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joshWhether our theological knowledge is great or small, we all need to ask a vital question: What will we do with the knowledge of God that we have?

Will it lead us to an ever-growing desire to know and love the Lord? Will it practically affect the way we think and live? Will we have the courage to hold on to the truth even when it isn’t popular? And how will we express our beliefs? With humility–or with pride?

 

~Joshua Harris~

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poythressAs part of this process [committing to become followers of Christ], they see that Christ testifies to the divine authority of the Old Testament, and indirectly to the New Testament, because Christ authoritatively commissioned the apostles as witnesses (Acts 1:8). So their view of the Bible changes. They begin to use the Bible’s instruction rather than autonomous judgment as their ultimate guide. Whether the process is long or short, we can see a marked difference between the beginning and the end: they were formerly in rebellion, and now they have been reconciled to God through Christ.

But according to the Bible no one is neutral in the process. We are all by nature rebels against God and we do not want to submit. The Bible itself indicates that the heart of the difficulty is not in the alleged doubtful character of the evidence presented in the Bible (the evidence for the resurrection of Christ is particularly pertinent), but in the doubtful or rather sinful character of us who read it. Moreover, our sinfulness infects our reasoning, so that we come to the evidence with corrupted standards for judging it. Even if the Bible is genuine, we want to judge it rather than submit to God. We want to remain in charge of our life (autonomy), including the life of reasoning. Our desire for autonomy, and the conception of reasoning that goes with it, need changing. We need to be redeemed by God from our rebellion.

 

~Vern Poythress~

 

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We should not allow the doctrine of God’s sovereignty to cause us to respond passively to the actions of other people that affect us. We should take all reasonable steps within the will of God to protect and advance our situation. I say within the will of God because there may be other reasons, for the sake of God’s kingdom, why we should not take those steps. But the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, considered by itself, should never be used to promote passivity.

~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

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Now God sometimes allows people to treat us unjustly. Sometimes He even allows their actions to seriously affect our careers or our futures viewed on a human plane. But God never allows people to make decisions about us that undermine His plan for us. God is for us, we are His children, He delights in us (see Zephaniah 3:17). And the Scripture says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We can put this down as a bedrock truth: God will never allow any action against you that is not in accord with His will for you. And His will is always directed to our good.

~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

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How shall we respond to the fact that God is able to and does in fact move in the minds and hearts of people to accomplish His will? Our first response should be one of trust. Our careers and destinies are in His hands not the hands of bosses, commanding officers, professors, coaches, and all other people who, humanly speaking, are in a position to affect our futures. No one can harm you or jeopardize your future apart from the sovereign will of God. Moreover, God is able to and will grant you favor in the eyes of people who are in a position to do you good. You can entrust your future to God.

~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

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Perfect training produces character change because discipleship is ultimately about resembling Christ. What is the biblical definition of a disciple? One who is becoming less like himself and more like Jesus.

And what was Jesus like? How would you describe him? Would the first words out of your mouth be, “Well, he definitely had his theology down cold. Yes, I would say that above all Jesus was an amazing theologian.” Of course not. Had Jesus been an absolute master of sound biblical theology but unkind and unloving as a man, he would today be a small footnote in history.

~ Greg Dutcher, Killing Calvinism

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faith aloneSome say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.

We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.

So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

Martin Luther; James C. Galvin, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

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Christians have discussed and debated this subject down through the ages. I have no illusions of adding any new knowledge or insight to the subject, but we cannot ignore it. The subject of other people’s controlling influence over our lives is simply too pervasive to omit it in a book on trusting God. If God is not sovereign in the decisions and actions of other people as they affect us, then there is a whole major area of our lives where we cannot trust God; where we are left, so to speak, to fend for ourselves.

~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

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I readily admit it is difficult to believe God is in control when we are in the midst of anxiety, heartache, or grief. I have struggled with this many times myself. Because of my schedule, most of my writing is done on an intermittent basis, a “few hours here and a few hours there.” Because of that, this particular chapter was written and rewritten over a period of six weeks or more. During that time I had to work through God’s sovereignty on two occasions myself. In each instance I realized I knew the truth regarding God’s sovereignty. What I had to do was to decide if I would trust Him, even when my heart ached.

I realized anew that, just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we must also learn to trust God one circumstance at a time. Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings but of my will. I never feel like trusting God when adversity strikes, but I can choose to do so even when I don’t feel like it. That act of the will, though, must be based on belief, and belief must be based on truth.

~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

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faith aloneThere are two ways to believe. The first way is to believe about God, meaning we believe that what is taught about God is really true. It’s similar to believing that what is taught about the devil or hell is true. This type of belief is more a statement of knowledge than an expression of faith.

The second way is to believe in God. This not only includes believing that what is taught about God is true, but also includes trusting him and daring to be in relationship with him. It means believing without any doubt that he really is who he says he is, and he will do all he says he will do. I wouldn’t believe any person to this same degree, no matter how highly others might praise him. It’s easy to believe that someone is godly, but it’s another matter to rely completely on him.

Those who believe in God believe everything written about God in Scripture. They dare to believe this in life and in death. This faith makes them true Christians and gives them everything they desire from God. A person with an evil, hypocritical heart can’t have this type of faith, for it’s a living faith, as described in the first commandment: “I am the LORD your God. . . . You shall have no other gods” (Exodus 20:2–3).

Therefore, the little word in is well placed and should be carefully noted. We don’t say, “I believe God the Father,” or “I believe about God the Father,” but “I believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” Only God can give us this type of faith.

Martin Luther; James C. Galvin, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

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