All Your Real Power is in Christ

All your real power is in Christ. In His strength you can do great things for God, and suffer great things for Jesus. Bring your strong corruptions to His grace, and your little strength to His omnipotence, and your very weakness shall turn to your account by drawing you into a closer alliance with the Lord in whom you have righteousness and strength. Thus you will be taught to understand the apostle’s sacred paradox – “When I am weak, then am I strong.”

—Octavius Winslow
Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ

Via: Aaron Armstrong

Accepting ‘No’ as Gods Will

I am astonished that, in the light of the clear biblical record, anyone would have the audacity to suggest that it is wrong for the afflicted in body or soul to couch their prayers for deliverance in terms of “If it be thy will….” We are told that when affliction comes, God always wills healing, that He has nothing to do with suffering, and that all we must do is claim the answer we seek by faith. We are exhorted to claim God’s yes before He speaks it.

Away with such distortions of biblical faith! They are conceived in the mind of the Tempter, who would seduce us into exchanging faith for magic. No amount of pious verbiage can transform such falsehood into sound doctrine. We must accept the fact that God sometimes says no. Sometimes He calls us to suffer and die even if we want to claim the contrary.

Never did a man pray more earnestly than Christ prayed in Gethsemane. Who will charge Jesus with failure to pray in faith? He put His request before the Father with sweat like blood: “Take this cup away from me.” This prayer was straightforward and without ambiguity—Jesus was crying out for relief. He asked for the horribly bitter cup to be removed. Every ounce of His humanity shrank from the cup. He begged the Father to relieve Him of His duty.

But God said no. The way of suffering was the Father’s plan. It was the Father’s will. The cross was not Satan’s idea. The passion of Christ was not the result of human contingency. It was not the accidental contrivance of Caiaphas, Herod, or Pilate. The cup was prepared, delivered, and administered by almighty God.

Jesus qualified His prayer: “If it is Your will….” Jesus did not “name it and claim it.” He knew His Father well enough to understand that it might not be His will to remove the cup. So the story does not end with the words, “And the Father repented of the evil He had planned, removed the cup, and Jesus lived happily ever after.” Such words border on blasphemy. The gospel is not a fairy tale. The Father would not negotiate the cup. Jesus was called to drink it to its last dregs. And He accepted it. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

This “nevertheless” was the supreme prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is not a demand that we place on God. It is not a presumption of a granted request. The authentic prayer of faith is one that models Jesus’ prayer. It is always uttered in a spirit of subordination. In all our prayers, we must let God be God. No one tells the Father what to do, not even the Son. Prayers are always to be requests made in humility and submission to the Father’s will.

The prayer of faith is a prayer of trust. The very essence of faith is trust. We trust that God knows what is best. The spirit of trust includes a willingness to do what the Father wants us to do. Christ embodied that kind of trust in Gethsemane. Though the text is not explicit, it is clear that Jesus left the garden with the Father’s answer to His plea. There was no cursing or bitterness. His meat and His drink were to do the Father’s will. Once the Father said no, it was settled. Jesus prepared Himself for the cross.

—R.C. Sproul
Surprised by Suffering

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

Immanuel: God With Us

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel — Matthew 1:23

Immanuel is God with us. We here ascend infinitely above the human. It is not merely an angel that is with us – a man that is with us; it is Deity who is with us, none less than Jehovah Himself, Israel’s covenant God and Keeper. We cannot do with anything short of Deity. If Deity does not come to our aid, if Deity does not stoop to our low estate, if Deity does not save us, we are lost to all eternity. When we fell in the first Adam, our humanity lost all its original righteousness and strength. If Deity did not interpose on our behalf, if God did not Himself embark in our rescue, the inevitable consequence must have been the shades of endless death. But a plan of deliverance had been conceived from everlasting. God, in the infinite counsels of His own mind, resolved upon the salvation of His eternally chosen and loved people. He saw that there was no eye to pity them, and no arm to save them. He resolved upon our salvation, embarked in it, accomplished it; and eternity, as it rolls upon its axis, will magnify His name, and show forth His praise.

And, O beloved! what an assuring and comforting truth is this – God with us! Now we feel equal to every service, prepared for every trial, armed for every assault. Deity is our shield, Deity is our arm, Deity is our Father and our Friend. We deal with the Divine. Deity has died for us, has atoned for us, has saved us, and will bring us safely to the realms of bliss. “This God is our God, forever and ever, and will be our Father even unto death.” Oh, see, my reader, that your hope is built upon nothing more and upon nothing less than Christ. The “Rock of Ages” must be your only foundation if saved. If you stand not in the “righteousness of God” when you appear in His presence, He will say to you, “How did you get in here, not having on the wedding garment?” Speechless will then be the tongue now so fluent and ingenious in its many and vain excuses, or so loud and earnest in its heartless responses in religious worship. I solemnly repeat that, if you have no better righteousness to appear before God in than your religious duties, or rites, or doings, when summoned to His dread tribunal, it had been better for you never to have been born. Oh, cast from you the leprous garment you so long and so fondly have clutched, as though it were a white and beautiful robe fit to appear in the presence of the holy, holy, holy Lord God; and accept in penitence and faith the “righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all those who believe.” Deadly doings are deadly things, sinking you as a nether millstone down to the shades of the bottomless pit. But one believing look at the crucified Savior is life and immortality, raising you above the curse, above your sins, out of the horrible pit and the miry clay of your present condemnation, into the sun-lit regions of forgiveness, peace, and hope.

—Octavius Winslow
Emmanuel, or The Titles of Christ

Via: Reformation Theology