Tag Archives: Sovereignty

He Does All Things Well

Sunrise in the Valley

Often in this life we face circumstances that make no sense. Difficulties arise that we don’t expect. Trials come our way that overwhelm our thoughts. Friendships, jobs, ministries, vocations—in which we’ve invested our time and efforts—can vanish. In such times, we need to remember to trust God and acknowledge Him. Though we don’t understand why we must walk through such troubles, we can look to God and know He will guide us. God’s Word tells us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5–6)

God is sovereign and wise. He understands all things and directs all things according to His will. Though we may not understand, we are exhorted to rest our faith in Him (trust in the Lord) and give Him praise (acknowledge Him). Though we may not see the pathway ahead, we are urged to trust Him completely (with all your heart) and praise Him always—in times of sorrow and pain as well as in times of joy (in all your ways).

God is accomplishing and completing His perfect plan. He is at work in ways that are beyond our thoughts and far above our prayers. 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8–9)

The following song is a reminder to trust God and give Him praise, even when life doesn’t make sense. We cannot comprehend all He is doing in us and around us. We often don’t know what to think, what to say, and how to pray. But our God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” His ways are sure. His Word is true. We need only watch with eyes of faith. Behold! His perfect plan will indeed unfold. 

Listen and download a recording of this song from Bandcamp:

He Does All Things Well

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).

God is faithful,
God is near.
He’ll not leave you,
So do not fear.

All around you,
Everyday,
He is working,
So watch and pray. 

With eyes of faith,
Look around, behold.
His perfect plan
Will indeed unfold.
Far beyond our thoughts,
More than we can tell,
Far above our prayers,
He does all things well.

God is sovereign,
God is wise.
Don’t be downcast,
Just lift your eyes.

All that happens
Serves His will,
Even hard things,
So trust Him still.

With eyes of faith,
Look around, behold.
His perfect plan
Will indeed unfold.
Far beyond our thoughts,
More than we can tell,
Far above our prayers,
He does all things well.

When the changes comes,
He knows what is best.
When you’re beaten down,
He will give you rest.

When you’re tossed and turned,
He’ll steadfast remain.
When the wound is deep,
He will heal your pain.

When the door is closed,
He will show the way.
When the path grows dark,
He shines bright as day.

With eyes of faith,
Look around, behold.
His perfect plan
Will indeed unfold.
Far beyond our thoughts,
More than we can tell,
Far above our prayers,
He does all things well.

Yes, wait and see
What the Lord will do.
His ways are sure
And His Word is true.
Far beyond our thoughts,
More than we can tell,
Far above our prayers,
He does all things well.

Words and Music ©2021 Kenneth A Puls

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this song.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

Conquering Prince and Lord of Glory

Sun beams shining across a field

This 18th century hymn by Gerhard Tersteegen is a timely reminder that God is the One who rules over heaven and earth. Even in days that seem tumultuous and uncertain, God is at work accomplishing His sovereign purposes. He is the One who holds the king’s heart and “turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). When God humbled the proud king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar glorified God and confessed:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
(Daniel 4:34–35)

The hymn is a humble prayer addressed to God. It’s not a request that we would simply recognize God’s authority or rightly understand His sovereign right to rule. Rather, it is an entreaty that we would readily and willingly submit to God’s authority and rejoice in His conquest. Today is indeed a season of grace. May our heart’s desire resonant with the words of this hymn: 

“Come Thou King of glory, come, 
Deign to make my heart Thy home.”

The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
(Psalm 110:1–2)

Conquering Prince and Lord of Glory

Conquering Prince and Lord of glory,
Majesty enthroned in light;
All the heavens are bowed before Thee,
Far beyond them spreads Thy might;
Shall not I fall at Thy feet,
And my heart with rapture beat,
Now Thy glory is displayed,
Thine ere yet the worlds were made?

As I watch Thee far ascending
To the right hand of the throne,
See the host before Thee bending,
Praising Thee in sweetest tone;
Shall not I too at Thy feet
Here the angels’ strain repeat,
And rejoice that heaven doth ring
With the triumph of my King?

Power and Spirit are o’erflowing,
On me also be they poured;
Every hindrance overthrowing,
Make Thy foes Thy footstool, Lord!
Yea, let earth’s remotest end
To Thy righteous scepter bend,
Make Thy way before Thee plain,
O’er all hearts and spirits reign.

Lo! Thy presence now is filling
All the church in every place;
Fill my heart too; make me willing
In this season of Thy grace;
Come Thou King of glory, come,
Deign to make my heart Thy home,
There abide and rule alone,
As upon Thy heavenly throne!

“Conquering Prince and Lord of Glory” 
Words by Gerhard Tersteegen (1735)
Translated by Catherine Winkworth (1858)
Tune: SALZBURG
Music by Jakob Hintze (1622–1702)
Words and Music ©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord charts and an arrangement of the hymn tune SALZBURG for classical guitar. 

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

The Theology of Time

Mechanical Clock

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Today marks a new beginning—New Year’s Day. All around the world people are bringing in the New Year with hopes and prayers—celebrations and resolutions. The day is a significant and yearly milestone that allows us the opportunity to stop, look back, and reassess where we have been, as well as look forward and anticipate what lies ahead. It is a special day on the calendar that closes one chapter and opens the next.

But why do we observe such days? Why do we pay so much attention to the passing of time: days and months and years—anniversaries and birthdays—celebrations and holidays? 

Our lives are driven by time. We are ever chasing after time, running out of time, and filling up time.  Our days are mapped out with schedules, appointments, and deadlines. But how should we, as followers of Christ, concern ourselves with time? Does God’s Word have anything to say about how we spend our days and months and years?

God, as we shall see, has much to say about time. 

God Himself is concerned with time. He created it and ordained it for His purposes. He appoints time and works in time, for His own glory and for our good. And He is intent that we pay attention to time and use it wisely in ways that honor Him and serve His Kingdom.

Ecclesiastes 3 begins: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

In God’s design, everything in His creation, every matter under heaven—all things existing under His rule and authority—has been given a time. And that includes us. We are here for a purpose—living in this place, at this time, here in this day.

So why did God create time? What purpose does it serve in His creation? How does it do us good and bring Him glory? 

In this study I want to look briefly at how time serves both God and man in God’s creation.

God created time for our good and for His own glory.

I have three main points—three ways in which time serves God to make Him known, and serves us, to help us know God in His attributes and works.

I. Time displays the sovereignty of God and the subjection of man.

II. Time displays the eternality of God and the frailty of man.

III. Time displays the mercy of God and the need of man.

Continue reading this Bible Study

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His Unmistakable Hand

2020 has been a difficult year! Along with many troubles in the world (COVID19, hurricanes, wildfires, political unrest, protests, …), it has included personal challenges: classes cancelled that I had hoped to teach over the summer, a car accident, and falling off a ladder. There have been many opportunities to be downcast and discouraged. But in and through every difficulty, there was always grace. It became increasingly evident that God’s kind hand was working all things for my good and His glory. His goodness was everywhere—in relationships, in encouragements, and in His constant provision.

This song is a testimony to God’s kindness in my life this year and a reminder to trust the Lord, even when, at least in the moment, we cannot understand why He would bring such trials into our lives. We need only look above and beyond the trials to see—

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all we do     
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought us through
Don’t ever doubt the path He’s set
The journey He has planned
With grateful eyes behold each day
His unmistakable hand

Check out the Lyric Video on youtube:

Listen and download a recording of this song from Bandcamp:

His Unmistakable Hand

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.”
(Proverbs 3:5–8)

I find each day a thousand ways
Your kindnesses abound
In trials and in joys alike
Your goodness can be found
For You work all things for my good
To You belongs all praise
Safe in Your hand through ev’ry storm
You care for me always 

Your unmistakable hand
Is guiding all I do         
Clear evidence of Your grace
In all You’ve brought me through
I cannot doubt the path You’ve set
My journey You have planned
So give me eyes each day to see
Your unmistakable hand

God fully orchestrates each day
I live and move and breathe
He works His will when I rejoice
As well as when I grieve
No wasted pain or needless grief
He stays my hand from sin
He weans me from a dying world
and draws me near again

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all I do         
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought me through
I cannot doubt the path He’s set
My journey He has planned
With grateful eyes each day I see
His unmistakable hand

So trust the Lord with all your heart
You need not understand
Acknowledge Him in all your ways
He’ll guide you with His hand
Do not be wise in your own eyes
Flee sin and fear the Lord
This is the way to strength and health
When you believe His Word.

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all we do     
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought us through
Don’t ever doubt the path He’s set
The journey He has planned
With grateful eyes behold each day
His unmistakable hand

Words ©2020 Kenneth A Puls
Music ©2013, 2020 Kenneth A Puls

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this song.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

Rest in Christ

Road through Autumn Trees

Pages from My Prayer Book

Over the past many years, I have compiled a Prayer Book. It includes people I remember in prayer (family, church members, students and colleagues at the college where I teach), lyrics to songs (songs I have written, songs I find meaningful), Scripture passage (for meditation and memorization), as well as other notes and quotes.

One of the pages I visit often is an encouragement to learn patience and rest in Christ. On the page is a list of truths to remember (and preach to myself!) when facing difficult and uncertain times. I wrote down the list many years ago while taking notes in a Sunday School class. I don’t remember the date, but the class was taught by Steve Garrick when my family and I were at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.

The notes have been valuable in pointing me many times back to God’s Word. In the uncertain times we face today, I hope you find them valuable as well.

Rest in Christ

Help me, Lord, to grow in patience and longsuffering, to learn more and more to rest in Christ.

Help me to remember:

  1.  God is absolutely sovereign. I must trust Him fully and not lean on my own understanding.
  2. God is always good—always. I must look to the cross and remember: He loves me and will do everything needed to complete the good work begun in me.
  3. God gave me my life for His glory, not the pursuit of my own pleasure. I must walk in contentment, submissive to His will.
  4. God never reveals my future or explains His decrees. I must walk by faith and not by sight.
  5. God hold me responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions. I must walk in humble obedience to His Word. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23).

Here is a link to a PDF of the page from my Prayer Book.

Find more writing and resources from Ken Puls

Wondrous King All-Glorious

Mountain and Lake

Wondrous King, all glorious,
Sovereign Lord victorious,
O, receive our praise with favor!

These words begin a glorious hymn of praise composed by the German Reformed hymn-writer Joachim Neander (1650–1680). According to John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, the hymn was based on Psalm 150:6, and intended for “Thanksgiving” with the original title: “Inciting oneself to the Praise of God.” It was published in 1680 (the year of Neander’s death) in a collection with other hymns that he had written, including “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

Neander composed both the tune and the text for “Wondrous King All-Glorious.” The first 16 measures of the tune are based on an often-used chord progression of his day. It is the same chord progression that Johann Pachelbel also adapted and made famous in his “Canon in D.” Pachelbel’s Canon was written sometime in the 1680s, near the time Neander’s tune was composed.

Wondrous King, All-Glorious

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150:6)

Wondrous King, all glorious,
Sovereign Lord victorious,
O, receive our praise with favor!
From thee welled God’s kindness
Though we in our blindness
Strayed from Thee, our blessed Savior.
Strengthen Thou,
Help us now;
Let our tongues be singing,
Thee our praises bringing.

Heavens, spread the story
Of our Maker’s glory,
All the pomp of earth obscuring.
Sun, thy rays be sending,
Thy bright beams expending,
Light to all the earth assuring.
Moon and star,
Praise afar
Him who glorious made you;
The vast heavens aid you.

O my soul, rejoicing,
Sing, thy praises voicing,
Sing, with hymns of faith adore Him!
All who here have being,
Shout, your voices freeing,
Bow down in the dust before Him.
He is God
Sabaoth;
Praise alone the Savior,
Here and there forever.

Hallelujahs render
To the Lord most tender,
Ye who know and love the Savior.
Hallelujahs sing ye,
Ye redeemed, O, bring ye
Hearts that yield Him glad behavior.
Blest are ye
Endlessly;
Sinless there forever,
Ye shall laud Him ever.


“Wondrous King, All-Glorious” 
Words and Music by Joachim Neander, 1680
Translated by William J. Schaefer, 1938
Tune: WUNDERBARER KÖNIG (6.6.8.6.6.8.3.3.6.6.)
©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including guitar chord charts, an arrangement of the hymn tune WUNDERBARER KÖNIG for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.

More Hymns from History

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah

Mountain Lake

Psalm 146 reminds us to put our hope and trust in God alone.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146:1–10, NKJV)

Below is one of my favorite psalm settings of Psalm 146 from The Psalter, 1912.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.
Heav’n and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness He will maintain.

Food He daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning pris’ner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger He befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, your God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.
“Hallelujah Praise Jehovah” 

Words from Psalm 146, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: RIPLEY (8.7.8.7.D.)
Music arranged from Gregorian Chant by Lowell Mason, 1839
©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including guitar chord charts, an arrangement of the hymn tune RIPLEY for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.

More Hymns from History

Salvation Is of Our Lord!

Sunrise over ocean waves

Here is another hymn from my archives. According to my journal, I composed my 2nd hymn 34 years ago (September 1985) as “a call to worship proclaiming God’s sovereignty in salvation as well as in creation.” The title is taken from the prayer recorded in the 2nd chapter of Jonah. In this prayer Jonah says: “Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God (2:6)” At the end of the prayer in verse 9 he declares: “Salvation is of the Lord.” 

Salvation Is of Our Lord!

But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.
(Jonah 2:9)

1. We, Your children, praise You, Father,
And receive Your love outpour’d.
We proclaim this truth in wonder:
Salvation is of our Lord!

2. We were sinners lost in darkness,
Bound to death by sin’s strong cord.
Your free grace has wrought our freedom;
Salvation is of our Lord!

3. We, Your saints beforehand chosen,
Called of God, by You adored,
Given part in Christ’s atonement;
Salvation is of our Lord!

4. Guide us, Father, as we worship,
Join our hearts in one accord.
Joyfully we sing before You:
Salvation is of our Lord!

Words ©1987, 2019 Kenneth Puls

Download free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune ST. OSWALD for classical guitar.

More Hymns and Songs from Ken Puls Music

More Hymn tunes arranged for classical guitar

Ignorance and Divine Calling

Hopeful: Ask him if ever he had Christ revealed to him from heaven.

Ignorance: What! you are a man for revelations! I believe that what both you, and all the rest of you, say about that matter, is but the fruit of distracted brains.

Hopeful: Why, man! Christ is so hid in God from the natural apprehensions of the flesh, that he cannot by any man be savingly known, unless God the Father reveals him to them.

Ignorance: That is your faith, but not mine; yet mine, I doubt not, is as good as yours, though I have not in my head so many whimsies as you.

Christian: Give me leave to put in a word. You ought not so slightly to speak of this matter; for this I will boldly affirm, even as my good companion hath done, that no man can know Jesus Christ but by the revelation of the Father; yea, and faith too, by which the soul lays hold upon Christ, if it be right, must be wrought by the exceeding greatness of his mighty power; the working of which faith, I perceive, poor Ignorance, you are ignorant of. Be awakened, then, see your own wretchedness, and fly to the Lord Jesus; and by his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God, for he himself is God, you shall be delivered from condemnation.

Ignorance: You go so fast, I cannot keep pace with you. Do you go on before; I must stay a while behind.

Then they said:

Well, Ignorance, wilt thou yet foolish be,
To slight good counsel, ten times given thee?
And if thou yet refuse it, thou shalt know,
Ere long, the evil of thy doing so.
Remember, man, in time, stoop, do not fear;
Good counsel taken well, saves: therefore hear.
But if thou yet shalt slight it, thou wilt be
The loser, (Ignorance), I’ll warrant thee.

Christian and Hopeful speak with Ignorance

Ignorance was gravely mistaken in his understanding of justification—how he can be made right with God. But his error extends further to divine calling—how he is able to respond to the gospel and come to Christ in the first place.

For Ignorance, it is no wonder that he is a pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City, for he fails to see the true wonder and amazement of salvation.

Ignorance believes himself to be a man of intellect and reason, capable of setting his own course and making his own choices in regard to following and serving Christ. For him religion is a personal choice—a choice he was wise enough to make.

Hopeful encourages Christian to ask Ignorance if God had ever opened his heart so he could understand the gospel and know Christ savingly. Ignorance thinks such a notion is whimsical and “the fruit of distracted brains.” How can these pilgrims question his devotion or doubt his salvation? See how far he was walked in the Way! He believes in God and wants to go to heaven. He is a religious man who acknowledges the goodness of Christ. He is trying to follow Christ and live according to God’s Law. What need does he have for “revelations”? He has already made it his goal to one day reach the Celestial City.

Ignorance’s error is once again rooted in his underestimation of his sin. He believes he is basically good and has never felt the weight of his sin. He denies that he is blinded by sin or in bondage to sin. His sin, as he compares it to others, is light, so he is perfectly capable of making amends. His religious devotion, blessed by Christ, more than makes up for any wrongs he has done.

Though Ignorance is confident that his faith is “as good as” Hopeful’s, Scripture teaches otherwise. Apart from God’s grace, we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We would remain ensnared “in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” and be under God’s condemnation as “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), “BUT” for “God, who is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).

God must open the heart if we are to heed His Word (Acts 16:14). God must give light if we are to escape darkness.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Only God can draw us to Himself and grant us salvation in Christ.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44).

And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:65).

We need the power of God’s Spirit if we are to come to Christ and submit to Him as Lord.

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).

We need the power of God’s Spirit to open the eyes of our understanding. Paul prays in Ephesians 1:

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:17–19).

It is the gracious power of God that calls us, draws us, and saves us. It is not our works—including our own good sense, intellect, or reason. It is all of God—

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Timothy 1:9).

God alone can save us and He alone receives the glory.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:26–29).

Apart from the grace of God, we will continue to walk in ignorance.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17–18).

Christian tells Ignorance plainly that “no man can know Jesus Christ but by the revelation of the Father.” Only God can give sight to the blind, light to those in darkness, and life to those who were once “dead in trespasses and sins.” Yet Christian then calls Ignorance to repent and come to Christ: “Be awakened, then, see your own wretchedness, and fly to the Lord Jesus; and by his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God, for he himself is God, you shall be delivered from condemnation.” Here Christian echoes Matthew 11 where Jesus prays in verses 25–27:

 “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:25–27).

Jesus affirms in His prayer that the truth of the gospel is hidden to some and revealed to others. God must open the eyes of our understanding if we are to find rest in Christ. But He follows His prayer with a consoling call to repentance and faith.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

Here we see the glorious union of two essential truths: the sovereignty of God (He must give us understanding) and the responsibility of man (we must come to Christ). In Christian’s counsel to Ignorance, Bunyan points us to both truths. We must give God all the glory, for He alone saves. And we must ever plead with men to repent and believe in Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress
See TOC for more posts from this commentary

The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary ©2019 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Right Thoughts About God

Ignorance: What are good thoughts concerning God?

Christian: Even as I have said concerning ourselves, when our thoughts of God do agree with what the Word says of him; and that is, when we think of his being and attributes as the Word has taught, of which I cannot now discourse at large; but to speak of him with reference to us: Then we have right thoughts of God, when we think that he knows us better than we know ourselves, and can see sin in us when and where we can see none in ourselves; when we think he knows our inmost thoughts, and that our heart, with all its depths, is always open unto his eyes; also, when we think that all our righteousness stinks in his nostrils, and that, therefore, he cannot abide to see us stand before him in any confidence, even in all our best performances.

Word of God

Ignorance was hindered from coming to faith in Christ because he did not believe the truth about himself. His heart was darkened by sin. His life was in defiance of God’s Law. He was a justly condemned sinner in need of God’s grace and mercy. But he simply could not believe that his heart was that bad. His heart told him so!

If we are to rightly understand ourselves, we must measure ourselves according to God’s Word. This is true of what we believe about ourselves and it is true of what we believe about God. Having good thoughts about God is not necessarily thinking highly of Him or hoping that He will answer our prayers just as we desire. We are not free to imagine God as we want Him to be. He is not defined by our feelings, our felt needs, or our own sense of justice. If we are to know God truly, we must know Him as He as revealed Himself in His Word.

Consider for a moment some of what the Bible says is true about God.

God is solitary. He alone is God; there is none like Him.

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
(Exodus 15:11)

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
(Psalm 18:31)

Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
(Deuteronomy 32:39)

No one is holy like the Lord,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2)

God is holy. He alone is perfect, pure, and righteous.

Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.
(Revelation 15:4)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15–16).

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).

Because He is holy, He hates sin and He will judge sin.

God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
(Psalm 7:11)

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
(Psalm 5:4–5)

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Psalm 1:5–6)

God is supreme. He is above all things; He is first and primary. Nothing is greater; nothing is higher. Nothing is more vital or more important.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
(1 Chronicles 29:11)

“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3)

God is omniscient. He knows all thing. He knows everything about us down to the smallest detail. Nothing can be hidden from God. Nothing can surprise Him or catch Him off guard.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
(Psalm 139:1–3)

Known to God from eternity are all His works (Acts 15:18).

God is sovereign. He rules over all things. He is LORD and King. He directs all things and “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases
(Psalm 115:3)

Whatever the Lord pleases He does,
In heaven and in earth,
In the seas and in all deep places.
(Psalm 135:6)

God is immutable. He never changes.

For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
(Malachi 3:6)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).

His Word is certain.

Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.
(Psalm 119:89)

His plans are certain.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations
And His love is everlasting.
(Psalm 33:11)

And His love is everlasting.

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
(Jeremiah 31:3)

God is good. He always does what is right and just.

He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
(Psalm 33:5)

For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100:5)

God is merciful and gracious. He has provided a way of hope, forgiveness, and life in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4–5).

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
(Psalm 103:8)

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
(Psalm 86:15)

These are only a few of God’s attributes revealed to us in Scripture (see The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink, 1975 for an excellent study on what the Bible teaches about God).

Ignorance thought he knew God. But he was not thinking “good thoughts concerning God.” His concept of God was shaped by his experience and imagination. Christian affirms that the only way to think rightly about God is to “think of his being and attributes as the Word has taught.”

The problem with Ignorance is not that he is dispassionate or indolent. He is devout and has walked a long way on his journey. He is intent on going to the Celestial City. He has not been dissuaded to turn aside or turn back. It’s not that he is openly rebellious or intentionally deceptive. He is sincere in what he believes. He is earnest in his conversation with Christian. His problem is the standard by which he walks. As he grapples to understand life, God, and the world around him, he looks to his heart rather than God’s Word. He has made himself the standard and believes what he wants to believe. Where Scripture affirms his fancies, he heartily agrees with it. But where Scripture confronts his notions, he readily ignores it. It is his unwillingness to submit to God in His Word that has bound him to walk in Ignorance.

A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress
See TOC for more posts from this commentary

The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary ©2018 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.