Much We Need Thy Tender Care (Brooks)

Works of Thomas Brooks (6 Volumes)

We know that God cares for his people. We’re called to cast all our anxieties on the Lord, because he cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He’s mindful of his children (Ps. 40:6). It’s very clear throughout Scripture that the children of God are cared for!

In his booklet “A Heavenly Cordial”, Thomas Brooks gave a brief but detailed explanation of God’s care for us. Here it is (edited slightly for length and readability).

God’s care …

Is an extensive care, a care that reaches, that extends itself to all the saints, whether rich or poor, high or low, slave or free, etc. 2 Chr.16:9, Zech. 1:10,11.

Is an intensive or earnest care: he cares for all as if he had but one to care for (Zech. 1:14).

Is a pleasant and delightful care (Is. 31:5) and not a wearying, tearing, tormenting care. It is such a pleasant care as an indulgent father exercises towards a son, an only son, a son that serves him (Mal. 3:17).

Is an effectual, prosperous, and successful care, a flourishing care. Men many times rise early and go to bed late and take a great deal of care at home and abroad, with nothing to show for it. But the care of God is always successful (Dt. 11:12).

Is a singular, peculiar care. God cares more for them than he does for all the world besides. The father’s care over the child is a peculiar care, and so is the Lord’s care over his people a peculiar care. God’s general care extends to the whole creation, but his special care centers on his saints (Zeph. 3:16-20, Ps 36:6).

It is a very tender care. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arms and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” Is. 40:11.

It is an abiding care, a lasting care. “They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides forever” (Ps. 125:1, 2). “He that keeps you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:3, 4). …This constant care of God over his people was signified by these two types, the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud that did not leave Israel until they were in possession of the land of Canaan, which was a type of heaven.

It is an active care, a care in which the Lord actively preserves his people, protects them, makes provision for them, stands by them, and so on. God surrounds his people with care. He is on their left and on their right, in front of them and behind them.

You can find this discussion on page 420-421 of Thomas Brooks’ Works, volume 6.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

We Stand by the Power of God

Calvin’s Commentaries (46 vols.)The truth that God never forsakes his people but always preserves and protects them is one of those biblical teachings that is the source of deep comfort.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:39). No one can rip us out of the strong and loving arms of the Lord (John 10:28).  Or, like Peter wrote, God’s elect have a certain inheritance in heaven that God is keeping for them (1 Peter 1:1-4).  In addition, God is keeping the elect for that inheritance (1 Peter 1:5).  It’s a twin gospel truth.  Here are some of John Calvin’s comments on the reality that we are being kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5):

We are to notice the connexion when he says, that we are kept while in the world, and at the same time our inheritance is reserved in heaven; otherwise this thought would immediately creep in, “What does it avail us that our salvation is laid up in heaven, when we are tossed here and there in this world as in a turbulent sea? What can it avail us that our salvation is secured in a quiet harbour, when we are driven to and fro amidst thousand shipwrecks?”

The apostle, therefore, anticipates objections of this kind, when he shews, that though we are in the world exposed to dangers, we are yet kept by faith; and that though we are thus nigh to death, we are yet safe under the guardianship of faith. But as faith itself, through the infirmity of the flesh, often quails [flinches], we might be always anxious about the morrow, were not the Lord to aid us.

And, indeed, we see that under the Papacy a diabolical opinion prevails, that we ought to doubt our final perseverance, because we are uncertain whether we shall be tomorrow in the same state of grace. But Peter did not thus leave us in suspense; for he testifies that we stand by the power of God, lest any doubt arising from a consciousness of our own infirmity, should disquiet us. How weak soever we may then be, yet our salvation is not uncertain, because it is sustained by God’s power. As, then, we are begotten by faith, so faith itself receives its stability from God’s power. Hence is its security, not only for the present, but also for the future.

 John Calvin and John Owen, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 30.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

The Art of Faith; or A Holy Defiance (Sibbes)

The Works of Richard Sibbes (7 vols.) Psalm 27:1 says this: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” (NASB).  Richard Sibbes preached an outstanding sermon on this text around 1630.  Sibbes noted that in the first part of this Psalm, David explained his comfort, his courage, and his care.  Here’s part of what Sibbes wrote on David’s comfort:

His comfort. It was altogether in the Lord, whom he sets out in all the beauties and excellency of speech he can. He propounds the Lord to himself in borrowed terms. ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation, the strength of my life’ (Ps. 27:1). So he fetcheth comfort from God, the spring of comfort, ‘the Father of all comfort’ (2 Cor. 1:4). He labors to present God to him in the sweetest manner that may be. He opposeth him to every difficulty and distress. In darkness, he is ‘my light;’ in danger, he is ‘my salvation;’ in weakness, he is ‘my strength;’ in all my afflictions and straits, he is the ‘strength of my life.’

Here is the art of faith in all perplexities whatsoever, to be able to set somewhat [something] in God against every malady in ourselves. And this is not simply set out, but likewise with a holy defiance. ‘The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?’ Ps. 27:1. It is a question proceeding from a holy defiance, and daring of all other things. ‘The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ That is one branch of his comfort.

In other words, the art of faith is to take an attribute or characteristic of God and put it against troubles, calamities, or difficulties that arise in our lives.  It means to do so in the way of holy defiance, knowing that (for example) if God is for us, who can be against us?  What can separate us from his love?  Faith trusts in God and finds comfort in his attributes.

 Sibbes, Richard. The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart. Vol. 2. Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet And Co.; W. Robertson, 1862. Print.

Shane Lems

The Answerable Comfort of God (Sibbes)

The Works of Richard Sibbes, vol. 7 In Christ, we know our heavenly Father as the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3).  The Heidelberg Catechism puts it so well: our only comfort is that we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  There is abundant comfort in Christian truth.  Richard Sibbes (d.1635) explained it nicely:

Know that the same love of God that brings thee to everlasting life will give thee daily bread. Therefore trust in God for provision, for protection, and for whatsoever thou dost want. For the first thing that a troubled soul doth look unto is for mercy, salvation, and comfort; and therefore in every troubled estate we have one thing or other still from God to comfort us.

I say, if we be in trouble, there is answerable comfort given us of God. Are we sick? He is our health. Are we weak? He is our strength. Are we dead? He is our life. So that it is not possible that we should be in any state, though never so miserable, but there is something in God to comfort us. Therefore is God called in Scripture a rock, a castle, a shield. A rock to build upon, a castle wherein we may be safe, a shield to defend us in all times of danger, shewing that if such helps sometimes succour us, how much more can God. I beseech you, consider God is our ‘exceeding great reward,’ Gen. 15:1.

God is bread to strengthen us, and a Spirit of all comfort; and indeed there is but a beam in the creature, the strength is in God. And if all these were taken away, yet God is able to do much more, and to raise up the soul. What! can a castle or a shield keep a man safe in the time of danger? How much more can God! I beseech you, consider how safe was Noah when the ark was afloat, Gen. 7:16. And why? Because God shut the door upon him and kept him there. Thus you see there is something in God for every malady, and something in the world for every trouble; then ‘trust in God.’ This is the way to quiet our souls.

For as heavy bodies do rest when they come to the centre of the earth, so the soul, for joy, and for care, for trust, doth find rest in God when it comes to him and makes him her stay. The needle rests when it comes to the North Pole, and the ark rested when it came to the mount Ararat, Gen. 8:4, so the soul rests safe when it comes to God, and till that time, it moves as the ark upon the waters. Therefore our blessed Savior saith in Matthew, ‘Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and you shall find rest for your souls,’ Mat. 11:28.

 Sibbes, R. (1864). The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. (A. B. Grosart, Ed.) (Vol. 7, pp. 59–60). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

Your Judge is also Your Advocate and Savior (Toplady)

 One of the most difficult struggles in the Christian life is the constant struggle with sin and guilt.  We aren’t perfect; we still have remnants of the old man in us.  This world is no friend of grace, and Satan won’t leave us alone.  But Jesus is our Savior.  He died, rose again, and is now constantly interceding for us.  I love how Augustus Toplady wrote about this in a letter to a friend on March 6, 1767:

…Satan, no doubt, will be ever ready to bring in the indictment, and conscience cannot help pleading guilty to a great part of the charge: but remember, that your judge is, at the very same time, your advocate and Savior. He is a lover of your soul, and was the propitiation for your sins; they cannot be too numerous, nor too heinous, for mercy like his to pardon, nor for merit like his to cover.

Only flee to him for refuge, fly to the hiding place of his righteousness, death and intercession; and then, the enemy can have no final advantage over you, nor the son of wickedness approach to hurt you, in your everlasting interest. Assault you he may, in your way to the kingdom of God; overcome you he cannot, if you look, or desire to look, to Jesus for safety; lie at his blessed feet for protection; lay hold on his victorious cross for salvation; and then you shall find him gracious to relieve, mighty to deliver, and faithful to uphold. Cast [your] anchor on his love, and be happy, rely on his omnipotence, and be safe.

 Toplady, A. M. (1825). The Works of Augustus M. Toplady (Vol. 6, pp. 136–137). London; Edinburgh: William Baynes and Son; H. S. Baynes.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015