“Know your Christian Duties and Fulfill Them” – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonThis post follows up on the previous quotation from Sinclair Ferguson’s edifying book In Christ Alonewhich I continue to work through, reading mainly on Sundays.

Tonight’s quotation is also taken from chapter 34, “Where God Looks First”, and here Ferguson shows that the Christian life of sanctification (holiness, personal consecration to God) is one of fulfilling our duties in obedience to God – glad, grateful grace-founded obedience.

Listen to what he has to say, and be encouraged as you start the new work-week tomorrow. May I say, especially you Christian wives and mothers (keep reading).

Second, the past masters of the Christian life stressed that it is not lived on the basis of our feelings but in fulfilling duties. Sanctification is not a mood condition, but the submission of our wills to the will of God.

In recent decades, evangelicalism has become so sensitive to the heresy of ‘Boy Scout Christianity’ (‘I promise to do my best, to do my duty…”) that it has truncated the Christian gospel to a half-Christ (Savior, but not Lord) and a half-salvation (blessings, but not duties). How foolish we have been, when so much of the New Testament catalogs the specific duties that arise out of our relationship to Jesus Christ and therefore are in fact among our blessings.

…Are we frightened that fulfilling our duties will overturn the grace of God? Look at the busy housewife whose entire life is governed by her multifaceted responsibilities. While her husband enters his own world (often exciting and challenging), she makes the lunches, drives the children to school, shops, cleans, washes, irons, mends, prepares the meals, cleans up, and gets the children to bed. Why? Duty. These are the duties of love, devotion, and commitment.

Love for God and duty are two parts of the same thing. How foolish we have been to separate them and to regard duty as a bad word. It nourishes Christlikeness (John 4:34). Therefore, know your Christian duties and fulfill them (Kindle ed.).

Should We Pray Incessantly to Receive Answered Prayer? ~H.Hanko

When-You-Pray -HHankoFor our next Sunday night discussion group meeting we will be looking at two more chapters in Prof. (emeritus) Herman Hanko’s book on prayer, When You Pray.

I have been reading from the fourteenth chapter (“A Problem Connected with Petitionary Prayer”), where Hanko treats the tension between Jesus’ promise that whatever we ask the Father in His name He will grant (e.g. John 16:23-24) and the reality that the prayers of God’s people are not always answered as we seek and ask (as, e.g., Paul with regard to his thorn, 2 Cor.12:7-9).

In seeking to answer this “problem”, Hanko raises the question, “Is incessant prayer the solution?” And here he has some good things to say about the nature of our persistent prayers when God seems not to answer us.

Continuing our posts of selections from this fine work, we quote from this section today.

…Scripture calls us, in some instances, to be persistent in prayer when we do not immediately receive the things for which we ask.

However, some have a wrong notion of persistence. They hold to the idea that if only we will bombard heaven with prolonged and unceasing petitions, God will be prevailed upon to grant us these things. Or if only we come with enough people to storm heaven’s gates, God will, because of overwhelming numbers, give in to that which we seek. This seems often to be the idea behind prayer groups and prayer chains. It is not, of course, wrong for saints to come together for prayer. We are, in fact, urged to do this. But if our motive is to convince God of our requests by force of sheer numbers, we have a very carnal idea of prayer, which makes our prayers an abomination before God.

…The idea that incessant prayer and fervent prayer will guarantee our receiving that for which we ask – even if we want only material riches – seems to be the basic error behind the book The Prayer of Jabez. The author of this book considers the prayer of Jabez, which one can find in 1 Chronicles 4:10, a sort of magic incantation which, if prayed every day and frequently through the day, will guarantee success in obtaining from God what we desire. Although the book is a best seller, it is evil and leads God’s people into erroneous ideas concerning prayer. It is well to remember that no tricks on our part can manipulate God. He is too great for that (119-120).