Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
12. THE PATIENCE OF GOD
Far less has been written upon this than the other excellencies of the Divine character. Not a few of those who have expatiated at length upon the Divine attributes have passed over the patience of God without any comment. It is not easy to suggest a reason for this, for surely the longsuffering of God is as much one of the Divine perfections as His wisdom, power, or holiness, and as much to be admired and revered by us. True, the actual term will not be found in a concordance so frequently as the others, but the glory of this grace itself shines forth on almost every page of Scripture. Certain it is that we lose much if we do not frequently meditate upon the patience of God and earnestly pray that our hearts and ways may be more completely conformed thereto.
Most probably the principal reason why so many writers have failed to give us anything, separately, upon the patience of God was because of the difficulty of distinguishing this attribute from the Divine goodness and mercy, particularly the latter. God’s longsuffering is mentioned in conjunction with His grace and mercy again and again, as may be seen by consulting Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 86:15, etc. That the patience of God is really a display of His mercy, in fact is one way in which it is frequently manifested, cannot be gainsaid; but that they are one and the same excellency, and are not to be separated, we cannot concede. It may not be easy to discriminate between them, nevertheless, Scripture fully warrants us, in predicating some things of the one which we cannot of the other.
Stephen Charnock, the Puritan, defines God’s patience, in part, thus:
It is a part of the Divine goodness and mercy, yet differs from both. God being the greatest goodness, hath the greatest mildness; mildness is always the companion of true goodness, and the greater the goodness, the greater the mildness. Who so holy as Christ, and who so meek? God’s slowness to anger is a branch of His mercy: "the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger" (Ps. 145:8). It differs from mercy in the formal consideration of the subject: mercy respects the creature as miserable, patience respects the creature as criminal; mercy pities him in his misery, patience bears with the sin which engendered the misery, and giving birth to more.
Personally we would define the Divine patience as that power of control which God exercises over Himself, causing Him to bear with the wicked and forebear so long in punishing them. In Nahum 1:3 we read, "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power," upon which Mr. Charnock said,
Men that are great in the world are quick in passion, and are not so ready to forgive an injury, or bear with an offender, as one of a meaner rank. It is a want of power over that man’s self that makes him do unbecoming things upon a provocation. A prince that can bridle his passions is a king over himself as well as over his subjects. God is slow to anger because great in power. He has no less power over Himself than over His creatures.
It is at the above point, we think, that God’s patience is most clearly distinguished from His mercy. Though the creature is benefited thereby, the patience of God chiefly respects Himself, a restraint placed upon His acts by His will; whereas His mercy terminates wholly upon the creature. The patience of God is that excellency which causes Him to sustain great injuries without immediately avenging Himself. He has a power of patience as well as a power of justice. Thus the Hebrew word for the Divine longsuffering is rendered "slow to anger" in Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 103:8, etc. Not that there are any passions in the Divine nature, but that God’s wisdom and will is pleased to act with that stateliness and sobriety which becometh His exalted majesty.
In support of our definition above let us point out that it was to this excellency in the Divine character that Moses appealed, when Israel sinned so grievously at Kadesh-Barnea, and there provoked Jehovah so sorely. Unto His servant the Lord said, I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them. Then it was that the typical mediator pleaded, "I beseech Thee let the power of my Lord be great according as Thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering," etc. (Num. 14:17). Thus, His longsuffering is His "power" of self-restraint.
Again, in Romans 9:22 we read, "What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. . . ?" Were God to immediately break these reprobate vessels into pieces, His power of self-control would not so eminently appear; by bearing with their wickedness and forebearing punishment so long, the power of His patience is gloriously demonstrated. True, the wicked interpret His longsuffering quite differently—"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11)—but the anointed eye adores what they abuse.
"The God of patience" (Rom. 15:5) is one of the Divine titles. Deity is thus denominated, first, because God is both the Author and Object of the grace of patience in the saint. Secondly, because this is what He is in Himself: patience is one of His perfections. Thirdly, as a pattern for us: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,longsuffering" (Col. 3:12). And again, "Be ye therefore followers (emulators) of god, as dear children" (Eph. 5:2). When tempted to be disgusted at the dullness of another, or to be revenged on one who has wronged you, call to remembrance God’s infinite patience and longsuffering with yourself.
The patience of God is manifested in His dealings with sinners. How strikingly was it displayed toward the antediluvians. When mankind was universally degenerate, and all flesh had corrupted his way, God did not destroy them till He had forewarned them. He "waited" (1 Pet. 3:20), probably no less than one hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6:3), during which time Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Pet. 2:5). So, later, when the Gentiles not only worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, but also committed the vilest abominations contrary to even the dictates of nature (Rom. 1:19-26), and hereby filled up the measure of their iniquity; yet, instead of drawing His sword for the extermination of such rebels, God "suffered all nations to walk in their own ways," and gave them "rain from heaven and fruitful seasons"(Acts 14:16, 17).
Marvelously was God’s patience exercised and manifested toward Israel. First, He "suffered their manners" for forty years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18). Later, when they had entered Canaan, but followed the evil customs of the nations around them, and turned to idolatry; though God chastened them sorely, He did not utterly destroy them, but in their distress, raised up deliverers for them. When their iniquity was raised to such a height that none but a God of infinite patience, could have borne them, He, notwithstanding, spared them many years before He allowed them to be carried down into Babylon. Finally, when their rebellion against Him reached its climax by crucifying His Son. He waited forty years ere He sent the Romans against them, and that only after they had judged themselves "unworthy of eternal life" (Acts 13:46).
How wondrous is God’s patience with the world today. On every side people are sinning with a high hand. The Divine law is trampled under foot and God Himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that He does not instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy Him. Why does He not suddenly cut off the haughty, infidel and blatant blasphemer, as He did Ananias and Sapphira? Why does He not cause the earth to open its mouth and devour the persecutors of his people, so that, like Dathan and Abiram, they shall go down alive into the Pit? And what of apostate Christendom, where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under cover of the holy name of Christ? Why does not the righteous wrath of Heaven make an end of such abominations? Only one answer is possible: because God bears with "much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."
And what of the writer and the reader? Let us review our own lives. It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct! And now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, giving us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His "longsuffering tousward" (2 Pet. 3:9). Since this Divine attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it toward His own.
May our meditation upon this Divine excellency soften our hearts, make our consciences tender, and may we learn in the school of holy experience the "patience of saints," namely, submission to the Divine will and continuance in well doing. Let us earnestly seek grace to emulate this Divine excellency. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48): in the immediate context Christ exhorts us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us. God bears long with the wicked notwithstanding the multitude of their sin, and shall we desire to be revenged because of a single injury?
Monday, March 22, 2010
11. THE GOODNESS OF GOD
"The goodness of God endureth continually" (Ps. 52:1) The "goodness" of God respects the perfection of His nature: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better.
He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him. (Thos. Manton).
God is summum bonum, the chiefest good.
The original Saxon meaning of our English word "God" is "The Good." God is not only the Greatest of all beings, but the Best. All the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or any act of omnipotency put forth; so He was eternally good before there was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to whom it might be imparted or exercised. Thus, the first manifestation of this Divine perfection was in giving being to all things. "Thou art good, and doest good" (Ps. 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things.
All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written. "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it wasvery good" (Gen. 1:31). Thus, the "goodness" of God is seen, first, in Creation. The more closely the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of its Creator becomes apparent. Take the highest of God’s earthly creatures, man. Abundant reason has he to say with the Psalmist, "I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well" (139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attests the goodness of their Maker. How suited the bands to perform their allotted work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh the wearied body! How benevolent His provision to give unto the eyes lids and brows for their protection! And so we might continue indefinitely.
Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man, it is exercised toward all His creatures. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing" (Ps. 145:15,16). Whole volumes might be written, yea have been, to amplify this fact. Whether it be the birds of the air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the sea, abundant provision has been made to supply their every need. God "giveth food to all flesh, for His mercy endureth forever" (Ps. 136:25). Truly, "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" (Ps. 33:5).
The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy our hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors which He has given to meats, vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also that which gratifies them; and this too reveals His goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes, and exhale sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music of the birds. Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Verily, "The tender mercies of the Lord are over all His works" (Ps. 145:9).
The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed the law of His Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once commence. Well might God have deprived His fallen creatures of every blessing, every comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of a mixed nature, of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly considered, and the more thoroughly that regime be examined the more will it appear that "mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (Jas. 2:13). Notwithstanding all the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women experience a far greater number of days of health, than they do of sickness and pain. There is much more creature—happiness than creature—misery in the world. Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God has given to the human mind a pliability which adapts itself to circumstances and makes the most of them.
Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into question because there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins against the goodness of God, if he despises "the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering," and after the hardness and impenitency of his heart treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath (Rom 2:5,5), who is to blame but himself? Would God be"good" if He punished not those who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence, and trample His mercies beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon God’s goodness, but rather the brightest exemplification of it, when He shall rid the earth of those who have broken His laws, defied His authority, mocked His messengers, scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom He died.
The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He sent forth His Son "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might received the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4, 5) Then it was that a multitude of the heavenly host praised their Maker and said, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good-will toward men" (Luke 2:14). Yes, in the Gospel the "grace (Gk. benevolence or goodness) of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). Nor can God’s benignity be called into question because He has not made every sinful creature to be a subject of His redemptive grace. He did not the fallen angels. Had God left all to perish it had been no reflection on His goodness. To any who would challenge this statement we will remind him of our Lord’s sovereign prerogative: "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" (Matt. 20:15).
"O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men" (Ps. 107:8). Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet is it often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it. "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness?" (Rom. 2:4). His goodness is "despised" when it is not improved as a means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them from the supposition that God entirely overlooks their sin.
The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth forever, we ought never to be discouraged: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7).
When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon).
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
There were 3 of us that went to the campus today to hand out tracts and share the Gospel today, Tom, Diane and Myself. It was a very nice, warm and sunny day on the campus today. The students were finishing up finals and getting ready for spring break. We had quite a few one to one's today and God has been kind to us and many are understanding the Gospel and it is making sense to them. You see its GOD who has to give them understanding and open up their eye's. We just need to be obedient to share the Gospel. One excellent example is Sean who has stopped to talk to us every time we are at the campus. We saw him just Wednesday at the campus and my wife Lisa shared the gospel and has taken time to show him in scripture about the state of his soul without Christ and how he needs Jesus to cleans him from all unrighteousness and to put his trust in JESUS Alone for his salvation. Today Sean stopped to talk to us again and Tom shared the whole council of GOD with him and he said he now understood the Gospel. Sean said he didn't understand before and we all have shared with him before . We told Sean we all shared the same Gospel with him in the past but GOD was kind to give him understanding today(PRAISE GOD!!!). We told Sean that some people hear the Gospel over and over but until GOD opens our eye's we will not understand. Please pray also for Brett, Ian, David and Heather as they also seem to have their eye's opened up today we gave them some books and CD'S we have. Our GOD is Faithful and kind to HIM be the GLORY!!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
We went to the campus today to hand out tracts and do some one to one evangelism. It was a little cold today compared to the last time we were on campus. There was five of us today myself, Lisa, Becky, Diane and Pastor Josh from Tharptown Baptist Church. Many took tracts and there were some good one to one's that we had. I was able to talk to a young man named Cody and was able to share the gospel with him and he said he was concerned for his soul. I gave him a book one heartbeat away by Mark Cahill and told him to open up his Bible (he said he did have one) to see if these things were true and to cry out to GOD to reveal Himself to him. Pray for Cody he said he understood what we were sharing with him and he was concerned for his eternal state (GOD is Good and HIS Word will not come back void). Josh was talking to a young Muslim student about the things of the Lord and his eternal state for about 20 minutes. Lisa talked to one young man that has stopped by before to talk to us and has shared the gospel with him several times, he say's that his dad was a bible scholar and though he dosn't believe he appreciates us being on campus. Please pray for these students who received tracts and who we had one to one's with that God will open their hearts.
Monday, March 8, 2010
We were able to go to the campus again today myself, Lisa, Diane and Angie. The Lord was truly kind to us today as there were a few students after we shared the Gospel with them they said that it made sense to them. Praise GOD for giving us the opportunity to be a light at this campus. Many tracts were handed out and we were able to share the Gospel with many students today continue to pray that the LORD will pour HIS Spirit out on that campus and that Hearts will be changed by the power of GOD. That HIS name be Great in the Shoals Area.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
The evening started out nice the weather was cool and not that cold until later on for the start of 1st Fridays in downtown Florence Alabama. This event takes place on every 1st Fri. of the month up until December. We got there around 5 o'clock when it starts and went to our corner and handed out tracts to people as they walked by. There was one man in particular who stopped by and talked to us his name was Ken( not the same Ken we have talked to on campus) and we spent some time talking to him about the state of his soul. He would try to lead us on some rabbit trails but he did hear the Gospel from us. He told us about his uncle who just had his leg amputated and was concerned for him. We prayed for him and his uncle and we gave him a book by Mark Cahill One Heartbeat Away. Before it got to cold and people started to leave I was able to do some open air preaching. There were people across the street and by Rosie's Restaurant and on the side walks and when i was finished and got down off my stool a couple who were listening from across the street came over to say thanks for preaching and that this was a good thing and to keep it up. They said they have seen me out here last year preaching also. I gave all Praise and Glory to my GOD King JESUS. The LORD has been so faithful to send us words of encouragement. We serve a Great GOD. Please pray for Ken and all who received gospel tracts and heard the preaching of GOD'S Word. To HIM be all GLORY and HONOR.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Hit the campus again today to share the words of eternal life Myself Diane , Bro Tom and Bro. Jeff from our church met us out there. We handed out hundreds of tracts and had many one to one conversations about the state of these students souls. I'm so glad I don't have to convince anybody and its the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves. Our GOD is Sovereign and in complete control. We just need to be faithful and get out of our comfort zone and share the Gospel. We plan to go to 1st Friday in Florence tonight to share the Gospel . Please pray for us.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
We again hit the campus to share the words of eternal life with the students at the Univ of North Alabama. Lisa ,myself, Diane, Becky and Shirley met around 11 am in front of the student union. Diane brought her white board and the question we put on today was are you born again? not to many people stopped to talk so the question was changed to is man basically good? That seemed to be the right question for today because people started to stop and talk too us and answer the question. We were passing out alot of tracts to the students and able to share the gospel with some students. God is good and faithful and so kind to us. Shirley and Lisa were talking along time to a couple of girls and one said that she was into wicken but was a good witch. Becky stayed for awhile and handed out some tracts but had to leave early to go to work. We all stayed for a couple of hours handed a bunch of tracts and had a few one to ones with some students. And we saw our friend Ken from last week. He stopped by for a second to say hello and asked me if he is not converted what he had to do. I told him to read Ezek chapter 36 to see who changes the heart and look a 1st John to examine himself. He said he'll see us again next week .Pray for Ken and all these students that GOD opens up their eyes. TO GOD be the Glory