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The Means of our Effectual Call

by Thomas Watson

The ordinary means which the Lord uses in calling us, is not by raptures and revelations—but is,

(1.) By His Word which is "the rod of his strength" (Psalm 105:2). The voice of the Word is God's call to us; therefore He is said to speak to us from heaven (Heb. 12:25). That is, in the ministry of the Word. When the Word calls from sin, it is as if we heard a voice from heaven.

(2.) By His Spirit. This is the loud call. The Word is the instrumental cause of our conversion, the Spirit is the efficient cause of our conversion. The ministers of God are only the pipes and organs; it is the Spirit blowing in them, which effectually changes the heart. "While Peter spoke, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word" (Acts 10:44). It is not the farmer's industry in ploughing and sowing, which will make the ground fruitful, without the early and latter rain. Just so, it is not the seed of the Word that will effectually convert, unless the Spirit puts forth His sweet influence, and drops as rain upon the heart. Therefore the aid of God's Spirit is to be implored, that He would put forth His powerful voice, and awaken us out of the grave of unbelief. If a man knocks at a gate of brass, it will not open; but if he comes with a key in his hand, it will open. Just so, when God, who has the key of David in His hand (Rev. 3:7) comes, He opens the heart, though it be ever so fast locked against Him.

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From All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 11:32 -- john_hendryx

10 Ways Affliction Works for Good

by Thomas Watson

(1). Affliction works for good, as it is our preacher and teacher—"Hear the rod" (Micah 6:9). Luther said that he could never rightly understand some of the Psalms—until he was in affliction. 

Affliction teaches what sin is. In the word preached, we hear what a dreadful thing sin is, that it is both defiling and damning—but we fear it no more than a painted lion; therefore God lets loose affliction—and then we feel sin bitter in the fruit of it. A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the looking-glass of affliction!

Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves. God afflicts us—that we may better know ourselves. We see that corruption in our hearts, in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there. Water in the glass looks clear—but set it on the fire, and the scum boils up. In prosperity, a man seems to be humble and thankful, the water looks clear; but set this man a little on the fire of affliction, and the scum boils up—much impatience and unbelief appear. "Oh," says a Christian, "I never thought I had such a bad heart, as now I see I have! I never thought my corruptions had been so strong, and my graces so weak."

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 16:10 -- john_hendryx

Adversity

by Terry Johnson

Background Reading:
Romans 8:26-39; Genesis 50:15-21

In 1858, a gifted young Presbyterian missionary named John G. Paton sailed with his wife and infant son to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific to begin missionary work among the islanders. Within a few months of arrival, both his infant son and his wife had died, leaving him to labor alone.

In August 1876, a gifted young theologian names Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and his bride were honeymooning in Germany. While sightseeing in the Black Forest region, they were suddenly caught in a severe storm, and something that was never quite explained happened to his bride, rendering her an invalid for the rest of their lives together.

In the 1950s the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah congregation called a young preacher to take the reigns of a very divided church. He came with his wife and their five children, the youngest only three years old. Within a year and a half, Anton Van Puffelen developed a brain tumor, and in just over two years after he started his work in Savannah the Rev. Van Puffelen was dead.

How do you explain these things? Perhaps just as baffling, how do you explain the responses of these individuals? John G. Patton stayed on the field and reaped a great harvest, later saying:

I built the grave round and round with coral blocks, and covered the top with beautiful white coral, broken small gravel; and that spot became my sacred and much frequented shrine, during all the following months and years when I labored on for the salvation of these savage Islanders amidst difficulties, dangers and deaths. Whensoever Tanna turns to the Lord, and is won for Christ, man in after-days will find the memory of that spot still green – where with ceaseless prayers and tears I claimed that the land for God in which I hand ‘buried my dead’ with faith and hope.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 16:13 -- john_hendryx

Don't Confuse Justification with Regeneration or Sanctification

by John Murray, Ralph Erskine, William Perkins, James Ussher, James Buchanan

“The epistle to the Romans is concerned with this very subject, the justification of sinners. That is the grand theme of the first five chapters in particular. Romans 8:33,34 conclusively shows that the meaning is that which is contrasted with the word ‘condemn’ and that which is related to the rebuttal of a judicial charge. The meaning of the word ‘justify’ therefore, in the epistle to the Romans, and therefore in the epistle which more than any other book in Scripture unfolds the doctrine, is to declare to be righteous. Its meaning is entirely removed from the thought of making upright or holy or good or righteous.

This is what is meant when we insist that justification is forensic. It has to do with a judgment given, declared, pronounced; it is judicial or juridical or forensic. The main point of such terms is to distinguish between the kind of action which justification involves and the kind of action in regeneration. Regeneration is an act of God in us; justification is an act of God with respect to us. The distinction is like that of the distinction between the act of a surgeon and the act of a judge. The surgeon, when he removes an inward cancer, does something in us. That is not what a judge does—he gives a verdict regarding our judicial status. If we are innocent he declares accordingly.

The purity of the gospel is bound up with the recognition of this distinction. If justification is confused with regeneration or sanctification, then the door is opened for the perversion of the gospel at its center. Justification is still the article of the standing or falling church. (121)

Wed, 03/18/2020 - 12:00 -- john_hendryx

"Problematic Texts” for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles

BY THOMAS R. SCHREINER

Is definite atonement actually taught in the Scriptures, or do prejudiced interpreters read it into biblical texts? I. Howard Marshall asks the right question: “Is it possible to interpret the election statements in such a way as to be consistent with the universal statements without twisting the meaning of either?”1 I will argue here that supporters of definite atonement can answer that question in the affirmative. A number of texts in the Pastoral Epistles, the Petrine Epistles, and Hebrews that speak to the issue of definite atonement will be considered. Many of the texts examined here are part of the arsenal of those who defend unlimited/general atonement. In this chapter, I will argue that (1) understanding some of these texts in a way that supports definite atonement is more persuasive exegetically and theologically; and (2) those texts which do concern God’s salvific stance to all kinds of people (1 Tim. 2:4; 4:10) or to everyone (2 Pet. 3:9) do not in fact disprove the doctrine of definite atonement—God’s desire for people to be saved and his intention to save only the elect are compatible elements in biblical soteriology.

Pastoral Epistles

CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 10:53 -- john_hendryx

Particular Redemption in John 17

At the beginning of Jesus High Priestly prayer in John 17, of Himself He declares, "you have given him authority over ALL FLESH, to give eternal life to ALL whom you have GIVEN HIM." (v.2)  This statement is universal in His authority over all flesh and particular in that He refers specifically to those the Father has given Him out of all flesh. He does not give eternal life to some of those the Father has given him but to ALL He has given Him. He further prays, "I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have GIVEN ME, for they are yours" (John 17:9).

In the context of John 17, the persons He prays for (those the Father has given him) are the same ones which he sanctifies. He prays,  "And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth." (V 18). His consecrating of himself is referring specifically to his atoning act for them. Sanctification is a redemptive work. He makes a clear distinction of those He prays for and those He does not before going to the cross for them.  When he speaks later of all those who believe in Him through the apostles teaching he also refers to them as those the Father has "given him" (v.24), so, in addition to the "all flesh" cited in verse 2, they are also included among them in this verse. A recurring pattern is demonstrated here and in other parts of the gospel of John is that the "giving" of the Father precedes their coming to faith in Him

So in the context itself Jesus plainly teaches that he is praying for and sanctifying those the Father has given Him, and them only.  He does not sanctify any but those He prays for. 

Sat, 03/14/2020 - 18:32 -- john_hendryx

Prayer is Abandoning Reliance on Self

by Paul David Tripp

Prayer is abandoning my reliance on me and running toward the rest that can be found only when I rely on the power of God.

Prayer abandons independence. Prayer forsakes any thought that you can make it on your own. Prayer affirms dependency. Prayer acknowledges weakness. Prayer renounces assessments of capability. Prayer embraces the reality of failure. Prayer tells you that you are not at the center. Prayer calls you to abandon your plans for the wiser plans of another. Prayer flows from a deep personal sense of need and runs toward God’s abundant grace.

Because of what prayer really is, prayer is not natural for us. It’s not natural for us to embrace our sin, weakness, and failure. It’s not natural for us to be comfortable depending on the mercy of another. It’s not natural for us to surrender our hopes and dreams to the better vision of another. It’s not natural for us to surrender our wisdom and control to someone greater than us. It’s not natural for us to think that we need grace. On the other hand, it’s natural for us to think that our righteousness, wisdom, strength, and work are enough. As a result, many of our prayers are the religious pronouncements of self-righteous people, the long wish lists of entitled people, or the impatient demands of people who are wondering what in the world God is doing. So many of our prayers aren’t prayers at all (see Luke 18:9–14).

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 19:00 -- john_hendryx

The Work of the Holy Spirit and the Strengthening of Faith

by Theodorus Vandergroe

LORD’S DAY 25 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. —ROMANS 10:17 

Question 65: Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits by faith only, whence doth this faith proceed? 

Answer: From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. 

Question 66: What are the sacraments?

Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, He may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that He grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. 

Question 67: Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? 

Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which He offered for us on the cross. 

Question 68: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament? Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper. 

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 15:50 -- john_hendryx

A New Nature

by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

We would almost think at this stage that we have seen all the glories which Paul saw in the cross, but that is not so—their number is not exhausted, there is more for us to see, as the Apostle still goes on glorying in it. He does so because it is to him the source and the centre out of which, and from which, come all the blessings that he has ever enjoyed as a Christian man. Now this is the thing I want to emphasize at this point. There is nothing ultimately possible for us in the way of good, apart from the cross. The cross is the source, the origin, and the centre of every blessing. There is no Christian blessing possible to anyone apart from the cross. It is impossible for anyone to be blessed by God in any way ultimately, apart from the cross. The cross is the key that opens, if I may so put it, the heart of God. And without the cross we know no blessings at all. This is a most important point. Why did the Apostle not say: 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ'? Now that is what some of us would like him to say, is it not? That is what the modern man would like him to say. The modern man admires the Sermon on the Mount. He says that that is what we need, that there is the most wonderful ethical, moral, standard that has ever been invented and thought of by man, and that is what we want. There are many people who are not Christians who praise the Sermon on the Mount. The late Mr Gandhi, who died a Hindu, praised it. And there are many others who do the same. There are many infidels today who praise the Sermon on the Mount. They like Jesus, the teacher, the religious teacher, the political agitator, as they regard him, and they are ready to laud his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 14:48 -- john_hendryx

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