Calvin’s Thoughts

Quoting John Calvin:

“However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

“Let us not cease to do the utmost that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments.”

Is Faith Rational?

The Bible was not written for philosophers, but for the popular mind. Its statements about exercises of the soul are not intended to be analytical, but practical. Robert L. Dabney explains this:

Protestants . . . hold that faith must be explicit and intelligent, or it cannot be proper faith; that the propositions embraced must be known; and the evidence therefore comprehended intelligently. They grant to Aquinas, that faith derives its moral quality from the holiness of principles and voluntary moral dispositions actuating the exercise; but his conclusion in favor of an unintelligent faith is absurd, because voluntary moral dispositions can only act legitimately, through an intelligent knowledge of their objects. The right intelligence is in order to the right feeling. Protestants again distinguish between a comprehension of the evidence, and a full comprehension of the proposition. The former is the rational ground of belief, not the latter. The affirmations of many propositions, not only in theology, but in other sciences, are rationally believed, because their evidences are intelligently seen, when the predications themselves are not fully or even at all comprehended . . . We grant that many professed Protestants have only a spurious faith. Again, a humble mind cannot always state in language intelligently, what he understands intelligently.

For an explicit faith, hence defined, we argue: 1. That it is the only sort possible, according to the Laws of the mind. A man cannot believe, except by seeing evidence. As well talk of perception of objects of sight occurring in one, without using one’s own eyes. . . .

The Bible agrees to this, by directing us to read and understand in order to believe; to search the Scriptures. See John 5:39; Romans 10:17; Psalm 119:34; Proverbs 16:22; Acts 28:27; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 11:29; John 6:45. 3. We are commanded to be “able to give to every man that asketh of us, a reason of the hope that is in us” (1 Pet. 3:15). And faith is everywhere spoken of as an intelligent exercise; while religious ignorance is rebuked as sin. (Systematic Theology)

With Christ in View

Written by Bishop J. C. Ryle:

Read the Bible with Christ continually in view. The grand primary object of all Scripture is to testify of Jesus! Old Testament ceremonies are shadows of Christ. Old Testament judges are types of Christ. Old Testament prophecies are full of Christ’s sufferings and of Christ’s glory yet to come. The first coming and the second; the Lord’s humiliation and His glorious kingdom; His cross and the crown shine forth everywhere in the Bible. Keep fast hold on this clue, if you would read the Bible aright!

The Christian’s Interest Hindered

Men often complain they are in darkness concerning their position in Christ and this often because they have not believed and given credit to the record which God has given of the Son. As long as people neglect these things, they can hardly come to the knowledge of the gracious state. William Guthrie guides us through some issues that hinder our understanding of these matters:

Men must resolve to be determined by Scripture in this matter of their interest in Christ. The Spirit speaking in the Scripture is judge of all controversies’ – To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them’ (Isa. 8: 20) – and of this also, whether a man be savingly in covenant with God or not. Therefore do not mock God whilst you seem to search after such a thing. If we prove from Scripture, which is the uncontroverted rule, that you are gracious, and have made a covenant savingly with God, then resolve to grant so much, and to acquiesce in it. . . .

[A]lthough the matter of a man’s interest in Christ be of so great importance, and the way to attain to the knowledge of it so plainly held forth in the Scriptures, yet there be but few who reach the distinct knowledge of it. And that this may not discourage any person from attempting it, I shall hint some few reasons why so few come to the clear knowledge of it. . . .

The first thing which hinders many from the knowledge of their interest in Christ is their ignorance of some special principles of religion; as,

That it was free love in God’s bosom, and nothing in man, that moved Him to send a Savior to perfect the work of redemption (John 3: 16). . . .

They are ignorant how that love effectually discovers itself to a man’s heart, so as he has ground to lay claim to it. . . .

Many are also ignorant of this, that God alone is the hope of His people; He is called ‘the hope of Israel.’ (Jer. 14: 8.) Although inherent qualifications are evidences of it, yet the staying of the heart upon Him, as a full blessing and satisfying portion, is faith. . . .

They are ignorant of the different degrees and ways of that work of the law, by which God ordinarily dealeth with men, and of the different ways in which the Lord bringeth people at first to Christ. . . .

There is one thing or other wherein their heart, in some respect, does condemn them, as dealing deceitfully and guilefully with God. It is not to be expected that those can come to clearness about their interest, whose heart does condemn them for keeping up some known transgressions against the Lord, which they will not let go, neither are using the means which they know to be appointed by God for delivering them from it. . . .

[Another hindrance] is a spirit of sloth and careless negligence. They complain that they know not whether they are in Christ or not; but as few take pains to be in Him, so few take pains to try if they be in Him. It is a work and business which cannot be done sleeping: ‘Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves: know ye not your own selves.’ (2 Cor. 13: 5.) The several words used here, namely, Examine, prove, know–intimate that there is a labor in it: Diligence must be used to make our ‘calling and election sure. . . .’ (2 Peter 1: 10)

Be ashamed, you who spend so much time in reading of romances, in adorning your persons, in hawking and hunting, in consulting the law concerning your outward state in the world, and it may, be in worse things than these; – Be ashamed, you that spend so little time in the search of this, whether ye be an heir of glory or note whether you be in the way that leadeth to heaven, or that way which will land you in darkness for ever? You who judge this below you, and unworthy of your pains, any part or minute of your time, it is probable, in God’s account, you have judged yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, so that you shall have no lot with God’s people in this matter.

The Heart

From the desk of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“What is meant by this term, ‘the heart’? According to the general scriptural usage of the term, the heart means the centre of the personality. It does not merely mean the seat of the affections and the emotions.” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)

All That Is Good Is But a Shadow of Christ

As a child in Sunday School, our class would often be led in the song; “He Has The Whole World In His Hands”. Little did I realize at that time how true those words were. Ralph Erskine reminds us of this great truth below:

“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35)

“Vanity of vanity, says the preacher, all is vanity,” Eccl. 1:2. All the riches, pleasures, profits, and preferments of the world are but emptiness; your wisdom, your parts, your children, your lands, your revenues, without Christ, can amount to nothing; they are but like zeros without a number. It is said of believers, 2 Cor. 6:10. Having nothing, they possess all things; because, though they had nothing in the world, yet, having Christ, they have all things; and on the other hand, it may be truly said of the wicked and unbelieving, that, having all things, they possess nothing; because, though they had all things in the world at their will, yet, being without Christ, they have nothing; all they have is but emptiness; yea, all they have is a curse, because they have not Christ. And thus all things, without him, are not only nothing, but worse than nothing.

Demonstration of this truth is, “If all things in the world be but a shadow of what is in Christ, then all things are in Christ’s hand substantially; but so it is, all good things in the world are but shadows of what is in Christ.” Outward riches are but a shadow of the unsearchable riches of Christ; outward life is but a shadow of him who is the way, the truth, and the life; outward liberty is but a shadow of that freedom that is to be had in Christ; If the Son make you free, then are you free indeed,” John 8:36 importing that no freedom is freedom indeed, and in truth, but this; outward rest is but a shadow of the rest that is to be had in him; “Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The sun in the firmament is but a shadow of the Sun of righteousness, and of his glory; roses and lilies are but shadows of his beauty, who is the rose of Sharon, and lily of the valley; rivers and fountains are but shadows of his fullness, who is the fountain of living waters; not a fountain closed, but a fountain opened to us: plants and trees are but a shadow of the verdure of him who is the plant of renown, the tree of life. All things that have any excellency in them are but shadows of him in whom all excellencies do concentre [focus]. All the stars of creature-excellencies are but shadows of him who is the bright and morning Star. (“Heaven’s Grand Repository”)

Grace

Quoting R.C. Sproul:

“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.” (The Holiness of God)

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