God’s Power Within Us – R.C. Sproul (1939-2017)
My first exposure to R. C. Sproul was though a series of sermons I purchased on cassette (remember those?). I picked them up in a little Christian bookstore in Mars Hill, Maine. I was blown away at the man’s clear thinking and presentation of some very difficult topics. I had to read something by this man! I was then introduced to his most influential book … and my personal favourite … The Holiness of God. This is a work I have read several times and have never tired of learning it’s lessons. Here is one quote to whet your appetite:
“Every sin is an act of cosmic treason, a futile attempt to dethrone God in His sovereign authority.”
The Following is a devotional by Dr. Sproul but on God’s power within us, from his devotional “Before the face of God.”
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. [Phil. 2:12–13]
We now turn to consider how God’s providence assists us in our sanctification. How does God’s providence help us grow in grace?
Some might wonder why we turn to Philippians 2:12 for an answer to that question, for this verse, at first reading, seems to advocate righteousness through works. That is, the only way we’re going to be saved is if we work hard day and night with fear and trembling under the lash of God’s threats. Well, Paul’s statement might be taken that way if we think of salvation as something that only comes at the end of the road. In that case, perhaps it would depend on our efforts.
In reality, salvation happens at the beginningof the road through the free gift of grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. But after that beginning it also continues the rest of the way. The Christian life is a walk. There is progression in our salvation, progressions through steps and stages. We grow in our sanctification before God. And God calls on us to strive to put our own effort into that holy walk.
Our efforts would be useless were it not for the fact that God is working with us, undergirding our efforts. How different this is from what we saw concerning God’s “concurrence” operating in the lives of the wicked. God does not actively stir the wicked to evil, though he may choose to remove some of his own restraints. However, God does actively stir our hearts to provoke us to righteousness.
Does that make us mere puppets, manipulated by God? Not at all. God does not work in us apart from us. Instead, God works inus withus. Our relationship is personal. God regenerates us by a monergisticsovereign act, without our prior knowledge, help, or consent. God brings growth in us by working with us synergisticallyas we cooperate with his leading. In this process, we are accountable for our investment, or lack thereof, in our own lives.
Coram Deo – Have you heard the advice, “Let go and let God”? The error of this teaching is that it advocates passivity while God does all the work. On the contrary, you’ve been invested with the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of actively engaging the Christian life. Where have you been “uncooperative”?
See You Sunday,