Theological Structures that Damage/Destroy Our Assurance of Salvation

Written by, Roger Nicole,
Taken from an article written for Ligonier Ministries,
and The Confessing Baptist.

imagesThe privilege of assurance…

…which is secured by the work of Christ for His own and which is properly undergirded in the Reformed faith, is damaged or even destroyed in certain other theological structures.

I. When justification by faith alone is not duly proclaimed and the good works of the believer are presented as participating in the ground on the basis of which salvation is secured, the. assurance of faith receives a fatal blow…

II. This problem also burdens the Arminian view. In keeping with Arminian principles, a believer may properly say, “I am saved now,” for by virtue of the work of Christ God confers salvation to any and all who repent and believe. Yet this blessing is not a basis for complete confidence that a change of disposition may occur…

III. There are, of course, other systems of thought that undermine assurance in a still more fundamental way. For instance, those which deny the reality of life beyond the grave have no place for salvation, let alone assurance. Those also which think of salvation in social rather than individual terms do not consider assurance.

IV. Those, which expect that ultimately all rational creatures, or at least all members of the human race, will be saved extend assurance to all, but in this process emasculate the Gospel and depart from the clear teaching of Scripture as it has been well understood over the centuries.

In the Reformed doctrine assurance is grounded in the adequacy of the work of Christ, our mediator and covenant head, in the testimony of the Holy Spirit who witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16), and in the persistent purpose of God who has begun a good work in the believer and will carry it to completion until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6).

 

I long to know how matters stand between Christ and your soul…

Written by, Samuel Rutherford, (1600-1661).
Taken from, “A Selection from his Letters.”
Written to, The Lady Gaitgirth.
Where and when, Aberdeen, 1637.
Edited for thought and sense.

imagesTime cannot change Him in His love.

Ye yourself may ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane; but your Lord is this day as He was yesterday. And it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have ye to do with a Christ at your own shaping. God has singled out a Mediator, strong and mighty: if ye and your burdens were as heavy as ten hills or hells, He is able to bear you, and to save you to the uttermost.

Your often seeking to Him cannot make you a burden to Him.

I know that Christ has compassion for you, and feels and groans in heaven for you, in all your moods, and under your down castings; but it is good for you that He hideth Himself sometimes. It is not niceness, dryness, nor coldness of love, that causeth Christ to withdraw, and slip in under a curtain and a veil, that ye cannot see Him; but He knoweth that ye could not bear with furled sails, a fair gale, a full moon, and a high spring-tide of His fully felt love, and always a fair summer-day and a summer-sun of a felt and possessed and embracing Lord Jesus.

His kisses and His visits to His dearest ones are thin-sown.

He could not let out His rivers of love upon His own, but these rivers would be in hazard of loosening a young plant at the root; and He knoweth this of you. Ye should, therefore, understand Christ’s kindness, as to its sensible and full manifestations, till ye and He be above sun and moon. That is the country where ye will be enlarged for that love which ye do not now contain.

Cast the burden of your sweet babes upon Christ, and lighten your heart, by laying your all upon Him: He will be their God.

I hope to see you up the mountain yet, and glad in the salvation of God. Frame yourself for Christ, and gloom not upon His cross. I find Him so sweet, that my love, suppose I would charge it to remove from Christ, would not obey me: His love has stronger fingers than to let go its grips of us children, who cannot go but by such a hold as Christ. It is good that we want legs of our own, since we may borrow from Christ; and it is our happiness that Christ is under an act of cautionary for heaven, and that Christ is booked in heaven as the principal debtor for such poor bodies as we are.

I request you, give the laird, your husband, thanks for his care of me, in that he has appeared in public for a prisoner of Christ. I pray and write mercy, and peace, and blessings to him and his.

Grace, grace be with you for ever.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Samuel Rutherford (c.1600 – 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire,Galloway, where it was said of him ‘he was always praying, always,preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying’, and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, ‘being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living’, there in Aberdeen, ‘his writing desk’, was said to be, ‘perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom’. His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.

Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the “Drunken Parliament” deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college.

His epitaph on his tombstone concluded ‘Acquainted with Immanuel’s song’.

Rutherford’s has been described as ‘Prince of Letter writers’ and C. H. Spurgeon described Rutherford’s letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men, continuing in an 1891 review of Rutherford’s (posthumously published Letters (1664) ‘when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men’. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed ‘the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry’ continuing ‘a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.’ Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional w

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 34: A Psalm of Communion, of Christian Heroes, and of the Ages

 

Psalm 34

Lent DevotionalThe 34th Psalm is mentioned by Cyril, A.D. 340, and also by Jerome, as being usually sung by the Church of Jerusalem at the time of Communion.
.

It is appropriate throughout for Communion with some of the parts especially so, and it contains the passage which the Evangelist John (19:36) applies to our Lord, ‘He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.’

Error had begun in different ways to creep into the Christian Church, but the memorials of the bread and wine were parted among all, and the thanksgiving of the communion had not passed into the sacrifice of the mass. The efficacy of atonement is ascribed only to the personal work of Christ himself, and such expressions as these occur: ‘It is by Jesus Christ we bring this sacrifice of praise in thy name, and in the name of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. O Lord, we render thanks to thee by thy well -beloved Son Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent in the last times to be our Savior and Redeemer, the Messenger of thy Counsel. It is by him, the Word who comes forth from thee, that thou hast done all.’

It may be seen how well this spirit agrees with the burst of gratitude in the opening of the psalm, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad,’ Sometimes there was added the fervent aspiration of the 42nd Psalm, ‘As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God.’

It was the love of youth burning all the brighter that it was borne heavenwards by winds of persecution.

Verse 10. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:  but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good Thing,’ were the last words written by Columba after he had spent a long life of incessant Christian labor, part of which was given to the transcription of copies of the Psalms and Gospels. Columba’ s figure in the history of the British Church is the most clear and noble from the entrance of Christianity to the Reformation, with the exception of Bede and Wycliffe; and he surpassed both of these in the missionary ardor he felt and infused into his followers. His position in Scotland is a singular one. He stands among the stormy Hebrides, like one of their lonely lighthouses, upheld by a mighty arm of rock, to cast a sudden gleam over the waters, and draw it back again into the night.

But like theirs, too, the light appears, hidden, but not quenched…

…or, still more, it is flashed from point to point as time moves on. Placed as he and his disciples were on the known limits of the western world, their zeal turned eastward, and sought a field among the Celtic and Gothic tribes to the very center of Europe. The endless knot “the peculiar signet mark of Scottish art” is found carved in stone, graven in gold and silver, inscribed on illuminated parchment, and tells at Wurtzburg, at St. Gall, at Eatisbon, that the foot of the Columban missionary has pressed the heathen soil with the message of the faith.

Columba died on the morning of the Lord’s day, June 9, A.D. 597, in his beloved lona.

‘There sleep the saintly dead,
Whom from their island home
The Baptist’s hermit spirit led
O’er moss and moor to roam.
Where, soft as spring-tide dew,
Their gracious speech was heard,
Wild tribes whom Caesar never knew
Bowed captive to the Word.’

The narrative Adamnan gives of his closing hours, of his farewell words with his sorrow-stricken disciples, of his parting with his faithful old horse, which put its head on its master’s breast as if aware of the event, reveals the deep tenderness and humanity of his nature.

When the biographer has lingered lovingly on the little incidents that preceded the death, he continues: ‘After these words he descended the hill, and, having returned to the monastery, sat in his hut transcribing the Psalter; and coming to that verse of the 34th Psalm, where it is written, “They that seek the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good,” “Here,” said he, “at the end of the page I must stop, and what follows let Baithen write.” The last verse he had written was very applicable to the saint who was about to depart, and to whom eternal good shall never be wanting; while the one that follows is equally applicable to the father who succeeded him, the instructor of his spiritual children, “Come, ye children, and hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” And indeed he succeeded, as recommended by him, both in writing the words, and in teaching his disciples.’

Far away from Columba in time, and yet with the same simple faith, two men sang a part of this psalm at the place of execution in Edinburgh, 1679. They were Andrew Sword and John Clyde, countrymen from Galloway, who were condemned for having been at Bothwell, and in penalty for the death of Arch Bishop Sharp, though neither of them had ever seen him.

“The troubles that afflict the just
In number many be;
But yet at length out of them all
The Lord doth set him free.’  

–Verse 19

‘God hath not promised,’ said one of them, ‘to keep us from trouble, but to be with us in it, and what needs more? ‘I bless the Lord for keeping of me to this very hour; for little would I have thought a twelve month since that the Lord would have taken a poor plowman lad, and have honored me so highly as to have made me first appear for him, and then to keep me straight, and now hath kept me to this very hour to lay down my life for him.

At the ladder foot, he said to his brother, ‘Weep not for me, brother, but weep for yourself and the poor land; and make him sure for yourself, and he shall be better to you than ten brethren.’

It was surely fire from God’s own heaven which breathed this soul into the mold of a Scottish plowman.

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Written by John Ker, D. D.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography”.

Meet Colomba, a very important early Irish Christian Missionary and part of your Christian heritage: Columba (Irish: Colm Cille, ‘church dove’; 7 December 521 – 9 June 597) was an Irish abbot and missionary credited with spreading Christianity in present-day Scotland. He founded the important abbey on Iona, which became a dominant religious and political institution in the region for centuries. He is the Patron Saint of Derry. He was highly regarded by both the Gaels of Dál Riata and the Picts, and is remembered today as a Christian saint and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.

Columba reportedly studied under some of Ireland’s most prominent church figures and founded several monasteries in the country. Around 563 he and his twelve companions crossed to Dunaverty near Southend, Argyll in Kintyre before settling in Iona in Scotland, then part of the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata, where they founded a new abbey as a base for spreading Christianity among the northern Pictish kingdoms who were pagan. He remained active in Irish politics, though he spent most of the remainder of his life in Scotland. Three surviving early medieval Latin hymns may be attributed to him.

The Art of Casting our Cares…On the Lord!

Written by, Robert Leighton (1611-1684).

burdens“Humble yourselves, therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time
he may exalt you,
casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you.” 

–1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

Cast thy burden upon the Lord. Hand it over, heave it upon him…

…and he shall sustain you, shall bear both, if you trust him with both; both you and your burden.  He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  The children of God have the only sweet life; the world thinks not so, rather looks on them as poor, discontented, lowering creatures but they see not what an uncaring, truly secure life they are called to.

While others are in turmoil and wrestling each with his projects and burdens for himself, and at length crushed and sinking under them, (for that is the end of all that do for themselves) the child of God goes free from the pressure of all that concerns him; for it is laid over on his God.  If he use his advantage, he is not racked with musings, Oh! what will become of this and that but goes on in the strength of God as he may; offers up poor, but sincere endeavors to God, and is sure of one thing, all shall be well.

He lays his affairs and himself on God, and so has no pressing care; no care but the care of love how to please, how to honor, his Lord; and in this he depends on him both for skill and strength and, touching the success of things, leaves that as none of his, to be burdened with; casts it on God, and he cares for it.  They need not both care, his care alone is sufficient; hence peace, inconceivable peace.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6).

20100115-worried-woman-290x218Truly, the Godly are much in the wrong to themselves, by not improving this their privilege.  They too often forget this their sweet way, and fret themselves to no purpose; wrestle with their burdens themselves, and do not entirely and freely roll them over on God.  They are surcharged with them, and he calls for them, and yet they will not give them to him. They think to spare him, but indeed in this they disobey, and dishonor, and so grieve him; and they find the grief return on them, and yet cannot learn to be wise.  Why deal we thus with our God, and with our souls, grieving both at once?  Let it never be, that for any outward thing you perplex yourself, and entangle thy thoughts, as in thickets, with the cares of this life.  Oh! how unsuitable are these to a child of God and your peace, that gives God, for whom a life so far more excellent is provided!  Hath he prepared a kingdom for you, and will he not bestow your charges in the way to it?

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Taken and adapted from, The Whole Works of Robert Leighton (Commentary on 1 Peter), D. D. Archbishop of Glasgow. To which is Prefixed, A Life of the Author, by James Aikman, Esq. A New Edition, Complete in One Volume. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Peter Brown. 1832, pp. 292-294.

Nearing Home


Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
John 14:1-4


night-steamerIt was stormy from shore to shore, without a single fair day…

But the place to which we were going was my home; there was my family; there was my church; there were my friends, who were as dear to me as my own life. And I lay perfectly happy in the midst of sickness and nausea. All that the boat could do to me could not keep down the exultation and joy which rose up in me. For every single hour was carrying me nearer and nearer to the spot where was all that I loved in the world.

It was deep, dark midnight when we ran into Halifax. I could see nothing. Yet the moment we came into still water I rose from my berth and got up on deck. And as I sat near the smoke stack while they were unloading the cargo, upon the wharf I saw the shadow of a person, apparently, going backward and forward near me. At last the thought occurred to me, “Am I watched?” Just then the person addressed me, saying, “Is this Mr. Beecher?” “It is,” I replied. “I have a telegram for you from your wife.”

I had not realized that I had struck the continent where my family were. There, in the middle of the night, and in darkness, the intelligence that I had a telegram from home — I cannot tell you what a thrill it sent through me!

We are all sailing home; and by and by…

…when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), will pass by at our midnight, and will call us by name, and will say, “I have a message for you from home; God waits for you.”

Are they worthy of anything but pity who are not able to bear the hardships of the voyage? It will not be long before you, and I, and every one of us will hear the messenger sent to bring us back to heaven. It is pleasant to me to think that we are wanted there. I am thankful to think that God loves in such a way that He yearns for me — yes, a great deal more than I do for Him. 

–Beecher

Homesick for Heaven

539wAnd I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done…     –Rev. 21: 1-6

In the American Civil War…

…there is an old, old story about when the Federals and the Confederates were encamped on opposite sides of the Rappahannock. One morning the brass band of the Northern troops played the national air, or anthem, and all the Northern troops cheered and cheered.

Then, on the opposite side of the Rappahannock, the brass band of the Confederates played “My Maryland” and “Dixie,” and then all the Southern troops cheered and cheered.

But after a while one of the bands struck up “Home, Sweet Home,” and the band on the opposite side of the river took up the strain, and when the tune was done, as the tears rolled down their cheeks, the Confederates and the Federals all together united, gave one great “Huzza! Huzza!”

Well, my friends, heaven is very near…

It is only a stream that divides us –the narrow stream of death; and the voices there and the voices here seem to commingle, and we join trumpets and hosannas and hallelujahs, and the chorus of the united song of earth and heaven is, “Home, Sweet Home.” 

–Talmadge

‘Counterfeit Holy’ from Alexander Whyte’s Bunyan’s Characters

There are times when I read a thought, or book, or a post and think to myself that I have just been fed with the “drippins’ off the altar.” Just so here. For those whose backgrounds have been tainted by Arminianism, or some other form of conditional love, the following post may well speak to your soul. Here, we are looking at Bunyan thinking he is wrestling with the tempter, but what we are actually looking at is Bunyan wrestling with his own doubts and asking how much … is enough? How much, what? …you correctly ask. But the answer varies to the person. That is, how much piety, how much remorse or penitence, how much performance of duties, etc. Perhaps what is really being asked is, how much holiness is necessary.

While this post may not go into all the details, it does begin by introducing us to Bunyan sweeping it all aside to get down to where this Gordian knot seems to start for him, “what is counterfeit holiness”? From there, he begins the foundation of his thought and life. Do not expect, to find conclusitory answers here, but a door way to some very verdant pastures of thought.

Christian Fools!!! The Need for Evangelism in a Calvinistic Context, Part Three.

Written by A. W. Pink.
Edited for thought, sense and space.

evangelismIt won’t cause one hair in my head to go grey if I am inconsistent with any Calvinistic creed…

…the only thing that concerns me is to be consistent with the Holy Spirit, and to teach as the Holy Spirit shall enable, the whole counsel of God; to leave out nothing, to withhold nothing, and to give a proportionate presentation of God’s truth.

I believe that most of the theological errors of the past have grown out of, not so much a denial of God’s truth, as a disproportionate emphasis of it. Let me give you a simple illustration. The most comely countenance with the most beautiful features would soon become ugly if one feature were to grow while the others remained undeveloped. You can take the most beautiful baby there is in the world tonight and if that baby’s nose were to grow while its eyes and its cheeks and its mouth and its ears remained undeveloped, it would soon become unsightly. The same is true with every other member of its face.

For an instance, If a church does not evangelize it will fossilize.

That is God’s method of perpetuating His work and of maintaining His churches. God uses means, and the means that the Holy Spirit uses in His work is the preaching of the gospel to the unconverted, to every creature. True, the preaching will avail nothing without the Spirit’s blessing and application. True, no sinner will or can believe until God has quickened him. Yet he ought to, and is commanded to.

I am very much afraid that there are some who entertain the notion that all they have to do is just to sit still and wait until God comes and saves you. My friends, I do not know of a single promise of God that He will do so. I do not know of a single line in this Book that encourages you to continue in your sinful inactivity. I am going to speak very plainly now. The devil will tell you there is no cause for you to be concerned: there is not a bit of need for you to worry: if your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life you will be saved, whether you believe or no. That is the devil’s lie! It is not God’s truth. The devil will tell you that if you have been elected to salvation there is not a bit of need for you to be alarmed, disturbed or exercised; no need at all for you to seek and search after the Lord; that when God’s good time comes He is going to do it all for you: not a bit of good for you to read the Bible and cry out to Him: and if He has not elected you, well, there is no need for sure, for it’s useless.

Yes, the devil will speak in those tones and terms and he will come quoting Scripture to you. But there is no salvation for the sinner apart from his believing in Christ. I close with this quotation—2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through”—through what? “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” That is how God saves. That is how God carries out His purpose—by the sanctification of the Spirit and by your belief of the truth.

And my friends, I have not limited God. God could, if He so chose, make the fields to grow crops without the farmer plowing them and sowing the seed, but that is not His way; that is not the method He selects. God could keep us in health and strength without our taking any food at all or wasting time in sleeping if He so chose, but that is not His way. And God could save every sinner on earth tonight without them believing if He wanted to, but it is not His way! I am not limiting God, I am describing to you the plan and method that God Himself has set forth in His Word, and if you would be saved, sinner, you have got to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for yourself. I say it reverently: the Holy Spirit won’t believe for you. The Holy Spirit may put it into your heart and give you the desire to believe. If you have the desire it is because He has put it there, but He won’t believe for you: believing is a human act. It is the sinner himself, in all his wretchedness and need, coming to Christ, as a drowning man clutches a straw, and as the old hymn says—

“Just as I am without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me.”

O sinner, Christ is saying to you, “O fools and slow of heart to believe all.” You do believe much as you sit there. There are some of you who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. There are some of you who believe that He is the only Saviour who can save any sinner. You believe that, then why not believe all? Why not believe in Him for yourself? Why not trust His precious blood for yourself; and why not now? God is ready to save you NOW if you believe on Him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you, “Come, for all things are NOW ready” (Luke 14:17). And I say again, the devil will tell you as you are sitting there, “There is no need for me to come right now; I will just wait till God gets ready to come and save me.” How do you know that while you are waiting death may not come and smite you down? “Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Pro 27:1). The Holy Spirit saith, “Today if ye will hear His voice harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). Yes, man can “harden” his heart: God says so; and God calls to you: “Harden not your heart.” That is something you do yourself—not the devil—you do it. God is speaking to you through His Word tonight. O may His grace forbid that He shall say our text to any of you after you have left this room. O God forbid that you should be among those “fools” who believe not all. You do believe that Christ is God’s appointed Saviour for sinners, why not as your Saviour? O may the Spirit draw you by the cords of love to that One who has said, “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

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Taken from, “Christian Fools” Written by A. W. Pink.

Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Arthur Walkington Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) was an English Christian evangelist and biblical scholar who was known for his staunchly Calvinist and Puritan-like teachings in an era dominated by opposing theological traditions. For example, he called Dispensationalism a “modern and pernicious error”. Subscribers of his monthly magazine Studies in the Scriptures included Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Dr. Douglas Johnson, first general secretary of Inter-Varsity.After Pink’s death, his works were republished by a number of publishing houses, among them, Banner of Truth Trust, Baker Book House, Christian Focus Publications, Moody Press, Truth for Today, and reached a much wider audience as a result. Biographer Iain Murray observes of Pink, “the widespread circulation of his writings after his death made him one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.” His writing sparked a revival of expository preaching and focused readers’ hearts on biblical living. Pink is left out of many biographical dictionaries and overlooked in many religious histories.

NO CREDIT ? … NO PROBLEM ! Or, Don’t pretend that your unworthiness and inability keeps you away from God.

Written by Richard Sibbes

“And this is the will of him who sent me,
that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me,
but raise it up on the last day.” 

–John 6:39 (ESV)

111Don’t pretend that your unworthiness and inability keeps you away from God…

…for this is the way to keep you aware.  If any thing help us, it must be God; and if ever he help us, it must be by casting ourselves upon him: for then he will reach out himself unto us in the promise of mercy to pardon our sin, and in the promise of grace to sanctify our natures.  It was a good resolution of the lepers,  “If we enter into the city, the famine is there, and we shall die”, say they; “if we sit still, we shall die also: let us therefore fall into the host of Assyrians, if they save us, we shall live; if they kill us, we shall but die.”

So we should reason: if we sit still under the load of our sin, we shall die; if we put ourselves into the hands of Christ, if he save us, we shall live; if he save us not, we shall but die. No, surely he will not suffer us to die. 

Did ever Christ thrust any back from him, that put themselves upon him?  Unless it were by that means to draw them nearer to him, as we see in the woman of Canaan, His denial was but to increase her recourse.  We should therefore do as she did, gather all arguments to help our faith… 

Suppose I am a dog, says she,
…yet I am one of the family, and therefore have right to the crumbs that fall. 

So, Lord, I have been a sinner,
…yet I am thy creature; and not only so, but such a creature as you have set over the rest of the works of your hands;

And not only so, but one whom you have introduced into your Church by baptism,
…whereby you would bind me to give myself unto you and your family beforehand;

And more than this, you have brought me under other means of grace,
…and by doing so, you have showed your will concerning my turning towards you. 

You have not only offered me conditions of peace,
…but you have wooed me by your ministers to give up myself unto you, as yours in your Christ.

Therefore, I dare not suspect your good meaning towards me, or question your intent,
…but I therefore, resolve by your grace, to take your counsel, and put myself upon your mercy. 

I cannot think, if you had meant to cast me away, and not to own me for your own,
…that you would have ever kindled these desires in me.

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Taken from the “Soul’s Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself by Faith” by Richard Sibbes
Edited for thought and sense.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs) (1577–1635) was an English theologian. He is known as a Biblical exegete, and as a representative, with William Perkinsand John Preston, of what has been called “main-line” Puritanism.

He was the author of several devotional works expressing intense religious feeling — The Saint’s Cordial (1629), The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax (1631, exegesis of Isaiah 42:3), The Soules Conflict (1635), etc. The clerical leaders of the Feoffees, Davenport, Gouge and Sibbes, all adhered to Calvinist covenant theology, as shaped by the English theologians Perkins, Preston, William Ames, and Thomas Taylor.

His works were much read in New England. Thomas Hooker, prominent there from 1633, was directly influenced by Sibbes, and his “espousal theology”, using marriage as a religious metaphor, draws on The Bruised Reed and Bowels Opened. Sibbes was cited by the Methodist John Wesley. The Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon studied his craft in Sibbes, Perkins and Thomas Manton. The evangelical Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in the highest terms of his own encounter with the work of Sibbes.

 

Christian Fools!!! False Tensions of the Gospel, Part Two.

Written by A. W. Pink

cartoon-preacher2There are multitudes of preachers whose theology is narrower than the teachings of the Bible.

Then, I say, away to the winds with those human systems of theology, especially those which are narrower than Scripture. For example, there are men today who read God’s Word, and they see that the gospel is to be preached to every creature, and that God commands all who hear that gospel to believe in Christ; then they come across some texts on election, predestination:—“many are called but few are chosen” (Mat 22:14), and they say, Well, I cannot harmonize this. I cannot see how it is possible to preach, unhampered, a gospel to every creature, and yet for election to be true. And because they cannot harmonize the two things, they neither believe the two doctrines nor will they preach both. They cannot harmonize a predetermined election with a gospel that is to be preached to every creature, and so the Arminians preach the gospel but they leave out election.

Yes, but there are many Calvinists who equally come under the rebuke of our text. They believe in the sovereignty of God, but they refuse to believe in the responsibility of man. I read a book by a hyper-Calvinist only a few weeks ago, by a man whose shoe-latchet the present speaker in many things is not fit to stoop down and unloose—a man of God, a faithful servant of His, one from whom I have learned not a little—and yet he had the effrontery to say, that responsibility is the most awful word in the English language, and then went on to tirade against human responsibility.

They cannot understand how that it is possible for God to fix the smallest and the greatest events, and yet not to infringe upon man’s accountability—men themselves choosing the evil and rejecting the good—and therefore because they cannot see both they will only believe in one.

Listen! If man were nothing more than clay in the hands of the Potter there would be no difficulty. Scripture affirms in Romans 9 that man is clay in the hands of the Potter, but that only gives you one aspect of the truth. That emphasizes the absoluteness of God’s control over all the works and creatures of His hands; but from other Scriptures we learn that man is something more than lifeless clay. Man has been endowed with understanding; man has been given a will. Yes, I freely admit that his understanding is darkened; I fully allow that his will is in bondage; but they are still there; they have not been destroyed. If man was nothing more than a block of wood or a block of stone, it would be easy to understand how that God could fix the place that he was to occupy and the purpose that he was to fulfill; but, my friends, it is very far from easy to understand how that God can shape and direct all history and yet leave man fully responsible and not infringe upon his accountability.

Now there are some who have devised a very simple but a most unsatisfactory method of getting rid of the difficulty, and that is to deny its existence. There are Arminians who have presented the “free-will” of man in such a way as to virtually dethrone God, and I have no sympathy whatever with their system. On the other hand, there have been some Calvinists who have presented a kind of fatalism (I know not what else to term it) reducing man to nothing more than a block of wood, exonerating him of all blame and excusing him for his unbelief. But they are both equally wrong, and I scarcely know which is the more mischievous of the two. When the Calvinist says,

All things happen according to the predestination of God.

I heartily say Amen, and I am willing to be called a Calvinist; but if the Arminian says that when a man sins the sin is his own, and that if he continues sinning he will surely perish, and that if he perishes his blood is on his own head, then I believe the Arminian speaks according to God’s truth; though I am not willing to be called an Arminian. The trouble is when we tie ourselves down to a theological system.

Now listen a little more closely still. When the Calvinist says that faith is the gift of God and that no sinner ever does or can believe until God gives him that faith, I heartily say Amen; but when the Arminian says that the gospel commands all who hear it to believe, and that it is the duty of every sinner to believe, I also say Amen. What? you say, You are going to stand up and preach faith-duty—duty-faith? I know that is jolting to some of you. Now bear with me patiently for a moment and I will try and not shock you too badly. Whose is the gospel? It is God’s. Whose voice is it that is heard speaking in the gospel? It is God’s. To whom has God commanded the gospel to be preached? To every creature. What does the gospel say to every creature? It says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 16:31). It says, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Joh 3:16). It says, “the gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Rom 1:16). God commands, not invites. God commands every man, woman and child that hears that gospel to believe it, for the gospel is true; therefore it is the duty of every man to believe what God has said. Let me give you the alternative. If it is not the duty of every sinner to believe the gospel, then it is his duty not to believe it—one or the other. Do you mean to tell me it is the duty of an unconverted sinner to reject the gospel? I am not talking now about his ability to believe it.

Some of you say, Well how can it be his duty to believe it, when he cannot do so? Is it his duty to do an impossibility? Well, listen! Is my duty, is my responsibility measured by my ability, by my power to perform? Here is a man who has ordered a hundred pounds’ worth of furniture; he receives it, and he is given thirty days’ credit in which to pay for it; but during the next thirty days he squanders his money, and at the end of the month he is practically bankrupt. When the firm presents their bill to him, he says, “I am sorry but I am unable to pay you.” He is speaking the truth. “I am unable; it does not lie within my power to pay you.” Would the head of that business house say, “All right, that ends the matter then: sorry to hear that you do not have the power, but evidently we cannot do anything.” No, my friend, ability does not measure our responsibility. Man is responsible to do many things that he is not able to do. You that are Christians are responsible to live a sinless life, for God says to you, “Awake to righteousness and sin not” (1 Cor. 15:34), and in the first Epistle of John we read, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:1). God sets before you and me a standard of holy perfection. There is not one of us that is capable of measuring up to it, but that is our responsibility, and that is what we are going to be measured by when we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

Now then there are many Arminian preachers who are afraid to preach sermons on certain texts of the Bible. They would be afraid to stand up and preach from John 6:44—“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” They would be afraid to stand up and preach from Romans 9:18—“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Yes, and it is also true that there are many Calvinist preachers who are equally afraid to preach from certain texts of the Scriptures lest their orthodoxy be challenged and lest they be called Freewillers. They are afraid to stand up and preach, for example, on the words of the Lord Jesus: “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mat 23:37). Or on such a verse as this: “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat 11:12); or “Strive (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate” (Luk 13:24). And to show you that I am not imagining things, I am just going to read you three lines. Listen! “At the meeting at…[I will leave out the name] on January 15th last, the question was asked to the effect: Had not some of our ministers for the sake of orthodoxy abstained from preaching from certain texts, and the answer was in the affirmative.” I am reading now from a Strict Baptist magazine! That was a meeting of Strict Baptist preachers and they were honest enough to admit, themselves, that because they were afraid of their orthodoxy being challenged, they were silent on certain texts of Scripture. O may God remove from all of us the fear of man.

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Taken from, “Christian Fools” Written by A. W. Pink.

Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Arthur Walkington Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) was an English Christian evangelist and biblical scholar who was known for his staunchly Calvinist and Puritan-like teachings in an era dominated by opposing theological traditions. For example, he called Dispensationalism a “modern and pernicious error”. Subscribers of his monthly magazine Studies in the Scriptures included Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Dr. Douglas Johnson, first general secretary of Inter-Varsity.After Pink’s death, his works were republished by a number of publishing houses, among them, Banner of Truth Trust, Baker Book House, Christian Focus Publications, Moody Press, Truth for Today, and reached a much wider audience as a result. Biographer Iain Murray observes of Pink, “the widespread circulation of his writings after his death made him one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.” His writing sparked a revival of expository preaching and focused readers’ hearts on biblical living. Pink is left out of many biographical dictionaries and overlooked in many religious histories.