We Must Begin With God

“We readily acknowledge that life is a profound problem, and that we are surrounded by mystery on every side; but we are not like the beasts of the field—ignorant of their origin, and unconscious of what is before them. No! ‘We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy’, of which it is said you do well that you “take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). And it is to this Word of Prophecy, we indeed do well to ‘take heed,’ to that Word which had not its origin in the mind of man—but in the Mind of God, for, ‘no prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21). We say again, it is to this ‘Word’ we do well to take heed. As we turn to this Word and are instructed there, we discover a fundamental principle which must be applied to every problem: Instead of beginning with man and his world—and working back to God; we must begin with God—and work down to man. “In the beginning God’ (Genesis 1:1)! Apply this principle to the present situation. Begin with the world as it is today, and try and work back to God, and everything will seem to show that God has no connection with the world at all. But begin with God and work down to the world—and light, much light, is cast on the problem. Because God is holy—His anger burns against sin. Because God is righteous—His judgments fall upon those who rebel against Him. Because God is faithful—the solemn threatenings of His Word are fulfilled. Because God is omnipotent—none can successfully resist Him, still less overthrow His counsel. Because God is omniscient—no problem can master Him and no difficulty baffle His wisdom. It is just because God is who He is, and what He is—that we are now beholding on earth, the beginning of His out-poured judgments! In view of His inflexible justice and immaculate holiness—we could not expect anything other than what is now spread before our eyes.”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.9-10

God Must Either Rule or Be Ruled

“Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What do the Scriptures say? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm, again and again, that God is on the throne of His universe; that the scepter is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will” [Eph.1:11]. They affirm, not only that God created all things, but also that God is ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. They affirm that God is the “Almighty” [Gen.17:1], that His will is irreversible, that He is absolute sovereign in every realm of all His vast dominions. And surely it must be so. Only two alternatives are possible: God must either rule—or be ruled; God must either sway—or be swayed; God must either accomplish His own will—or be thwarted by His creatures. Accepting the fact that He is the “Most High God” [Psalm 78:35], the only Potentate and King of kings [1 Tim. 6:15], vested with perfect wisdom and illimitable power—the conclusion is irresistible, that He must be God in fact—as well as in name!”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.8

The Top Priority for the Christian

“Looking at the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we can see that this is the first priority of which Jesus spoke. His initial request was that the name of God be hallowed. It is the Greek word hagios, which is literally translated ‘holy.’ The top priority for the Christian is to see that God’s name is kept holy, for it is holy. If that were the only prayer request the Christian community ever made, and if believers made it earnestly and regularly, I suspect the revival we pray for and the reformation we so earnestly desire would be accomplished in no time. Everything–our work, our ministry, and all aspects of our daily lives–would be affected.”

– R.C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things?, p.28

Learn to Tremble at the Infinite Justice, Power and Wisdom of God

“Sometimes when the ministers of God open the threatenings that are in God’s Word, you think that they are terrible; but know that God, in the treasury of His judgments, has more dreadful things than have ever been revealed in His Word. Therefore, learn to tremble not only at what is revealed in God’s Word against your sin, but tremble at what there is in that infinite justice, power, and wisdom of God to find out and execute upon sinners. For you who are sinners, and especially you are bold and presumptuous sinners, you may expect to meet with whatever evil an infinite wisdom is able to devise, and that an infinite power is able to bring upon you. You commit such and such a sin. Perhaps you don’t know of any particular judgment that is threatened against it, but think thusly: ‘I who provoke God by my sins, what may I look for?’ It is more than I know to the contrary but that whatsoever the infinite wisdom of God is able to find out, and whatever misery I am capable of, that the Lord may bring upon me.’ Consider this and take heed of sin.”

– Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship, p.19

Never Make the Fatal Mistake of Nadab and Abihu

“God demands to be treated as holy, for He is holy. He is jealous for His honor. He does not plead for respect in this passage [Leviticus 10:1-3]. Rather, it is a statement of fact: ‘I will be treated as holy.’ We must never make the fatal mistake of Nadab and Abihu and approach the sovereign God in a flippantly casual attitude.”

– R.C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things?, p.27-28

God Stands Upon Little Things

“In the matter of worship, God stands upon little things. Some things may seem to be very small and little to us, yet God stands much upon them in the matter of worship; for there is nothing wherein the prerogative of God more appears than in worship. Princes stand much upon their prerogatives. Now God has written the law of natural  worship in our hearts. But there are other things in the worship of God that are not  written in our hearts, that only depend upon the will of God revealed in His Word, which would not be duties except that are revealed in His Word. And these are of such a nature that we can see no reason for them except God would have them so. For example, there are many kinds of ceremonies to manifest the honor to princes, that have no reason at all nut merely because it is a civil institution so appointed. So God would have some ways of honoring Himself that the creature may not see a reason for but merely that it is the will of God to have them so.”

– Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship, p.13

God in Our Midst

“The ark of the covenant was the place of presence. While the Lord was present among His people in the exodus (Ex. 13:17–1821–22), He localized this presence in the tabernacle for the benefit of His sinful people. The tabernacle was constructed so that the Lord would be among His people: ‘And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst’ (Ex. 25:8). But in an even more specific way, the ark served as the place of the presence of God. As we read in Exodus 25:22,

There I will meet with you … on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you’ (Ex. 25:22; emphasis added).

Here is such a mind-blowing idea about the God of the Bible that we have to pause for a moment. The eternal God who is not constrained by the existence of time, the infinite God who is not bound by the constraints of space, the transcendent God who dwells above and beyond all time and space, and the immense God who fills all time and space condescended to the weakness of His people and became manifest for their benefit in one locale. This God is not bound by time, but He bound Himself to the time-bound experience of His people. This God is not bound by space, but He bound Himself to this box. He is above all creational constraints, but He bound Himself to them. He is everywhere, but He was there.

The psalmist set this truth about the nature of Israel’s God to song so that His people could celebrate Him:

‘The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory is above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?’ (Ps. 113:4–6)

What a God we have. What a God has us. He chose to stoop very low and to humble Himself very far for the sake of His wandering people in the wilderness. Even more, He chose to stoop and to humble Himself for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and then to stoop as low as death: ‘he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’ (Phil. 2:8).

The fact that the ark was the place of the Lord’s presence among His people brought great assurance to the people of God. This high, lofty, majestic, and resplendent King dwelt among His grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people (Ex. 15:2416:2891217:2). Does that sound familiar? We, too, are grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people. Thankfully, God is not far off in another land, but He is near to us who are sinners. The promise to the new-covenant believer is that the Lord is near to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (1 Cor. 6:19), even as Jesus promised His helpful presence (John 14:16). The assurance His nearness brings was described by the prophet Isaiah much later in this history of salvation. Just as God accompanied Israel when they wandered in a wilderness, so, too, He was with them in the days of their restoration from exile. Thus, the prophet said, ‘In all their affliction he was afflicted’ (Isa. 63:9).”

– Daniel Hyde, God in Our Midst

To Them That Love God

‘”To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). This is the grand distinguishing feature of every true Christian. The reverse marks all the unregenerate. But the saints are those who love God. Their creeds may differ in minor details; their ecclesiastical relations may vary in outward form; their gifts and graces may be very unequal; yet, in this particular there is an essential unity. They all believe in Christ, they all love God. They love Him for the gift of the Saviour: they love Him as a Father in whom they may confide: they love Him for His personal excellencies – His holiness, wisdom, faithfulness. They love Him for His conduct: for what He withholds an for what He grants: for what He rebukes and for what He approves. They love Him even for the rod that disciplines, knowing that He doth all things well. There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which the saints do not love Him. And of this they are all assured, ‘We love Him because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:10).

‘To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). But, alas, how little I love God! I so frequently mourn my lack of love, and chide myself for the coldness of my heart. Yes, there is so much love of self and love of the world, that sometimes I seriously question if I have any real love for God at all, but is not my very desire to love God a good symptom? Is not my very grief that I love Him so little a sure evidence that I do not hate Him? The presence of a hard and ungrateful heart has been mourned over by the saints of all ages.”

– Arthur W. Pink, Comfort for Christians, p.13

The Spiritual Creation of the Soul in the New Birth Presents God in a New Light

“It may be truly said, that the spiritual creation of the soul in the New Birth presents the being and character of GOD in a new light. It is like a new revelation of Jehovah to the mind. The unregenerate man does not worship the God of the Bible. The God therein revealed and made known to us, only in and by the Lord Jesus Christ. Worshiping a god of his own imagination, he rears his altar to ‘THE UNKNOWN GOD‘. Divesting the God of Scripture of His divine perfections–His holiness, His justice, His truth, His power–he completely undeifies Him, robbing Him of His glory, and annihilating His very being.

But, now born again, a new creature, lo! the God of the Bible bursts upon his new-found vision and his wondering gaze, as a newly-revealed God. Clothed with new attributes, arrayed with new perfections, bathed with new glory, standing in a new relation, the new creature falls down at His feet in adoring admiration and love, exclaiming, ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear–but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.‘ Never did the being of God appear so true, the perfections of God so glorious, the character of God so great, the government of God so holy, the relation of God so endearing as now. Born into a new world, the GOD Sun of that world–the GOD of the new creation–unveils to the eye as infinitely, ineffably lovely.

Like a being born and grown up in a dark mine, and brought to the earth’s surface to gaze upon the sun in its noontide effulgence, the new created soul is astonished, bewildered, overpowered by the splendor, glory, and greatness of the being, character, and perfections of Jehovah.”

– Octavius Winslow, From Grace to Glory