“Receiving Joy and Strength” by R.C. Sproul

“Receiving Joy and Strength”

R.C. Sproul

There is still another vital aspect to the “why” of Jesus’ departure. He said, “If I do not go away, the Helper (Paraclete) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Jesus’ departure was tied to Pentecost. There is no Pentecost without ascension. As the invested King of kings, Jesus had the authority together with the Father to send His Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way upon the church. Jesus spoke of a certain necessity of His leaving in order for the Spirit to come. Herein was another great advantage. He declared, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Acts 1:8, KJV).

Two remarkable things happened to the disciples after Jesus departed. The first is that they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). They were not despondent over the departure of Jesus. Obviously they finally understood why He was leaving. They understood what, for the most part, the church since then has failed to understand. We live as if it would not have been better for Jesus to leave.

The second obvious change in the lives of the disciples was in their spiritual strength. After Pentecost, they were different people. No longer did they flee like sheep without a shepherd. Instead, they turned the world upside down. They turned the world upside down because they fully understood two simple things: the “where” and the “why” of Jesus’ departure.

Coram Deo: Great joy and spiritual strength are two of the benefits of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let Him release these benefits in your life today.

Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 4:33: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

Acts 4:29: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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R.C. Sproul: On How Affirming God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Everyday Lives

“Affirming God’s Sovereignty”

R.C. Sproul

“Our God remains incomprehensible and retains His simplicity. He tells us in His Word that He is not a God of confusion but of order. He is not at war with Himself. He is altogether good, altogether holy, and altogether sovereign. This we must affirm to maintain a biblical concept of divine sovereignty. Yet we must always balance this understanding with a clear understanding that God always exercises His power and authority according to His holy character.

He chooses what He chooses according to His own good pleasure. It is His pleasure that He does.

He chooses what is pleasing to Himself. But that pleasure is always His good pleasure, for God is never pleased to will or to do anything that is evil or contrary to His own goodness.

In this we can rest, knowing that He wishes for, and has the power to bring about, all good things for us His children.”

Coram Deo

What difficulties are you currently facing? Reaffirm your trust in the sovereignty of God, who is working all things together for His good pleasure.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 103:19
Psalm 66:7
1 Chronicles 29:12
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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YOU ARE FORGIVEN….Even If You Don’t Feel Forgiven…”Coram Deo Devotional From Ligonier”

“Receiving Forgiveness”

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

– 1 John 1:8–9

Just as our feelings of guilt may not correspond with the objective reality of our guilt, so too is it possible for our feelings of forgiveness not to correspond with the objective truth that Christians have been forgiven. As we conclude our brief study of guilt and forgiveness today, we will focus on the significance of our feeling forgiven, since it is such an important part of human experience.

First, it is possible to feel forgiven without necessarily having received authentic forgiveness. Many non-Christians can go for long periods of time thinking and feeling that God has absolved them even though they have not heeded the teaching of today’s passage to confess their sins and trust in the person and work of Christ alone
(1 John 1:8–9). As such, their feelings do not match reality.

Secondly, believers are also apt to experience a disconnect between their objective forgiveness and their feelings of pardon, albeit in a manner different than the non-believer. We tend to doubt God’s promise of forgiveness whenever we do not feel forgiven. Pastors see Christians every day who have become spiritually paralyzed because they do not feel like God has pardoned their sin.

Unfortunately, too many believers seek to live the Christian life based on their feelings alone. But Scripture is clear that we are forgiven if we have confessed our sins authentically (v. 9). Even if at times feelings of forgiveness are not there, we must trust that the Lord is faithful to His promise to forgive us through Christ Jesus when we seek His face (Heb. 10:19–22).

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:7–11), and He often does so by giving us over to guilt feelings. However, persistent feelings of guilt after a person has repented and turned to Christ is evidence of the Devil, not the Spirit. Satan accuses the brethren (Rev. 12:7–12), tempting us to think that we have not been forgiven in order to devour us (1 Peter 5:8) and paralyze our ministry. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit comes to build up and heal (Rom. 15:13). His conviction will prod us to seek refuge in Jesus and will not saddle believers with doubts that God keeps His promise to forgive us.

Coram Deo

Godly fear makes us work out our salvation by seeking forgiveness in Jesus and living out His pardon in the fruits of a holy life and ministry to others (Phil. 2:12–13). Ungodly fear arrogantly assumes that God’s free forgiveness through faith in Christ alone is not good enough for us and that we must make up for our own sin. If you have trusted in Jesus alone, resist the accuser and do not let doubts about your forgiveness make you unable to minister to others.

Passages for Further Study

Pss. 34:18; 130
John 8:36
Acts 10:34–43
1 John 5:13–15

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Setting Your Schedule” – R.C. Sproul – More Great Time-Management Advice (Part II)

“Use your leisure time for pursuits that are life-enriching. Reading is a valuable use of time. Augustine once advised believers to learn as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching are in the area of the arts. I also enjoy working crossword puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and expand my vista of verbal expression.

Find ways to cheat the “sandman.” My habit has been to retire between 8 and 9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has affected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer.

Use driving time for learning. Driving a car is a mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of recordings can be put to great use during these times.

Finally, in most cases, a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying, productive life.”

Coram Deo

If you do not have a schedule, make one and use it for the rest of the week, then evaluate how it helped you redeem time. If you already have a schedule, take some time to review it and pray about your priorities.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 57:8
Psalm 63:1
Psalm 59:16

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Beating the Clock” – R.C. Sproul – Very Practical Time-Management Advice

“Beating the Clock”

R.C. Sproul

“I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to you.

I realize that all my time is God’s time and all my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc., but it is time for which I must give an account.

Time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, daydreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.

The mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting, the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.

Coram Deo

Be conscious of where you focus your mind today. Try to redeem valuable time consumed by ordinary and mechanical functions by thinking of things of eternal value.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 26:3
Philippians 4:8
Romans 8:5

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

“Enjoying Communion with God” — R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul

When the disciples walked the road to Emmaus twenty centuries ago, Jesus concealed His identity so that they didn’t recognize the “stranger” at their side. These men were not in a garden. There were no roses covered with dew. But they walked and talked with the risen Christ. What was their experience like? When their eyes were finally opened and they recognized Jesus, He suddenly vanished and they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32, NASB).That is the normal human reaction to the immediate presence of Christ—”hearts burning within us.” My heart would be scorched to a cinder if I could hear His voice. My soul would explode in joy if I could walk with Him and talk with Him. I would travel the world to find a garden where He was visibly present.

But the truth is that I can’t see God. I can’t even see His shadow. He leaves no footprints in the sand, no fingerprints on the doorknob, no lingering aroma of aftershave in the breeze. He is invisible because He is immaterial.

What I crave is a relationship with God that is both intimate and personal. The great barrier to intimacy is God’s invisibility. Because I cannot see Him, I tend to doubt His presence. But He is there and promises communion and fellowship with Him. The tool He provides to overcome the barrier is the tool of prayer.

Prayer offers us a link to intimate fellowship with God. Here is where we find what the saints call “mystic sweet communion.” One need not be a mystic to enjoy this sweet communion. Prayer is access to God. He hears what I say to Him in prayer. He responds, though not audibly or with a vision of Himself. When we move beyond speaking our requests or placing our petitions before Him, we enter into the arena of sweet communion. Here we penetrate the invisible and delight in the glory of His presence.

Coram Deo: Spend some time today communing with God.

Luke 24:13-16: “Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Analyzing Unanswered Prayer” – R.C. Sproul

from R.C. Sproul

Our prayers are sometimes not answered because we pray in vague generalities. When all our prayers are either vague or universal in their scope, it is difficult to experience the exhilaration that goes with clear and obvious answers to prayer. If we ask God to “bless everyone in the world” or “forgive everyone in town,” it would be difficult to see the prayer answered in any concrete way. Not that it is wrong to have a large scope of interest in prayer, but if all prayer is given to such generality, then no prayer will have specific and concrete application.

Our prayers are also hindered if we are at war with God. If we are out of harmony with God or in a state of rebellion toward Him, we can hardly expect Him to turn a benevolent ear toward our prayers. His ear is inclined to those who love Him and seek to obey Him. He turns His ear away from the wicked. Thus our attitude and reverence toward God is vital to the efficiency of our prayers.

We also tend to be impatient. When I pray for patience I tend to ask for it “right now!” It is not uncommon for us to wait years, indeed decades, for our most earnest petitions to be realized. God rarely is in a hurry. On the other hand, our fidelity to God tends to depend on “prompt and courteous” action by God. If God tarries, our impatience yields to frustration.

We also have short memories and easily forget the benefits and gifts we’ve received from the hand of God. This is the mark of the apostate—he forgets the benefits of God. The saint remembers the gifts of God and doesn’t require a fresh one each hour to keep his faith intact.

Though God does heap grace upon grace, we should be able to rejoice in God’s benefits if we never receive another benefit from Him. Remember the Lord when you go before Him. He will not give you a stone when you ask Him for bread.

Coram Deo: Reflect on these reasons for unanswered prayer to determine if they are affecting your prayer life: praying in generalities, being at war with God, being impatient, and forgetting the benefits you have received from God.

Isaiah 40:29–31: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“For Thine Is The Kingdom” by Steven Lawson

“For Thine is the Kingdom”

by Steven Lawson

All things are for the glory of God! This driving passion was the very heartbeat of the Lord Jesus Christ, the highest aim He sought, the loftiest goal He pursued. All things in life and ministry, He taught, are to be solely for the glory of God.

Nowhere is this God-centered focus more clearly evidenced than in what Christ taught regarding prayer. To this end, all intercession before the throne of God must begin and end with resounding praise to Him. The Alpha and Omega of prayer must be for the glory of God.

Unfortunately, prayer today has often devolved into a self-centered pursuit that is fueled by the fulfilling of one’s indulgences. This “prosperity gospel” has denigrated prayer into nothing more than a “name it and claim it” shopping excursion. In this abuse of privileged access, God’s glory is all too forgotten.

But as Jesus Christ taught His disciples, the primary focus of prayer is for one to be riveted upon the supreme glory of God. As our Lord gave instruction regarding how to pray, He was unequivocal in teaching us to ascribe all glory to God. Everything must yield to the glory of God! In Matthew 6:13, Jesus stated our prayers should conclude: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (nkjv).

The above is quoted in the New King James Version, a translation based upon the Textus Receptus. In this passage, we encounter a textual problem, one that has been debated throughout the centuries. As such, many translations handle this portion of Scripture in varying ways. For example, the New American Standard Bible places these words in brackets. The English Standard Version and New International Version omit this part of the verse altogether. For our purposes, however, we will consider these concluding words to the Lord’s Prayer as a part of the biblical text.

This climactic doxology begins with a passionate declaration of God’s sovereignty. When a believer prays, Jesus said, he should conclude by affirming, “For Yours is the kingdom.” This robust pronouncement asserts that God both possesses and presides over His vast kingdom. He is the sovereign king, who exercises supreme authority and unrestricted dominion over an immense empire. Certainly, this reign includes both the realm of providence and the sphere of salvation. He commands all the affairs of mankind, even the intricate inner workings of the entire universe. From His throne above, God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).

Further, Jesus taught His disciples that when they pray, they should declare that “the power” belongs to God. The definite article defines the infinite scope of His sovereignty. He possesses not a mere portion of some power, but the power. That is to say, He has all power in heaven and earth. All that God’s supreme will chooses to do, He has the omnipotence to execute it fully. Nothing can hinder the free exercise of His sovereign pleasure.

What is more, every prayer should climax with a vibrant declaration of God’s glory. Jesus said that our prayers should crescendo with this announcement that all glory belongs to God. Because the kingdom and the power belong to God, all glory rightfully belongs to Him.

The Bible speaks of God’s glory in two ways. His intrinsic glory is the revelation of all that God is. It is the sum total of all His divine perfections and holy attributes. There is nothing that man can do to add to the intrinsic glory of God. He is who He is. Additionally, there is God’s ascribed glory, which is the glory that is given to Him. This is the praise and honor due His name. Such glory is to be ascribed to Him alone.

Here, at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we find Christ referencing ascribed glory. In direct response to His vast sovereignty and unlimited power, all glory must be rendered to Him. In essence, such a high theology produces a high doxology. It is only fitting that this God, who is so awesome, be adorned in prayer.

Fervent praise, Jesus said, should come to God “forever.” Because His kingdom and power is without end, so must our praise be without ceasing. Every moment of life must be filled with praise, both now and throughout all eternity.

Finally, Jesus taught His disciples to conclude their prayers with the sure attestation, “Amen.” This familiar word comes from a Hebrew root meaning to be firm and secure. “Amen” eventually came to mean: “It is immovably true.” Likewise, this should be our concluding response to God in prayer. Amen to all that we know to be true about God. Amen to His eternal kingdom. Amen to His sovereign will. Amen to His daily bread. Amen to His pardoning grace. Amen to His delivering power.

All prayer should build and rise to this lofty summit. We should conclude by fervently affirming that the kingdom, the power, and the glory belong exclusively to Him forever. Our only response must resoundingly be — amen!

We Recommend

Put Off and Put On Article by Jerry Bridges
The Glory of God Devotional
Glory Versus the Cross Article by Gene Veith
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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

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“Glory to God Alone” – R.C. Sproul – On The “Sola” That Sums Up All Others

“Glory To God Alone”

– R.C. Sproul

“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
– Isaiah 42:8

Today we will look at the final sola of the Reformation, the one that sums up the point of all the others. The truth that the Reformers were most concerned to promote and what can be seen as the central theme of Scripture is soli Deo gloria — to God alone be the glory.

The first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” God’s glory is the highest good and therefore is the purpose for which we were created. We were made to glorify Him, to reflect His glory and proclaim it to all creation (Isa. 43:6–7). In saving His people and defeating their enemies, His glory is displayed (Ex. 14). Salvation must be sola fide, sola gratia, and solus Christus — through faith alone, by grace alone, and on account of Christ alone — because to attribute redemption to our efforts in any way is to rob God of His full glory. If God and God alone is not the one who saves, then He shares His glory with creatures. But as the prophet Isaiah tells us, God will share His glory with no one (42:8). Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone is the final, infallible authority — must be the church’s confession. If any other source is placed on par with or above the Bible, then the Word of God is no better than the fallible words of creatures, and therefore the one who superintended the writing of the Bible is mocked.

We often think of the Reformation as involving only a doctrinal dispute, but for John Calvin and others, the purity of worship was a major concern as well. Calvin and others took seriously the teaching in Romans 1:18–32 that the basic sin of humanity is its refusal to honor God as God and thank Him for all that He has given us. Instead of bowing the knee to the Almighty, we suppress knowledge of Him and make all sorts of lesser gods.

Some idolatry is crass, such as the worship of trees or nature. Other forms of idolatry are more refined, such as the exaltation of human reason above divine revelation. But any time we substitute something else for the God of the Bible, we attempt to have Him share His glory with another. Any time we deny one of His attributes, we conceive of Him as less than the sovereign Lord of all.

Coram Deo

It is not all that uncommon to hear someone say, “I refuse to worship a God that would send people to hell.” But those who would define God’s love in a way that denies His holy wrath do not worship the Creator. Others say, “To me God is….” But it does not matter how we define God, it only matters how He defines Himself. Let us be careful not to adopt the views of God common in our culture but rather allow Scripture to reveal to us the God who is.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 66:15–24
John 12:36b–43

We Recommend

The Theater of God’s Glory: Calvin on God’s Providence and Glory Article by David Hall
Glory to God Alone (Part 2) Message by R.C. Sproul
Soli Deo Gloria Message by R.C. Sproul
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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Burk Parsons: On Together For The Gospel…..Hymns….And Worship Of God

“Life and Worship Matters”

by Burk Parsons

As I write this article I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, attending a conference called “Together for the Gospel.” Pastors, elders, and seminarians have gathered together for fellowship and worship around the theme: The Unadjusted Gospel. More than seven thousand men from various evangelical (gospel-preaching) churches with various liturgical traditions are standing together as we sing some of the greatest hymns (from both the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries).

At the piano helping to lead us in worship is Bob Kauflin, a man who has spent his life considering what it means to worship our holy and just, gracious and glorious God. His blog and subsequent book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, are devoted to help the church to worship God in the way He deserves, demands, and delights. As a pastor and musician, Bob understands what it means to take part in leading worship every Lord’s Day and at conferences like this one in Louisville, and if I were to approach him and say, “Thank you for leading our worship,” he would politely say, “You’re welcome.” However, if I continued to express my gratitude to him for leading our worship, he would likely feel the need to stop me and ensure I rightly understood that he is not the only one leading worship and that he is actually just leading the singing portion of our worship. What is more, he would want to ensure I understood the full meaning of biblical worship.

Many Christians are under the impression that worship is confined to those specific times of corporate worship when we’re singing. As such, churches have given titles such as “worship leader” or “worship team” to those leading us musically. Thus, people naturally conclude that the “worship” portions of the service take place exclusively when we’re singing. God’s Word, however, teaches us that singing is only one part of the worship service and that our prayers, affirmations, confessions of sin, Scripture readings, sermons, and singing are all parts of corporate worship.

Worship is the Christian’s all-encompassing service to our covenant Lord who has set us free to worship Him in beauty and splendor, holiness and freedom, so that wherever we are — in our closets, our homes, and our churches — we can worship Him coram Deo, before His face in Spirit and in truth, with reverence and awe, according to His Word and for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

We Recommend
The Sound of Worship Devotional
Beauty & the Gospel Article by Terry Yount
Corporate Reverence Article by Gene Veith

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
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“The Unchanging Gospel” from Burk Parsons

from Burk Parsons

Coram Deo: Living Before the Face of God

I am a Christian, and I am a Protestant. I am a Christian because I trust Jesus Christ alone, believing that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. I am a devout Protestant because I continue to protest against anyone who even suggests that salvation is accomplished in any other way.

When I entered Rome for the first time not too long ago, I was naturally looking forward to visiting St. Peter’s Basilica within the towering walls of Vatican City. As I stood under the world’s tallest dome, I was simply in awe of its magnificent grandeur. However, as I considered how the entire structure was funded, I was instantly overwhelmed with emotion. Deep sorrow and righteous vexation filled my heart as I began to recall the system of indulgences contrived by particular popes and cardinals of sixteenth-century Rome, who endeavored to build the basilica on the backs of common people throughout the Holy Roman Empire. For the most part, the construction of the basilica was funded by the preaching of a twisted gospel that promised eternal life in Christ with a few qualifications, such as the one John Tetzel allegedly coined: “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

As I write, dozens of men in hard hats are breaking their backs in order to build a new sanctuary and fellowship hall for Saint Andrew’s Chapel where Dr. Sproul and I serve. When complete, the sanctuary will reflect the style of the great cathedrals throughout Europe. However, as we seek to build this new sanctuary, even amid difficult economic times, we do not twist the gospel of Christ in order to fund this immense undertaking. In fact, it is precisely on account of the historic, unchangeable gospel that we are building a sanctuary wherein, Lord willing, the never-changing gospel will shine forth in this ever-changing world for generations to come. The Lord God Almighty is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, His Word cannot change, the four accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ cannot change, and the simple, unqualified gospel of God cannot change. As Christians, we live, move, and have our being before the face of God, and as Protestants, we must continue to stand for the gospel, even when we find our own proud hearts wanting to add our own works to the finished work of Jesus Christ.

*****

Burk Parsons is editor of Tabletalk magazine and minister of congregational life at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida, and is editor of the book John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology.

Coram Deo by Burk Parsons introduces the theme of each month’s issue of Tabletalk and explains why everything we study should contribute to the living of a holy life before the face of God.
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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
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“Examining the Preceptive Will of God” – R.C. Sproul

from R.C. Sproul

The preceptive will of God relates to the revealed commandments of God’s published law. When God commands us not to steal, this decree does not carry with it the immediate necessity of consequence. Where it was not possible for the light to refuse to shine in creation, it is possible for us to refuse to obey this command. In a word, we steal.

We must be careful not to make too much of this distinction. We must not be lulled into thinking that the preceptive will of God is divorced form His decretive will. It is not as though the preceptive will has no effect or no necessity of consequence. We may have the power to disobey the precept. We do not have the power to disobey it with impunity. Neither can we annul it by our disregard. His law remains intact whether we obey or disobey it.

In one sense, the preceptive will is part of the decretive will. God sovereignly and efficaciously decrees that His Law be established. It is established and nothing can disestablish it. His Law exists as surely as the light by which we read it.

Coram Deo: During the next few days, read Psalm 119, which praises the preceptive will of God as revealed in His written Word.

Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

John 1:12–13: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Mark 3:35: “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister
and mother.”

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Dealing with Anxiety” – R.C. Sproul – Morning Devotion

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34).
– Matthew 6:25–34

Despite our attempts to create security for ourselves with savings, insurance, a strong police force, and so on, we cannot eliminate the fears plaguing our society. The potential dangers of terrorism, various diseases, rising crime rates, natural disasters, and so on bombard us daily, making it impossible to escape our culture of anxiety.

Such fear is nothing new; people have always found something to be afraid of. Some have phobias regarding heights, snakes — you name it. Surveys routinely tell us that the number-one fear of most Americans is the fear of having to speak in public.

Whatever the catalyst may be, all of our fears manifest our apprehensions about the future. If we fear heights, we are afraid that we will fall at some future point. Extreme weather frightens us because we know it might cause great destruction or death, moments or years from now. We cannot control or predict what is coming, and that is what terrifies us most of all.

Jesus knows our tendencies toward anxiety, and that is why we find “fear not” coming from His lips on many occasions (for example, Luke 12:32). Yet persistent fear is fundamentally linked to a lack of faith, and so Jesus rebukes us in today’s passage for worrying incessantly about what tomorrow will bring. If God cares for the birds and the flowers, aspects of creation with less worth than humanity, certainly we can trust Him to provide for us in the future (Matt. 6:25–33). We are not to worry about tomorrow, for we can trust our Father to take care of it (v. 34).

Jesus is not telling us that we should not plan for the future, as Scripture commends prudent measures to deal with what may come (Prov. 21:5). The problem comes when we place confidence in our own machinations (Luke 12:13–21). We fear the future because we trust in our own abilities, and then we realize that we have no real power over what lies ahead of us. However, the Lord holds the future in His hand (Prov. 16:1, 9), and we must trust Him for our security. God does not promise us a life free of trouble, but He does pledge to be with us always, and He will not break this promise (Matt. 28:16–20).

Coram Deo
Tomorrow we will look at some of the practical steps we can take to overcome fear and trust God for the future. Today, take some time to consider where you put your trust. Do you adapt well when things do not go as planned? Are you troubled incessantly by what might happen in the days ahead? If you have difficulty adapting to circumstances that you are not expecting or are constantly worried, it may be a sign you are having trouble trusting the Lord. Trust Him today.

Passages for Further Study
Ps. 9:10; 56:1–11
Prov. 29:25
Luke 17:5–6
Heb. 11:6

We Recommend
Fear and Courage Devotional
Your Exile Devotional
The Freedom of Fear Article by Chris Donato

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“What Does “coram Deo” Mean?” – R.C. Sproul

“What Does “coram Deo” Mean?”

from R.C. Sproul

I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, “Just what is the big idea, young man?”Instinctively I knew my mother was not asking me an abstract question about theory. Her question was not a question at all—it was a thinly veiled accusation. Her words were easily translated to mean, “Why are you doing what you are doing?” She was challenging me to justify my behavior with a valid idea. I had none.Recently a friend asked me in all earnestness the same question. He asked, “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?” He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.

To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian’s prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.

To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.

This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

Coram Deo … before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Comprehending the Decretive Will of God” – R.C. Sproul

from R.C. Sproul

God’s decretive will is sometimes described as the sovereign, efficacious will by which God brings to pass whatever He pleases by His divine decree. An example of this may be seen in God’s work of creation. When God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), He issued a divine imperative. He exercised His sovereign, efficacious will. When He did so, it was impossible for the light not to appear. It appeared by the sheer necessity of consequence.

The decretive will can have no other effect, no other consequence than what God sovereignly commands. He did not request the light to shine. Neither did He coax, cajole, or woo it into existence. It was a matter of absolute authority and power.

No creature enjoys this power of will. No man’s will is that efficacious. Men issue decrees and then hope they will bring about their desired effects. God alone can decree with the necessity of consequence.

Coram Deo: Read Genesis 1, observing how God repeatedly exercised His sovereign, efficacious will in creation.

Colossians 1:9: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

1 John 2:17: “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

1 Peter 4:1–2: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Comprehending God’s Goodness” -R.C. Sproul -Morning Devotion

R.C. Sproul

As a child, the first prayer I ever learned was a simple table grace. It went like this: “God is great, God is good. And we thank Him for this food.” At the time, I did not realize that a single biblical word captured the twin ideas of God’s greatness and His goodness. The single word is holy.

The earliest traceable form of the Semitic root of the word holy, reaching to a Canaanite source, carried the meaning “to divide.” Anything that was holy was divided or separated from all other things. This meaning pointed to the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the common and uncommon, the average and the great.

In religious terms, the word holy divides God from all other things to put Him in a category that is sui generis (in a class by Himself). The Holy One is the One who possesses the supreme perfection of being. He transcends or is divided from all things creaturely. He is the most majestic, most exalted, most awe-provoking being. Since He is both marvelous and wonderful in His very essence, the creature—when contemplating the Holy God—responds in marvel and wonder because of His greatness.

Coram Deo: Take time in prayer today to thank God specifically for His goodness to you.

Psalm 31:19: “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!”

Psalm 86:10: “For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God.”

Psalm 92:5: “O Lord, how great are Your works!”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Dealing with Anxiety” – R.C. Sproul

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34).

– Matthew 6:25–34

“Despite our attempts to create security for ourselves with savings, insurance, a strong police force, and so on, we cannot eliminate the fears plaguing our society. The potential dangers of terrorism, various diseases, rising crime rates, natural disasters, and so on bombard us daily, making it impossible to escape our culture of anxiety.

Such fear is nothing new; people have always found something to be afraid of. Some have phobias regarding heights, snakes — you name it. Surveys routinely tell us that the number-one fear of most Americans is the fear of having to speak in public.

Whatever the catalyst may be, all of our fears manifest our apprehensions about the future. If we fear heights, we are afraid that we will fall at some future point. Extreme weather frightens us because we know it might cause great destruction or death, moments or years from now. We cannot control or predict what is coming, and that is what terrifies us most of all.

Jesus knows our tendencies toward anxiety, and that is why we find “fear not” coming from His lips on many occasions (for example, Luke 12:32). Yet persistent fear is fundamentally linked to a lack of faith, and so Jesus rebukes us in today’s passage for worrying incessantly about what tomorrow will bring. If God cares for the birds and the flowers, aspects of creation with less worth than humanity, certainly we can trust Him to provide for us in the future (Matt. 6:25–33). We are not to worry about tomorrow, for we can trust our Father to take care of it (v. 34).

Jesus is not telling us that we should not plan for the future, as Scripture commends prudent measures to deal with what may come (Prov. 21:5). The problem comes when we place confidence in our own machinations (Luke 12:13–21). We fear the future because we trust in our own abilities, and then we realize that we have no real power over what lies ahead of us. However, the Lord holds the future in His hand (Prov. 16:1, 9), and we must trust Him for our security. God does not promise us a life free of trouble, but He does pledge to be with us always, and He will not break this promise (Matt. 28:16–20).

Coram Deo

Tomorrow we will look at some of the practical steps we can take to overcome fear and trust God for the future. Today, take some time to consider where you put your trust. Do you adapt well when things do not go as planned? Are you troubled incessantly by what might happen in the days ahead? If you have difficulty adapting to circumstances that you are not expecting or are constantly worried, it may be a sign you are having trouble trusting the Lord. Trust Him today.

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 9:10; 56:1–11
Prov. 29:25
Luke 17:5–6
Heb. 11:6

We Recommend
Fear and Courage Devotional
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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“Redeeming Your Time” By R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul

Time is the great leveler. It is the one resource that is allocated in absolute egalitarian terms. Every living person has the same number of hours to use in every day. Busy people are not given a special bonus added on to the hours of the day. The clock plays no favorites.

We all have an equal measure of time in every day. Where we differ from one another is in how we redeem the time allotted. When something is redeemed, it is rescued or purchased from some negative condition. The basic negative condition we are concerned with is the condition of waste. To waste time is to spend it on that which has little or no value.

The late Vince Lombardi introduced the adage, “I never lost a game; I just ran out of time.” This explanation points me to one of the most dramatic elements of sports—the race against the clock. The team that is most productive in the allotted time is the team that wins the game. Of course, in sports, unlike life, there are provisions for calling timeout. The clock in a sports contest can be temporarily halted. But in real life, there are not timeouts.

Coram Deo

Ask God to reveal ways you can redeem time that is being wasted on things of little or no value.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 89:47
Hosea 10:12
Mark 13:33
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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“Pursuing God” – R.C. Sproul

“Pursuing God”

from R.C. Sproul

Albert Einstein was once asked by a student, “Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.”

The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation of this gap in Einstein’s knowledge, he declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes.” Einstein was not interested in trivial data. His passion was to explore the deep things of the universe. His passion for mathematical and physical truth made him a pivotal fixture in modern world history.

We are called to similar passion, a passion to know God. A thirst for the knowledge of God should drive us to drink deeply at the fountain of Scripture. We are equipped with more than enough unholy passions. Our appetite for lesser things at times threatens to consume us. Yet few of us are in danger of being consumed by a passion for God. The Scripture says of Jesus that zeal for His Father’s house consumed Him. In His humanity, Jesus was a man of passion. He was neither hostile nor indifferent toward the knowledge of His Father. He was a man driven in His pursuit of God.

Coram Deo: Are you driven by an undying passion in your pursuit for God? If not, ask Him to rekindle your desire.

Psalm 42:2: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Psalm 143:6: “I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land.”

Isaiah 55:1: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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“Recognizing that the Earth Is the Lord’s” – R.C. Sproul – A Biblical Approach To God’s Wondrous Creation

“Recognizing that the Earth Is the Lord’s”

from R.C. Sproul

It was Bonaventure who offered the thought: “In order that we may be able to extol and glorify God, and in order that we may advance to the knowledge of God, we must transfer to the divine that which pertains to the creature . . . nearly all creatures possess certain noble characteristics which furnish a source for our understanding of God, e.g., the lion possesses fortitude; the lamb, meekness; the rock, solidity; the serpent, prudence–hence it is necessary that many names be transferred to God.”

John Calvin agreed with these sentiments. “There is not an atom of the universe in which you cannot see some brilliant sparks at least of His glory.”

The earth, nature that surrounds us, the world–everything is full of God. Nature is a glorious theater, a spectacular sound-and-light show of the beauty of God. But nature is not God. To worship the whole or any part of nature is idolatry. To confuse God and nature is to fall into pantheism, an intolerable monism that obscures the distinction between creatures and Creator.

But the universe is God’s handiwork. It sparkles with the revelation of its Maker. It is not an independent entity existing alongside and apart from God. There is no dualism divorcing God from the world. The earth is the Lord’s.

Coram Deo: Spend some time today enjoying the beauties of nature, remembering that the earth is the Lord’s.

Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”

Psalm 50:2: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.”

Psalm 53:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”

We Recommend

The Good Earth Devotional
Naked and Unashamed Devotional
Truth and Its Contrary Devotional

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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