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  1. Your Viewing History
  2. Psalm ESV - Unless the LORD Builds the House - A - Bible Gateway
  3. Unless the LORD builds a house.

Now we know don't we? That is, He has the power to do so. After all, God created the whole universe merely by His word; he could surely build a house without an earthly builder. According to Christ in Matthew , God could have sent twelve legions of angels to defend Christ on the night of His arrest; He certainly has the ability to defend a city without human watchmen. But He doesn't do that. Our passage recognizes the normal means by which God works in human affairs: He often uses human instruments. In the building of a house, He uses human builders; and in the guarding of a city, He employs human watchmen.

God's sovereignty does not eliminate human responsibility. In the work He has given us to do, He accomplishes His sovereign will through our labor.


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This is an important point. It is a natural tendency of the sinful human heart to think that divine sovereignty eliminates human responsibility. Scripture clearly teaches otherwise.

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In fact, God's sovereignty is what establishes our responsibility. We are accountable to God precisely because He is the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe. And His sovereignty does not relieve us from the duty of the labor He has called us to do. Scripture says Ecclesiastes , "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Idleness is a sin. When God gives us work to do, we are expected to use all available means, and He blesses the use of those means.

On the other hand, He will not bless sloth or inactivity when He has given us work to do. Proverbs "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. By the way, you may have thought that the only sin for which God judged Sodom was the sin of their sexual perversions. But listen to Ezekiel "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease[—idleness], but she did not help the poor and needy. Indolence is itself one of the grossest kinds of sin.

If you are not diligent, you cannot expect to prosper. If you want learning, you can't get it merely by praying for it; you have to apply yourself to study. If it's healing you seek, you should avail yourself of the means. Trusting God doesn't mean being idle. If you go up and down the town with no profession, with your hands in your empty pockets, and say that you are trusting in God, God will give you the wages that you earn, namely poverty; he will clothe you with rags if you clothe yourself with idleness. If you will not serve him, you shall find the reward that comes to the man who wastes his Master's talents by wrapping them in a napkin.

And listen to 1 Corinthians "every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God. So don't misread this text, and don't misunderstand the doctrine of God's sovereignty as though it meant that we're always supposed to do nothing, and just leave everything to God.

That is a misapplication and a perversion of the truth of God's sovereignty. God's sovereignty does not eliminate our responsibility.

Rather, we are responsible to God precisely because He is sovereign. God uses ordinary means, and He often uses human instrumentality, to accomplish His will. And any notion of God's sovereignty that diminishes that truth is a perversion of what the Bible teaches. In fact, it is a wonderful privilege afforded to us only by the grace of God that He uses us as His instruments, and we ought to rejoice in that privilege and labor diligently to be suitable instruments by which God can work. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians , "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.

Remember, the truth on the face of this passage is that our labor would be in vain if God were not in it. And here's a glorious promise we can reasonably infer: God's grace guarantees that the labor of those who trust Him and depend on Him is never in vain. Therefore we ought to labor all the more diligently, because He promises the reward of our labors. Paul adds this: "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

So we have here a lesson about divine sovereignty; a lesson about human responsibility; and third—. Now follow this: God is sovereign; His sovereignty doesn't eliminate our responsibility; but God's sovereignty does eliminate every reason for worry, disquiet, fretting, and fear. Look at verse 2 again: "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. But the verse makes better sense if you read it without the insertion, and I think this is the correct sense: "he gives to his beloved sleep.

God's sovereignty doesn't eradicate human responsibility, but it does liberate the believer from the slavery of worldly care and consternation. And if you understand the proper relationship of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, you will have no reason for mortal anxiety. God's sovereignty doesn't release us from responsibility, but it does free us from worry.

Psalm ESV - Unless the LORD Builds the House - A - Bible Gateway

It does free us from any work that God has not given us to do, and His burden is light. Philippians "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Remember I said it is a serious sin not to recognize God's sovereignty.

I want to stress that. Arminianism isn't just a trivial doctrinal error; it is positively sinful. All worry stems from the sin of forgetting that God rules all things, and that He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. All worry is the fruit of Arminian thinking—whether you are conscientiously a doctrinal Arminian, or, like most of us, just an occasional practical Arminian who forgets about God's sovereignty in the heat of battle and the trials of life.

Don't let the affairs of this life force you into a kind slavery where you are agitated and brooding and hyperactive all the time. Don't take on the burden of work God never gave you to do in the first place. Notice what our verse is saying: overwork is a sin. And that is a sin.

Unless the LORD builds a house.

It's not just a trivial character flaw. It is positively and monstrously wicked. And all your overwork is vain, because it is labor without God. Now, let's apply all of this in practical terms. All these lessons are true in the ordinary course of life.

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All your labor is vain if God is not in it. But labor itself is vital. It is the instrument God uses to bless us. And yet, when our labor becomes a slavery, that's a sign God is no longer in it. When we take on burdens God has not given us, that is unrighteous. We're not supposed to be like Martha, "cumbered about much serving," missing out on the good part of worship and rest in the Lord.

All of this argues for balance. There's an equilibrium in true spirituality, and it's only our sinfulness that makes us unbalanced in one direction or the other. We have to fight to keep our balance. In the words of Hebrews , we have to labor to enter into rest. But there's also a crucial spiritual application of all these lessons, and it goes to the very heart of the gospel. In Hebrews , where Scripture says, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest," it is speaking of the rest we find in salvation.

All of these principles are directly applicable to our salvation.

Jonathan Burke - Unless the Lord Builds the House

Salvation is completely the work of God. It was completely His work to provide a sufficient atonement for our sins. It is completely His work to regenerate sinners. It is His work to convert. Even faith is His gift. Ephesians "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship. God is sovereign in the work of salvation, and you can work as hard as you want to make yourself better, or earn God's favor, but it is all vanity apart from the work of God.

You cannot make yourself righteous.