Monthly Archives: January 2017

God’s Promises are His Insurance Office

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) writes in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment about how to claim the promises of God as your own in order to develop contentment. He says the covenant of grace in general and the promises of God in particular are like “a great insurance office for the saints.”

Here is an insurance office indeed, a great insurance office for the saints, at which they are not charged, except in the exercising of grace, for they may go to this insurance office to insure everything that they venture, either to have the thing itself, or to be paid for it. In an insurance office you cannot be sure to have the very goods that you insured, but if they are lost the insurers pledge themselves to make it good to you. And this covenant of grace that God has made with his people is God’s insurance office, and the saints in all their fears may and ought to go to the covenant to insure all things, to insure their wealth and to insure their lives… It is a special sign of true grace in any soul, that when any affliction befalls him, in a kind of natural way he repairs immediately to the covenant… If you find that your heart works in this way, immediately running to the covenant, it is an excellent sign of true grace.

Burroughs then goes on to consider the particular promises:

  • Psalm 91:1-2, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence
  • Isaiah 43:2, When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Isaiah 54:17, No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
  • Joshua 1:5, I will not leave you or forsake you
  • Hebrews 13:5, Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
  • Psalm 34:10, The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
  • Psalm 37:5-6, Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
  • Isaiah 58:10, If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

But Burroughs reminds the Christian that when considering the promises of God, we should always “consider their connection to the root, the great covenant that God has made with them in Christ.” He reminds his reader, “Now if I had lived in the time of the law, perhaps I might have been somewhat more confident of the literal performance of the promise, than I can be now in the time of the gospel.” Or again, he says we “ought not to lay too much upon the literal sense,” but rather remember that “all the promises of God find their Yes in Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). In other words, we must be careful how we make use of the old covenant promises.

But they are nonetheless for us. “Every time a godly man reads Scripture (remember this when you are reading Scripture) and there meets with a promise, he ought to lay his hand upon it and say, This is part of my inheritance, it is mine, and I am to live upon it. This will make you contented.”

By recalling the promises of God, connecting all the promises to their ultimate fulfillment in Christ, and turning to these promises as our insurance policy in the midst of any affliction, we will grow in obtaining the rare jewel of Christian contentment.

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B. B. Warfield’s Avalanche of Inspiration

warfielddrawingI recently finished reading B. B. Warfield’s classic The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. My dad actually gave me the copy from his own library, which he purchased just after its sixth printing in 1970. I’ve often heard the book cited, but now it was time for me to read it. I usually do my reading between 5:00-8:00am, so Warfield was like a strong shot of caffeine for me each morning. Over breakfast I would tell my wife what I had read from Brain Blowing Warfield that morning. He blew my mind.

But one of the most memorable parts of the book for me (there were many) was his illustration of the quantity of textual evidence for the inerrancy of Scripture. The Bible speaks all over of it’s own inerrancy. In the words of Jesus, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). To describe the ubiquity of textual evidence, Warfield uses the illustration of an avalanche. Here it is…enjoy:

But no grosser misconception could be conceived than that the Scriptures bear witness to their own plenary inspiration in these outstanding texts alone. These are but the culminating passages of a pervasive testimony to the divine character of Scripture, which fills the whole New Testament; and which includes not only such direct assertions of divinity and infallibility for Scripture as these, but, along with them, an endless variety of expressions of confidence in, and phenomena of use of, Scripture which are irresistible in their teaching when it is once fairly apprehended.

The induction must be broad enough to embrace, and give their full weight to, a great variety of such facts as these: the lofty titles which are given to Scripture, and by which it is cited, such as “Scripture,” “the Scriptures,” even that almost awful title, “the Oracles of God”; the significant formulæ by which it is quoted, “It is written,” “It is spoken,” “It says,” “God says”; such modes of adducing it as betray that to the writer “Scripture says” is equivalent to “God says,” and even its narrative parts are conceived as direct utterances of God; the attribution to Scripture, as such, of divine qualities and acts, as in such phrases as “the Scriptures foresaw”; the ascription of the Scriptures, in whole or in their several parts as occasionally adduced, to the Holy Spirit as their author, while the human writers are treated as merely his media of expression; the reverence and trust shown, and the significance and authority ascribed, to the very words of Scripture; and the general attitude of entire subjection to every declaration of Scripture of whatever kind, which characterizes every line of the New Testament.

The effort to explain away the Bible’s witness to its plenary inspiration reminds one of a man standing safely in his laboratory and elaborately expounding—possibly by the aid of diagrams and mathematical formulæ—how every stone in an avalanche has a defined pathway and may easily be dodged by one of some presence of mind. We may fancy such an elaborate trifler’s triumph as he would analyze the avalanche into its constituent stones, and demonstrate of stone after stone that its pathway is definite, limited, and may easily be avoided. But avalanches, unfortunately, do not come upon us, stone by stone, one at a time, courteously leaving us opportunity to withdraw from the pathway of each in turn: but all at once, in a roaring mass of destruction. Just so we may explain away a text or two which teach plenary inspiration, to our own closet satisfaction, dealing with them each without reference to its relation to the others: but these texts of ours, again, unfortunately do not come upon us in this artificial isolation; neither are they few in number. There are scores, hundreds, of them: and they come bursting upon us in one solid mass. Explain them away? We should have to explain away the whole New Testament. What a pity it is that we cannot see and feel the avalanche of texts beneath which we may lie hopelessly buried, as clearly as we may see and feel an avalanche of stones!

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, (Philadephia; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1948), Sixth Printing 1970, 119-120.