Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homiletics Thoughts on Mark 11, part 6

And also with the second portion of the passage from Calvin, for our faith is chiefly learnt from the promises of God in the scriptures, so that we should trust in what he firmly promises. In this I have found George Mueller to be immensely helpful, as he distinguishes the grace of faith from the gift of faith. To all Christians belongs to the grace of faith, by which work of the Spirit God leads us to trust in his promises, as we should, and that we should always trust firmly, unwaveringly, and indubitably in those promises for which there is firm scriptural warrant. Therefore, the one who prays for his daily bread, his necessities of food and clothing, should not doubt that God will provide, even as he has promised in Matthew 6. As for the healing of the sick, we have no firm promise from God in this regards. Sometimes, as Mueller would say, a believer is given a gift of faith, that is a special occasion of the Spirit’s work that we are convinced that God should answer our particular prayer. Othertimes, and most times, it is not so. Not to say, let us be clear, that we are not to pray for such things, but rather our faith is conditioned by our knowledge of God. So, when we pray for a sick person to be made well, we refer often and chiefly to God’s merciful character, and to Jesus’ compassion in healing many, and to the hope of resurrection at the end, and yet we must believe in the condition, “if it be according to God’s sovereign good will and pleasure.” For in his mysterious benevolence both sickness and death work for his glory, and we too must know it and believe it. This too safeguards us from a foolish introspection that attributes the answer of “No,” to the failure of our own faith, or else to disregard these words of God as unfaithful promises, since he is not inclined to cast mountains into the sea at our fickle behest, though that he can and would if it be according to his plan and purpose we must not doubt at all.

Let us depart now hence, for the lessons are ended. To those who stand not by faith, awaits a fearsome and dread judgment, such is fore-figured in the fig-tree. For Jesus is Lord and his judgment and anger against sin is sure and steadfast. To those who trust in Christ alone, a life of fruitfulness through prayer. And in all is God glorified. Amen and Amen.

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