A Little Time With The 1689: Day 226

Day 226

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 1.

“… yet he is still the same and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto Salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraved upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all Eternity.

Scripture Lookup

Malachi 3:6

Reflection

 

Why is it that those who are in Christ endure? Why do we persevere to the end?

We persevere because God does not change. “For I, the LORD, do not change;…” (Malachi 3:6). If God were as fickle as we were, we should have great reason to fear that we would not persevere to the end and be eternally saved. Thankfully, God is immutable. What He says, He will do. “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?” (Numbers 23:17) And what is it that He says? “…these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

We persevere because we are His, bought with a price. That price of His own Son, who suffered, bled and died for us. Who also rose and intercedes on our behalf. We will not be found defective and returned to our sinful state. Eternal salvation will be ours because it has been bought and paid for by Christ Himself.

We persevere because God has decreed it. He chose a people from eternity past to everlasting glory through Jesus Christ. His purpose is eternal and immutable. It is fixed.

God does not change. His purpose does not change. His steadfast love never ceases. If we are in Christ, our perseverance is assured.

Questions to Consider

Can anyone in Christ not receive eternal salvation?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 225

Day 225

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 1.

Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and Sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his Elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without Repentance, (whence he still begets and nourisheth in them Faith, Repentance, Love, Joy, Hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality) and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon: notwithstanding through unbelief and the temptations of Satan the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them,…”

Scripture Lookup

John 10:28,29

Philippians 1:6

2 Timothy 2:19

1 John 2:19

Psalm 89:31,32

1 Corinthians 11:32

Reflection

There are times when we as believers don’t really believe that strongly. When friends turn fair-weather, when we are laid off and can’t find a new job right away, when blow after blow of bad news seems to lurk around every corner, we can find it difficult to say that the joy of the Lord is our strength. The temptation is strong to question whether Scripture actually speaks what is true, or if it is simply a means of suppression dreamed up by men. Giving up our faith dangles before us as an option.

And yet, we do not give up faith in Christ. Indeed, we cannot give up faith in Christ. For those who are accepted by God because they are in Christ shall endure to the end. It is God who calls us, God who regenerates us, God who justifies us. It is God who sanctifies us, God who enables faith in us, God who grants the grace of repentance in us. It is God who works in us to do and to will His good pleasure. God never repents of those saving graces He alone bestows. He will never take them back. They are ours to keep until our life in this world ends.

We may be beaten down time after time in our walk as Christians, but we will never be defeated. Our union in Christ ensures us of this.

Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end! -J. Wilbur Chapman

Questions to Consider

  • If salvation is all of God, how can anyone who truly believes fall away?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 224

Day 224

Of Good Works.

Chapter 16, Paragraph 7.

Works done by unregenerate men although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use, both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful and cannot please God; nor make a man meet to receive grace from God; and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.

Scripture Lookup

2 Kings 10:30

1 Kings 21:27,29

Genesis 4:5

Hebrews 11:4,6

1 Corinthians 13:1

Matthew 6:2,5

Amos 5:21,22

Romans 9:16

Titus 3:5

Job 21:14,15

Matthew 25:41-43

Reflection

Unbelievers can do many things. They can treat the wounded and sick; they can clothe and shelter the poor. They have the ability to pray, attend church, and give generously to charity. Every day these acts are carried out by those who are unregenerate. These are works which are commanded by God in His word. Aren’t they, then, good works?

These works, although good in that they are commanded by God in His word, can never be acceptable to God for salvation. Good works proceed wholly from the Spirit indwelling a regenerate heart. If the Holy Spirit has not changed the heart to will that which is good, then all the work done proceeds from a corrupt nature that is opposite to all good. The action may be beneficial, but the source is what determines whether the work is truly good.

…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. -1 Samuel 16:7

Why should the unregenerate do any work considered “good”, then? Because such actions are commanded by God. While unacceptable to God for salvation, doing works that God commands is advantageous for the world.  Lives are spared. Physical ailments are treated. Material comfort is shared. While this earth is a violent, evil place, it is not full of destruction, for in the Lord’s providence the sinful actions of men are bound, ordered and governed (LBCF 5.4). Thus there are benevolent works that are not the sole domain of the righteous, for anyone, believer or no, has the ability to perform them. Even though they are corrupted, these actions are more desirable than totally transgressing God’s law. Through such means, God’s glory and goodness is demonstrated even through those who despise Him.

Questions to Consider

  • Can anyone be good without God? Can anyone’s works be good without God?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 223

Day 223

Of Good Works.

Chapter 16, Paragraph 6.

Yet notwithstanding the persons of Believers being accepted through Christ their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he looking upon them in his Son is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfection.

Scripture Lookup

Ephesians 1:5

1 Peter 1:5

Matthew 25:21,23

Hebrews 6:10

Reflection

Wall art. A scarf. Jams and jellies. Homemade gifts involve time, effort, and thought. However, they aren’t flawless, especially when done by children. Odd shapes in the drawings, slubs in the knitting, way too much sugar in the jam. Some people have no affinity for homemade gifts, even from their children. They view such gifts as cheap and sub-par. Homemade gifts don’t meet the standard of these people, and their children learn quickly to not even bother next time.

Yesterday’s paragraph taught us that there are no star stickers or participation trophies for our good works. Our good works do not merit us anything from God, and can in no way repay the debt we owe Him due to our sin. Good works are the standard we fell from, not special achievements. They have no merit in themselves.

And yet, God accepts our feeble attempts at good works because we are in Christ. Because of what Christ has done on our behalf, even though our good works are mixed with imperfection, they do not disgust God. In this life, God’s standard will never be met. Yet God sees our good works and rewards them, all on account of His Son. When we do good works, despite all the imperfections they are mixed with, God accepts them and rewards them, because we are in Christ.

You cannot earn approval from God. Yet because of Christ, you have it. Do not hesitate then to perform good works. Yes, they are inadequate. Yes, they are imperfect. They do not measure up. God knows this. He accepts and rewards them anyway, all because of Christ.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you ever hesitant to perform good works? Why/why not?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 222

Day 222

Of Good Works.

Chapter 16, Paragraph 5.

We cannot by our best works merit pardon of Sin or Eternal Life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment.

Scripture Lookup

Romans 3:20

Ephesians 2:8,9

Romans 4:6

Galatians 5:22,23

Isaiah 64:6

Psalm 143:2

Reflection

Isn’t it easy to think of good works as something to check off our “to-do” list? Visit the poor, check! Exhibit joy, check! Pray without ceasing, check! Look at ourselves and see if our works are enough for our standards. Sometimes we compare our standards against what other godly people are doing, and fall into sin because we jealously feel inadequate, or fall into sin because we smugly consider ourselves as doing better and more.

Having a checklist of good works, however, is to view them incorrectly. Good works are commanded, they assure us that we are in the faith and they glorify God, so they do play an important role in our lives. But they in no way gain us any favor with God. These good works that we do are already owed to God. They are what He commanded in the first place. The massive debt sin incurred crushes any chance of us paying it with our works. Even though they proceed from the Spirit, our good works are also done in bodies that still have remaining corruption. Thus they are defiled and would disintegrate in an instant if offered up as an atonement. Our good works are not what put us in right standing before God.

There can be no boasting or comparison when it comes to good works. So you do more than your Christian neighbor? So what! You are only doing your duty. It is impossible to go above and beyond what God requires; therefore, it is impossible to demonstrate any spiritual superiority by our good works.

Don’t compare your spiritual walk to other Christians. Instead, compare it to Scripture. You will see how far short your works come in meriting anything from God, and you will see how much you owe Christ for what He has done for you. Throw out the checklist, and walk in the works prepared for you.

Questions to Consider

  • Have you found yourself comparing your works to other Christians? Whose standard should you follow?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 221

Day 221

Of Good Works.

Chapter 16, Paragraph 4.

They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

Scripture Lookup

Job 9:2, 3

Galatians 5:17

Luke 17:10

Reflection

Supererogation. Not a word used in everyday conversation. Today’s paragraph from the LBCF contains the verb form, “supererogate”, and for the average reader that word stands out among all the ordinary ones used. What in the world does that mean? Thankfully, dictionaries come to our aid. According to Webster’s, supererogation is “the act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need”.

There are no overachievers when it comes to doing good works. You could be the most pious regenerate believer, filling every moment with obedience to God’s commands, and still not go above and beyond what He requires. The duty which we owe to God is such that those who still have remaining corruption of sin can never surpass its requirements. The notion that any Christian could supererogate the commands of God is absurd.

Roman Catholicism, however, teaches that not only can one do more than is required by God, she can also bank those good works to the account of others. Supererogation, according to Rome, is possible and a reality. However, to claim that believers can achieve more than what God requires is to fail to appreciate the extent of corruption that remains with us. Such a view also fails to recognize the sole work of Christ as our mediator. We must be careful to not rob Christ of any of His glory!

Questions to Consider

  • Have you ever thought that anyone could be so virtuous as to go beyond God’s requirements?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 220

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Day 220

Of Good Works.

Chapter 16, Paragraph 3.

Their ability to do good works is not all of themselves; but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them and to will, and to do, of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the Grace of God that is in them.

Scripture Lookup

2 Corinthians 3:5

Philippians 2:13

Hebrews 6:11,12

Isaiah 64:7

Reflection

Where do our good works come from? While we are enabled to will that which is good, the actions that result from that will have their origin in God.

Every good and perfect gift is from above… -James 1:17

The Holy Spirit works in us to will and to do His good pleasure. Besides all the wonderful gifts granted to us by His marvelous grace, the Spirit is necessary to influence us to perform good works. We are the ones who will to do good works, and we are the ones who do the good works, but we only will and do because of the influence of the Spirit.

Does the Spirit’s prominence in producing our good works mean we just sit back, relax, and only do good when “prompted” by the Spirit? That would certainly be an easy, thoughtless Christianity, but it is not Biblical. After all, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Work is not a bad word. We are called repeatedly to make efforts to produce good works. However, the impetus for good works is not derived from a sole effort on our part, but rests upon the Spirit in order to carry out that work. What does the next verse in Philippians 2 say?

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.

Thus we strive to stir up good works in ourselves and others, knowing that it is due to His divine power that we are able to do so.

If you’re not doing good works because you feel the Spirit hasn’t moved you, may I suggest that you read your Bible? As God’s word, Scripture is the only certain, sufficient and infallible rule of all saving obedience. Good works are only such as God has commanded in His word. Remember, the Spirit and the word dwelling in you sanctify you. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to press onward in obedience to all that Christ commands as your Head and King. Apply what you read in His word through the strength of the Spirit!

Questions to Consider

  • How are you stirring up the grace of God in you to do good works?