A NEW FATHER AND A NEW HEART OR THE PERMANENCY OF OUR ADOPTION INTO GOD’S FAMILY

A NEW FATHER AND A NEW HEART
OR
THE PERMANENCY OF OUR ADOPTION INTO GOD’S FAMILY

Donald Macleod 

Martin Luther, whose tormented conscience and anguished thinking launched the Protestant Reformation, once remarked, “If the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost.” It is hardly surprising, then, that there is voluminous Protestant literature on justification.

The doctrine of adoption, by contrast, has been largely neglected. Yet the two are inseparably linked.

GRACE BEYOND AND ABOVE

Which is not to say that they are identical. Adoption is a grace beyond and above justification. In justification, God acquits sinners of all the charges against them. Indeed, he goes further still and declares that in Christ their righteousness meets the highest possible standards. They are as righteous as Christ himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). There is not a stain on their characters.

At this point, in normal human systems of justice, the accused is then simply free to go, and both he and the judge hope they will never see each other again. But the divine judge not only acquits. He invites the sinner home — and not just for an evening. He adopts us as his own forever, tells us we are to call him “Father,” and pronounces us lawful heirs to all he is and to all that he has.

Paul is the only New Testament writer who uses the term adoption, but he is not the only one who speaks of believers being God’s children. John also highlights it, particularly in 1 John 3:1. “See,” he exclaims, “what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Yet while they speak of the same subject, the two apostles use different language, and to get anything like the full doctrine we need to look carefully at each.

CHANGE IN STATUS

The word adoption, like the word justification, refers not to a change in our disposition and character, but to a change on our status. It speaks of a revolution in our relationship with God. As unbelieving sinners, we were utterly alienated from him: total outsiders, as far as his family was concerned. Now we belong, and by using the term adoption, Paul is using formal legal language to remind us that our membership of our new family is absolutely secure. It can never be undone.

There is a parallel to all this in the story of Moses. The abandoned Hebrew baby, born as a slave under sentence of death, is taken into the palace by a royal princess, and formally adopted as her son. It is just so with believers in relation to God. He is committed to us. He has given us his name. He has made us his heirs, and solemnly pledged that as our heavenly Father, he will provide for us with the lavishness that befits his means as possessor of all the riches of glory (Philippians 4:19).

He has said, in effect, “From now on, you have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:26). I will care for you (1 Peter 5:7), and if you do ever find yourself overtaken by anxiety, come and talk about it to me at once (Philippians 4:6–7). Always remember that I am your home, and that I will never disown you; and should you ever go astray, I will always take you back (Luke 15:20). My love will never let you go.”

TRANSFORMATION IN HEART

But adoption as a human transaction leaves the heart unchanged, and this is why the language of John is such an important complement to the language of Paul. Where Paul speaks of “adoption,” John speaks of being “born again”; and where Paul emphasises our being God’s “heirs,” John speaks of our being his “children.”

Adoption, whether in the ancient world or the modern, gave rights, but it did not transform; but when we are “born of God,” his “seed” (sperma) is in us (1 John 3:9). This is why Peter can even go so far as to say that we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), while Paul declares that at the heart of God’s purpose for the universe lies his determination that one day every one of his adopted sons and daughters will be as glorious as his only begotten Son (Romans 8:28–29).

For the time being, sadly, this is not how we appear: To deny that we are sinners is to deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). But by the time Christ returns, our likeness to our Father will be unmistakeable (1 John 3:2), and he will have no hesitation about making us stand in the full light of his glory (Jude 24). We will be his pride and joy.

A NEW PEOPLE

Divine adoption, then, secures what no human adoption can secure. It is always accompanied by a radical and total transformation at the very core of our being. Not only have we a new status. We are new people (Ephesians 4:24).

Should we, then, just sit back passively and let grace do its work? Not for a moment! Indeed, the seed that God has implanted in us won’t let us sit back, nor will the hope that God has given us. The assurance that our destiny is to be “like him” impels us to set about purifying ourselves, and to do so with the utmost rigour, satisfied with nothing less than to be as pure as God himself (1 John 3:3).

As John sees it, the Christian believer should react to the discovery of any personal impurity with the same shock-horror as God would react to the discovery of a blemish in himself.

THE MELODY OF JOY AND SALVATION

Adoption was widely practiced in the ancient world, but there was one crucial difference between secular practice and what we see in the New Testament.

In the secular world, adoption was usually for the benefit of the adoptive parents, not for the benefit of the child. For example, a farmer might want help with tilling his land, or a childless couple might want someone to look after them in old age, or an aristocrat might want someone to perpetuate the family name. In the New Testament the benefits are all the other way.

While we may be sure that adoption gives God immense satisfaction, he never adopts in order to meet some need of his own. He adopts us because he loves us, not because he needs us.

And far from exploiting us and subjecting us to a life of drudgery, he showers upon us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) and fills our lives with the melody of joy and salvation (Psalm 118:15).

FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS – 

Question – I know that as Christians we are “born again of incorruptible seed” (1 Pet. 1:23). Why then do several places in the Church Epistles speak of our being “adopted” by God?

The Greek word translated “adoption” is huiothesia, and it occurs only five times in the New Testament, all in the Church Epistles (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). According to Vine’s Lexicon it means: “the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong.” Louw and Nida’s Greek Lexicon says: “to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.” Huiothesia literally means, “to place as a son.”

“Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family. In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities.
Most importantly, by using the word “adoption,” God emphasizes that salvation is permanent for the Christian, which is why it appears only in the Church Epistles. Some versions translate huiothesia as “sonship,” but we believe that is not as good as “adoption.” While it is true that someone adopted into the family attains sonship (the status of a son), “adoption” is more accurate to the Greek meaning of the word, and it correctly expresses the fact that the adopted child is permanently placed in the family.

Birth seems so much more desirable than adoption that it is fair to ask why God would even use “adoption.” The answer is that the Romans recognized that when a baby was born, “you got what you got,” whether you liked it or not. This would include the sex of the child, birthmarks, etc. Thus, according to Roman law, a naturally born baby could be disowned from the family. However, people adopting a child knew exactly what they were getting, and no one adopted a child unless that specific child was wanted as a family member, so according to law an adopted child could not be disowned. He or she was permanently added to the family. Many early believers were Roman citizens, and using the word “adoption” was one of God’s ways to let the Church know that He chose the children brought into His family, and they could not be taken from it.

The Roman historian William M. Ramsay writes:
“The Roman-Syrian Law-Book…where a formerly prevalent Greek law had persisted under the Roman Empire—well illustrates this passage of the Epistle. It actually lays down the principle that a man can never put away an adopted son, and that he cannot put away a real son without good ground. It is remarkable that the adopted son should have a stronger position than the son by birth, yet it was so.” [W. M. Ramsay, ‘A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians’, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI]

“The term adoption, as understood by the Romans, differs from what occurs with believers in one important detail: Believers are BORN AGAIN, literally RECREATED, as God’s sons. We move from one species to another species. That’s what the Greek for “new creation” means. We become the SAME SPECIES that Jesus is. This is not like adoption is anywhere on earth. A born again believer is recreated WITHIN Christ. We become PART OF HIM. An adopted Roman child contains no biological similarity to his or her adopted parents. We, on the other hand, as believers, are Jesus’ brothers and sisters IN EVERY WAY. We are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh; we have to be because we, as the Church, are His Bride, and will MARRY HIM one day. So while comparing what we are to Roman adoption is useful in SOME aspects, it does not capture who we are to Him in a VERY IMPORTANT aspect. We are truly ONE with Him.”  – Jeffery Stewart

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CRUCIFYING THE FLESH – THE MARK OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN

CRUCIFYING THE FLESH – THE MARK OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN

John Flavel

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” [Gal 5:24,25] 

If they that be Christ’s have crucified the flesh, then the number of real Christians is very small. It is true, if all that SEEM TO BE meek, humble, and heavenly, might pass for Christians, the number would be great; but if no more must: be accounted Christians, than those who crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, O how small is the number!

For, O how many be there under the Christian name, that pamper and indulge their lusts, that secretly hate all that faithfully reprove them, and really approve none but such as feed their lusts, by praising and admiring them? How many there are that make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts, who cannot endure to have their corruptions crossed? How many are there that seem very meek and humble, until an occasion be given them to stir up their passion, and then you shall see in what degree they are mortified: the flint is a cold stone, till it be struck, and then it is all fiery.

I know the best of Christians are mortified but in part; and strong corruptions are oftentimes found in very eminent Christians; but – they love them not so well as to purvey (supply and provide) for them; to protect, defend, and countenance them; nor dare they secretly hate such as faithfully reprove them: as many thousands that go under the name of Christians do. Upon the account of mortification it is said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.” [Matt 7:14]

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” [Heb 12:14]

FAITH IS THE ‘HAND’ THAT RECEIVES CHRIST. BUT IT IS NOT A HAND THAT WORKS TO MERIT JUSTIFICATION, BUT THE HAND THAT HUMBLY RECEIVES THE PROFFERED GIFT  

FAITH IS THE ‘HAND’ THAT RECEIVES CHRIST. BUT IT IS NOT A HAND THAT WORKS TO MERIT JUSTIFICATION, BUT THE HAND THAT HUMBLY RECEIVES THE PROFFERED GIFT

Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Faith is essential as it alone unites a sinner to Christ, but faith is not conditional in any meritorious sense, then how is it proper to regard faith as the “hand” that receives Christ? Isn’t the natural man being attributed some ability by this metaphor? Since faith is always both God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8) and God’s work (“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath seen” [John 6:29]), how can faith be designated as a “HAND“?

The natural man indeed has no ability to reach out to accept the salvation of God in Christ. The natural man is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). He will never “accept Christ” of his own free will (Matthew 23:37; John 5:40). Scripture teaches that a sinner does not first move toward God, but GOD FIRST MOVES toward a sinner to unite him with Christ by faith, for a sinner would never of his own will or desire turn to Christ in faith (Romans 9:16). Even when tormented with the terrors of divine judgment, the natural man cannot be persuaded to flee to God by saving faith for salvation ((Proverbs 1:24-27).

But in regeneration the Holy Spirit grants the gift of a living, empty hand that can turn nowhere else than to Jesus. “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, NOT of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, NOR of the will of man, but OF GOD” (John 1:12-13; cf. Psalm 110:3).

Faith is not called a hand because it  WORKS  OR  MERITS  justification in any way, but because it RECEIVES, EMBRACES, APPROPRIATES Christ upon divine imputation. Faith is not a CREATIVE hand, but a RECEPTIVE hand. As Abraham Booth notes, “Hence,in justification we read of the precious faith IN the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1) and of ‘faith IN His blood’ (Romans 3:25), and believers are described as ‘RECEIVING the atonement’ and RECEIVING ‘the gift of righteousness’ (Romans 5:11, 17).

Faith is PASSIVE in justification, but becomes active in accepting Christ when He is offered to the sinner. Indeed, when Christ is given, faith cannot refrain from being active, moving the believer to rejoice in the imputed righteousness of Christ with spiritual and profound joy. Nevertheless, this joy can boast no human merit, for it is NOT THE HAND IN ITSELF which produces joy and makes rich, BUT THE GIFT RECEIVED by the hand of faith, Jesus Christ.

The hand of faith graciously and unconditionally receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness alone. Faith lives out of Christ, in whom all of our salvation is to be found (John 15:1-7). As B. B. Warfield appropriately summarizes:

It is from its object [Jesus Christ] that faith derives its value…. The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests….It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ….It is not strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith.

Now HOW is room made in the soul for faith’s appropriation of Christ? How does faith experientially appropriate Christ and His righteousness? What is the hallmark of such appropriation?

The concept of receiving Christ by faith, hijacked in our day by Arminianism, needs to be recovered even for the Reformed pulpit. Many sincere Reformed Christians are afraid to speak of “receiving Christ” simply because of the false way modern evangelists describe such reception (i.e. as an act of the supposedly “free will” of the sinner to fulfill a condition for salvation). Believing that it somehow seems wrong and “Arminian” to receive Christ, their response to the gospel with liberty is inhibited.

To deny faith as the foundation of justification is not to minimize faith or the need for personally receiving Christ by faith. Though Scripture never ascribes merit to faith itself, it establishes unequivocally the necessity of faith (Hebrews 11:6). The sovereign grace of the imputed righteousness of Christ MUST be personally RECEIVED BY FAITH if a sinner is to be grafted or incorporated into Christ (John 3:36; Romans 5:11,17). The Holy Spirit uses faith to work out sovereign grace. As G. C. Berkouwer states: “the way of salvation is the way of faith just  because it is only in faith that the exclusiveness of divine grace is recognized and honored….Faith is no competitor of sola gratia [by grace alone]; but sovereign grace is confirmed by faith…. Sola gratia and sola fide [by faith alone], thus, remain the be all and end all of the relation between faith and justification.”

Faith is a holy command, a personal necessity, a pressing urgency (2 Kings 17:14, 18, 21). There is only faith or damnation (Mark 16:16; John 3:18). Faith is indispensable. John Flavel wrote, “The soul is the life of the body; faith is the life of the soul; Christ is the life of faith.”

By the Spirit and Word of God, justifying faith is a saving grace which, first, convicts of sin and misery; second, assents to the gospel from the heart; third, receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness for pardon and salvation; and fourth, lives out of Christ, who is the hallmark of appropriating faith (Hebrews 10:39; Romans 10:14, 17; John 16:8-9; Romans 10:8-10; acts 10:43; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 3:11; cf. Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 72-73). These marks of faith are experienced in the soul and urge closer examination if we are to ascertain the experiential dimensions of “by” in justification by faith alone.

FIRST then, faith is an experiential, convicting, soul-emptying grace. To lay hold of Christ, to treasure His righteousness, necessitates LOSING MY OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Faith teaches utter humility, the total emptiness of all within the sinner when he is viewed outside of Christ. Faith means utter despair of everything except Christ. To that end, faith makes a sinner conscious of the desperate situation he is in and the tragic judgment he deserves. Sin must become sin if grace is to become grace. Far from being a work of merit, faith is a realizing of my demerit, a negating of all hope of merit, a becoming aware of divine mercy. My filthy rags must be stripped away; the spiritual character of the law which demands perfect love to God and my neighbor must condemn me, if I am to come to appreciate the beauty of the Savior who, for the ungodly, perfectly obeyed the law in His active obedience and bore the penalty of sin in His Passive obedience (Romans 5:6-10). My unrighteousness must be uncovered if Christ’s righteousness is to be discovered (Psalm 71:16).

SECOND, faith wholeheartedly “assents to the truth of the gospel” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 73). Faith is no mere intellectual assent. Faith believes from the heart that which the Scriptures teach about self, the holiness of God, and the saviorhood of Christ. Thrust before God’s holiness, faith repudiates self-righteousness and is brought to need Christ experientially as revealed in the Scriptures and given by the Spirit. Faith abandons all self-merit while being increasingly allured to Christ and his merits (Romans 7:24-25). Faith surrenders to the evangel and falls into the outstretched arms of God. “The act of faith is as much being held by God as holding Him; the power of faith is exercised as much in capitulation as in conquering—the faith that overcomes the world is capitulation to Christ’s great victory.”

Faith looks away from self and itself to Christ, living and moving entirely from and in grace. Faith flees with all the soul’s poverty to Christ’s riches, with all the soul’s guilt to Christ as reconciler, with all the soul’s bondage to Christ as liberator. Faith confesses with Augustus Toplady:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

THIRD, justifying faith is especially that act of the soul by which a sinner lays hold of Christ and His righteousness and experiences pardon and peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Faith is nothing less than the MEANS which unites a sinner with his Savior. “Faith justifies in no other way,” wrote Calvin, “than as it introduces us into a participation of the righteousness of Christ.” It apprehends (fides apprehensiva) “closes” with, and “grasps” Christ in warm believing embrace, surrendering all of self, clinging to His Word, relying on His promises, Christ is not only the object of faith, but is Himself present in faith. Faith reposes in the person of Christ— hearing, seeing, trusting, taking, embracing, knowing, rejoicing loving, triumphing. It leaves its case in the hands of Christ as great Physician, while taking His prescriptions, following His directions, trusting simply and supremely in his finished work and ongoing intercessions.

Faith, Luther writes, “clasps Christ as a ring clasps its jewel”; faith wraps the soul in Christ’s righteousness. it appropriates with a believing heart the perfect righteousness, satisfaction and holiness of Christ. It tastes the efficacy of Christ’s blood-righteousness as the righteousness of God Himself (Romans 3:21-25; 5:9; 6:7; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). It weds the soul to Christ, experiences divine pardon and acceptance in the Beloved, and makes the soul partaker of every covenant mercy. Faith and Christ become inseparable in justification as Daniel Cawdray illustrates:

As the act of healing through the eyes of the Israelites and the brazen serpent went together; so, in the act of justifying, these two, faith and Christ, have a mutual relation, and must always concur—faith as the action which apprehendeth, Christ as the object which is apprehended; so that neither the passion of Christ saveth without faith, nor doth faith help unless it be in Christ, its object.

William Gurnall put it this way: “With one hand faith pulls off its own righteousness and throws it away; with the other it puts on Christ’s.” The Heidelberg Catechism explains personal appropriation of Christ’s righteousness best:

QUESTION 60: HOW art thou righteous before God?

ANSWER: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22ff; Gal. 2:16); so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them (Rom 3:9ff.), and am still inclined to all evil (Rom. 7:23); notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine (Rom. 3:24), but only of mere grace (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), grants (Rom. 4:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:19) and imputes to me (1 john 2:1) the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (Rom. 3:24-25); even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin; yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me (2Cor. 5:210), inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart (Rom. 3:28; Jn 3:18).

QUESTION 61: Why sayest thou that thou are righteous by faith only?

ANSWER: Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith (Psa. 16:2; Eph. 2:8-9), but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God (1 Cor. 1:30; 2:2); and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only (1 John 5:10).

FOURTH, faith lives out of Christ. Being united to Christ by faith, the believer is objectively possessed of all Christ’s benefits and subjectively experiences these benefits as abundantly as the Spirit applies them and as he is capable of receiving them through apprehending Christ. since grace and faith are given in Christ, the essential righteousness of the believer will remain extrinsic to him, even as Christ is really present within him, effecting daily conversion. “Christ without” is the ground of justification; “Christ within,” the fruit of justification, and an evidence of vital union of the believer to Christ.29 For faith, Christ—both in glory as ascended Lord and in the believer’s soul—is the chief among ten thousand, white and ruddy, altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16). with the Queen of Sheba, faith can say of the greater Solomon when gazing and feasting upon His blessed person and benefits, “Behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard” (2 Chronicles 9:6). Faith exclaims, “Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11)!

This Christ-centeredness is the hallmark of faith. Faith’s distinguishing mark is the real and redeeming presence of Christ. It is the very nature and fountain of faith to rest entirely upon Christ. Faith does not look at itself. Many today are too preoccupied with looking at their faith rather than faith’s object. The Reformers spoke and wrote much about faith, but their concern was object-centered rather than subject-centered, Christo-centric rather than anthropocentric, theological rather than psychological. It is not faith in OUR faith, nor faith in THE faith, nor faith in OUR justification, that is salvific, but faith IN CHRIST. The Puritans caught this well. As George Swinnock indicted, “First, Faith must look out for Christ; secondly, Faith must look up to Christ for grace; thirdly, Faith must take Christ down, or receive Him and grace.”  “Faith has two hands,” Thomas Manton wrote, “with one it stretches out for Christ; with the other, it pushes away all that comes between Christ and the soul.” Faith not only ventures TO Christ with the demanding law at its heels and UPON Christ with all the soul’s guilt, but it also ventures FOR Christ despite all difficulties and discouragements.

WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.” (Hebrews 11:6). God is pleased with faith because faith is pleased with Christ. Christ honors faith the most of all graces because faith honors Christ the most. Faith continually takes refuge, as the Belgic Confession states, “in the blood, death, passion, and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Article 29).

CHRIST IS FAITH’S ONLY OBJECT AND ONLY EXPECTATION. He is the heartbeat and life of faith. Faith enables the soul to enjoy the whole salvation of Christ; by faith Christ becomes the soul’s wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith commits the total person to the total person of Christ. This Christ-centeredness, more than anything else, makes faith inseparable from justification and superior to all other graces in justification.

Small wonder then that faith has been called the captain of all spiritual graces. Thomas Watson wrote, “Love is the crowning grace in heaven, but faith is the conquering grace upon earth….Faith is the master-wheel; it sets all the other graces running….Other graces make us like Christ, faith makes us members of Christ.” “Call forth first that commander-in-chief,” George Swinnock adds, “and then the private soldiers, the other graces, will all follow.”

In the application of justification, faith is not a builder but a beholder; it has nothing to give or achieve, but has all to RECEIVE. Faith is neither the ground nor substance of our justification, but THE HAND, THE INSTRUMENT, THE VESSEL which receives the divine gift proffered to us in the gospel. “As little as a beggar, who puts forth his hand to receive a piece of bread, can say that he has earned the gift granted him,” Herman Kuiper wrote, “so little can believers claim that they have merited justification, just because they have embraced the righteousness of Christ, graciously offered them in the Gospel.”

 

WHAT FUELED THE REFORMATION?

WHAT FUELED THE REFORMATION?

Nathan Busenitz

“Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29)

What caused the Reformation?

Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.

But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.

Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.”

Elsewhere, he exclaimed: “By the Word the earth has been subdued; by the Word the Church has been saved; and by the Word also it shall be reestablished.”

Noting Scripture’s foundational place in his own heart, Luther wrote: “No matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go.”

Luther understood what caused the Reformation. He recognized that it was the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God preached by men of God in a language that the common people of Europe could understand and when their ears were exposed to the truth of God’s Word it pierced their hearts and they were radically changed.

It was that very power that had transformed Luther’s own heart, a power that is summarized in the familiar words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

During the late middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had imprisoned God’s Word in the Latin language, a language the common people of Europe did not speak. The Reformers unlocked the Scriptures by translating them. And once the people had the Word of God, the Reformation became inevitable.

We see this commitment to the Scriptures even in the centuries prior to Martin Luther, beginning with the Forerunners to the Reformation:

In the 12th century, the Waldensians translated the New Testament from the Latin Vulgate into their regional French dialects. According to tradition, they were so committed to the Scriptures that different Waldensian families would memorize large sections of the Bible. That way, if Roman Catholic authorities found them and confiscated their printed copies of Scripture, they would later be able to reproduce the entire Bible from memory.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe and his associates at Oxford translated the Bible from Latin into English. Wycliffe’s followers, known as the Lollards, went throughout the countryside preaching and singing passages of Scripture in English.

In the 15th century, Jan Huss preached in the language of the people, and not in Latin, making him the most popular preacher in Prague at the time. Yet, because Huss insisted that Christ alone was the head of the church, not the pope, the Catholic Council of Constance condemned him for heresy and burned him at the stake (in 1415).

In the 16th century, as the study of Greek and Hebrew were recovered, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, with the New Testament being completed in 1522.

In 1526, William Tyndale completed a translation of the Greek New Testament into English. A few years later he also translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and executed as a heretic—being strangled and then burned at the stake. According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Tyndale’s last words were “Lord, Open the King of England’s Eyes.” And it was just a couple years after his death that King Henry VIII authorized the Great Bible in England—a Bible that was largely based on Tyndale’s translation work. The Great Bible laid the foundation for the later King James version (which was completed in 1611).

The common thread, from Reformer to Reformer, was an undying commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, such that they were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to get the Word of God into the hands of the people.

They did this because they understood that the power for spiritual reformation and revival was not in them, but in the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16–17). And they used the Latin phrase sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) to emphasize the truth that God’s Word was the true power and ultimate authority behind all they said and did.

It was ignorance of Scripture that made the Reformation necessary. It was the recovery of the Scripture that made the Reformation possible. And it was the power of the Scripture that gave the Reformation its enduring impact, as the Holy Spirit brought the truth of His Word to bear on the hearts and minds of individual sinners, transforming them, regenerating them, and giving them eternal life.

THE WORDS – “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH” ARE NOT IDLE WORDS, BUT WORDS THAT ARE AS FIRMLY AND FOREVER SETTLED AS THE THRONE OF GOD!

THE WORDS – “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH” ARE NOT IDLE WORDS, BUT WORDS THAT ARE AS FIRMLY AND FOREVER SETTLED AS THE THRONE OF GOD!

Lorraine Boettner

Jesus declared, “I give unto them (the true followers, or ‘sheep’) eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” John 10:28. Here we find that our security and God’s omnipotence are equal; for the former is founded on the latter. God is mightier than the whole world, and neither men nor Devil can rob Him of one of His precious jewels. It would be as easy to pluck a star out of the heavens as to pluck a saint out of the Father’s hand.

Their salvation stands in His invincible might and they are placed beyond the peril of destruction. We have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; yet if the Devil could snatch one here and another there and large numbers in some congregations, the gates of hell would to a great extent prevail against it. In principle, if one could be lost, all might be lost, and thus Christ’s assurance would be reduced to idle words.

When we are told that “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, If possible, even the elect,” Matt. 24:24, the unprejudiced believing mind readily understands that it is impossible to lead astray the elect.

The mystic union which exists between Christ and believers is a guarantee that they shall continue steadfast. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” John 14:19. The effect of this union is that believers participate in His life. Christ is in us, Romans 8:10. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. 2:20. Christ and the believers have a common life such as that which exists in the vine and the branches. The Holy Spirit so dwells in the redeemed that every Christian is supplied with an inexhaustible reservoir of strength.

Paul warned the Ephesians, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption,” Eph. 4:30. He had no fear of apostasy for he could confidently say, “Thanks be to God who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ,” II Cor. 2:14. The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” 31:3, — one of the best proofs that God’s love shall have no end is that it has no beginning, but is eternal. In the parable of the two houses, the very point stressed was that the house which was founded on the rock (Christ) did not fall when the storms of life came. Arminianism sets up another system in which some of those who are founded on the rock do fall. In the twenty-third Psalm we read, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The true Christian is no temporary visitor, but a permanent dweller in the house of the Lord. How those rob this psalm of its deeper and richer meaning who teach that the grace of God is a temporary thing!

Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and we are told that the Father hears Him always (John 11:42). Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard. Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26.

In the wonderful promise of Jer. 32:40, God has promised to preserve believers from their own backslidings:

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, AND I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM FOLLOWING THEM, TO DO THEM GOOD; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that THEY MAY NOT DEPART FROM ME.” And in Ezek. 11:19, 20,

He promises to take from them the “stony heart,” and to give them a “heart of flesh,” so that they shall walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, and so that they shall be His people and He their God. Peter tells us that Christians cannot fall away, for they “by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time,” I Peter 1:5. Paul says, “God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work,” II Cor. 9:8. He declares that the Lord’s servant “shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand,” Rom. 14:4.

And Christians have the further promise, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it,” I Cor. 10:13. Their removal from certain temptations which would be too strong for them is an absolute and free gift from God, since it is entirely an arrangement of His providence as to what temptations they encounter in the course of their lives, and what ones they escape. “The Lord is faithful and will establish you and guard you from the evil one,” II Thess. 3:3. And again, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them,” Ps. 34:7. Amid all his trials and hardships Paul could say, ‘We are pressed on every side, yet not straightened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; . . . knowing that He that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us also with Jesus,” II Cor. 4:8,9,14.

The saints, even in this world, are compared to a tree that does not wither, Ps. 1:3; to the cedars which flourish on Mount Lebanon, Ps. 92:12; to Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but which abideth forever, Ps. 125:1; and to a house built on a rock. Matt. 7:24. The Lord is with them in their old age, Is. 46:4, and is their guide even unto death, Ps 48:14, so that they cannot be totally and finally lost.

Another strong argument is to be noticed concerning the Lamb’s book of life. The disciples were told to rejoice, not so much over the fact that the demons were subject to them, but that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. This book is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased nor diminished. The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world.

God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out. Hence none of the Lord’s own ever perish. Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their names were written in heaven, Luke 10:20; yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” 3:20; and to Timothy he wrote, “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” II Tim. 2:19. For the Scripture teaching concerning the book of life, see Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.

Here, then, are very simple and plain statements that the Christian shall continue in grace, the reason being that the Lord takes it upon Himself to preserve him in that state. In these promises the elect are secured on both sides. Not only will God not depart from them, but He will so put His fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from him. Surely no Spirit-taught Christian can doubt that this doctrine is taught in the Bible. It seems that man, poor, wretched and impotent as he is, would welcome a doctrine which secures for him the possessions of eternal happiness despite all attacks from without and all evil tendencies from within. But it is not so. He refuses it, and argues against it. And the causes are not far to seek.

In the first place he has more confidence in himself than he has any right to have. Secondly, the scheme is so contrary to what he is used to in the natural world that he persuades himself that it cannot be true. Thirdly, he perceives that if this doctrine be admitted, the other doctrines of free grace will logically follow. Hence he twists and explains away the Scripture passages which teach it, and clings to some which appear on the surface to favor his preconceived views. In fact, a system of salvation by grace is so utterly at variance with his everyday experience, in which he sees every thing and person treated according to works and merits, that he has great difficulty in bringing himself to believe that it can be true. He wishes to earn his own salvation, though certainly he expects very high wanes for very sorry work.

 

BOTH THE ‘LOOKING UNTO JESUS’ AND THE ‘RUNNING AFTER HIM’ IS BY GOD’S ENABLING

BOTH THE ‘LOOKING UNTO JESUS’ AND THE ‘RUNNING AFTER HIM’ IS BY GOD’S ENABLING

J.C. Philpot

“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith.” [Hebrews 12:2]

No one can ever run the race set before him, except by looking unto Jesus. He is at the head of the race; He stands at the goal; holding the crown of victory in His hand, which He puts upon the head of the successful runner. And we can only run on as we view Jesus by the eye of faith at the right hand of the Father opening His blessed arms to receive us into His own bosom at the end of the race.

Nor indeed can anyone really look to Him BUT BY THE SPECIAL GIFT AND GRACE OF GOD. He must be REVEALED to the soul by the power of God; we must behold His glorious Godhead and His suffering manhood by the EYE OF FAITH; and we must view Him as the incarnate God; the only Mediator between God and man.

We must see the efficacy of His atoning blood to purge a guilty conscience; the blessedness of His obedience to justify a needy, naked soul; the sweetness of His dying love as an inward balm and cordial against all the thousand ills and sorrows of life. We must see His glory, as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; His suitability to every want and woe; His infinite compassion to the vilest and worst of sinners; His patient forbearance and wondrous long-suffering of our sins and backslidings; His unchanging love, stronger than death itself; His readiness to hear; His willingness to bless; and His ability to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.

Thus the heavenly runner looks not to the course however long, nor to the ground however rough, nor to his own exertions however multiplied, nor to his own strength whether much or little; nor to applauding friends nor condemning foes; but wholly and solely to the incarnate Son of God.

Jesus draws him onward with His invincible grace. Every glance of His beauteous Person renews the flame of holy love; every sight of His blood and righteousness kindles desires to experience more of their efficacy and blessedness; and every touch of His sacred finger melts the heart into conformity to His suffering image.

This is the life of a Christian,—day by day, to be running a race for eternity; and as speeding onward to a heavenly goal, to manifest his sincerity and earnestness by continually breathing forth the yearnings of his soul after divine realities, and to be pressing forward more and more toward the Lord Jesus Christ, as giving him a heavenly crown when he has finished his course with joy.

NEVER DESPISE THE LITTLE FAITH OR THE LITTLE FRUIT YOU HAVE GODWARD, FOR GOD DOTH NOT DESPISE IT

NEVER DESPISE THE LITTLE FAITH OR THE LITTLE FRUIT YOU HAVE GODWARD, FOR GOD DOTH NOT DESPISE IT

Octavius Winslow

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11)

There is a perpetual proneness to seek our fruitfulness from anything save a close, spiritual, and constant dealing with the cross of Jesus: but as well might we expect the earth to clothe itself with verdure, or the tree to blossom, and the blossom ripen into fruit, without the sun’s genial warmth, as to look for fruitfulness in a regenerate soul, without a constant dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ; for just what the sun is to the kingdom of nature, Jesus the Sun of righteousness is to the kingdom of grace—the blessed source of all its verdure, fragrance, and fruitfulness.

Then, let all your expectations be centered here. No real good can come to you, no healing to your spirit, no fruitfulness to your soul, from a perpetual living upon convictions of sin, legal fears, or transient joys; the Divine life can derive no nourishment from these. But live upon the atoning blood of Jesus—here is the fatness of your soul found; this it is that heals the wound, wins the heart, and hushes to repose every fear of condemnation; this it is that enables a poor sinner to look full at God, feeling that justice, holiness, truth, and every Divine perfection are on his side. It is the blood of Jesus, applied by the Spirit, that moistens each fibre of the root of holiness in the soul, and is productive of its fruitfulness; this it is that sends the warm current of life through every part of the regenerate man, quickening the pulse of love, and imparting a healthy and vigorous power to every act of obedience.

And when the spiritual seasons change—for it is not always spring-time with the soul of a child of God—when the summer’s sun withers, or the autumnal blast scatters the leaves, and winter’s fiercer storm beats upon the smitten bough, the blood and righteousness of Christ, lived upon, loved, and cherished, will yet sustain the Divine life in the soul, and in due season the spring blossom and the summer fruit shall again appear, proving that the Divine life of a believer is “hid with Christ in God.” Then shall be said of you, as was said of the church by her Beloved: “The winter is past, and the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig-tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then let your heart respond, “Awake, O north wind, and come, ye south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” (Sos 4:16)

Let the believer be aware how he despises what little fruitfulness the Lord the Spirit may have given him: there is danger of this. But, dear reader, it is a mercy for you to know that the Lord does not regard your estimate of a fruitful state; else, were the Lord to judge and condemn us as we do ourselves; were He to despise His own work as we too frequently do, it would indeed go hard with us. But He does not: that which we have often thought unworthy of His notice, He has looked down upon with the greatest complacency and delight. See, then, that you despise not what the Lord has wrought for you.

Any desire of the heart for Christ, any secret brokenness, any godly sorrow over indwelling sin, any feeble going out of self and leaning on Jesus, is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, and must not be undervalued or unacknowledged!

A truly humbled view of self is one of the most precious fruits of the Spirit; it indicates more real fruitfulness, perhaps, than any other state of mind. That ear of corn which is the most full of grain hangs the lowest; that bough which is the most heavily laden with fruit bends the nearest to the ground. It is no unequivocal mark of great spiritual fruitfulness in a believer, when tenderness of conscience, contrition of spirit, low thoughts of self, and high thoughts of Jesus, mark the state of his soul. “Who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zech 4:10) not Jesus!

 

MAKING THE MOST OF THE TIME WE HAVE

MAKING THE MOST OF THE TIME WE HAVE

Jonathan Edwards

Time is very short, which is a thing that renders it very precious. The scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set a higher value upon it, especially if it be necessary and they cannot do without it. Thus when Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, and provisions were exceedingly scarce, “an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.” [2 Kin. 6:25.]

So time is the more to be prized by men, because a whole eternity depends upon it; and yet we have but a little of time. “When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.” Job 16:22. “My days are swifter than a post. They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.” Job 9:25, 26. “Our life; what is it? It is but a vapour which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jam. 4:14. It is but as a moment to eternity.

Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.

Time ought to be esteemed by us very precious, because we are UNCERTAIN OF ITS CONTINUANCE. We know that it is very short, but we know not HOW SHORT. We know not how little of it remains, whether a year, or several years, or only a month, a week, or a day. We are every day uncertain whether that day will not be the last, or whether we are to have the whole day. There is nothing that experience doth more verify than this. — If a man had but little provision laid up for a journey or a voyage, and at the same time knew that if his provision should fail, he must perish by the way, he would be the more choice of it. — How much more would many men prize their time, if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days, more to live!

And certainly a wise man will prize his time the more, as he knows not but that it will be so as to himself. This is the case with multitudes now in the world, who at present enjoy health, and see no signs of approaching death. Many such, no doubt, are to die the next month, many the next week, yea, many probably tomorrow, and some this night. Yet these same persons KNOW NOTHING OF IT, AND PERHAPS THINK NOTHING OF IT, and neither they nor their neighbors can say that they are more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and how careful we ought to be, that we lose none of it.

Time is very precious, because WHEN IT IS PAST, IT CANNOT BE RECOVERED. There are many things which men possess, which if they part with, they can obtain them again. If a man have parted with something which he had, not knowing the worth of it, or the need he should have of it; he often can regain it, at least with pains and cost. If a man have been overseen in a bargain, and have bartered away or sold something, and afterwards repents of it, he may often obtain a release, and recover what he had parted with. —

But it is not so with respect to time. WHEN ONCE THAT IS GONE, IT IS GONE FOREVER; NO PAINS, NO COST WILL RECOVER IT. Though we repent ever so much that we let it pass, and did not improve it while we had it, it will be to no purpose.

Every part of it is successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own, or not. But there is no delay. It will not wait upon us to see whether or no we will comply with the offer. But if we refuse, it is immediately taken away, and never offered more. As to that part of time which is gone, however we have neglected to improve it, it is out of our possession and out of our reach.

If we have lived fifty, or sixty, or seventy years, and have not improved our time, now it cannot be helped. It is eternally gone from us. All that we can do, is to improve the little that remains. Yea, if a man have spent all his life but a few moments unimproved, all that is gone is lost, and only those few remaining moments can possibly be made his own. And if the whole of a man’s time be gone, and it be all lost, it is irrecoverable. — Eternity depends on the improvement of time. But when once the time of life is gone, when once death is come, we have no more to do with time; there is no possibility of obtaining the restoration of it, or another space in which to prepare for eternity.

If a man should lose the whole of his worldly substance, and become a bankrupt, it is possible that his loss may be made up. He may have another estate as good. But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.

Those are reproved by this doctrine, who spend their time only in WORLDLY pursuits, neglecting their souls. Such men lose their time, let them be ever so diligent in their worldly business. And though they may be careful not to let any of it pass so, but that it shall some way or other turn to their worldly profit. They that improve time only for their benefit in time, lose it; because time was not given for itself, but for that everlasting duration which succeeds it. — They, therefore, whose time is taken up in caring and laboring for the world only, in inquiring what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed; in contriving to lay up for themselves treasure upon earth, how to enrich themselves, how to make themselves great in the world, or how to live in comfortable and pleasant circumstances, while here; who busy their minds and employ their strength in these things only, and the stream of whose affections is directed towards these things; they lose their precious time.

Let such, therefore, as have been guilty of thus spending their time, consider it. You have spent a great part of your time, and a great part of your strength, in getting a little of the world; and how little good doth it afford you, now you have gotten it! What happiness or satisfaction can you reap from it? Will it give you peace of conscience, or any rational quietness or comfort? What is your poor, needy, perishing soul the better for it? And what better prospects doth it afford you of your approaching eternity? And what will all that you have acquired avail you when time shall be no longer?

ADVICE RESPECTING THE IMPROVEMENT OF TIME.

I shall conclude with advising to THREE THINGS in particular.

FIRST, improve the PRESENT time without any delay. If you delay and put off its improvement, still more time will be lost; and it will be an evidence that you are not sensible of its preciousness. Talk not of more convenient seasons hereafter; but improve your time while you have it, after the example of the psalmist. Psa. 119:60, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”

SECOND, be especially careful to improve THOSE PARTS of time which are most precious. Though all time is very precious, yet some parts are more precious than others; as, particularly, holy time is more precious than common time. Such time is of great advantage for our everlasting welfare. Therefore, above all, improve your Sabbaths, and especially the time of public worship, which is the most precious part. Lose it not either in sleep, or in carelessness, inattention, and wandering imaginations. How sottish are they who waste away, not only their common, but holy time, yea the very season of attendance on the holy ordinances of God!

The time of youth is precious, on many accounts. Therefore, if you be in the enjoyment of this time, take heed that you improve it. Let not the precious days and years of youth slip away without improvement. A time of the strivings of God’s Spirit is more precious than other time. Then God is near; and we are directed, in Isa. 55:6, “To seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon Him while He is near.” Such especially is an accepted time, and a day of salvation: 2 Cor. 6:2, “I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in a day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

THIRD, improve well your time of LEISURE from worldly business. Many persons have a great deal of such time, and all have some. If men be but disposed to it, such time may be improved to great advantage. When we are most free from cares for the body, and business of an outward nature, a happy opportunity for the soul is afforded. Therefore spend not such opportunities unprofitably, nor in such a manner that you will not be able to give a good account thereof to God. Waste them not away wholly in unprofitable visits, or useless diversions or amusements. Diversion should be used only in subserviency to business. So much, and no more, should be used, as doth most fit the mind and body for the work of our general and particular callings.

You have need to IMPROVE every talent, advantage, and opportunity, to your utmost, WHILE TIME LASTS; for it will soon be said concerning you, according to the oath of the angel, in Rev. 10:5, 6, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, THAT THERE SHOULD BE TIME NO LONGER.”

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF GOD’S PEOPLE

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF GOD’S PEOPLE

“But as for you, YE THOUGHT EVIL against me; BUT GOD MEANT IT UNTO GOOD.” [Gen 50:20]

“All things work TOGETHER for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose”! [Rom 8:28]

But all these things, however trying to our minds, however hard to bear, however painful to our flesh, are decreed to “work TOGETHER“.

They do not work SINGLY, but they work TOGETHER with something else. It is like my watch. The wheel that turns the hand is not the same wheel that is moved by the spring; but one wheel works within another wheel, and one cog catches in another cog, until at length, the time of day is shown upon the dial. So with respect to our afflictions, our exercises, the trials of our minds, the various disappointments and perplexities we have to endure; they do not work singly, but together with something else; and it is by this working together with something else that they produce a divine and blessed result.

But what is that with which they work? The grace of God in the soul. The wheel of providence works with the wheel of grace; and the wheel of grace works with the wheel of providence; and together a blessing is the result. For instance, some affliction befalls your body; you are laid upon a sick bed. That affliction will do you no good in itself; but it works together with the grace of God in your soul; and by its working together with the grace of God in your soul, a blessing is the result.

Or, you are brought down in circumstances – you have a very difficult path to tread in providence. This will do you no good in itself; there are thousands of people in bad circumstances who get no good from them. But it works together with the life and power of God in your soul; and so it produces a blessing. Or, you may lose a wife, or a child, or have sickness in your family; in themselves no good is produced by these things; but they work together with the life and power of God in your soul; and this brings about the blessing.

In this word lies the mystery–they work TOGETHER!

[From J.C. Philpot’s sermon – “The Working of All Things Together for Good”]

Interestingly the NIV leaves out the word “TOGETHER” and reads –
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. [Rom 8:28]

I threw my NIV in the trash a long time ago!

THE ACRONYM TULIP AND REFORMED THEOLOGY (2)

THE ACRONYM TULIP AND REFORMED THEOLOGY (2)

by Barry Gritters

T – TOTAL DEPRAVITY

That means simply MAN is DEAD. The Bible says that you and I are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-6) unless we are born again. DEAD!!! More than that, the man or woman who is dead in sin hates God, and his “carnal mind” is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). His will is stubbornly steeled against God. This Biblical idea changes a lot of modern talk about salvation.

Consider what that means:
1. Can a man do good works then, if he is not a Christian who is born again? No. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).
2. Can a man want to be born again and follow instructions on “how to do it?” No, for that would be like saying that a man in a grave can desire to come out of the grave, or follow instructions on how to be made alive. It would be like trying to lure him out of the grave. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:33).
3. Can any man “accept Christ” as his personal Savior, so that he becomes saved after that? Of course not. Accepting Christ is a good work done only by a Christian. Only AFTER God makes a person alive, can he and will he accept Christ. “No man can come unto me, EXCEPT THE FATHER which hath sent me DRAW HIM” (John 6:44).
4. Can you “offer salvation” to anyone? That is surely impossible. One might as well offer food to a dead man than salvation to a dead sinner (Eph.2:1-2).

ONLY GOD CAN MAKE US ALIVE. AND GOD DOES THAT SOVEREIGNLY – WITHOUT OUR AID, WITHOUT OUR ASKING. From beginning to end, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). This is the faith that WE PREACH, because it is Biblical, because it is the FAITH of our fathers, which we love, still living in our hearts, and because it gives God all the glory!

NOT MY CHOICE
U – UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

This means simply: God CHOOSES to give some people eternal life, WITHOUT looking for anything good in them AS A CONDITION for loving and saving them.
Before any man or woman is born — in fact, before the world was made — God decided who would go to heaven and who would not. Before they did good or bad, God chose some to be His people and rejected others.
“CONDITIONAL election” would mean that God chooses to be His those who FIRST LOVE AND CHOOSE HIM. But the Bible says: “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you” John 15:16. (Please also look at Romans 9:11-21.) Acts 13:48 says that “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Only, when we speak this language is the horse placed before the cart. CONDITIONAL election puts the cart before the horse, because it says that man believes and THEN is ordained to eternal life. Read carefully John 10:26 for another plain “horse before the cart” passage. Can one imagine what the DENIAL of this doctrine would mean? If we remember that before we are saved, we can DO NOTHING GOOD (John 15:5; Ephesians 2:1-6), the only conclusion is that we could never choose God. And never would. And never would be saved.

But God is sovereign and chooses whom He will choose. And after He chooses us, we choose Him daily. All we are and all we have is given us by God.

Again, this is the faith that we preach, because it is Biblical, because it is the faith of our fathers, living still in our hearts, and because it gives God all the glory!!!!

FOR ALL MEN?
L – LIMITED ATONEMENT

The great gospel message that so many today are urgently carrying to distant lands is that CHRIST MADE ATONEMENT WITH HIS DEATH. But there are two critical points at which this message is so severely distorted that it no longer carries the gospel message.

THE FIRST DISTORTION concerns what Christ’s death DID. The Biblical truth of the ATONEMENT is that His death PAID FOR SINS. Yet so many today teach that Christ’s death was only an example for us to follow, and if one merely follows His example he will be saved. Or it is taught that Christ’s death did not actually pay for any specific sins, but made it POSSIBLE for all sins to be paid for.

But the Bible says that Christ’s death on the cross actually paid for sins. Acts 20:28 says that God bought the church with His own blood. See also Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 7:26-27.

THE SECOND DISTORTION of this biblical truth is that Christ died for all men. Some teach that Christ made it possible for all men to be saved. But the questions that must be asked are: “If Christ died for all men, why are not all men saved?” “Cannot God do what He desires to do?” “Is there something defective in Christ’s death?” “Must man desire to be saved first?” But a man who is totally depraved can not will to be saved. He hates God and wants nothing to do with Christ’s death. So it must not be said that Christ died for all men.

The Bible says that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, and only them. John 10:11. The ATONEMENT is LIMITED to the elect of God. Every sin of every one of Christ’s sheep is paid for. Those sins and those alone have been paid for. That is the only gospel because that is the Bible.

DRAGGED KICKING & SCREAMING TO HEAVEN?
I – IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

The fourth Biblical truth in the five points of Calvinism teaches THAT GOD’S GRACE TO SAVE A PERSON CANNOT BE RESISTED. Grace is God’s FREE AND UNMERITED POWER to save a person from his sins which would otherwise lead us to hell. Grace brings him to heaven who naturally would end in eternal hell.

That grace is irresistible. That means that if God gives grace to you, there is nothing in the world that you can do to resist it and thwart God’s intention to take you to heaven. The certainty of salvation for God’s elect is seen in John 6:37 where Jesus says: “All that the Father hath given me shall come to me…” There is no doubt that they will be saved. Verse 44 says that those who come to God come BECAUSE GOD DRAWS THEM. Not our will, but God’s will is first and powerful.

Now, some ridicule this truth of the Bible and say that it makes man go to heaven against his will. “He kicks and screams all the way to heaven.” But that is not how the Bible presents God’s grace. God makes His people “WILLING in the day of His power” Psalm 110:3. For a wonderful illustration of that truth, just consider the converted Apostle Paul. “By the GRACE of God’ he was what he was (I Corinthians 15:10). And immediately after his conversion he said WILLINGLY, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Acts 9:6. That surely was not against his will.

God’s grace is sweet and irresistible. He makes us love it and want nothing else. He is as irresistible to us as a husband to his newly-wed bride. Come with us and hear God’s wonderful grace proclaimed in Christ any Lord’s Day.

LIVING LIKE THE DEVIL?
P – PRESERVATION OF THE SAINTS

The last of the five points of Calvinism teaches that GOD PRESERVES HIS PEOPLE SO THEY CAN NEVER be lost. To put it simply, it means this: “Once you are saved, you are always saved.”

God’s Word is full of proof for this beautiful truth. And though many deny it, and tell you that you can be lost and saved many, many times, and therefore can never be sure of your salvation, the Bible says otherwise. Talking about His elect sheep, Jesus said: “And I give them eternal life; and they shall NEVER perish, NEITHER SHALL ANY MAN PLUCK THEM OUT OF MY HAND” (John 10:28). See John 6:39, 17:2, 11,12; Romans 8:37-39; II Tim. 1:12; 4:18, etc. etc.

Some object to this doctrine because it supposedly makes men “carnally secure” in their salvation. That is, if I know nothing can make me go to hell once God has saved me, I will “live like the devil.” There have been some who have used this beautiful truth as an excuse to live like the devil. But they are not Christians. Nor do they understand this truth. Because this truth also implies “PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.”

Those who never fall away are SAINTS. They are HOLY. And they are given power to live holy lives. They “continue in well-doing.” Anyone who says he can “live like the devil” has not experienced the saving power of Christ and does not know the meaning of Philippians 1:6, “He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God will continue working good works in us until Christ returns. Don’t think otherwise.

Is there any hope for Christians without this doctrine? We don’t need to be “scared to heaven.” We need comfort. Because we know that if it were up to the Christian to remain saved, he would never be able to do it. You know yourself!!!! There is no power in me apart from God’s grace.