Branch Rickey and the Jackie Robinson Story

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This is a January morning in 1943 and Wesley Branch Rickey is standing outside his house at 34 Greenway South in Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, New York City. …Rickey’s face shows eagerness and excitement even after all his years in baseball. He has asked God for help and believes that is exactly what is happening now.

…He waits in cold, fresh air for his ride to downtown Brooklyn, where he runs the Dodgers baseball team. [Yes, that now LA Dodgers team!] While this does not sound so vital, especially in time of war, today he is doing the work of the Lord with all his heart and mind and these large, gnarled hands he waves. He is going to a crucial meeting with the banker who holds the mortgage on the Dodgers baseball team.

Rickey carries with him a Midwestern Christian religious fervor as strong as a wheat crop, and a political faith in anything Republican. Already he is a familiar figure at his new church in Queens, the Church in the Gardens…. On Sundays, Branch Rickey brought with him to church a prayer book and a background of Methodist studies from Ohio Wesleyan University, and sometimes he delivered the sermon. In one, he announced he was here to run the Brooklyn Dodgers and to serve the God to whom they prayed, and the Lord’s work called for him to bring the first black player into major league baseball.

You held the American heart in your hand when you attempted to change anything in baseball. If a black was involved, the cardiograms showed an ice storm.

…In no calling, craft, profession trade, or occupation was color in American accepted. The annals of the purported greats how that everyone was paralyzed with the national disease: color fear.

But here on this street corner stands Branch Rickey, a lone white man with a fierce belief that it is the deepest sin against God to hold color against a person. On this day he means to change baseball and America, too. The National Pastime, the game that teaches sportsmanship to children, must shake with shame, Rickey thought. Until this morning in Forest Hills, there has been no white person willing to take on the issue. That is fine with Rickey. He feels that he is at bat with two outs and a 3-2 pitch coming. He is the last man up, sure he will get a hit.

Taken from the first chapter in the powerful story of this professing Christian and his singular goal to integrate baseball with black players. The book is Branch Rickey: A Life by Jimmy Breslin, and it is my second baseball read this summer (another of those thrift store finds that turns out to be a gem!). The pages quoted here are 5-7.

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Branch Rickey is the one who introduced the great Jackie Robinson to the major leagues, finally breaking a barrier that opened the door for many other great players. Many may forget the Christian background to the story (Robinson was also a professing Christian), but Breslin tells it straight. You may also be interested to know that when he was a player, Rickey himself refused to play on Sunday, keeping a promise to his godly mother. Yet, sadly, he broke it later as a manager.

“What I Need Is a Deadline” (for Reading)

Choosing my next book sometimes feels like a complicated dance. With so many books to read, how can I possibly decide what to read? What to read now? What to read next? There are many factors to juggle, but I’ll tell you this: I agree with Duke Ellington, the jazz great who famously quipped, ‘I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.’

A deadline – apologies to my library patron friend – isn’t an obstacle to my reading life. (My fines might tell a different story, but never mind those.) In the face of overwhelming options, a deadline clarifies what I want to read right now.  It focuses my attention on what I want to happen next. Just like a journalist who lives and dies by their deadline, a reading deadline ensures my books get read sooner, not later.

I often tell myself I’ll get around to reading a certain book one day. But good intentions are worth only so much, and sometimes one day never comes. A good deadline forces me to ask myself if I’m ready to read it right now. (If I’m not, does it even belong on my To Be Read list?)

…It hurts my children’s feelings not to read what they want me to read, and so I do, on deadline. Duke Ellington understands: ‘Without a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing.’ Without a deadline, Duke, I wouldn’t do nothing – but I wouldn’t read as much either. And, baby, I love to read.

rather-be-reading-bogel-2018Taken from a good summer read I recently bought at Baker Book House. In I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, lifetime reader Anne Bogel reflects on the paradoxes of readers and bibliophiles like herself. The chapters are short and packed with great insights and encouragements about the literary life – the highs and lows, the tears and triumphs of reading.

The above quotation is taken from chapter 12, “What I Need Is a Deadline” (pp.80-85).

Published in: on September 16, 2019 at 10:26 PM  Leave a Comment  

Saved by Grace: Regeneration

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

In the third place, regeneration is that change in man which empowers him to see and to seek the kingdom of God. It is not the same as conversion, and it must not be confused with it. In conversion man is active: he begins to use the power and faculties which are given him in regeneration. He becomes conscious of the new life. He repents, confesses, turns about, hungers and thirsts after the bread and water of life, believes and embraces Christ and all His benefits, flees from sin and pursues after the good. But this is not the new birth itself, but it is the activity of the spiritually newborn babe. When a child is born, it is active: it cries and moves and kicks and seeks mother’s breast and takes nourishment. But the faculties and powers to do all these things that child received in its conception and birth. The same is true of the reborn sinner. He is a newborn babe in a spiritual sense. He must be born again before he can act. He must have eyes before he can see, ears before he can hear, a spiritual faculty before he can discern, a new will before he can long for and accept the things of the kingdom of God. He must have the power of faith before he can believe, the gift of repentance before he can repent; and the love of God must be spread abroad in his heart before he can respond in love. This power is instilled into the heart of the sinner in the new birth, or regeneration. In regeneration God, by the efficacy of the Spirit, “opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.” (Canons of Dordrecht, III, IV, 11) By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that, (that is, that power of faith), not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

…Fourthly, in view of all that has been said about the new birth, it should be perfectly evident that it is a sovereign work of God pure and simple, a work in which the sinner himself has no part whatever, in which he does not in any sense cooperate with God, but in which man is wholly passive. It is important that this be emphasized in order to maintain the truth of salvation by grace only. All the more important this is, in view of the fact that in our day this truth is usually distorted and misrepresented. Those who insist on presenting salvation as contingent upon man’s will do not know what to make of this new birth, though they often speak of it. Rebirth as a new creation, or as resurrection from the dead, has no place in their conception of salvation. Hence, they make of regeneration something which depends upon the will of the sinner. If man will only accept Christ, he will be regenerated. They offer to the sinner regeneration! They plead with him and beg him to be regenerated! But this is absurd. As well might a man go to the cemetery and beg the dead to come out of their graves! For no more than Adam cooperated in his own creation, and no more than Lazarus cooperated in his own resurrection, no more does the sinner cooperate with God in his own regeneration. It is a work of God alone, without our help. For “this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead.” (Canons of Dordrecht III, IV, 12)

wonderofgrace-hhTaken from chapter chapter 5, “Regenerated by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.42-49. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

How to Read Long and Difficult Books | The Art of Manliness

This encouraging post on AOM appeared last week (Sept.3) and has good practical advice for men on how to read those “long and difficult books.”

Perhaps you have never tackled such a book, but you have looked at a classic or a biography you really wanted to read but were intimidated by its size and length. Read and follow the pointers this man gives you and you will understand that it is possible for you to get that “big read” in. Soon it will be Fall and then Winter and your nights will be freer; so set yourself a goal and then set some time aside for feeding your mind and your soul. That truly is manly.

Here is the writer’s introduction and then two of his practical pointers. For the rest, visit the link below.

Before the last year or so, I would have probably counted myself in that camp. I had tried to read Washington: A Life and gave up after a few hundred pages. I’d tried Moby-Dick and met a similar fate. The allure of a big, meaty book was great, and yet I couldn’t find the stamina to actually finish many.

So what was it that finally put me over the top and allowed me to get all the way through these hefty tomes? (And then to keep going too!) At the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. I figured it was some combination of having a plan and finally having the gumption to just keep flipping the pages. But after thinking about it, I realized that there was some innate method to how I was accomplishing it. There’s no need to be intimidated by old books, long books, or just plain hard to read books. It really is a skill to be learned in our Smartphone Age.

Here’s how I did it (and continue to do it), and how you can too.

2. Set a small amount of time or pages per day that you’ll read.

One of the keys in achieving that plan is giving yourself a micro-goal. My plan to read 44+ presidential biographies (some of which are multi-volume) gives me helpful direction, but it’s too distant an end goal to sustain my motivation from day to day. Even focusing on simply finishing the next book in the sequence is tough, when that book is massive — presidents’ lives are often very well explored and documented.

So I go even smaller and set myself very attainable reading goals. I often flip through the book first to get a sense of how long chapters are; with Washington: A Life I set out to read a single chapter a day. With chapters averaging just 10-20 pages, this was totally doable. For books that have longer chapters (like Caro’s LBJ series), I’ll set a time-based goal, usually 30 minutes a day.

Working from home, and not having a commute or anyone to disturb my lunch hour, I perhaps have more spare time to read than others. If you’re really cramped, give it just 10-15 minutes per day. You’ll get through those long and hard books far quicker than you’d expect, and when time and energy allow, you’ll often willingly do more than what you’ve allotted.

4. Get an edition that you like.

This can make a surprisingly big difference in your reading experience. Reading can be a far more kinetic activity than you’d think. The weight of the book, the styling of the font and the design of the text, even the cover art — if a book is nice to look at and easy to hold, you’re more likely to pick it up.

Tangible and tactile, and free from the distractions built into my phone, I prefer paper copies for most of my reading, and often hardcovers specifically. Paperbacks are more portable, but the text is often a little harder to read with darker, smaller font size and tighter margins. And while I enjoy used bookstores as much as anyone else, I don’t like reading copies that have any notes or underlining in them already. It’s too distracting. So I always make sure to get a clean copy.

When it comes to classic literature, you often have a ton of choices. Old versions are sometimes fun to have, but often harder to read, with small margins and overly dark text. I also like explanatory endnotes and lengthy introductions, which older versions almost always lack. Penguin Classics is the gold standard in my opinion. I have a few handfuls of those black paperback covers staring at me from my shelves. If I’m really feeling like I want a hardcover for whatever reason, I also really like the Everyman’s Library editions.

Source: How to Read Long and Difficult Books | The Art of Manliness

Published in: on September 12, 2019 at 10:44 PM  Comments (1)  

Receiving the Engrafted Word with Meekness

James 1:21 – Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

…We are therefore to receive into our hearts the preaching as the powerful word of Christ. We are to receive it by being swift to hear and slow to wrath. And we are to receive it as the word, ‘which is able to save [our] souls.’

The figure breaks down here. The soil where the seed is lodged and receives the rain and sunshine is passive. The soil of our hearts is passive in the initial work of God when he implants the seed of regeneration, but our hearts are then made active. The responsibility is ours to see to it that that seed grows, and we fulfill our responsibility when we receive that word.

The reception of the implanted word is not a work we perform by our own strength and ability, for it always remains true that God works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil.2:13). Nevertheless, God works his salvation in us consciously, and we have our calling in that work.

We are to receive that word with meekness. …The Christian virtue of meekness is the way in which we are to receive the word implanted in our hearts in regeneration. Meekness is much the same as humility. It is the gift of grace given to elect by which they submit themselves entirely to the preached word by confessing their unworthiness, acknowledging their total dependence on Christ and his grace, and realizing with profound awareness their total need for the word of Christ to live a life pleasing to him.

faithmadeperfect-hhanko-2015Quoted from Herman Hanko’s commentary on James 1:21, Faith Made Perfect (RFPA, 2015), pp.66-67.

New Books Available for Review – Part 1

I am SO far behind on my book notices for the summer! So , while it is still summer, and I have a little time tonight, I acquaint you with three new titles from Reformation Trust (Ligonier). In the weeks ahead we’ll focus on some from Crossway and Reformation Heritage Books.

The first one is Final Word: Why We Need the Bible by Dr. John MacArthur (2019). This is the third in a series of titles on basic Christian themes (None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible [2017] and Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ [2018]). The publisher gives this summary of the latest in the series:

The Bible is under attack on all sides. Unbelievers denounce it as backward, narrow-minded, and intolerant, and even some professing Christians deny its truth to gain approval from the culture. With each assault, we hear echoes of the serpent’s question in the garden of Eden: “Did God really say?” Unfortunately, many believers don’t know how to answer these challenges and find their confidence in God’s Word shaken.

In Final Word: Why We Need the Bible, Dr. John MacArthur defends the trustworthiness of Scripture, with the goal of equipping the church to stand firm for the truth even when others abandon it. Only when God’s people recognize the Bible for what it is—God’s inerrant, authoritative Word—will they be able to fulfill their calling and carry the message of God’s salvation to the world.

In his opening chapter, “the Bible Is Under Attack,” MacArthur says this:

Without a doubt, the ground Satan most vigorously and continuously attacks these days is the trustworthiness of Scripture – its authority, sufficiency, inerrancy, integrity, and perspicuity. The battle for the truth is the battle for the Bible, and in this fight God’s people cannot flinch. Biblical truth is under relentless and endless assault. And like Luther and the heroes of the early Reformation, we must meet the enemy head-on and be willing to stand and fight for the truth, especially when others avoid or even abandon truth when it becomes controversial (p.2).

The other chapters in Final Word are:

  • The Bible Is Truth
  • The Bible Is Authoritative
  • The Bible Is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible Is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible Is Food for the Soul

The next two books cover the sacraments from a Reformed/Presbyterian perspective. Guy M. Richards has penned Baptism: Answers to Common Questions (2019) and Keith A. Mathison has written The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions (2019). Concerning the former, Reformation Trust gives this description:

When Jesus commanded His followers to go and make disciples of all nations, He instructed them to baptize those disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since baptism is a central part of life in the church, why has it been controversial and divisive among so many Christians?

In Baptism: Answers to Common Questions, Dr. Guy M. Richard tackles the key questions people have about baptism: What does it mean? Is it necessary for salvation? Who should be baptized, and how should we baptize them? As he searches the Scriptures, Dr. Richard helps us think through what the Bible teaches about baptism and encourages us to deal graciously with our brothers and sisters in Christ even when we disagree.

The author (a PCA minister who is assistant professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta) spends many pages on the question of who should be baptized, defending the Reformed position that children of believers ought to be and answering various Baptist arguments against. This is worthwhile material in knowing and defending the historic Reformed and biblical view.

Concerning the second book on the Lord’s Supper, the publisher states this:

As Jesus was celebrating His final Passover meal, He made some bold statements. First, He took the bread and said, “This is my body.” Then He took the cup, saying, “This is my blood.” Next, He commanded the disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of Him.

What did Jesus mean? Do the bread and wine literally become His body and blood? What happens when Christians take the Lord’s Supper?

In The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions, Dr. Keith A. Mathison walks through these questions and several others to help us better understand this sacrament. Far from being an empty ritual, the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, a source of spiritual nourishment, and true communion with Christ and His church.

If you want to hear the author give his reasons why he thinks this book will benefit the church and Christians, then watch this video.

If you are interested in reading and reviewing any of these titles, please send me a note. The book is yours to keep – and others will benefit from your reading of it.

Trembling at God’s Word

honey from the rock-ak-2018From a meditation on Isaiah 66:2, “…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

…It means first of all that you mustn’t approach that Word with your most profound observations and reflections. It means that you should in all humility show God the honor that every father expects from his child. It also means that you should think of the God who addresses you in this Word as the only gyroscope of all wisdom, knowledge, and science. Accordingly, he is the source of all progress and deepening insight in life. His eye sweeps across the ages. He fathoms the depths of all things and their causes. His thoughts are higher than your imaginings by as much as the heavens are higher than the earth. For that reason and on that basis, bowing in awe before that Word, you should immediately submit your own humble spirit in obedience to the divine Spirit in his majesty. You should quietly, thoughtfully listen to what God is saying to you.

But “trembling at God’s Word” means even more.

…It shouldn’t merely bounce off our eardrum or glide smoothly through our soul’s networks. But it should directly, immediately, intensely, and totally penetrate our whole being. It should grip us in our entirety as spiritual beings. Its message should touch every spot in our soul. It should make us quiver in our total being. Not externally like the Quakers’ experience, as though our lips and hands should tremble. But internally, so that our hearts quiver in our chests. It should also mean that our spirits tremble ‘because the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword that cuts to the cleaving of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and is the judge of all thoughts.’

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.196-97.

This particular meditation (#62 of Volume 1) is titled “The Person Who Trembles at My Word” and is based on Isaiah 66:2 (cf. above). Appropriate as we enter the Lord’s house tomorrow to hear the divine Word read, sung, and preached. May we seek and receive this kind of spiritual trembling.

“…we are by nature hypocrites, fondly exalting ourselves by calumniating others.”

JCalvin111 Speak not evil, or, defame not. We see how much labor James takes in correcting the lust for slandering. For hypocrisy is always presumptuous, and we are by nature hypocrites, fondly exalting ourselves by calumniating others. There is also another disease innate in human nature, that every one would have all others to live according to his own will or fancy. This presumption James suitably condemns in this passage, that is, because we dare to impose on our brethren our rule of life. He then takes detraction as including all the calumnies and suspicious works which flow from a malignant and perverted judgment. The evil of slandering takes a wide range; but here he properly refers to that kind of slandering which I have mentioned, that is, when we superciliously determine respecting the deeds and sayings of others, as though our own morosity were the law, when we confidently condemn whatever does not please us.

That such presumption is here reproved is evident from the reason that is immediately added, He that speaketh evil of, or defames his brother, speaketh evil of, or defames the law. He intimates, that so much is taken away from the law as one claims of authority over his brethren. Detraction, then, against the law is opposed to that reverence with which it behooves us to regard it.

Paul handles nearly the same argument in Romans 14, though on a different occasion. For when superstition in the choice of meats possessed some, what they thought unlawful for themselves, they condemned also in others. He then reminded them, that there is but one Lord, according to whose will all must stand or fall, and at whose tribunal we must all appear. Hence he concludes that he who judges his brethren according to his own view of things, assumes to himself what peculiarly belongs to God. But James reproves here those who under the pretense of sanctity condemned their brethren, and therefore set up their own morosity in the place of the divine law. He, however, employs the same reason with Paul, that is, that we act presumptuously when we assume authority over our brethren, while the law of God subordinates us all to itself without exception. Let us then learn that we are not to judge but according to God’s law.

Thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. This sentence ought to be thus explained: “When thou claimest for thyself a power to censure above the law of God thou exemptest thyself from the duty of obeying the law.” He then who rashly judges his brother; shakes off the yoke of God, for he submits not to the common rule of life. It is then an argument from what is contrary; because the keeping of the law is wholly different from this arrogance, when men ascribe to their conceit the power and authority of the law. It hence follows, that we then only keep the law, when we wholly depend on its teaching alone and do not otherwise distinguish between good and evil; for all the deeds and words of men ought to be regulated by it.

12 There is one lawgiver 134 Now he connects the power of saying and destroying with the office of a lawgiver, he intimates that the whole majesty of God is forcibly assumed by those who claim for themselves the right of making a law; and this is what is done by those who impose as a law on others their own nod or will. And let us remember that the subject here is not civil government, in which the edicts and laws of magistrates have place, but the spiritual government of the soul, in which the word of God alone ought to bear rule. There is then one God, who has consciences subjected by right to his own laws, as he alone has in his own hand the power to save and to destroy.

Taken from John Calvin’s Commentary on the Epistle of James as found in his Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, translated and edited by the Rev. John Owen (reprint by Baker Book House, 1979), pp.337-339. You may also find this online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Saved by Grace: United to Christ

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For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.- Romans 6:5

…This, then, is the first and absolutely indispensable requirement of our salvation: we must be in Christ. Hence, we must be incorporated into Him; we must be united with Him. A spiritual union must be established between Christ and our soul, before we can receive any fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection. This union is absolutely first. Unless that living connection is established between Christ and our inmost heart, we are outside of Him. And outside of Christ there is only guilt and damnation, corruption and death, darkness and desolation. Before there can be the faintest spark of new life in us, before there can appear even the faintest glimmer of light in our soul, before the simplest prayer can be uttered from our lips, before even the slightest longing can arise in our soul for God and His Christ, that union must be accomplished. It is an absolute prerequisite for the reception of all salvation. For Christ is our all, and all our salvation is in Him. But we cannot begin to draw our life and light, our knowledge and wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification, from Him until our inmost heart is joined in spiritual unity with Him, Who is the revelation of the God of our salvation.

But how is this union accomplished?

The answer of Scripture is unequivocally: this union is unconditionally and absolutely the work of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. By grace are ye saved! That implies, too, that by grace, and by grace only, you are incorporated into Christ, so that you become one plant with Him.

When we say this, we proclaim nothing new. But we do wipe the dust of oblivion from a very old, very fundamental, and very precious truth. And we do claim that this truth is in dire need of a new emphasis over against many false representations, not by modernists, but by those who claim that they preach the doctrine of salvation by grace. For very many directly teach, or indirectly leave the impression by the way they preach, that this first touch of the soul of the sinner with Christ is accomplished by the sinner himself, or, at least, is contingent for its establishment upon the will and choice of the sinner. Yes, they admit, Christ is our salvation; and the soul must be united with Christ in order to receive salvation. But if this union is to be accomplished, the sinner must come to Christ. The Savior is willing to receive him, to come into his heart, to join that sinner unto Himself; but the sinner must first come. He must accept Christ. Or he must be willing to receive Him. Or he must long and pray for this coming of Christ into his heart. And it seems that very sensational preaching, accompanied preferably by a heart-touching hymn and by begging and praying on the part of the preacher, is especially considered to be conducive to persuade the sinner to come to Jesus, to open the door of his heart, and to let Jesus come in. In last analysis, the union of the soul with the living Lord depends not on efficacious grace, but on the will of the sinner!

But, first of all, how absurd and utterly impossible is this presentation of salvation! If it were true, no man would be saved! For according to Scripture, the natural man is in the flesh; and the mind of the flesh is death. It is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Man is dead in sin and misery. He can neither perform nor will that which is good. He loves iniquity, and he is a slave of sin. He loves darkness rather than light. He cannot see the kingdom of God. Such is the natural man. Such is every man before that union with Christ is established of which we made mention. Do you expect that man to open his heart to Christ? Do you insist that this dead sinner must come to Christ before Christ will come to Him? Do you still maintain that this darkened sinner must at least long for Christ, hunger and thirst for Him, seek Him, ask for Him, before his soul can be united with the living Lord? I reply that if such were the truth, then could no man be saved. For before the sinner is united with Christ he can neither come to Him, nor long for Him, nor seek Him, nor utter the weakest prayer beseeching Him to come into his heart. But thanks be to God, this is not the truth! Salvation is not of man, nor of the will of man; nor does our union with Christ depend on man’s consent. “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44) Again: “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” (John 6:65)

And the Father does draw, and the Father does give, and the Father does unite us with the living Lord! And He does so, too, through Christ Himself, Who is exalted and draws all unto Him. He draws with cords of love, with irresistible power of grace. And when we are so drawn and so united with Christ, and He by His Spirit lives in us, we respond. We hunger and thirst, we long and pray, we come and embrace Him, we eat the bread of life and are satisfied, we drink the water of life and thirst nevermore, we draw from Him Who is the fulness of all the blessings of salvation, even grace for grace! All this is the fruit and manifestation in us of that marvelous, mysterious, blessed wonder of grace, of grace sovereign and free, whereby we are united with Christ. For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world!

Taken from chapter chapter 4, “Reconciled by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.34-41. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Humble Yourself Before the Word

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Instead of responding angrily to God’s Word (v.19), James told his readers to receive the Word ‘in humility.’ This refers to a gentle and meek attitude that causes you to set aside your own preferences and opinions instead of stubbornly refusing to submit your will to God’s Word. Receptivity to God’s Word starts with humble submission to the authority of God’s Word. God told Isaiah, ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2).

Jeremiah Burroughs described this submission to his congregation:

To have a congregation lie down under the Word of God which is preached to them is a most excellent thing…. God expects that you should submit your estates, your souls, your bodies, all that you are and have, to this Word. And that is another particular of the sanctifying of the name of God in hearing the Word, there must be a humble submission to it.

There is nothing better for your souls than to lie down under the Word; to lay aside your pride and any resistance and let the surgeon of Scripture work as it will (Heb.4:12).

[John] Stott writes ‘An essential element in Christian humility is the willingness to hear and receive God’s Word. Perhaps the greatest of all our needs is to take our place again, humbly, quietly and expectantly at the feet of Jesus Christ, in order to listen attentively to His Word.’ Mary serves as the model of one sitting at Jesus’ feet quietly, humbly, and submissively ‘listening to His word’ (Luke 10:39). Whenever you are listening to God’s Word preached, you should have the same humble, submissive heart as young Samuel who, when he heard God calling his name, responded, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening’ (1 Sam.3:10).

Taken from chapter 6 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats James teaching to the first-century church in James 1:19-25 and is titled “Practice What You Hear” (pp85.ff.).