The Golden Calf of the Reformation
by Conrad Murrell
The Golden Calf of the Reformation
by Conrad Murrell
Mat 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Mat 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
Col 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
1 To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.
2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. (Psalm 5)
It may be observed that prayers may be divided into two kinds: Expressed and Unexpressed. In the unexpressed prayer, we have inward groanings, deep sorrow of heart that inwardly looks up to God imploring His help and mercy. We have silent meditations reflecting on the works and goodness of God. We wonder at His mighty works, His power and His wisdom, rejoice in the beauties of His glory. We have thoughts and considerations. We reflect on His word, meditate (masticate, ruminate) that truth which has been made know to us by the Holy Scriptures or other means of communicating God’s truth. The thing that makes such thoughts, meditations, or sorrows prayers, is that they are always engaged in the context of God the Creator and Cause and Cure of all things. They differ from those of godless men, in that such men never consider God as they reflect upon these things. To them, man, fate or chance is the cause of all things, and there is no One to pray to.
Such prayers, though not spoken, are “heard.” We may not even understand them enough to articulate them. We may not even know the question, let alone the answer. Deep sorrow sometimes so assails our heart that we find it impossible to ask God for anything, for we can think of nothing that would relieve our affliction. But God understands perfectly, and will hear and answer perfectly, if the prayer is from the heart.
Expressed prayers are spoken audibly. These are put into words. They are vocalized reasonings from the mind. Sometimes these are reasonings from the God-centered mind, and will be the right kind of words, because they come from the right kind of thoughts. At other times these come from the man-centered mind and will be the wrong kind of words because they come from a heart that is wrong toward God. Often prayers take the form of crying, plaintive pleas, urgent implorings, desperate cries, weeping and mourning. These are sometimes soft, sometimes loud; the volume matters not. What matters, is where the prayer is directed.
The psalmist directs his prayer to God, his God, the God with Whom he is acquainted. If you would pray, you must have a God with Whom you are on speaking terms, Whose law you obey, and in Whose power you trust. He must be your only source of hope and strength.
How shall we, wicked sinners that we are, get on such intimate terms with a holy and pure God? Is it not through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ His Son? Surely we can never be holy enough within ourselves to stand before Him, or our own works good enough to merit His help. Yet He graciously receives and hears all who come to Him by Christ Jesus.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
6 ¶ There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4)
There is a perpetual search among human philosophers for good, for moral truth or for true morality. Men seek for this, not because they are so obsessed with doing good, but because by doing good, they hope that “good will come upon them.” “Who will shew us any good?” They hope by their moral righteousness to be set free from fear of harm and evil, and that they will thereby know happiness and peace.
All of men’s attempts to find joy and peace apart from God have been met by failure. The present attempts will fare no better. Only God Himself is absolute good. Therefore, moral perfection can be found only by union with God. Anything less than that is less than moral, or immoral . . . sin. Union with God is possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” No man comes to the Father except through Him.
The sacrifices, then, of righteousness consist of all it means to “put your trust in the Lord.” All that we do trusting in ourselves is apart from God, is unholy, and must be counted no more than sin. All that we do in dependence upon Him, His righteousness, mercy, grace, and power, is counted righteousness. It is His work in us.
Irreligious men who fear not God count themselves righteous when they prosper, when “their corn and their wine is increased.” They make the error of the men of corrupt minds of whom the Apostle warned Timothy: “supposing that gain is godliness” (I Tim. 6:5). But this is the resting place of such men. Their hope of safety is in human power and increase of worldly possessions. Yet when they lie down at night they cannot sleep. They reason that if they were able to take this power and wealth from others, will not others take it from them? They think that they have the blessing of the Lord, but have no assurance that He will protect them.
Not so with those who offer the sacrifice of the righteous and put their trust in the Lord. They have more joy and gladness than the man who just harvested a bumper crop or received a windfall from the stock market. What they have did not come from men, and man has no power to take it away. He will lie down in peace, and he will sleep. He has made a discovery worth more than all the gold and silver on earth. “Thou Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”
1 To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. (Psalm 4)
The inspired writers often speak as Jehovah Himself, as it seems the Holy Spirit imparts to them the very heart’s cry of the Creator. Such an occasion is this second verse of the fourth Psalm. “How long will ye turn my glory into shame?” Man, created in God’s image and intended to display a visible image of the glory of an invisible God, has fallen. Instead of glorifying God in his life, he lives it in vanity, deceit and corruption, bringing shame and reproach upon the true and living God. How grieved He is at our reluctance to repent and forsake our evil ways! This longing and willingness of God to save is reflected in Christ’s weeping over the city of Jerusalem, which is about to reject and crucify Him. He says again, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.”
The hope of such fallen creatures as us is revealed in the first sentence of the song, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness.” Sinful men have no righteousness of their own. Their hope of audience with a holy God is His own righteousness imparted to them through faith in Christ. God is the source and Creator of all true righteousness. Therefore we can never hope to impress Him with our righteousness. What we have is simply His own, given to us freely by His grace.
Since we are sinful creatures and have no claim on God’s goodness, we come to Him pleading His mercy. We believe that we shall be heard because He is a merciful God, and because He has proven Himself in the past. Our past help is our present hope in God. Such distress in which we must call upon God “enlarges” us . . . it causes us to grow in grace, if for no other reason than simply because such distresses bring us into a close and dependent relationship with God. The Lord has set apart such God-fearing persons for Himself, and they will surely be heard of Him when they call upon Him.
God’s mercy to sinners does not encourage them to sin and presume upon His grace. Contrariwise, it makes sin so much more to be hated by those who truly love God. They stand in awe of His holiness and goodness, they commune with Him in their hearts. Their eyes are upon His face, and their hearts are filled with His love. The more we cultivate and abide in such an attitude toward God, the less likely we are to fall into sin.
4 ¶ I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah. (Psalm 3:4-8)
This man lies down and sleeps! He may have just heard the evening news with all its frightening details. He may have just received notice of personal disaster, evil tidings, threats from deadly enemies; yet he sleeps! He takes no tranquilizers, no sleeping pills. He just lies down and rests. How can he do it?
He has cried unto the Lord. His prayer was no mealy muttering of memorized mumbling, not a parroting of prepared petition. It is a cry! “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O God.” It is a cry of distress from a heart that feels itself in mortal danger, that knows it will surely be destroyed except help comes from the Lord. He is then able to rest, for the God to Whom he cries is a Delivering God. He is a God with abundant testimony of His past deeds. “He has smitten all my enemies. He has broken the teeth of the ungodly.” He will not fail now.
This man, who lay down and slept, awakes. The Lord has heard him out of His Holy Hill Having heard him, the Lord sustains him. He is preserved. Jesus promised that he who believes in Him shall never die. When those who fear God and trust in Christ lie down, they know that they will arise. God will never suffer them to perish. How this worried, harried, frustrated generation needs to know such a God!
Because this man fears God, he fears no man. No, he will not fear ten thousand men set against him and surrounding him on every side. This one fact he knows in his heart, and it is evident in all his actions: “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” There is only one Saviour in the universe. That is the God with Whom we have to do. His name is Jesus, and His blessing is upon all who trust in Him. We can find no other hope under which we can safely rest. We need none, for He is sufficient.
1 ¶ <<A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.>> LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
4 ¶ I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. (Psalm 3)
This psalm of David, written on the occasion of his flight from his traitorous son Absalom, affords us an opportunity to identify with a truly god-fearing man in our own often adversities and sore conflicts.
The righteous do not always march forward victoriously. They do not always shout with the voice of triumph and joyously sing the song of the conqueror. They, at seasons, find themselves fleeing from the massing hordes of enemies like this sorrowing and mourning monarch. He who sat on the throne yesterday is today fleeing for his life while the cursing Shimei flings dust and rocks at him.
Adversaries sometimes multiply themselves. They increase. At what time we hope for respite, woe piles upon the top of other woes. We scarcely have heard about one until news of another assails us. The significant word here is many. Many trouble us. Few or none comfort us. Many rise against us. It seems everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of persecution. Let one chicken in the yard get a bleeding wound, and all the other chickens will quickly peck it to death. If this is a shame in worldly circles, what a disgrace it is among professed people of God! Many there are who say, “There is no help for him in God.” Men either say this because they believe that there is no help in God for anyone . . . that God is only an illusion, a fanciful prop for the weak and foolish. Or they say it because they believe God has now forsaken their victim, and that He will not defend him against their vicious attacks.
All of this clamors to take away the faith of the God-fearing man. Shall he cast away his faith because many have turned against him and declare that there is no help for him in God? Never! Not for the God-fearing man. He fears God and no one but God. “But thou O Lord.” His God is only One, though his oppressors be many. God is a shield for me. Arrows may fly from a hundred directions. The one shield of God is sufficient to thwart them all. God is my glory. Though men rob me of my crown, my throne, my possessions, my home, my family, they have not yet touched my glory; for I glory in nothing but the God of my salvation. God is the lifter up of my head. God will be my ultimate victory. He will restore me. “There is a lifting up in honor after shame, in health after sickness, in gladness after sorrow, in restoration after a fall, in victory after a temporary defeat” (C. H. Spurgeon).
Our defeat and flight, our retreat, is temporary; our victory, permanent and final, for the Lord has heard our cry.
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10 ¶ Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2)
Men, creatures of the earth, plan, hope, scheme, devise. They have ambitions, goals, objectives. God, the Creator, decrees. Some of men’s plans are worthy, some unworthy, some successful, some failures; yet men do their utmost to make them succeed. God does not simply plan . . . He decrees. He does not simply attempt to implement His decree. It is sovereign, and He has the power to bring it to pass. His decree is not merely good: It is perfect. Let us consider it.
He first declares the deity, the divinity of Christ. Jesus is the begotten Son of God. This must be the moral foundation of God’s decree concerning Jesus Christ, for if Christ be not truly God, then He has no right to the honors about to be bestowed upon Him. If we deny the Godhood of the Saviour, we destroy the foundation and reason of Christian hope. But if we establish it, then it is incumbent upon all men to receive Him as Lord.
God then declares the Lordship of Christ. He is His Son, and His inheritance is the nations of the earth. He owns not only those who love Him, but those who hate Him. All the earth is His possession, and it is within the scope of His right and power to do as He pleases. None but the Father can limit the Hand of the Son in judgment, and the Father has committed it all to Christ.
In our popular preoccupation with the goodness, the love of God, His willingness to save all who come to Him, we must not forget that there is something to be saved from. God’s goodness and love is always set against the background of His justice and wrath. Men in their natural state are in rebellion against God, and so the first word of which they are conscious if God’s decree is this: “They shall be broken with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”This is the prospect facing all men when they receive God’s command to repent.
In view of such a decree by such a God, men are urged to wisdom. “Abandon your foolish destructive course, you kings and judges of the earth. You may have done what you pleased among men, but now you face a thrice-holy God, and He will have nothing but unquestioned submission and obedience.” “You may have never feared men or beast, but please know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” All who do not fear Him live a fool’s life and die a fool’s death.
The blessed person is the wise one who puts his trust in the Lord. “Kiss the Son.” Receive Him as your King. Love Him with all your heart. He is your Owner. He must be your Judge. He will be your Saviour if you will be His willing servant.