From these statements of the inspired word [e.g.God turning the hearts of them men of Israel against Rehoboam], and from similar passages which it would take too long to quote in full, it is, I think, sufficiently clear that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills whithersoever He wills, whether to good deeds according to His mercy, or to evil after their own deserts; His own judgment being sometimes manifest, sometimes secret, but always righteous. This ought to be the fixed and immoveable conviction of your heart, that there is no unrighteousness with God. (Augustine)


Although the saints on account of the grievous sins into which they slip, deserve exclusion from the kingdom of heaven and the abrogation of their justification and adoption, still it happens by the mercy of God that on this account neither their right to the kingdom of heaven is taken away, nor justification or adoption recalled, nor their state of regeneration effectively destroyed. The right to the kingdom is not founded upon our actions, but on the gratuitous adoption of God and our indissoluble union with Christ. Also, the guilt of this or that sin does not abrogate the universal justification of preceding sins and the state of the person reconciled to God by Christ. The privilege of adoption does not depend upon us, but upon the mercy of God the Father alone. The grace of regeneration flows from the Spirit, who as he once implanted in our hearts that vivifying seed, so he impressed upon it a heavenly and incorruptible force and this he perpetually cherishes and preserves. Thus although sinful man can (at least for a time) lose the use of this right and the sense of justification, still he cannot fall from lose the use of this right and the sense of justification, still he cannot fall from that right, Even if he were deprived of the solace of adoption, still he is not at once divested of that adoption so that he who had been made a son of God should become a child of the Devil and a servant of sin. And if that seed is latent in the heart and does not exhibit itself outwardly in the bearing of fruit, still it is not dead-life is always in the root. The act of faith can be intercepted, but the not dead-life is always in the root. The act of faith can be intercepted, but the habit itself cannot be shaken off (as fire lies concealed under ashes; as life which suffers it decays; as a plant in the winter which neither flourishes nor bears fruit).

Thus, we are commanded "to serve the Lord with fear and to rejoice with trembling" (Ps. 2:11), because joy without fear is pride, fear without joy is despair; both joined together add sure confidence with deep humility to the mind. Thus, the believer fears on account of sin, rejoices on account of grace, fears on account of his own infirmity and threatening dangers and anxiously uses all the means that he may not slip into carnal security. Still he rejoices with confidence in the divine aid promised to him that he may not rush into despair.

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology
Fifteenth Topic: Calling and Faith

Sixteenth Question: The Perseverance of Faith (p.613-614,628)

Calvin on Piety

Piety has a family ring about it (devotion to one’s father being its most common human expression). Alongside it in sheer frequency of use Calvin employs another family to describe the Christian life: adoptio – adoptive sonship. … Piety is an expression of adoption – reverence for God, living with a single eye to his glory. This is what the children of God are called to do and to be. Sinclair Ferguson, Some Pastors and Teachers p. 68

True piety consists rather in a pure and true zeal which loves God altogether as Father, and reveres him truly as Lord, embraces his justice and dreads to offend him more than to die. Calvin’s French Catechism of 1537

"God is so great that according to his eternal purposes … no sin can frustrate the Lord of his purpose. … Almighty God in his eternal purpose of election and salvation actually rides high and sinlessly on the sins of his saints having dealt with them by precious blood and by the fire – the purging fire of the Holy Spirit … The sinners are transformed into instruments of his holy will."

(William Still)


… in the language of earlier generations of preachers, to both wound and heal, sing and sting, disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

Source: Capill, The Heart is the Target p.19

He even repeatedly presents the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as a reward (Matt. 19:29; 25:34, 46) that is already stored up in heaven now (5: 12; 6:20; 19:21; Luke 6:23) and will be distributed at the resurrection (14:14). And that reward will be paid for all sorts of works: for enduring persecution and disgrace (Matt. 5: 10-12), loving one’s enemies (5:46), giving alms (6:4), perseverance (10:22), confessing Jesus’s name (10:32), service to his disciples (10:41-42), giving up everything and leaving it behind (19:21, 29), working in the vineyard (20:1-16), faithfulness in one’s vocation careful management of the goods entrusted to us (25:14-30), mercy toward the disciples of Jesus and so forth. There is therefore no doubt whatever that Jesus uses the idea of reward as an incentive to spur his disciples toward faithfulness and perseverance in the pursuit of their calling. … works. Although salvation is granted to all believers, there will be differences in glory among them, depending on their works (Matt. 10:41; 18:4; 20:16; 25:14ff.).  In Scripture, therefore, both in the New and in the Old Testament, there is a close connection between sanctification and glorification. What is sown here is harvested in eternity (Matt. 25:24, 26; I Cor. 15:42ff.; 2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 6:7-8).

Source: Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation, Sanctification and Perseverance, Holiness as Gift and Reward, pp. 234-236

To correctly assess the benefit of justification, people must lift up their minds to the judgment seat of God and put themselves in his presence. When they compare themselves with others or measure themselves by the standard that they apply to themselves or among each other, they have some reason perhaps to pride themselves in something and to put their trust in it. But when they put themselves before the face of God and examine themselves in the mirror of his holy law, all their conceit collapses, all self-confidence melts, and there is room left only for the prayer: "Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you" (Job 4:17-19; 9:2; 15: 14-16; Ps. 143:2; cf. 130:3), and their only comfort is that "there is forgiveness before you, so that you may be revered" (Ps. 130:4). If for insignificant, guilty, and impure persons there is to be a possibility of true religion, that is, of genuine fellowship with God, of salvation and eternal life, then God on his part must reestablish the broken bond, again take them into fellowship with him and share his grace with them, regardless of their guilt and corruption. He, then, must descend from the height of his majesty, seek us out and come to us, take away our guilt and again open the way to his fatherly heart. If God were to wait until we—by our faith, our virtues, and good works of congruity or condignity—had made ourselves worthy, in part or in whole, to receive his favor, the restoration of communion between him and ourselves would never happen, and salvation would forever be out of reach for us.

… In the past, Reformed theologians put it as follows: The Father justifies effectively; the Son, meritoriously; the Holy Spirit, applicationally. And to complete the picture at once, let us add: faith apprehends, the sacraments seal, and works declare. (B. de Moor, Comm. theol., IV, 562.)

Source: Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation, Justification, Justification is Forensic, Not Ethical, pp. 204-205

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