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John Newton – As To Your Opponent

12 Apr

As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should shew tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ for ever. But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace, (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit,) he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! “he knows not what he does.” But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defence of the Gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his. Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistence be offended at their obstinacy; but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose, “if peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling-blocks in the way of the blind, or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their prejudices, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

~John Newton~





John Newton, Richard Cecil, The Works of the John Newton, vol. 1: Forty-One Letters on Religious Subjects, “Letter XIX: On Controversy” (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 268-270.

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Wilhelmus à Brakel – Struggles With Loving Our Neighbor

9 Jan
Wilhelmus a Brakel 1

1635-1711. Dutch Reformed Pastor in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, if one considers the conduct of many of the truly regenerate, how much they fall short of this standard! It is true: They love the godly because God loves them and because they love God in Christ. Their heart is knit to them in that respect—with the exclusion of all other men. They esteem them, their heart goes out toward them, they rejoice when they perceive the godly in their essential nature; but when it comes to their deeds, it is manifest how weak their love is. They keep to themselves and it is as if all others were strangers to them, or they exercise fellowship with only one or with but a few, and ignore others. If one of the godly has a fault, they will immediately render his godliness suspect. If he is perceived as a challenge to us and he does not act according to our wishes, then displeasure, wrath, strife, and backbiting surface, and one gives him the cold shoulder—acting as if their spiritual life did not proceed from one and the same Spirit. And in regard to the unconverted, where is the heartfelt affection for them? Where is the joy about their prosperity, the grief over their mishaps, and the exercise concerning their spiritual and physical welfare?

It ought indeed to be investigated why it is that there is so little love among the godly, so that everyone would be motivated to remove the causes of his lovelessness which he perceives within himself, and thus enhance his progress in the exercise of love.”

~Wilhelmus à Brakel~





The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 61.

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John Owen: He Is, He Always Has Been, Precious

11 Aug

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

Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always hath been, precious—the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls—every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with—which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously—whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, Volume 1: The Glory of Christ (ed. William H. Goold, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 5.

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Francis Schaeffer – A Dead, Ugly Orthodoxy

10 Aug

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Let us emphasize again as we have before: we believe with all our hearts that Christian truth can be presented in propositions, and that anybody who diminishes the concept of the propositionalness of the Word of God is playing into twentieth-century, non-Christian hands. But, and it is a great and strong but, the end of Christianity is not the repetition of mere propositions. Without the proper propositions you cannot have that which should follow. But after having the correct propositions, the end of the matter is to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds. The end of the matter, after we know about God in the revelation He has given in verbalized, propositional terms in the Scripture, is to be in relationship to Him. A dead, ugly orthodoxy with no real spiritual reality must be rejected as sub-Christian.


~Francis Schaeffer




Two Contents, Two Realities, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer (vol. 3, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 416.

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Francis Grimke – A Spurious Evangelism

9 Aug

francis-j-grimke1-604x528There is an evangelism that is genuine… that means accepting Jesus Christ in reality and not in pretense–an evangelism that carries along with it brotherhood, that so presents Jesus Christ that men see, and see plainly, what is involved in accepting him. The Apostle Paul who understood what was in solved in it, and who preached the true evangel, says: ‘Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him: where there can not be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.’ An evangelism that permits men to believe that they can be Christians without making an earnest and honest effort to rid themselves of race prejudice is a spurious evangelism.

~Francis J. Grimke~






“Evangelism and Institutes of Evangelism” The Works of Francis J. Grimke, Volume 1: Addresses (ed. Carter G. Woodson, Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc., 1942), 524.

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Charles Spurgeon – Self-Congratulation vs. Wonder

8 Aug

Spurgeon

There is, however, a truth that is even more significant and instructive than that. It is not merely true that we were once Christ’s enemies, and that we were also utterly insignificant, and unworthy of his notice; but it is wonderful that he should lay down his life for such unworthy friends, even as friends, as we are. There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from me. While they are congratulating themselves all upon the good things that they find within themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s cross, and marvel that I am saved at all, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in him at all;—to wonder that I do not love him more, and equally to wonder that I love him at all;—to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted, debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me. If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, he would make as bad a devil as the devil himself is. I care nothing for what these boasters say concerning their own perfections; I feel sure that they do not know themselves, or they could not talk as they often do. There is tinder enough in the saint who is nearest to heaven to kindle another hell if God should but permit a spark to fall upon it. In the very best of men, there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for it is a painful discovery for anyone to make; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord.


Charles Spurgeon




“Sermon #2986: One Aspect of Christ’s Death” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 52 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1906), 225.

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Charles Spurgeon – Resolve to Keep Close to Christ

6 Aug

Spurgeon

There is yet another stone wall which I will mention, namely, firmness of character. Our holy faith teaches a man to be decided in the cause of Christ, and to be resolute in getting rid of evil habits. “If thine eye offend thee”—wear a shade? No; “pluck it out.” “If thine arm offend thee”—hang it in a sling? No; “cut it off, and cast it from thee” True religion is very thorough in what it recommends. It says to us, “touch not the unclean thing.” But many persons are so idle in the ways of God that they have no mind of their own: evil companions tempt them, and they cannot say, “No.” They need a stone wall made up of noes. Here are the stones, “no, no, NO.” Dare to be singular. Resolve to keep close to Christ. Make a stern determination to permit nothing in your life, however gainful or pleasurable, if it would dishonour the name of Jesus. Be dogmatically true, obstinately holy, immovably honest, desperately kind, fixedly upright. If God’s grace sets up this hedge around you, even Satan will feel that he cannot get in, and will complain to God, “hast thou not set a hedge about him?”


Charles Spurgeon




“The Broken Fence” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 59 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1913), 558–559.

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John Calvin – The Holy Spirit is the Bond of Our Union with Christ

5 Aug

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We must now examine this question. How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son—not for Christ’s own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men? First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. For this reason, he is called “our Head” [Eph. 4:15], and “the first-born among many brethren” [Rom. 8:29]. We also, in turn, are said to be “engrafted into him” [Rom. 11:17], and to “put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]; for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him. It is true that we obtain this by faith. Yet since we see that not all indiscriminately embrace that communion with Christ which is offered through the gospel, reason itself teaches us to climb higher and to examine into the secret energy of the Spirit, by which we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits… the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually unites us to himself.

~John Calvin~






Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volumes 1 & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) Vol. 1, p. 537. Book 3.1.1

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Martin Luther – How to Hear God Speak

4 Aug

martin-luther
He who wants to hear God speak should read Holy Scripture.




~Martin Luther~






Luther’s Works, Vol. 41: Church and Ministry III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 41 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 332.

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SALE: Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology – 3 Volumes for $20

3 Aug

Charles Hodge Systematics

ChristianBook.com has Charles Hodge’s three volume Systematic Theology on sale again for $20.

This was the magnum opus of one of America’s most prominent theologians and offers an in-depth exploration of theology, anthropology, soteriology, and eschatology. This monumental work, now a standard for theological students, was written while Hodge served as a professor at Princeton (replacing the use of Francis Turretin’s “Elenctic Theology”) where he permanently influenced American Christianity as a teacher, preacher, and exegete. Includes a comprehensive index. Three hardcovers, from Hendrickson.”

Check the sale out here.