Monday, August 15, 2016

Calvin: Paul says For Believers No other Righteousness but Christ's, Salvation by Grace Alone!

"Hence we infer, according to the reasoning of Paul, that it was not of works. In like manners when the prophet says, "The just shall live by his faith," (Habakkuk 2:4) he is not speaking of the wicked and profane, whom the Lord justifies by converting them to the faith: his discourse is directed to believers, and life is promised to them by faith. Paul also removes every doubt, when in confirmation of this sentiment he quotes the words of David, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," (Psalm 32:1.) It is certain that David is not speaking of the ungodly but of believers such as he himself was, because he was giving utterance to the feelings of his own mind. Therefore we must have this blessedness not once only, but must hold it fast during our whole lives. Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church, (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19.) Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death, viz., ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, but "by grace are ye saved," "not of works, lest any man should boast," (Ephesians 2:8, 9.)
John Calvin. Institutes of Religion. 3.14.11
 

Monday, August 8, 2016

"He Dwelt Among Us" - Encouragements that flow from the Incarnation of the Son of God...

In part three of his sermon, The Incarnation of Christ, John Colquhoun concludes by unfolding some of the practical comforts, encouragements, and exhortations that flow from the mystery of Christ's incarnation.

"He dwelt among us." The original verb, which is here translated " dwell," properly signifies, He tabernacled, or pitched his tabernacle; that is, he dwelt in human nature among us (p 32).
Now, from what has been said on the whole subject before us, we may see the high honour which is put up on human nature. The greatest and most wonderful work that ever God did was done in our nature. The work of redeeming a lost world was a greater work than the creation of millions of worlds; and yet this most wonderful work was performed in the human nature. If he hath honoured our nature so highly, ought not we to glorify him in our bodies and in our spirits, which are his? Shall we debase our nature, which has been thus highly honoured, by yielding to any motion of sin or temptation of Satan? Should not we employ all the faculties of our souls, and members of our bodies, in performing works of faith, and labours of love, and in maintaining good works?
2. Hence we see, that the law as a covenant of works is magnified and made honourable, in the highest degree possible. It has been honoured with the perfect obedience of a Divine Person in human nature. It is honoured and magnified more with the meritorious obedience of the Son of God, than ever it has been dishonoured by the disobedience of man. Whenever, therefore, the law as a covenant finds its way again into the believer's conscience, and charges him with the guilt of dishonouring it by acts of disobedience, let him present in the hand of faith to it, the consummate obedience and the complete atonement of God his Saviour; let him also, in reliance on promised grace, perform that sincere and evangelical obedience to it as a rule of duty by which he will honour it as the law of Christ. Since the Lord Jesus, believer, honoured the law at a covenant for your salvation, it is surely your duty to honour it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him.
3. Hence learn this sovereign remedy for our having been conceived in sin, and our having brought a depraved nature into the world with us. Our Lord Jesus Christ brought a human nature perfectly holy into the world with him, and, as the Surety for sinners, presented to the law an holy human nature; which holiness of nature is imputed to believers as a fundamental part of their justifying righteousness. He at the same time purchased the saving influences of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of their nature. This is ground of comfort to you, to whom the sin that dwelleth in you is the most oppressive and grievous burden.
4. Did the Lord Jesus tabernacle among men, and thereby show that he was not to remain long an inhabitant of this world ? Then let believers study to be more and more conformed to him by living so as daily to confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Let them declare plainly, that they seek a better country, and that their conversation is in heaven.
5. Hence we may see what ground we have of thankfulness and praise to our gracious God and Father. Our nature is indissolubly united to the Divine nature in the person of his only-begotten Son. And what reason have we to thank and praise his dear Son for remembering us in our low estate, and for condescending to be made flesh and dwell among us; and so to unite our low nature to himself by a personal and indissolvable union, that he might lay a sure foundation for the spiritual union of our persons with his adorable Person! 
We ought to thank God for Moses and the prophets, for evangelists and apostles; but, above all, for Jesus the incarnate Redeemer, the Messenger of the covenant, the Desire of all nations. But some disconsolate believer will say, "I ought indeed to be thankful that ever Christ united the human nature to the Divine in his person; but I find it very difficult to be heartily thankful for it. If I where satisfied that I was vitally united to Him as my Kinsman-Redeemer, I should find it easy to give thanks for that personal union; but my fear that this is not the case renders the sincere performance of such a duty very hard to me.
Indeed, if you be under prevailing doubts as to your union and communion with Christ, you cannot be cordially thankful for any thing connected with him. But is it true that you are not united to Christ? Then whence is it that you see indwelling sin so plainly, and feel it so sensibly, as to loathe it, and long for deliverance from it? This must be from the Spirit of Christ. False professors pretend that they see the corruption of their hearts; but that which they see never either discourages their presumptuous confidence, or makes them loathe themselves in their own sight before the Lord. How comes it that you complain bitterly of your want of love to Jesus Christ, and to God in him? Union of affection is a good evidence of vital union. 
If you were entirely destitute of true love to Christ, you would not bewail your want of love to him. And whence is it that you complain to him of your want of conformity to him in holiness, and of the prevalence of iniquities against yon, by which you dishonour him? Is it not, that you delight in his law after the inward man, and long for perfect conformity to it? Credit the reports of sense [feelings] less, and of faith more. Be thankful for the signs of union with Christ which you have, and especially that, by the offers of the Gospel, you are warranted to come as a sinner in yourself, and to trust in him for all his salvation. Let it fill you with gratitude to the God of all grace, that he hath made this your present duty.
6. In conclusion: Let saints and sinners suffer the word of exhortation. As for you who have not only your nature, but your persons united to Jesus Christ, be persuaded, first, to meditate frequently on the transcendent glory of his person. It is the master-piece of the manifold wisdom of God. Devout meditation on this glorious object is attended with many advantages. It is a means of confirming faith, hope, love, admiration, and conformity to the Lord Jesus; 2 Cor. iii. 18. 
2d, Take encouragement in the midst of all your conflicts with corruption and temptation, from that personal union: for so long as it continues, the union between your persons and the person of Christ shall not be dissolved. There is no condemnation to you, for you are in Christ Jesus; and, in union with him, sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law as a covenant, but under grace.  
3d, Study to make a particular and daily application of Christ to yourselves, in virtue of the union of your nature with him; saying, "Spread the covering of thy spotless righteousness over me, for thou art a near Kinsman." What is the reason that little of love, desire, zeal, courage, joy, and holiness, is in many of the saints at this day? They do not, as they ought, appropriate to themselves the person of Christ, nor place the confidence of their hearts in him for all their salvation.   
4th, Did the only-begotten of the Father obey the law as a covenant, and endure the execution of the curse of it in your nature? You are therefore bound to obey it as a rule of life in your persons. His design in assuming your nature was, that he might yield perfect obedience to the law as a covenant of works for your salvation; and his intention in obeying it under that form was, that he might merit the sanctification of the Spirit, to enable you to yield sincere obedience to it, as the rule of righteousness in his kingdom. He obeyed it as a covenant for your justification of life, that you might obey it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him. Study, then, in reliance on his promised grace, to fall in with the gracious design of his incarnation and obedience unto death, in your nature. From principles of faith and love, advance daily in holy conformity to him. Glorify him in your body and in your spirit, which are his. 
As for you, who are not by faith united to the incarnate Redeemer, and have no communion with him in his righteousness and salvation, be convinced of your sinfulness and misery. If the Son of God had not seen from eternity that you are lost, he would never have stooped so infinitely low as to be made flesh. Do not imagine, that because he assumed your nature, you are secured from perishing in your sins. Except your persons be vitally united to him by a living faith, you cannot inherit eternal life. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Oh be persuaded to embrace and trust in the compassionate Saviour, as he is freely offered to you in the Gospel. "Him that cometh to me, I will in nowise cast out."
John Colquhoun. Sermons chiefly on doctrinal subjects. 1836; pp 32, 35-39

Friday, August 5, 2016

"Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor..."

"1. He had the curse of the broken law to endure. The apostle Paul informs us, " that Christ hath re deemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13. As the people in whose room Christ undertook to serve, were all by nature under the curse in consequence of transgression, it was an article in the contract of service between the Father and him, that he should, both in their nature and their stead, bear the curse due to them for sin. No sooner, therefore, did he partake of human nature, than the curse seized upon him. That dreadful curse which would have sunk a whole elect world to the lowest hell, he began at his incarnation to bear, and he bore it all the time of his humiliation, till at last it brought him to the dust of death. Hence we read, that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and that he at last began to be exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We read also, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; for as the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow, so his curse is sufficient to render a man poor. This, then, was an article inexpressibly arduous; it was beyond the power of any of the children of Adam to accomplish it, and yet it was but little in comparison of the other parts of service assigned to Christ.
John Colquhoun. Sermons, chiefly on doctrinal subjects. 1836: "On The Incarnation Of Christ" p 44

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Calvin: Law/Gospel Antithesis...

"To justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in Christ. Thus it is said, in Paul's discourse in the Acts, "Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:38, 39.) You see that after remission of sins justification is set down by way of explanation; you see plainly that it is used for acquittal; you see how it cannot be obtained by the works of the law; you see that it is entirely through the interposition of Christ; you see that it is obtained by faith; you see, in fine, that satisfaction intervenes, since it is said that we are justified from our sins by Christ. Thus when the publican is said to have gone down to his house "justified," (Luke 18:14) it cannot be held that he obtained this justification by any merit of works. All that is said is, that after obtaining the pardon of sins he was regarded in the sight of God as righteous. He was justified, therefore, not by any approval of works, but by gratuitous acquittal on the part of God. Hence Ambrose elegantly terms confession of sins "legal justification," (Ambrose on Psalm 118 Serm. 10)."
John Calvin. Institutes of Religion. 3.11.3

Sunday, July 31, 2016

When the Law Speaks, When the Gospel Speaks...

Edward Fisher: The Marrow of Modern Divinity
“Briefly, then, if we would know when the law speaks, and when the gospel speaks, either in reading the word, or in hearing it preached; and if we would skillfully distinguish the voice of the one from the voice of the other, we must consider:— 
The law says, ‘Thou art a sinner, and therefore thou shalt be damned,’ (Rom 7:2, 2 Thess 2:12). But the gospel says, No; ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'; and therefore, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (1 Tim 1:15, Acts 16:31). 
Again the law says, ‘Knowest thou not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God; be not deceived,’ &c. (1 Cor 6:9). And therefore thou being a sinner, and not righteous, shalt not inherit the kingdom of God. But the gospel says, ‘God has made Christ to be sin for thee who knew no sin; that thou mightest be made the righteousness of God in him, who is the Lord thy righteousness,’ (Jer 23:6). 
Again the law says, ‘Pay me what thou owest me, or else I will cast thee into prison,’ (Matt 18:28,30). But the gospel says, ‘Christ gave himself a ransom for thee,’ (1 Tim 2:6); ‘and so is made redemption unto thee,’ (1 Cor 1:30). 
Again the law says, ‘Thou hast not continued in all that I require of thee, and therefore thou art accursed,’ (Deut 27:6). But the gospel says, ‘Christ hath redeemed thee from the curse of the law, being made a curse for thee,’ (Gal 3:13). 
Again the law says, ‘Thou are become guilty before God, and therefore shalt not escape the judgment of God,’ (Rom 3:19, 2:3). But the gospel says, ‘The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son,’ (John 5:12).”

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Preaching the Person of Jesus Christ Himself" - Sinclair Ferguson

"Who is the Christ who IS the gospel, and how is he equipped to save us?" [23]
Footnote [23] - As a codicil to this comment, we should also notice that knowing how to"preach Christ from the Old Testament," or understanding biblical theology, or seeing the flow of redemptive history, or knowing how to get to Christ from any part of the Scriptures does not necessarily result in actually preaching the person of Jesus Christ himself. Seeing Christ as the solution to a series of clues embedded in the Old Testament is not actually the same as proclaiming Jesus himself, in our flesh, bearing our sins, dying our death, and rising for our justification. A formula for preaching Christ is not identical to the persona of Christ, and we must never confuse hermeneutical principles with Christ himself. The former did not die for us on the cross; the latter did.
 "If we are slow to grasp the distinction, its significance can be illustrated by reflecting on contemporary evangelical preaching and writing. Wherever the benefits of Christ are seen as abstractable from Christ himself, there is a decreasing stress on his person and work in preaching and in the books that are published to feed that preaching. This is accompanied by an increased stress on our experience of salvation rather than on the grace, majesty, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Is it possible that most preachers reading these pages own more books on preaching (and even preaching Christ) than they own on Christ himself?

"If that is true (a survey would certainly be illuminating), we should probably ask a further question: Is it obvious to me, and of engrossing concern, that the chief focus, the dominant note in the sermons I preach (or hear), is "Jesus Christ and him crucified"? Or is the dominant emphasis (and perhaps the greatest energies of the preacher?) focused somewhere else, perhaps on how to overcome sin, or how to live the Christian life, or on the benefits to be received from the gospel? All are legitimate emphases in their place, but that place is never center stage. The same question can be asked more starkly in our techno-sermon age when many Christians listen not only to preaching in their own church but to their "favorite" preachers in the contemporary galaxy. Is the dominant theme, the lasting impression, the most natural word association, in relation to the preaching I hear "Jesus Christ and him crucified" -- or something else?"

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson, pp 49-50

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Heart Experience of a Pastor

"3. Another thing required for this is, experience of the power of the things we preach to others. I think, truly, that no man preaches a sermon well to others who does not first preach it to his own heart. If someone does not feed on, digest, and thrive by what he prepares for his people, he may give them poison as far as he knows; for unless he finds the power of it in his own heart, he cannot have any ground of confidence that it will have power in the hearts of others. It is an easier thing to bring our heads to preach than our hearts to preach. To bring our heads to preach, is nothing more than to fill our minds and memories with some notions of truth, of our own or other men, and speak them out to give satisfaction to ourselves and others: this is very easy. But to bring our hearts to preach, is to be transformed into the power of these truths; or to find the power of them, both before (in preparing our minds and hearts), and in delivering them so that we may benefit; and to be presented with zeal for God and compassion to the souls of men. A man may preach every day in the week, and not have his heart engaged once. This has lost us powerful preaching in the world and set up quaint orations instead; for such men never seek the experience of it in their own hearts. And so it has come to pass that some men’s preaching, and some men’s not preaching, have lost us the power of what we call the ministry. Though there be twenty or thirty thousand preachers, the nation perishes for lack of knowledge, and it is overwhelmed by all kinds of sins, and it is not delivered from them to this day."
Excerpt from The Duty of a Pastor (1682) - John Owen


Monday, July 4, 2016

Fesko on the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works...

"Simply stated, Venema believes the covenant of works is abrogated, and I do not. The promise of the law still Stands and functions, and has been unchanged by the entrance of sin into the world. That is, if you perfectly obey the law of God you will live and have eternal life. The law has not changed, and neither has the promise appended to it. Rather, what has changed is that human­ity has fallen and is unable to fulfill the requirements of the law. The defect, therefore, is with man, not with the law (Rom. 7:12; 8:3). To say, then, that the covenant of works is abrogated, fails to consider that its prom­ises and curses still hang over humanity, and the only way to be delivered from them is through faith alone in Christ. Jesus delivers sinners from the moral law as a covenant of works. This State of affairs is true now and was also true for believers in the Old Testament."
J.V. Fesko, The Confessional Presbyterian, Volume 9, 2013
[HT - John Fonville]

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Past Racism Imputed to the PCA?

I notice that the upcoming 2016 General Assembly for the PCA has somewhere in the neighborhood of forty overtures (see also here and here) expressing some form of condemnation, confession and repentance for what I'm calling the "institutional sin of perceived past church racism." Was there a judicial finding? And apparently quite a number of presbyteries want in on this. And it's all the more amazing given that the PCA only came into existence in 1973! It's kind of like looking into one's ancestry and finding that your great, great, great uncle was a slave holder. Your family is horrified and thus feels compelled that they should personally take responsibility not for any present overt sin of slave holding but those of the ancestor which through the magic of DNA has been imputed to the family through the bloodline. 

I'm sure much if not all of this is born of good intentions. Yet, it causes one to ask what's going on and whether it is indeed a good thing. From 76 years ago, C. S. Lewis offered some thoughts on matters like this...
Young Christians especially last-year undergraduates and first-year curates are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England…. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done? 
If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. 
When we speak of England’s actions we mean the actions of the British Government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbour; for a Foreign Secretary or a Cabinet Minister is certainly a neighbour. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing but, first, of denouncing the conduct of others. If it were clear to the young that this is what he is doing, no doubt he would remember the law of charity. Unfortunately the very terms in which national repentance is recommended to him conceal its true nature. By a dangerous figure of speech, he calls the Government not ‘they’ but ‘we’. And since, as penitents, we are not encouraged to be charitable to our own sins, nor to give ourselves the benefit of any doubt, a Government which is called ‘we’ is ipso facto placed beyond the sphere of charity or even of justice. You can say anything you please about it. You can indulge in the popular vice of detraction without restraint, and yet feel all the time that you are practising contrition. A group of such young penitents will say, ‘Let us repent our national sins’; what they mean is, ‘Let us attribute to our neighbour (even our Christian neighbour) in the Cabinet. whenever we disagree with him, every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.’ 

C.S. “Jack” Lewis, “Dangers of National Repentance,” The Guardian, 15 March 1940!Cited from God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 189.

(HT from a PCA Christian]

Friday, May 20, 2016

"You may speak peace to yourselves, but yet there is no peace..."

"When a poor soul is somewhat awakened . . . then the poor creature, being born under a covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of works again. And as Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden, and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness, so the poor sinner, when awakened, flies to his duties and to his performances, to hide himself from God, and goes to patch up a righteousness of his own. Says he, “I will be mighty good now—I will reform—I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me.” But... our best duties are as so many splendid sins... There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. It is the last idol taken out of the heart... Can you say, “Lord, thou mayst justly damn me for the best duties that I ever did perform?”... If you are not thus brought out of self, you may speak peace to yourselves, but yet there is no peace... You must lay hold by faith of the all-sufficient righteousness of Jesus Christ, and then you shall have peace."
George Whitefield

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Difference Between the Law and Gospel

"The difference between the law and gospel does not at all consist in this, that the one requires perfect doing; the other, only sincere doing; but in this, that the one requires doing; the other, not doing, but believing for life and salvation. Their terms are different, not only in degree, but in their whole nature. The apostle Paul opposes the believing required in the gospel to all doing for life, as the condition proper to the law (Gal. 3:12). The law is not of faith, but the man that does them shall live in them (Rom. 10:5). To him that does not work, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Rom. 4:5). If we seek salvation by ever so easy and mild a condition of works [i.e. sincere though imperfect works], we do in this way bring ourselves under the terms of the law, and become debtors to fulfill the whole law in perfection, though we intended to engage ourselves only to fulfill it in part (Gal. 5:3), for the law is a complete declaration of the only terms by which God will judge all that are not brought to despair of procuring salvation by any of their own works, and to receive it as a gift freely given to them by the grace of God in Christ. So that all that seek salvation, right or wrong, knowingly or ignorantly, by any works, less or more, whether invented by their own superstition, or commanded by God in the Old or New Testament, shall at last stand or fall according to these terms."
Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

Monday, May 2, 2016

Walther to Fonville to Miller - Good fruit comes only from Good Seed...

Thanks to John Fonville for relaying (on Facebook) this great quote from C.F.W. Walther, who
Tinker to Evers to Chance
points us to the good seed of the gospel, Jesus Christ:

"Concern about pure life and not pure doctrine is like a farmer concerned about good fruits but paying no attention to good seed!" - C.F.W. Walther
Walther nails the problem in this one sentence by defining the opposite approaches to battling sin and living unto holiness! In a word, where our concerns are, there will be our focus. 

Some thoughts...
I'm a sinner (unsurpisingly no one objects to his confession). To focus on the task of holy doing, i.e. eradicating impurity in my life (an impossibility for a saved sinner even with the help of grace) in order to live purely is a sure road to either failure and hopelessness or self-righteousness. Why? Because it's based on a wrong belief that in this life I can and should, even with God's help, be able to move beyond the struggle with sin (1 John 1:8). It's not going to happen. To understand that the lack of a 'pure life' in my thoughts, words, and deeds, though self-deflating, is well beyond my earnest efforts to rectify is to acquire a necessary perspective. One that is a reorientation away from focusing on the question, "Why can't I stop temptation and sin in my life?", to one more basic and relevant, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (impurities, big and small, do keep popping up!) - Romans 7:24. In other words, the problem of sin is such that until death it will be with us.  Our fallen human effort cannot eradicate it. This humbling desparate epiphany born of the Holy Spirit, that of ourselves we are not master over sin, is that which God uses to divert our gaze, again and again, from efforts at establishing a righteousness of our own, toward Jesus our Righteous sin-bearer, the only remedy given of God for the impure, who by his blood cleanses believers of the very sins that trouble their consciences (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:14). 

So then, is that all there is? Are we to be resigned with living as "in-time-sinners" because we're now forgiven - God accepts me as I am? Yes and No. Forgiveness of sins is at the heart of justification. Saved sinners never graduate from needing the assurance of acceptance with God that comes from that wonderful doctrine of comfort for troubled souls. So as sinners, we should indeed joyfully resign ourselves to that truth. Yet there is more. To know God's "in-time forgiveness" poured out in Christ for our "in-time sins" is then to be led to real "in-time-thankfulness" and a renewed "in-time-desire" to turn from sin to obedience and follow our Lord.  Humbled with refreshed faith, we can then choose the doing-fruit part, not to gain the approval we need, but for that and more which Christ has already done and secured for us. This sanctifying change of heart and direction is not of us, but is wrought by the Holy Spirit as a sinner/saint's faith looks to Christ offered in the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin and points us to the forgiveness, cleansing, and righteousness found only in Christ. (John 15:26, 16:8). The 'good seed' Walther refers to and to which we are to focus our attention is Jesus Christ in whom God has accomplished redemption for the ungodly and impure (Romans 4:5), sinners like us. Daily acknowledging our in-time sins and lack of purity with eyes fixed on Christ, God as promised faithfully cleanses troubled and guilty consciences from dead works by the blood of Jesus. He renews a right spirit within us that we might freely choose to walk in a manner worthy of the Savior in this ever-present, ongoing battle. Good fruit comes only by grace through faith in the Good Seed set forth in the gospel (Epesians 2:8-10). How great a salvation - Praise the Lord.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Struggles With Sin No Cause for Distrust of the Savior; Rather a Sign of the Spirit's Work...

Indeed, so long as sin remaineth in the believer, he must, in order to grow in grace, have distress and comfort, either alternately, or both together; to the end that, when he is sorrowful, he may not be cast down too low, and that, when he is rejoicing, he may not be lifted up too high. 
Are Christ and God in Christ, together with his grace, mercy, and truth, as hath been said above, the primary grounds of a saints comfort and hope? I hence infer that, his manifold infirmities and deficiencies, in his exercise of grace and performance of duty, should at no time discourage him. Believer, thy remaining darkness, deadness, carnality, weakness, and indisposition of spirit for holy exercises, should indeed occasion in thy soul, much godly sorrow and self-loathing; but, they should never discourage thee in thy holy endeavours, nor cause thee to despond. They should not make thee distrust thy faithful Redeemer, or doubt of any promised blessing; because thy title to grace and glory, is not founded on thy own performances, but on the consummate righteousness of the Lord Jesus; and thy exercise of hope, should be suitable to the grounds of thy hope. Be not disquieted, then, though thou feelest the corruption of thy nature, strong and active; while thou findest, at the same time, thy renewed nature, striving in opposition to it, and mourning under a painful sense of it. Unbelieving discouragement, arising from a sense either of sins or of wants, of desertions or of temptations, will weaken thy hands, and indispose thy heart for spiritual obedience. It was when Peter began to fear, that he began to sink in the water.
Doth the Lord Jesus, usually afford inward and sensible comfort to his children, about the time of their first conversion? They may see in this, an illustrious display of his manifold wisdom, as well as of his redeeming love to them. One thing that he designs by this, is, that they may perceive as early as possible, the inexpressible advantages, that they have gained by the gracious change, which his Holy Spirit hath produced in them; and thereby be encouraged, as well as inclined, so to run the race that is set before them, as to attain the prize of inexpressible and endless joy, in his immediate presence. For, having marrow and fatness in their Father's house, instead of husks in a far country; spiritual and substantial delights, instead of pleasures that are carnal and empty; they cannot, even at the beginning of their Christian course, but acknowledge themselves already unspeakable gainers.
John Colquhoun. A Treatise on Spiritual Comfort