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IV. [Application: We Must Do the Work, Where God has Provided the Means]

Therefore, we must not at all tempt God at no hand[1]: we must not think but God is able to bring water even out of a rock, Nu. 20. 11, when there is nothing but rocks and stones[2]: but when we may hope to find it, we must dig for it.[3] So, when the soil will bear corn, we must till it.[4] When Elisha was in a little village, not able to defend him from the Assyrians, he had chariots, & horses of fire to defend him, 2. Kings 6. 17; but, when he was in Samaria, (a strong walled city) then when the King of Israel sent to fetch his head, he said to those which were with him, Shut the doore, vers. 32.[5] Christ in the wilderness miraculously fed many: in the city he sent his Disciples to buy meat [food, not just “meat”] as John 4. 8[6].

In the beginning, when the Gospel was published [proclaimed], there wanted sufficient men [there were not enough men] for the purpose: the Apostles had the power, as appears Acts 8. 29. that on whomsoever they laid hands, he received the Holy Ghost, & was straight able and meet to preach the Gospel[7]: but after, every man to his study, 1. Tim. 4. 5. These things exercise, &c[8].

Wee see, that notwithstanding Paul was told by an angel that there should be no loss of any man’s life in the ship, yet he caused the mariners to cut the ropes, and to cast anchor, Acts 27. 23. 24. 29. 30. 31. 32. Nay, when some would have gone out by boat, he would not let them. [9]

Paul Shipwrecked, G. Dore

So, here Christ answers, that howsoever -angels attend on him, he may not tempt God.[10]

Notes

Andrews underscores and applies the proposition: God can act without ordinary means. Yet, ordinary means are available, we are to use them. This applies even in spiritual matters. He gives the example of the post-Pentecost church. God worked miraculously to proclaim the message of Christ’s resurrection and ascension. We could add to this the miraculous gift of languages in Acts 2.  Yet, as we continue to read through Acts, we discover that this miraculously ability to seemingly instantly proclaim the good news now requires effort. We now have seminaries and discipleship programs for ministerial work. When we lay hands on the servant, it is at the end of his training, when he has worked and is now prepared to go out.

Andrews gives another argument: Jesus had the right to call upon angels. But he did not exercise that right and rather relied upon the ordinary means so that he would not tempt God.

And so, we cannot sin and ask God to take away the consequence. That is to tempt God. We cannot proceed foolishly and look to God to take away the consequence. We cannot forgo the ordinary means and then expect God to fulfill the end. This applies in our “regular” life, it also applies to spiritual matters.


[1] At no time.

[2] Numbers 20:10–11 (ESV) “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.”

[3] We should never doubt that God is able to produce water from a rock. But, if we desire water, we should use the ordinary means and dig a well.

[4] If we desire grain, we should plant it.

[5] When the Assyrians came with an army to take Elisha’s life, and Elisha was vulnerable. God provided an angelic army to protect him:

[6] When the multitude was with Jesus in a desolate place (Matt. 14:15), Jesus performed a miracle to feed them. When he was with his disciples in the City, he sent them to purchase food:  “For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.”  John 4:8 (ESV)  

[7] In the time immediately following Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost, that God worked in a miraculous manner. It has often been noted that the record of miracles seems to end even during the life of the Apostles. Andrews notes a particular miracle of being fit to proclaim the Gospel, that Jesus had rose from the dead. It seems that upon receiving a special unction of the Holy Spirit, they could immediately evangelize.

[8] 1 Timothy 4:6–11 (ESV)  “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things.”

[9] Paul was on a ship along with many other people. The ship was caught in a storm and was driven for days. When it seemed that all hope was lost, an angel appeared to Paul and told him that all would live, but only if everyone stayed in the ship. Some mariners were secretly trying to abandon the ship. Paul told the Centurion, that if the mariners left, no one would survive.

[10] Even though Christ is attended upon by angels, he will not take advantage of that right: he will not tempt God.