Calvin on the Purpose of the Law

When, under the guidance of the Law, we have advanced thus far, we must, under the same guidance, proceed to descend into ourselves. In this way, we at length arrive at two results: First, contrasting our conduct with the righteousness of the Law, we see how very far it is from being in accordance with the will of God, and, therefore, how unworthy we are of holding our place among his creatures, far less of being accounted his sons; and, secondly, taking a survey of our powers, we see that they are not only unequal to fulfill the Law, but are altogether null. The necessary consequence must be, to produce distrust of our own ability, and also anxiety and trepidation of mind. Conscience cannot feel the burden of its guilt, without forthwith turning to the judgment of God, while the view of this judgment cannot fail to excite a dread of death. In like manner, the proofs of our utter powerlessness must instantly beget despair of our own strength. Both feelings are productive of humility and abasement, and hence the sinner, terrified at the prospect of eternal death (which he sees justly impending over him for his iniquities), turns to the mercy of God as the only haven of safety. Feeling his utter inability to pay what he owes to the Law, and thus despairing of himself, he rethinks him of applying and looking to some other quarter for help.


– From The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2 – Chapter 8.

Divisions Among You

“Those who think that unsound ministers ought never to be exposed and held up to notice, and men ought never to be warned against them, would do well to study this passage. No class of character throughout our Lord’s ministry seems to call forth such severe denunciation as that of false pastors. The reason is obvious. Other men ruin themselves alone: false pastors ruin their flocks as well as themselves. To flatter all ordained men, and say they never should be called unsound and dangerous guides, is the surest way to injure the Church and offend Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, on John Chapter 10

HT: Crosstalk Blog

This quote is a sound refutation of the idea that criticizing professing ministers only brings division and dishonor to the body of Christ.  Yes, sometimes pointing out the wolf among the sheep will create a dividing line where factions will take sides, but Scripture addresses this issue in 1 Cor 11:18-19:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. Continue reading

AW Pink on Erroneous Evangelism

The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist.   He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin.  And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.” – Originally from article Saving Faith: Part 1 Signs of the Times. Cited in the DVD Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism

I believe this quote from Pink is essential in developing a biblical approach to evangelism.  It’s all too easy to gain ‘converts’ by scaring the ‘hell’ right out of people by conjuring horrific imagery of an eternal state of suffering and misery. Who in their right mind would choose this fate over one of eternal bliss?  Heaven and hell are not the primary issues we are faced with everyday; righteousness and wickedness are.    The bottom line is that we don’t choose heaven and hell.  We choose between righteousness and unrighteousness.  Heaven and hell are simply the eternal consequence of our choices between the two. Continue reading

In the Valley

Here is a great quote from an unknown source.  If anyone can identify the author for me I would greatly appreciate it.  Whoever penned this piece of divine wisdom should be given due credit.

We pray for courage in times of tribulation – then question our Commander’s battle plan. We pray to be made perfect – then run at the first sight of the refining fire. We pray for brokenness – then flee the Potter’s hands. All too often our Savior’s merciful act of sanctification is met by our doubt when we discover that His path may lead us down the valley of the shadow of death. How foolish it is for us to demand peaceful green pastures, as if we expect to be carried to Heaven’s skies on “flowery beds of ease.” We erroneously see these valleys as periods of abandonment, when they are actually demonstrations of Christ’s perfect love. Our Father gives only good gifts to his children: this is His character, and as such is not subject to change. The man that proclaims his gratitude only when “the Lord giveth” has much to learn. When “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”, man often forgets gratitude and screams injustice has befallen him. He searches for any visible exit, then sprints toward escape. But God did not design these tests so man could cheat. He designed these tests so man could be made more like the image of His Son. When we finally see God as truly good and merciful beyond compare, we will not flee. We will instead fall face down in the valley before the Lord of perfect love and worship His majestic sovereignty. This humble submission is where peace and joy can be experienced; the misery comes when we lean on our own understanding and attempt to climb out of the valley. My Commander will give me His strength, and I will stay in the valley He has ordained. When I pray to be made perfect by God’s grace, I will welcome His refining fire. When I pray for brokenness, I will rest in the Potter’s outstretched hands. Only then will I be able to repeat, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Unknown.

Stay on Target…

Distinguished Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson has some sound counsel for pastors and teachers who preach from the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  This is a particularly relevant quote for the season I am currently in right now.  Plus, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use a Star Wars quote as a post title…

Too often preaching on the Gospels takes what I whimsically think of as the “Find Waldo Approach.” The underlying question in the sermon is “Where are you to be found in this story?” (are you Martha or Mary, James and John, Peter, the grateful leper . . .?). The question “Where, Who and What is Jesus in this story? Tends to be marginalized. The truth is it is far easier to preach about Mary, Martha, James, John, or Peter than it is about Christ. It is far easier to preach even about the darkness of sin and the human heart than to preach Christ. Plus my bookshelves are groaning with literature on Mary, Martha . . . the good life, the family life, the Spirit-filled life, the parenting life, the damaged self life . . . but most of us have only a few inches of shelf space on the person and work of Christ himself. Am I absolutely at my best when talking about him, or about us?

Disdaining Shock and Awe from the Pulpit

American Christendom has birthed a disturbing new trend with today’s wave of ultra-hip pastors who unabashedly spew foul language from the pulpit and openly discuss various sexual acts in lurid detail with their congregations.   Allow me to share a nugget of wisdom from Charles Spurgeon that all these shepherds of God’s sheep should heed.

We need the divine influence to keep us back from saying many things which, if they actually left our tongue, would mar our message.  Those of us who are endowed with the dangerous gift of humor have need, sometimes, to stop and take the word out of our mouth and look at it, and see whether it is quite to edification; and those whose previous lives have borne them amoung the coarse and the rough had need watch with lynx eyes against indelicacy.  Brethren, far be it from us to utter a syllable which would suggest an impure thought, or raise a questionable memory.  We need the Spirit of God to put bit and bridle upon us to keep us from saying that which would take the minds of our hearers away from Christ and eternal realities, and set them thinking upon the groveling things of earth.  – Taken from Lectures to my Students: Chapter 14 -The Holy Spirit in Connection with our Ministry.

The Pressing Need of Today’s Church

“It is the studied judgment of this writer, and he is by no means alone therein, that doctrinal preaching is the most pressing need of the churches today”. “Doctrinal preaching is designed to enlighten the understanding, to instruct the mind, to inform the judgment. It is that which supplies motives to gratitude and furnishes incentives to good works”. “Doctrinal Christianity is both the ground and the motive of practical Christianity, for it is principle and not emotion or impulse which is the dynamic of the spiritual life”. “There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God’s design in all that He has revealed to us is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters”. – AW Pink