Tag Archives: Sovereignty of God

“Don’t be like a block of wood” by John Calvin

“It was very suitable for Solomon, who was endued with the spirit of wisdom in the affairs of government, to discourse of things which he knew and had experience about. In affirming that God governs the world and the life of man, he does so for two reasons.

First, whatever prosperous event may fall out to men, their ingratitude is instantly manifested by their ascribing it wholly to themselves. And thus God is defrauded of the honor which is His due.

Solomon, to correct such a perverse error, declares, that nothing happens prosperously to us except in so far as God blesses our proceedings.

Secondly, his purpose was to beat down the foolish presumption of men, who, setting God aside, are not afraid to undertake to do anything, whatever it may be, in exclusive reliance upon their own wisdom and strength.

Stripping them, therefore, of that which they groundlessly arrogate to themselves, he exhorts them to modesty and the invocation of God. He does not, however, reject either the labor, the enterprises, or the counsels of men. For it is a praiseworthy virtue diligently to discharge the duties of our office.

It is not the will of the Lord that we should be like blocks of wood, or that we should keep our arms folded without doing anything, but that we should apply to use all the talents and advantages which he has conferred upon us.

It is indeed true that the greatest part of our labors proceeds from the curse of God. And yet although men had still retained the integrity of their primitive state, God would have had us to be employed, even as we see how Adam was placed in the garden of Eden to dress it. (Genesis 2:15.)

Solomon, therefore, does not condemn watchfulness, a thing which God approves. He does not codemn men’s labor, by which when they undertake it willingly, according to the commandment of God, they offer to Him all acceptable sacrifice.

But lest, blinded by presumption, they should forcibly appropriate to themselves that which belongs to God, he admonishes them that their being busily occupied will profit them nothing, except in so far as God blesses their exertions.”

–John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 5 in Calvin’s Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 104-105. Calvin is commenting on Psalm 127:1.

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“God alone opens the heart” by Richard Sibbes

“As our hearts are shut and closed up naturally, so God, and God alone, opens the heart, by His Spirit in the use of the means. God opened Lydia’s heart.

God hath many keys. He hath the key of heaven to command the rain to come down. He hath the key of the womb; the key of hell and the grave; and the key of the heart especially. ‘He opens, and no man shuts; and shuts and no man opens,’ Rev. 3:7.

He hath the key of the heart to open the understanding, the memory, the will, and affections. God, and God only, hath the key of the heart to open that. It is His prerogative.

He made the heart, and He only hath to do with the heart. He can unmake it, and make it new again, as those that make locks can do. And if the heart be in ill temper, He can take it in pieces, and bring it to nothing as it were, as it must be before conversion.

And He can make it a new heart again. It is God that opens the heart, and God only. All the angels in heaven cannot give one grace, not the least grace. Grace comes altogether from God. It is altogether from God.

All the creatures in the world cannot open the heart, but God only by His Holy Spirit. For nature cannot do above its sphere, as we say, above its own power. Natural things can do but natural things.

For nature to raise itself up to believe heavenly things, it cannot be. Therefore as you see vapours go as high as the sun draws them up, and no higher, so the soul of man is lift up to heavenly things by the power of God’s Spirit.

God draws us and then we follow. God, I say, only openeth the heart.”

–Richard Sibbes, “Lydia’s Conversion,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 6, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 524.

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“The eternal counsels of the Trinity” by J.C. Ryle

“There is a mine of deep truth in the words before us, which deserves close attention. They show us plainly that all our Lord’s sufferings were undergone voluntarily, and of His own free will. He did not go to the cross because He could not help it.

He did not die because He could not prevent His death. Neither Jew nor Gentile, Pharisee nor Sadducee, Annas nor Caiaphas, Herod nor Pontius Pilate, could have injured our Lord, except power had been given them from above.

All that they did was done under control, and by permission. The crucifixion was part of the eternal counsels of the Trinity. The passion of our Lord could not begin until the very hour which God had appointed. This is a great mystery. But it is a truth.

The servants of Christ in every age should treasure up the doctrine before us, and remember it in time of need. It is ‘full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons.’

Let such never forget that they live in a world where God overrules all times and events, and where nothing can happen but by God’s permission. The very hairs of their heads are all numbered. Sorrow and sickness, and poverty, and persecution, can never touch them, unless God sees fit.

They may boldly say to every cross,—’Thou couldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above.’ Then let them work on confidently. They are immortal, till their work is done. Let them suffer patiently, if needs be that they suffer.

Their ‘times are in God’s hand.’ (Ps. 31:15.) That hand guides and governs all things here below, and makes no mistakes.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2012), 21. Ryle is commenting on John 7:25-36.

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“And it was God’s will” by Jon Bloom

“The Holy Family’s first few years were not tranquil. They were filled with grueling travel during the hardest part of pregnancy, a birth in worse than a barn, no steady income, an assassination attempt, two desert crossings on foot with an infant, living in a foreign country, waiting on God for guidance and provisions just in the nick of time. It was difficult, expensive, time-consuming, career-delaying and full of uncertainty.

And it was God’s will.

The unplanned, inefficient detours of our lives are planned by God. They are common for disciples, and they commonly don’t make sense in the moment. But God’s ways are not our ways because our lives are about him, not about us. He is orchestrating far more than we know in every unexpected event and delay.

So when you find yourself suddenly moving in a direction you had not planned, take heart, hold tight, and trust God’s navigation.”

–Jon Bloom, “Joseph: (Un)Planned Detours,” as cited on http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2138_joseph_unplanned_detours/ (accessed on December 15, 2009).

[HT: Jay Veverka]

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