Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What happens when we are born again?

I already answered the question, what does it mean to be born-again in the first volume of Because You Asked, but this question appears here because I consider it significantly different. Exactly what does happen when we are born again? Chafer, in Salvation, lists 33 things that happen when we are saved, but it is perhaps beyond the scope of this brief answer to list them all.

The first thing that happens when we are born again is that we are told that all the angels in heaven rejoice over us (Luke 15:10). Sometimes we are told that we are an “expected event”, and the Bible does indeed tell us that we are chosen before the foundation of the world. Yet, this choosing does not preclude surprise and joy in heaven over one sinner finding the new life. Whatever the choosing means, and it must mean quite a lot, it does not stop the rejoicing in heaven over one who was lost and now is found. What a wonder it is when someone finds the peace of Christ, and begins his new walk with God!

And that is the second thing that is of major importance that happens when we are born again. We are given the very essence of God—the Holy Spirit himself. Making this doctrine up would be too incredible for people to believe. It is beyond preposterous, that we should be given the nature of God himself. Yet, it is true! “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). And again, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

One of the many things that happens as we accept the sacrifice of God’s Son is that we become aware of just how utterly in need we were. The Bible paints a dreadful picture of sin, and tells us that we are all sinners, and without hope, except for the one and only provision that God has made in his Son. Interestingly, this is one that Chafer considers for special consideration, ”Of the foregoing thirty-three positions into which a believer is brought by the sufficient power and sovereign grace of God, two should be considered at length; both because of their prominence on the Sacred Pages and because of their fundamental character. They are both stated in John 14:20, and are the words of Christ: "Ye in me, and I in you."”1 Chafer is quite correct to emphasize that we are in him, now and forever. When God looks at us, instead of seeing the sin that blots our life, he instead sees only the provision made by the Son. We are forever written in the Book of Life.

One of the unfortunate things of church history is that before Luther and Calvin, leaders in the church would come to people in the community and urge them to good works, saying that they needed to work for their salvation. All too frequently, these good works would stand for just a bit, and then the leaders would come again to the people, saying again that they needed to work for their salvation. Calvin developed the doctrine of perseverance of the saints in reaction to this habit. It is not ever by works that we are saved—it is only the finished work of Christ that saves us, and that saving perseveres forever! We are in him, and in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

But the second part of that is all so important too! God places his own Spirit in us, and that Spirit is his eternal gift to us, marking us as forever (perseverance?) children. This remarkable gift calls us out, or separates us from the world, and places our names in the heavenly realms. As a young Christian I used to idly speculate that if God ever forgot anyone, it would probably be me. But God forgets no one, for he has taken care to place himself in each one of his children. Forgetting even just one of them is not possible, for He will not forget Himself.

I suppose worrying about such things might be part of my early life, for I not only speculated that God might forget me, but I also became aware, for the first time, that I was really not alone. God had invaded my life. Not just my life. My body. Not just my body. My mind. I became aware of His presence in me. In Psalms 139, it teaches us that there is nowhere that we can go to get away from God. We know of a certainty, from the doctrine of omniscience, that God knows everything, and the Psalm teaches us lots of His watch care over us. But now that I was born again, I became aware of Him. There was no place that I could go that I might have “private” thoughts. In fact, the idea of private thoughts was altogether apart from the idea of being a Christian.

I suppose that many Christians do not become aware of the presence of God, or, at any rate, not quite so soon in their lives. Here I was, a Christian but a few weeks, and I was wrestling with a profound awareness of God in me. All of me. I found myself not paranoid, but rather intrigued. The God who had forgiven me, loved me, and who had chosen me, wanted to be a part of my life, not for nefarious reasons, but rather for the best of reasons, that he might build for me a new life, in the image of his own Son. That is what made it bearable for me, to be awakened to a world that I had denied, and to find a reality more real than anything I knew. And yet it was unseen. Sproul somewhere describes the new life as trying to describe a rainbow to a blind person. I certainly saw the rainbow, but could not begin to describe it. But I knew that with him inside me, there was no way that I was ever going to be forgotten.

What of the story that Jesus tells about the man found in heaven without wedding clothes? I think the significance of that story is not that the man was found in heaven. Rather, it is that he was cast out of heaven, for not being clothed in the righteousness that comes by faith. Remember that he was surprised not to be included with all the other guests, surprised that he was not properly clothed. That should serve all of us as a warning to be sure that we have built on the right foundation of faith, checking ourselves that we may not be surprised one day. Ye must be born again.

1. Lewis Sperry Chafer (2008-07-24). Salvation (Kindle Locations 694-697). Taft Software, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What does the righteousness of God mean?

Why can God not overlook sin?

Today it is perhaps easy to misunderstand the righteousness of God, since the picture we have of God is a kindly old fellow, who will at the last moment, if needed, fudge the scales of justice a bit in our favor. We do not think credibly of a holy and righteous God when we think thus, and we actually have a very weak idea of what total righteousness is like. Most often, among the unregenerate, I hear similar excuses, with all of the above faulty thinking. “Oh,” he says, “I am not such a bad fellow, after all, and I am sure that God will remember the many good things I have done.” Thus he says, little realizing the impossible problem he is presenting to God.
Perhaps we need a strong dose of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards. In that sermon, Edwards elaborately builds upon two truths; the utter and complete perils of hell, and the supreme justice of God. There is not one reason God should receive us into heaven, and God is totally just and pure to keep us in the state in which we find ourselves—lost, irredeemably lost, lost without hope, and, more importantly, lost without merit. Hell is our just dessert, and there is no reason why God should not leave us to our deserved estate, where Jesus tells us, the worm is not quenched, and the fire does not go out (Mark 9:48).

I heard a poor soul recently say that when he died, he wouldn’t even have to wait in line to get in heaven. Heaven would give him a “Fast Track” ticket so he could go right past the line. He acted as if God would feel lucky to get such a soul! This man, a public man, and a very rich man, has spent portions of his wealth in an attempt to better society. Well and good. But we do not get into heaven on the basis of what we have done. We get into heaven only on the basis of what God has done for us.

To understand the righteousness of God, we must come to a better understanding of sin. Someone long ago pointed out that we cannot define sin without God, and therefore, in an atheistic society, talk of sin ceases. It is of no little matter that our society has no definition of sin—perhaps it is a great signal of just how far our apostasy has gone. Sin’s basic meaning is to miss the mark. When we miss doing what we know to be right, that is personal sin. But sin goes far deeper than personal sin, which will always separate us from the righteous God. Sin’s origin is from the first man, Adam, who passed the sin nature unto all of the human race. That sin nature has condemned the whole human race, and God is entirely justified to allow all of us to go to hell. “In the case of Adam’s posterity all of whom inherit the sin nature which unceasingly excites to sin, a constant state of sin exists which can be relieved only by the preventing power of the indwelling of the Spirit. Sin is therefore sometimes defined as a state of heart or mind” (italics added).1

Our consciences are the signal to us of sin, albeit they are imperfect indicators. Every person is subject to the feeling that their actions do not live up to their expectations. Those who error more heavily spend their lifetimes denying their conscience, and indeed, arrive at the point where the definitions of right and wrong become extremely muddled. But no matter. The point is that our consciences were given to us that we might acknowledge that we are not going the right way. It is a further testimony to us that our hearts are evil.
The contrast between the sinner and the righteous God could not be more pronounced. “No relationship to God can be conceived that does not acknowledge His holy will or law, nor can any authority be discovered in His holy will or law that does not ground itself in His holy Person.” 2 God is completely righteous, meaning that he does not “wink” at our sins, nor look at us at all like wayward prodigals. There is only one thing that can be done with sin, and that is to judge it. Sin has separated us from God, beginning with Adam on through the human race. Sin will continue to separate us from God, unless it be righteously judged.

Thus, when Christ, the only righteous one to ever live, died on the cross, he famously cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God took him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made righteous in him. Thus, God righteously judges sin, and gives us the imputed righteousness of his Son. Two mistakes often happen at this point. The first mistake is in underestimating the cost of forgiveness. It literally took all that God had to give in order for us to gain forgiveness, and have imputed, or transferred righteousness. God could not have paid a higher cost than himself in redeeming us, and he did it freely, of his own volition, without regard at all to any “deserved” rewards. God did not owe us anything, except his judgment for our folly. The second mistake is that people do not recognize that it is our belief of what God does is our only justification. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,” declares the scripture, “but according to his mercy he has saved us.”

“The death of His Son as a sacrifice is required only because God cannot compromise His holy character by making light of sin.”3 Thus, it can be clearly seen by those who bother to follow the thoughts through, that God is not the kindly old gentleman who looks the other way when we sin—on the contrary, he has fully judged the sin in his Son, and because of that judgment, and our imputed righteousness, can declare us totally and completely righteous. It is a base insult to God to assume that he can look the other way when we sin. The person who relies in any form upon his own works, benevolent rich man or not, is being a fool. Our own works could never save us, but what we could not possibly accomplish, God has done in Christ.

Remember the final cry of Christ. “It is finished.” There remains nothing to be done except to believe in the Savior who has done it all. Adding to that with our own works, or depending on the graciousness of God to overlook our folly is the idiocy that ends in judgment and hell. “Should God save one soul from the condemnation which rests on that soul because of sin by softening the condemnation or by so loving the sinner that He surrenders or relinquishes one fraction of His holy demands against sin, that the soul might be saved, God, in turn, would be lost, His essential Being ruined by a compromise with sin, and Himself needing to be saved from dissolution.”4 Thus we insult God by bringing our works to him for approval, and we can expect nothing but condemnation with our Cain-like offerings. The only “ticket” to heaven is through faith in Christ, because it is only Christ who has received judgment, and any other ticket will be utter and complete rejection, just as the work of Cain was refused.

I am afraid there are going to a great many surprised souls on judgment day, for they will be very busy trying to present their best before the Lord, only to find that it is automatically rejected. Remember (Matthew 22) where Jesus tells the story of the wedding where the King finds a guest at his wedding without the wedding clothes. The poor guest finds himself both surprised and speechless, but still cast out into the outer darkness. On that day, do not be found trusting in yourself, but rather in the Son who was provided as the only suitable sacrifice for an angry God.

1. Chafer, L. (1948). Personal Sin. In Systematic Theology (Vol. 2, p. 254). Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.
2. Chafer, L. (1948). Personal Sin. In Systematic Theology (Vol. 2, p. 255). Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.
3. Chafer, L. (1948). Personal Sin. In Systematic Theology (Vol. 2, p. 256). Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.
4. Chafer, L. (1948). Personal Sin. In Systematic Theology (Vol. 2, p. 256). Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Second Great Awakening

I want to “clear the air” a bit here before I narrate the wonderful movement of the Spirit in The Second Great Awakening. I am going to describe some things that will probably make you uncomfortable; they made me uncomfortable in reading them. Emotion carried forward from the first awakening and into the second awakening, and if anything, became much more of a part of the awakening. I am so glad God gave us Jonathan Edwards, for it was his solemn counsel as to the validity of the first awakening that gave me much heart as I read of it.

In beginning this study of American awakenings, I wondered at first why I had not found much information on them in my four decades of being a Christian. When I became aware of the emotionalism that accompanies them I did not have to wonder any more. People are afraid of losing control, and that seems to make them respond in two ways. First, they avoid situations all together that seem to be emotionally charged, and second, they seem to charge all such exhibitions of emotion as being wrong. Neither course is the rational one; if we are to learn of God in studying awakenings, then we must be open to what he has done, and I believe looking for his fruit means that we need to be willing to look past the emotions towards the changes that were permanent in their lives. Edwards did an outstanding job of this in the first awakening changes taking place in the lives of many.

As I was thinking of gathering an outline for this chapter, I felt the need to go to one of my favorite pastors, A. W. Tozer. To my amazement, I found some timely remarks on this very subject of emotionalism. “It is entirely possible to get emotional experiences that are not of God. But I believe that true experiences carry an emotional overtone, and for that reason, I have no objection whatever to emotions.”1 I think that is exactly the attitude that we need to have as we go forward in examining this awakening. In the end, The Second Great Awakening was to have a powerful impact upon our nation that I do not think is adequately appreciated. Religion, including Christianity with all its multiplicity of denominations, was to forever become a mainstay of American life.

Indeed, as Tozer eloquently says, we cannot separate emotion from experiences, nor do I think we should try. People are emotional beings that are sometimes also rational, and never the other way around. If my guess about why we do not teach much about revivals is correct—that they are too emotionally messy—then the only winner from our lack of teaching is the enemy. Americans would profit much from a study of revival, and the way God has worked in the past. Our expectations from God might change drastically if we understood what God has done in the life of so many in the building of this nation. William Carey adjures us to attempt great things for God because we expect great things from God—but if we have no expectations surely we will attempt but little things, and remain but a shadow of what we might be under God’s mighty hand.

Not to say too much in this direction; I know and believe in a sovereign God, but is he not also the God that chose frail men to carry forward his gospel? We cannot carry it ourselves. We are weak. We are sinful, boastful, arrogant, and all the other things that we should not be, even after receiving Christ as our Lord. Our only hope is that Holy Spirit whom he gave us, might power us to live the life he has called us to live. Indeed our only hope for a lost nation, as desperate and wicked as it has ever been, is that the mighty hand of God, through his Holy Spirit, should effect another great revival. If the price of such a revival is too much emotion, then I say, bring it on, that we might be transformed into his good and perfect image. Perhaps we all might be a bit better if we could shed some tears at the altar.

As for The Second Great Awakening, it began with an emotional bang, but after a period of spiritual aridity in our history. I liken it to the story of Elijah facing 800 prophets of Baal without fear, but in the next scene running for his life Our nation had won its independence, in no small part because of the church’s influence and leading. That victory tasted sweet to Americans, even as Elijah’s victory must have tasted. But in the next years the churches seemed to gasp for life itself. There were several reasons for this deadening.

France had done a great thing in helping America achieve its independence. All of America was turned toward viewing France and appreciating its culture. Unfortunately for America, that meant copying their culture, and their culture was a godless one. Thomas Jefferson famously believed in the French Revolution, but was proved to be wrong with all the horrid excesses and the huge amount of blood that was spilled. I do wonder if Jefferson, not being a Christian, seriously undervalued the effect of Christianity on the American Revolution. At any rate, it become fashionable to imitate France in every particular. “To complete the moral degradation of the infant republic, a wave of French infidelity swept over the land.”2

It filled our culture, from the rich imitating French fashion to the intellectual avowing skepticism. “It soon became fashionable to adopt views which avowed a disbelief in the Bible, scoffed at the divinity of Christ, and looked upon religion as a superstition of the past Especially was this true of scholars, men who had traveled abroad, and those who had embraced extreme republican views.”3 Even the colleges, though many were started as centers of training of men for the ministry, became faithless and empty shells of the Christianity they were supposed to represent. “The colleges of the land became infected with the deadly contagion of unbelief. Lyman Beecher, in describing the condition of Yale College prior to the presidency of Dr. Dwight, said: "Before he came, the college was in a most ungodly state. The college church was almost extinct. Most of the students were skeptical and rowdies were plenty. Wines and liquors were kept in many rooms ; intemperance, profanity, gambling and licentiousness were common. . . .”4

I had assumed that the First Great Awakening just naturally flowed to the Second Great Awakening, but not so. There was a period in our history when God was shunned, and the churches seemed devoid of vitality. But there came little springs, if you will, breaking through the dry crust of unbelief here and there. A few churches, here and there, began to revive, and clusters of churches sometimes were holding meetings and beginning to see fruit. “From 1798-1800 there were extensive revivals in the western portion of New York. Palmyra, Canandaigua and other towns in that portion of the State were visited, the revival extending throughout the counties of Delaware, Otsego, Oneida and elsewhere. The Presbyterian churches shared chiefly in this work.”5
But it was the emotional-trodden camp meetings which really started the Second Great Awakening. When I think about camp meetings, I think of disorder, disarray, and almost a disintegration of unity, but to my surprise I found that camp meetings were actually well-planned. They eventually were to become the Methodist place of great success, but they were always well planned. Pastors and speakers would get together far in advance, and plan out the different sites, often having several speakers going on at the same time, with benches constructed, and advance notices sent throughout all the land. They seemed to be masterpieces of organization. “Like Whitefield and Finney's urban meetings, the meeting at Cane Ridge was carefully planned: "The grounds were prepared for the vast throng. For several hundred yards an oblong square with [a] temporary pulpit in the center made of split boards with [a] handrail for its protection, and rough hewn logs at regular intervals for seats. The surrounding grounds were filled with tents in regular street order. From five to seven ministers were speaking at one time. The church-building was set apart as a lodging place for the preachers. Every obstacle seems to have been surmounted, that all might be present" (Rogers, 1910, p. 56).”6
However well-planned they were, they became lightning bolts for criticism, though the criticism did not seem to matter to these rural folk. They came from miles around with high expectations, and many rural churches were started after people finished at these meetings. “Both Whitefield and Finney held their revivals in towns and cities, and revivals remain primarily an urban phenomenon. But at the turn of the nineteenth century, rural America developed an equally potent counterpart, the camp meeting.”7

Listen to a description of the camp meeting: ” Many, very many, fell down as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state, sometimes for a few moments reviving and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy fervently uttered. After lying for hours they obtained deliverance. The gloomy cloud that had covered their faces seemed gradually and visibly to disappear, and hope, in smiles, brightened into joy. They would rise, shouting deliverance, and then would address the surrounding multitude in language truly eloquent and impressive.”8 It was not a model that was copied in the cities, but it worked rather well for those in the country.

Remember the ruler that Edwards gave us to measure by; the revival may produce excess emotions, but the proof of God’s working lies in the changed lives. Many people were profoundly changed. Listen to the testimony of one pastor who had been skeptical: “After attending to many such cases, my conviction was complete that it was a good work -- the work of God; nor has my mind wavered since on the subject. Much did I see then, and much have I seen since, that I consider to be fanaticism; but this should not condemn the work.”9 Beardsley goes on to note that this work was almost as if God was tailoring his movement to the needs of those in attendance. Rural folk, uneducated, and perhaps largely illiterate. To them was given a movement of God that they would understand and be attracted to. “These strange features did not produce the disastrous results that they would have produced in more cultured communities. Instead of hindering the revival they seemed to aid it, for in the regions where such manifestations took place they were looked upon as the undoubted works of God.”10

If camp meetings was all The Second Great Awakening had to offer, then perhaps its history would be mostly hidden, as people seem to flee from displays of heavy emotion. But that is not the case; the awakening was just beginning. By 1800, the churches across America were beginning to get revival. “But during a period of four or five years , commencing with 1798, not less than one hundred and fifty churches in New England , were favored with the special effusions of the Holy Spirit; and thousands of souls, in the judgment of charity, were translated from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God’s dear Son.”11

That there were excesses, there is little doubt. Just as Whitefield tended to accuse all who disagreed with him of being unregenerate, so some of the evangelists probably were not careful. Just as Davenport so famously erred in his evangelistic efforts in the First Awakening, there probably were others in his mode during the Second Awakening. As I told last chapter, Davenport came to his senses after a year, and famously repented of many of his actions.
The problem with accurately knowing what went on back then is made much more difficult because there were many church leaders who were biased so much toward the “regular” churches that they discounted any good news of the newer and less accepted churches. In other words, those leaders from Presbyterian or more particularly Congregation backgrounds would routinely disparage anything that smacked of Methodists or Baptists. It was the Methodists and Baptists that were the most successful in the camp meetings, but they also were known to come into villages and start a new work, which the regular churches felt was in direct competition. Often these leaders coming in had little or no education, which probably made them despised. But on the other side, we have already seen that at least some of the leaders of the regular churches had little spiritual light, and may have been unregenerate themselves. It all made for a rather confusing mess.

But allow me to tell you briefly of one evangelist who was careful to offend no one, but still managed to powerfully succeed. “Asahel Nettleton was born in North Killingworth , Connecticut, April 21, 1783.”12 Nettleton was a strong Calvinist, and indeed, seemed to have great difficulty finding assurance of salvation, probably because he could not see past the condemnation of God to the grace of God. Trained at Yale, President Dwight, of Yale, spoke well of him. “As a student he never evinced any special brilliancy of mind, but such was his devout spirit and such was his devotion to duty that President Dwight said of him: "He will make one of the most useful men this country has ever seen."13 Indeed, Nettleton started out for the missionary field, but found that God was using him graciously to stir up revival throughout Connecticut, and thus never fulfilled his intentions to be a missionary. At one point, Dr. Beecher and other church leaders offered him a job as an evangelist, but he refused, stating that he did not want to take their money. Said Dr. Beecher of him, “Mr. Nettleton has served God and his generation with more self-denial, and constancy, and wisdom, and success, than any man living.”14 Because he went out of his way to respect the churches, and their ministers, he was able to go into the established churches, and was used to reach perhaps thousands. Some of those churches were pastorless, which was a constant problem, especially for the established churches, but Nettleton would move on in his work whenever he felt the people were getting too used to them. In this manner, it is easy to see why Nettleton was so greatly appreciated. He both honored the leaders who were there, and made no attempt to take over; in fact, when the area churches tried to hire him as an evangelist, he turned them down, pleading that he had to depend on God to continue his work. Asahel Nettleton was truly a great evangelist!

I do not believe it easy to understand the awakening except that one understand the doctrine that was permeating the churches. The Halfway Covenant was still being followed, though you may remember that Jonathan Edwards quit his church because he did not support it. People were required to have a testimony of faith in Christ in order to be members; in this halfway promise, the children of church members were allowed to baptize their children, and also to participate in communion. In some circles, the participation in communion came to be thought of as a saving ordinance. New England still had established churches, and that meant that taxpayers all were forced to support the church. Hence, it came to be thought of as an entitlement to participate in communion, and pastors were severely censured in their attempts to keep the church in any sense pure. The pastorate was assigned as a job to men, and those men could refuse to come and fill a church that they might feel is beneath their station. In many churches, there was not a pastor to be found, and the neglect of men and women’s souls must have been terrible.

Also the kind of Calvinism that was believed in was a horrible fatalistic derivation in which people were discouraged from seeking God; rather, they were told, God would seek them, if indeed they were part of the elect. “With an insistence upon man's absolute inability to do anything towards securing salvation, there is small cause for wonder that conversions were few, and that men were coming to look upon themselves as in no wise responsible for their impenitence and rebellion towards God.”15

Indeed, New England pastors, at least many of them were not willing to entertain the idea of a free gospel at all. Those who did not believe in this severe gospel were subject to being censured. “Several years after the Cane Ridge meeting, the Presbyterian Synod of Lexington, Kentucky, suspended Barton Stone and four of his friends for "insubordination" because they refused to affirm their commitment to strict Calvinist doctrines. For Stone and his associates, these doctrines were at odds with the fundamental theological basis of camp meeting revivals: that all could be saved. He later complained: "Calvinism is among the heaviest clogs on Christianity ... discouraging... sinners from seeking the kingdom of God" (1910, p. 153). Stone observed that the strict Calvinist doctrines (reserving salvation for the elect few) could not cause the kind of fervent faith and changed life that Methodists and Baptists sought from their hearers. Hence, Stone offered pragmatic as well as theological grounds for preaching that all could be saved, and that salvation goes to all who "believe in Jesus and come to him."16

When Charles Finney came upon the scene with his declaration of a gospel offered to all who would seek God, people in the churches were the first to respond. For too long they had been directed to wait upon the call of God; now they were told to respond to the gospel and respond they did! Revivals were all the more miraculous when one realizes just how small the communities were, and a church writing of a revival might tell of 80 new souls that had become “hopefully converted” as they were wont to say, might also had that they only had 120 souls in their community. Fairly often, I read accounts of 50% and more of communities becoming “hopefully converted”. The awakening was to last for decades, and America came out utterly transformed. “On the eve of the Revolution only about 17 percent of Americans were churched. By the start of the Civil War this proportion had risen dramatically, to 37 percent.”17 Do you see how amazing these figures are? Though we of course cannot see inwardly to the hearts, yet the growth of churches during this time period indicates that Christian regeneration was taking place at an astounding pace.

Interestingly I found that some of the pastors changed their minds, rejecting the outlandish behavior of the revivals, but then coming to realize that God was working in their midst, in a powerful way that had no parallel in our history. The most famous case of this is perhaps found in Lyman Beecher. Beecher, a Congregationalist, was a man who left us with many of his writings, including an autobiography. Beecher, locked into his own congregational views (Congregationalists did not do well in this era), gave us a gloomy report which has confused historians for years. “Having noted the common language, Sweet traced it to a common source-Lyman Beecher's autobiography. Sweet shows that Beecher's gloomy description of the period was at best reflective of the hard time on which Congregationalism had fallen.”18 Beecher himself was rather an enigma, coming out first stridently against Charles Finney, “Lyman Beecher boldly predicted that this "mode" of revivalism "threatens to become one of the greatest evils which is likely to befall the cause of Christ" and threatens the new nation by throwing it "back in civilization, science, and religion, at least a whole century" (Beecher and Nettleton, 1828, pp. 80, 99). Beecher was appalled that Finney and his followers displayed little respect for the settled and learned ministry, allowed "female prayer" in mixed assemblies, and used a "language of unbecoming familiarity with God" (p. 91).”19 Perhaps this rejection by Beecher explains why the revival seemed to course strongly through the Methodists and Baptists, rather than the Congregationalists, as many were apt to follow the leading of Beecher.

But Beecher was to eventually change his mind, “It is interesting to note that Lyman Beecher who four years before had said: "Finney, I know your plan, and you know I do; you mean to come to Connecticut and carry a streak of fire to Boston. But if you attempt it, as the Lord liveth, I'll meet you at the state line, and call out all the artillerymen, and fight every inch of the way to Boston, and then I'll fight you there" now received him with great cordiality.”20 Beecher became a stalwart supporter of Finney in the end, though he was something of a stalwart fighter against him to begin with. I like to think that God changed his mind; Beecher saw the good work Finney was doing in reaching the lost, and chose to overlook the excesses which seemed to accompany The Second Great Awakening. “Beecher's greatest legacy may be the family he produced. He was said to be the “father of more brains than any man in America,” for among his children were Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Henry Ward Beecher, the most famous American preacher of his day.”21

But what of Charles Finney? What Whitefield was to the first awakening, Finney was to the second awakening. Finney, born August 29, 1792. He was beginning a practice of law, and started searching, as he thought, through the Bible for Moses law examples which he might use one day in court. But he soon became under conviction because of the words which he was reading. “So on October 10, 1821, he headed out into the woods near his Adams, New York, home to find God. "I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there," he said.”22

Reading the conversions of men of that time is difficult for me to understand. Jonathan Edwards waited until his third year at seminary, and was still unsure about his conversion. He had to struggle mightily with the question of his salvation until he found grace. Similarly, Finney had an epic struggle, trying to find out how to come to God. Part of the problem may have been that both of those times seemed to have a higher view of God, and a lessor view of mankind. I think both men struggled in their difficulty of understanding how to come to God. Looking at their struggles to be saved, I cannot help but wonder if their terrific struggle did not make men in the end with a mightier conviction, a deeper peace, and voices that were able to sharply cut through to the hearts of other men.

At any rate, Finney was afraid to tell of his conviction to anyone. He feared a wrong answer, and he correctly saw that the Word of God was the place to have this battle. But he did not want other people seeing him struggle, so he determined to go to a private place out in the woods and he says such, “But I found, when I came to face the question, that I was very unwilling to have anyone know that I was seeking the salvation of my soul.”23 He tells of wrestling and reaching some sort of peace, but without much understanding, so he continues to seek God. Eventually the emotional roller coaster that he must have been on becomes obvious to those around him. One elder in the church laughed at his difficulty, and did not seem at all helpful. Says Finney, “I saw that His work was a finished work; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ.”24 Thus far, Charles Finney’s conversion seems like it might be yours or mine. I can recall several people who have struggled mightily before giving in to God.

But now Finney says something which is doctrinally wrong, and we need to see it through eyes of love for a fellow brother, but as well, to see it as doctrinal corruption. “But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.”25 The Bible teaches that at the point of conversion, all of us are automatically baptized into the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). However, what Finney experienced may have been likened to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which came upon the church so wonderfully in the second chapter of Acts. I would judge that what he experienced was a mighty filling of the Spirit, equipping him already for the task which God intended to call him to. During this early period there were two skeptical men who scoffed at Finney, and were rebuked. Both men subsequently went off and found their peace with God. It seems as if God was already marking Finney out to be an evangelist. Says Finney of his state of mind at this time, “My whole mind was taken up with Jesus and His salvation; and the world seemed to me of very little consequence. Nothing, it seemed to me, could be put in competition with the worth of souls; and no labor, I thought, could be so sweet, and no employment so exalted, as that of holding up Christ to a dying world.”26

And hold up Christ to a dying world is what Charles Finney did. Sometimes whole towns, nearly, were converted, and there is a famous story about the revival of Rochester in which all the taverns were permanently closed, the crime rate dropped, and all of this even while the population was growing immensely. Thousands came to Christ. Finney was controversial in his day, for he believed in the doctrine of perfection, and also fought the deviant brand of Calvinism that he found locking everyone’s souls out of heaven. “Traditional Calvinists taught that a person would only come to believe the gospel if God had elected them to salvation. Finney stated that unbelief was a “will not,” instead of a “cannot,” and could be remedied if a person willed to become a Christian.”27

In 1831, there was a great work of revival in Rochester, New York. It may have been, and probably was, the greatest revival New England had ever seen, reaching an estimated one hundred thousand souls. Bars were closed, lawyers were converted, and a mass movement occurred in that city which may be unparalleled. “Years after this, in conversing with Dr. Beecher about this powerful revival and its results, he remarked: "That was the greatest work of God, and the greatest revival of religion, that the world has ever seen, in so short a time. One hundred thousand," he remarked, "were reported as having connected themselves with churches, as the results of that great revival. This," he said, "is unparalleled in the history of the church, and of the progress of religion." He spoke of this having been done in one year; and said that in no year during the Christian era, had we any account of so great a revival of religion.”28

Finney still stands as the preeminent evangelist of America. Because he believed strongly that people, once saved, should get busy and change their world, America was greatly transformed during these decades. Finney also stood as a shining star against slavery in a time when it was very controversial. Oberlin College stood strongly in favor of freedom for all men, and practiced integration of both black males and females—and that was at least thirty years before the Civil War. “Finney is called the “father of modern revivalism” by some historians, and he paved the way for later mass-evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham.”29

What was the effect of The Second Great Awakening? Why am I so insistent on its great effect? We have already talked about the anti-slavery movement that got great impetus from the awakening, but there were also many other movements that got started during this period. “The American Bible Society was founded in New York City in 1816, chiefly through the efforts of Samuel J. Mills, the founder of the American Board. Since its organization the American Bible Society has sent out Bibles, literally by the millions, to all parts of the world. In 1814 the New England Tract Society was formed, and in 1823 changed its name to the American Tract Society of Boston, which afterward was amalgamated with the American Tract Society of New York, organized in 1825. During the eighty-six years of its history the American Tract Society has published 34,206,914 volumes, and 456,154,267 tracts in English and foreign languages, besides 287,341,468 copies of periodicals, making a grand total of 777,702,649 publications issued by this one Society.”30 “By 1837 the Methodists and Baptists supported twelve independent black churches in Philadelphia, representing 86 percent of the membership.”31

I could go on and on, listing the societies that were started, with some of them continuing to this day. The church’s outlook of the period was important; they were preparing the world for the return of Christ. Charles Finney is the name that stands out the most during this wonderful awakening. “Dr. Cuyler said of him, that he probably led more souls to Jesus than any man of the nineteenth century. In round numbers it has been estimated that five hundred thousand persons were converted through his instrumentality.”32 Although Charles Finney stands out so incredibly in this awakening, he was by no means all of it. Evangelists all over were working together to awaken a nation to the coming of the King. And that is not bad! Would that we could see it’s like today.

What is the take-away from The Second Great Awakening? My deepest appreciation is of how God used them to transform a nation. Church attendance went dramatically up during this period, but that was not the only transformation. The outreaches to the poor and downtrodden increased significantly. Finney’s sermons, transcribed and sent to London, converted an unlikely soul who then started the Young Men’s Christian Association, the YMCA, which was to figure prominently in The Third Great Awakening. Churches increased everywhere, with the Congregationalists actually losing membership, the Presbertyrians holding their own as a measured percentage of society, and the Baptists growing significantly, and the Methodists showing overwhelming growth. Society was transformed for generations, and the American populace would henceforth show a hunger for movements of God. Eventually we would gain our mass evangelists like Moody and Graham, but for now, the people were awakened to a God who loved them.

I marvel at the ability of God to use frail men to bring glory to his name. Finney was not the best theologian, making many mistakes in developing a systematic theology. His theology reads more like it is based on Socrates and law, rather than on the Bible. But Finney did address the errors of his day—Calvinism was at its lowest ebb; it had possessed the country for a long time by degenerating into a fatalistic error that prohibited men from seeking God. Finney, even with his errant doctrine, brought in a new spring for American Christianity, by simply pointing out that whosoever “will” may come. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that theologians do not necessarily make good evangelists, and knowing Bible truths may not be as important as recognizing the utter peril of your neighbor’s soul. Finney was not the only evangelist to be found lacking in theological truth. Later Moody was to come on the scene, and like Finney, was apparently a doctrinal babe in Christ. But, is it not marvelous that God was able to take such vessels, and pour out his Spirit upon society through them? Here I believe we see the love of God for the lost as supremely more important than theology. It is well that we have the centering theologians like Edwards, for they do remind us to stay the course, but—oh, how I pray for God to send us a man like Finney, that we might see America turned upside down for Christ once more!

1. A.W. Tozer. Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith (p. 212). Kindle Edition.
2. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Location 697). . Kindle Edition.
3. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 700-702). . Kindle Edition.
4. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 707-710). . Kindle Edition.
5. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 811-813). . Kindle Edition.
6. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 1210-1213). Kindle Edition.
7. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 1182-1183). Kindle Edition.
8. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 823-827). . Kindle Edition.
9. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 834-836). . Kindle Edition.
10. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 856-858). . Kindle Edition.
11.Tyler, Bennet (2012-01-18). Memoir of the Life and Character of Rev. Asahel Nettleton, D.D. (Kindle Locations 125-127). Dissenter Press. Kindle Edition.
12. Tyler, Bennet (2012-01-18). Memoir of the Life and Character of Rev. Asahel Nettleton, D.D. (Kindle Location 107). Dissenter Press. Kindle Edition.
13. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 1005-1006). . Kindle Edition.
14. Tyler, Bennet (2012-01-18). Memoir of the Life and Character of Rev. Asahel Nettleton, D.D. (Kindle Locations 37-38). Dissenter Press. Kindle Edition.
15. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 86-88). . Kindle Edition.
16. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 1366-1370). Kindle Edition
17. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 386-387). Kindle Edition.
18. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 92-93). Kindle Edition.
19. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 1351-1354). Kindle Edition.
20. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 1303-1306). . Kindle Edition.
21. Galli, Mark (2010-07-19). 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Kindle Locations 2092-2094). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
22. Christianity Today, Charles Finney Father of American revivalism,, retrieved 8/10/14.
23. Finney, Charles G. (2010-03-30). Autobiography of Charles G. Finney (Kindle Locations 219-220). . Kindle Edition.
24. Finney, Charles G. (2010-03-30). Autobiography of Charles G. Finney (Kindle Locations 245-247). . Kindle Edition.
25. Finney, Charles G. (2010-03-30). Autobiography of Charles G. Finney (Kindle Location 354). . Kindle Edition.
26. Finney, Charles G. (2010-03-30). Autobiography of Charles G. Finney (Kindle Locations 445-447). . Kindle Edition.
27. Galli, Mark (2010-07-19). 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Kindle Locations 1571-1573). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
28. Finney, Charles G. (2010-03-30). Autobiography of Charles G. Finney (Kindle Locations 4839-4843). . Kindle Edition.
29. Galli, Mark (2010-07-19). 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Kindle Locations 1599-1600). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
30. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 955-960). . Kindle Edition.
31. Roger Finke;Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (Kindle Locations 1296-1297). Kindle Edition. America was drastically changed during this period.
32. Beardsley, Frank G. (2012-07-26). A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 1370-1372). . Kindle Edition.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Can Psalm 25 teach me how to live a Christian life?

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
22 Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!
(Psalm 25, NIV)

In reading through this Psalm, I am first struck by how it is a Psalm that is all about what God does, not much about what we do at all. Our first and only step is to put our trust in him, and, as Keith Green says, he’ll take care of the rest. I think it is meant to be that way, and its effect ought to be terribly humbling, since God seems to do it all. When we bring the question about Christian living before him, we discover that it is also all about him and not much at all about us.

Hebrew poetry frequently will give the same truths in threes, such as in Psalm One, Blessed is the man 1) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, 2) or stand in the way of sinners, 3) or sit in the seat of mockers. In this Psalm, Psalm 25, we see the same thing, except the poet has taken poetical variation, in a very beautiful way.
First, David tells us of three beautiful things that God does for us in verses four and five, namely that the Lord shows us his ways, teaches us his paths, and guides us in his truth. In the middle of these three great things, he remembers us, forgets our sins, and forgives even our iniquities (v. 8, 9). But David does a clever maneuver, for just before telling us that God takes away our iniquities, he again repeats the triple formula, he instructs (shows) us his ways, guides us in his truth, and teaches us his paths.

And then after announcing that God forgives our iniquities, he repeats the formula one last time, he instructs (shows) us in the right way, he confides (guides) in us who fear him, and he makes known (teaches) his covenant to us. Thus the opening of the poem is magnificently poetical on two different levels. First, we are shown, taught, and guided. But folded cleverly in the center of these things repeated three times, we are remembered, sins are forgotten, and iniquities are forgiven.

But what do these verses teach us about the Christian life? First, we are to put our trust in him. On the basis of that trust, God will lead, guide, and direct us. Psalm 119:9 has the same idea when it asks how can a young man keep his way pure, and answers the question saying, “by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” God will lead, guide, and direct our paths, if we but will trust him. Luther rediscovered that great truth, that it is faith alone by which we are made righteous. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified” (Romans 10:10). Trusting him is all he asks, and then he really does take care of the rest. He directs our paths all of our life, throughout all eternity, if the Bible is to be believed. He guides our feet on the paths that we should go, again through all eternity. He teaches us through his own Holy Spirit the very word of God that provides our signposts to direct our lives.
I have put the pattern down below, that it might be easier to make sense of it:
1. He shows us His ways v. 4
2. He teaches us His paths v.4
3. He guides us in His truth v. 5

A. He remembers mercy and love for us v. 6
B. He remembers not our youthful sins v.7

1, 2, and 3: Parenthetically repeated 1.instructs (8) 2.guides (9) and 3. teaches (9)

C. He forgives our great iniquities for the sake of his name v. 11

1. He instructs us in the right way v. 12
2. He confides (guides?) in us who fear him v. 14
3. He makes known his covenant to them v. 14

But that is only the first half of this magnificent Psalm! Now David finishes with seven requests, asking God for things he needs to guide his life. He asks God:
1. to release him from any snares or traps (v. 15).
2. to turn towards him and be gracious to him (v. 16).
3. to relieve the troubles of his heart (v. 17).
4. to free him of his anguish (v. 17).
5. to take away all his sins (v. 18).
6. to guard his life (v. 20).
7. to rescue him. (v. 20).

In our lives we will find ourselves in many traps. Looking to God, we can be confident of his releasing us. We can be confident in Christ of him turning towards us with graciousness for all of eternity. Amazing Grace had a verse added to it, the last, that says when we have been there ten thousand years, we have only just begun. If our eyes are upon that, what possible troubles of this life would not be relieved? We will be forever free of anguish on that day, with all of our sins taken away, guarded and rescued forever by the Son of God. What could be better than that?

Sunday, August 03, 2014

So I now know God’s will for my life, but how can I find his plan for me?

The secret of success lies in faithful execution of the prior question: how can I find God’s will for my life? It occurs to me that trying to explain how God might plan your life is totally impossible, since we are talking about specific leading, and that goes in such widely divergent paths. But there are signposts along the way that a discerning follower should note, and I want to give you some of those signs. But it is the will of God that we should become acquainted with him, and obedient to him through the record he has left us in the Word of God. “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”1 Surely that is the great truth with which you ought to surround yourself.

Let me tell you a little of my choices that I made as a new Christian—it might be of help to you to understand just how it is that we do find the plan of God for our lives. When I became a Christian I was but 19 years of age, and the little Baptist church that I started in was pretty conservative. It was the early seventies, and I think the church was still stuck culturally in the early sixties. I had long hair when I was saved, and several of the deacons made it a point to let me know that I was not acceptable. Looking back on it now, part of their reluctance to accept me was probably fear that I was not a Christian.

In praying about it, it was obvious that this was the place that God had for me, and so I just pretty much ignored their criticism. I noticed the lawn was not being mowed and watered, so I got permission from the church to begin caretaking of the grounds. Mowing the lawn faithfully that first summer probably did a lot to mitigate the irritation others had for me. Watering the lawn became an excuse for me to visit with the pastor, and we soon became fast friends. Attitudes began to change, and I was soon elected to be a trustee. Looking at the huge lawn, I decided to design a sprinkler system for it, and proposed it to the board. Though opposed unexpectedly by one man, Jim, it was adopted, and I was given responsibility of coordinating the project.

A work day was called, and all the men turned out for a very long day, but still we could not get all of the work done. I had responsibility for the project, and so it was up to me to finish up throughout the week. Jim was the only one to show up to help every day that week. I remembered his opposition, and I thought about how human it would have been just to let me flounder, but he was out there every day, helping me to complete the project. That taught me a lot!

With the project an unqualified success, I soon found myself an elected elder, and very respected by those same men who had originally criticized me. Having a terrible burden for the lost, I was able to testify about it at length to both the board, and the church. I remember breaking down in tears as I tried to describe what it was like to not be told about the Lord, and it was that very crying that led to revival for the church. Soon the sleepy little church that I had started in had changed into an active dynamic force in the community, with regular visitation, an outreach to the local mission, and a focus that was sharply different.

Do you see what happened? God took a ridiculous boy, infused him with his Spirit, and caused a whole revival to come to that sleepy little church. Several years ago, I had occasion to visit the town of that church, and stopping by one summer I found myself squatting in the middle of the grass, looking at the sprinklers that I had installed, and thanking God for his wonders. It was not in the big things that God usually works; rather it is in being faithful in what you know that he wants you to do that unveils the plan of God for our lives.

For I purposely did not tell you of the choices that I had before me. As a young man I wanted to finish college. I very much wanted to stay out of the draft. I wanted very very much to see crowds of people coming to Christ. And, of course, I prayed about all of that, many more times than I can tell you. But those things, big as they were to me, were not want God wanted. Instead, he wanted me to power up that lawn mower, and care for the grounds every week.

Keith Green gives the principle in one of his songs:
You know it ain't no use, banging your head, up against that cold stone wall,
Cause nobody's perfect, except for the Lord, and even the best bound to fall,
Remember He is divine, and you are de branch,
He'd love to get you through it if you'd give Him a chance,
Just keep doing your best,
And pray that it's blessed,
And Jesus takes care of the rest.

The Bible gives the same principle over and over. It says, humble yourself, and in due time God will exalt you. Joseph had to go through prison making the most of it, with many misadventures meanwhile, but God did exalt him, and preserved his people through his efforts. Matthew 23:11 and 12 say, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” We get to leadership through servantship.

Those lost that I was so burdened for? The college that I felt I had to finish? Many misadventures happened, but God is faithful. My wife and I were able to see hundreds come to Christ, and I was able to go back and finish that college. Those were the big things in my life that I so wanted to see worked out, but God chose to work them out by handing me a lawnmower and a sprinkler and told me to get busy. I marvel at the young long-haired man who was used of God to turn the little church upside down, even while the nation was undergoing a huge revival.
As a general rule, I would say that if you feel God’s leading to go to Bible college, or perhaps enter the ministry, the first thing to check is your servantship. Are you willing to do the stuff that is not glorious, and has no tangible reward. That is what learning to be a Christian is all about. If you feel especially led to do something, be very careful, for the human spirit does not easily discern the difference between God’s leading and the carnal desires of the human spirit. In all things, seek guidance from the Word of God. If the Word teaches plainly something other than your leading, you may rest assured that it is not of God. That’s why the beginning, the middle, and the end of your life needs to be rooted firmly in the Word of God. As for guidance for walking through your life, Psalm 25 has a lot to teach us. In our next question, I will examine what Psalm 25 can teach about the plan of God for our lives.

1. Packer, J. I. (2011-09-26). Knowing God (p. 35). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
2. Green, Keith, He’ll Take Care of the Rest, from the album, To Him who Has Ears to Hear.