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What is conversion

We have already demonstrated above that man is entirely incapable of converting himself Allow me to make you acquainted with yourself, your inability, as well as that your refraining from evil and doing good is of no value before God. Allow me briefly to convey to you what true conversion is. Some imagine that conversion consists in refraining from the commission of gross sins and in the performance of some good deeds. Conversion, however, is a complete change of man as far as his spiritual frame, intellect, will, thoughts, words, and deeds are concerned. This change can be compared with a person born blind receiving his sight, a deaf person being enabled to hear, a dumb person being enabled to speak, or a totally paralyzed person being enabled to move about. The Holy Spirit is given to the person who is to be converted, who, having made His residence in the soul, reveals to the soul how polluted it is from every perspective, causing the soul to detest and abhor itself, to be filled with shame, to be humbled, and to be perplexed concerning its condition. In addition to this the Holy Spirit reveals God to the soul as being holy, majestic, just, good, and a God of truth. He reveals to the soul the necessity and the fullness of the Mediator and grants him some understanding as to how he can be reconciled and united to God. He works love and fear for, and obedience towards, God. How precious this becomes to the soul, causing him to betake himself to the Mediator Jesus, to receive these matters out of His fullness! This produces grief and sorrow over the fact that the soul cleaves to all that is before the eyes and cleaves to sin—both the great as well as the small sins, both external and internal sins. Now he perceives and is conscious of all these sins of which previously he took no notice. Such a soul now seeks to exercise communion with God and desires to be near Him. The soul is either joyful or sorrowful in relation to whether he is far from God or close to Him. His disposition is one in which his back is turned the world and sin, even though he is frequently ensnared by them. He lives focused upon God, and even though all is darkness, he looks to Him for light, life, spirituality, comfort, strength to do battle against sin, as well as for holiness. Such a soul is not satisfied with mere performance. He knows that he must perform good works, but wishes to do so by faith, in union with Christ, and through Him unto God, doing so in the presence of the Lord out of love to God, in the fear of God, in obedience to God, and with denial of self.

Source: Wilhelmus à Brakel – Dutch theologian from the late 1600s

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Pray for the Sermon

The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savour of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God’s special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and bring forth fruits. … Pray for him who dispenses the word; that his tongue may be touched with a coal from God’s altar; that God would warm his heart who is to help to warm others. Your prayers may be a means to quicken the minister. Some complain they find no benefit by the word preached; perhaps they did not pray for their minister as they should. Prayer is like the whetting and sharpening of an instrument, which makes it cut better. Pray with and for your family. Yea, pray for all the congregations that meet on this day in the fear of the Lord; that the dew of the Spirit may fall with the manna of the word; that some souls may be converted, and others strengthened; that gospel ordinances may be continued, and have no restraint put upon them. These are the things we should pray for. The tree of mercy will not drop its fruit, useless it be shaken by the hand of prayer.

Source: Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments

Love–a holy fire

[Love] is a holy fire kindled in the affections whereby a Christian is carried out strongly after God as the supreme good. The antecedent of love is knowledge. The Spirit shines upon the understanding and discovers the beauties of wisdom, holiness and mercy in God and these are the loadstone to draw out love to God … The nature of love consists in delighting in an object.

Source: Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 1692

The Sabbath

The Sabbath-day is for our interest; it promotes holiness in us. The business of week-days makes us forgetful of God and our souls; the Sabbath brings him back to our remembrance. When the falling dust of the world has clogged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections, and they move swiftly on. God has appointed the Sabbath for this end.

Source: Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 1692

Omniscient God

You, however, who take your refuge in the Lord Jesus, choose Him as your Surety, receive Him by faith, find all your hope and comfort in Him, and fear and serve the Lord—how the omniscience of God ought to be to your comfort! For,
1. He is cognizant of your sincerity relative to Him and your desire to please Him. …
2. The Lord knows of your religious exercises in secret, prayers, supplications, wrestlings of faith, sighs, weeping, cleaving to Him, reading, meditation, holy intentions, fear of God, and godly walk. …
3. The Lord knows of your secret strife; of your wrestling against unbelief; of your sorrow over your sins, lack of light, and being afar from God; and of all your spiritual anxieties. …
4. The Lord perceives your bodily needs, adversities, poverty, and tribulations. …
5. The Lord is cognizant of your innocence when people with lies speak evil of you and slander you. …
Oh, what strong consolation may believers derive from the omniscience of God, for He does not merely take note of their misery in an external sense, but He beholds them with compassion and is ready to help them in the time of His good pleasure!
(Source: Wilhelmus à Brakel)

The Word is a special means for sanctification … God’s Word does not only work sanctification by means of continual exhortation by which the soul is inclined towards obedience by the very voice of God. It also works sanctification through a continual dialogue with God Himself while hearing, reading, and meditating upon His Word as the believer seeks to regulate his life by means of the Word. In addition to this the soul will be more exercised in faith and will become more established in the truth by virtue of its consistent use of God’s Word. Faith then gives birth to love, and love in turn to sanctification. Yes, the soul is led further in this way into the mysteries of God’s Word and perceives many matters which it previously was not able to discern. Every new acquaintance with spiritual mysteries, however, as well as each mystery itself, has a sanctifying influence. Those who are remiss in reading and lax in acquainting themselves with God’s Word will be deprived to a considerable degree of these blessed fruits.

The Christian’s Reasonable Service by Wilhemus A’Brakel The Necessity of Scripture p.74

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Nineteenth Topic: The Sacraments – Twenty-Fifth Question: Communion Under Both Kinds – Ought both symbols of the Eucharist to be administered according to the command of God to each and every adult believer? Or is the use of the cup to be forbidden to the people? The former we affirm; the latter we deny against the Romanists.

The Eucharistical cup was instituted by Christ as a symbol of the threefold mystical cup which is represented to us in the sacrament: (1) of the cup of the sufferings of Christ (cf. Mt. 26:39), of which it is a memorial in the wine which is poured out, (2) of the cup of grace and consolation, of which it is a seal in the cup which is extended to be drunk (cf. Ps. 16:5; 23:5); (3) of the cup of praise and of the giving of thanks, of which it is a testimony in the use of the cup, which we take with praise and thanksgiving (cf. Ps. 116:13) and which on that account, like the Passover cup, is rightly called "the cup of praise." Not without great sacrilege and a dangerous diminishing of the consolation of the pious is the communion of it taken away from the Christian people against the express command of Christ.

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