I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

John Newton has written a wonderful hymn regarding the sovereign and good providence of God that is often hidden behind what William Cowper called a “frowning providence”.  These are comforting and encouraging words for all of God’s children in Christ who experience trials of various kinds.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and ev’ry grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.

Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

This was sung at Together for the Gospel in 2012.  You can listen here.


Walking in the Grace of God

Knox Chamblin, who has joined the Church Triumphant made the following comment on 1 Corinthians 15:9-10…

Verse 9 is written by a man still broken under the weight of his past sin: ‘I am…the least…and do not deserve…’.  Vital to Paul’s effectiveness as an apostle is that he never forgot his days as a persecutor.  Yet it could hardly be said that the memory leaves him paralyzed.  On the contrary, 15:10 testifies to his superlative achievements.  The explanation lies in God’s grace, by which Paul has been liberated from the guilt of his sins and energized for apostolic service.  An ongoing awareness of grace reminds Paul of the appalling sin from which he had been delivered; an ongoing awareness of the sin keeps him dependent on grace’(Paul and the Self, [Grand Rapids, Baker, 1993], 24-25; emphasis his). 


An ongoing awareness of grace points out the appalling nature of ongoing sin.  And this ongoing awareness of our sin keeps us in an ongoing state of dependence upon the grace of God.  At the end of our lives, Christians are those who can declare at least two things, as did John Newton – that we are great sinners and that we have a great Savior.


Christ Church Presbyterian – Charleston, SC

There is a wonderful new reformed and confessional church being planted in the low country of South Carolina in Charleston.  The Rev. Dr. Jon Payne is the organizing pastor and Second Presbyterian Church is the organizing church.  Follow the link to find out more information about this exciting church plant in the heart of a strategic and beautiful city.  Spread the word and be in prayer for Jon and his family and the dear saints to whom he goes to minister.  Pray for the glory of God and advancement of the God’s Kingdom.

God’s Sure Word

Dr. Dale Ralph Davis has a great commentary on the books of 1 & 2 Samuel and unlike any other preacher I know (which isn’t that many!) has the ability to mix sound doctrine with a touch of wit.  In an explanation of 2 Samuel 23:1-7 Dr. Davis makes the point that the Kingdom of God is certain based upon the sure Word of God.  He asserts that the repetition of God’s promise is a declaration of the Kingdom’s everlasting nature.  And as an example of this repetitious promise which is to promote certainty in those belonging to the Kingdom, the witty pastor tells the “hackneyed story” of a young preacher.  I had a hard time controlling my laughter…

“The young preacher announced his text, ‘Behold; I come!’ His mind went blank; he couldn’t conjure up what he had planned to say next.  So he repeated his text — ‘Behold! I come!’ Still no light.  In desperation he leaned against the pulpit and textualized with more gusto, ‘Behold! I come!’  At which point the pulpit gave way and the young man tumbled into the lap of a lady in the foremost pew.  The embarrassed preacher apologized profusely, but the woman insisted on assuming the blame: ‘No, no, I should have been prepared — you told me three times you were coming!”


Without the Gospel

In 1534 Pierre Robert Olivétan translated the New Testament into French from the Greek and famous Reformer (not so famous at the time) John Calvin wrote the preface to this work.  The remarkable thing is that Calvin had only been converted about one year before writing what could be a first written statement of faith.  It is a wonderful description of the gospel.  Here is Justin Taylor’s rendering of a portion of Calvin’s preface… 

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness,
and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom

the poor are made rich,
the weak strong,
the fools wise,
the sinner justified,
the desolate comforted,
the doubting sure,
and slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was

sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;

he was

made a curse for our blessing,
[a] sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,
debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,
division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,
ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,
vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short,

mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.