God is very kind. In Jonah 1, His judgement upon Jonah’s rebellion isn’t also cast upon the pagan sailors. Instead the whole process has God’s hand over it – the wind (4), the lots (7), the raging waves (11, 13), and instead of sinking the ship and all its inhabitors, the LORD keeps safe the sailors. In fact, they turn from crying out ‘each to his god’ (5), to fearing the LORD ‘exceedingly’ (16, ESV), and making a sincere sacrifice and vows to Him. The Creator’s loving kindness!
This inner assurance of the grace of God is accompanied by outward indications such as gladly to hear, preach, praise, and to confess Christ, to do one’s duty in the station in which God has placed us, to aid the needy, and to comfort the sorrowing. These are affidavits of the Holy Spirit testifying to our favourable standing with God.
If we could be fully persuaded that we are in the good grace of God, that our sins are forgiven, that we have the Spirit of Christ, that we are the beloved children of God, we would be ever so happy and grateful to God. But because we often fear and doubt we cannot come to that happy certainty.
Train your conscience to believe that God approves of you. Fight it without doubt. Gain assurance through the Word of God.
The ridiculous length of yesterday’s post was made all the more superfluous by the absence in the Pauline section of this morning’s New Testament exam of any question on justification or righteousness. Megadoh! Half way through now, with a hectic three-in-three-days gauntlet starting on Tuesday.
The boys and I carried on digging into Mark 14 last night. As the hour approaches and indeed arrives (v. 41) it’s incredible to see just how in control Jesus is: he foretells Peter’s denial and his own resurrection (28, 30), and his betrayal into the hands of sinners (41).
His fulfilment of Zechariah 13.7 shows the significance of Jesus’ death: he is the shepherd going ahead and bringing in the kingdom. His prayer in Gethsemane is out of this world. And we see just how far we fall short.
Peter’s response (29, 31) is probably nothing short of what mine would have been: ‘I will turn over a new leaf for you this week Jesus’, ‘I will conquer this sin from now on’. It’s echoed first in the contrast between Jesus and the disciples as he commands them to pray but they patheticly fall asleep, and then in the actions of Judas.
I’m not clear what Jesus means by ‘the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak’ (38) – is he just highlighting the impossibility in our fallen nature of being able to follow Jesus?
It was striking to look again upon the uniqueness of Jesus – it was striking to see the importance of prayer, as we are humbled before God. By ourselves we are very, very helpless. Yet we still think we can do it; we want to read this and think we can leave this place and give him what is his due.
Not ‘I can’ or ‘I will’, but through Jesus – be humbled, be little, be driven to the cross.
Hello, my name is Robin. Welcome to That Happy Certainty, where I write and collate on Christianity, culture, and church-planting. I’m based in Barrow in South Cumbria, England, where my family & I are part of Grace Church Barrow.