Sola gratia, by grace alone, Sola fide, by faith alone , Sola scriptura, by Scripture alone, Solus Christus, Christ alone , Soli Deo gloria, Glory to God alone

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Martin Luther's 95 Theses

"Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in
Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

20. Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

34. For these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

49. Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.

52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.

53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.

55. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.

57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.

61. For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the
remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory
and grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be
last. Matthew 20:16.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.

67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.

68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.

71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.

72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.

73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.

74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.

75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.

76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.

77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. 1 Corinthians 12:28.

79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.

82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.

83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?”

85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”

88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”

89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! Jeremiah 6:14

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace. Acts 14:22"

With this Martin Luther started the protestant reformation. He did not mean to start a revolt against Rome. He wanted to stop the selling of indulgences.

Related Tags: , ,

Continue reading!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"The arraignment of error" by Samuel Bolton

"Divine truth advances God; it sets up God and lays man low; it raises God upon the ruins of self and sin; it makes God great and man little, God all and man nothing; it empties man of himself and makes him seek his fullness in God. That which does this has good evidence that it is truth of God.

Error may advance the creature; it may advance a man's self, but it does not advance God. Nay, error may seek God in the creature, but cannot seek itself in God; it may give the creature tht which is God's but not give to God that which is the creature's; it may take from God to give to the creature, but does not take from the creature to give to God. And error may lessen itself to make the creature greater, but it cannot make itself nothing to make God great. You can see this in Colossians 2:18. Some, in a voluntary humility, worship angels. Here man lessens himself to make a creature great, but he does not make himself nothing to make God great. Here he takes from himself and from God to give to a creature, but he does not take from the creature or from himsself to give unto God. This is genuine property of truth: it advances God; it makes God all and itself nothing; it empties itself of its truth that does not draw the heart up to God, and does not bring the soul to live in Him as its upmost happiness. And that which does so must make all things little and God gret, and be content to lose itself in God and for God that it may find itself in God." p. 268-269

Today a lot of people want to raise man up at the expense of lowering God. They want God to fit in the image they want Him to fit. They do not realize this is idolatry. God is a jealous God and will not stand for this.

(Exodus 34:14) For you shall worship no other god. For Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God;

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Monday, August 28, 2006

"The Fountain of Life" by John Flavel

This is from the second sermon in the series.

"Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; — Proverbs 8:30

These words are a part of that excellent commendation of wisdom, by which in this book Solomon intends two things; first, Grace or holiness, Proverbs 4:7. “ Wisdom is the principal thing.” Secondly, Jesus Christ, the fountain of that grace: and look, as the former is renowned for its excellency, Job 28:14, 15, so the latter, in this context, wherein the Spirit of God describes the most blessed state of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the Father, from those eternal delights he had with his Father, before his
assumption of our nature: “Then was I by him,” etc. that long Evum was wholly swallowed up, and spent in unspeakable delights and pleasures. Which delights were twofold,

(1.) The Father and Son delighted one in another (from which delights the Spirit is not here excluded) without communicating that their joy to any other, for no creature did then exist save in the mind of God, verse 30.

(2.) They delighted in the salvation of men, in the prospect of that work, though not yet extant, verse 31. My present business lies in the former, viz. the mutual delights of the Father and Son, one with and in another; the account whereof we have in the text; wherein consider,

1. The glorious condition of the non-incarnated Son of God, described by the person with whom his fellowship was, “Then was I by him,” or with him; so with him as never was any, in his very bosom, John 1:18, the only begotten Son was in the bosom of the Father, an expression of the greatest dearness and intimacy in the world; as if he should say, wrapt up in the very soul of his Father, embosomed in God."

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"The Fountain of Life" by John Flavel

The sufficiency of the doctrine of Christ, to make men wise unto salvation. Paul desired to know nothing else; and, indeed, nothing else is of absolute necessity to be known. A little of this knowledge, if saving and effectual upon thy heart, will do thy soul more service, than all the vain speculation and profound parts that others so much glory in. Poor Christian, be not dejected, because thou sees thyself out-stript and excelled by so many in other parts of knowledge; if thou know Jesus Christ, thou knowest enough to comfort and save thy soul. Many learned philosophers are now in hell, and many illiterate Christians in heaven.

If there be such excellency in the knowledge of Christ, let it humble all, both saints and sinners, that we have no more of this clear and effectual knowledge in us, notwithstanding the excellent advantages we have had for it. Sinners, concerning you I may sigh and say with the apostle, 1 Corinthians 15:34. “Some have not the knowledge of Christ, I speak this to your shame”. This, O this is the condemnation. And even for you that are enlightened in this knowledge, how little do you know of Jesus Christ, in comparison of what you might have known of him? What a shame is it,
that you should need to be taught the very first truths, “when for the time you might have been teachers of others?” Hebrews 5:12, 13, 14.

“That your ministers cannot speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto
carnal, even as unto babes in Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2.

O how much time is spent in other studies, in vain discourses, frivolous
pamphlets, worldly employments? How little is the search and study of
Jesus Christ."

Related Tags: , ,

Continue reading!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"The Fountain of Life" by John Flavel


ALL other knowledge, how much soever it be magnified in the world, is, and ought to be esteemed but dross, in comparison of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ,
Philippians 3:8. “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,”
Colossians 2:3.

FIRST, Let it be considered absolutely, and then these lovely properties with which it is naturally clothed, will render it superior to all other sciences and studies.

The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the very marrow and kernel of all the scriptures; the scope and center of all divine revelations: both Testaments meet in Christ. The ceremonial law is full of Christ, and all the gospel is full of Christ: the blessed lines of both Testaments meet in him; and how they both harmonise, and sweetly concentre in Jesus Christ, is the chief scope of that excellent epistle to the Hebrews, to discover; for we may call that epistle the sweet harmony of both Testaments. This argues the unspeakable excellency of this doctrine, the knowledge whereof must needs therefore be a key to unlock the greatest part of the sacred scriptures. For it is in the understanding of scripture, much as it is in the knowledge men have in logic and philosophy: if a scholar once come to understand the bottom-principle, upon which, as upon its hinge, the controversy turns the true
knowledge of that principle shall carry him through the whole controversy, and furnish him with a solution to every argument. Even so the right knowledge of Jesus Christ, like a clue, leads you through the whole labyrinth of the scriptures.

The knowledge of Jesus Christ is a fundamental knowledge; and foundations are most useful, though least seen. The knowledge of Christ is fundamental to all graces, duties, comforts, and happiness. (1.) It is fundamental to all graces; they all begin in knowledge; Colossians 3:10. “The new man is renewed in knowledge.”

As the old, so the new creation begins in light; the opening of the eyes is the first work of the Spirit; and as the beginnings of grace, so all the after-improvements thereof depend upon this increasing knowledge, 2 Peter 3:18.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”

See how these two, grace and knowledge, keep equal pace in the soul of a Christian in what degree the one increases, the other increases answerable.

The knowledge of Christ is fundamental to all duties; the duties, as well as the graces of all Christians, are all founded in the knowledge of Christ, Must a Christian believe?"

Related Tags: , , , , , , ,

Continue reading!

"Institutes of the Christian Religion" by John Calvin

"For if we reflect how prone the human mind is to lapse into forgetfulness of God, how readily inclined to every kind of error, how bent every now and then on devising new and fictitious religions, it will be easy to understand how necessary it was to make such a depository of doctrine as would secure it from either perishing by the neglect, vanishing away amid the errors, or being corrupted by the presumptuous audacity of men. It being thus manifest that God, foreseeing the inefficiency of his image imprinted on the fair form of the universe, has given the assistance of his
Word to all whom he has ever been pleased to instruct effectually, we, too, must pursue this straight path, if we aspire in earnest to a genuine contemplation of God; — we must go, I say, to the Word, where the character of God, drawn from his works is described accurately and to the life; these works being estimated, not by our depraved judgment, but by the standard of eternal truth. If, as I lately said, we turn aside from it, how great soever the speed with which we move, we shall never reach the goal, because we are off the course. We should consider that the brightness of the Divine countenance, which even an apostle declares to be inaccessible,
(1 Timothy 6:16,) is a kind of labyrinth, — a labyrinth to us inextricable, if the Word do not serve us as a thread to guide our path; and that it is better to limp in the way, than run with the greatest swiftness out of it. Hence the Psalmist, after repeatedly declaring (Psalm 93, 96, 97, 99, etc.) that superstition should be banished from the world in order that pure religion may flourish, introduces God as reigning; meaning by the term, not
the power which he possesses and which he exerts in the government of universal nature, but the doctrine by which he maintains his due supremacy: because error never can be eradicated from the heart of man until the true knowledge of God has been implanted in it."

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Friday, August 25, 2006

"The acceptable sacrifice" by John Bunyan

"A broken heart is the handiwork of God; a heart of his own preparing, for his own service. It is a sacrifice of his own providing, of his providing for himself; as Abraham said in another case, “God will provide himself a lamb.” Hence it is said, “The preparation of the heart of man,” etc., “is from the Lord.” And again, “God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me.”

The heart, as it is by nature hard, stupid and impenetrable, so it remains, and so will remain, until God, as was said, bruise it with his hammer and melt it with his fire. The stony nature of it is therefore said to be taken away of God. “I will
take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you,” saith he, “a
heart of flesh.” ‘I will take away the stony heart, or the hardness of your heart, and I will give you a heart of flesh;’ that is, ‘I will make your heart sensible, soft, yielding, governable, and penitent.’ Sometimes he bids men to rend their hearts, not because they can, but to convince them rather, that though it must be so, they cannot do it. So he bids them make themselves a new heart, and a new spirit, for the same purpose also. For if God doth not rend it, it remains unrent; if God makes it not new, it abides an old one still. This is that that is meant, by his bending men for himself, and his working in them that which is pleasing in his sight.
Zechariah 9:13.

The heart, (soul, or spirit,) as in itself, as it came from God’s fingers, is a precious thing, a thing in God’s account worth more than all the world. This heart, (soul or spirit,) sin has hardened, the devil has bewitched, the world has deceived. This heart, thus beguiled, God coveteth and desireth: “My son,” saith he, “give me thy heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26.

This man cannot do this thing: for his heart has the mastery of him, and will not but carry him after all manner of vanity. What now must be done? Why, God must take the heart, by storm, by power, and bring it to compliance with the word; but the heart of itself will not; it is deluded, carried away to another than God. Wherefore God now betakes him to his sword, and brings down the heart with labor; opens it, and drives out the strong man armed that did keep it; wounds it; and makes it smart for its
rebellion, that it may cry; so he rectifies it for himself. “He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” Job 5:18. Thus having wrought it for himself, it becomes his habitation, his dwelling-place: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Ephesians 3."

Man needs for God to give us a new heart. With our sinful nature we do not desire to do what God wants us to do.

Related Tags: , ,

Continue reading!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"The existence and attributes of God" by Stephen Charnock

"No desire for the remembrance of him. How delightful are other things in our minds! How burdensome the memorials of God, from which we have our being! With what pleasure do we contemplate the nature of creatures, even of flies and toads, while our minds tire in the search of him, who hath bestowed upon us our knowing and meditating faculties! Though God shows himself to us in every creature, in the meanest weed as well as the highest heavens, and is more apparent in them to our reasons than themselves can be to our sense; yet though we see them, we will not behold God in them: we will view them to please our sense, to improve our reason in their natural perfections; but pass by the consideration of God's perfections so visibly beaming from them. Thus we play the beasts and atheists in the very exercise of reason, and neglect our Creator to gratify our sense, as though the pleasure of that were more desirable than the knowledge of God. The desire of our souls is not towards his name and the rembrance of him, when we set not ourselves in a posture to feast our souls with deep and serious meditations of him; have a thought of him, only by the bye and away, as if we were afraid of too intimate acquaintance with him. Are not the thoughts of God rather our invaders than our guests; seldom invited to reside and take up our homes in our hearts? Have we not, when they have broke in upon us, bid them depart from us, and warned them to come no more upon our ground; sent them packing as soon as we could, and were glad when they were gone? And when they have departed, have we not often been afraid they should return again upon us, and therefore looked about for other inmates, things, not good, or if good, infinitely below God, to possess the room of our hearts before any thoughts of him should appear again? Have we not often been glad of excuses to shake off present thoughts of him, ane when we have wanted real ones, found our pretences to keep God and our hearts at a distance? Is not this a part of atheism, to be so unwilling to employ our faculties about the giver of them, to refuse to exercise them in a way of grateful remembrance of him; as though God that truly gave them had no right to them, and he that thinks on us every day in a way of providence, were not worthy to be thought on by us in a way of special rembrance? Do not the best, that love the remembrance of him, and abhor this natural averseness, find that when they would think of God, many things tempt them and turn them to think eleswhere? Do they not find their apprehensions too feeble, their motions too dull, and their impressions too slight? This natural atheism is spread over human nature." p. 159-160

I think Charnock would be surprised at how atheism has grown since his days. A lot of the big thinkers would be considered atheist. Man does not want to think about God. For to do so we show how far we have gone from Him.

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Institutes of the Christian Religion" by John Calvin

"But God, in vindicating his own right, first proclaims that he is a jealous God, and will be a stern avenger if he is confounded with any false god; and thereafter defines what due worship is, in order that the human race may be kept in obedience. Both of these he embraces in his Law when he first binds the faithful in allegiance to him as their only Lawgiver, and then prescribes a rule for worshipping him in accordance with his will. The Law, with its manifold uses and objects, I will consider in its own place; at present I only advert to this one, that it is designed as a bridle to curb men, and prevent them from turning aside to spurious worship. But it is necessary to attend to the observation with which I set out, viz., that unless everything peculiar to divinity is confined to God alone, he is robbed of his honour, and his worship is violated.

It may be proper here more particularly to attend to the subtleties which superstition employs. In revolting to strange gods, it avoids the appearance of abandoning the Supreme God, or reducing him to the same rank with others. It gives him the highest place, but at the same time surrounds him with a tribe of minor deities, among whom it portions out his peculiar offices. In this way, though in a dissembling and crafty manner, the glory of the Godhead is dissected, and not allowed to remain entire. In the same way the people of old, both Jews and Gentiles, placed an immense crowd in subordination to the father and ruler of the gods, and gave them, according to their rank, to share with the supreme God in the government of heaven and earth. In the same way, too, for some ages past, departed saints have been exalted to partnership with God, to be worshipped, invoked, and lauded in his stead. And yet we do not even think that the majesty of God is obscured by this abomination, whereas it is in a great measure suppressed and extinguished - all that we retain being a frigid opinion of his supreme power. At the same time, being deluded by these entanglements, we go astray after divers gods."

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

"The Scriptures:: the only guide in matters of religion" by John Gill

"Nor are the traditions of men to be regarded; the Pharisees were very tenacious of the traditions of the elders, by which they transgressed the commandments of God, and made his word of no effect; and the apostle Paul, in his state of unregeneracy, was zealous of the same; but neither of them are to be imitated by us: it is right to observe the exhortation which the apostle gives, when a christian; (Colossians 2:8) beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Nor do the decrees of popes and councils demand our attention and regard; it matters not what such a pope has determined, or what canons such a council under his influence has made; what have we to do with the man of sin, that exalts himself above all that is called God; who sits in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he was God? we know what will be his fate, and that of his followers. (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 5, Revelation 20:30, Revelation 13:8, and Revelation 14:11.)

Nor are the examples of men, no not of the best of men, in all things to be copied after by us; we should indeed be followers of all good men as such, of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises; and especially of such, who are or have been spiritual guides and governors in the church; who have made the scriptures their study, and have labored in the word and doctrine; their faith we should follow, considering the end of their conversation; how that issues, and when it terminates in Christ, his person, truths and ordinances, the same to-day, yesterday and for ever:
(Hebrews 6:12, and 13:7)"

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Monday, August 21, 2006

"The Good Shepherd" by George Whitefield

"If you ask me why Christ’s people are called sheep, as God shall enable me, I will give you a short, and I hope it will be to you an answer of peace. Sheep, you know, generally love to be together; we say a flock of sheep, we do not say a herd of sheep; sheep are little creatures, and Christ’s people may be called sheep, because they are little in the eyes of the world, and they are yet less in their own eyes. O, some people think, if the great men were on our side, if we had king, lords, and commons on our side, I mean if they were all true believers, O if we had all the kings upon the earth on our side! Suppose you had: alas! alas! do you think the church would go on the better? Why, if it were fashionable to be a Methodist at court, if it were fashionable to be a Methodist abroad, they would go with
a Bible or a hymn-book, instead of a novel; but religion never thrives under
too much sun-shine. ‘Not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.’ Dr. Watts says, Here and there I see a king, and here and there a great man, in heaven, but their number is but small.

Sheep are looked upon to be the most harmless, quiet creatures that God hath made: O may God, of his infinite mercy, give us to know that we are his sheep, by our having this blessed temper infused into our hearts by the Holy Ghost. ‘Learn of me,’ saith our blessed Lord; what to do? To work miracles? No; ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.’ A very good man, now living, said once, if there be any particular temper I desire more than another, it is the grace of MEEKNESS, quietly to bear bad
treatment, to forget and to forgive: and at the same time that I am sensible I am injured, not to be overcome of evil, but to have grace given me to overcome evil with good. To the honor of Moses, it is declared, that he was the meekest man upon earth. Meekness is necessary for people in power; a man that is passionate is dangerous. Every governor should have a warm temper, but a man of an unrelenting, unforgiving temper, is no more fit for government than Phaethon to drive the chariot of the sun; he only sets the world on fire."

Related Tags: , ,

Continue reading!

"The Heavenly footman" by John Bunyan

"1. The saints of old, they being willing and resolved for heaven, what could stop them? Could fire and faggot, sword or halter, filthy dungeons, whips, bears, bulls, lions, cruel rackings, stoning, starving, nakedness, etc.? “And in all these things they were more than conquerors, through Him that loved them,” who had also made them “willing in the day of his power.”

2. See again, on the other side, the children of the devil, because they are not willing, how many shifts and starting-holes they will have: I have married a wife, I have a farm, I shall offend my landlord, I shall offend my master, I shall lose my trading, I shall lose my pride, my pleasures, I shall be mocked and scoffed; therefore I dare not come. I, saith another, will stay till I am older, till my children are out, till I am got a little aforehand in the world, till I have done this and that and the other business; but, alas! the thing is, they are not willing; for were they but soundly willing, these, and a thousand such as these, would hold them no faster than the cords held Samson when he broke them like burnt flax; I tell you the will is all: that is one of the chief things which turns the wheel either backwards or forwards; and God knoweth that full well, and so likewise doth the devil, and therefore they both endeavor very much to strengthen the will of their
servants. God, he is for making of his a willing people to serve him; and the devil, he doth what he can to possess the will and affection of those that are his with love to sin; and therefore when Christ comes close to the matter, indeed, saith he, “You will not come to me.” “How often would I have gathered you as a hen doth her chickens, but you would not!” The devil had possessed their wills, and so long he was sure enough of them. Oh therefore cry hard to God to inflame thy will for heaven and Christ — thy will, I say: if that be rightly set for heaven, thou wilt not be beat off with discouragements; and this was the reason that when Jacob wrestled with the angel, though he lost a limb as it were, and the hollow of his thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him, yet, saith he, “I will not” —mark, I will not — ”let thee go except thou bless me.” Get thy will tipped with the heavenly grace and resolution against all thy discouragements, and then thou goest full speed for leaven; but if thou falter in thy will and be not sound there, thou wilt run hobbling and halting all the way’ thou runnest, and ‘also to be sure thou wilt fall short at last. The Lord give thee a will and courage! Thus base I done with directing’ thee how to run to the kingdom; be sure thou keep in memory what I have said unto thee, lest thou lose thy way. But because I would have thee think of them, take all in short in this little bit of paper:
1. Get into the way.
2. Then study on it.
3. Then strip and lay aside everything that would hinder.
4. Beware of by-paths.
5. Do not gaze and stare too much about thee, but be sure to ponder
the path of thy feet.
6. Do not stop for any that call after thee, whether it be the world, the
flesh, or the devil, for all these will hinder thy journey if possible.
7. Be not daunted with any discouragements thou meet-est with as
thou goest.
8. Take heed of stumbling at the cross.
9. Cry hard to God for an enlightened heart and willing mind, and God
give thee a prosperous journey!"

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Friday, August 18, 2006

"All of Grace" by Charles H. Spurgeon

"In the first place, nobody else but God would ever have thought of justifying those who are guilty. They have lived in open rebellion; they have done evil with both hands; they have gone from bad to worse; they have turned back to sin even after they have smarted for it, and have therefore for a while been forced to leave it. They have broken the law, and trampled on the gospel. They have refused proclamations of mercy, and have persisted in ungodliness. How can they be forgiven and justified? Their fellowmen, despairing of them, say, “They are hopeless cases.” Even Christians look upon them with sorrow rather than with hope. But not so their God. He, in the splendor of his electing grace having chosen some of them before the foundation of the world, will not rest till He has justified them, and made them to be accepted in the Beloved. Is it not written, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified”? Thus you see there are some whom the Lord resolves to justify: why should not you and I be of the number?

None but God would ever have thought of justifying me. I am a wonder to myself. I doubt not that grace is equally seen in others. Look at Saul of Tarsus, who foamed at the mouth, against God’s servants. Like a hungry wolf, he worried the lambs and the sheep right and left; and yet God struck him down on the road to Damascus, and changed his heart, and so fully justified him that ere long, this man became the greatest preacher of justification by faith that ever lived. He must often have marveled that he was justified by faith in Christ Jesus; for he was once a determined stickler for salvation by the works of the law. None but God would have ever thought of justifying such a man as Saul the persecutor; but the Lord God is glorious in grace.

But, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, none but God could have done it. It is quite impossible for any person to forgive offenses which have not been committed against himself. A person has greatly injured you; you can forgive him, and I hope you will; but no third person can forgive him apart from you. If the wrong is done to you, the pardon must come from you. If we have sinned against God, it is in God’s power to forgive; for the sin is against Himself. That is why David says, in the fifty-first Psalm: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight”; for then God, against whom the offense is committed, can put the offense away. That which we owe to God, our great Creator can remit, if so it pleases Him; and if He remits it, it is remitted. None but the great God, against whom we have committed the sin, can blot out that sin; let us, therefore, see that we go to Him and seek mercy at His hands. Do not let us be led aside by those who would have us confess to them; they have no warrant in the Word of God for their pretensions. But even if they were ordained to pronounce absolution in God’s name, it must still be better to go ourselves to the great Lord through Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and seek and find pardon at His hand; since we are sure that this is the right way. Proxy religion involves too great a risk: you had better see to your soul’s matters yourself, and leave them in no man’s hands."

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Friday, August 11, 2006

C.H. Spurgeon

"Man is utterly and entirely averse to everything that is good and right. “The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8, 7). Turn you all Scripture through, and you will find continually the will of man described as being contrary to the things of God. What said Christ in that text so often quoted by the Arminian to disprove the very doctrine which it clearly states? What did Christ say to those who imagined that men would come without Divine influence? He said, first, “No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him”; but He said something more strong-“Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.” Herein lies the deadly mischief: not only that he is powerless to do good, but that he is powerful enough to do that which is wrong, and that his will is
desperately set against everything that is right. Men will not come; you cannot force them to by all your invitations. Until the Spirit draw them, come they neither will, nor can."

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"The Attributes of God" by A. W. Pink

"“O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy
endureth forever” (Psalm 136:1).

For this perfection of the Divine character God is greatly to be praised. Three times over in as many verses does the Psalmist here call upon the saints to give thanks unto the Lord for this adorable attribute. And surely this is the least that can be asked for from those who have been such bounteous gainers by it. When we contemplate the characteristics of this Divine excellency, we cannot do otherwise than bless God for it. His mercy is “great” (1 Kings 3:6), “plenteous” (Psalm 86:5), “tender” (Luke 1:78), “abundant” (1 Peter 1:3); it is “from everlasting to
everlasting upon them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:17). Well may we say with the Psalmist, “I will sing aloud of Thy mercy” (Psalm 59:16).

Wherein differs the “mercy of God from His grace”? The mercy of God has
its spring in the Divine goodness. The first issue of God’s goodness is His
benignity or bounty, by which He gives liberally to His creatures as
creatures; thus has He given being and life to all things. The second issue
of God’s goodness is His mercy, which denotes the ready inclination of
God to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. Thus, “mercy” presupposes
Though it may not be easy at the first consideration to perceive a real difference between the grace and the mercy of God, it helps us thereto if we carefully ponder His dealings with the unfallen angels. He has never exercised mercy toward them, for they have never stood in any need thereof, not having sinned or come beneath the effects of the curse. Yet, they certainly are the objects of God’s free and sovereign grace. First, because of His election of them from out of the whole angelic race
(1 Timothy 5:21). Second, and in consequence of their election, because of His preservation of them from apostasy, when Satan rebelled and dragged down with him one-third of the celestial hosts (Revelation 12:4)."

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Man’s Total Depravity" by A. W. Pink

"The depravity of mankind makes evident the infinite patience of God. “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power” (Nahum 1:3). How significant is the conjunction of those divine perfections! It is not because God is indifferent to men’s wickedness that He does not speedily take vengeance on them; still less because He lacks the ability to do so God is not at the command of His passions as men are. He can restrain His anger when under great and just provocation to exercise it. His power over Himself is the cause of His slowness to execute wrath; nevertheless, His might to punish is as great as His patience to spare. What fearful provocations, insults and injuries God meets with daily from mankind. Charnock well states:
How many millions of practical atheists breathe every day in God’s air and live upon His bounty, who deserve to be inhabitants of hell rather than possessors of earth! An infinite holiness is opposed, and infinite justice provoked, yet an infinite patience forbears the punishment, and infinite goodness relieves our wants.

What a wonder it is that God has protracted human history until now, and that He still “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” Patience is as truly a divine attribute as are holiness, wisdom and faithfulness.

What a mercy that God does not strike dead those who brazenly defy Him and take His holy name in vain! Why does He not suddenly cut off every blatant infidel, as He did Ananias and Sapphira? Why does He not cause the earth to open her mouth and swallow the persecutors of His people, as He did when Dathan and Abiram rebelled against Moses and Aaron? ‘Why does He tolerate the countless abominations in Christendom which are being perpetrated under the holy name of Christ? Only one answer is
possible: Because He endures “with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Romans 9:22)."

What Pink wrote is good. We should be thankful God has mercy on us when we sin. God is more patient with us than we would be towards others.

Related Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Saved by Grace" by John Bunyan

This question supposeth that there is such a thing as damnation due to man for sin; for to save supposeth the person to be saved to be at present in a sad condition; saving, to him that is not lost, signifies nothing, neither is it anything in itself. “To save, to redeem, to deliver,” are in the general terms equivalent, and they do all of them suppose us to be in a state of thraldom and misery; therefore this word “saved,” in the sense that the apostle here doth use it, is a word of great worth, forasmuch as the miseries from which we are saved is the misery of all most dreadful.

The miseries from which they that shall be saved shall by their salvation be delivered, are dreadful; they are no less than sin, the curse of God, and flames of hell for ever. What more abominable than sin? What more insupportable than the dreadful wrath of an angry God? And what more fearful than the bottomless pit of hell? I say, what more fearful than to be tormented there for ever with the devil and his angels? Now, to “save,” according to my text, is to deliver the sinner from these, with all things else that attend them. And although sinners may think that it is no hard matter to answer this question, yet I must tell you there is no man, that can feelingly know what it is to be saved, that knoweth not experimentally
something of the dread of these three things, as is evident, because all others do even by their practice count it a thing of no great concern, when yet it is of all other of the highest concern among men; “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

But, I say, if this word “saved” concludeth our deliverance from sin, how can he tell what it is to be saved that hath not in his conscience groaned under the burden of sin? yea, it is impossible else that he should ever cry out with all his heart, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” — that is, do to be saved (Acts 2:37). The man that hath no sores or aches cannot know the virtue of the salve; I mean, not know it from his own experience, and therefore cannot prize, nor have that esteem of it, as he that hath
received cure thereby. Clap a plaster to a well place, and that maketh not its virtue to appear; neither can he to whose flesh it is so applied, by that application understand its worth. Sinners, you, I mean, that are not wounded with guilt, and oppressed with the burden of sin, you cannot —I will say it again — you cannot know, in this senseless condition of yours, what it is to be saved."

This is a book by Bunyan which should be read by more people.

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Man’s Total Depravity" by A. W. Pink

"The doctrine of total depravity is a very HUMBLING one. It is not that man leans to one side and needs propping up, nor that he is merely ignorant and requires instructing, nor that he is run down and calls for a tonic; but rather that he is undone, lost, spiritually dead. Consequently, he is "without strength," thoroughly incapable of bettering himself; he is exposed to the wrath of God, and unable to perform a single work which can find acceptance with Him. Almost every page of the Bible bears witness to this truth. The whole scheme of redemption takes it for granted. The plan of salvation taught in the Scriptures could have no place on any other supposition. The impossibility of any man's gaining the approbation of God by works of his own appears plainly in the case of the rich young ruler who came to Christ. Judged by human standards, he was a model of virtue and religious attainments. Yet, like all others who trust in self-efforts, he was ignorant of the spirituality and strictness of God's law; when Christ put him to the test his fair expectations were blown to the winds and "he went away sorrowful" (Matthew 19:22).

It is therefore a most UNPALATABLE doctrine. It cannot be otherwise, for the unregenerate love to hear of the greatness, the dignity, the nobility of man. The natural man thinks highly of himself and appreciates only that which is flattering. Nothing pleases him more than to listen to that which extols human nature and lauds the state of mankind, even though it be in terms which not only repudiate the teaching of God's Word but are flatly contradicted by common observation and universal experience. And there are many who pander to him by their lavish praises of the excellency of civilization and the steady progress of the race. Hence, to have the lie given to the popular theory of evolution is highly displeasing to its deluded
votaries. Nevertheless, the duty of God's servants is to stain the pride of all that man glories in, to strip him of his stolen plumes, to lay him low in the dust before God. However repugnant such teaching is, God's emissary must faithfully discharge his duty “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear" (Ezekiel 3:11)."

What Pink wrote on the doctrine of total depravity is still true today. There are many who do not like this teaching.

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Continue reading!

"Saved by Grace" by John Bunyan

"I COME now to answer the fifth question; namely, to show why God saveth those that he saveth by grace, rather than by any other means.

First. God saveth us by grace, because since sin is in the world, he can save us no other way; sin and transgression cannot be removed but by the grace of God through Christ; sin is the transgression of the law of God, who is perfectly just. Infinite justice cannot be satisfied with the recompense that man can make; for if it could, Christ Jesus himself needed not to have died; besides, man having sinned, and defiled himself thereby, all his acts are the acts of a defiled man; nay, further, the best of his performances are also defiled by his hands; these performances, therefore,
cannot be a recompense for sin. Besides, to affirm that God saveth defiled man for the sake of his defiled duties — for so, I say, is every work of his hand — what is it but to say, God accepteth of one sinful act as a recompense and satisfaction for another? (Haggai 2:14). But God, even of old, hath declared how he abominates imperfect sacrifices, therefore we can by no means be saved from sin but by grace (4>
Romans 3:24).

Second. To assert that we may be saved any other way than by the grace of God, what is it but to object against the wisdom and prudence of God, wherein he aboundeth towards them whom he hath saved by grace? (Ephesians 1:5-8). His wisdom and prudence found out no other way, therefore he chooseth to save us by grace.

Third. We must be saved by grace, because else it follows that God is mutable in his decrees, for so hath he determined before the foundation of the world; therefore he saveth us not, nor chooseth to save us by any other way, than by grace (Ephesians 1:3,4; Ephesians 3:8-11; Romans 9:23)."

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" by John Bunyan

"But one day, amongst all the sermons our parson made, his subject was, to treat of the Sabbath-day, and of the evil of breaking that, either with labor, sports or otherwise. Now I was, notwithstanding my religion, one that took much delight in all manner of vice, and especially that was the day that I did solace myself therewith, wherefore I fell in my conscience under his sermon, thinking and believing that he made that sermon on purpose to show me my evil doing; and at that time I felt what
guilt was, though never before, that I can remember; but then I was, for the present, greatly loaden therewith, and so went home when the sermon was ended, with a great burden upon my spirit.

This, for that instant, did benumb the sinews of my best delights, and did embitter my former pleasures to me; but behold, it lasted not, for before I had well dined, the trouble began to go off my mind, and my heart returned to his old course: but oh! how glad was I, that this trouble was gone from me, and that the fire was put out, that I might sin again without control! Wherefore, when I had satisfied nature with my food, I shook the sermon out of my mind, and to my old custom of sports and gaming I returned with great delight.

But the same day, as I was in the midst of a game at cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike it the second time, a voice did suddenly dart from heaven into my soul, which said, Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell? At this I was put to an exceeding maze; wherefore, leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked up to heaven, and was as if I had, with the eyes of my understanding, seen the Lord Jesus looking down upon me, as being very hotly displeased with me, and as if He did severely threaten me with some
grievous punishment for these and other my ungodly practices."

John Bunyan gives an account of his life before he believed. His book "Grace abounding" is his spiritual life story. This is a very good book to read.

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

"Confession of the Christian Religion" by Jerome Zanchius

"V. The rules of faith can be proved only by the canonical books.
And therefore we use only the canonical books for proof of the rules of faith, and with the fathers we teach that they are to be used; but we think the rest to be of great force to confirm the same rules, being before sufficiently proved.
VI. The Canonical Scriptures take not their authority from the church.
Wherefore this we hold without all controversy, and we think it is to be holden that although the church being taught of the first fathers, namely prophets and apostles, who received their doctrine immediately from God, and committed the same to writing and being also instructed by the Holy Ghost, hath delivered to the posterity by a continuing and perpetual tradition which are canonical and which are not canonical books; yea and hath given and shall always give testimony unto them of the holy and heavenly truth. Yet that these writings have not received their authority from the same church, but of God only, their only proper Author, and therefore that of themselves, because they are the Word of God, they have power over all men and are worthy to be simply believed and obeyed of all.
VII. Yet that the church's authority doth much avail to make men believe the Holy Scriptures.
Although we deny not by the way, but that the authority of the church hath an especial force to move men to the hearing and reading of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God--according to that of Augustine, "I had not believed the gospel (for so he meant) unless the authority of the church had moved me."--Yet the same Augustine, notwithstanding in all places pronounceth that his belief came not from the church, but from the Holy Spirit, whose gift faith is.
VIII. That the church hath no power over the Holy Scriptures.
But to dispute whether the authority of the church be greater than that of the Holy Scriptures--yea and much more to set down the affirmative part, as though the church over and above the gift of knowing the Spirits, and of discerning Canonical Scriptures from others, and of testifying of them and of interpreting of them, should have also authority either of adding to or diminishing anything from them, and of dispensing with them--we judge it more than sacrilege. For God commandeth that no man shall add or diminish, nor anyone shall decline to the right hand or to the left (Deut. 4:2; 5:31; 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19), but all together [altogether] shall simply obey Him speaking unto them in the Holy Scriptures, in all manner of things."

We need to get back to trusting the Word of God. We need to stop adding our own thoughts and feelings to what we think God wants us to do.

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"The Church at the end of the twentieth century" by Francis A. Schaeffer

"The Loss of truth
A second, very closely related presure is the fact that modern men no longer believe in truth. They no longer believe in anthithesis. Modern men believe only in dialectical synthesis. There is thessis; it has an antithesis. Neither is true or false. "Truth" for today only lies in a synthesis. And even that synthesis is not true forever, for tommorrow there will rise another thesis different from today's and out of the combination of these will come "truth" for tommorrow. But in no case will any of these "truths" become absolute. Truth in the classical sense, that which accurately represents what is real for all time and all places, does not exist- not even as an ideal."
p. 72-73

What Schaeffer wrote against over 20 years ago is still believed by modern man. It has even being taught by some in the church today.

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Monday, July 31, 2006

"Men tried and found defective" by Edward Payson

"Let us bring to the test of the law and the testimony, the characters and hopes of those, who are trusting for salvation to a good natural disposition, and a harmless, inoffensive life. It is possible, that some of you, my friends, may be trusting to these things. You can plead that your tempers are gentle, conciliating, mild and amiable; that your conduct and deportment are winning and prepossessing; that you are admired and beloved by your friends and acquaintance, and are not conscious of having, in a single instance, willfully injured your fellow creatures or offended your Creator. But if you can plead nothing more than this, you will most certainly be found wanting in the sight of that God, by whom actions are weighed. He will not be satisfied with a bare negative goodness, if we may be allowed the expression. He will not think it sufficient, that you have abstained from outward offences, or avoided overt acts of sin, while you have failed to perform what he has commanded. Those who leave undone what they ought to do, will be as certainly, if not as severely punished, as those who do what they ought not to have done. Not only those vines which produce the grapes of Sodom, and the clusters of Gomorrha, but those also which do not produce the fruits of holiness, will be cast into the fire; and though you are covered with leaves, and adorned with flowers; though you make a fair flourishing appearance in the sight of men, yet he must and will consider you as barren and unprofitable, because you are destitute of these fruits; he must condemn you as slothful and unfaithful servants, because you have neglected to improve the talents with which you were entrusted. It was part of the heavy charge brought against the king of Babylon, that he had not glorified the God, in whose hands his life was, and whose were all his ways. To the same charge you must plead guilty, since you have never glorified, nor even sincerely aimed to glorify God. The amiable dispositions in which you trust, do not lead you to seek his glory, or to obey his commands. In fact, they have nothing in them of the nature of true religion; but are merely corporeal instincts, and are often found in perfection among irrational animals. You are therefore found wanting. You want the one thing needful; and were our blessed Savior now on earth, he would say to each of you, as he did to the amiable young ruler, One thing thou lackest. Go, and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, take up thy cross and follow me."

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"An ark for all God's Noahs" bt Thomas Brooks

"If you would have God for your portion, then you must break your league with sin. You must fall out with sin, if ever you fall in with God. Sin and you must be two, or God and you can never be one. There is no propriety to be had in God, except your hearts rise against taht which first disunited and disjointed you from God. Sin and you must part, or God and you can never meet. You shall as soon make an accommodation between light and darkness, heaven and hell, noon and midnight, 2 Cor. 6:14-18, as everr you shall be able to make an accomodation between God and sin. So long as sin remains ours, God will be none of ours. No prince will be one with that subject that lives in the practice of treason and rebellion against him. No prince will be one with him that killed his only son and heir, and that daringly continues to hold up those bloody weapons in his hands wherewith he committed that horrid fact. There is no adulteress that can be so shamelessly impudent, or so vainly confident, as to desire pardon of her jealous husband, or to expect an oneness and a sweetness with him, whilst she continues to hold wanton lovers still in her arms, and is fully resolved to hold on in her wanton dalliances as in times past. O sirs! God is that prince that will never admit of peace or union with you till you cease practising treason against him, and till you come to lay dwon your weapons of rebellion at his feet; he is that jealous husband that will never take you into oneness, into nearness and dearness with himself till you come to abandon all your wanton lovers, and thoroughly to resolve agaisnt all wanton dalliances for time to come. If ever you would have God for your portion, you must say to all your wanton lovers, and to all those idols of jealousy that you have set up in your souls, as Ephraim one said to his, 'Get you hence, for what have I any more to do with you?' Hosea 14:8."
p. 118

As Brooks said, we have to break from our sins if we want fellowship with God. He will not fellowship with people who rebel agaisnt Him.

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Concerning Christian Liberty" by Martin Luther

"Let us examine the subject on a deeper and less simple principle. Man is composed of a twofold nature, a spiritual and a bodily. As regards the spiritual nature, which they name the soul, he is called the spiritual, inward, new man; as regards the bodily nature, which they name the flesh, he is called the fleshly, outward, old man. The Apostle speaks of this: "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. iv. 16). The result of this diversity is that in the Scriptures opposing statements are made concerning the same man, the fact being that in the same man these two men are opposed to one another; the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh (Gal. v. 17).

We first approach the subject of the inward man, that we may see by what means a man becomes justified, free, and a true Christian; that is, a spiritual, new, and inward man. It is certain that absolutely none among outward things, under whatever name they may be reckoned, has any influence in producing Christian righteousness or liberty, nor, on the other hand, unrighteousness or slavery. This can be shown by an easy argument.

What can it profit the soul that the body should be in good condition, free, and full of life; that it should eat, drink, and act according to its pleasure; when even the most impious slaves of every kind of vice are prosperous in these matters? Again, what harm can ill-health, bondage, hunger, thirst, or any other outward evil, do to the soul, when even the most pious of men and the freest in the purity of their conscience, are harassed by these things? Neither of these states of things has to do with the liberty or the slavery of the soul.

And so it will profit nothing that the body should be adorned with sacred vestments, or dwell in holy places, or be occupied in sacred offices, or pray, fast, and abstain from certain meats, or do whatever works can be done through the body and in the body. Something widely different will be necessary for the justification and liberty of the soul, since the things I have spoken of can be done by any impious person, and only hypocrites are produced by devotion to these things. On the other hand, it will not at all injure the soul that the body should be clothed in profane raiment, should dwell in profane places, should eat and drink in the ordinary fashion, should not pray aloud, and should leave undone all the things above mentioned, which may be done by hypocrites."

Luther's work on Christian liberty was important. It shows how grace is not dependant on our works. But we are not free to live in sin.

I also added a link to a site that has "Christian Liberty" and some other works of Luther.

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"The Mark of Deliverance" by Edward Payson

"In the second place, if we would prove the justice of our claim to the character described in our text, we must attempt to suppress vice and impiety by our exertions. We must endeavor ourselves, and exert all our influence to induce others to banish from among us intemperance, profanity, violations of the Sabbath, neglect of religious institutions, and other prevailing sins of the age and country in which we live. Thanks to the kind providence of him, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, we enjoy peculiar advantages for attempting this arduous, but glorious work with success. In our highly favored land, the interests of virtue and religion are fenced around by wholesome laws; and in consequence of the nature of our government, the care of seeing that these laws are faithfully executed, is in a greater or less degree committed to almost every individual among us. But it becomes us to remember that where much is given, much will be required. It has been justly remarked, that when God confers on us the power to do good or repress evil, he lays us under an obligation to exert that power. Agreeably the apostle informs us, that to him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Hence it follows, that we are accountable for all the good which we might but have not done; and for all the evil which we might but have not prevented. By conniving at the sins of others therefore, we make them our own. If the name of God be profaned, if his holy day be dishonored, if a fellow creature by intemperance render his family wretched, spread a snare in the path of his children, destroy his health, and finally plunge himself into eternal ruin, when we by proper exertions might have prevented it, a righteous God will not hold us guiltless, nor will rivers of tears, shed in secret over these sins, wash out the guilt thus contracted. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, behold we knew it not, doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth he not know it’? and shall he not render to every man according to his works’? If then we would avoid his displeasure; if we wish him to set upon us a mark of deliverance, we must exert all the power and influence with which we are entrusted, to repress the outbreakings of irreligion and vice. Those who will, if permitted, trample alike on divine and human laws, and thus show that they neither fear God nor regard man, must be taught by their apprehensions, if they can be taught by no other means, to hide their vicious propensities in their own breasts; or at least, not to suffer them to stalk abroad with unblushing front in open day. And I am aware, that to attempt this, is a most disagreeable and ungrateful task, a task which very few are willing to perform. Many will mourn over the prevalence of sin in their closets, who dare not, or at least will not exert themselves to oppose it in public. When God asks, Who will stand up for me against the evil doers? who will rise up for me against the workers of iniquity’? to many are to be found, even among his professed friends, who instead of immediately answering to the call, and boldly appearing like the children of Levi on the Lord’s side, pusillanimously shrink back from the honorable service, pretending that others may more properly engage in it than themselves. In fact, though we are willing to enjoy the consolations and rewards of religion, we are all too much afraid of its difficulties and duties; too unwilling to deny ourselves and take up the cross. We are sufficiently willing, that God should take care of our honor, interest, happiness; but when any thing is to be done or suffered for him, we are too prone to begin with one consent to make excuse. We are exceedingly jealous of our own rights and privileges, and ever ready to execute those laws, which secure our persons, our property and reputation. But we discover little jealousy for the honor of the Lord of Hosts; and too often suffer those laws, which are made to secure his name and his day from profanation, to be violated with impunity. But however natural or general such conduct may be, it is altogether inexcusable nor can we be guilty of it without forfeiting all claims to the character mentioned in our text. In vain shall we pretend to love God; in vain shall we profess to he concerned for the happiness of man, in vain shall we express sorrow for the prevalence of vice and irreligion, if we will not expose ourselves to some inconveniences, submit to some sacrifices, and make some vigorous exertions to preserve God’s name from profanation, his institutions from dishonor, and the souls of our fellow creatures from everlasting perdition. God will set no mark of deliverance upon us in the day of vengeance, unless we prove the sincerity of our attachment to his cause, of our hatred of sin, and of our grief for its prevalence by appearing openly and decidedly against it. On the contrary, he will, nay he has already set on such pusillanimous friends a mark of reprobation. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this evil and adulterous generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Holiness" by J. C. Ryle

"1. True Christianity is a fight

True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster, it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the authentic reality that called itself Christianity in the beginning. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any "fight" about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self–denial and watching and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is "a fight."

The true Christian is called to be a soldier and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must "fight."

With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometimes to appeal to law courts in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a church’s articles and rubrics and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another and spend their time in petty squabbles.

No, indeed! The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh and the devil. These are his never–dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either "fight" or be lost.

He must fight the flesh. Even after conversion he carries within him a nature prone to evil and a heart weak and unstable as water. That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it. To keep that heart from going astray, the Lord Jesus bids us, "Watch and pray." The spirit may be ready, but the flesh is weak. There is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer. "I keep under my body," cries St. Paul, "and bring it into subjection." "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity." "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" "Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." "Mortify . . . your members which are upon the earth" (Mark 14:38; 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:23, 24; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5).

He must fight the world. The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted, and without a daily battle can never be overcome. The love of the world’s good things, the fear of the world’s laughter or blame, the secret desire to keep in with the world, the secret wish to do as others in the world do, and not to run into extremes—all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to heaven and must be conquered. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world." "Be not conformed to this world" (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; Gal. 6:14; 1 John 5:4; Rom. 12:2).

He must fight the devil. That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," and striving to compass one great end—the ruin of man’s soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping, he is always going about as a lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways. A murderer and a liar from the beginning, he labors night and day to cast us down to hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another, he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. "Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved. But "this kind goes not out" but by watching and praying and fighting and putting on the whole armor of God. The strong man armed will never be kept out of our hearts without a daily battle (Job 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; John 8:44; Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11).

Some men may think these statements too strong. You fancy that I am going too far and laying on the colors too thickly. You are secretly saying to yourself that men and women may surely get to heaven without all this trouble and warfare and fighting. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you that I have something to say on God’s behalf. Remember the maxim of the wisest general that ever lived in England: "In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war." This Christian warfare is no light matter. What says the Scripture? "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "Labor . . . for [the] meat that endures unto everlasting life." "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword." "He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." "Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." "War a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience" (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3; Eph. 6:11–13; Luke 13:24; John 6:27; Matt. 10:34; Luke 22:36; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19). Words such as these appear to me clear, plain and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it. That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight and a warfare. He who pretends to condemn "fighting" and teaches that we ought to sit still and "yield ourselves to God," appears to me to misunderstand his Bible, and to make a great mistake."

This was a great book by Ryle.

Related Tags: , , , , , ,

Continue reading!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Come and welcome to Jesus Christ" by John Bunyan

"“And him that cometh.” He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that cometh. Christ will take leave to judge, who, among the many that make a noise, they be that indeed are coming to him. It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is concerned in this text. When
the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that touched, yea, thronged him. Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from them all; “And he looked round about” upon them all, “to see her that had done this thing” (Mark 5:25-32). He was not concerned with the thronging, or touchings of the rest; for theirs were but accidental, or at best, void of that which made her touch acceptable. Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that in truth are coming to him; Every man’s ways are right in his own eyes, “but the Lord weigheth the spirits” (Prov 16:2). It standeth therefore every
one in hand to be certain of their coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall thy salvation be. If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be; but of coming, see before, as also afterwards, in the use and application."
p. 103-104

Related Tags: , , ,

Continue reading!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"A vision of unchangeable, free mercy" by John Owen

"A Vision of unchangeable, free mercy, in sending the means of grace to underserving sinners" was the full title of the sermon by John Owen.

"They want Jesus Christ, for he is revealed only by the gospel. Austin refused to delight in Cicero's "Hortensius," because there was not in it the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is all, and in all; and where he is wanting there can be no good. Hunger cannot truly be satisfied without manna, the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ; and what shall a hungry man do that hath no bread? Thirst cannot be quenched without water or living spring, which is Jesus Christ; -and what shall a thirsty soul do without water? A captive, as we are all, cannont be delivered without redemption, which is Jesus Christ; -and what shall the prisoner do without his ransom? Fools, as we are all cannont be instructed without wisdom, which is Jesus Christ; -without him we perish in our folly. All building without him is on the sand, which will surely fall. All working without him is in the fire, where it will be consumed. All riches without him have wings, and will away. A dungeion with Christ is a throne; and a throne without Christ, a hell. Nothing so ill, but Christ will compensate. The greatest evil in the world is sin, and the greatest sin was the first; an yet Gregory feared not to cry, "O happy fault which found such a Redeemer!" All mercies without Christ are bitter; and every cup is sweet that is seasoned but wih a drop of his blood; he is truly is "the love and delight of the sons of men", -without whom they must perish eternally; "for there is no other name given unto them, whereby they may be saved," Acts 4:12. He is the Way; men without him are Cains, wanders, vagabonds: -he is the Truth; men without him are liars, like the devil, who was so of old: -he is the Life; without him men are dead, dead in trespasses and sins: -he is the Light; without him men are in darkness, and go they not whither: -he is the Vine; those that are not grafted in him are withered branches, prepared for the fire: -he is the Rock; men not built on him are carried away with a flood: -he is Alapha and Omega, the first and last, the author and the ender, the founder and finisher of our salvation. He that hath him not, hath not neither beginning of good, nor shall have end of misery. O blessed Jesus! how much better than not to die in thee! A thousand hells come short of this; eternally to want Jesus Christ, as men do that want the gospel."
p. 35-36

This sermon is in vol 8 of the "Works of John Owen".

Related Tags: , , , ,

Continue reading!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"The Christian in complete armour" by William Gurnall

" The peace which the gospel brings and speaks to the heart, will make the creature ready to wade through any trial or trouble that meets him in his Christian course. He who enjoys in his bosom the peace of the gospel, is the person and the only person, that stands shod for all ways, prepared for all troubles and trials. None can make a shoe to the creature’s foot, so as he shall go easy on a hard way, but Christ. He can do it to the creature’s full content. And how doth he {do} it? Truly by no other way that by underlaying it, or, if you will, lining it, with the peace of the gospel. What though the way be set with sharp stones? if this shoe go between the Christian’s foot and them, they cannot much be felt. Solomon tells us that ways of wisdom,—that is, Christ—‘are ways of pleasantness.’ But how so, when some of them are ways of suffering? The next words resolve it; ‘and all her paths are peace,’ Prov. 3:17. Where there is peace—such peace as peace with God and conscience—there can want no pleasure. David goes merry to bed when he hath nothing to supper but the gladness that God by this puts into his heart, and promiseth himself a better night’s rest than any of them all that are feasted with the world's cheer; ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep,’ Ps. 4:7, 8. This same peace with God enjoyed in the conscience, redounds to the comfort of the body. Now David can sleep sweetly when he lies on a hard bed. What here he saith he would do, he saith he had done: ‘I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me,’ Ps. 3:5. The title of the psalm tells us when David had this sweet night’s rest, not when he lay on his bed of downs in his stately palace at Jerusalem, but when he fled for his life from his unnatural son Absalom, and possibly was forced to lie in the open field under the canopy of heaven. Truly it must be a soft pillow indeed that could make him forget his danger, who then had such a disloyal army at his back hunting of him. Yea, so transcendent is the sweet in­fluence of this peace, that it can make the creature lie down as cheerfully to sleep in the grave as on the softest bed. You shall say that child is willing that calls to be put to bed. Some of the saints have de­sired God to lay them at rest in their beds of dust; and that not in a pet and discontent with their present trouble, as Job did, but from a sweet sense of this peace in their bosoms. ‘Now let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,’ was the swan-like song of old Simeon. He speaks like a mer­chant that had got all his goods on shipboard, and now desires the master of the ship to hoist sail and be gone homewards. Indeed what should a Christian, that is but a foreigner here, desire to stay any longer for in the world, but to get this full lading in for heaven? And when hath he that, if not when he is assured of his peace with God? This peace of the gos­pel, and sense of the love of God in the soul, doth so admirably conduce to the enabling of a person in all difficulties, and temptations, and troubles, that ordin­arily before he calls his saints to any hard service or hot work, he gives them a draught of this cordial wine next their hearts, to cheer them up, and embolden them in the conflict. God calls Abram out of his native country, Gen 12:1, and what so fit as a promise of Christ to bring his heart to God’s foot? ver. 2, 3. A sad errand it was that sent Jacob to Padan-aram. He fled from an angry wrathful brother, that had murdered him already in his thoughts, to an unkind, de­ceitful, uncle, under whom he should endure much hardship. Now God comes in a sweet gospel vision to comfort this poor pilgrim; for by that ‘ladder, whose foot stood on earth, and top reached heaven,’ Christ was signified to his faith, in whom heaven and earth meet, God and man are reconciled; and, by the ‘moving up and down of the angels on the ladder,’ the ministry of the angels, which Christ by his death and intercession procures for his saints, that they shall tend on them, as servants on their master’s children. So that the sum of all is as much as God had said, ‘Jacob, thy brother Esau hates thee, but in Christ I am reconciled to thee, thy uncle Laban, he will wrong thee, and deal hardly by thee, but fear him not. As I am in Christ at peace with thee so through him thou shalt have my especial care over thee, and the guardianship of the holy angels about thee, to defend thee wherever thou goest.’"
p. 580-582

Related Tags: , , , , , ,

Continue reading!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add Reading the great Protestant books to Newsburst from CNET Add to Google Subscribe in FeedLounge