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The difficulty of salvation – Richard Sibbes

May 10, 2015 Comments off

If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the wicked and ungodly appear?—1 Pet. 4:18.

What is meant here by righteousness, to wit, a man endued with evangelical righteousness. By ‘righteous’ here, is meant that evangelical righteousness which we have in the state of the gospel, namely, the righteousness of Christ imputed to us; for Christ himself being ours, his obedience and all that he hath becomes ours also; and whosoever partaketh of this righteousness which is by faith, hath also a righteousness of sanctification accompanying the same, wrought in his soul by the Spirit of God, whereby his sinful nature is changed and made holy; for ‘if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,’ 2 Cor. 5:17. The same Spirit that assures us of our interest in Christ, purifies and cleanseth our hearts, and worketh a new life in us, opposite to our life in the first Adam; from whence flows new works of holiness and obedience throughout our whole conversation. There must be an inward inherent righteousness, before there can be any works of righteousness. An instrument must be set in tune before it will make music; so the Spirit of God must first work a holy frame and disposition of heart in us, before we can bring forth any fruits of holiness in our lives. For we commend not the works of grace as we do the works of art, but refer them to the worker. All that flows from the Spirit of righteousness are works of righteousness. When the soul submits itself to the spirit, and the body to the soul, then things come off kindly. Take a man that is righteous by the Spirit of God: he is righteous in all relations; he gives every one his due; he gives God his due; spiritual worship is set up in his heart above all; he gives Christ his due by affiance in him; he gives the holy angels their due, by considering he is always in their presence, that their eye is upon him in every action he doth, and every duty he performs; the poor have their due from him; those that are in authority have their due. If he be under any, he gives them reverence and obedience, &c.; ‘he will owe nothing to any man but love,’ Rom. 13:8; he is righteous in all his conversation; he is a vessel prepared for every good work. I deny not but he may err in some particular; that is nothing to the purpose. I speak of a man as he is in the disposition and bent of his heart to God and goodness, and so there is a thread of a righteous course, that runs along through his whole conversation. The constant tenure of his life is righteous. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and labours to be more and more righteous still, every way, both in justification, that he may have a clearer evidence of that, as also in sanctification, that he may have more of the ‘new creature’ formed in him, that so he may serve God better and better all his days. Now, if this man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and ungodly appear? Where you have two branches.

1. The righteous shall scarcely be saved.

2. The terrible end of sinners and ungodly, where shall they appear? &c.

Now in that the righteous man thus described by me shall scarcely be saved, consider two things.

1. That the righteous shall be saved.

2. That they shall scarcely be saved.

The righteous are saved. What do I say? the righteous shall be saved? He is saved already. ‘This day is salvation come to thine house,’ saith Christ to Zaccheus, Luke 19:9. ‘We are saved by faith, and are now set in heavenly places together with him,’ Eph. 2:6. We have a title and interest to happiness already. There remains only a passage to the crown by good works. We do not, as the papists do, work to merit that we have not, but we do that we do in thankfulness for what we have. Because we know we are in the state of salvation; therefore we will shew our thankfulness to God in the course of our lives.

How can we miss of salvation when we are saved already? Christ our head being in heaven, will draw his body after him. What should hinder us? The world? Alas!* we have that faith in us,’ which overcometh the world,’ 1 John 5:4. As for the flesh, you know what the apostle saith, ‘We are not under the law, but under grace,’ Rom. 6:14. The spirit in us always lusteth against the flesh, and subdues it by little and little; neither can Satan nor the gates of hell prevail against us; for the grace we have is stronger than all enemies against us.

God the Father is our Father in Christ, and his love and gifts are without repentance, Rom. 11:29. When once we are in the state of salvation, ‘he will preserve us by faith to salvation,’ 1 Pet. 1:5; and we are knit to God the Son, who will lose none of his members. The marriage with Christ is an everlasting union; whom he loves, ‘he loves to the end,’ John 13:1. As for God the Holy Ghost, saith Christ, ‘I will send the Comforter, and he shall be with you to the end,’ John 6:14, 16. The blessed Spirit of God never departs where he once takes up his lodging. There is no question, therefore, of the salvation of the righteous; they are, as it were, saved already.

Use. Let this teach us thus much, that in all the changes and alterations which the faith of man is subject unto, he is sure of one thing: all the troubles, and all the enemies of the world shall not hinder his salvation. ‘If it be possible the elect should be deceived,’ Mat. 24:24; but it is not possible. O what a comfort is this, that in the midst of all the oppositions and plottings of men and devils, yet notwithstanding, somewhat we have, that is not in the power of any enemy to take from us, nor in our own power to lose, namely, our salvation. Set this against any evil whatsoever, and it swallows up all. Put case a man were subject to an hundred deaths, one after another, what are all these to salvation? Put case a man were in such grief, that he wept tears of blood; alas! in the day of salvation all tears shall be wiped from his eyes. Set this, I shall be saved, against any misery you can imagine, and it will unspeakably comfort and revive the soul beyond all.

Obj. But it is here said, he shall scarcely be saved.

Ans. This is not a word of doubt, but of difficulty. It is not a word of doubt of the event, whether he shall be saved or no—there is no doubt at all of that—but it is a word of difficulty in regard of the way and passage thither. So it is here taken, which leads me to a second point, that the way to come to salvation is full of difficulties.

1. Because there is much ado to get Lot out of Sodom, to get Israel out of Egypt. It is no easy matter to get a man out of the state of corruption. O the sweetness of sin to an unregenerate man! O how it cuts his very heart to think what pleasures and what profits, and what friends, and what esteem amongst men he must part withal! What ado is there to pull him out of the kingdom of Satan, wherein the strong man, Luke 11:21, held him before!

2. Again, it is hard in regard of the sin that continually cleaves to them in this world, which doth, as it were, shackle them, and compass them about in all their performances. ‘They would do well, but sin is at hand,’ Rom. 7:21, ready to hinder and stop them in good courses; so that they cannot serve God with such cheerfulness and readiness as they desire to do. Every good work they do, it is, as it were, pulled out of the fire; they cannot pray, but the flesh resists; they cannot suffer, but the flesh draws back. In all their doing and suffering they carry an enemy in their own bosoms that hinders them. Beloved, this [is] no small affliction to God’s people. How did this humble Paul, when no other affliction lay upon him! ‘O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ Rom. 7:24. It was more troublesome to him than all his irons and pressures whatsoever.

3. Besides, it is a hard matter in regard of Satan; for he is a great enemy to the peace of God’s children. When they are once pulled out of his kingdom, he sends floods of reproaches and persecutions after them, and presently sends hue and cry, as Pharaoh after the Israelites. Oh, how it spites him! What! shall a piece of dust and clay be so near God, when I am tumbled out of heaven myself! Though I cannot hinder him from salvation, I will hinder his peace and joy; he shall not have heaven upon earth.* I will make him walk as uncomfortably as I can. Thus the devil, as he is a malignant creature, full of envy against God’s poor saints, so he is a bitter enemy of the peace and comfort which they enjoy; and therefore troubles them with many temptations from himself and his instruments, to interrupt their peace, and make the hearts of God’s people sad all he can.

4. Then, by reason of great discouragements and ill-usage which they find in the world from wicked men, who are the devil’s pipes, led with his spirit to vex and trouble the meek of the earth; for, though they think not of it, Satan is in their devilish natures; he joins and goes along with their spirits in hating and opposing the saints of God; for, indeed, what hurt could they do but by his instigation? How are good men despised in the world! How are they made the only butt† to shoot at! Alas! beloved, we should rather encourage men in the ways of holiness. We see the number of such as truly fear God is but small, soon reckoned up. They are but as grapes after the vintage, or a few berries after the shaking; one of a city, two of a tribe, Micah 7:1, Jer. 3:14. They have little encouragements from any, but discouragements on all sides.

5. Besides this, scandal makes it a hard matter to be saved; to see evil courses and evil persons flourish and countenanced in the world. Oh, it goes to the heart of God’s people, and makes them stagger at God’s providence. It is a bitter temptation, and shakes the faith of holy men, as we see, Ps. 73, Jer. 12:1, 2. Again, it makes the heart of a good Christian bleed within him, to see scandals arise from professors of the gospel, when they are not so watchful as they should be, but bring a reproach upon religion by their licentious lives.

Yea, God’s children suffer much for their friends, whose wicked courses are laid to their charge, and sometimes even by their friends; for whilst they live here, the best of all are subject to some weakness or other, which causeth even those that are our encouragers, through jealousy or corruption, one way or another, to dishearten and trouble us in the way to heaven.

6. This, likewise, makes the way difficult; we are too apt to offend God daily, giving him just cause to withdraw his Spirit of comfort from us, which makes us go mourning all the day long; wanting those sweet refreshments of spiritual joy and peace we had before. The more comfort God’s child hath in communion with God, the more he is grieved when he wants it. When Christ wanted the sweet solace of his Father upon the cross, how did it trouble him! ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Mat. 27:46. How did he sweat water and blood in the garden, Luke 22:44, when he felt but a little while his Father’s displeasure for sin! Thus is it with all God’s children; they are of Christ’s mind in their spiritual desertions.

And when they have gotten a little grace, how difficult is it to keep it! to keep ourselves in the sense of God’s love! to manage our Christian state aright! to walk worthy of the gospel, that God may still do us good, and delight to be present with us! What a great difficulty is it to be always striving against the stream, and when we are cast back to get forward still, and not be discouraged till we come to the haven! None comes to heaven but they know how they come there.

Why God will have the righteous with such difficulty saved. Now, God will have it thus to sweeten heaven unto us. After a conflicting life peace is welcome; heaven is heaven indeed after trouble. We can relish it then. Because God will discard hypocrites in this life, who take up so much of religion as stands with their ease and credit in the world, avoiding every difficulty which accompanies godliness, but, so they may swim two ways at once, go on in their lusts still and be religious withal. This they approve of. Therefore, God will have it a hard matter to be saved, to frustrate the vain hopes of such wretches. Alas! it is an easy matter to be an hypocrite, but not to live godly.

Use. If the righteous be saved with much ado, then never enter upon the profession of religion with vain hopes of ease and pleasure, that it shall be thus and thus with thee, &c. Herein thou dost but delude thy own soul, for it will prove otherwise. Forecast, therefore, what will fall, and get provision of grace beforehand to sustain thee. As, if a man were to go a dangerous journey, he provides himself of weapons and cordials, and all the encouragements he can, lest he should faint in the way; whereas he that walks for his pleasure provides nothing. He cares not for his weapon or his cloak, because if a storm comes he can run under shelter or into a house, &c. He that makes religion a recreation can walk a turn or two for his pleasure, and when any difficulty arises can retire and draw in his horns again. An hypocrite hath his reservations and politic ends, and therefore what needs he any great provision to support him, when he knows how to wind out of trouble well enough, rather than to stand courageously to anything thing. But a true Christian, that makes it the main work of his life to please God, arms himself for the worst that can befall him, and will be saved through thick or thin, smooth or rough, whatsoever comes on it. So God will save his soul, he cares not, but rejoiceth, with Paul, if by any means he can attain the resurrection of the dead, Phil. 3:11, by any means, it is no matter what. Let fire and fagot meet with him, yet he is resolved not to retire for any trouble or persecution whatsoever that stands between him and happiness. He is purposely armed to break through every opposition to the best things, and whatever may separate his soul from the favour of God. I beseech you, beloved, think of these things, and let it be your wisdom to make the way to heaven as easy as you can. To this end,

1. Beg the Spirit of Christ. You know the Holy Spirit is full of life and strength; it is a Spirit of light and comfort and whatsover is good. The Spirit of God is like the wind; as it is subtle in operation and invisible, so it is strong and mighty, it bears all before it. Oh! therefore, get this blessed Spirit to enlighten thee, to quicken thee, to support thee, &c., and it will carry thy soul courageously along, above all oppositions and discouragements whatsoever in the way to happiness.

2. Get likewise the particular graces of the Spirit, which will much cheer thee in thy Christian course. Above all, labour for a spirit of humility. An humble man is fit to do or suffer anything. A proud man is like a gouty hand, or a swelled arm, unfit for any Christian performance; he is not in a state to do good; but an humble man is thankful that God will honour him so far as to let him suffer for the cause of Christ. He is wondrous empty and vile in his own eyes, and admires* why God should reserve such infinite matters for so base a worm as he is.

When Christ would have us take his yoke upon us, he advises us ‘to learn of him to be meek and lowly,’ &c., Mat. 11:29. Some might say, This yoke is heavy, it will pinch me and gall me. No, saith our Saviour, it shall be very light and easy. But how shall I get it to be so? Why! get but an humble and meek spirit, and that will bring rest to your souls.

3. Again, labour for a spirit of love. ‘Love is strong as death,’ Cant. 8:6; it will carry us through all. The love of Christ in the martyrs, when the fire was kindled about them, made them despise all torments whatsoever. This will warm our hearts and make us go cheerfully to work. Let but a spirit of love be kindled in God’s child, and it is no matter what he suffers; cast him into the fire, cast him into the dungeon, into prison, whatsoever it be, he hath that kindled in his heart, which will make him digest anything. We see the disciples, when they had the Spirit of Christ within them to warm their hearts, what cared they for whipping, or stocks, &c.? You see even base, carnal love will make a man endure poverty, disgrace, what not! and shall not this fire that comes from heaven, when it is once kindled in our hearts, prevail much more? What will make our passage to heaven sweet if this will not? Nothing is grievous to a person that loves.

4. Exercise your hope likewise. Set before your eyes the crown and kingdom of heaven; those admirable things contained in the word of God, which no tongue can express. Let hope feed upon these delicates; cast anchor in heaven, and see if it will not make thee go on cheerfully in a Christian course.

Faith will overcome the world; all the snares of prosperity that would hinder us on the right hand. Faith, it presents things of a higher nature to the soul; better than they. Faith likewise overcomes temptations on the left hand; all terrors and discomforts whatsoever. It considers these are nothing to ‘the terror of the Lord,’ 2 Cor. 5:11. Therefore ‘faith is called the evidence of things not seen,’ Heb. 11:1, because it presents things that are absent as present to the soul. If life and happiness be once truly presented to our hearts, what can all the world do to hinder our passage thither?

5. Lastly, we should much endeavour the mortification of our lusts; for what is it that makes the way to heaven irksome unto us? Is it not this corrupt and proud flesh of ours, which will endure nothing, no, not the weight of a straw, but is all for ease and quiet, &c.? It is not duty which makes our way difficult, ‘for it was meat and drink to Christ, to do the will of his Father,’ John 4:34.

Quest. Why is it not so with us?

Ans. Because he was born without sin. When Satan came he found nothing of his own in him; but when he solicits us, he finds a correspondency betwixt our corrupt hearts and himself, whereby having intelligence what we haunt, and what we love, he will be sure to molest us. The less we have of the works of Satan in us, the less will be our trouble; and the more we do the will of God, and strive against our corruptions, the more will be our comfort. This will make holy duties delightful to us; but if we favour and cherish corruption, it will make religion harsh. For the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasure in themselves, and to the regenerate, &c. I come now to the second clause.

‘Where shall the sinner and ungodly appear?’

What he means by sinner. By sinner he means him that makes a trade of sin. As we say, a man is of such a trade, because he is daily at work of it, and lives by it, so a man is a trader in sin, that lives in corrupt courses. For it is not one act that denominates a sinner, but the constant practice of his life.

Now this question, Where shall the ungodly appear? implies a strong denial, He shall be able to appear nowhere; especially in these three times.

1. In the day of public calamity, when God’s judgments are abroad in the world. The wicked are as chaff before the wind, as wax before the sun, as stubble before the fire. When God comes to deal with a company of graceless wretches, how will he consume and scatter them, and sweep them away as dung from the face of the earth! he will universally make a riddance of them at once. Where shall a Nabal stand when judgment comes upon him? 1 Sam. 25:37. Alas! his heart is become a stone. Where shall Belshazzar appear when he sees the handwriting upon the wall? Dan. 5. Oh how the wicked tremble and quake when God comes to judge them in this world, though they were a terror to others before!

2. But where shall they stand in the hour of death? when the world can hold them no longer; when friends shall forsake them; when God will not receive them; when hell is ready to devour them, &c.

3. And lastly, where shall the sinner appear at the day of judgment, that great and terrible day of account, when they shall see all the world in a combustion round about them, and the Lord Jesus coming in flaming fire, ‘with his mighty angels, to take vengeance on such as obey not the gospel?’ 2 Thess. 1:8. How will they then call for ‘the mountains to cover them, and the hills to fall upon them, to hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,’ &c., Rev. 6:16. Beloved, I beseech you, let the meditation of these things sink deep into your hearts, dwell upon them, remember that they are matters which nearly concern your soul, and no vain words, touching you and your welfare.

Sibbes, R. (1577). The Works of Richard Sibbes

Source

Buy the truth and sell it not, Pro 23:23 – Henry commentary

December 25, 2014 Comments off

Pro 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Matthew Henry commentary:

2. Buy the truth and sell it not, Pro_23:23. Truth is that by which the heart must be guided and governed, for without truth there is no goodness; no regular practices without right principles. It is by the power of truth, known and believed, that we must be kept back from sin and constrained to duty. The understanding must be well-informed with wisdom and instruction, and therefore, (1.) We must buy it, that is, be willing to part with any thing for it. He does not say at what rate we must buy it, because we cannot buy it too dear, but must have it at any rate; whatever it costs us, we shall not repent the bargain. When we are at expense for the means of knowledge, and resolved not to starve so good a cause, then we buy the truth. Riches should be employed for the getting of knowledge, rather than knowledge for the getting of riches. When we are at pains in searching after truth, that we may come to the knowledge of it and may distinguish between it and error, then we buy it. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt – Heaven concedes every thing to the laborious. When we choose rather to suffer loss in our temporal interest than to deny or neglect the truth they we buy it; and it is a pearl of such great price that we must be willing to part with all to purchase it, must make shipwreck of estate, trade, preferment, rather than of faith and a good conscience. (2.) We must not sell it. Do not part with it for pleasures, honours, riches, any things in this world. Do not neglect the study of it, nor throw off the profession of it, nor revolt from under the dominion of it, for the getting or saving of any secular interest whatsoever. Hold fast the form of sound words, and never let it go upon any terms.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? – JC Philpot

May 6, 2014 Comments off

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”–Romans 8:35

Be this never forgotten, that if we have ever been brought near to the Lord Jesus Christ by the actings of living faith, there never can be any final, actual separation from him. In the darkest moments, in the dreariest hours, under the most painful exercises, the most fiery temptations, there is, as with Jonah in the belly of hell, a looking again toward the holy temple. There is sometimes a sigh, a cry, a groan, a breathing forth of the heart’s desire to “know Him, and the power of his resurrection;” that he would draw us near unto himself, and make himself precious to our souls. And these very cries and sighs, groanings and breathings, all prove that whatever darkness of mind, guilt of conscience, or unbelief we may feel, there is no real separation. It is in grace as it is in nature; the clouds do not blot out the sun; it is still in the sky, though they often intercept his bright rays. And so with the blessed Sun of righteousness; our unbelief, our ignorance, our darkness of mind, our guilt of conscience, our many temptations–these do not blot out the Sun of righteousness from the sky of grace. Though thick clouds come between him and us and make us feel as though he was blotted out, or at least as if we were blotted from his remembrance, yet, through mercy, where grace has begun the work, grace carries it on: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

JC Philpot, Daily portions 2 May

Calvin commentary – John 20:27 – Doubting Thomas

March 20, 2013 Comments off

John 20:27

27.Reach hither thy finger.

We have already spoken once about Christ’s entrance, and the form of salutation which he employed. When Christ so readily yields to the improper request of Thomas, (218) and, of his own accord, invites him to feel his hands, and touch the wound of his side, we learn from this how earnestly desirous he was to promote our faith and that of Thomas; for it was not to Thomas only, but to us also, that he looked, that nothing might be wanting which was necessary for confirming our faith.

The stupidity of Thomas was astonishing and monstrous; for he was not satisfied with merely beholding Christ out wished to have his hands also as witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. Thus he was not only obstinate, but also proud and contemptuous in his treatment of Christ. Now, at least, when he saw Christ, he ought to have been overwhelmed with shame and amazement; but, on the contrary, he boldly and fearlessly stretches forth his hand, as if he were not conscious of any guilt; for it may be readily inferred from the words of the Evangelist, that he did not repent before that he had convinced himself by touching. Thus it happens that, when we render to the word of God less honor than is due to it, there steals upon us, without our knowledge, a glowing obstinacy, which brings along with it a contempt of the word of God, and makes us lose all reverence for it. So much the more earnestly should we labor to restrain the wantonness of our mind, that none of us, by improperly indulging in contradiction, and extinguishing, as it were, the feeling of piety, may block up against ourselves the gate of faith.

My Lord and my God! Thomas awakes at length, though late, and as persons who have been mentally deranged commonly do when they come to themselves, exclaims, in astonishment, My Lord and my God! For the abruptness of the language has great vehemence; nor can it be doubted that shame compelled him to break out into this expression, in order to condemn his own stupidity. Besides, so sudden an exclamation shows that faith was not wholly extinguished in him, though it had been choked; for in the side or hands of Christ he does not handle Christ’s Divinity, but from those signs he infers much more than they exhibited. Whence comes this, but because, after forgetfulness and deep sleep, he suddenly comes to himself? This shows, therefore, the truth of what I said a little ago, that the faith which appeared to be destroyed was, as it were, concealed and buried in his heart.

The same thing happens sometimes with many persons; for they grow wanton for a time, as if they had cast off all fear of God, so that there appears to be no longer any faith in them; but as soon as God has chastised them with a rod, the rebellion of their flesh is subdued, and they return to their right senses. It is certain that disease would not, of itself, be sufficient to teach piety; and hence we infer, that, when the obstructions have been removed, the good seed, which had been concealed and crushed, springs up. We have a striking instance of this in David; for, so long as he is permitted to gratify his lust, we see how he indulges without restraint. Every person would have thought that, at that time, faith had been altogether banished from his mind; and yet, by a short exhortation of the Prophet, he is so suddenly recalled to life, that it may easily be inferred, that some spark, though it had been choked, still remained in his mind, and speedily burst into a flame. So far as relates to the men themselves, they are as guilty as if’ they had renounced faith and all the grace of the Holy Spirit; but the infinite goodness of God prevents the elect from falling so low as to be entirely alienated from God. We ought, therefore, to be most zealously on our guard not to fall from faith; and yet we ought to believe that God restrains his elect by secret bridle, that they may not fall to their destruction, and that He always cherishes miraculously in their hearts some sparks of faith, which he afterwards, at the proper time, kindles anew by the breath of his Spirit.

There are two clauses in this confession. Thomas acknowledges that Christ is his Lord, and then, in the second clauses, (219) he ascends higher, and calls him also his God. We know in what sense Scripture gives to Christ the name of Lord. It is, because the rather hath appointed him to be the highest governor, that he may hold all things under his dominion., that every knee may bow before him, (Phi_2:10,) and., in short, that he may be the Father’s vicegerent in governing the world. Thus the name Lord properly belongs to him, so far as he is the Mediator manifested in the flesh, and the Head of the Church. But Thomas, having acknowledged him to be Lord, is immediately carried upwards to his eternal Divinity, and justly; for the reason why Christ descended to us, and first was humbled, and afterwards was placed at the Father’s right hand, and obtained dominion over heaven and earth, was, that he might exalt us to his own Divine glory, and to the glory of the Father. That our faith may arrive at the eternal Divinity of Christ., we must begin with that knowledge which is nearer and more easily acquired. Thus it has been justly said by some, that by Christ Man we are conducted to Christ God, because our faith makes such gradual progress that, perceiving Christ on earth, born in a stable, and hanging on a cross., it rises to the glory of his resurrection, and, proceeding onwards, comes at length to his eternal life and power, in which his Divine Majesty is gloriously displayed.

Yet we ought to believe, that we cannot know Christ as our Lord, in a proper manner, without immediately obtaining also a knowledge of his Divinity. Nor is there any room to doubt that this ought to be a confession common to all believers., when we perceive that it is approved by Christ. He certainly would never have endured that the Father should be robbed of the honour due to him, and that this honor should be falsely and groundlessly conveyed to himself. But he plainly ratifies what Thomas said; and, therefore, this passage is abundantly sufficient for refuting the madness of Arius; for it is not lawful to imagine two Gods. Here also is declared the unity of person in Christ; for the same Jesus Christ (220) is called both God and Lord. Emphatically, to, he twice calls him his own, MYLord and MY God! declaring, that he speaks in earnest, and with a lively sentiment of faith.

No assurance in Arminianism

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Arminians are not ashamed to say, that God may crown a man one hour, and uncrown him in the next; they blush not to say that a man may be happy and miserable, under love and under wrath, an heir of heaven and a firebrand of hell, a child of light and a child of darkness—and all in an hour. Oh what miserable comforters are these! What is this but to torment the weary soul? to dispirit the wounded spirit, and to make them most sad whom God would have most glad? Ah! how sad is it for men to affirm, that wounded spirits may know “that the Sun of righteousness has healing in his wings,” Mal 4:2; but they cannot be assured that they shall be healed. The hungry soul may know that there is bread enough in his Father’s house—but cannot know that he shall taste of that bread, Luke 15:17. The naked soul may know that Christ has robes of righteousness to cover all spots, sores, defects, and deformities of it—but may not presume to know that Christ will put these royal robes upon it, Rev 3:18. The impoverished soul may know that there be unsearchable riches in Christ—but cannot be assured that ever it shall partake of those riches, Eph 3:8. All that these men allow poor souls, is guesses and conjectures that it may be well with them. They will not allow souls to say with Thomas, “My Lord, and my God,” John 20:28; nor with Job to say, “My Redeemer lives,” Job 19:25; nor with the church, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is towards me,” Song 7:10. And so they leave souls in a cloudy, questioning, doubting, hovering condition, hanging, like Mahomet’s tomb at Mecca, between two loadstones; or like Erasmus, as the papists paint him, hanging between heaven and hell. They make the poor soul a terror to itself.

What more uncomfortable doctrine than this? What more soul-disquieting, and soul-unsettling doctrine than this? You are this moment in a state of spiritual life—you may the next moment be in a state of spiritual death; you are now gracious—you may the next hour be graceless; you are now in the promised land—yet you may die in the wilderness; you are today a habitation for God—you may tomorrow be a synagogue of Satan; you have today received the white stone of absolution—you may tomorrow receive the black stone of condemnation; you are now in your Savior’s arms—you may tomorrow be in Satan’s paws; you are now Christ’s freeman—you may tomorrow be Satan’s bondman; you are now a vessel of honor—you may suddenly become a vessel of wrath; you are now greatly beloved, you may soon be as greatly loathed; this day your name is fairly written in the book of life—tomorrow the book may be crossed out, and your name blotted out forever. This is the Arminians’ doctrine, and if this be not to keep souls in a doubting and trembling, and shivering condition, what is it?

Well, Christians, remember this is your happiness and blessedness, that “none can pluck you out of your Father’s hand,” John 10:29; that you are “kept,” as in a garrison, or as with a guard, “by the power of God through faith unto salvation,” 1 Pet 1:5. “That the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but the kindness of the Lord shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you,” Isa 54:10. “That Christ ever lives to make intercession for you,” Heb 7:25; and that men and devils are as able, and shall as soon, make a world, dethrone God, pluck the sun out of the firmament, and Christ out of the bosom of the Father—as they shall pluck a believer out of the everlasting arms of Christ, or rob him of one of his precious jewels! Deut 33:26-27.

I shall close up this chapter with an excellent saying of Luther: “The whole Scripture,” says he, “Both principally aim at this thing, that we should not doubt—but that we should hope, that we should trust, that we should believe, that God is a merciful, a bountiful, a gracious, and a patient God to his people.”

– Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)
taken from: Heaven on Earth, 1667.

Perseverance – JR Macduff

July 3, 2011 Comments off

from J. R. Macduff, Palms of Elim; or Rest and Refreshment in the Valleys. New York: Carter, 1879.

“And they came to Elim [‘Valleys’], where were … threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there.” — Exodus 15:27

“This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing”–

“He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” — Phil 1:6

“We shall not die.” — Hab 1:12.

Perseverance.

In looking from underneath the shade of the palm-trees, on the long untrodden journey ere the true Canaan can be reached, the thought cannot fail to obtrude itself, Can we trust to be safeguarded through this great and terrible wilderness? Can we rely on the God of the Pillar-cloud conducting us to the brink of Jordan and thence to “the shining fields” beyond? Rather, is there no danger to be apprehended of spiritual drought and famine, or spiritual death, overtaking us? May it not be sadly fulfilled, with us, in a spiritual sense, as it was with the Pilgrim Hebrews in a literal, that through apostasy, unbelief, and backsliding, “we shall never enter into His rest”?

No. We have the sure word of promise of “a God who cannot lie,” “Ye shall go over and possess that good land” (Deut. 4:22). “But now thus says the Lord that created you, O Jacob, and He that formed you, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle on you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” (Isa 43:1-3). All is guaranteed to us in what the old writers call “the charter-deed of the Everlasting Covenant.” The immutability of the Divine counsel has been confirmed to us by oath. In the first of our motto-verses the great Apostle speaks with unhesitating assurance; –“being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” He does not, indeed, aver that “good work” is never to be impeded. God has never given promise in Scripture, with regard to spiritual experience, of an unclouded day–uninterrupted sunshine. “The morning without clouds” is a heavenly emblem. The earthly one is “a day in which the light shall neither be clear nor dark” (Zech 14:6). The analogy of the outer world of nature, at least under these our checkered and ever-varying skies, teaches us this. Spring comes smiling, and pours her blossoms into the lap of summer. But the skies lower, the rain and battering hail descend, the virgin blossoms droop their heads and almost die. Summer again smiles, and the meadows look gay; the flowers ring merry chimes with their leaves and petals and swing their fragrant censers. But all at once the drought comes with her fiery, merciless footsteps. Every blade and floweret, gasping for breath, lift their blanched eyelids to the brazen sky; or the night winds rock the laden branches and strew the ground. Thus, we see, it is not one unvarying, unchecked progression, from the opening bud to the matured fruit. But every succeeding month is more or less scarred by drought and moisture, wind and rain and storm. Yet, never once has Autumn failed to gather up her golden sheaves; aye, and if you ask her testimony, she will tell that the very storm, the blackened skies, and descending torrents you dreaded as foes, were the best auxiliaries in filling her garners. Do not be despondent now, because of present passing shadows, but “thank God, and take courage.” “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Ps 37:24). It is written, that “at evening time it shall be light” (Zech 14:7). The sun may wade all day through murky clouds, but he will pillow his head at night on a couch of vermilion and amber. “Though you have lien among the pots, yet shall you be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold” (Ps 68:13).

The second of our motto-verses forms part of an impassioned appeal of the Prophet Habakkuk in the prospect of impending national calamity. The great military power of that era of the world was menacing the cities and homes of Palestine. “Terrible and dreadful”–their horses “swifter than the leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves” (1:7-8). Overwhelmed at the thought of imminent judgment and desolation; the seer can discern no silver lining in the cloud. He turns from man to God. He takes refuge in that sublime truth–the Immutability of a covenant Jehovah; and breaks out in these beautiful words of calm confidence, “Art Thou not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die!” No: though the hosts of the Chaldeans should sweep the battle-plains; though they should leave behind them a track of blood and ashes and smoke; though the cry of suffering thousands should ascend apparently succoured to heaven, “We shall not die.” The God of our Fathers will not be untrue to His oath, or unmindful of His covenant. He will not cast off forever, or root out our name and remembrance from the earth.

“I give unto them,” is His own blessed word and guarantee to His true Israel still, “eternal life, and they shall never perish.” “What God hath spoken, He is able also to perform.” The good work begun, He will also finish. Let this ever be our rallying call when wounded in the fight, “This is mine infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High!”

“He will never fail us,
He will not forsake;
His eternal covenant,
He will never break.
…………………..
Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the Day!
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away!”

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God.”

Source

Heiligmaking en Volharding – Bavinck

May 18, 2011 Comments off

§ 46. Heiligmaking en Volharding. 1. Met de rechtvaardigmaking is de heiligmaking verbonden, welke er wel in aard maar niet in tijd van onderscheiden is. Over beider verhouding is er in de christelijke kerk altijd verschil en strijd geweest, evenals in alle godsdiensten de band van godsdienst en zedelijkheid op verschillende wijze wordt gelegd, en er onder de menschen een groot onderscheid bestaat tusschen de religieuse en de ethische naturen. Het nomisme, opkomend voor de belangen van het zedelijk leven, maakt rechtvaardigmaking van heiligmaking, godsdienst van zedelijkheid, de verhouding tot God van die tot den naaste afhankelijk. Omgekeerd let het antinomisme in de eerste plaats op de eischen van het religieuse leven, stelt de rechtvaardigmaking op den voorgrond en komt dikwerf aan de heiligmaking niet toe; de verhouding tot God staat geheel los van die tot den naaste. Werkelijk baart het, zoowel in leer als in leven, groote moeilijkheid, om godsdienst en zedelijkheid, rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking tot elkander in het juiste verband te stellen, cf. deel I 193. Beide zijn onderscheiden; wie ze vermengt, ondermijnt het religieuse leven, neemt den troost der geloovigen weg en maakt God aan den mensch ondergeschikt. Het onderscheid van beide is hierin gelegen, dat in de rechtvaardigmaking de religieuse verhouding des menschen tot God wordt hersteld, en in de heiligmaking zijne natuur vernieuwd en van de onreinheid der zonde bevrijd wordt. Het berust in zijn diepste wezen daarop, dat God beide rechtvaardig en heilig is. Als Rechtvaardige wil Hij, dat alle schepselen in die verhouding tot Hem zullen staan, waarin Hij hen oorspronkelijk geplaatst heeft, vrij van schuld en straf. Als Heilige eischt Hij, dat zij alle rein en onbesmet door de zonde voor zijn aangezicht zullen verschijnen. De eerste mensch werd daarom naar Gods beeld in gerechtigheid en heiligheid geschapen en had geen rechtvaardigmaking noch heiligmaking van noode, al moest hij ook der wet gehoorzaam zijn en uit hare werken gerechtvaardigd worden en het eeuwige leven ontvangen (justificatio legalis). Maar de zonde heeft den mensch met schuld beladen en hem onrein gemaakt voor Gods aangezicht. Om volkomen van de zonde verlost te worden, moet hij daarom van haar schuld bevrijd en van haar smet gereinigd |554| worden. En dat geschiedt in de rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking. Beide zijn dus even noodzakelijk en worden in de Schrift met gelijken nadruk gepredikt. De rechtvaardigmaking gaat daarbij in logische orde voorop, Rom. 8 : 30, 1 Cor. 1 : 30, want zij is eene justificatio evangelica, eene vrijspraak op grond van eene in het geloof ons geschonken dikaiosunj qeou, en niet x rgwn nomou; zij is eene juridische daad en in één oogenblik voltooid. Maar de heiligmaking is ethisch, zet zich voort door heel het leven, en maakt de gerechtigheid van Christus door de vernieuwende werkzaamheid des H. Geestes langzamerhand tot ons persoonlijk, ethisch bezit. Rome’s leer van de gratia of justitia infusa is op zichzelve niet onjuist, alleen is verkeerd, dat zij de ingestorte gerechtigheid tot den grond der vergeving maakt, en de religie dus bouwt op den grondslag der zedelijkheid. Maar de geloovigen worden de gerechtigheid van Christus wel waarlijk ook door infusio deelachtig. Rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking schenken dus dezelfde weldaden, of beter nog, den ganschen, vollen Christus; alleen verschillen zij in de wijze, waarop zij Hem schenken. In de rechtvaardigmaking wordt Hij ons geschonken in juridischen, in de heiligmaking in ethischen zin; door gene worden wij rechtvaardigheid Gods in Hem, door deze komt Hij zelf door zijnen Geest woning in ons maken en vernieuwt ons naar zijn beeld. Schoon rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking dus in aard onderscheiden zijn, is het van niet minder belang, het nauw verband tusschen beide geen oogenblik uit het oog te verliezen; wie ze scheidt, ondermijnt het zedelijk leven, en maakt de genade dienstbaar aan de zonde. In God zijn gerechtigheid en heiligheid niet te scheiden; Hij haat de zonde geheel en al, niet alleen zooals zij schuldig stelt maar ook zooals zij onrein maakt. De daden Gods in rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking zijn onafscheidelijk verbonden; oÃv de dikaiwsen, toutouv kai doxasen, Rom. 8 : 30; de dikaiwsiv brengt zwj mede, 5 : 18; wie door God is gerechtvaardigd en aangenomen tot zijn kind, deelt terstond in zijne gunst en begint onmiddellijk te leven. Voorts heeft Christus niet alleen voor de zijnen de zonde gedragen en de wet vervuld, maar Hij kon dit alleen doen, wijl Hij al in verbondsrelatie tot hen getreden was en dus hun hoofd en middelaar was. In Hem waren al de zijnen begrepen; en met en in |555| Hem zijn zij zelven gestorven, begraven, opgewekt en in den hemel gezet, Rom. 6 : 2-11, 2 Cor. 5 : 15, Gal. 2 : 20, Ef. 2 : 5, 6, Col. 2 : 12, 3 : 1 enz. Christus is hunne dikaiosunj, maar in denzelfden zin ook hun ƒgiasmov, 1 Cor. 1 : 30, d.i. niet hunne heiligheid, ƒgiotjv, ƒgiwsunj, maar hunne heiligmaking. Christus n.l. heeft door zijn lijden en sterven niet alleen de gerechtigheid aangebracht, op grond waarvan de geloovigen door God vrijgesproken worden. Maar alzoo heeft Hij ook die heiligheid verworven, waardoor Hij hen Gode wijden en van alle smet der zonde reinigen kan, Joh. 17 : 19. Zijne gehoorzaamheid tot den dood toe bedoelde toch de verlossing in hare gansche uitgestrektheid, ‡polutrwsiv niet alleen als loskooping uit de rechtsmacht der zonde, Rom. 3 : 24, Ef. 1 : 7, Col. 1 : 14, maar ook als bevrijding van haar zedelijke heerschappij , Rom. 8 : 23, 1 Cor. 1 : 30, Ef. 1 : 14, 4 : 30. Daartoe schenkt Christus zichzelven aan hen niet alleen objectief in de rechtvaardigmaking, maar Hij deelt zichzelven ook subjectief mede in de heiligmaking, en vereenigt zichzelven met hen op geestelijke, mystieke wijze. Deze unio mystica wordt door de Lutherschen steeds van de anthropologische zijde beschouwd, en komt dan natuurlijk eerst na rechtvaardigmaking en wedergeboorte in het dadelijk geloof tot stand, Schneckenburger, Vergl. Darst. I 182-225. Maar de theologische behandeling van de Gereformeerden leidde tot eene andere opvatting. De unio mystica heert haar aanvang reeds in het pactum salutis; vleeschwording en voldoening onderstellen, dat Christus hoofd en middelaar des verbonds is; het verbond komt niet eerst na Christus of ook na de overtuigende en wederbarende werkzaamheid des H. Geestes tot stand; maar Christus stond zelf in het verbond, en alle werkzaamheid des Geestes als Geest van Christus geschiedt uit en in het verbond. Er is toch geen gemeenschap aan de weldaden van Christus dan door de gemeenschap aan zijn persoon. De toerekening en schenking van Christus aan de zijnen staat voorop, en onze inlijving in Christus gaat weer vóór de actieve aanneming van Christus en zijne weldaden door de daad des geloofs. Oprecht leedwezen over de zonde, hongeren en dorsten naar de gerechtigheid, toevlucht nemen tot Christus enz., zijn daden en werkzaamheden, welke het leven en dus de unio mystica onderstellen en daaruit voortvloeien. Deze vereeniging der geloovigen met Christus is eenerzijds geen pantheistische |556| vermenging van beiden, geen unio substantialis, gelijk zij door het mysticisme van vroeger en later tijd opgevat is; maar zijis toch aan den anderen kant ook geen loutere overeenstemming in gezindheid, wil en bedoeling, zooals, het rationalisme ze verstond en thans Ritschl ze weer verklaard heeft, Theol. u. Metaph. 1881. Rechtf. u. Vers. III2 106. 552 f. Gesch. d. Pietismus, 3 Bde 1880-86 passim. Herrmann, Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott 1886. Gottschick, Luthers Lehre v.d. Gem. des Gläubigen mit Christus, Zeits. f. Th. u. K. Aug. 1898 S. 406. Wat de Schrift van deze unio mystica ons zegt, gaat veel dieper dan eene zedelijke overeenstemming in wil en gezindheid; zij verklaart uitdrukkelijk dat Christus in de geloovigen woont en leeft, Joh. 14 : 23, 17 : 23, 26, Rom. 8 : 10, 2 Cor. 13 : 5, Gal. 2 : 20, Ef. 3 : 17, en dat zij in Hem zijn, Joh. 15 : 1-7, Rom. 8 : 1, 1 Cor. 1 : 30, 2 Cor. 5 : 17, Ef. 1 : 10v.; zij zijn vereenigd als rank en wijnstok, Joh. 15, hoofd en leden, Rom. 12 : 4, 1 Cor. 12 : 12, Ef. 1 : 23, 4 : 15, man en vrouw, 1 Cor. 6 : 16, 17, Ef. 5 : 32, hoeksteen en gebouw, 1 Cor. 3 : 11, 16, 6 : 19, Ef. 2 : 21, 1 Petr. 2 : 4, 5, cf. over de unio mystica Calvijn, Inst. III 11, 5. Boquinus, Zanchius, Olevianus, Eglin bij Heppe, Dogm. d.d. Pr. II 372. Martyr, L.C. 259. Polanus, Synt. VI c. 35. Amesius, Med. Theol. 1 c. 26. Voetius, Disp. II 459. Mastricht VI c. 5. Witsias, Misc. S. II 788. M. Vitringa III 78. Comrie, Catech. op vr. 20-23. Kuyper, Het werk v.d. H.G. II 163. Pfleiderer, Paulinismus2 214 f. Krebs, Ueber die unio mystica, Marburg 1871. Weiss, Das Wesen des pers. Christenstandes, Stud. u. Krit. 1881 S. 377 417. Deismann, Die neutest. Formel n Cr. I. Marburg 1892. Deze unio mystica is echter niet onmiddellijk maar komt tot stand door den H. Geest. En ook in Hem ligt het verband vast tusschen rechtvaardigmaking en heiligmaking. De Geest, dien Jezus aan zijne discipelen beloofd en in de gemeente uitgestort heeft, is n.l. niet alleen een Geest der u³oqesia, die de geloovigen van hun kindschap verzekert, maar ook de Geest der vernieuwing en der heiligmaking. Deze Geest heeft Christus zelf bekwaamd tot zijn werk en Hem geleid van zijne ontvangenis af tot zijne hemelvaart toe. Door zijne vernedering is Christus verhoogd aan ’s Vaders rechterhand, verheerlijkt tot levendmakenden Geest, verwerver en uitdeeler van den Geest, die nu zijn Geest, de Geest van Christus is. Door dezen Geest vormt en |557| bekwaamt Hij ook zijne gemeente. De allereerste gave, welke de geloovigen ontvangen, wordt hun reeds medegedeeld door den Geest, die alles uit Christus neemt, Joh. 16 : 14. Hij is het, die hen wederbaart, Joh. 3 : 5, 6, 8, Tit. 3 : 5, het leven schenkt, Rom. 8 : 10, in de gemeenschaip met Christus inlijft, 1 Cor. 6 : 15, 17, 19, tot het geloof brengt, 1 Cor. 2 : 9v. 12 : 3, wascht, heiligt, rechtvaardigt, 1 Cor. 6 : 11, 12 : 13, Tit. 3 : 5, leidt, Rom. 8 : 14, Gods liefde in hunne harten uitstort, Rom. 5 : 5, in hen bidt, Rom. 8 : 26, allerlei deugden, Gal. 5 : 22, Ef. 5 : 9, en gaven, Rom. 12 : 6, 1 Cor. 12 : 4, vooral de liefde, 1 Cor. 13, hun meedeelt, hen leven doet naar eene nieuwe wet, de wet des Geestes, Rom. 8 : 2, 4, 1 Cor. 7 : 19, Gal. 5 : 6, 6 : 2, hen vernieuwt in verstand en wil, naar ziel en lichaam, Rom. 6 : 19, 1 Cor. 2 : 10, 2 Cor. 5 : 17, 1 Thess. 5 : 23; in één woord, de H. Geest woont in hen, en zij leven en wandelen in den H. Geest, Rom. 8 : 1, 4, 9-11, 1 Cor. 6 : 19, Gal. 4 : 6 enz. Cf. deel II 231. 249 en voorts nog Pfleiderer, Der Paulinismus2 225 f. Holtzmann, Neut. Theol. II 143 f.

Bron