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Sermon #89 — Romans Series


Title:                           Be Still


Text:                            Romans 8:28

Subject:                     Divine Providence —

That Which Quietens Our Fears

Reading:       Pastor Bruce Crabtree

                                                Psalm 107:1-43



It pleased God to reveal his Son in me 49 years ago today. 49 years ago the Lord Jesus invade my heart, stopped me in my mad rush to hell, and took over my life. Within just a few weeks, I was being asked to speak various gatherings of young people and church groups. Over these past 49 years, three subjects have become more and more precious to me. The more I stud them and meditate upon them, the more delightful and comforting they become. — The more mysterious! — The more wonderful! These three, sweet, blessed revelations of the gospel have been and remain the constant theme of my preaching, as I endeavor to faithfully expound the Word of God, preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified in all the Scriptures.



  1. Divine Sovereignty


(Psalms 115:3) Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.


Here the psalmist David plainly declares the great supremacy and glorious sovereignty of our great God. Our God is supreme over all the gods of the world. He who truly is God is God who rules over all things, at all times, in all places, absolutely. He is the absolute, unrivaled Sovereign of the universe, who always does his will in heaven, earth and hell.“He has his way in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him What doest thou?” The God we worship, trust, and love is in total control of the universe!


  1. Effectual Substitutionary



(2 Corinthians 5:21) He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


With those words, the Apostle Paul sets before us the effectual, substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God was made sin for his people. He died under the wrath of God for God’s elect, for every sinner who trusts him. Thus he accomplished our redemption and obtained our eternal salvation. As he was made sin for us by a marvellous, mysterious transfer of justice and grace, even so, by that same act of God’s justice and grace all for whom he died are made the very righteousness of God in him!


  1. God’s Wonderful Providence


My text is Romans 8:28. — The title of my message is — Be Still. My entire life has been a constant verification of that which is recorded in the words of my text.


(Romans 8:28) We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Here the inspired Apostle declares the holy, wise, good, and adorable providence of our great God. If our God is God indeed, if the Triune Jehovah is God (And he is!), if he is my God, I ought to be still before him and be still before his enemies, before my enemies, and before all those things that so much trouble me.


(Psalm 4:4) “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”


(Psalm 46:10) “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”


Proposition: Nothing is more comforting to a believer’s heart, nothing so effectually quietens our fears and our hearts as the assurance of our heavenly Father’s wise and good providence. — Oh, how God’s providence ought to silence our doubts, quieten our fears and make our hearts still before him!


“God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill,

He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind the frowning providence,

He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour.

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.


Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain.

God is His own Interpreter,

And He will make it plain.”

 — William Cowper


Oh, how clam and still our hearts ought to be! But there are some things that trouble me! — May God the Holy Spirit now enable me to speak to your hearts. I want to reprove my own heart and yours for our horrible, inexcusable unbelief while, at the same time, encouraging us truly to trust our great, gracious, glorious God. I am going to make five plain statements. As I prepared this message, I found them to be like barbed arrows piercing my heart. I trust they will be the same to you. These are five heart-piercing, convicting, humbling facts.


Too Many Fears

Isaiah 41:10


1st — I want us to look at Isaiah 41:10. — We have entirely too many fears for a people to whom the Lord God has said, — “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Isaiah 41:10).


Why can’t we believe God? Has he not proved his great faithfulness to us? David heard God’s promise and believed him. His faith in God gave quietness to his heart. God’s promises quientened his fears. Didn’t they?

  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalms 23:4, 6).
  • I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalms 4:8).
  • When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalms 27:10).


Too Much Worry

Matthew 6:28-30


2nd — Look at Matthew 6:28-30. — We have far too much anxiety and worry about earthly, material things for a people to whom the Son of God has said, — “Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)


It is written in the Scriptures, — “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).


Why should I worry, fret, and pace the floor by day and by night, when God my Savior has promised that my Father will for his sake provide me with everything I need in this world and in the world to come? Why should I concern myself about that which God, who cannot lie, has promised? Look at Matthew 6 again, verses 31-34.


“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)


Too Many Doubts

John 6:37


3rd — Turn to John 6:37. — We have far too many doubts concerning God’s mercy, love, and grace for a people to whom the Lord Jesus Christ has said, — “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).


Listen to this, too: — And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:28).


I have preached about this many times. I know that many of you have trouble here. And I acknowledge that I do, too. My shameful, sinful, baseless doubts are inexcusable. I will not attempt to justify them or excuse them.


Upon what grounds dare we call into question the mercy, love, and grace of God? We have absolutely no reason to entertain any doubt concerning him! Did he promise; and shall he not fulfill it? Perish the thought!


Mr. Spurgeon once said, “The Scripture says, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life.’ I believe the Son of God. I have life!”


Why should we question that, ever? Paul was a sinner just like you and me, saved by grace just like us. He didn’t question God’s promise (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:6-8; Romans 8:31-39).


(2 Timothy 1:12) “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”


(2 Timothy 4:6-8) “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”


(Romans 8:31-39) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Š      I am not going to doubt God’s love because of something I have thought, or said, or done. His love is unconditional and free!

Š      I am not going to question his grace because of my sin. His grace super abounds where sin is found!

Š      I am not going to be suspicious of his mercy because I do not deserve his mercy. His mercy is for the undeserving!

Š      I am not going to doubt his faithfulness because of my unfaithfulness. His faithfulness stands forever!


(2 Timothy 2:13) “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”


(2 Timothy 2:19) “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”


“Feelings come and feelings go,

And feelings are deceiving;

My warrant is the Word of God —

Naught else is worth believing.


Though all my heart should feel condemned

For want of some sweet token,

There is One greater than my heart

Whose Word cannot be broken.


I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word

Till soul and body sever,

For, though all things shall pass away,

His Word shall stand forever!”

Martin Luther


Too Much Grumbling

John 16:33


4th — Look next at John 16:33. — We spend entirely too much time grumbling and complaining about our trials and troubles for a people to whom the Lord Jesus has said, — “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).


We ought not be surprised when troubles come our way. We ought to be surprised when they don’t come! As long as we live in this world, we are going to have trials, troubles, temptations, and sorrows.


“`Tis my happiness below

Not to live without the cross;

But the Savior’s power to know,

Sanctifying every loss.

Trials must and will befall,

But with humble faith to see

Love inscribed upon them all, —

This is happiness to me.


God in Israel sows the seeds

Of affliction, pain and toil.

These spring up and choke the weeds

That would else o’erspread the soil.

Trials make the promise sweet;

Trials give new life to prayer;

Trials bring me to His feet, —

Lay me low, and keep me there.


Did I meet no trials here,

No chastisements by the way,

Might I not with reason fear

I should prove a castaway?

Bastards may escape the rod,

Sunk in earthly, vain delight;

But the true born child of God

Must not, would not, if he might.”


Every ounce of gold that has ever been perfected and made valuable has been refined by fire. And if God puts the gold of his grace in us, he will also make us pass through the fire.


(Isaiah 48:10) “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”


(1 Peter 4:12) “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”


Trouble is not a strange thing. For the believer, the absence of trouble is a strange thing. Yet, when we meet with some great difficulty, some heavy trial, some heart-breaking sorrow, though we may not say it, our first shameful, wicked thought is usually — “Why me?” Our first thought really ought to be — “Why not me?”


“Shall I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to when the prize

And sailed through bloody seas?”


(2 Corinthians 4:17-18) “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”


Š      Our trials are nothing compared to what others have had to endure before us.

Š      Our sorrows are nothing compare to the sorrows our Master endured to redeem and save us.

Š      Our griefs are nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us!


Too Much Attachment to this World

Hebrews 11:8-10


5th — Turn with me to one more text — Hebrews 11:8-10. — We have entirely too much attachment to this world and to this present life, for a people who are looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God.


(Hebrews 11:8-10) “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (9) By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (10) For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”


(2 Corinthians 5:1) “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”


The sooner, the better!


We know that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. We have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Believers are a people who long to be with Christ. Yet, it is so difficult for us to be torn loose of this present existence called life! I can’t explain that. I just know it’s so.


Children of God, don’t be afraid of death and don’t weep for those who have died in the Lord. For us, to die is gain. Death will bring us into the presence of many friends. Death takes the wife from the husband, the child from its mother, the father from his family, but we cheer ourselves with the prospect of glorious reunion (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is true, above all else, we shall see Christ and be with him, but it is also promised that we shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, we shall know one another in heaven.


Death will bring an answer to our most ardent prayers. How often have you prayed that you might be delivered from your trials, temptations and troubles? We shall be delivered from them then. — “God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. How often have you prayed that you might be freed from sin? When this body is in the grave, — “There shall be no more sin.” Many, many times you have prayed that you might be more like Christ, in love, in purity, in conduct? When we have laid aside this robe of flesh, we shall awake in his likeness. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.


But most of all, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. This is our chief concern.  This is our noblest ambition. This is the happiness and glory of heaven. This is heaven! We shall be with Christ, forever with the Lord! We ought to look upon death as we do (I hope we do.) the coming of Christ, with blessed anticipation!


I know this too: The only way for us to be delivered from these carnal lusts, the only way we will ever be delivered from the cares of this world, the only way we will ever be saved from our fears, concerns, doubts, grumblings, and attachments to this world is to find something better.


Illustration: The Little Boy at Stalnaker’s Restaurant


Our religious works will be dropped like a hot potato, if we ever see and get hold of Christ’s finished work.


Our boasted good deeds will be of no value, if we are allowed and made to see what Christ has done for sinners.

Š      His Incarnation (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Š      His Representative Obedience (Philippians 2:5-7).

Š      His Substitutionary Death (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Our righteousnesses will appear to us as they really are, just filthy rags, if ever we behold the righteousness of God in Christ.


Our goodliness will wither and die like mown grass in a furnace, if we ever see the goodness and glory of God in Christ (Isaiah 6:1-6).


(Isaiah 6:1-6) “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 ¶ Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:”


If ever we see Christ, there will be no more

Š      argument about our goodness!

Š      debate about our worth!

Š      fuss about our will!


Like that little boy in the restaurant, you’ll drop your worthless, greasy, empty corn-cob of self-righteousness when you see Christ in his redemptive glory!


Even so, our fears, our doubts, our grumblings, our complaints against our little trials, our complaints against our God’s providence and purpose will disappear in proportion to the faith we have in his promises (Isaiah 43:1-5; 46:4)


(Isaiah 43:1-5) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;”


(Isaiah 46:4) “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.


  • The more I believe his “I will,” the less I will fear.
  • The less I believe his “I will,” the more I will fear.




I have said all that to prepare our hearts to take this word from God home. May God the Holy Spirit cause us to believe it, teach us to understand it, give us grace to walk in the light of it, and daily apply it to our hearts effectually, to quieten our fears.


(Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”


(Psalm 4:4) “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”


Be still, my heart! Be still, my soul! — God is no his throne! — And all is well!



(Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”


(Psalm 4:4) “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”








Don Fortner








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