Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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April 2010  •  Volume XII, Issue 24


The Psalms Versus Common Grace (4)

After considering Psalms 5 and 11 by David, Psalm 73 by Asaph and Psalm 92, a "Sabbath day" song, we return to a Davidic psalm, Psalm 69 and especially verses 20-28.

All agree that Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm. Verse 9a ("the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up") is quoted in John 2:17 with reference to Jesus’ first cleansing the temple. Verse 9b ("the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me") is cited by Paul in Romans 15:3 regarding Christ’s sufferings. Verse 25 ("Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents") is quoted by Peter in Acts 1:20 against Judas, who betrayed our Lord. Verse 21 is alluded to in all four gospel accounts of Christ’s suffering on the cross (Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30).

Read Christ’s amazing prayers to God (Ps. 69:22-28). "Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap" (22). There is no common grace here! The physical good things of food and drink which are served at the "table" are not given to the reprobate wicked in love; they are given in God’s judgment, as a "snare" and a "trap" (22). Jesus prays for the spiritual blindness of His reprobate enemies: "Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake" (23). Psalm 69:22-23 is quoted in Romans 11:9-10.

Psalm 69 opposes the free offer, an alleged desire of God to save the reprobate. In verse 24, Christ prays that the wicked be punished in hell: "Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them." In verse 27, Jesus prays that they not be justified and forgiven: "Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness." In verse 28, our Lord prays that they have no part in the roll of heaven: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous." Christ’s prayers are only for the elect: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine" (John 17:9). Christ’s prayers are only against the reprobate (Ps. 69:22-28).

Like Psalm 22, Psalm 69 is a song of the cross. Christ’s petitions to God (22-28) come just after verses in which He is reproached by His enemies (19-20), left without comforters (20) and given vinegar to drink on the cross (21). This passage teaches the biblical and Reformed doctrine of particular atonement. Especially since Jesus prays for the destruction of the reprobate (22-28), including Judas (25; Acts 1:20), while He was on the cross, He did not die for everybody. As He bears God’s wrath against the sins of His people, Christ opposes the notion that God wants to save everybody (Ps. 69:23-24, 27-28). While suffering hellish agonies on behalf of His church, Christ even made time to pray against the reprobate wicked and oppose the error of common grace (22). Thus Psalm 69 teaches Christ’s particular atonement, particular intercession and particular grace for the elect alone. It even presents Christ praying against common grace and the free offer as He is crucified (22-28).

The only way to know God’s love and blessing is through faith in Jesus Christ. Because of the fall, the human race is under the curse of God. By His effectual, saving death on the cross, the Lord Jesus bore God’s curse for His people so that God’s blessing comes to those who are in Christ. Any doctrine of a love of God or a blessing of God for the reprobate, not only denies God’s perfect justice—for how can God love and speak good about totally depraved, reprobate sinners?—but also slights the glory of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Christ alone mediates God’s love and blessing to believers! Thus, the philosophy that God loves and blesses people outside of Jesus Christ attacks the gospel. If God really loves them—and His love is divine: eternal, unchangeable and powerful—surely He will not allow them to perish in hell. Thus the advocates of common grace, especially as they go further down this line, are increasingly teaching that there is a sense in which Jesus died for everybody or even that Christ actually died for all men head for head. Believing in a love of God for all and a cross for all, it is more and more being suggested, and even affirmed, that those who remain in other religions or none may ultimately be saved.

The canonical significance of the book of Psalms is that it is the church’s song book, a book of worship, devotion, praise and prayer, as we lift up our hearts and voices in melody to God. Psalms 5 and 11 teach a hatred of God for some and oppose a love of God for everybody. Who would sing this? Psalm 73 and 92 are against the notion that the good things that God gives to the reprobate come out of a divine love for them. Many would not want to worship the Almighty using these inspired words. Psalm 69 contains the prayers of Christ on the cross against common grace and the free offer. Sadly, this Word of God in the church’s inspired song book offends many professing Christians.

Do you worship God singing these Psalms? David did. Asaph did. The church in the Old Testament and New Testament did. Many faithful churches do today. However, many slight the Psalms and especially those Psalms that we have been considering. Such Psalms would kill the supposed worship of many professing Christian churches. The #1 heresy in modern, evangelical, uninspired hymnody is a universal love of God. Most hymnbooks are filled with it. John and Charles Wesley wrote their hymns to promote Arminianism’s universal love of God and to attack predestination. The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster’s hymnal is riddled with Arminian ideas ( and most hymnals are worse. As a church departs, the Psalms are first slighted and then largely ignored; in come the Arminian hymns, designed to present a nicer, cosier god and to make people feel good. Let us return to the Psalms and their humbling presentation of the glory of God and His sovereign, particular grace in Jesus Christ, over against common grace and the free offer.  Rev. Stewart

Job: History or Allegory? (2)

One of our readers asked, "Is the book of Job a true story or an allegory?" In the last News, I defended the historicity of the book of Job and noted James 5:11’s important commentary and very practical application to us in the new dispensation. But we must also have an overview of the book, if we are to appreciate this Word of God.

Job suffered as few saints are called to suffer. He lost everything he possessed, including his ten children, and, in a certain sense, his wife, for she never once offered him a word of comfort but only added to his torture. He was stricken with boils so that his excruciating pain left even the three friends speechless for a whole week. All this is presented in the book as coming from God’s hand. True, Satan brought it on in his hateful spite of God and of Job, but the devil could do nothing but what the Most High enabled him to do. Job himself recognized that all came from God.

Job’s three friends persecuted him with their lengthy, sometimes sarcastic and always cruel speeches, for they wrongfully accused Job of being so terribly afflicted because he had sinned grievously—something which the book itself clearly shows to be false (Job 1:1, 8). Their sin was so great that Job had to make special sacrifices for them or they would have gone to hell for what they had said (42:7-9).

In his responses in the agony of his suffering, Job did not himself always say what was right. He sometimes sinned as, for example, when he cursed the day of his birth (3:1-26). But one point Job continued to make throughout all his suffering: He did not know why the Lord sent such great afflictions, but he did know they came from God. As Luther points out, sacrifices had to be made for Job’s three friends, but no sacrifices had to be made for Job’s wrong words, because Job believed absolutely in the sovereignty of God.

Job’s sin was also that he wanted to know from God the reason for his suffering. He implored God to make this reason known to him. He, in effect, insisted that if only he knew, he could bear it all. He wanted to summon God into the dock, so to speak, and require Him to give an account of the reasons for Job’s suffering (23:1-9). But he tells us that he could not find God, no matter where he looked.

Yet, as James 5:11 reminds us, Job was outstanding for his patience. One must remember that patience is the spiritual ability to bear up under "the mighty hand of God" (I Peter 5:6). And to do so without criticism, complaint or rebellion.

In patience, Job made some remarkable confessions. At the very beginning of his trial, Job "arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:20-22).

Even when he wanted to summon God to the witness stand, he still added, "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (23:10). In such suffering as he endured, his patience shone through in a willing submission to God’s way: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (13:15).

Finally, there is Job’s stirring and deeply moving confession of hope in his Saviour. After mournfully reciting all the suffering he was called to endure at the hands of those that claimed to be his family and friends (19:1-20), and after, with almost unbearable poignancy, begging for a show of pity (19:21-22), he confessed his great hope with such assurance that he wanted his words to be preserved forever in stone (as indeed they were in an even more permanent way when God infallibly inspired this wonderful book): "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me" (19:25-27).

The story is told of a rehearsal in England for a rendition of Handel’s Messiah. The soprano was singing that moving aria "I know that my Redeemer liveth," when the conductor suddenly stopped her. With a puzzled look on his face, he asked, "Do you believe what you are singing?" She responded, "Yes, I do." The conductor replied, "Then sing it that way." There was not in the entire orchestra, so the story goes, one dry eye. Job’s wonderful confession has not ceased to thrill the souls of God’s people and bring them comfort as they stood on the edge of the grave.

God’s answer to Job is striking and powerful—and goes a long way to explain what patience in the life of the believer really is. The gist of God’s words to Job is, if I may put it bluntly: "Job, who do you think you are? Do you really think that you can summon the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth into a witness stand that you have set up? I am under no obligation at all to explain to you what I do. You are less than a speck of dust and I am the infinite God. I need give no account to you of My actions. It is wrong of you, terribly wrong, to demand that I do this."

What was Job’s response? "I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (42:2-6).

The great truth of the book of Job is that God does what He wills in the lives of His people, even bringing them great suffering. But He has pity on us in our suffering and causes us to suffer as we do because this is the only way we can be saved.  We learn from Job that the "end [i.e., purpose] of the Lord" is to show us His great mercy that saves us from our misery (James 5:11), especially the misery of our sin, and brings us to Himself in everlasting covenant fellowship through Christ, who will vindicate our cause before all the wicked at the general resurrection. All of what I have written about this wonderful book of Job is true because the narrative of Job records real history.  Prof. Hanko

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