Archive

Archive for November, 2009

Of Saving Faith – John Flavel

November 29, 2009 Comments off

WSC Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 1. What is the root or cause of faith?
A. Not the power of man’s will; Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; But the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. John 1:12-13. But as man as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Q. 2. How doth the Spirit of God ordinarily produce faith?
A. By the preaching of the word he ordinarily begets it; Romans 10:17. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; though sometimes he doth it immediately.

Q. 3. Who are the proper subjects of faith?
A. Convinced and sensible sinners are the proper subjects of faith; John 16:8-10. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me: of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more: of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Q. 4. What is the seat or habitation of faith?
A. Not only the head or understanding, but principally the heart and will; Romans 10:10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, &c. Acts 8:37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.

Q. 5. But is not the assent of the understanding true faith?
A. The mere assent of the understanding to the truths of scripture, is not such a faith as will save the soul; James 2:19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Q. 6. What is the act of faith that justifies a sinner?
A. It is the receiving of Christ, by the full and hearty consent of the heart that justifies us; John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Q. 7. What is the object of faith?
A. The primary object of faith is the person of Christ, and the secondary are his benefits; Isaiah 45:22. Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, &c. Philippians 3:8-9. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Q. 8. May not a man look partly to Christ, and partly to his own works and duties for righteousness?
A. No; he must eye Christ only, and exclude all others, or he cannot be justified; Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ: The righteousness which is of God by faith, Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Q. 9. Is it enough to eye the person of Christ only in believing?
A. No; we must eye the person of Christ, as clothed with all his offices; Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thine house. Our ignorance needs him as a prophet, our guilt as a priest, our sins and enemies as a king.

Q. 10. Is true faith faith exclusive of all fears and doubts?
A. No; it is not, but true believers are troubled with many fears and doubtings; Isaiah 50:10. Who is he among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light, &c. Mark 9:24. And straightway the Father of the child crieth out with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.

Q. 11. Is no man actually justified till he believe?
A. No, he cannot be justified actually till he believe actually; Galatians 3:22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. John 3:18. He that believeth on him, is not condemned: But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Q. 12. Is every man that believes justified immediately and fully upon his believing?
A. Yes, he is; Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. John 5:24. He that heareth my words, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Q. 13. What is the true character or description of a believer?
A. He is one that, having been convinced of his sin and misery, and of his own and all other creatures inability to save him, and of the ability and willingness of Christ to save him, lets go all hold and dependence on creatures, and his own righteousness, and casts himself entirely upon Christ for righteousness and life.

Source

Advertisements

True saving faith described – William Guthrie

November 29, 2009 Comments off

This justifying faith, which we assert to be so discernible, is, in the Lord’s deep wisdom and gracious condescension, variously expressed in Scripture, according to the different actings of it upon God, and outgoings after Him; so that every one who has it may find and take it up in his own mould. It sometimes acts by a desire of union with Him in Christ; this is that looking to Him in Isaiah ‘Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’ (Isa. 45:22.) This seems to be a weak act of faith, and far below other acting of it at other times perhaps in that same person. Men will look to what they dare not approach (in their apprehension), which they dare not touch or embrace; they may look to one to whom they dare not speak: yet God has made the promise to faith in that acting, as the fore–cited Scripture shows: and this He has done mercifully and wisely; for this is the only discernible way of the acting of faith in some. Such are the actings or outgoings of faith expressed in Scripture by ‘hungering and thirsting after righteousness’ (Matt. 5:6), and that expressed by willing ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ (Rev. 22:17.)

Again, this faith goes out sometimes in the act of recumbency, or leaning on the Lord, the soul taking up Christ then as a resting stone, and God has so held him out, although he be a stumbling–stone to others. (Rom. 9:33.) This acting of it is hinted in the expressions of trusting and staying on God, so often mentioned in Scripture; and precious promises are made to this acting of faith ‘God will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are stayed on Him; because such do trust in Him. Trust in the Lord: for with Him is everlasting strength.’ (Isa. 26:3, 4.) ‘They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which abideth for ever.’ (Ps. 125:1.) I say, the Lord has made promises to this way of faith’s acting, as knowing it will often go out after Him in this way with many persons; and this way of its acting will be most discernible to them.

It goes out after God sometimes by an act of waiting. When the soul has somewhat depending before God, and has not clearly discovered his mind concerning it, then faith doth wait; and so it has the promise: ‘They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.’ (Isa. 49:23.) Sometimes it acteth in a willful way upon the Lord, when the soul apprehendeth God thrusting it away, and threatening its ruin: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’ (Job 13:15.) The faith of that poor woman of Canaan (Matt. 15.), so highly commended by Christ, went out in this way of willful acting over difficulties: and the Lord speaketh much good of it, and to it, because some will be at times called upon to exercise faith in that way, and so they have that for their encouragement. It were tedious to instance all the several ways of the acting of faith upon, and its exercise about, and outgoings after Christ, I may say, according to the various conditions of man. And accordingly faith, which God has appointed to traffic and travel between Christ and man, as the instrument of conveyance of His fullness unto man, and of maintaining union and communion with Him, acteth variously and differently upon God in Christ: for faith is the very shaping out of a man’s heart according to God’s device of salvation by Christ Jesus, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell’ (Col. 1:16); so that, let Christ turn what way He will, faith turneth and pointeth that way. Now He turns all ways in which He can be useful to poor man; and therefore faith acts accordingly on Him for drawing out of that fullness, according to a man’s case and condition. As for example, The soul is naked, destitute of a covering to keep it from the storm of God’s wrath; Christ is fine raiment (Rev. 3:17, 18); then accordingly faith’s work here is to ‘put on the Lord Jesus.’ (Rom. 13:14.) The soul is hungry and thirsty after somewhat that may everlastingly satisfy; Christ Jesus is ‘milk, wine, water, the bread of life, and the true manna.’ (Isa. 40:1, 2; John 6:48, 51.) He is ‘the feast of fat things, and of wines on the lees well refined’ (Isa. 25:6): then the work and exercise of faith is to ‘go, buy, eat, and drink abundantly.’ (John 6:53, 57; Isa. 40:1.) The soul is pursued for guilt more or less, and is not able to withstand the charge: Christ Jesus is the city of refuge, and the high– priest there, during whose priesthood, that is, forever, the poor man who escapes thither is safe; then the work and exercise of faith is ‘to flee thither for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us.’ (Heb. 6:18.) In a word, whatsoever way He may benefit poor man, He declares Himself able to do. And as He holdeth out Himself in the Scriptures, so faith doth point towards Him. If He be a Bridegroom, faith will go out in a marriage relation; if He be a Father, faith pleadeth the man to be a child; if He be a Shepherd, faith pleads the man may be one of His sheep; if He be a Lord, faith calleth Him so, which none can do but by the Spirit of Jesus; if He be dead, and risen again for our justification, faith ‘believeth God has raised Him’ on that account. (Rom. 10:9.) Wheresoever He be, there would faith be; and whatsoever He is, faith would be somewhat like Him; for by faith the heart is laid out in breadth and length for Him; yea, when the fame and report of Him goes abroad in His truth, although faith sees not much, yet it ‘believeth on His name,’ upon the very fame He has sent abroad of Himself. (John 1:12.)

Source: The Christian’s great interest, by William Guthrie

Predestination – John Foxe

November 29, 2009 Comments off

AS touching the doctrine of Election, three things must be considered.

First, what God’s Election is, and what is the cause thereof.

Secondly, how God’s election proceedeth in working of our salvation.

Thirdly, to whom God’s election pertaineth, and how a man may be certain thereof.

Between Predestination and election, this difference there is. Predestination is as well to the reprobate, as to the elect: Election only pertaineth to them that are saved.

Predestination, in that it respecteth the reprobates, is called reprobation, in that it respecteth the saved, is called election, and is thus defined.

Predestination is the eternal decreement [decree] of God, purposed before in himself, what shall befall on all men, either to salvation or damnation.

Election is the free mercy and grace of God in his own will, through faith in Christ his son, choosing and preferring to life, such as pleaseth him. In this definition of election, first goeth before the mercy and grace of God, as the causes thereof, whereby are excluded all works of the law, and merits of deserving, whether they go before faith, or come after. So was Jacob chosen, and Esau refused, before either of them began to work, &c.

Secondly, in that this mercy and grace of God in this definition, is said to be free, thereby is to be noted the proceeding and working of God, not to be bound to any ordinary place or to any succession of chair, not to state, and dignity of person, nor to worthiness of blood, &c. But all goeth by the mere will of his own purpose, As it is written: Spiritus ubi vult spirat, &c. And thus was the outward race, and stock of Abraham after the flesh refused, which seemed to have the preeminence. And their seed after the spirit raised up to Abraham of the stones, that is, of the Gentiles. So was the outward Temple of Jerusalem, & chair of Moses, which seemed to be of price, forsaken, and Gods chair advanced in other nations. So was tall Saul refused, and little David accepted: The rich, the proud, the wise of this world rejected, and the word of salvation daily opened to the poor, and miserable abjects: The high mountains cast under, and the law valleys exalted, &c.

Thirdly, where it is added in his own will, by this falleth down the freewill and purpose of man with all his actions, counsels, and strength of nature: According as it is written: Non est volentis neque currentis sed miserentis dei, &c. [Rom. 9.] It is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in GOD that sheweth mercy. So we see how Israel ran long, and yet got nothing: the Gentiles unneth [only] began to set out, and yet got the game: So they which came at the first hour, did labour more, and yet they which came last, were rewarded with the first, Math. 20. The will of the Pharisee seemed better, but yet the Lord’s will was rather to justify the Publican, Luke 18. The elder son had a better will to tarry by his Father, and so did indeed: and yet the fat Calf was given to the younger son that ran away, Luke 15.

Whereby we have to understand how the matter goeth not by the will of man, but by the will of God, as it pleaseth him to accept, according as it is written: Non ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri sed ex Deo nati sunt, &c. Which are born not of the will of the flesh, nor yet of the will of man, but of God. [John 1.13] Furthermore, as all then goeth by the will of God only, and not by the will of man, So again here is to be noted, that this will of God, never goeth without faith in Christ Jesus his son.

And therefore, fourthly, is this clause added in the definition through faith in Christ his son: which faith in Christ, to usward maketh altogether: For first it certifieth us of God’s election: for whosoever will be certain of his election in God: let him first begin with this faith in Christ, which if he find in him to stand firm: He may be sure, and nothing doubt, but that he is one of the number of God’s Elect. Secondly, the said faith and nothing else, is the only condition and means whereupon God’s mercy, election, vocation, and all God’s promises to salvation, do stay according to the words of Paul: Si permanseritis in fide, &c. If ye abide in the faith. Col. 1. Thirdly, this faith also is the immediate and next cause of our justification simply without any other condition annexed. For as the mercy of God, his grace, election, vocation, and other precedent causes, do save and justify us upon condition: if we believe in Christ, so this faith in Christ without condition, is the next and immediate cause, which by God’s promise worketh our justification. According as it is written: Crede in dominum Iesum & saluus eris tu & domus tua. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy whole house, Acts. 16. And thus much touching the definition of election, with the causes thereof declared, which you see now to be no merits nor works of man: whether they go before or come after faith, but only the mere mercy of God through faith: for like as all they that be born of Adam, do taste of his malediction, though they tasted not his Apple: So all they that be born of Christ which is by faith, take part of the obedience of Christ: Although they never did that obedience themselves, which was in him. Rom. 5.

Now to the second consideration: Let us see likewise how and in what order this election of GOD proceedeth in choosing and electing them which be ordained to salvation, which order is this: In them that be chosen to life first, God’s mercy and free grace bringeth forth election: Election worketh vocation, or God’s holy calling: Which vocation through hearing bringeth knowledge, and faith of Christ. Faith through promise obtaineth justification: Justification through hope waiteth for glorification. Election is before vocation, and faith cometh in time: Justification and glorification is without end.

Election depending upon God’s free grace and will, excludeth all man’s will, blind fortune, chance, and all peradventures, vocation standing upon God’s election, excludeth all man’s wisdom, cunning, learning, intention, power and presumption: Faith in Christ proceedeth by the gift of the holy Ghost, and freely justifying man by God’s promise: excludeth all other merits of men, all condition of deserving, all works of the law: both God’s law and man’s law, with all other outward means, whatsoever.

Justification coming freely by faith, standeth sure by promise without doubt, fear, or wavering in this life.

Glorification pertaining only to the life to come, by hope is looked for.

Grace and mercy preventeth.

Election ordaineth.

Vocation prepareth and receiveth the word whereby cometh faith.

Faith justifieth.

Justification bringeth glory.

Election is the immediate and next cause of vocation, vocation which is the working of God’s Spirit by the word, is the immediate and next cause of faith.

Faith is the immediate and next cause of justification, and this order, and connexion of causes is diligently to be observed, because of the Papists which have miserably confounded and converted this doctrine thus, that almighty God so far forth as he foreseeth man’s merits before to come: so doth he dispense his election, Ut Dominus pro cuiusque meritis fore previdet, ita dispensat electionis gratiain. And again: Nullis precendentibus meritis dominum rependere electionis gratiam, futuris tamen concedere: That is, that the Lord recompenseth the grace of election not to any merits going before: But yet granted the same to the merits which follow after, as though we had our election by our holiness that followeth after, and not rather have our holiness by God’s election going before.

But we following the Scripture, say otherwise, that the cause only of God’s election is his own mercy, and the cause only of our justification is our faith in Christ, and nothing else. As for example, first concerning election, if the question be asked: Why was Abraham chosen, and not Nachor: Why was Jacob chosen, and not Esau: Why was Moses elected, & Pharaoh hardened: Why David accepted, and Saul refused: Why few be chosen, and the most forsaken? It cannot be answered otherwise, but thus, because it was so the good will of God.

In like manner touching vocation and also faith if the question be asked: Why this vocation and gift of faith was given to Cornelius the Gentile, & not to Tertullus the Jew: Why to the poor, to the babes and little ones of this world, of whom Christ speaketh: I thank thee Father, which hast hid this from the wise, &c. Matt. 11. Why to the unwise the simple abjects, and outcasts in this world, of whom speaketh Paul, 1 Cor. 1, Ye see your calling my brethren, how not many of you, &c. Why, to the sinners and not to the just: Why the beggars by the highways were called, and the bidden guests excluded: We can go to no other cause but to God’s purpose and election, and say with Christ our Saviour: Quia Pater sic complacitum est ante te. Yea Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Luke 10.

And so for justification likewise, if the question be asked: why the Publican was justified, and not the Pharisee. Luke 18. Why Mary the sinner, and not Simon the Leper: Luke 11. Why harlots and Publicans, go before the Scribes & Pharisees in the kingdom. Matt. 21. Why the son of the free woman was received, and the bondwoman’s son being his elder rejected. Gen. 21. Why Israel which so long sought for righteousness, found it not: and the Gentiles which sought not for it, found it. Rom 9. We have no other cause hereof to render, but to say with Paul: because they sought for it by works of the law, and not by faith: Which faith as it cometh not by man’s will, as the Papists falsely pretendeth, but only by the election and free gift of God: so it is only the immediate cause, whereunto the promise of our salvation is annexed, according as we read: And therefore of faith is the inheritance given. As after grace, that the promise might stand sure to every seed. Rom. 4. Item in the same Chapter: Faith believing in him which justifieth the wicked, is imputed to righteousness.

And thus concerning the cause of our salvation, ye see how faith in Christ: only and immediately without any condition doth justify us, being so linked with God’s mercy and election: that wheresoever election goeth before, there faith in Christ must needs follow after. And again, whosoever believeth in Christ Jesus through the vocation of God, he must needs be partaker of God’s election.

Whereunto resulteth now the third note or consideration, which is to consider, whether a man in this life may be certain of his election. To answer this question, we have first to understand: that although our election and vocation simply indeed be known to God only himself a Priore: yet notwithstanding it may be known [by] every particular faithful man a Posteriore: that is, by means: which means is faith in Christ Jesus crucified, forsomuch as by his faith in Christ, a man is justified, and thereby made the child of salvation, reason must needs lead the same to be then the child of election chosen of God unto everlasting life: for how can a man be saved but by consequence, it followeth that he must be elected.

And therefore of election is truly said, De electione judicandum est Aposteriore: that is to say, We must judge of election by that which cometh after, that is, by our faith and belief in Christ: which faith although in time it followeth after election: yet is it the proper and immediate cause assigned by the Scripture: which not only justifieth us, but also certifieth us of the election of God.

Whereunto, likewise well agreeth this saying: Election albeit in God, it be the first, yet to us it is the last opened. And therefore beginning first with creation: I come from thence to redemption, and justification by faith, and so to election. Not that faith is the cause efficient of election: being rather the effect thereof, but is to us the cause certificatory, or the cause of our certification: whereby we are brought to the feeling and knowledge of our election in Christ. For albeit that election first be certain in the knowledge of God, yet in our knowledge faith only that we have in Christ, is the thing that giveth to us our certificate and comfort of this election.

Wherefore whosoever desireth to be assured that he is one of the elect number of God: let him not climb up to heaven to know, but let him descend into himself, and there search his faith in Christ the son of God: Which if he find in him not feigned, by the working of God’s Holy Spirit accordingly: thereupon let him stay, and so wrap himself wholly, both body and soul, under God’s general promise, and cumber his head with no farther speculations: knowing this, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, John 3. Shall not be confounded, Rom. 9. Shall not see death, John 8. Shall not enter into judgment, John 5. Shall have everlasting life, John 3.16. Shall be saved, Matt. 28, Acts 16. Shall have remission of all his sins, Acts 10. Shall be justified, Rom. 3, Gal. 2. Shall have floods flowing out of him of water of life, John 7. Shall never die, John 11. Shall be raised in the last day, John 6. Shall find rest to his soul, and shall be refreshed. Matt. 11.

Now then forsomuch as we see faith to be the ground whereupon dependeth the whole condition of our justifying: let us discuss in like manner, what is this faith, whereof the scripture so much speaketh of, for the more plain understanding of the simple. For many kinds there be of faith: As a man may believe every thing that is true: yet not every truth doth save, neither doth the believing of every truth justify a man: He that believeth that God created all things of naught, believeth truth: He that believeth that God is a just God, that he is omnipotent, that he is merciful: that he is true of promise, believeth well, and holdeth the truth. So he that believeth that God hath his election from the beginning, and that he also is one of the same elect and Predestinate, hath a good belief, and thinketh well. But yet this belief alone, except it be seasoned with another thing, will not serve to salvation: As it availed not the old Jews, which so thought of themselves, and yet think to this day: to be only God’s elect people.

Only the faith which availeth to salvation is that, whose object is the body and passion of Christ Jesus crucified: so that in the act of justifying these two: faith and Christ have a mutual relation, and must always concur together, faith, as the action which apprehendeth: Christ as the object which is apprehended.

For neither doth the passion of Christ save without faith: neither doth faith help, except it be in Christ. As we see the body of man sustained by bread and drink: not except the same be received, and conveyed into the stomach, and yet neither doth the receiving of any thing sustain man’s body, except it be meat and drink, which have power to give nourishment. In like sort it is with faith: for neither doth the believing of every thing save. But only faith in the blood of Christ: neither doth again the same blood of Christ profit us, except by faith it be received. And as the sun being the cause of all light, shineth not but to them only which have eyes to see: nor yet to them neither, unless they will open their eyes, to receive the light: So the passion of Christ is the efficient cause of salvation: But faith is the condition whereby the said Passion is to us effectual.

And that is the cause, why we say with the Scripture, that faith only justifieth us, not excluding thereby all other external causes, that go before faith: As grace, mercy, election, vocation, the death of Christ, &c. All which be external causes working our salvation through faith. But when we say that faith only justifieth us: the meaning thereof is this, that of all internal actions, motions, or operations in man, given to him of God, there is no other that contenteth, and pleaseth God, or standeth before his judgment, or can help any thing to the justifying of man before him: but only this one action of faith in Christ Jesus the son of God.

For although the action of praying, fasting, alms, patience, charity, repentance, the fear and love of God be his gifts in man, and not of man, given of God to man: yet be none of all these actions in man, imputed of God to salvation, but only this one action of faith in man, upon Christ Jesus the son of God. Not that the action itself of believing: As it is a quality in man doth so deserve: but because it taketh that dignity of the object. For as I said in the act of justifying: Faith, as it is an action in man, is not to be considered alone: but must ever go with this object, and taketh his virtue thereof. Like as the looking up of the old Israelites, did not of itself procure any health unto them: but the promise made in the object, which was the brazen Serpent, whereupon they looked: gave them health by their looking up. Even so after like sort, are we saved by our faith, and spiritual looking up to the body of Christ crucified, which faith to define is this. To believe Jesus Christ to be the son of the living God, sent into this world: by his death to satisfy for our sins, and so to receive the same.

And thus much touching election and faith,  with  the  order and  explication of the causes necessary to bee considered in our  salvation:   whereby  maye  appeare howe far  the pretended Catholiques doo swarve  from   the  ryght  minde  of  the Scriptures:    For  where  the  Scriptures in declaring the causes of salvation,  doe sende us  onely  to  fayth,  as  the  onely condition,  whereby  these  causes  haue their  working:    these  Catholiques  doe quyte  leaue  out  fayth,   and  in  steede thereof, place in other conditions of me-

rites, willworkes, pardons, mas-
ses, and especiall auricular
confession, with penance,
and satisfaction for
our sinnes,
&c.

F I N I S.

Source

The necessity of marks and signs of grace

November 29, 2009 Comments off

Wherefore, friend Antinomista, if either you, or any man else, shall, under a pretence of your being in Christ, exempt yourselves from being under the law of the ten commands, as they are the law of Christ, I tell you truly, it is a shrewd sign you are not yet in Christ; for if you were, then Christ were in you; and If Christ were in you, then would he govern you, and you would be subject unto him. I am sure the prophet Isaiah tell us, that the same Lord, who is our Saviour, “is also our King and Lawgiver,” (Isa 33:22); and, truly, he will not be Jesus a Saviour to any but only to those unto whom he is Christ a Lord; for the very truth is, wheresoever he is Jesus a Saviour, he is also Christ a Lord; and, therefore, I beseech you, examine yourself whether he be so to you or no.

Ant. Why then, sir, it seems that you stand upon marks and signs?

Evan. Yea, indeed, I stand so much upon marks and signs, that I say unto you in the words of the apostle John, (1 John 3:10), “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not righteousness, is not of God.” For says Luther, “He that is truly baptized, is become a new man, and has a new nature, and is endowed with new dispositions; and loveth, liveth, speaketh, and does far otherwise than he was wont, or could before.” For says godly Tindal, “God worketh with his word, and in his word: and bringeth faith into the hearts of his elect, and looseth the heart from sin, and knitteth it to God, and giveth a man power to do that which was before impossible for him to do, and turneth him into a new nature.” [1] And, therefore, says Luther in another place, “Herein works are to be extolled and commended, in that they are fruits and signs of faith; and, therefore, he that hath no regard how he leadeth his life, that he may stop the mouths of all blamers and accusers, and clear himself before all, and testify the he has lived, spoken, and done well, is not yet a Christian.” How then, says Tindal again, “dare any man think that God’s favour is on him, and God’s Spirit within him, when he feels not the working of his Spirit, nor himself disposed to any good thing?” [2]

Evan. Indeed, I must needs confess with Mr. Bolton and Mr. Dyke, that in these times of Christianity, a reprobate may make a glorious profession of the gospel, and perform all the duties and exercises of religion, and that, in outward appearance, with as great spirit and zeal as a true believer; yea, he may be made partaker of some measure of inward illumination, and have a shadow of true regeneration; there being no grace effectually wrought in the faithful, a resemblance whereof may not be found in the unregenerate. And therefore, I say, if any man pitch upon the sign, without the thing signified by the sign, [3] that is, if he pitch upon his graces [or gifts rather] and duties, and conclude assurance from them, as they are in him, and come from him, without having reference to Jesus Christ, as the root and fountain of them; then are they deceitful marks and signs: [4] but if he look upon them with reference to Jesus Christ, then are they not deceitful, but true evidences and demonstrations of faith in Christ. And this a man does, when he looks upon his outward actions as flowing from the inward actions of his mind, and upon the inward actions of his mind as flowing from the habits of grace within him, and upon the habits of grace within him as flowing from his justification, and upon his justification as flowing from his faith, and upon his faith as given by and embracing Jesus Christ: thus, I say, if he rests not till he comes to Christ, his marks and signs are not deceitful, but true. [5]

Ant. But, sir, if an unbeliever may have a resemblance of every grace that is wrought in a believer, then it must be a hard matter to find out the difference: and therefore I conceive it is best for a man not to trouble himself at all about marks and signs.

Evan. Give me leave to deal plainly with you, in telling you, that although we cannot say, every one that hath a form of godliness hath also the power of godliness, yet we may truly say, that he who hath not the form of godliness, hath not the power of godliness; for though all be not gold that glitters, yet all gold doth glitter. And therefore, I tell you truly, if you have no regard to make the law of Christ your rule, by endeavouring to do what is required in the ten commandments, and to avoid what is there forbidden, it is a very evil sign: and, therefore, I pray you consider of it.

Footnotes:

[1] That is, makes him a new man.

[2] Namely, habitually.

[3] Namely, Christ in the heart.

[4] Because all true grace and acceptable duty flow from Jesus Christ, dwelling in one’s heart by his Spirit; and whatsoever comes not that way, is but a show and semblance of these things, (Rom 8:9), “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”—(John 15:5), “Without me ye can do nothing,”—(1:16), “And of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace.”—(Gal 2:20), “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”—”The cause of good works we confess to be, not our free-will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, who, dwelling in our hearts, by true faith, bringeth forth such works as God has prepared for us to walk in.” Old Confess. art. 13—”So good works follow as effects of Christ in us possessed by faith.” Mr. John Davidson’s Cat. p. 30.

[5] Here is a chain, serving to lead a child of God unto assurance, that he is in the state of grace; wherein duties and graces, being run up unto their true spring, do so shine after trial of them, as one may conclude assurance from them, as the author phrases it. And here it is to be observed, that these words, “outward actions—actions of the mind—habits of grace—justification—faith —embracing of Christ,” are, in the progress of the trial, to be taken in their general notion, agreeing both to what is true, and what is false, in each particular; as faith feigned and unfeigned, justification real and imaginary, grace common and saving, &c. For the special nature of these is still supposed to be undetermined to the person under trial, until he come to the end of trial. This is evident from the nature of the thing: and from the author’s words too, in the sentence immediately preceding, where he says, “If he pitch upon his graces, or gifts rather”; the which correction he makes, because the former word is ordinarily restricted to saving grace, the latter not so. And hence it appears that the author was far from imagining that a man must have the assurance he speaks of, before he can conclude it from his graces or duties.

The links of this chain are five. The first, Outward actions, or works materially good, flowing from the inward actions of the mind: otherwise they are but pieces of gross dissimulation, as was the respect and honour put upon Christ by the Herodians and others, when they asked him, if it was lawful to give tribute unto Caesar. (Matt 22:16-18) The second, These actions of the mind, flowing from the habits of grace, within the man; otherwise they are but fair flowers, which, “because they have no root, wither away,” (Matt 13:6); like the Israelites, their seeking, returning, inquiring after, and remembering God, when he slew them, (Psa 78:34-37). The third, Those habits of grace within the man, flowing from his justification; otherwise they are but the habits of common grace, or of mere moral virtues, to be found in hypocritical professors, and sober heathens. The fourth, The man’s justification flowing from his faith; otherwise it is but as the imaginary justification of Pharisees, Papists and legalists, who are they which justify themselves. (Luke 16:15) The fifth, His faith given by Christ, and embracing Christ: otherwise it is but feigned faith, which never knits the soul to Christ, but leaves the man in the case of the fruitless branch, which is to be “taken away,” (John 15:2).

This chain is not of our author’s framing, but is a Scriptural one. (1 Tim 1:5), “Now (1.) the end of the commandment is charity, (2.) out of a pure heart, (3.) and of a good conscience, (4.) and of faith, (5.) unfeigned.”—”Wherein the apostle teacheth, that the obedience of the law must flow from love, and love from a pure heart, and a pure heart from a good conscience, and a good conscience from faith unfeigned; thus he maketh the only right channel of good works.” Practical Use of Saving Knowledge; tit. “The third thing requisite to evidence true faith, is, that obedience to the law run in the right channel, that is through faith in Christ.”

If one examines himself by this infallible rule, he cannot safely take his obedience for a mark or evidence of his being in the state of grace, until he run it up unto his faith, embracing Christ. But then finding that his faith made him a good conscience, and his good conscience a pure heart, and his pure heart produced love, from whence his obedience followed; in that case, his obedience is a true mark of the unfeignedness of his faith; from whence he may assuredly conclude, that he is in the state of grace. Our author’s method being a copy of this, the objections against it must affect both.

Let us suppose two men to put themselves on a trial of their state, according to this method, and to pitch upon some external duties of theirs, or some graces which they seem to discern in themselves, as to the substance thereof; though, as yet, they know not the specific nature of the same, namely, whether they be true or false.

The one finds, that his eternal duties proceeded not from the inward actions of his mind; or if they did, that yet these actions of his mind did not proceed from habits of grace in him; or if they did proceed from these, yet these flowed not from his justification, or, which is the same, followed not upon the purging of his conscience; or if they did, that yet his justification, or good conscience, such as they are, proceeded not from his faith; or if they did proceed from it, that yet that faith of his did not embrace Christ, and consequently was not of the special operation of God, or given him by Christ in him, by his Spirit. In all, or any of these cases, it is plain that the external duties, or the [so called] graces, which he pitched upon, can be no true marks from which he may conclude himself to be in a state of grace.

The other finds that his external duties did indeed flow from the inward actions of his mind, and these from habits of grace in him, and these again from his justification or good conscience, and that from his faith, and that his faith embraced Christ. Here two things are observable: (1.) That neither the duties nor graces pitched upon, could be sure marks to him, before he came to the last point; in regard of the flaw that possibly might still be found in the immediate or mediate springs of them. And therefore the looking, mentioned by the author, is indeed a progressive knowledge and discovery, but still unclear and uncertain, till one comes to the end, and the whole evidence is put together; even as it is in searching out some abstruse point, by observation of the dependence and connection things have one with another. Wherefore our author does by no means suppose, that I must know certainly that I am in Christ and justified, and that my faith is given me by Christ, before these duties or graces can be true marks or evidences to me. (2.) That the man perceiving his embracing of Christ, as to the substance of the action, is assured of the saving nature of it, [namely, that it is a faith uniting him to Christ, and given him by Christ in him] by the train of effects he sees to have followed it, according to the established order in the covenant of grace: (1 Tim 1:5). From which effects of his faith embracing Christ, that which might have deceived him, was all along gradually removed in the progress. Thus he is indeed sent back to the fruits of his faith, for true marks and evidences of it; but he is sent back to them, as standing clear now in his regress, though they were not so in his progress. And at this rate he is not left to run in a circle, but has a comfortable end of his self-examination, being assured by his duties and graces, the fruits of his faith, that his faith is unfeigned, and himself in the state of grace.

Source: The marrow of modern divinity, by Edward Fisher

Marks and signs of union with Christ

November 29, 2009 Comments off

Neo. Well, sir, you have fully satisfied me concerning that point: but as I remember, it follows in the same verse, “Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates”? (2 Cor 13:5). Wherefore, I desire to hear how a man may know that Jesus Christ is in him.

Evan. Why, if Christ be in a man, he lives in him: as says the apostle, “I live not but Christ liveth in me.”

Neo. But how, then, shall a man know, that Christ lives in him?

Evan. Why, in what man soever Christ lives according to the measure of his faith, he executes his threefold office in him, viz: his prophetical, priestly, and kingly office.

Neo. I desire to hear more of this threefold office of Christ; and therefore, I pray you, sir, tell me, first, how a man may know that Christ executes his prophetical office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that there was a covenant made betwixt God and all mankind in Adam; and that it was an equal covenant, and that God’s justice must needs enter, 1 upon the breach of it; and that all mankind, for that cause, were liable to eternal death and damnation; so that if God had condemned all mankind, yet had it but been the sentence of an equal and just judge, seeking rather the execution of his justice, than man’s ruin and destruction; and thereupon takes it home, and applies it particularly to himself, (Job 5:27), and so is convinced that he is a miserable, lost, and helpless man; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him, and revealing unto him the covenant of works. And, so far forth as any man hears and knows that God made a covenant with Abraham, and all his believing seed in Jesus Christ, offering him freely to all to whom the sound of the gospel comes, and giving him freely to all that receive him by faith; and so justifies them, and saves them eternally; and thereupon has his heart opened to receive this truth, not as a man takes an object or a theological point into his head, whereby he is only made able to discourse: but as an habitual and practical point, receiving it into his “heart by the faith of the gospel,” (Phil 1:27), and applying it to himself, and laying his eternal state upon it; and so setting to his seal, that God is true: I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him and revealing to him the covenant of grace. And so far forth as any man hears and knows, that “this is the will of God, even his sanctification,” (1 Thess 4:3), and thereupon concludes, that it is his duty to endeavour after it; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching and revealing his law to him. And this I hope is sufficient for answer to your first question.

Neo. I pray you, sir, in the second place, tell me, how a man may know that Christ executes his priestly office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that Christ has given himself, as that only absolute and perfect sacrifice for the sins of believers, (Heb 9:26), and joined them unto himself by faith, and himself unto them by his Spirit, and so made them one with him; and is now “entered into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for them,” (Heb 9:24); and hereupon is emboldened to go immediately to 2 God in prayer, as to a father, and meet him in Christ, and present him with Christ himself, as with a sacrifice without spot or blemish; I say, so far forth as any man does this, Christ executes his priestly office in him.

Neo. But sir, would you have a believer to go immediately unto God? How then does Christ make intercession for us at God’s right hand, as the apostle says he does? (Rom 8:34)

Evan. It is true indeed, Christ, as a public person, representing all believers, appears before God his Father; and willeth according to both his natures, and desires as he is a man, that God would, for his satisfaction’s sake, grant unto them whatsoever “they ask according to his will.” But yet you must go immediately to God in prayer for all that. 3

You must not pitch your prayers upon Christ, and terminate them there, as if he were to take them, and present them to his Father; but the very presenting place of your prayers must be God himself in Christ. Neither must you conceive, as though Christ the Son were more willing to grant your request than God the Father, for whatsoever Christ willeth, the same also the Father, being well pleased with him, willeth. In Christ, therefore, I say, and no where else, must you expect to have your petitions granted; and as in Christ and no place else, so for Christ’s sake, and nothing else. And therefore I beseech you to beware you forget not Christ when you go unto the Father to beg anything you desire, either for yourself or others; especially when you desire to have any pardon for sin, you are not to think, that when you join with your prayers, fasting, weeping, and afflicting of yourself, that for so doing you shall prevail with God to hear you, and grant your petitions; no, no, you must meet God in Christ, and present him with his sufferings; your eye, your mind, and all your confidence, must be therein; and in that be as confident as possible you can; yea, expostulate the matter, as it were, with God the Father, and say, “Lo; here is the person that has well deserved it; here is the person that wills and desires it; in whom thou hast said thou art well pleased; yea, here is the person that has paid the debt, and discharged the bond for all my sins; and, therefore, O Lord! now it stands with thy justice to forgive me.” And thus, if you do, why, then you may be assured that Christ executes his priestly office in you.

Neo. I pray you, sir, in the third place, show me how a man may know that Christ executes his kingly office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows “that all power is given unto Christ, both in heaven and on earth,” (Matt 28:18); both to vanquish and to overcome all the lusts and corruptions of believers, and to write his law in their hearts; and hereupon takes occasions to go unto Christ for the doing of both in him; I say, so far forth as he does this, why Christ executes his kingly office in him.

Neo. Why then, sir, it seems that the place where Christ executes his kingly office, is in the hearts of believers?

Evan. It is true indeed; for Christ’s kingdom is not temporal or secular over the natural lives or civil negotiations of men; but his kingdom is spiritual and heavenly, over the souls of men, to awe and over-rule the hearts, to captivate the affections, to bring into obedience the thoughts, and to subdue and pull down strong holds. For when our father Adam transgressed, he and we, all of us, forsook God, and chose the devil for our lord and king; so that every mother’s child of us is, by nature, under the government of Satan; and he rules over us, till Christ come into our hearts, and dispossess him; according to the saying of Christ himself, (Luke 11:21,22), “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace”: that is, says Calvin, Satan holds them that are in subjection to him in such bonds and quiet possession, that he rules over them without resistance; but when Christ comes to dwell in any man’s heart by faith; according to the measure of faith, he dispossesses him, and seats himself in the heart, and roots out, and pulls down all that withstands his government there; and, as a valiant captain, he stands upon his guard, and enables the soul to gather together all its forces and powers, to resist and withstand all its and his enemies, and so set itself in good earnest against them, when they at any time offer to return again; and he doth especially enable the soul to resist, and set itself against the principal enemy, even that which does most oppose Christ in his government; so that whatsoever lust or corruption is in a believer’s heart or soul as most predominant, Christ enables him to take that into his mind, and to have most revengeful thoughts against it, and to make complaints to him against it, and to desire power and strength from him against it, and all because it most withstands the government of Christ, and is the rankest traitor to Christ; so that he uses all the means he can to bring it before the judgment-seat of Christ, and there he calls for justice against it, saying, “O Lord Jesus Christ, here is a rebel and a traitor, that does withstand thy government in me, wherefore, I pray thee, come and execute thy kingly office in me, and subdue it; yea, vanquish and overcome it.” Whereupon Christ gives the same answer that he gave to the centurion, “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” 4 (Matt 8:13).

And as Christ doth thus suppress all other governors but himself in the hart of a believer, so doth he raze out and deface all other laws, and writes his own there, according to his promise, (Jer 31:33), and makes them pliable and willing to do and suffer his will; and that because it is his will. So that the mind and will of Christ, laid down in his word, and manifested in his works, is not only the rule of a believer’s obedience, but also the reason of it, as I once heard a godly minister say in the pulpit; so that he does not only do that which is Christ’s will, but he does it because it is his will.

Oh that man, which hath the law of Christ written in his heart! according to the measure of it, he reads, he hears, he prays, he receives the sacrament, he keeps the Lord’s day holy, he exhorts, he instructs, he confers, and does all the duties that belong to him in his general calling, because he knows it is the mind and will of Christ he should do so! yea, he patiently suffers, and willingly undergoes afflictions for the cause of Christ, because he knows it is the will of Christ; yea, such a man does not only yield obedience, and perform the duties of the first table of the law, by virtue of Christ’s command, but of the second also. Oh that husband, parent, master, or magistrate, that has the law of Christ written in his heart! he does his duty to his wife, child, servant, or subject, willingly and uprightly, because Christ requires it and commands it. And so that wife, child, servant, or subject, that has the law of Christ written in his or her heart, they do their duties to husband, parent, master, or governor, freely and cheerfully, because their Lord Christ commands it. Now, then, if you find these things in your heart, you may conclude that Christ rules and reigns there, as Lord and King.

Source: Marrow of modern divinity, by Edward Fisher

God and Mammon: Matthew 6:24 commentary

November 25, 2009 Comments off

Matthew Henry commentary

Mat 6:24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

III. We must take heed of hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness in choosing the master we serve, Mat_6:24. No man can serve two masters. Serving two masters is contrary to the single eye; for the eye will be to the master’s hand, Psa_123:1, Psa_123:2. Our Lord Jesus here exposes the cheat which those put upon their own souls, who think to divide between God and the world, to have a treasure on earth, and a treasure in heaven too, to please God and please men too. Why not? says the hypocrite; it is good to have two strings to one’s bow. They hope to make their religion serve their secular interest, and so turn to account both ways. The pretending mother was for dividing the child; the Samaritans will compound between God and idols. No, says Christ, this will not do; it is but a supposition that gain is godliness, 1Ti_6:5. Here is,
1. A general maxim laid down; it is likely it was a proverb among the Jews, No man can serve two masters, much less two gods; for their commands will some time or other cross or contradict one another, and their occasions interfere. While two masters go together, a servant may follow them both; but when they part, you will see to which he belongs; he cannot love, and observe, and cleave to both as he should. If to the one, not to the other; either this or that must be comparatively hated and despised. This truth is plain enough in common cases.
2. The application of it to the business in hand. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Mammon is a Syriac word, that signifies gain; so that whatever in this world is, or is accounted by us to be, gain (Phi_3:7), is mammon. Whatever is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon. To some their belly is their mammon, and they serve that (Phi_3:19); to others their ease, their sleep, their sports and pastimes, are their mammon (Pro_6:9); to others worldly riches (Jam_4:13); to others honours and preferments; the praise and applause of men was the Pharisees’ mammon; in a word, self, the unity in which the world’s trinity centres, sensual, secular self, is the mammon which cannot be served in conjunction with God; for if it be served, it is in competition with him and in contradiction to him. He does not say, We must not or we should not, but we cannot serve God and Mammon; we cannot love both (1Jo_2:15; Jam_4:4); or hold to both, or hold by both in observance, obedience, attendance, trust, and dependence, for they are contrary the one to the other. God says, “My son, give me thy heart.” Mammon says, “No, give it me.” God says, “Be content with such things as ye have.” Mammon says, “Grasp at all that ever thou canst. Rem, rem, quocunque modo rem – Money, money; by fair means or by foul, money.” God says, “Defraud not, never lie, be honest and just in all thy dealings.” Mammon says “Cheat thine own Father, if thou canst gain by it.” God says, “Be charitable.” Mammon says, “Hold thy own: this giving undoes us all.” God says, “Be careful for nothing.” Mammon says, “Be careful for every thing.” God says, “Keep holy thy sabbath-day.” Mammon says, “Make use of that day as well as any other for the world.” Thus inconsistent are the commands of God and Mammon, so that we cannot serve both. Let us not then halt between God and Baal, but choose ye this day whom ye will serve, and abide by our choice.

Categories: Commentary, Mammon, Work Tags: ,

Duty and grace

November 18, 2009 Comments off

John Owen

I shall add no more on this head but that, whereas the only inconvenience wherewith our doctrine is pressed is the pretended difficulty in reconciling the nature and necessity of our duty with the efficacy of the grace of the Spirit, I have been so far from waiving the consideration of it, as that I have embraced every opportunity to examine it in all particular instances wherein it may be urged with most appearance of probability.

And it is, I hope, at length made to appear, that not only the necessity of our duty is consistent with the efficacy of God’s grace, but also, that as, on the one hand, we can perform no duty to God as we ought without its aid and assistance, nor have any encouragement to attempt a course of obedience without a just expectation thereof, so, on the other, that the work of grace itself is no way effectual but in our compliance with it in a way of duty: only, with the leave of some persons, or whether they will or no, we give the pre-eminence in all unto grace, and not unto ourselves.

The command of God is the measure and rule of our industry and diligence in a way of duty; and why anyone should be discouraged from the exercise of that industry which God requires of him by the consideration of the aid and assistance which he hath promised unto him, I cannot understand.

The work of obedience is difficult and of the highest importance; so that if anyone can be negligent therein because God will help and assist him, it is because he hates it, he likes it not.

Let others do what they please, I shall endeavour to comply with the apostle’s advice upon the enforcement which he gives unto it: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure.”

Source

 

Categories: Duty, Holy Spirit Tags: ,