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John Owen: The Holy Spirit and Conviction of Sin

26 Jun

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

The principal efficient cause of this work [conviction of sin] is the Holy Ghost; the preaching of the word, especially of the law, being the instrument which be maketh use of therein. The knowledge of sin is by the law, both the nature, guilt, and curse belonging to it, Rom. 7:7. There is, therefore, no conviction of sin but what consists in an emanation of light, and knowledge from the doctrine of the law, with an evidence of its power and a sense of its curse. Other means, as afflictions, dangers, sicknesses, fears, disappointments, may be made use of to excite, stir up, and put an edge upon the minds and affections of men; yet it is, by one means or other, from the law of God that such a discovery is made of sin unto them, and such a sense of it wrought upon them, as belong unto this work of conviction. But it is the Spirit of God alone that is the principal efficient cause of it, for he works these effects on the minds of men. God takes it upon himself, as his own work, to “reprove men, arid set their sins in order before their eyes,” Ps 50:21. And that this same work is done immediately by the Spirit is expressly declared, John 16:8. He alone it is who makes all means effectual unto this end and purpose. Without his especial and immediate actings on us to this end, we may hear the law preached all the days of our lives and not be once affected with it.

~John Owen~





A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit, The Works of John Owen, Volume 3 (ed. William H. Goold, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 351-352.

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Thomas Manton – What is Sin?

7 May
Manton_1

1620–1677. English Puritan clergyman. Lecturer at Westminster Abbey. Noncomformist.

Sin is a violation of the law of the eternal and living God: 1 John 3:4, ‘Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.’ God is the lawgiver, who hath given a righteous law to his subjects, under the dreadful penalty of a curse. In his law there are two things—the precept and the sanction. The precept is the rule of our duty, which showeth what we must do, or not do. The sanction or penalty showeth what God will do, or might justly do, if he should deal with us according to the merit of our actions. Accordingly, in sin, there is the fault and the guilt.

~Thomas Manton~






The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 1 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1870), 417.

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Martin Luther – The Law Needs The Gospel

29 Mar

Ancient teachers said that there are four things a preacher should keep in mind in all his sermons; he should give consideration to vices and virtues, to punishments and rewards. And they did well to give this advice, provided that they retained Christ. For the Law concerns itself with these four things: vices contrary to the Law, virtues in accordance with the Law, punishments in accordance with the Law, and rewards in accordance with the Law. But this doctrine does not produce Christians. It is the doctrine of the Law, which does not bring about perfection. The Gospel of grace must be joined to this doctrine of the Law! Then at last the Christian is made complete.

~Martin Luther~






Luther’s Works, Vol. 3: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 15-20, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 3 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 132–133.

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John Calvin – Christ, Our Righteousness

6 Mar

It is necessary that Christ should come to our aid; who, being alone just, can render us just by transferring to us his own righteousness. You now see how the righteousness of faith is the righteousness of Christ. When therefore we are justified, the efficient cause is the mercy of God, the meritorious is Christ, the instrumental is the word in connection with faith. Hence faith is said to justify, because it is the instrument by which we receive Christ, in whom righteousness is conveyed to us. Having been made partakers of Christ, we ourselves are not only just, but our works also are counted just before God, and for this reason, because whatever imperfections there may be in them, are obliterated by the blood of Christ; the promises, which are conditional, are also by the same grace fulfilled to us; for God rewards our works as perfect, inasmuch as their defects are covered by free pardon.

~John Calvin~






Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 138–139.

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John Murray – Why Justification by faith?

27 Feb

John Murray

The differentiating quality of faith is that the nature and function of faith is to rest completely upon another. It is this resting, confiding, entrusting quality of faith that makes it appropriate to and indeed exhibitive of the nature of justification. It is consonant with its source as the free grace of God, with its nature as a forensic act, and with its ground as the righteousness of Christ. Faith terminates upon Christ and his righteousness and it makes mention of his righteousness and of his only. This is the Savior’s specific identity in the matter of justification-he is the Lord our righteousness. And in resting upon him alone for salvation it is faith that perfectly dovetails justification in him and in his righteousness. Other graces or fruits of the Spirit have their own specific functions in the application of redemption, but only faith has as its specific quality the receiving and resting of self-abandonment and totality of self-commitment.

This is both the stumbling-block and the irresistible appeal of the gospel. It is the stumbling-block to self-righteousness and self-righteousness is the arch-demon of antithesis to grace. It is the glory of the gospel for the contrite and brokenhearted-if we put any other exercise of the human spirit in the place of faith, then we cut the throat of the only confidence a sinner conscious of his lost and helpless condition can entertain. Justification by faith is the jubilee trumpet of the gospel because it proclaims the gospel to the poor and destitute whose only door of hope is to roll themselves in total helplessness upon the grace and power and righteousness of the Redeemer of the lost. In the words of one, ‘cast out your anchor into the ocean of the Redeemer’s merits’.

~John Murray~






Collected Writings of John Murray – Volume 2: Systematic Theology (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 216-217.

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John Calvin – Our Only Comfort In Light Of The Law

31 Jan

But just because the iniquity and condemnation of us all is sealed by the law’s testimony, this is no reason for us to fall into despair and with despondent heart to dash to destruction. That we have indeed been condemned by the law’ judgment the apostle testifies, “that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be subject to God.” He teaches the same thing elsewhere: “god has consigned all to unbelief,” not to lose them or even to let them perish, “but that he might have mercy on all.” The Lord, therefore, with the faithfulness of his power and mercy consoles us, having warned us through the law both of our weakness and our impurity. And this is in his Christ, through whom he shows himself a kindly and propitious Father to us. For in the law he is recompensed of perfect righteousness alone, of which we are all destitute. On the other hand, he appears as a severe judge of crimes. But in Christ his countenance shines full of grace and kindness even toward poor and unworthy sinners. For he has given this wonderful example of his boundless love, by showing us his own Son, and in him has disclosed all the treasures of his mercy and goodness.

~John Calvin~






Calvin’s Catechism (1538) – Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, Vol. 1: 1523-1552 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 418-419.

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Charles Spurgeon – Salvation Is Not By The Works Of The Law

19 Nov

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The whole Bible tells us, from beginning to end, that salvation is not by the works of the law, but by the deeds of grace. Martin Luther declared that he constantly preached justification by faith alone, “because,” said he, “the people would forget it; so that I was obliged almost to knock my Bible against their heads, to send it into their hearts.” So it is true, we constantly forget that salvation is by grace alone. We always want to be putting in some little scrap of our own virtue; we want to be doing something. I remember a saying of old Matthew Wilkes: “Saved by your works! you might as well try to go to America in a paper boat!” Saved by your works! It is impossible! Oh no; the poor legalist is like a blind horse going round and round the mill; or like the prisoner going up the treadmill, and finding himself no higher after all he has done; he has no solid confidence, no firm ground to rest upon. He has not done enough—“never enough.” Conscience always says, “this is not perfection; it ought to have been better.” Salvation for enemies must be by an ambassador—by an atonement—yea, by Christ.


~Charles Spurgeon~




The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Vol. I (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 155. Vol. 1, Sermon No. 20; Titled: The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God; Delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 22nd, 1855.

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John Calvin – Regeneration Precedes Sanctification

21 Nov

It is in vain to teach righteousness by precept, until Christ bestow it by free imputation, and the regeneration of the Spirit.

~John Calvin~






The Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press; 1974) 2.7.2.

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The Law and Christ

15 Dec

What he [Christ] has done for us is that he has satisfied the law and all its demands. It is amazing to me how people can look at and preach about Christ, his life and death and never mention the law. But unless the law of God is satisfied, there is no salvation. The law is opposed to us; it stands there and demands a perfect, absolute obedience and it threatens us with death if we fail in any one respect. If Christ has not fulfilled the law, we are yet in our sins, we are undone, we are damned and we are lost, but he has finished the work, the books have been cleared, the law has been satisfied, there is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Do you know that? Are you rejoicing in it? Are you ready to take your stand with Toplady and say:

The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do,
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

~Martyn Lloyd-Jones~


The Assurance of Our Salvation (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2000) p. 19

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