365 days with Newton

11 SEPTEMBER

Put in tune

‘Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep … make you perfect in every good work to do his will …’ Hebrews 13:20–21
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 40:1–8

Make you perfect in every good work. First, it is not an actual perfection intended—the word signifies to make you meet or fit, to give a right disposition, and might be applied to an instrument of music when it is put in tune. So David says, My heart is fixed [Psalm 57:7; 108:1]—made ready or in tune. It is of the Lord to give to his people this habitual disposition or meetness for his will. It consists of such things as these:
(i) humility, or a due sense of our own weakness and imperfections. Without this we cannot be rightly disposed for the exercise of duty.
(ii) faith—laying hold of the strength, grace and promise of the Lord Jesus. To know that we can do nothing will sink us in despondency, unless we can rely upon him to perfect his strength in our weakness.
(iii) love—that feeling his peace, and considering the means by which we obtain it, we may be animated to cheerful obedience.
Without these principles it is impossible to aim at any good work in an acceptable manner.
The object of this disposition is universal obedience. Every good work may be distributed as respecting: (i) the Lord—his worship, his will (ii) the church—walking in love (iii) the world—in the exercise of integrity, truth.

FOR MEDITATION: Methinks I may compare myself to a harpsichord—how often in tuning, how seldom in tune, and how soon put out of tune again. My imagination in particular is as an instrument which seems not in my own power. Happy am I when it is under a gracious influence. But at times it seems as if an evil genius had command of the keys. Then I am tortured with a medley of folly, discord and confusion, from which I cannot run; nor can I stop my ears against it for it is within me. Wonderful is the grace that can cause the voice of joy and melody to be heard when, but a little before, all was disorder and distress. If the Lord appears, the storm is hushed and calm succeeds.
John Newton to William Wilberforce, 15 November 1786

SERMON SERIES: HEBREWS 13:20–21, NO. 4 [1/2]

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