Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit
“[The disciples] feared that they would know less of Christ and that their…intimacy would come to an end when he departed from them. Now he taught them that in fact they would know him better and understand more about him and their relationship with him…From [the Spirit] the disciples learn that they are ‘in’ Christ and Christ also dwells in them. Rather than ‘losing’ him, they will gain him in a more intimate way. In keeping with this, union with Christ becomes virtually the central theme of the rest of the New Testament.”
He does as He pleases!
“For the Lord Almighty has purposed–and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out–and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:27. To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth–so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. Whatever takes place in time–is but the outworking of that which He has decreed in eternity. The sovereignty of the God of Scripture, is absolute, irresistible and infinite! We insist that God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases! “But our God is in the heavens–He has done whatever He has pleased!” Psalm 115:3. “The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the Heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!” Psalm 135:6. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of Heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done?” Daniel 4:35. (A. W. Pink)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28. There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend, than the doctrine of their Master ruling over all creation, the kingship of God over all the works of His own hand, the throne of God, and His right to reign upon that throne. (Charles Spurgeon) “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases!” Psalm 115:3. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.” Daniel 4:35. “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” Revelation 19:6. “To be God and sovereign are inseparable!” (Stephen Charnock) “Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all His attributes!” (Arthur Pink) “God has sovereign right to dispose of us as He pleases. We ought to acquiesce in all that God does with us and to us.” (William Carey)
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47. It is very affecting that the first offers of grace should be made to those who, of all people in the world–had done Him the most harm! One would rather have expected the apostles would have received another kind of charge, and that Christ would have said, “Let repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached–but do NOT carry it to Jerusalem, that wicked city, that has been the slaughter-house of my prophets, whom I have often sent. Last of all, I myself, the Son, came–and with wicked hands, they have crucified and murdered Me! They may do the same to you! Do not let the gospel enter those wicked gates, through which they led Me, its Author, to crucifixion!” But Christ singles out exactly these murderous people of Jerusalem–to make monuments of His mercy, and commands the first offer of eternal life to be made to them! As if our Lord had said: “Lest the poor house of Israel should think themselves abandoned to eternal despair–as cruel and vile as they have been–go, make the first offer of grace to them! Let those who spilled My blood–be welcome to its healing virtue. Tell them that there is repentance and forgiveness, even for them! “Nay, if you meet that poor wretch who thrust his spear into My side, tell him that there is another way, a better way of coming to My heart–even My heart’s love! Tell him, that if he will repent, and look upon Me whom he has pierced, and will mourn–then I will cherish him in that very bosom which he has wounded! Tell him that he shall find the blood which he has shed–to be an ample atonement for the sin of shedding it! And tell him from Me, that he will put Me to more pain and displeasure by refusing this offer of My blood–than when he first drew it forth!” “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!” Matthew 9:13. (Benjamin Grosvenor, 1676-1758, “The Temper of Jesus Christ towards His Enemies, and His Grace to the Chief of Sinners”)” 1900)
Eighteen centuries ago the apostle Paul forewarned us, “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear!” 2 Timothy 4:3. The natural man hates the Gospel and all its distinctive doctrines, and delights in any vain excuse for refusing it. The plain truth is, that the root of the whole evil lies in the fallen nature of man, and his deeply-seated unbelief in God’s infallible Word. I suspect we have no idea how little saving faith there is on earth, and how few people entirely believe Bible truths. One man is proud–he dislikes the distinctive doctrines of Christianity, because they leave him no room to boast. Another is lazy and indolent–he dislikes distinctive doctrine, because it summons him to troublesome thought, and self-inquiry, and mental self-exertion. Another is grossly ignorant–he imagines that all distinctive doctrine is a mere matter of words and names, and that it does not matter a jot what we believe. Another is thoroughly worldly–he shrinks from distinctive doctrine, because it condemns his darling world. But in one form or another, I am satisfied that “original sin” is the cause of all the mischief. And the whole result is, that vast numbers of men greedily swallow down the seemingly new idea that doctrine is of no great importance. It supplies a convenient excuse for their sins. The consequences of this widespread dislike to doctrine are very serious in the present day. Whether we like to allow it or not, it is an epidemic which is doing great harm. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a jellyfish Christianity in the churches–that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. (J.C. Ryle, “The Importance of Dogma” 1900)
We may bring our bodies to the preaching of the Word with ease—but not our hearts, without offering violence to ourselves. When we come to the Word preached, we come to a business of the highest importance, therefore should stir up ourselves and hear with the greatest devotion. Luke 19:48: “All the people were very attentive to hear him.” In the Greek it is “they hung upon his lip.”—When the Word is dispensed, we are to lift up the everlasting doors of our hearts, that the King of glory may enter in! (Thomas Watson, Heaven Taken By Storm)
“Hallelujah! The Lord God omnipotent reigns!” Revelation 19:6. Believer! what can better support and sustain you amid the trials of your pilgrimage, than the thought that you have an Omnipotent arm to lean upon? The God with whom you have to do, is boundless in His resources! There is no crossing His designs, no thwarting His purposes, no questioning His counsels. His mandate is law! “He speaks–and it is done!” Your need is great. From the humblest crumb of providential goodness, up to the richest blessing of Divine grace–you are hanging from moment to moment, as a poor pensioner on Jehovah’s bounty! But, fear not! “I am the Almighty God! Finite necessities can never exhaust My infinite fullness!” “My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:19. To You, O blessed Jesus! all power has been committed in Heaven and in earth. “ALL power!” He has in His hands the reigns of universal empire! Whatever is the blessing which the poorest, weakest, loneliest, most afflicted of His saints require–if it is really for their good, the “Wonderful Counselor” secures it! He combines in His adorable Person, all that a sinner requires: a Heart tender enough to love; and a Hand strong enough to save. He is the “Mighty God!” How He delights in the exercise of His omnipotence in behalf of His own people–in ruling over their interests, and overruling their trials for their eternal good! My enemies are many, their name is Legion: Satan, the great adversary; heart traitors–bosom sins; the world, and the world’s trinity: “the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life!” But He who is for me–is greater far than all that can be against me! Believer, are you in trial, beaten down with a great fight of afflictions–like the disciples, out in a midnight of storm, buffeting a sea of trouble? Fear not! When the tempest has done its work, when the trial has fulfilled its mission–the voice which hushed the waters of old, has only to give forth the omnipotent mandate, “Peace, be still!” and immediately there will be a great calm! The “all power” of Jesus!–what a pillow on which to rest my aching head; disarming all my fears, and inducing thoughts of sweetest comfort, consolation, and joy! (John MacDuff, “The Night Watches”)
“By the grace of God–I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10. This is the believer’s eternal confession! Grace found him a rebel against God–it leaves him a son of God! Grace found him wandering at the gates of Hell–it leaves him at the gates of Heaven! Grace devised the scheme of Redemption. Justice never would; reason never could. And it is grace which carries out that scheme. No sinner would ever have sought God–but “by grace.” The thickets of Eden would have proved Adam’s grave–had not grace called him out! Saul would have lived and died the haughty self-righteous persecutor–had not grace laid him low! The thief on the cross would have continued breathing out his blasphemies–had not grace arrested his tongue and tuned it for glory! “Out of the knottiest timber,” says Rutherford, “God can make vessels of mercy for service in the high palace of glory!” “I came, I saw, I conquered!” may be inscribed by the Savior on every monument of His grace. “I came to the sinner; I looked upon him; and with a look of omnipotent love, I conquered him!” Believer, you would have been this day a wandering star, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever! You would have been Christless, hopeless, and portionless; had not grace constrained you! And it is grace which, at this moment, “keeps” you. You have often been a Peter–forsaking your Lord–but brought back to Him again. Why have you not been a Demas or a Judas? “I have prayed for you–that your faith fail not!” Is not this your own comment and reflection on life’s retrospect: “Yet not I–but the grace of God which was with me!” Seek to realize your dependence on this grace every moment. “More grace! more grace!” needs to be your continual cry. His infinite supply–is commensurate with your infinite need. The treasury of grace, though always emptying–is always full. (John MacDuff, “The Night Watches”)
“God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8. All-sufficiency in all things! Believer! Surely you are “thoroughly equipped for every good work!” Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances. It is a glorious treasury, which the key of prayer can always unlock–but can never empty! It is a fountain–full, flowing, ever flowing, overflowing! Mark these three ALL’S in this precious promise. It is a three-fold link in a golden chain, let down from the throne of grace, by the God of grace. “All grace!” “all-sufficiency!” in “all things!” and these to “abound.” Oh! precious thought! My need cannot impoverish that inexhaustible treasury of grace! Myriads are hourly hanging on it, drawing from it and yet there is no diminution. Out of that fullness we, too, may all receive, “grace upon grace!” My soul, do you not love to dwell on that all-abounding grace! Your own insufficiency in everything, met with a divine “all-sufficiency in all things!” Grace in all circumstances and situations. Grace in all vicissitudes and changes. Grace in all the varied phases of the Christian’s being. Grace in sunshine and in storm. Grace in health and in sickness. Grace in life and in death. Grace for the old believer–and the young believer. Grace for the tried believer, and the weak believer, and the tempted believer.Grace for duty and grace in duty. Grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand and grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit! Grace to have prosperity sanctified–and grace to say through tears, “May Your will be done!” “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8. (John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”)
“Say to the righteous, that it shall be well with him!” Isaiah 3:10. The human family is divided into a great variety of social and artificial distinctions. But, in the sight of God–there are but two classes, into which the multifarious elements of universal humanity can be resolved. There are only the righteous–and the wicked. Concerning one of these classes–God proclaims that it shall be well with them; while to the other–He pronounces a solemn woe. What makes the condition of a wicked man to be so fearful, is the solemn fact that God is against him! And what makes that of the righteous to be so blessed–is that God is for him! All the divine attributes are arrayed against the impenitent sinner–but when he becomes a saint, they all join to take his part. Such being the case, having the eternal Jehovah in all his boundless perfections on his side, it cannot be otherwise than well with him. It shall be well with the righteous, not merely in life–but in death.
It is appointed by the irrevocable decree of God–that all men must die.
There is no discharge in that war–no release from that mortal struggle! Wealth has no bribe which death will receive. Wisdom has no art by which death can be avoided. Power has no defense against death. Beauty has no charm to death’s eye. The voice of eloquence is lost to death’s ear. Even religion has no security from death’s stroke! Here the mightiest conqueror is vanquished–and the proudest of monarchs finds himself a slave! From its ruthless grasp–no age, no condition can escape! Those who are in the bloom and freshness of youthcannot escape–for “man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity!” The great and prosperous cannot escape–for “the rich man also died and was buried.” The wicked cannot escape–he is driven, yes, dragged away in his wickedness; the most fearful of all deaths is his–that of dying in his sins! Neither can the righteous escape–he must go the way of all the earth, and become a tenant of the silent grave! But at that solemn season, it shall be well with him! When the last sands of the numbered hour are running out; when his earthly friends will be compelled to leave him; when the cold dews of death will be standing in large drops upon his pallid brow; when every nerve and vein may be racked and wrenched in fearful agonies by the irresistible power of the grim tyrant–even then it shall be well with him! The dying strife will soon be over, and through death’s gloomy portals he will enter upon that blessed state where all is peace and bliss forever! “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life!” Matthew 25:46. (John MacDuff, The Christian’s Pathway, 1858)