Taken and adapted from, “True Christianity” Book II, Chapter I.
Written by John Arndt (1555-1621)

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“With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

—Isaiah 12:3

As our disease of sin is exceedingly great, mortal, damnable, and out of the power of any creature to remove…

…therefore it is needful that we should have a remedy proportioned to the disease; a high, a divine, an everlasting, remedy and help, entirely derived from the pure mercy of God. As our original disease was caused by the wrath, hatred, and envy of the devil (Genesis 3:1), so God, in tender compassion, was moved to heal the mortal wound of our sin by his infinite mercy. And as Satan had used his utmost endeavors and subtlety, in order to infect, slay, and condemn us, God was pleased, in his infinite wisdom, to give us his beloved Son, in order to restore us to that life, happiness, and salvation, which we had lost. Hence he has made the precious blood of Christ to be the grand restorative of our nature, and the cleanser from all the contagion of sin. He hath given us his quickening flesh, to be our bread of life; his holy wounds, as a sovereign balsam to heal our wounded condition; and his precious death, to be an abolition of our death, both temporal and eternal (1 John 1:7; Act 20:28; John 6:32 ff; Isaiah 53:5; 25:8).

But so disabled, so weak, and undone, is fallen man, that he cannot so much as apply this precious medicine even when it is freely offered: so little health, so much weakness is there in him. Nay, we even, by nature, strive against our cure, and reject the remedy which should help us.—Wherefore, O Lord, unless thou shouldst draw me after thee (Song of Solomon 1:4), and, as a faithful physician, administer to me what thou hast ordered, the best prescriptions will avail me nothing. Take me, therefore, entirely into thine own hands, and trust me not to myself. If I be left to myself, the eternal ruin of my soul will be my lot. Therefore “turn thou me, and I shall be turned: heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; for thou art my praise” (Jer. 31:18; 17:14). As long as thou keepest back thy mercy, and hidest thy face from my sorrow, I shall remain in a diseased condition (Psalms 30:3). Whilst thou forbearest to quicken me, I am tied down by the chains of death. Therefore I cry with David, “I am poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God. Thou art my help, and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying” (Psalms 70:5).

O blessed Lord! Shall not thy mercy be strong enough to raise a sick soul from her languishing illness? –a soul that is not able to raise herself? Wilt thou not condescend to come to me, since it is not possible that I should come to thee? Didst thou not love me, even before I had so much as a thought of loving thee again? Thy mercy is so prevailing and so strong, that it has even overcome thyself. Was it not mercy that nailed thee to the cross, and gave thee up to death? What is so strong as to encounter and conquer thee, if it be not the strength of thy own mercy? What has might sufficient to apprehend thee, and to bind and conduct thee to death, but thy love only, wherewith thou hast loved and quickened us, when we were dead in trespasses and sins? (Eph. 2:1). For thou wouldst thyself undergo the pangs of death, rather than suffer us to be forever bound over to death and eternal damnation!

Thy mercy, O Lord, has made thee all our own, and put a title to all thy merits into our hands. When thou becamest a tender infant, it was wholly for our sakes, unto whom thou art “born a child” (Isaiah 9:6). When thou wast made an offering for our sins, and when thou wast slain as an innocent lamb on the cross, it was to give up thyself unto us, and freely to impart unto us all things beside. O excellent gift of God! A good wholly appropriated to us, even our own peculiar good and treasure!

Behold! Beloved Christian, the wisdom of God! God has by means of this everlasting good made himself our own property, that he might thereby in return make us his own. For having purchased us “with a price,” we are no longer our own, but his who hath bought us (1 Cor. 6:19-20). For whosoever receives so excellent a gift, receives also the Giver himself, from whom it proceeds. And again, whosoever possesses any good as his own, he makes it his own to all intents and purposes, and to the best advantage he can. Thus, likewise, is Christ become thy own and proper good. Thou canst apply him in such manner, as to obtain by him everlasting life and salvation.

Christ is become the true medicine of thy soul, to restore thee—thy meat and thy drink, to refresh thee—thy fountain of life, to quench thy thirst—thy light, in darkness—thy joy, in sadness—thine advocate, against thine accusers—wisdom, against thy folly—righteousness, against thy sin—sanctification, against thy unworthiness—redemption, against thy bondage—the mercy-seat, against the judgment-seat—the throne of grace, against thy condemnation—thy absolution, against thy fearful sentence—thy peace and rest, against an evil conscience—thy victory, against all thine enemies—thy champion, against all thy persecutors—the bridegroom of thy soul, against all rivals—thy mediator, against the wrath of God—thy propitiation, against all thy trespasses—thy strength, against thy weakness—thy way, against thy wandering—thy truth, against lying and vanity—thy life, against death. He is thy counsel, when thou hast none to advise thee—thy power, in the midst of thine infirmities—thy Everlasting Father, when thou art forsaken and fatherless—thy Prince of Peace, against the adversary—thy ransom, against thy debt—thy crown of glory, against thy reproach—thy teacher, against thine ignorance—thy Judge, against thine oppressor—thy King, to destroy the kingdom of Satan—thine everlasting High Priest, to intercede for thee.

Consider now, O Christian, what an excellent gift the Lord Jesus Christ is. Let it be thy daily prayer and supplication to make a true saving use of all those heavenly benefits, and to improve all the offices of Christ to the end for which they are designed. If he be thy Medicine (Matt. 9:12), fear not but thou shalt be healed: since he is thy Bread (John 6:51), thy soul shall be filled. Is he to thee a Fountain of Life (Isaiah 12:3), then truly thou shalt thirst no more. Is he to thee a Light (John 8:12), then thou shalt remain no longer in darkness. Is he thy Joy (Luke 2:10), what then shall afflict thee? Is he the Advocate (1 John 2:1) that pleads thy cause, what adversary shall cast thee? Is he thy Truth, who shall deceive thee? Is he thy Way? who shall make thee to err? Is he thy Life (John 14:6), who shall slay thee? Is he thy Wisdom, who shall seduce thee? Is he thy Righteousness, who shall condemn thee? Is he thy Sanctification, who shall reject thee? Is he thy Redemption, who shall imprison thee? (1 Cor. 1:30). Is he thy Peace (Eph. 2:14), who can disturb thee? Is he thy Mercy-Seat (Rom 3:25), who can arraign thee? Is he thy Throne of Grace (Heb. 4:16), who can give sentence against thee? Is he thy Discharge and Absolution (Col. 2:14), who then dares impeach thee? Is he the Champion and the Captain of thy salvation (Heb. 2:10), who shall be able to stand against thee? Is he thy Bridegroom (John 3:29), who then shall snatch thee from him? Is he thy Ransom (1 Tim 2:6), who will arrest thee? Is he thy Crown of Glory (Heb. 2:7), who then shall reproach thee? Is he thy Master (John 13:13), and Teacher, who then shall correct thee? If he be thy Judge (2 Thes. 1:9), who shall oppress thee? If he be thy Propitiation (1 John 2:2), who shall accuse thee? If he be thy Mediator (1Tim. 2:5), who shall set God against thee? If he be thy Advocate (1 John 2:1), who shall prosecute thee? Is he thy Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), who shall be against thee? Is he thy King (John 12:15), who shall expel thee out of his kingdom? Is he thy High Priest (Heb. 7:25), who can refuse his intercession and sacrifice? Is he thy Saviour (Matt. 1:21), who shall destroy thee?

How canst thou have a more excellent, a more valuable present? It is a present of greater worth than thou thyself, than all mankind, and all the world besides. It is a present that infinitely surpasses all the sins, miseries, and calamities of the whole world. Christ hereby is all our own, both as to his divine and his human nature. It was by sin we had forfeited the richest of all treasures, the sovereign good, even God himself: and it is by Christ, that all is made up again, and God himself given to us as our property. And for this reason, Christ is called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), (which being interpreted is, God with us), that in him we might have both God and a brother.

Consider now, O Christian! what an immense, what an infinite good thou hast in Christ thy Redeemer, and to what spiritual benefits thou art entitled by him. If people were but better acquainted with the sources of this heavenly comfort, then no cross, no affliction, would seem any longer insupportable to them; because Christ would be all in all, and by his presence alleviate the miseries of this life. Christ himself is ours not only as a crucified Christ, but also as he is glorified, together with all the majesty that resides in him. “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor 3:21-23).

Alas! Poor, miserable, accursed, and condemned sinners, that we by nature all are! How came we to be favored and honored with so high and inestimable a gift? For thou, O Lord Jesus, art to us—Jehovah our Righteousness—a Mediator between God and man—our everlasting Priest—the Christ of God—a Lamb without spot—our propitiatory oblation—the fulfillment of the law—the Desire of the patriarchs—the Inspirer of the prophets—the Master of the apostles—the teacher of the evangelists—the light of the confessors—the crown of the martyrs—the Praise of all the saints—the resurrection of the dead—the firstborn from the dead—the glory of the blessed—the consolation of the mourners—the righteousness of sinners—the hope of the afflicted—the refuge of the miserable—the entertainer of strangers—the fellow-traveler of pilgrims—the way of them that were mistaken—the help to them who were forsaken—the strength of the weak—the health of the sick—the protector of the simple—the reward of the just—the flaming fire of charity—the Author of faith—the anchor of hope—the flower of humility—the rose of meekness—the root of all the virtues—the exemplar of patience—the enkindler of devotion—the increase of prayer—the tree of health—the fountain of blessedness—the bread of life—the Head of the church—the bridegroom of the soul—the precious pearl—the rock of salvation—the living stone—the heir of all things—the redemption of the world—the triumphant Conqueror of Hell—the Prince of Peace—the mighty lion of Judah—the father of the world to come—the guide to our heavenly country—the sun of righteousness—the morning star—the inextinguishable light of the celestial Jerusalem—the brightness of the everlasting glory—the unspotted mirror—the splendor of the divine majesty—the image of the paternal goodness—the treasure of wisdom—the abyss of eternity—the beginning without beginning—the Word upholding all things—the life quickening all things—the light enlightening all things—the truth judging all things—the counsel moderating all things—the rule directing all things—the love sustaining all things—the whole comprehension of all that is good.

This is the great and infinite gift, which God has so freely bestowed upon mortal men.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Jonathan Arndt (1555-1621): Lutheran pastor; stressed repentance, sanctification, the work of Christ in the heart, and intimate fellowship and union with God; born in Anhalt, Germany.

Jesus Only!

Taken and adapted from, “Around the Wicket Gate”
Written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (1834-1892)


We cannot too often or too plainly tell the seeking soul…

…that his only hope for salvation lies in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It lies in Him completely, only, and alone. To save both from the guilt and the power of sin, Jesus is all-sufficient. His name is called Jesus, because “He shall save his people from their sins” (Mat 1:21). “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Mat 9:6). He is exalted on high “to give repentance…and forgiveness of sins” (Act 5:31). It pleased God from of old to devise a method of salvation which should be all contained in His only-begotten Son. The Lord Jesus, for the working out of this salvation, became man, and being found in fashion as a man, became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. If another way of deliverance had been possible, the cup of bitterness would have passed from Him. It stands to reason that the darling of heaven would not have died to save us if we could have been rescued at less expense. Infinite grace provided the great sacrifice; infinite love submitted to death for our sakes. How can we dream that there can be another way than the way which God has provided at such cost, and set forth in Holy Scripture so simply and so pressingly? Surely it is true that “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:12).

To suppose that the Lord Jesus has only half saved men…

…and that there is needed some work or feeling of their own to finish His work, is wicked. What is there of ours that could be added to His blood and righteousness? “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). Can these be patched on to the costly fabric of His divine righteousness? Rags and fine white linen! Our dross and His pure gold! It is an insult to the Savior to dream of such a thing. We have sinned enough, without adding this to all our other offences.

Even if we had any righteousness in which we could boast; if our fig leaves were broader than usual, and were not so utterly fading, it would be wisdom to put them away, and accept that righteousness which must be far more pleasing to God than anything of our own. The Lord must see more that is acceptable in His Son than in the best of us. The best of us! The words seem satirical, though they were not so intended. What best is there about any of us? “There is none that doeth good; no, not one” (Rom 3:12). I who write these lines, would most freely confess that I have not a thread of goodness of my own. I could not make up so much as a rag, or a piece of a rag. I am utterly destitute. But if I had the fairest suit of good works which even pride can imagine, I would tear it up that I might put on nothing but the garments of salvation, which are freely given by the Lord Jesus, out of the heavenly wardrobe of His own merits.

It is most glorifying to our Lord Jesus Christ that we should hope for every good thing from Him alone. This is to treat Him as He deserves to be treated; for as He is God, and beside Him there is none else, we are bound to look unto Him and be saved.

This is to treat Him as He loves to be treated, for He bids all those who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him, and He will give them rest. To imagine that He cannot save to the uttermost is to limit the Holy One of Israel, and put a slur upon His power; or else to slander the loving heart of the Friend of sinners, and cast a doubt upon His love. In either case, we should commit a cruel and wanton sin against the tenderest points of His honor, which are His ability and willingness to save all that come unto God by Him.

The child, in danger of the fire, just clings to the fireman, and trusts to him alone. She raises no question about the strength of his limbs to carry her, or the zeal of his heart to rescue her; but she clings. The heat is terrible, the smoke is blinding, but she clings; and her deliverer quickly bears her to safety. In the same childlike confidence cling to Jesus, who can and will bear you out of danger from the flames of sin.

The nature of the Lord Jesus should inspire us with the fullest confidence. As He is God, He is almighty to save; as He is man, He is filled with all fullness to bless; as He is God and man in one Majestic Person, He meets man in His creatureship and God in His holiness. The ladder is long enough to reach from Jacob prostrate on the earth, to Jehovah reigning in heaven. To bring another ladder would be to suppose that He failed to bridge the distance; and this would be grievously to dishonor Him. If even to add to His words is to draw a curse upon ourselves, what must it be to pretend to add to Himself? Remember that He, Himself, is the Way; and to suppose that we must, in some manner, add to the divine road, is to be arrogant enough to think of adding to Him. Away with such a notion! Loathe it as you would blasphemy; for in essence it is the worst of blasphemy against the Lord of love.

To come to Jesus with a price in our hand, would be insufferable pride…

…even if we had any price that we could bring. What does He need of us? What could we bring if He did need it? Would He sell the priceless blessings of His redemption? That which He wrought out in His heart’s blood, would He barter it with us for our tears, and vows, or for ceremonial observances, and feelings, and works? He is not reduced to make a market of Himself: He will give freely, as beseems His royal love; but He that offers a price to Him knows not with whom he is dealing, nor how grievously he vexes His free Spirit. Empty-handed sinners may have what they will. All that they can possibly need is in Jesus, and He gives it for the asking; but we must believe that He is all in all, and we must not dare to breathe a word about completing what He has finished, or fitting ourselves for what He gives to us as undeserving sinners.

The reason why we may hope for forgiveness of sin, and life eternal, by faith in the Lord Jesus, is that God has so appointed. He has pledged Himself in the gospel to save all who truly trust in the Lord Jesus, and He will never run back from His promise. He is so well pleased with His only-begotten Son, that He takes pleasure in all who lay hold upon Him as their one and only hope. The great God Himself has taken hold on him who has taken hold on His Son. He works salvation for all who look for that salvation to the once-slain Redeemer. For the honor of His Son, He will not suffer the man who trusts in Him to be ashamed. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (Joh 3:36); for the ever-living God has taken him unto Himself, and has given to him to be a partaker of His life. If Jesus only be your trust, you need not fear but what you shall effectually be saved, both now and in the day of His appearing.

When a man confides, there is a point of union between him and God, that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to Christ Jesus, and He is one with God, and thus brings us into connection with God.

Years ago, above the Falls of Niagara, a boat was upset, and two men were being carried down by the current, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it, and was safely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go the rope, and clung to the great piece of timber, for it was the bigger thing of the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas! The timber, with the man on it, went right over the vast abyss, because there was no union between the wood and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So, when a man trusts to his works, or to his prayers, or almsgivings, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved, because there is no junction between him and God through Christ Jesus; but faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hand of the great God on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line, and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith, because it unites us to God by the Savior, whom He has appointed, even Jesus Christ! O reader, is there not common sense in this matter? Think it over, and may there soon be a band of union between you and God, through your faith in Christ Jesus!


Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith understanding, and opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day.

It is estimated that in his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, Spurgeon was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years. He was part of several controversies with the Baptist Union of Great Britain and later had to leave the denomination. In 1857, he started a charity organization which is now called Spurgeon’s and works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him posthumously.

chspurgeon2Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, commentaries, books on prayer, devotionals, magazines, poetry, hymns and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Spurgeon produced powerful sermons of penetrating thought and precise exposition. His oratory skills held his listeners spellbound in the Metropolitan Tabernacle and many Christians have discovered Spurgeon’s messages to be among the best in Christian literature.

A Reformed Look at Pentecostalism

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A Reformed Look at Pentecostalism

Prof. David J. Engelsma

Foreword to the Second Printing

The Evangelism Committee and the Congregation of the Protestant Reformed Church of South Holland, Illinois are thankful to God that a second printing of this booklet is necessary. For it means that God is giving this testimony to the Reformed faith and life wide distribution. Requests continue to come in, not only from our own country, but also from other nations. Not a few have expressed to us that this little work has been used of the Lord, either to deliver them from the charismatic religion or to enable them to withstand the temptation to go charismatic.

Some, not unfavorably disposed to the thrust of the booklet, have chided us for its “pejorative” tone. We must acknowledge that the warning we give is a sharp one. But sharpness in defense of sound doctrine, and in warning against error, although exceedingly rare in our day, is not only permitted the Church, but also demanded: “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). Nor does it betray a bitter, hateful spirit. We testify as we do in the booklet, because we love the God Whose glory, we are convinced, is revealed in the historic, creedal Reformed faith and life; because we love Reformed believers and their children, whose faith and life are disparaged by the charismatics and who are seduced to forsake this faith and life for the charismatic religion; and because we love the charismatics, as our neighbors, and desire that they come to recognize their beliefs and practices as false.

We are not of a mind to soften the message in the slightest. It is the blunt thesis of this booklet that the basic tenets of the charismatic movement are false doctrine and that the charismatic religion is a foe of the Reformed faith, and, therefore, of historic Protestantism. We prove this, we believe, from Holy Scripture. We marvel that Protestants have so soon forgotten the struggle of Luther and Calvin against Anabaptism and the exposure by B. B. Warfield of perfectionism. When we observe that Dr. D. M. Lloyd-Jones (for whom we have high regard and from whose writings we have profited) was seemingly soft on the charismatic movement, so that many now can appeal to his authority to approve the movement, and that Dr. J. I. Packer (whom we also respect and who has made us his debtors by his magnificent “Historical and Theological Introduction” to his, and Johnston’s, translation of Luther’sThe Bondage of the Will, in his book, Keep in Step with the Spirit, welcomes the movement within the churches and warns against condemning it, and that virtually all the churches accept the charismatics as members in good standing, we are more convinced than ever that Protestantism needs an uncompromising “No” to the charismatic movement and a fervent “Yes” to the traditional Reformed faith and life.

We ask only that our witness be given a hearing. Here, too, let men “test the spirits.”

David J. Engelsma
South Holland, Illinois
January, 1987

Foreword to the Third Printing

By this time, it is evident to all that the charismatic movement (or, neo-Pentecostalism) is no vagrant breeze wafting through the Protestant churches, but a mighty wind blowing steadily in these churches. Nor does this surprise us. Religion, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Bereft these many years of doctrine solid, expository preaching and thorough doctrinal instruction, the churches are exposed to the inrushing stream of mysticism. Starved of the “strong meat” of the Word (Hebrews 5:12-14), the empty souls of the members of these churches crave the insubstantial air of feeling. Although the powerful presence of the charismatic wind in the Protestant churches does not surprise us, it does grieve us. We call our fellow Protestants, especially all Reformed Christians, to resist the neo-Pentecostal hurricane: “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). By the infallible rule of Holy Scripture, “try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).

David J. Engelsma
South Holland, Illinois
April, 1988


The believer is “in Christ,” Col. 2:10. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, Eph 3:17, so that through the power of our God-given faith, we are the possessors of all the spiritual blessings of salvation. As such we are complete in Him. Possessing the full Christ, we possess the full Spirit of Christ through Whose power we are enabled to live a holy life.

Such is the confession of the Reformed faith!

The pamphlet is divided into three chapters:

Chapter 1 – The Reformed Answer to Pentecostalism’s Basic Biblical Appeals.

Chapter 2 – The Reformed Testing of Pentecostalism’s Spirit; and ends, appropriately, by answering the question as to what is the normal, regular Christian life in …

Chapter 3 – The Reformed View of the Christian Life.

May the Lord keep us faithful to His Truth, teaching us to live lives which are lived in the living power of His Word.
Protestant Reformed Church
16511 South Park Avenue
South Holland, Illinois 60473
Phone (708) 596-1314

Additional copies of this pamphlet may be obtained upon request. For a list of other pamphlets and tapes distributed by this Committee, see the back pages.
(Fourth Printing, 1990)


An examination, from the viewpoint of the Reformed Faith, of the religious movement known as Pentecostalism is in order. For Pentecostalism makes inroads into Reformed Churches. Some hold that the Reformed Faith and Pentecostalism are harmonious; others claim that Pentecostalism is the completion of the Reformation in our time; others openly proclaim that the Pentecostal religion replaces the historic Reformed Faith.

To conduct this examination is legitimate. It is common that Pentecostals scare off would-be critics by insinuating that criticism of Pentecostalism is the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. A Reformed man is not intimidated by this scare-tactic. More than once in the history of the Church, false teachers tried to gain entrance into the Church by appealing to the Spirit. An outstanding example is the appearance of fanatics at the time of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, who harassed the Lutherans in Wittenberg. These were the “heavenly prophets” and “enthusiasts” who claimed to receive special revelations from the Spirit and to perform miracles. They cowed Melanchthon; but they did not cow Luther. When they screamed, “The Spirit, the Spirit,” Luther replied, “I slap your spirit on the snout.”

The Reformed man and woman know the instruction of the Spirit of Christ in Holy Scripture: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).

The standard of the examination of the spirits, including the spirit of Pentecostalism, is Holy Scripture, the inspired Word of God. In the light of Scripture the question must be this: does this spirit, this religious movement, confess Jesus Christ (I John 4:2,3); does it abide “in the doctrine of Christ” (II John 9)? For the Holy Spirit confesses Jesus Christ and brings the doctrine of Christ.

Our examination of Pentecostalism must include a consideration of its criticism of the Christian life of Reformed believers. For Pentecostalism belittles the life of “mere believers.”

The effect of Pentecostalism is that believers wonder whether their life is what it should be–a normal Christian life. Believers are even made to doubt whether they are saved Christians at all. In the final analysis, Pentecostalism’s appeal to religious people is its boast of a higher, fuller, deeper, richer Christian life. Pentecostalism exults in a Christian life that is all power, all excitement, all joy, all victory.

Let no one suppose that, because we speak of a Reformed examination of Pentecostalism, the concern of the examination is limited to those who are members of a Reformed church. The Reformed Faith represents Protestantism–Biblical Christianity. As will be evident, the standard by which the Reformed Faith conducts the examination is Holy Scripture-the rule of faith and life for every professing Christian. Under the clear light of Holy Scripture, Pentecostalism displays features that mark it unmistakably as a form of an age-old, and quite familiar, threat to Christianity.

Chapter 1

The Reformed Answer to Pentecostalism’s
Basic Biblical Appeals


By Pentecostalism, we understand the religious movement that teaches a second, distinct work of grace in the child of God which is referred to as the “baptism with the Holy Spirit.” At some moment after regeneration (or, conversion), the believer receives the Holy Spirit, usually as a marvelous, emotional experience, in such a way that now, for the first time, he has a wonderful feeling of joy; possesses power for dynamic Christian life and service; and exercises an extraordinary gift of the Spirit, namely, speaking in tongues. Even though the believer received Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and sanctification before this, it is not until the baptism with the Spirit lifts him to a much higher spiritual level that he is enabled to live the full, joyful, powerful, real Christian life.

It is this doctrine that constitutes the very heart of Pentecostalism. Other features of Pentecostalism may attract the attention of the onlooker, e.g., tongues, miracles, and the exuberance of the meetings; but the movement stands or falls with its novel doctrine of salvation–its second baptism. The fundamental criticism that the Reformed faith makes of this religion is that it is heretical in its doctrine of salvation. The Pentecostals identify this “Holy Spirit baptism” with the coming of the Spirit on the 120 believers on the day of Pentecost. From this comes the name of the movement: Pentecostalism.

Since the Spirit is supposed to give extraordinary gifts to those who are thus baptized, the movement is also called the “charismatic movement.” In the Greek of the New Testament, the word meaning “gifts” is ‘charismata”(cf. I Cor. 12:4). The gifts which Pentecostalism makes much of are tongues; interpretation of tongues; prophecy; miracles; and the power to cast out devils. The main gift is tongues-speaking. Therefore, the movement is sometimes called the “tongues movement.”

Neo-Pentecostalism is the name given to this movement as it is practiced within the established Protestant churches and within the Roman Catholic Church. There have been Pentecost churches since the early 1900s, e.g., the Assemblies of God. In the early 1960s, men in the established Protestant churches began advocating Pentecostal beliefs and practices within their churches. The leader is generally recognized to be the Episcopalian, Dennis Bennett. By this time, there is hardly a denomination that does not tolerate, or approve, practicing Pentecostals among its membership.

Pentecostalism claims that its doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace and its teaching of the presence in the Church of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are Biblical. It finds in Acts 2, as well as in Acts 8, 10, and 19, that there was a distinct reception of the Holy Spirit by believers subsequent to their conversion, a reception of the Spirit that gave the believers great power and that bestowed upon them special gifts. It points us to I Corinthians 12 as proof that the gifts of the Spirit to the New Testament Church include healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, tongues, and the like.

What is the Reformed answer to these appeals to the Bible in support of the Pentecostal teachings of the baptism with the Spirit and the extraordinary gifts?

Baptism with the Spirit

There is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is an essential part of salvation. This is plain from John the Baptist’s description of the saving work of Jesus: “he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11; cf. also Mark 1:18; Luke 3:16; and John 1:33). But it is not a second work of the Spirit subsequent to regeneration and the gift of faith. Nor is it limited to some Christians only, those who have fulfilled certain conditions and made themselves worthy of this higher stage of salvation. Christ’s baptism with the Spirit is His one, saving work by His Spirit in every elect child of God. It is his regeneration, the new birth from heaven (John 3:1-8). It is his cleansing from sin and consecration to God by the pouring out of the Spirit into his heart. Of this spiritual reality, John’s baptism with water was a sign. The sacrament of baptism in the Church is a sign of the baptism with the Spirit, as Titus 3:5,6 teaches: “according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

There is only one baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ: the baptism with the Holy Spirit signified by the sprinkling with water in the Name of the Triune God. This is the apostle’s teaching in Ephesians 4:5: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Pentecostalism has two baptisms: a first, lower baptism–salvation from sin (of which the sign is water); and a second, higher baptism–the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In this way, Pentecostalism divides Christ, salvation, and the Church.

Christ’s baptism of every one of His people with the Holy Spirit depends solely upon His work of meriting this gift for them by His death. It does not depend upon works that the people must perform. Therefore, every elect child of God not only may receive it, but also does receive it. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,” John promised.

To be sure, baptism with the Spirit is the reception of great power by every one so baptized, as Christ instructed His disciples in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” But Scripture must teach us what this power consists of and how it is exercised. As concerns the Church, it is the power of witnessing to Christ: “… and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1:8). The mark of a Spirit-baptized Church, therefore, is the faithful proclamation of Christ.

As concerns the individual child of God, the nature of the power of the baptism with the Spirit is indicated by John the Baptist when he says that we are baptized “with the Holy Ghost and fire.” We receive the Spirit as a fire; He dwells and works in us as a fire. Fire purifies by utterly burning away the dross that defiles the precious metal. The Holy Spirit, similarly, burns away our sin, so that we may be consecrated to God in the obedience of love. The power of the baptism with the Spirit is the awesome power of sanctification. Exactly this was the prophecy of the baptism with the Spirit in the Old Testament. In the day when the “branch of the LORD” is beautiful and glorious, the remnant of grace “shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 4:2-4).

The mark of a Spirit-baptized Christian, therefore, is sorrow over sin (repentance) and obedience to God’s law (holiness).

Have you been born again (and you certainly have, if you believe on Jesus Christ)? Are you sorry for your sinfulness and your sins? Is there a beginning in your life, small as it may be, of obedience to all of the commandments of God ‘s law? Then you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit; and the sacrament is a sign and seal to you of your baptism with the Spirit, as long as you live. Let no one deceive you, that you must still look for another, better baptism.

How is it then to be explained that in the book of Acts there obviously were two, distinct works of the Holy Spirit upon some of God’s people? The disciples of Jesus–Peter, John, and others–were reborn, saved men prior to the day of Pentecost. This, of course, was due to the gracious operation of the Spirit upon their hearts. Yet, on the day of Pentecost these men “were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4). The Spirit was poured out upon them (Acts 2:16-18). They were then “baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:5).

Pentecostalism appeals to this history in Acts as proof for its contention that there must be two, distinct works of grace in the life of every Christian: regeneration (or, conversion) and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The experience of the disciples, and others, in the book of Acts is regarded as normative for every child of God. Pentecostalism insists that Pentecost be repeated, over and over, for every member of the Church. One of the leading Pentecostal writers, Donald Gee, speaks of “a personal Pentecost ” for every Christian (A New Discovery).

This betrays a complete misunderstanding of the great event of Pentecost. It is as foolish to demand a personal Pentecost as it would be to demand a personal incarnation of Jesus, or a personal death of Jesus, or a personal resurrection of Jesus.

Pentecost was the exalted Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to His Church. The Spirit was given in rich, full measure-He was “poured out.” He was given as the One who brings to the Church the firstfruits of the finished work of Jesus Christ, the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection, i.e., Christ’s salvation. In the gift of the Spirit, the gospel-promise of the Old Testament was fulfilled to the Church (Acts 2:38,39; Gal. 3:14), because the Son of God gave to God’s people full salvation–forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He baptized the Church with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Being mightier than John the Baptist, He flooded the Church with the reality, whereas John could only give the sign (Matt. 3:11).

That grand Sunday marked the passing of the old age and the coming of the new; it is the boundary between the old dispensation and the new. The distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament is a matter of the fullness of the Holy Spirit; and the fullness of the Holy Spirit is a matter of the full riches of Christ’s accomplished salvation. This is the teaching of John 7:37-39: “… for the Holy Ghost was not yet; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” In the time of the Old Testament, prior to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was not yet. He and His saving work were not absolutely lacking, for He saved God’s people under the old covenant, even as He now saves us. But He was not present with the fullness and richness of salvation with which He now dwells in the Church. He could not, for Christ had not yet died and risen, actually to acquire that rich and full salvation. As Christmas was the birthday of the Son of God in the flesh, Pentecost was the “birthday” of the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ in the Church.

Pentecost, like the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, was a once-for-all-time event. Fifty days after He arose, Jesus sent His Spirit to His Church. This is never again repeated, anymore than Jesus’ death is repeated. It is nonsense, if not heresy, to preach each Christian’s personal Pentecost. This is why it is mistaken, to expect the reappearance of the signs of Pentecost down through the history of the Church. The sound as of a mighty rushing wind, the cloven tongues as of fire, and the disciples’ speaking with other tongues were the signs, once for all, of the historical event of the outpouring of the Spirit, just as the great earthquake was the sign of the resurrection of Jesus. To be sure, these signs are intended to be my signs in the 20th century, as much as they were intended to be signs for Peter in A.D. 33; but they are mine, not by being repeated in my experience, but by being written down on the pages of Holy Scripture and by being received through faith.

When Pentecostals try to gainsay the once-for-all character of Pentecost, they point to the incidents in the book of Acts which seemingly are repetitions of Pentecost: the Spirit’s falling upon the Samaritan converts (Acts 8:5-24); the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-48, Acts 11:15-18); and the coming of the Spirit on the disciples of John (Acts 19:1-7). In reality, these incidents are special events, intended by God to demonstrate that the unrepeatable wonder of Pentecost extends to all the Church, specifically the half-heathens (Samaritans), the outright heathens (household of Cornelius), and the disciples of John the Baptist. They are extensions of Pentecost to the full Church, the furthest outworking of Pentecost.

In light of the significance of Pentecost, we can readily understand that, on the day of Pentecost, men and women who had already been saved received the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that they then enjoyed new riches of salvation and hitherto unknown power. This is not indicative of two works of grace in every Christian; this is not normative for all believers, as if we too must expect, and long, to pass from “mere salvation through faith” to the higher level of feeling and power of a “Spirit baptism.” The explanation is found in the unique historical position of the saints who lived through Pentecost. They lived through the transition from the old dispensation to the new dispensation, from the Spirit’s not being yet to His being, from Christ’s not yet being glorified to His being glorified. Before that moment,those saints were saved; now, as the new dispensation dawns, they receive the gift of the Spirit in His fullness, i.e., the completed salvation of the glorified Christ. At Pentecost, they advance, not from a first level of grace to a second, higher level of grace, but from the infancy of the Church of the Old Covenant to the maturity of the Church of the New Covenant (Gal. 4:1-7).

We recoil from the suggestion that each of us must repeat the experience of Pentecost. In this case, we must go back for awhile into the old dispensation, to live under the law in the types and shadows, so that, at some point, we can pass into the new dispensation. Even if this were possible, we would refuse, having heard the warnings of Galatians and Hebrews.

We New Testament saints receive the Spirit of the glorified Christ, with the full Christ and all His benefits, at once, as soon as He regenerates us, takes up His abode in us, baptizes us into Christ’s Body, the Church, and unites us to Christ by a true and living faith. Certainly, the blessing of Pentecost is ours, every bit as much as it was the blessing of the 120 in the upper room in Jerusalem; certainly, we share in Pentecost, as really and fully as if we had been among those 120 believers. This is as necessary as our sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ. If one does not share in Christ’s death and resurrection, or in Pentecost, he simply is not saved. But I do not share in Christ’s death by that death’s being repeated somehow in my personal history and experience. I share in Christ’s death and resurrection by faith: by faith, I am crucified with Christ and rise with Him. Just so, by this same faith I share in Pentecost. The blessing of that great day, now almost 2000 years past, becomes mine personally through the faith, worked in me by the Spirit, that unites me to Christ and to His Body, the Church, to whom the Spirit was then given and in whom the Spirit dwells forever. This is the teaching of Galatians 3: “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (v.14).

The Gift of Tongues

The other of the two outstanding features of Pentecostalism is its doctrine, and alleged practice, concerning extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, especially tongues. For this too, it claims to find support in Scripture, particularly I Corinthians 12-14. What is the Reformed answer to this teaching and its appeal to the Bible?

There was, in the time of the apostles, a gift of tongues, whether this gift be explained as the ability to speak foreign languages without having learned them, or as the ability to speak totally new, unknown languages. I Corinthians 14 indicates that at least one aspect of the gift of tongues in those days was the ability to speak in an altogether new, unknown language. No one, including the speaker, understood what was said (vss.2, 14). Interpretation of the tongue was, like the tongue itself a gift of the Spirit (v.13. cf. I Cor. 12:I0). The speaker in tongues did not speak to men, but to God (v.2). The benefit of it was not the edification of others, but his own edification (v.4). “In the spirit,” the tongues-speaker “speaketh mysteries” (v.2).

There were also other extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in those days: the gift of receiving special revelations from God; the gift of casting out devils; the gift of taking up serpents; the gift of drinking deadly things without hurt; the gift of healing the sick by laying on of hands; and the gift of raising the dead (cf. Mark 16:17,18; I Cor. 12:1-11).

Among these gifts, the ability to speak in tongues was a gift of lesser importance. In the list of gifts in I Corinthians 12:28-31, tongues and interpretation of tongues come at the end and are not among the “best gifts” which the Corinthians should covet. I Corinthians 14:39 merely instructs the Corinthians not to forbid tongues, whereas it exhorts them to covet prophecy. Throughout I Corinthians 14, the apostle minimizes the importance of tongues in comparison with prophecy, while exposing the many abuses of the gift of tongues among the Corinthians. Also, tongues was a gift that was not possessed by all the Corinthians, or expected to be possessed by all (I Cor. 12:20). It is passing strange, to say the very least, that Pentecostalism, with all its bluster of restoring New Testament Christianity, makes tongues the gift of the Spirit, par excellence, ascribing to it, both in theory and in practice, a preeminence that it did not have even in the days of the apostles, and that Pentecostalism holds that every Christian should possess this gift, as if Paul had never written, “Do all speak with tongues?”.

Miracles, Signs of an Apostle

Pentecostalism’s argument for miracles today is simple: Scripture teaches that the miraculous was part of the life and ministry of the Church during the time of the apostles; therefore, the gift of performing miracles should be found in the Church today.

Ignored by Pentecostalism is Scripture’s teaching that miracles were “signs of an apostle.” The power of doing miracles was attached to the apostolic office and had as its purpose the authenticating of the apostles as special servants of Christ and the confirming of their doctrine as the gospel of God. This does not imply that only the apostles could perform miracles; in fact, other saints also possessed the gift of the working of miracles. But it does mean that the miraculous was apostolic: it derived from the apostolic office present in the Church at that time, and it served to attest the apostles and their doctrine. Miracles were the credentials of the apostles.

The necessity of miracles during the apostolic age is to be found in the unique labor of the apostles. They laid the foundation of the New Testament Church of Christ. Paul writes, in Ephesians 2:20, that the Gentile believers, with the saints of Israel, “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” The apostles are the foundation of the Church, even as Christ is “the chief corner stone.” They are the foundation by virtue of the Word which they proclaim and write. Similarly, in I Corinthians 3:10, Paul claims to have laid the foundation of the Church at Corinth, whereas others then build upon this foundation: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, 1 have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon…

That miracles, including the miracle of tongues, were part of the apostolic office is taught in II Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” Paul is defending his apostleship in view of the attack on that apostleship at Corinth. He laments, in verse II, that he was not commended of the Corinthians, even though “in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles.” The Corinthians should have recognized and honored Paul’s apostleship, for Christ gave clear proof of it in the miracles that He worked through Paul. Miracles are described as signs, wonders, and mighty deeds. They are called “…signs of an apostle.” Literally, we read: “the signs of the apostle.” Miracles indicate the presence and power of apostleship. They belong to the apostolic office.

Hebrews 2:3,4 also connects the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit with the apostolic office. The first three verses of the chapter area warning against neglecting the “so great salvation.” One makes himself guilty of this by refusing to give earnest heed to the Word of God. For we have this salvation through the Word: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” The great salvation is spoken; we have it by hearing. The passage establishes the primacy of the preaching of the Word as the means of salvation. Even in the apostolic age, not miracles, not extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, but the proclamation of the Word was the main thing. Miracles were secondary; they were strictly subservient to the apostolic doctrine.

But the passage also clearly teaches that miracles belonged to the apostolic office and ministry. The author has said that the New Testament saints, the Hebrew Christians in particular, have the Word of God that brings them salvation. They must give heed to this Word; and they must not let it slip: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” How do we come to have the Word of God? It was first spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself. Then it was confirmed unto us by “them that heard Him.” These are the apostles. Concerning these apostles, verse 4 states: “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” The reference is to miracles, described, as in II Corinthians 12:12, as “signs and wonders and miracles” (this last, “miracles,” being the same word as that translated “mighty deeds” in II Corinthians 12:12). Strikingly, this passage also speaks of “gifts of the Holy Ghost.” The word, “gifts,” could better be translated as “distributions.” The distributions of the Holy Ghost are the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit found in the Church at the time of the apostles. Among them were the gift of “kinds of tongues” and the gift of “the interpretation of tongues,” as I Corinthians 12:10 shows. Miracles and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were God’s witness to those who heard Christ, i.e., the apostles. The purpose of this witness was the apostles’ confirming of Christ’s Word to us, i.e., to attest the apostolic doctrine as the very Word of God. Miracles and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are not for all time, but were for the apostolic age; they were attached by the Divine will to the office of the apostle in order that they might confirm the Word which the apostles brought.

The same thing is taught in Mark 16:20: “And they (the apostles, to whom the risen Christ had given the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel-D.E.) went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” The signs, or miracles, were the Lord’s powerful confirmation to the Word preached by the apostles. In like manner, the Lord authenticated the Word brought by His apostle, Paul, and his colleague, Barnabas: “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).

Now the apostolic office was not a permanent office in the Church, but a temporary office. The qualifications of an apostle show this. An apostle was required to have seen the risen Jesus, so that he could preach a resurrection of which he had himself been an eyewitness (I Cor. 9:1). He had to be called and commissioned by the risen Lord directly (John 20:21, Acts 26:15-18), which included that he received the gospel from Jesus Himself (Gal. 1:11,12).

The specific task of the apostle also indicates the temporary nature of the office. This task was the laying of the foundation of the Church. One does not forever lay the foundation of a building. There comes a time when the foundation is laid. Then those whose work is foundation-laying are removed; and others, pastors and teachers, whose calling it is to build on the foundation, are given the Church.

But if the office of apostle has disappeared, so also must the miraculous have disappeared (“the signs of an apostle”!), for the miraculous was part of that office and served that ministry.

By the same token, those who insist on miracles today must produce apostles also. Let the Pentecostals put forward their apostles! It is noteworthy that the Irvingite movement, a precursor of Pentecostalism in England in the 1800s, named after its leader, Edward Irving, did appoint twelve apostles. In doing so, the movement was consistent. It is also worthy of note that, although it hesitates to call them apostles, Pentecostalism today is ascribing to its leaders powers that only apostles possess: a personal, absolute authority over the church, or fellowship; new revelations of His will for the church from God; extra-Biblical teachings which are binding upon the saints.

Church history witnesses to the truth of Scripture’s teaching that miracles and extraordinary gifts were temporary. Miracles ceased in the Church about A.D. 100, roughly at the time of the death of the last apostle. For a time after this, only the heretical and schismatic sects claimed the power of doing miracles, e.g., the Montanists (a second century sect named after its leader, Montanus). As time passed, the power of doing miracles began again to be claimed and stressed within the catholic church; but, significantly, this went hand in hand with the church’s departure from the truth of the gospel. The Roman Catholic Church, of course, has always claimed the power of performing miracles and has always bewitched her people with these wonders.

The purified Church of the Reformation expressly disavowed all miracles. The Reformation was confronted with miracles on two fronts: Rome and the Anabaptist groups with their mystical “religion of the Spirit.” Both Rome and the mystics appealed to their miracles as proof that they were the true religion and taunted the Reformation with its lack of miracles. Intuitively striking to the very heart of the issue–and this is the heart of the issue also today as regards Pentecostalism, Luther called the people of God to believe, live by, and stick to the bare Word of God, even though heretics were producing a veritable snowstorm of miracles in order to seduce them from the truth. John Calvin gave a more detailed explanation of the Reformed position:

In demanding miracles from us, they act dishonestly; for we have not coined some new gospel, but retained the very one the truth of which is confirmed by all the miracles which Christ and the apostles ever wrought. But they have a peculiarity which we have not-they can confirm their faith by constant miracles down to the present day! Nay rather, they allege miracles which might produce wavering in minds otherwise well disposed; they are so frivolous and ridiculous, so vain and false. But were they even exceedingly wonderful, they could have no effect against the truth of God, whose name ought to be hallowed always, and everywhere, whether by miracles, or by the natural course of events. The deception would perhaps be more specious if Scripture did not admonish us of the legitimate end and use of miracles. Mark tells us (Mark 16:20) that the signs which followed the preaching of the apostles were wrought in confirmation of it; so Luke also relates that the Lord “gave testimony to the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done” by the hands of the apostles (Acts 14:3)… And it becomes us to remember that Satan has his miracles, which, although they are tricks rather than true wonders, are still such as to delude the ignorant and unwary. (Institutes, Prefatory Address to the King of France)
The wonders of Pentecostalism, like the miracles of Rome, are fraudulent. They are part and parcel of the only miracles that Scripture prophesies for the last days: the signs and wonders of the false christs and false prophets who would deceive the very elect, if it were possible (Matt. 24:24); the power and signs and lying wonders of the man of sin who will deceive those who do not receive the love of the truth (II Thess. 2:9-12).

Beware! Do not be hoodwinked by the modern-day miraclemongers!

The Reformed Church has no need of miracles. Her faith is the doctrine of the apostles, who received it from Jesus. This doctrine has already been confirmed by many miracles. It needs no further attestation. The only gospel that requires new miracles is a new gospel. But this does not imply that the Reformed religion is a religion without miracles. Pentecostalism would like to leave this impression: it is a gospel with miracles–the full gospel, whereas the Reformed faith is a gospel lacking miracles and, therefore, less than a full gospel.

First, the Reformed believer sees the almighty power of God in all of creation and in every aspect of earthly life. The daily rising of the sun, the annual quickening of nature in springtime, the blooming of a single rose, the conception of a baby, the upheaval of an earthquake, the rise and fall of nations, health and life, and a piece of bread on my table–all are the almighty, everywhere present, incomprehensible working of the power of God. The Christ of our faith is the sovereign Lord who is presently upholding and governing all things by the Word of His power in a most marvelous manner (Heb. 1:3).

Second, we Reformed people claim as our own every miracle that is recorded on the pages of Scripture. The notion that one does not have miracles unless miracles are done by him, or before his eyes, is foolish. The miracle of the creation of the world, the miracle of the flood, the miracle of the fire of Jehovah devouring Elijah’s sacrifice, the miracle of the incarnation, the miracle of Peter’s raising of Dorcas, and all the others are my miracles, as truly as if I experienced them, not only because they were deliverances of the Church of which I am a member, but also because they astound me, make me adore God, and strengthen my faith in His Word, as much as if I saw them done with my very own eyes. Reformed believers have an abundance of wonders in the Bible; any additional miracle, prior to the Coming of the Lord Jesus, would be superfluous.

Third, the Word proclaimed by the Reformed Church constantly accomplishes many, great miracles. It raises the spiritually dead; it opens the eyes of the spiritually blind; it makes the spiritually lame to leap as a hart; it pulls down the fortresses of Satan in human hearts and lives ( Isaiah 35; II Cor. 10:3-6). By the power of the Holy Spirit, the truth effects the miracle of salvation: faith, repentance, forgiveness, and holiness. These are astounding wonders, far greater, should we be inclined to make the comparison, than miracles of physical healing, to say nothing of the trivial, nonsensical “miracles” so often boasted of by Pentecostalism. The spiritual wonders of the gospel, in fact, are the reality of which the physical healing by Jesus and His apostles was a sign.

No, the Reformed Church is not a Church devoid of miracles.

But our main purpose has been to answer Pentecostalism’s arguments from Scripture for its doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism and for its practice of miracles, especially tongues. This has been done. In answering its appeals to Scripture, we have shown from Scripture that Pentecostalism is heretical in its doctrine of salvation (Holy Spirit baptism) and fraudulent in its miracles.

The Reformed faith judges Pentecostalism to be a different religion from that of Luther, Calvin, and the Reformed creeds-a fundamental departure from the faith once delivered to the saints.

Chapter 2

The Reformed Testing of Pentecostalism’s Spirit

Pentecostalism replaces the Word of God in the Church and in the life of the member of the Church with experience, i.e., human feeling. This is one of its basic errors. Essentially, it is an attack on the Word, whether it replaces the Word completely, or whether it shoves the Word into the background, or whether it places experience alongside the Word. The movement runs down doctrine and speaks disparagingly of orthodoxy. Albert B. Simpson, the well-known Pentecostal preacher, expressed the Pentecostal attitude toward sound doctrine, when he called his Holy Spirit baptism, “the funeral of my dogmatics.” Wherever it appears, Pentecostalism does away with the creeds. One of the “gifts” which it has restored is that of special revelations given directly from God to certain “prophets.” This is the denial of the sole authority and full sufficiency of Scripture–a deathblow to sola scriptura (Scripture alone). Hearing and believing the Word is no longer the central thing, but the experience of the Spirit baptism.

This replacement of the Word with experience identifies Pentecostalism as a revival of the ancient heresy of mysticism: salvation as immediate contact with God. Pentecostalism’s favorite words are “experience,” “power,” “ecstasy,” and the like. This is its Spirit baptism; this is the nature of the Pentecostal meeting; this is its appeal to religious people; this is why women have a leading place in the movement.

That Pentecostalism is mysticism, indeed mysticism run amok, is readily illustrated from Pentecostal sources. The Full Gospel Business Men’s Voice(a Pentecostal magazine) of June, 1960 gives a description of his baptism with the Holy Spirit by a minister who, disturbed by his “lack of power,” had sought the baptism in fire:

Directly, there came into my hands a strange feeling, and it came on down to the middle of my arms and began to surge! It was like a thousand-like ten thousand-then a million volts of electricity. It began to shake my hands and to pull my hands. I could hear, as it were, a zooming sound of the power. It pulled my hands higher and held them there as though God took them in His. There came a voice in my soul that said, “Lay these hands on the sick and I will heal them!” . . . but I didn’t have the baptism . . . In an air-conditioned room, with my hands lifted…and my heart reaching up for my God, there came the hot, molten lava of His love. It poured in like a stream from Heaven and I was lifted up out of myself. I spoke in a language I could not understand for about two hours. My body perspired as though I was in a steambath: the Baptism of Fire! (quoted in Frederick Dale Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit, p.127)
Surely, this would have embarrassed Jacob Boehme, mystic that he was.

John Sherrill, a prominent Pentecostal, writes of seeing Jesus as a bright white light in his hospital room (cf. his They Speak with Other Tongues). Donald Gee, another leading Pentecostal, describes the Pentecostal baptism this way: “We are taken into God, and the soul will receive a consuming desire to ever more be utterly and entirely lost in Him”–the typical language of mysticism (cf. A New Discovery, p. 23).

A second fundamental error of Pentecostalism is its giving the Holy Spirit center-stage, while relegating Jesus to the wings, if not pushing Him offstage, entirely. It is forced to deny this, just as Rome is forced to deny that the cult of Mary actually replaces Jesus, but the fact remains. The truth of this charge is obvious on the very face of the movement. The Spirit gets the attention in Pentecostalism. The work of the Spirit, not that of the Son, is celebrated and exalted. The very name by which this movement calls itself gives it away: Pentecostalism–a name that has to do with the Spirit. Scripture, however, gives the people of God the name, Christian–a name that has to do with the Son, Jesus.

This disparagement of Jesus in favor of the Spirit is rooted deeply in basic Pentecostal doctrine. Pentecostalism teaches that the child of God must go beyond Christ to the higher level of the Spirit, must advance beyond “merely” receiving Christ by faith to receiving the Spirit by the Holy Spirit baptism.

Pentecostalism insults Christ.

Whatever spirit replaces Christ, disparages Christ, or goes beyond Christ is not the Spirit of Christ, but one of the spirits of antichrist, for the Spirit of Christ reveals Christ, bestows Christ, calls attention to the work of Christ, and glorifies Christ. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

A third, related error is Pentecostalism’s minimizing of faith. Flying straight in the face of the testimony of the Bible that in Jesus Christ nothing else avails anything at all, “but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6), Pentecostalism insists that faith in Christ is not enough–not nearly enough. Something additional is required, which avails very much indeed, namely, Holy Spirit baptism. Ignoring completely Scripture’s gracious praise of the believer as the one who shall not be confounded and who belongs to the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, and the people of God’s possession (I Pet. 2:&9), Pentecostalism slights those who “merely” believe, extolling instead those baptized in the Spirit. With the belittling of faith goes a stress on all kinds of human works. Pentecostalism puts a premium on certain works that are alleged to be conditions for receiving the baptism with the Spirit: praying intensely, cleansing one’s heart from all sin, yielding oneself completely, and the like. Most highly prized, of course, is the human work of speaking in tongues. Believing on the Son of God must take a back seat to this!

It is not surprising, then, that Pentecostalism practically ignores the one fundamental blessing of salvation for the child of God, the blessing received through faith: the forgiveness of sins. In the place of the gospel’s “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven” (Rom. 4:7ff; Psalm 32:1), Pentecostalism pronounces its “Blessed are they who enjoy the ecstasy and power of the Holy Spirit baptism.”

Whatever belittles faith, whatever adds to faith, whatever goes beyond faith is of the devil, is another gospel; and whoever falls away to this heresy is fallen from grace. The first verses of Galatians 5 sound the clear, sharp warning that there may be nothing in addition to, much less beyond, faith. To add something to faith, for the reception of salvation, is utterly to forfeit Christ: In this case, “Christ shall profit you nothing” (v.2); “ye are fallen from grace” (v.4).

Sola fide! Faith alone! All of salvation is by faith only! “For by grace are ye saved through faith… not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). Our salvation begins, continues, and is perfected by faith alone.

Pentecostalism is proud. It is arrogant in its attitude toward the Church of the past. Until about A.D. 1900, there was no such thing as the Pentecostal baptism with the Spirit within the Church. Athanasius and Augustine did not have it. Luther and Calvin did not have it. The Reformed saints of the Netherlands who died by the scores of thousands under the Roman Catholic persecution in the 16th century did not have it. On the contrary, they explicitly repudiated it. Augustine expresses the mind of the Church of the past:

In the earliest time the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues, which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, and to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening and it passed away. (“Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John,” The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII).
What does Pentecostalism say about this? “Up till now the Church has been a very poor and lifeless Church. The full gospel, the full salvation, and the full Christian life start with us.”

Put all of Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism on a pile, and the whole heap is not worthy to untie the shoelace of one Luther, or of one Calvin, or of one Reformed saint who believes the gospel of Scripture, trusts in Christ for his righteousness, fears the Lord, keeps the commandments, brings up his family in the truth, and worships God in spirit and in truth.

Pentecostalism is also arrogant in its attitude toward the “mere” believer. The Pentecostal is the elite in the Church, the super-saint; all others are “merely” converted Christians. This arrogance is not so much a matter of the personal sin of the Pentecostal as it is of Pentecostal doctrine. Pentecostalism teaches two baptisms in the Church: the inferior baptism of the washing away of sins (of which the sign is the application of water) and the superior baptism with the Holy Spirit (of which the initial sign is tongues). All Christians receive the former; but only some receive the latter–the super saints. In its fundamental doctrine, therefore, Pentecostalism is schismatic. It does not endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, as Christ’s apostle beseeches in Ephesians 4:3, but rends it. Unity in the congregation is rooted in “one baptism”, according to verse 5 of Ephesians 4. To posit two baptisms is as destructive of unity as would be the positing of two faiths, or two Lords, or two Gods. Spiritual pride in every form is divisive; humility nourishes oneness. Elders only deceive themselves when they tolerate Pentecostalism within the congregation, but warn it to “keep the peace.”

The explanation of this pride is that Pentecostalism is a religion of man. It centers on man’s feelings and on man’s possession of power. It assigns to man the decisive duty of performing the works that are conditions for the perfecting of salvation in the Holy Spirit baptism. It allows man to receive extra-Biblical revelations and to bind the congregation by them. It empowers a man to exercise a sovereign headship over a congregation, or over a fellowship of congregations, and to regulate the life of the people according to his will. The spirit honored by Pentecostalism is not the Spirit Who glorifies Christ (John 16:14), applies Christ’s redemption (Heidelberg Catechism, ~ He (the Holy Spirit) is also given me, to make me . . . partaker of Christ and all His benefits…guides into the truth that Christ has spoken in the inspired Scripture (John 16:13), and gives Himself to all of Christ’s people through faith (Gal. 3:14).” This One is the Spirit Who magnifies God. But the spirit of Pentecostalism calls attention to itself, bestows its own benefits of salvation, speaks of itself, and operates apart from the hearing of faith. This one is a spirit that caters to man.

Pentecostalism is not God-centered. For this reason, it can attack God’s Word (Scripture), disparage God’s Savior (Christ), minimize God’s way of salvation (faith), and ignore God’s fundamental blessing of salvation (justification). Basic to its being a gospel according to man (Gal. 1:11) is an error which, although often overlooked, even in criticisms of Pentecostalism, characterizes Pentecostalism wherever it is found. This is the error of free will, i.e., the doctrine that salvation depends upon the will of the sinner, rather than upon the sovereign, gracious will of God (Rom. 9:16). The roots of Pentecostalism are not in Calvin, Dordt, and Westminster, but in Arminius, Wesley, Finney, and revivalism.

This helps to explain both the popularity of Pentecostalism and its ecumenicity. Pentecostalism is ecumenical. It is obviously, admittedly, and aggressively ecumenical. It operates in all churches, with total disregard for confessional and doctrinal differences. It unites Protestants and Roman Catholics. All are made one by Pentecostalism–those who practice idolatry in the mass, as well as those whose confession is that this practice is accursed; those who depend for righteousness upon their own merits, as well as those whose confession is that we are to trust only in the alien righteousness of Christ; those who boast of salvation by their own free will, as well as those whose confession is that the “free will gospel” is the error of Pelagius out of hell. So far from being abashed by their doctrinally indifferent “Spirit”, and then being roused to suspicion concerning a “Spirit” thus disdainful of the truth, Pentecostal leaders herald their religion as the means of church union. The ecumenical nature of Pentecostalism was evident at the “1977 Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches” held in Kansas City. The conference was co-sponsored by Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Mennonites, Messianic Jews, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and United Methodists. Members from many other denominations participated.

One of the main speakers, the Episcopalian, Dennis Bennett, said that “he sees three streams of Christianity that are beginning to flow together: the Catholic stream with its emphasis on history and the continuity of the faith, the evangelical stream with its emphasis on loyalty to Scripture and the importance of personal commitment to Christ, and the Pentecostal stream with its emphasis on the immediate experience of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The keynote speaker, the Roman Catholic, Kevin Ranaghan, “asserted that divisions among the various Christian churches have been a ‘serious scandal’ in the world. ‘For the world to believe depends on our becoming one,’ he said. It is the will of God, he emphasized, ‘that we be one.”‘ He expressed his belief that there is a “real possibility of moving together toward some lasting form of Christian unity.” (Cf. Christianity Today, August 12, 1977, pp.36, 37).

Because of its fundamental errors regarding the Word, Christ, and faith; because of its pride; because of its false ecumenicity –an ecumenicity apart from the truth; because of its heretical doctrine of salvation–the teaching of Holy Spirit baptism; and because of its fraudulent miracles, Pentecostalism must be rejected. It must be rejected by Christian discipline. Here, some are weak. They know the errors of Pentecostalism. They see it as radically different from the faith of the Reformation. They even speak out in criticism of the movement. But at the same time they speak of their “Pentecostal brothers and sisters” and tolerate Pentecostalism in their churches.

The Pentecostal must be disciplined. He must be disciplined for his own good, that God may give him repentance unto the acknowledging of the truth. He must be disciplined for the church’s good, that the other members may learn to fear and that the leaven of Pentecostalism may not spread through the church. For the Pentecostal remains within the church, in order to gain adherents to his religion. “I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Gal. 5:12). “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10,11).

Chapter 3

The Reformed View of the Christian Life

Does not Pentecostalism, despite its serious errors, have something to contribute to the churches of the Reformation, something, in fact, that these churches very much need? Should not Reformed believers learn something from Pentecostalism, something that they are otherwise quite ignorant of? Do not Reformed churches and their members lack something which God Himself is now supplying through the Pentecostal, or charismatic, movement? Having given His Church the former rain moderately, is not God now fulfilling Joel’s prophecy of a “latter rain” (Joel 2:23)?

This notion is widely accepted in Reformed circles. That which Pentecostalism is supposed to contribute to the church and the member is a vibrant Christian life. A Reformed church and a Reformed saint have sound doctrine, it is said; but they are deficient in the area of Christian life. To the congregation, Pentecostalism will contribute a real unity of the members; a love that cares for, and shares with, the other members; the energetic use of his gifts by every member; and a spontaneous, lively, exuberant worship. To the individual member, it will supply spiritual experience, joy, zeal, and power. Reformed Christianity has the Word (doctrine); Pentecostalism will add the Spirit. Thus, Pentecostalism is introduced, and welcomed, into Reformed churches.

The notion is false. The Reformed Church has always sought the unity of the people of God; urged the mutual love of her members; and done justice to the use of his gifts by every member. It was not Pentecostalism that moved the Reformed Church to confess the communion of saints, in Q. 55 of her Heidelberg Catechism, in these words:

First, that all and everyone, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.
Nor was it Pentecostalism that was responsible for the Reformed Church’s charging her members to live the Christian life by loving their neighbors as she does in Lord’s Days 39-44 of this same Catechism. Let Pentecostalism improve, if it can, on the Reformed Faith’s application of the Fifth Commandment to the believer as the requirement that “I show all honor, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me… and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities . .. “(Q. 104); of the Sixth Commandment, as the requirement that we “love our neighbor as ourselves… show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies…”(Q. 107); of the Seventh Commandment, as the teaching that “we must… live chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life” (Q. 108); of the Eighth Commandment, as the requirement that “I promote the advantage of my neighbor in every instance I can or may, and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others” (Q. 111); and of the Ninth Commandment, as the requirement that “I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the honor and good character of my neighbor” (Q.112).

To the Pentecostal’s suggestion that we should go to school at the feet of Pentecostalism, to learn about Christian experience, Reformed Christians are inclined to respond as the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:2,4). Bypassing the glorious tradition of the Reformed, Presbyterian, and Puritan preachers and writers, we invite those who make this presumptuous suggestion to read the Heidelberg Catechism. For over 400 years, Reformed Christians have been schooled in a catechism that sets forth the entire message of Scripture from the viewpoint of personal comfort; that defines this comfort as belonging to Christ; and that grounds this comfort in an experiential knowledge of sin, an experiential knowledge of redemption, and an experiential knowledge of thankfulness. When they have finished with the Catechism, they may pick up the Canons of Dordt, to observe the warm, pastoral treatment of the great doctrines that are at once the distinctive truths of the Reformed Faith and the heart of the gospel of God’s grace. Here, they will find an exposition of predestination, e.g., that is deeply concerned with the assurance of election (I,12); with the effects of the sense of election in the daily humility, adoration, self-purification, and thankful love of the children of God (I,13); and with the spiritual struggles and doubts of those who are the “smokingflax” and “bruised reeds” (I,16).

As genuine, Biblical Christianity, the Reformed Faith has always also honored the Holy Spirit and His work. It has confessed His Godhead; it has observed His outpouring as the Spirit of Christ on Pentecost; it has ascribed to Him the complete work of the gathering of the Church and the saving of every elect sinner, insomuch that it has denied that even the smallest part of the gathering of the Church or the saving of the sinner is the work of man and has asserted that even the Word is powerless without the Spirit. It has extolled the Spirit’s works, e.g., regeneration and sanctification; praised His gifts, e.g., faithful witness to the truth; and cultivated His fruit-the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance of Galatians 5:22. For all this, the Reformed Church owes Pentecostalism exactly nothing.

The Reformed Christian does refuse to honor any spirit alongside of Jesus Christ; does refuse to dabble in any salvation additional to the redemption of Christ; does refuse to fly with any spirit above the solid atmosphere of the Word of Christ–Holy Scripture; and does refuse to confess some spirit instead of Jesus. But the Holy Spirit of God does not take it ill of us, that we make this refusal. He Himself demands it of us and works it in us. For He has come to glorify Jesus (John 16:14); to bestow Jesus’ redemption (John 7:37-39); to work in and through Jesus’ Word (John 6:63); and to confess Jesus Christ (I John 4:1-3).

Pentecostalism has nothing to contribute to the churches of the Reformation. Reformed believers can learn nothing from it. The Reformed Faith needs nothing that Pentecostalism can supply. Pentecostalism must be rejected, in its entirety, as a religion alien to Reformed Christianity. In the bloodstream of a Reformed church, it is a foreign element. If it remains, unpurged, it will be the death of that body, as a Reformed body.

It is disturbing to find Pentecostal literature in the homes of Reformed people, for use as edifying reading–Watchman Nee; David Wilkerson; John Osteen; Arthur Wallis; The Full Gospel Businessman’s Voice; and others. Even though the material may not be Pentecostal, the devotional reading-and listening!-of some Reformed believers is to be faulted. The fare from which they regularly feed to satisfy the soul’s craving for exposition of the Christian life, experience, and practice is the best selling literature of present-day fundamentalism. At best, it is devoid of anything Reformed; at worst, it undermines everything that Reformed believers hold dear, inculcating a superficial, false view of the Christian life and experience. Where, e.g., in the frothy works on the higher, richer, fuller, deeper Christian life, with their flashy covers, that abound in the average Christian book store, do you find anything of the “out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD” of Psalm 130? Much less is this sorrow over the guilt of sin central to their vaunted higher, richer, fuller, deeper Christian life. Theirs is a higher, richer, fuller, deeper Christian life, therefore, whose heartbeat is not the forgiveness of sins in the redemption of the cross of Christ. The Christian life to which those books call the readers cannot be a life of fearing the Lord, the holy, gracious Judge, by the pardoned sinner (Psalm 130:4). Instead, they tell us how to be happy. Nor do they set forth the Christian life as obedience-costly obedience-to the Ten Commandments of God’s Law. A plague on these books; and a plague on their higher, richer, fuller, deeper Christian life!

It may well be, however, that some of the blame for this bad reading lies at the feet of us preachers, elders, parents, and Christian schoolteachers. Perhaps, we are not recommending to the saints the good, solid devotional works-the sermons, commentaries, and other writings of Luther; of Calvin; and of the older Reformed, Presbyterian, and Puritan authors.

Perhaps, we are not producing books and articles that do justice to the practical and experiential aspects of the Reformed Faith–its unique and vital piety. Perhaps, our preaching slights these aspects of the gospel. Then, we defend orthodoxy, without applying it. Or, in reaction to experientialism, we ignore experience; in reaction to subjectivism, we dare not be subjective; in reaction to a clamor for the practical that despises doctrine, we fail to speak the practical things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). In this case, there is indeed a lack, not in the Reformed Faith, but in our teaching of it; and it should not surprise us, wrong though it is, that the saints seek to satisfy their hunger elsewhere.

The fact that Pentecostalism has nothing to contribute to the Reformed believer does not imply that God does not make use of this movement on behalf of His people. God has always used heresies to drive His Church to the Word, so that her knowledge of the truth may be increased and her faithfulness of life may be renewed. God uses Pentecostalism to send us back to Holy Scripture, to search it as regards its teaching concerning the Christian life.

The basic appeal of Pentecostalism is its criticism of the Christian’s life and its promise of a higher, richer Christian life. Pentecostalism finds much laxity, unfaithfulness, worldliness, and disobedience. We do well to confess this. God sends the scourge of Pentecostalism for a reason. Many have lost the first love. The love of others waxes cold. Iniquity abounds. For many, worship is lifeless formalism; confession of the truth is a dead tradition; Christian life is an external ritual; and the experience of salvation’s peace and joy is non-existent. Always, mysticism arises against the background of a decline in the spiritual life of the Church, especially a decline into dead orthodoxy and lively worldliness. In these circumstances, Pentecostalism seduces the people with the allure of real life, dynamic power, and wonderful feeling.

In view of Pentecostalism’s criticism of the life, both of the faithful Reformed believer, who has not received Pentecostalism’s baptism with the Spirit, and of the lax, unfaithful church member, and in view of its promise to transport the Christian into a higher level of spiritual life and experience, we are compelled to ask, “What is the Christian life and experience? What is the normal, Christian life?”

In answering this question, we pay no attention to the claims of religious men and woman. The norm of Christian life and experience is not the neighbor’s testimony of her latest ecstatic feeling, but Holy Scripture. In this way, we let God be true, and every man, a liar. The failure to let Scripture, the reliable Word of God, be the standard of the Christian life, and the dependency upon the thoroughly unreliable words of men, is the cause of no end of doubt, whether one is what he ought to be spiritually, and even whether one is a regenerated child of God at all. This gives Pentecostalism the opening that it wants. For knowledge of the Christian life, the rule is: “To the law and to the testimony,” shunning the wizards that peep and mutter (Isaiah 8:19,20).

According to Scripture, the Christian life is a life that finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, as this Christ is revealed in the Word. It will not go beyond Christ; it will have nothing apart from Christ, or in addition to Christ–not circumcision, not new revelations, not a higher knowledge, not some spirit. The reason is that the Christian knows, and has found by experience, that Christ is a complete Savior. In Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and the Christian is complete in Him, i.e., is filled up in Him (Col. 2:9,10). To be sure, the Christian life is a life of growth, but that growth is a growing up into Christ, not a going beyond Christ: “That we…may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14,15). Just as is the case with the physical growth to maturity, this spiritual growth is a gradual, often imperceptible, development, not an instantaneous, overnight transformation. It is life-long. It takes place by the Word and prayer.

This sufficient Christ, with all His adequate benefits, is the life of the believer by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his heart. “I live,” exults the believer, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). The fervent prayer of the apostle for all of the members of God’s Church is “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). This takes place in every one of us by our being “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (v.16).

The Christian life is a life of walking in the Spirit of Christ Whom we all received when we were born again. The believer does not look for, or seek, or tarry for a second baptism; rather, he strives to walk in the Spirit daily, in all of life. This is the instruction concerning the Christian life in Galatians 5. There were problems in Galatia regarding the Christian life, serious problems. There was the threat of the saints’ biting and devouring each other-a pathetic lack of love (vss. 13-15). There were other temptations of the flesh and its lusts: adultery; idolatry; drunkenness; and the like (vss. 19-21). There were evidences of vain glory, of the provoking of one another, and of envying one another (v.26). These were problems for men and women who had been baptized (Gal. 3:27) and who had received the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2). But the solution was not that they seek a new baptism, or a different administration of the Spirit. On the contrary, they must walk in that Holy Spirit in Whom they lived: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (v. 16); “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (v.25).

The Christian life, it is thus pointed out, is active. The activity of the Christian life is, first, a battle-a fierce, unrelenting, life-long battle. The battleground is oneself. The foe is sin. Pentecostalism knows nothing of this battle; the Pentecostal has already won the victory in his baptism with the Spirit. Not only do you hear little or nothing of the forgiveness of sins in Pentecostalism, but you also hear little or nothing of the daily struggle of the saint against indwelling sin. In fact, it is not unheard of that the charismatic preacher ridicules those who are always groaning over their sins, those, that is to say, whose testimony all their lives is, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). Nothing more clearly than this exposes Pentecostalism as a religion totally alien to the Reformed Faith. A Reformed Pentecostal is an impossibility, a contradiction in terms. A Pentecostal cannot confess the first part of the Heidelberg Catechism. At best, he can only say that he used to know the misery of sin, both guilt and depravity. Ignorant of his misery, neither can he know redemption or the living gratitude that wells up daily in a forgiven heart.

Scripture, however, presents the Christian life as a striving against indwelling sin. This is the teaching of Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

This is the powerful doctrine of Romans 7. The Christian man, or woman, is carnal, sold under sin. Paul himself, man of God and apostle of Christ, was carnal, sold under sin. He found himself so, at the very end of his life, after he had been sanctified by the Spirit and after his sanctification had progressed far (v.14). Paul was carnal, not because he was unregenerated, not because Christ had not baptized him with the Holy Spirit and fire, not because sin reigned in his life, not because Paul was a careless Christian; but because even though he was born again, evil was present with him-he retained his sinful, totally depraved flesh (v.21). As a new man in Christ and, we may safely suppose, as one of the holiest of saints, he delighted in the law of God after the inward man (v. 22); had a hatred of sin (v. 15); and possessed a will to do the good (v.18). But such was the power of sin in him as long as he lived, that “the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do” (v.19). Therefore, the apostle-and every Christian-knows his misery. He expresses it in the anguished cry, “O wretched man that I am” (v. 24)–the echo in the New Testament of the “Out of the depths” of Psalm 130. Yet, he neither gives up in the spiritual battle, nor is he ever without the solace of the Savior, Jesus Christ his Lord. Verse 23 insists on the warfare (“I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind..”); verses 24, 25, on the comfort of Christ (“who shall deliver me . . . ? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”).

Not only is this warfare with sin the activity of the Christian life as regards one’s personal life, but it is also the activity of Christian life in the family and in the congregation.

This is a painful, bitter struggle.

For this reason, the Christian can be enticed by the sweet promise that suddenly the battle is over in this life. A pastor can be tempted similarly by such a promise for the congregation. But with the shield of Scripture, he can, and must, resist the temptation.

Do you find this bitter struggle against sin in yourself?

Do not despair!

Do not think that you are not saved or that you are insufficiently saved!

This is it: the normal Christian life!

The result is that we long ardently and wait, not for a second work of grace, but for the second coming of Jesus Christ: “Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly. ” We hope eagerly, not for a baptism with the Spirit, but for the resurrection of our bodies: ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

Second, the activity of the Christian life is the doing of good works. But it is not the production of spectacular deeds and glamorous accomplishments, as the charismatics would have us believe. Rather, it is the doing of unnoticed, insignificant works–works that are of no account in the estimation of men. It is the activity of sanctification of life, walking after the Spirit, not after the flesh: not practicing adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like (Gal. 5:19-21); but living in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22,23).

It is the activity of the unnoticed works of keeping the law of God: right worship of God; confessing the truth; remembering the Sabbath; obeying parents; faithfulness in marriage; chastity in single life; Godly rearing of children; diligent labor at one’s earthly vocation; payment to Caesar of his taxes; speaking well of one’s neighbor, especially the brother and sister in the congregation; and contentment with one’s lot, without coveting.

In short, the activity of the Christian life is love–love of the Lord our God and love of the neighbor.

As you do this, do not blow a trumpet before your piety; do it secretly, so that God will reward you.

This is possible by the indwelling Power of Almighty God; but, even then, sin will defile our best works, so that there is only a small beginning of the new obedience and constant need of pardon.

But does not the Christian life have its experience?

As an alternative or addition to faith, experience must be renounced, root and branch. Jesus Christ does not call us to experience, or to feel, but to believe. The way of salvation is faith, not feeling; we are saved by faith, not by experience; we are saved by faith alone, not by faith and experience.

Nevertheless, faith has its experience. It is three-fold: God’s child knows the greatness of his sin and misery, his gracious redemption in Christ, and thankfulness for this redemption.

Do you have this experience? Then, you have the normal Christian experience. This is all there is. Whoever lusts for more is an ingrate and aggravates God. He says to God Who gives the knowledge of Himself in His own Son (John 17:3), “But is there not something more, something better?”

To put it differently, through faith the Holy Spirit gives the peace and joy that come from justification. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1,2).

Since this is the Christian life, the Reformed believer makes a confession that is radically different from that of the Pentecostal. The Pentecostal is always boasting of his great powers and is always rejoicing in his marvelous accomplishments. The Reformed saint humbly confesses his weaknesses and takes pleasure in his infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. For he has learned to trust in Divine grace; desires the power of Christ to rest upon him; and has heard God say, in the gospel, “my strength is made perfect in weakness” (11 Cor. 12:9, 10).

He will not glory in himself. To do so, is, to him, abhorrent-a blasphemy. From the bottom of his sin-broken, but justified heart comes the confession, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

This is the sound of the Dove.

The Providence of God Extends Over All Things

Taken from, “The Triumph of the Cross”
Written by, GIROLAMO SAVONAROLA (1452–1498) 


There is no room for doubt that the Providence of God extends over all things…

…not merely over natural things, but over even the smallest human action.

The word Providence signifies a knowledge of the order of things, within the intention of reducing them, by fitting means, to their end. Therefore, as God is Supreme Wisdom, to Him it belongs to order and dispose of all things, as the First Cause, who acts on all things by His understanding, determined by His free will. And, as He is Supreme Wisdom, whose attribute it is to order all things aright, we must acknowledge that in Him is perfect Providence over all things.

Philosophers have never hesitated to recognize Divine Providence in the marvelous operations of Nature. The disordered and confused state of human affairs has, however, presented a difficulty to them, and has led some among them to deny the Providence of God over human things.

But, if we reflect, we shall see that it is foolish to deny the Providence of God in the conduct of human affairs, as well as in the order of nature. For the more noble things are, the more perfectly are they ordered; therefore, as man is the noblest of all beings, his operations must be ordered.

Again, as the wisest men take more thought and care for the things which are nearer to their end, than for those which are more remote from it, so, as man is nearer to God (the end of all things) than are natural things, it would be impossible to believe that, while Providence governs nature, it does not extend to human affairs.

Further, Divine Providence proceeds from the love of God…

…and the more God loves a creature, the greater is His Providence over it. Since, then, by giving to man a more perfect nature and a higher order of operation than He has given to natural things, God has shown that His love for man is greater than His love for natural things, we cannot doubt that his Providence likewise is exercised in human affairs.

Another proof of what we say lies in the fact that it is natural (as we see in the case of animals with their young) for all causes to exercise a certain providence over their effects. But as all secondary causes act only in imitation of God, the First Cause, it is evident that He must exercise Providence over all things, and especially over man, who is His noblest effect, and whom He loves more than other natural things.

We must further remember that, if God does not extend His Providence to man, it must be, either because He cannot do so, or knows not how to do so, or else will not do so. Since He is Infinite Power and Infinite Wisdom, it is vain to say that He cannot care for man, or knows not how to do so. To say that He will not do so, is to derogate from His Infinite Goodness; for none that is good spurns his own work, and no cause despises its own effect. Neither would it be a righteous work to care for imperfect things, and not for perfect ones. When even every good and wise man cares diligently for human affairs, how shall we say that the God of Infinite Goodness takes no heed of them?

Earnest Soul Searchings on the Cost of Being a Fisherman: “The Art of Man- Fishing.” Part 7.

Taken and adapted from, A Soliloquy on The Art of Man-Fishing
Written by Thomas Boston, 1699
Edited for thought and sense.


How can you believe, that receive honor one of another, –and seek not the honor that comes from God only? A grain of faith will cure this lightness of the head and heart.

Consider, 0 my soul, your own vileness? What are you but a poor lump of clay, as to your body, that will soon return to the dust, and be a sweet morsel for the worms that now you tramples upon! Hast you not seen how loathsome the body is many times in life, by filthy boils and other noisome diseases, and after death what an ugly aspect it has? Forget not the sight that you saw once in the churchyard of Dunse, how a body, perhaps sometime beautiful, was like thin mortar, but much more vile and abominable.

The time will come that you will be such yourself. But what are you as to your heart, but a vile, base, and ugly thing, so many filthy idols to be found there, like a swarm of the worst of vermin? Are you not as a cage full of unclean birds! What do you think of yourself. What unbelief saw you there, what baseness of every kind? And what day goes over you, but you see still something in you to humble you? And what are you that God has employed in this work? Those that were sometime your fellows are mean and despised; and will you for all this seek your own glory? Woe unto you if you do so.

Consider, That “Him that honors God, God will honor; but he that despises him, shall be lightly esteemed.” Have respect, O my soul, with Moses, to the recompense of reward, and beware of preferring your own to the interest of Christ, lest you be classed among those that seek their own, and not the things of Christ.

Consider also what Christ has done for you. Forget not his goodness, his undeserved goodness to such a base wretch as you are. Let love to him predominate in you, and you shall then be helped to sacrifice all to his glory.

Christ had the good of men’s souls in his eye. He came to seek and save that which was lost; he came to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So he sent out the apostle to open the eyes of the blind, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Follow Christ in this, O my soul, that you mayst be a fisher of men. When you study your sermons, let the good of souls be before you; when you preach let this be your design, to endeavor to recover lost sheep, to get some brands plucked out of the burning; to get some converted, and brought in to your Master. Let that be much in your mind, and be concerned for that, whatever doctrine you preach. Consider, O my soul, for this effect, What the design of the gospel is. What is it but this? This is the finis operis; and if it be not the finis operandis, it is very lamentable. It is the everlasting gospel that Christ has made manifest, declaring the will of God concerning the salvation of man.

Consider wherefore God did send you out. Was it to win a livelihood to yourself? Woe to them that count gain godliness; that will make the gospel merely subservient to their temporal wants. Rather would I perish for want than win bread that way. Well then, was it not to get you mighty labor to gain souls to Christ? Yea, it was. Have a care then that you be not like some that go to a place, being sent thither by their master, but forget their errand, when they come there, and trifle away their time in vanity and fooleries.

Consider the worth of souls. If you remember that, you can not but have an eye to their good. The soul is a precious thing: which appears if you consider,

(1.) Its noble endowments adorned with understanding, capable to know the highest object; will to choose the same; affections to pursue after it, to love God, hate sin, in a word, to glorify God here, and to enjoy him here and hereafter.
(2.) It must live or die for ever. It shall either enjoy God through all the ages of eternity, or remain in endless torments for evermore.
(3.) No worldly gain can counterbalance the loss of it. “What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
(4.) It cost Christ his precious blood ere it could be redeemed. It behoved him to bear the Father’s wrath, that the elect should have borne through all eternity; and no less would redeem it. So that the redemption of the soul is indeed precious.
(5.) Christ courts the soul. He stands at the door, and knocks, to get in. The devil courts it with his baits and allurements. And will you, O my soul, be unconcerned for the good of that which is so much courted by Christ and the devil both? Be ashamed to stand as an unconcerned spectator, lest you show yourself none of the Bridegroom’s friends.

Consider the hazard that souls are in. Oh! alas, the most part are going on in the high way to destruction, and that blind-folded. Endeavor then to draw off the veil. They are as brands in the fire: will you then be so cruel as not to be concerned to pluck them out? If so, you shall burn with them, world without end, in the fire of God’s vengeance, and the furnace of his wrath, that shall be seven times more hot for unconcerned preachers than others.

Consider what a sad case you yourself was in, when Christ concerned himself for your good. You were going on in the way to hell as blind as a mole; at last Christ opened thine eyes, and let you see your hazard, by a preacher (worthy Mr. H. Erskine) that was none of the unconcerned Gallios, who spared neither his body, his credit, nor reputation, to gain you, and the like of you. And will you preach unconcerned for others? I should abhor myself as the vilest monster, in so doing. Lord, my soul rises at it when I think on it. My soul hates, and loathes that way of preaching: but without you, I can do nothing. Lord, rather strike me dumb, than suffer me to preach unconcerned for the good of souls; for if dumb, I should murder neither my own soul, nor those of others.

Consider that unconcernedness for the good of souls in preaching, argues,

(1.) A dead lifeless heart, a loveless soul, with respect to Christ. If you have any life or love to Christ, dare you be unconcerned in this matter? Nay, sure, he that has life will move; and he that hath love, will be concerned for the propagating of Christ’s kingdom.
(2.) Unbelief of the threatenings of 
God especially. For if you believe that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God, you can not preach to them as if you were telling a tale. If you believe that they must depart into everlasting fire, your heart will not be so frozen as to be unconcerned for them. The sight of it by faith will thaw your frozen heart.
(3.) A stupid heart, and so a hateful frame. Who would not abhor a watchman that saw the enemy coming on, if he should bid them only in the general provide to resist their enemies, or should tell them that the enemy were coming on, so unconcernedly as they might see he cared not whether they should live or perish? And what a hateful stupidity is it in a preacher of the gospel to be unconcerned for souls, when they are in such hazard ?

The devil shames such preachers.

He goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and they, set to keep souls, creep about like a snail. He is in earnest when he tempts; but such are unconcerned whether people hear, or forbear to hear their invitations, reproofs, etc. Yea, how concerned are the devil’s ministers that agent his business for him ? They will compass sea and land to gain one proselyte. And shall the preachers of the gospel be unconcerned?

If it be so that you be unconcerned for the good of souls, it seems you came not in by the door, but have broken over the wall, and are but a thief and a robber, John 10:1, compared with verse 12, “He that is a hireling, sees the wolf coming, flees, and leaves the sheep, and the wolf catches them.” Verse 15, “The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep.” O my soul, if at any time you find your heart unconcerned in not having the good of souls before you, remember this.

Lastly, you can not expect God’s help, if you forget your errand. Have you not known and experienced, that these two, God’s help in preaching, and a concernedness for the good of souls, have gone with you pari passu?

O my soul, then endeavor to be much in following of Christ this way, setting the good of souls before thine eyes; and if you do so, you mayst be a fisher of men, though you know it not.

Let us consider, what it is to take heed to ourselves… As Pastors!

Taken from, “The Reformed Pastor”
Written by, Richard Baxter


See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls…

Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual working of that gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim to the world the necessity of a Savior, your own hearts should neglect him, and you should miss of an interest in him and his saving benefits. Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call upon others to take heed of perishing; and lest you famish yourselves while you prepare food for them. Though there is a promise of shining as the stars, to those ‘who turn many to righteousness,’ that is but on supposition that they are first turned to it themselves. Their own sincerity in the faith is the condition of their glory, simply considered, though their great ministerial labors may be a condition of the promise of their greater glory.

Many have warned others that they come not to that place of torment, while yet they hastened to it themselves: many a preacher is now in hell, who hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others, while they refuse it themselves; and for telling others those truths which they themselves neglect and abuse? Many a tailor goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes.

Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to ourselves first, that you he that which you persuade your hearers to be, and believe that which you persuade them to believe, and heartily entertain that Savior whom you offer to them. He that bade you love your neighbors as yourselves, did imply that you should love yourselves, and not hate and destroy yourselves and them.

It is a fearful thing to be an unsanctified professor, but much more to be an unsanctified preacher. Doth it not make you tremble when you open the Bible, lest you should there read the sentence of your own condemnation? When you pen your sermons, little do you think that you are drawing up indictments against your own souls! When you are arguing against sin, that you are aggravating your own! When you proclaim to your hearers the unsearchable riches of Christ and his grace, that you are publishing your own iniquity in rejecting them, and your unhappiness in being destitute of them! What can you do in persuading men to Christ, in drawing them from the world, in urging them to a life of faith and holiness, but conscience, if it were awake, would tell you, that you speak all this to your own confusion? If you speak of hell, you speak of your own inheritance: if you describe the joys of heaven, you describe your own misery, seeing you have no right to ‘the inheritance of the saints in light.’ What can you say, for the most part, but it will be against your own souls O miserable life! –that a man should study and preach against himself, and spend his days in a course of self-condemnation!

A graceless, inexperienced preacher is one of the most unhappy creatures upon earth and yet he is ordinarily very insensible of his unhappiness; for he hath so many counters that seem like the gold of saving grace, and so many splendid stones that resemble Christian jewels, that he is seldom troubled with the thoughts of his poverty; but thinks he is ‘rich, and increased in goods, and stands in need of nothing, when he is poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.’ He is acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, he is exercised in holy duties, he liveth not in open disgraceful sin, he serveth at God’s altar, he reproveth other men’s faults, and preacheth up holiness both of heart and life; and how can this man choose but be holy?

Oh what aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of plenty! –

To famish with the bread of life in our hands, while we offer it to others, and urge it on them! That those ordinances of God should be the occasion of our delusion, which are instituted to be the means of our conviction and salvation! And that while we hold the looking-glass of the gospel to others, to show them the face and aspect of their souls, we should either look on the back part of it ourselves, where we can see nothing, or turn it aside, that it may misrepresent us to ourselves! If such a wretched man would take my counsel, he would make a stand, and call his heart and life to an account, and fall a preaching a while to himself, before he preach any more to others. He would consider, whether food in the mouth, that goeth not into the stomach, will nourish; whether he that ‘nameth the name of Christ should not depart from iniquity,” whether God will hear his prayers, if ‘he regard iniquity in his heart,” whether it will serve the turn at the day of reckoning to say, ‘Lord, Lord, we have prophesied in thy name,’ when he shall hear these awful words, ‘Depart from me, I know you not,” and what comfort it will be to Judas, when he has gone to his own place, to remember that he preached with the other apostles, or that he sat with Christ, and was called by him, ‘Friend.’ When such thoughts as these have entered into their souls, and kindly worked a while upon their consciences, I would advise them to go to their congregation, and preach over Origen’s sermon on Psalm 50. 16,17. ‘But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.’ And when they have read this text, to sit down, and expound and apply it by their tears; and then to make a full and free confession of their sin, and lament their case before the whole assembly, and desire their earnest prayers to God for pardoning and renewing grace; that hereafter they may preach a Savior whom they know, and may feel what they speak, and may commend the riches of the gospel from their own experience.

Alas! it is the common danger and calamity of the Church, to have unregenerate and inexperienced pastors, and to have so many men become preachers before they are Christians; who are sanctified by dedication to the altar as the priests of God, before they are sanctified by hearty dedication as the disciples of Christ; and so to worship an unknown God, and to preach an unknown Christ, to pray through an unknown Spirit, to recommend a state of holiness and communion with God, and a glory and a happiness which are all unknown, and like to be unknown to them for ever.

He is like to be but a heartless preacher, that hath not the Christ and grace that he preacheth, in his heart. O that all our students in our universities would well consider this! What a poor business is it to themselves, to spend their time in acquiring some little knowledge of the works of God, and of some of those names which the divided tongues of the nations have imposed on them, and not to know God himself, nor exalt him in their hearts, nor to be acquainted with that one renewing work that should make them happy! They do but ‘walk in a vain show,’ and spend their lives like dreaming men, while they busy their wits and tongue about abundance of names and notions, and are strangers to God and the life of saints. If ever God awaken them by his saving grace, they will have cogitations and employments so much more serious than their unsanctified studies and disputations, that they will confess they did but dream before. A world of business they make themselves about nothing, while they are wilful strangers to the primitive, independent, necessary Being, who is all in all.

Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known…

…nor is any study well-managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense. He who overlooketh him who is the ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ and seeth not him in all who is the All of all, doth see nothing at all. 

The Doctrine of Darkness: REPROBATION

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination”
Written by, Jerome Zanchius  (1516-1590)
Translated from the Latin by, Augustus Toplady


FROM what has been said in the Bible concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others…

…as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.”

God did, from all eternity, decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits.

For the clearing of this, let it be observed that in all ages the much greater part of mankind have been destitute even of the external means of grace, and have not been favoured with the preaching of God’s Word or any revelation of His will. Thus, anciently, the Jews, who were in number the fewest of all people, were, nevertheless, for a long series of ages, the only nation to whom the Deity was pleased to make any special discovery of Himself, and it is observable that our Lord Himself principally confined the advantages of His public ministry to that people; nay, He forbade His disciples to go among any others (Matthew 10:5-6), and did not commission them to preach the Gospel indiscriminately to Jews and Gentiles until after His resurrection (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47). Hence many nations and communities never had the advantage of hearing the Word preached, and consequently were strangers to the faith that cometh thereby.

It is not indeed improbable, but some individuals in these unenlightened countries might belong to the secret election of grace, and the habit of faith might be wrought in these.

However, be that as it will, our argument is not affected by it. It is evident that the nations of the world were generally ignorant, not only of God Himself, but likewise of the way to please Him, the true manner of acceptance with Him, and the means of arriving at the everlasting enjoyment of Him. Now, if God had been pleased to have saved those people, would He not have vouchsafed them the ordinary means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary in order to that end? But it is undeniable matter of fact that He did not, and to very many nations of the earth does not at this day. If, then, the Deity can consistently with His attributes deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief, why should it be thought incompatible with His immensely glorious perfections to exclude some persons from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it, especially seeing He is equally the Lord and sovereign Disposer of the end to which the means lead, as of the means which lead to that end? Both one and the other are His, and He most justly may, as He most assuredly will, do what He pleases with His own.

Besides, it being also evident that many, even of them who live in places where the Gospel is preached, as well as of those among whom it never was preached, die strangers to God and holiness, and without experiencing anything of the gracious influences of His Spirit, we may reasonably and safely conclude that one cause of their so dying is because it was not the Divine will to communicate His grace unto them, since, had it been His will, He would actually have made them partakers thereof, and had they been partakers of it they could not have died without it. Now, if it was the will of God in time to refuse them this grace, it must have been His will from eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The actions of God being thus fruits of His eternal purpose, we may safely, and without any danger of mistake, argue from them to that and infer that God therefore does such and such things, because He decreed to do them, His own will being the sole cause of all His works. So that, from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief, we assuredly gather that it was His everlasting determination so to do, and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world. And as this inference is strictly rational, so is it perfectly Scriptural. Thus the Judge will in the last day declare to those on the left hand, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23), i.e., “I never, no, not from eternity, loved, approved or acknowledged you for Mine,” or, in other words, “I always hated you.”

Our Lord (in John 17.) divides the whole human race into two great classes – one He calls the world; the other, “the men who were given Him out of the world.” The latter, it is said, the Father loved, even as He loved Christ Himself (John 17:23), but He loved Christ “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24), i.e., from everlasting; therefore He loved the elect so too, and if He loved these from eternity, it follows, by all the rules of antithesis, that He hated the others as early. So, “The children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God,” etc. (Romans 9.). From the example of the two twins, Jacob and Esau, the apostle infers the eternal election of some men and the eternal rejection of all the rest.

Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that the just judgment of God. (See Exodus 9.; 1 Samuel 2:25; 2 Samuel 17:14; Isaiah 6:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.)

Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission on the part of God, as if God barely suffered it to be so, quasi invitus, as it were by constraint, and against His will, for He permits nothing which He did not resolve and determine to permit. His permission is a positive, determinate act of His will, as Augustine, Luther and Bucer justly observe. Therefore, if it be the will of God in time to permit such and such men to continue in their natural state of ignorance and corruption, the natural consequence of which is their falling into such and such sins (observe God does not force them into sin, their actual disobedience being only the consequence of their not having that grace which God is not obliged to grant them) – I say, if it be the will of God thus to leave them in time (and we must deny demonstration itself, even known absolute matter of fact, if we deny that some are so left), then it must have been the Divine intention from all eternity so to leave them, since, as we have already had occasion to observe, no new will can possibly arise in the mind of God. We see that evil men actually are suffered to go on adding sin to sin, and if it be not inconsistent with the sacred attributes actually to permit this, it could not possibly be inconsistent with them to decree that permission before the foundations of the world were laid.

Thus God efficaciously permitted (having so decreed) the Jews to be, in effect, the crucifiers of Christ, and Judas to betray Him (Acts 4:27-28; Matthew 26:23-24).

Hence we find St. Augustine speaking thus: “Judas was chosen, but it was to do a most execrable deed, that thereby the death of Christ, and the adorable work of redemption by Him, might be accomplished. When therefore we hear our Lord say, ‘Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ we must understand it thus, that the eleven were chosen in mercy, but Judas in judgement; they were chosen to partake of Christ’s kingdom; he was chosen and pitched upon to betray Him and be the means of shedding His blood.”

The non-elect were predestinated, not only to continue in final impenitency, sin and unbelief, but were likewise, for such their sins, righteously appointed to infernal death hereafter.

This position is also self-evident for it is certain that in the day of universal judgement all the human race will not be admitted into glory, but some of them transmitted to the place of torment. Now, God does and will do nothing but in consequence of His own decree (Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 46:11; Ephesians 1:9, 11); therefore the condemnation of the unrighteous was decreed of God, and if decreed by Him, decreed from everlasting, for all His decrees are eternal. Besides, if God purposed to leave those persons under the guilt and the power of sin, their condemnation must of itself necessarily follow, since without justification and sanctification (neither of which blessings are in the power of man) none can enter heaven (John 13:8; Hebrews 12:14). Therefore, if God determined within Himself thus to leave some in their sins (and it is but too evident that this is really the case), He must also have determined within Himself to punish them for those sins (final guilt and final punishment being correlatives which necessarily infer each other), but God did determine both to leave and to punish the non-elect, therefore there was a reprobation of some from eternity. Thus, “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25.); for Satan and all his messengers, emissaries and imitators, whether apostate spirits or apostate men.

Now, if penal fire was, in decree from everlasting, prepared for them, they, by all the laws of argument in the world, must have been in the counsel of God prepared, i.e., designed for that fire, which is the point I undertook to prove. Hence we read “of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, put together, made up, formed or fashioned, for perdition” (Romans 9.), who are and can be no other than the reprobate. To multiply Scriptures on this head would be almost endless; for a sample, consult Proverbs 16:4; 1 Peter 2:8; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 4; Revelation 13:8.

As the future faith and good works of the elect were not the cause of their being chosen, so neither were the future sins of the reprobate the cause of their being passed by, but both the choice of the former and the decretive omission of the latter were owing, merely and entirely, to the sovereign will and determinating pleasure of God.

We distinguish between preterition, or bare non-election, which is a purely negative thing, and condemnation, or appointment to punishment: the will of God was the cause of the former, the sins of the non-elect are the reason of the latter. Though God determined to leave, and actually does leave, whom He pleases in the spiritual darkness and death of nature, out of which He is under no obligation to deliver them, yet He does not positively condemn any of these merely because He hath not chosen them, but because they have sinned against Him. (See Romans 1:21-24; Romans 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:12.) Their preterition or non-inscription in the book of life is not unjust on the part of God, because out of a world of rebels, equally involved in guilt, God (who might, without any impeachment of His justice, have passed by all, as He did the reprobate angels) was, most unquestionably, at liberty, if it so pleased Him, to extend the sceptre of His clemency to some and to pitch upon whom He would as the objects of it. Nor was this exemption of some any injury to the non-elect, whose case would have been just as bad as it is, even supposing the others had not been chosen at all. Again, the condemnation of the ungodly (for it is under that character alone that they are the subjects of punishment and were ordained to it) is not unjust, seeing it is for sin and only for sin. None are or will be punished but for their iniquities, and all iniquity is properly meritorious of punishment: where, then, is the supposed unmercifulness, tyranny or injustice of the Divine procedure?

God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not the infuser of their sin.

It is most certainly His will (for adorable and unsearchable reasons) to permit sin, but, with all possible reverence be it spoken, it should seem that He cannot, consistently with the purity of His nature, the glory of His attributes, and the truth of His declaration, be Himself the author of it. “Sin,” says the apostle, “entered into the world by one man,” meaning by Adam, consequently it was not introduced by the Deity Himself. Though without the permission of His will and the concurrence of His providence, its introduction had been impossible, yet is He not hereby the Author of sin so introduced. Luther observes (De Serv. Arb., c. 42): “It is a great degree of faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, though He saves so few and condemns so many, and that He is strictly just, though, in consequence of His own will, He made us not exempt from liableness to condemnation.” And cap. 148: “Although God doth not make sin, nevertheless He ceases not to create and multiply individuals in the human nature, which, through the withholding of His Spirit, is corrupted by sin, just as a skilful artist may form curious statues out of bad materials. So, such as their nature is, such are men themselves; God forms them out of such a nature.”

The condemnation of the reprobate is necessary and inevitable.

Which we prove thus. It is evident from Scripture that the reprobate shall be condemned. But nothing comes to pass (much less can the condemnation of a rational creature) but in consequence of the will and decree of God. Therefore the non-elect could not be condemned was it not the Divine pleasure and determination that they should, and if God wills and determines their condemnation, that condemnation is necessary and inevitable. By their sins they have made themselves guilty of death, and as it is not the will of God to pardon those sins and grant them repentance unto life, the punishment of such impenitent sinners is as unavoidable as it is just. It is our Lord’s own declaration that “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7.), or, in other words, that a depraved sinner cannot produce in himself those gracious habits, nor exert those gracious acts, without which no adult person can be saved. Consequently the reprobate must, as corrupt, fruitless trees (or fruitful in evil only), be “hewn down and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3.). This, therefore, serves as another argument in proof of the inevitability of their future punishment, which argument, in brief, amounts to this: they who are not saved from sin must unavoidably perish, but the reprobate are not saved from sin (for they have neither will nor power to save themselves, and God, though He certainly can, yet He certainly will not save them), therefore their perdition is unavoidable. Nor does it follow, from hence, that God forces the reprobate into sin, and thereby into misery, against their wills, but that, in consequence of their natural depravity (which it is not the Divine pleasure to deliver them out of, neither is He bound to do it, nor are they themselves so much as desirous that He would), they are voluntarily biased and inclined to evil; nay, which is worse still, they hug and value their spiritual chains, and even greedily pursue the paths of sin, which lead to the chambers of death. Thus God does not (as we are slanderously reported to affirm) compel the wicked to sin, as the rider spurs forward an unwilling horse; God only says in effect that tremendous word, “Let them alone” (Matthew 15:14). He need but slacken the reins of providential restraint and withhold the influence of saving grace, and apostate man will too soon, and too surely, of his own accord, “fall by his iniquity” ; he will presently be, spiritually speaking, a felo de se, and, without any other efficiency, lay violent hands on his own soul. So that though the condemnation of the reprobate is unavoidable, yet the necessity of it is so far from making them mere machines or involuntary agents, that it does not in the least interfere with the rational freedom of their wills, nor serve to render them less inexcusable.

The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God.

It is frequently objected to us that, according to our view of predestination, “God makes some persons on purpose to damn them,” but this we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it as equally unworthy of God to do and of a rational being to suppose. The grand, principal end, proposed by the Deity to Himself in His formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of His own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope in the creation of the elect is to evidence and make known by their salvation the unsearchable riches of His power and wisdom, mercy and love, and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of His justice, power, sovereignty, holiness and truth. So that nothing can be more certain than the declaration of the text we have frequently had occasion to cite, “The Lord bath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16.). On one hand, the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction,” in order that God may “show His wrath and make His power known,” and manifest the greatness of His patience and long-suffering (Romans 9:32). On the other hand, He afore prepared the elect to salvation, that on them He might demonstrate “the riches of His glory and mercy” (Romans 9:23). As, therefore, God Himself is the sole Author and efficient of all His own actions, so is He likewise the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate.

Besides, the creation and perdition of the ungodly answer another purpose (though a subordinate one) with regard to the elect themselves, who from the rejection of those learn to admire the riches of the Divine love toward themselves, which planned and has accomplished the work of their salvation, while others, by nature on equal level with them, are excluded from a participation of the same benefits. And such a view of the Lord’s distinguishing mercy is A most powerful motive to thankfulness that when they too might justly have been condemned with the world of the non-elect, they were marked out as heirs of the grace of life.

Hereby they are taught ardently to love their heavenly Father; to trust in Him assuredly for a continued supply of grace while they are on earth and for the accomplishment of His eternal decree and promise by their glorification in heaven; and to live as becomes those who have received such unspeakable mercies from the hand of their God and Saviour. So Bucer somewhere observes that the punishment of the reprobate “is useful to the elect, inasmuch as it influences them to a greater fear and abhorrence of sin, and to a firmer reliance on the goodness of God.”

Notwithstanding God did from all eternity irreversibly choose out and fix upon some to be partakers of salvation by Christ and rejected the rest (who are therefore termed by the apostle, the refuse, or those that remained and were left out), acting in both according to the good pleasure of His own sovereign will, yet He did not herein act an unjust, tyrannical or cruel part, nor yet show Himself a respecter of persons.

He is not unjust in reprobating some, neither can He be so, for “the Lord is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works” (Psalm 145.). But salvation and damnation are works of His, consequently neither of them is unrighteous or unholy. It is undoubted matter of fact that the Father draws some men to Christ and saves them in Him with an everlasting salvation, and that He neither draws nor saves some others; and if it be not unjust in God actually to forbear saving these persons after they are born, it could not be unjust in Him to determine as much before they were born. What is not unjust for God to do in time, could not, by parity of argument, be unjust in Him to resolve upon and decree from eternity. And, surely, if the apostle’s illustration be allowed to have any propriety, or to carry any authority, it can no more be unjust in God to set apart some for communion with Himself in this life and the next, and to set aside others according to His own free pleasure, than for a potter to make out of the same mass of clay some vessels for honourable and others for inferior uses. The Deity, being absolute Lord of all His creatures, is accountable to none for His doings, and cannot be chargeable with injustice for disposing of His own as He will.

Nor is the decree of reprobation a tyrannical one. It is, indeed, strictly sovereign; but lawful sovereignty and lawless tyranny are as really distinct and different as any two opposites can be. He is a tyrant, in the common acceptation of that word, who (a) either usurps the sovereign authority and arrogates to himself a dominion to which he has no right, or (b) who, being originally a lawful prince, abuses his power and governs contrary to law. But who dares to lay either of these accusations to the Divine charge? God as Creator has a most unquestionable and unlimited right over the souls and bodies of men, unless it can be supposed, contrary to all Scripture and common sense, that in making of man He made a set of beings superior to Himself and exempt from His jurisdiction. Taking it for granted, therefore, that God has an absolute right of sovereignty over His creatures, if He should be pleased (as the Scriptures repeatedly assure us that He is) to manifest and display that right by graciously saving some and justly punishing others for their sins, who are we that we should reply against God?

Neither does the ever-blessed Deity fall under the second notion of a tyrant, namely, as one who abuses his power by acting contrary to law, for by what exterior law is HE bound, who is the supreme Law-giver of the universe? The laws promulgated by Him are designed for the rule of our conduct, not of His. Should it be objected that “His own attributes of goodness and justice, holiness and truth, are a law to Himself,” I answer that, admitting this to be the case, there is nothing in the decree of reprobation as represented in Scripture, and by us from thence, which clashes with any of those perfections. With regard to the Divine goodness, though the non-elect are not objects of it in the sense the elect are, yet even they are not wholly excluded from a participation of it. They enjoy the good things of providence in common with God’s children, and very often in a much higher degree. Besides, goodness, considered as it is in God, would have been just the same infinite and glorious attribute, supposing no rational beings had been created at all or saved when created. To which may be added, that the goodness of the Deity does not cease to be infinite in itself, only because it is more extended to some objects than it is to others. The infinity of this perfection, as residing in God and coinciding with His essence, is sufficiently secured, without supposing it to reach indiscriminately to all the creatures He has made. For, was this way of reasoning to be admitted, it would lead us too far and prove too much, since, if the infinity of His goodness is to be estimated by the number of objects upon which it terminates, there must be an absolute, proper infinity of reasonable beings to terminate that goodness upon; consequently it would follow from such premises either that the creation is as truly infinite as the Creator, or, if otherwise, that the Creator’s goodness could not be infinite, because it has not an infinity of objects to make happy.

Lastly, if it was not incompatible with God’s infinite goodness to pass by the whole body of fallen angels and leave them under the guilt of their apostasy, much less can it clash with that attribute to pass by some of fallen mankind and resolve to leave them in their sins and punish them for them.

Nor is it inconsistent with Divine justice to withhold saving grace from some, seeing the grace of God is not what He owes to any. It is a free gift to those that have it, and is not due to those that are without it; consequently there can be no injustice in not giving what God is not bound to bestow. There is no end of cavilling at the Divine dispensations if men are disposed to do it. We might, with equality of reason, when our hand is in, presume to charge the Deity with partiality for not making all His creatures angels because it was in His power to do so, as charge Him with injustice for not electing all mankind. Besides, how can it possibly be subversive of His justice to condemn, and resolve to condemn, the non-elect for their sins when those very sins were not atoned for by Christ as the sins of the elect were? His justice in this case is so far from hindering the condemnation of the reprobate that it renders it necessary and indispensable. Again, is the decree of sovereign preterition and of just condemnation for sin repugnant to the Divine holiness? Not in the least, so far from it, that it does not appear how the Deity could be holy if He did not hate sin and punish it. Neither is it contrary to His truth and veracity. Quite the reverse. For would not the Divine veracity fall to the ground if the finally wicked were not condemned?

God, in the reprobation of some, does not act a cruel part. Whoever accused a chief magistrate of cruelty for not sparing a company of atrocious malefactors, and for letting the sentence of the law take place upon them by their execution? If, indeed, the magistrate pleases to pity some of them and remit their penalty, we applaud his clemency, but the punishment of the rest is no impeachment of his mercy. Now, with regard to God, His mercy is free and voluntary. He may extend it to and withhold it from whom He pleases (Romans 9:15, 18), and it is sad indeed if we will not allow the Sovereign, the all-wise Governor of heaven and earth, the same privilege and liberty we allow to a supreme magistrate below.

Nor is God, in choosing some and rejecting others, a respecter of persons. He only comes under that title who, on account of parentage, country, dignity, wealth, or for any other external consideration, shows more favor to one person than to another. But that is not the case with God.

He considers all men as sinners by nature, and has compassion not on persons of this or that sect, country, sex, age or station in life, because they are so circumstanced, but on whom, and because, He will have compassion. Pertinent to the present purpose is that passage of St. Augustine: “Forasmuch as some people imagine that they must look on God as a respecter of persons if they believe that without any respect had to the previous merits of men, He hath mercy on whom He will, and calls whom it is His pleasure to call, and makes good whom He pleases. The scrupulousness of such people arises from their not duly attending to this one thing, namely, that damnation is rendered to the wicked as a matter of debt, justice and desert, whereas the grace given to those who are delivered is free and unmerited, so that the condemned sinner cannot allege that he is unworthy of his punishment, nor the saint vaunt or boast as if he was worthy of his reward. Thus, in the whole course of this procedure, there is no respect of persons. They who are condemned and they who are set at liberty constituted originally one and the same lump, equally infected with sin and liable to vengeance. Hence the justified may learn from the condemnation of the rest that this would have been their own punishment had not God’s free grace stepped in to their rescue.”

Before I conclude this head, I will obviate a fallacious objection very common in the mouths of our opponents. “How,” they say, “is the doctrine of reprobation reconcilable with the doctrine of a future judgment?”

To which I answer that there need be no pains to reconcile these two, since they are so far from interfering with each other that one follows from the other, and the former renders the latter absolutely necessary. Before the judgment of the great day, Christ does not so much act as the Judge of His creatures as their absolute Lord and Sovereign. From the first creation to the final consummation of all things He does, in consequence of His own eternal and immutable purpose (as a Divine Person), graciously work in and on His own elect, and permissively harden the reprobate. But when all the transactions of providence and grace are wound up in the last day, He will then properly sit as Judge, and openly publish and solemnly ratify, if I may so say, His everlasting decrees by receiving the elect, body and soul, into glory, and by passing sentence on the non-elect (not for their having done what they could not help, but) for their wilful ignorance of Divine things and their absolute unbelief, for their omissions of moral duty and for their repeated iniquities and transgressions.

Notwithstanding God’s predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish nor any reprobate be saved, yet it does not follow from thence that all precepts, reproofs and exhortations on the part of God, or prayers on the part of man, are useless, vain and insignificant.

These are not useless with regard to the elect, for they are necessary means of bringing them to the knowledge of the truth at first, afterwards of stirring up their pure minds by way of remembrance, and of edifying and establishing them in faith, love and holiness. Hence that of St. Augustine: “The commandment will tell thee, O man, what thou oughtest to have, reproof will show thee wherein thou art wanting, and praying will teach thee from whom thou must receive the supplies which thou wantest.”

Nor are these vain with regard to the reprobate, for precept, reproof and exhortation may, if duly attended to, be a means of making them careful to adjust their moral, external conduct according to the rules of decency, justice and regularity, and thereby prevent much inconvenience to themselves and injury to society. And as for prayer, it is the duty of all without exception. Every created being (whether elect or reprobate matters not as to this point) is, as such, dependent on the Creator for all things, and, if dependent, ought to have recourse to Him, both in a way of supplication and thanksgiving.

But to come closer still. That absolute predestination does not set aside, nor render superfluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc., we prove from the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners and enforced their ministry with proper rebukes, invitations and exhortations as occasion required.

Though they showed unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of themselves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who of His own pleasure works in them both to Will and to do, yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as beings possessed of reason and conscience, nor omitted to remind them of their duties as such; but showed them their sin and danger by nature, and laid before them the appointed way and method of salvation as exhibited in the Gospel.

Our Saviour Himself expressly, and in terminis, assures us that no man can come to Him except the Father draw him, and yet He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor,” etc. St. Peter told the Jews that they had fulfilled “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” in putting the Messiah to death (Acts 2.), and yet sharply rebukes them for it. St. Paul declares, “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,” and yet exhorts the Corinthians so to run as to obtain the prize. He assures us that “we know not what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8.), and yet directs us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.). He avers that the foundation or decree of the Lord standeth sure, and yet cautions him who “thinks he stands, to take heed lest he fall” (1 Timothy 2.). St. James, in like manner, says that “every good and perfect gift cometh down from above,” and yet exhorts those who want wisdom to ask it of God. So, then, all these being means whereby the elect are frequently enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they are, after they have believed through grace, built up in Him, and are means of their perseverance in grace to the end; these are so far from being vain and insignificant that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many valuable and important ends, without in the least shaking the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy of faith in general. Thus St. Augustine: “We must preach, we must reprove, we must pray, because they to whom grace is given will bear and act accordingly, though they to whom grace is not given will do neither.”