Archive for March, 2011

"Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that there is an amount of weakness in all our hearts, of which we have no adequate conception, and that we never know how far we might fall if we were tempted. We fancy sometimes, like Peter, that there are some things we could not possibly do. We look pitifully upon others who fall, and please ourselves in the thought that at any rate we should not have done so. We know nothing at all. The seeds of every sin are latent in our hearts, even when renewed, and they only need occasion, or carelessness and the withdrawal of God’s grace for a season, to put forth an abundant crop. Like Peter, we may think we can do wonders for Christ, and like Peter, we may learn by bitter experience that we have no power and might at all. The servant of Christ will do wisely to remember these things. … A humble sense of our own innate weakness, a constant dependence on the Strong for strength, a daily prayer to be held up, because we cannot hold up ourselves,—these are the true secrets of safety."

Source: J.C. Ryle on John 13:31-38

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Hence we learn how absolutely we are dependent on God in this great matter of the eternal salvation of our souls. We are dependent not only on his wisdom to contrive a way to accomplish it, and on his power to bring it to pass, but we are dependent on his mere will and pleasure in the affair.

We depend on the sovereign will of God for every thing belonging to it, from the foundation to the top-stone. It was of the sovereign pleasure of God, that he contrived a way to save any of mankind, and gave us Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, to be our Redeemer. …

It was of his sovereign pleasure what means to appoint. … His giving those means to us rather than to others, his giving the awakening influences of his Spirit, and his bestowing saving grace, are all of his sovereign pleasure.

When he says, ‘Let there be light in the soul of such an one,’ it is a word of infinite power and sovereign grace.

source: Jonathan Edwards, God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men (Romans 9:18) Sermon IV of Seventeen Occasional Sermons

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It is not irreligious, idle, or superfluous, but in the highest degree wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know whether or not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation. Indeed, let me tell you, this is the hinge on which our discussion turns, the crucial issue between us; our aim is, simply, to investigate what ability free will has, in what respect it is the subject of Divine action and how it stands related to the grace of God. If we know nothing of these things, we shall know nothing whatsoever of Christianity, and shall be in worse case than any people on earth! He who dissents from that statement should acknowledge that he is no Christian; and he who ridicules or derides it should realize that he is the Christian’s chief foe. For if I am ignorant in the nature, extent and limits of what I can and must do with reference to God, I shall be equally ignorant and uncertain of the nature, extent and limits of what God can and will do in me – though God, in fact, works all in all (1Co 12:6). Now, if I am ignorant of God’s works and power, I am ignorant of God himself; and if I do not know God, I cannot worship, praise, give thanks or serve Him, for I do not know how much I should attribute to myself and how much to Him. We need, therefore, to have in mind a clear-cut distinction between God’s power and ours, and God’s work and ours, if we would live a godly life.

Source: Martin Luther, The Bondage of The Will, 1525

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Oh how rare are the pastors who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel.

source: a quote from John Piper

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Jesus called out to Lazarus in a command in a loud voice, “Come out”.

The dead man obeys.

The only reason Lazarus can obey or even hear is because Jesus causes him to “live”.

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God can and often does make wicked men instruments to serve his own purposes, even contrary to their own intentions; for he has them not only in a chain, to restrain them from doing the mischief they would, but in a bridle, to lead them to do the service they would not.

source: Matthew Henry

… it is also a shame for a believer to be “afraid of evil tidings,” since the Lord, with whom he is one, alone ruleth all things, “and doth whatsoever pleaseth him in heaven and earth.”

source: William Guthrie

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From a lecture by Gordon Fee, recounting the morning that he sat in his study to work on 1 Corinthians 13:4 for his commentary:

I remember the morning when I came to this passage: “Love is patient, love is kind.”

It’s actually a verb: “Love does patience.” Or better yet, the KJV: “love suffers long.”

Patience is what you show when your computer doesn’t work.

Long-suffering is what you show when people don’t work, and you’ve been around them a long, long time. That’s what it means to suffer long.

And I looked at those words and then realized that Paul was here describing God’s character. Those are exactly the words he uses of God back in Romans 2 [v. 4].

Then it dawned on me:

the first (long-suffering) is the passive side of His love;

the other (kindness) is the active side of His love.

And then I started to cry for a long time. It took me a long time to return to my computer. What if God was not like this toward us?

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Interpreting Interruptions

“When I hear a knock at my study door, I hear a message from God. It may be a lesson of instruction; perhaps a lesson of patience: but, since it is his message, it must be interesting.”

—John Newton, in Works I:76.

Baptism and Children

There is an irony in the discussion—namely, that Jesus tells us to have faith like a child, and we often tell children that they first have to have demonstrate faith like an adult.

source: unknown

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Jesus’ sheep

I have other sheep. Those who in process of time should believe in Christ, and be brought into obedience to him from among the Gentiles, are here called sheep, and he is said to have them, though as yet they were uncalled, and many of them unborn, because they were chosen of God, and given to Christ in the counsels of divine love from eternity. Christ has a right, by virtue of the Father’s donation and his own purchase, to many a soul of which he has not yet the possession; thus he had much people in Corinth, when as yet it lay in wickedness, Acts 18:10. “Those other sheep I have,” saith Christ, “I have them on my heart, have them in my eye, am as sure to have them as if I had them already.”

He condemns them for their obstinate unbelief, notwithstanding all the most plain and powerful arguments used to convince them: "You believed not; and again, You believed not. You still are what you always were, obstinate in your unbelief." But the reason he gives is very surprising: "You believed not, because you are not of my sheep: you believe not in me, because you belong not to me." … "You are not designed to be my followers; you are not of those that were given me by my Father, to be brought to grace and glory. You are not of the number of the elect; and your unbelief, if you persist in it, will be a certain evidence that you are not." … The not being included among the elect is not the proper cause of infidelity, but merely the accidental cause. But faith is the gift of God, and the effect of predestination.

Source: Matthew Henry, John 10

Who is the Proprietor of the sheep? They are all Christ’s. “My sheep hear My voice.” How came the saints to be Christ’s? They are His, first of all, because He chose them. Before the worlds were made, out of all the rest of mankind He selected them. He knew the race would fall and become unworthy of the faculties with which He endowed them and the inheritance He had assigned them. To Him belonged the sovereign prerogative that He might have mercy on whom He would have mercy. And He, out of His own absolute will, and according to the counsel of His own good pleasure, made choice severally and individually of certain persons—and He said, “These are Mine.” Their names were written in His book—they became His portion and His heritage. Having chosen them of old so many ages ago, rest assured He will not lose them now.

Source: Charles Spurgeon, The Sheep and Their Shepherd Sermon (#995)

Who are these? Well, these “other sheep” were, first, His chosen, for He has a people whom He has chosen out of the world and ordained unto eternal life. “You have not chosen Me,” He said, “but I have chosen you”—there is a people upon whom His sovereignty has fixed its loving choice from before the foundation of the world! And of these elect ones, He says, “I have them.” His election of them is the basis of His property in them. These are, also, those whom His Father gave Him, of whom He says in another place, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” And again, “Of those whom You have given Me I have lost none.” His Father’s eternal donation of them seals His title to them! These are the people for whom He peculiarly and especially laid down His life that they might be the redeemed of the Lord.

Source: Charles Spurgeon, Other Sheep and One Flock Sermon 25 March, 1883 (#1713)

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To particular sons. Christ came into the world, [1.] Intentionally and designedly to give sight to those that were spiritually blind; by his word to reveal the object, and by his Spirit to heal the organ, that many precious souls might be turned from darkness to light.

source: Matthew Henry, John 9:39-41

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