David Murray – A Few Good Men

Let me introduce you to seven men who will give us a guided tour of Romans 3:9-31.

Mr. Goodness

Mr. Goodness hardly needs an introduction. We are all born hand in hand with him, know him well, and like him. After all, he tells us how good we are. And if we have any doubts, he helps us to find excuses, blame others, or find others that we can still look good beside.

As Mr. Goodness is extremely experienced, persuasive, and skillful, Paul spends the first few chapters of Romans attacking him with the sharp sword of Scripture. And in Romans 3:9-18 he “goes for the jugular” with thrust after thrust of multiple verses proving universal human sinfulness: “None righteous, no not one… none who understands… none who seeks after God…they have all turned aside… etc.”

To continue reading David Murray’s article, click here.

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A. W. Pink – Faith as a Shield

“Above all, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one!” Ephesians 6:16

A shield is a weapon of defense, held in front of the person to prevent the missiles of the foe injuring the body. A “shield” then is a means of protection. In Scripture, it is used as a metaphor of that which affords security against the assaults of the Devil.

Varied indeed are the shifts and shields which professing Christians employ. Some trust in the sufficiency of carnal reasoning to repel the attacks which Satan makes on their souls. Some shelter behind human traditions—and poor protection they give! Some seek refuge beneath the shield of fatalism—but get sorely wounded. It is indeed blessedly true—that whatever comes to pass was eternally foreordained by God; yet, that truth was not revealed in Scripture as a rule for us to walk by.

Others attempt to hide behind an avowed inability to do anything to help themselves, though they act very differently when menaced by physical perils! Others take presumption for their shield: Heedless of warnings and reckless of dangers, they imagine themselves to be strong and armored against the attacks of Satan. Peter fell through self-confidence!

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Thomas Schreiner – Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone?

Critics of the slogan “faith alone” often point out that Scripture only speaks once about whether we are justified by faith alone—and that text denies it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, CSB).

What does James mean in saying we are justified by works?

I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, as Paul teaches in Romans 4:5, “God justifies the ungodly.” Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9).

Salvation, as Paul elsewhere demonstrates, is “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Works are excluded as the basis of salvation—otherwise people could boast about what they have done. Salvation by grace through faith highlights the amazing and comforting truth that salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours.

But does Paul contradict James?

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Lex Meyer – Faith During Hard Times

The story of Job starts off with an interesting accusation that Satan makes against God. He claimed that Job only worships Him because of the benefits he receives from God, and if God would take everything away, Job would turn against Him.

“So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” – Job 1:9-11

People often ask the question, “why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”, and although Job seems to be asking that same question, he never really gets an answer. But what it does give us is much more valuable. It tells us what to do when we experience hard times.

Job was a righteous man who did nothing to deserve the suffering he faced, yet he lost all of his children, all of his livestock, and all of his wealth, but through it all he never cursed God. In fact, listen to what he did after his children died.

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” – Job 1:20-22

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Brian Cosby – Prepping in Biblical Perspective

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Like any movement, the prepping community includes a wide range of individuals. From preparing for zombie attacks to doomsday scenarios to hurricanes to simply preparing for the winter season, the underlying motives behind this movement have taken many forms–spanning the spectrum of personal preparedness and personalities. Some, within the prepping community, simply enjoy a homesteading lifestyle while others seem to be preparing for World War III.

To be transparent, I am sympathetic with the overarching idea of prepping. I learned early on as a boy scout to “be prepared.” As an adult, I have come to understand the sobering reality of buying insurance, locking the front door at night, and having a fire escape plan–all “just in case” something bad happened. From preparing for our week ahead to thinking through the coming year, we all prepare to some degree or another. But is preparation contradictory to biblical teaching? Didn’t Jesus tell his disciples not to worry and be anxious about tomorrow (Matt. 6:25-34)?

Before answering these questions directly, here is a survey of some biblical passages that speak about our need to be prepared–both by way of example and precept:

(Gen. 6-9) – the example of Noah, preparing for the flood. See also (Heb. 11:7) “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.”

(Gen. 41:47-49) – the example of Joseph. During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.”

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Thomas Schreiner – Why Doesn’t Our Faith Move Mountains?

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Peter tells us Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16).

Jesus said some difficult things, too.

Twice the Lord told his disciples that if they had faith like a mustard seed they could do jaw-dropping things. In Matthew, mustard seed faith is tied to expelling a demon, and Jesus says those who have such faith can move mountains (Matt. 17:20). In Luke, those with mustard seed faith will be able to forgive those who sin against them since such faith can pluck up mulberry trees and cast them into the sea (Luke 17:6). All kinds of questions enter our minds.

What is faith like a mustard seed?

Why doesn’t our faith move mountains?

Are we failing to see great things from God because of our lack of faith?

Faith that Encourages

In the stories recounted in both Matthew and Luke, the disciples long for more faith. Then they could do great things for God. Then they could cast out demons and forgive a brother or sister who’s especially annoying. Jesus tells them they don’t need great faith; they need just a little faith. He clearly speaks of a small amount of faith since the mustard seed was the smallest seed known in his day. Jesus also informs his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is as small as a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31).

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Faith On Trial: The Problem Stated

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The great value of the Book of Psalms is that in it we have godly men stating their experience, and giving us an account of things that have happened to them in their spiritual life and warfare. Throughout history the Book of Psalms has, therefore, been a book of great value for God’s people. Again and again it provides them with the kind of comfort and teaching they need, and which they can find nowhere else. And it may well be, if one may be allowed to speculate on such a thing, that the Holy Spirit led the early Church to adopt the Old Testament writings partly for that reason. What we find from the beginning to the end of the Bible is the account of God’s dealings with His people. He is the same God in the Old Testament as in the New; and these Old Testament saints were citizens of the kingdom of God even as we are. We are taken into a kingdom which already contains such people as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The mystery that was revealed to the apostles was that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and citizens in the kingdom with the Jews.

It is right, therefore, to regard the experiences of these people as being exactly parallel with our own. The fact that they lived in the old dispensation makes no difference. There is something wrong with a Christianity which rejects the Old Testament, or even with a Christianity which imagines that we are essentially different from the Old Testament saints. If any of you are tempted to feel like that, I would invite you to read the Book of Psalms, and then to ask yourself whether you can honestly say from your experience some of the things the Psalmists said. Can you say, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up?” Can you say, “As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God?” Read the Psalms and the statements made in them, and I think you Will agree that these men were children of God with a great and rich spiritual experience. For this reason, it has been the practice in the Christian Church from the beginning for men and women to come to the Book of Psalms for light, knowledge, and instruction.

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Horatius Bonar – The Family Life: The Life of Faith

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They live by faith. Thus they began and thus they are to end. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Their whole life is a life of faith. Their daily actions are all of faith. This forms one of the main elements of their character. It marks them out as a peculiar people. None live as they do.

Their faith is to them “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is a sort of substitute for sight and possession. It so brings them into contact with the unseen world that they feel as if they were already conversant with, and living among, the things unseen. It makes the future, the distant, the impalpable, appear as the present, the near, the real. It removes all intervening time; it annihilates all interposing space; it transplants the soul at once into the world above. That which we know is to be hereafter is felt as if already in being. Hence, the coming of the Lord is always spoken of as at hand. Nay, more than this, the saints are represented as “having their conversation in heaven,” as being already “seated with Christ in heavenly places,”(Eph 2:16 ) as having “come to Mount Zion , and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem , and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born. which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb 12:22 ). The things amid which they are to move hereafter are so realized by faith as to appear the things amid which they are at present moving. They sit in “heavenly places” and look down upon the earth, with all its clouds and storms, as lying immeasurably far beneath their feet. And what is a “present evil world” to those who are already above all its vicissitudes and breathing a purer atmosphere?

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Kevin DeYoung – The “I” in Faith

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It may have sounded prophetic at one point, but now it’s rather prosaic. Everyone knows (or is supposed to know) that individualism is bad. An emphasis on the individual — such a common theme in the West — has been blamed for myriad problems, including everything from friendlessness to consumerism, from contemporary praise music to gated communities. And no doubt, individualism has its downside. For the church, it’s meant an aversion to authority, a reluctance to accept certain elements of covenant theology, and a community life that isn’t everything it could be. Problem duly noted.

But let us not forget that the reason for individualism in the West is, among other factors, that Christianity taught the West to prize the individual. After all, God did not start by making a community; He made a man, Adam. And He gave to that man dignity and worth as a creature made in the divine image. The individual matters because each individual matters to God.

There’s always a danger in the Christian life of dealing only with generalities. The temptation is to float in the fog of general truths and general promises instead of seeing with laser sharpness the specificity of God’s truth and God’s promises. The truth is not just that all men are sinners and therefore we must be sinners too. The truth is I am a sinner and I sin, not general, theoretical sins, but actual, condemnable, particular sins. Conversely, the promise of God’s love is more than a general blanketing of good will toward all people, like the t-shirt that says, “Jesus loves you. Then again, he loves everybody.” We need to know that God’s love does not rest upon us at the end of a syllogism. He loves us — loves me, loves you — specifically, particularly, uniquely, and individually.

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Charles Spurgeon – Fear Not (Isaiah 41:14)

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“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy redeemer the Holy one of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14

I SHALL SPEAK this morning to those that are discouraged, depressed in spirit, and sore troubled in the Christian life. There are certain nights of exceeding great darkness, through which the spirit has to grope in much pain and misery, and during which much of the comfort of the Word is particularly needed. Those seasons occur in this manner. Frequently they occur at the outset of a religious life. A young man, deeply impressed under the ministry, has been led to feel the weight of sin; he trusts also he has been led to look for salvation to the Christ who is preached in the gospel. In the young ardor of his spirit he devotes himself wholly to Christ; with the most solemn vows he dedicates body, soul, time, talents, all that he has, to the great work of serving God; he thinks it easy to fulfill his vow; he doth not count the cost; he reckons it will be easy to forsake gay companions, to renounce old established habits, and to become a Christian. Alas! before many days he finds out his mistake, if he did not reckon without his host he certainly reckoned without his heart, for his evil heart of unbelief had deceived him, he knew not how hard would be the struggle, and how desperate the wrestling between his old evil nature and the new-born principle of grace within him. He finds it to be like the rending off of right arms to give up old and cherished habits; he discovers it to be painful to renounce his former pursuits, as painful as it would be to pluck out his right eye. He sits down then, and he says, “If this be the trouble at the outset what may I expect as I proceed. O my soul, thou wast too fast in dedicating thyself to God; thou hast undertaken a warfare which thy prowess can never accomplish; thou hast started on a journey for which thy strength is not adequate; let me again return unto the world;” and if the Spirit saith, “Nay, thou canst not,” then the poor soul sits itself down in deep misery, and cries, “I can not go back and I can not go forward; what must I do? I am exceedingly discouraged because of the way.” The same feeling often overcomes the most valiant Christian veteran. He who has been long experienced in the things of the divine life will sometimes be over taken with a dark night and a stormy tempest; so dark will be the night, that he will not know his right hand from his left, and so horrible the tempest, that he can not hear the sweet words of his Master, saying, “Fear not, I am with thee.” Periodical tornadoes and hurricanes will sweep o’er the Christian; he will be subjected to as many trials in his spirit as trials in his flesh. This much I know, if it be not so with all of you it is so with me. I have to speak to-day to myself; and whilst I shall be endeavoring to encourage those who are distressed and down-hearted, I shall be preaching, I trust to myself, for I need something which shall cheer my heart — Why I can not tell, wherefore I do not know, but I have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me; my soul is cast down within me, I feel as if I had rather die than live; all that God hath done by me seems to be forgotten, and my spirit flags and my courage breaks down with the thought of that which is to come. I need your prayers; I need God’s Holy Spirit; and I felt that I could not preach to-day, unless I should preach in such a way as to encourage you and to encourage myself in the good work and labor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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