Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Totally Dependent Upon God
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This morning we look at Westminster Larger Catechism Question 193, which asks, “What do we pray for in the fourth petition?” It gives the answer, “In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread,) acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.”
I do not deserve to eat. I have no right to take any part of the earth and use it for my food. Have you ever considered saying such a thing? Do you believe that it is true? The Westminster divines did! They rightly understood that when the human race fell into sin in our forefather Adam, all that we deserved from God was His judgment and wrath forevermore. As they stated it, “We have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God.” As sinners we deserve all of the curse and none of the blessings of God. If God were to give a person what he fully deserves, he would not be able to enjoy the use of any single part of creation.
In the 1980s several rock bands sang about how they knew they were going to Hell but it was OK because that is where all of their friends would be. So they would just continue to play rock n’ roll and party in Hell forever. Better to party free in Hell than to have to obey God in heaven. That was the sentiment that many seemed to adopt. It is entirely simplistic and false in its understanding of what Hell is. Perhaps it may sound trite to say it, but there are no guitars in Hell! There is nothing of creation that you could pick up or use, to in any way bring you any kind of pleasure or satisfaction. There will be no music, food, or drink, or anything lovely to look at, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Blessings come from God but God will send no blessings to the place of His wrath. This includes the blessing we receive from the company of others. Thus, if one is conscious of any “friends” in Hell, their presence will only bring further torment, sorrow, and pain. For the creatures will all be as the divines stated it “cursed to us in the use of them,” for this is what we deserve, and in Hell God gives each person perfect justice. All will get exactly what they deserve on account of every single evil deed they ever did. There will be degrees of punishment and curse but there will be no blessings whatsoever.
All of this is to say that we are entirely dependent upon the unmerited favor of God to have any blessedness in our use of any creature. As creatures ourselves we are completely dependent upon God for everything. We need the continued use of the earth for our food, water, work, pleasure, and rest. We cannot make for ourselves the tiniest morsel of food, a single drop of water, or even the simplest physical object. We have no power to bring into being something from nothing. All that we need or want or desire we must find in the already created world. Even if we were not fallen in sin such would still be the case. Sinless human beings would have no claim on anything unless God freely offered it to them first, for all things belong fully to God and we are dependent upon Him to give any of it to us. As sinners however, we deserve to be deprived of everything He has given to us, including life itself.
Thus, when we pray for our daily bread we need to do so trusting in the righteousness of Christ alone! Only because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness can I have any hope that God will give me my daily bread. In fact much more than that, if you are a believer you can come boldly to the throne of grace with full confidence that you will find and be given all that you need to live the blessed life!