for His love are to be found in God alone, not in those whom He loves. And what Scripture reveals is that the will to save is intrinsic to who God is. “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). It is not foreign to His nature to be a Savior—to seek and to save the lost. He is a Savior by nature. First Timothy 1:1 refers to the Father as “God our Savior.” One of the most vivid verbal images Jesus ever gave to describe God is the eagerness of the father in the parable of the prodigal son. This father looks intently for his lost son’s return, runs to meet the wayward boy when he returns, and lavishes him with undeserved gifts and status. That is the very character of the God we worship. He is a saving God. And He has always been known as a Savior. Theological liberals try to put a great gulf between the New Testament and the Old Testament. They often claim that the God of the Old Testament is an angry, vengeful, envious, vitriolic, hostile, punishing kind of deity. The God revealed in the New Testament is different—a compassionate, loving, saving deity. That’s a foolish and dishonest corruption of Scripture. The God of the Old Testament was known to His people as a Savior. Israel knew God as a Savior—a saving God. To use another word, He is a Deliverer. He rescues people from bondage and death. Of course, that’s not how it is in the science of ethnology and the world of religion and deities. Study ancient Middle Eastern religions and you’re not going to find gods who save. Virtually every man-made religious system ever known features some means by which the worshiper by his own efforts can save himself—or, at the very least, better himself. But you’re not going to find any man-made god who is by nature a Savior, a rescuer. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 109–111.

Until We Are Glorified

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. —Psalm 1 Scripture is loaded with warnings about living in this world, because unlike Christ, we are easily susceptible to the enticements of sin, even though we are redeemed. We may have been walking in the faith for many years and consistently studying the Bible for a long time, but this world is still a threat to us at every turn. Old habits, human weaknesses, and carnal desires remain with us—and will be there until we are fully glorified. That’s why we so easily respond to Satan and the world. Consequently, we must be regularly reminded not to love the world. We must be reminded not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers (Ps. 1:1). Not heeding Scripture’s repeated warnings would have devastating results for us. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 75.

Non Posse Peccare

Regarding the impeccability of Christ, I’ve always had some trouble with the belief that Jesus was unable to sin. If he was truly unable to sin, then his temptation—it would seem—was meaningless, a fraud perpetrated by a con-man. However, the belief that he was not unable to sin, but only able to not sin, brings its own problems. I found the following explanation helpful. Theologians commonly use two similar Latin phrases to make an important distinction in their discussions of Christ’s impeccability. He is non posse peccare (not able to sin), not merely posse non peccare (able not to sin). His holiness as a perfect man was not merely the happy result of His supernaturally empowered human self-control. His absolute sinless perfection was the necessary corollary of the fact that He possessed both divine and human natures. As God incarnate, Christ could no more sin than God can tell a lie, and “God . . . cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). “He cannot deny Himself “ (2 Tim. 2:13). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). His perfect, immutable, divine holiness made it impossible for Him to sin—not because he lacked any of the human faculties or natural weaknesses that make us susceptible to temptation, but because His revulsion for sin is so utterly absolute and His divine holiness is so gloriously superlative. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 74–75.

Lord’s Day 15, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Amid the Thronging Worshippers
Unrighteousness Demonstrates Righteousness
Saving God
Sovereign over Evil
On Theodicean Errors
Divine Sovereignty versus Human Responsibility (2)

Lord’s Day 13, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
We Must Give Thanks
A Contrite Heart
Going to Confession
Word-Centered Prayer
Why Seek Forgiveness?

Lord’s Day 14, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Lo! God Is Here
Divine Sovereignty versus Human Responsibility (1)
To Be Conformed
For the Son, to the Son
Many Widows, Many Lepers
Payers God Will Not Hear


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