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Augustine – Sanctification, Free Will, and the Holy Spirit

21 Feb

The human will is so divinely helped in the pursuit of righteousness, that he [the believer] receives the Holy Spirit, by whom there is formed in his mind a delight in, and a love of, that supreme and unchangeable good, which is God. By this gift to him of the down payment, as it were, of the free gift, he [the believer] conceives a burning desire to cleave to his Maker. A mans free will, indeed, does not help at all except to sin, if he does not know the way of truth. And even after he begins to know his duty and proper aim, unless he also takes delight in and feels a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, Gods love is shed abroad in our hearts, not through the free will which arises from ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us [Rom 5: 5].

~Augustine~


Historical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan; 2011) Chapter 24: Sanctification

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John Owen: How Do We Fight Sin?

18 Feb

[13] For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:13

The principal efficient cause of the performance of this duty is the Spirit: ei de pneumati—“if by the Spirit.” The Spirit here is the Spirit mentioned [in Rom. 8] verse 11, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, that “dwells in us” (v. 9), that “quickens us” (v. 11); “the Holy Ghost” (v. 14); the “Spirit of adoption” (v. 15); the Spirit “that makes intercession for us” (v. 26). All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit. Men, as the apostle intimates (Rom. 9:30-32), may attempt this work on other principles, by means and advantages administered on other accounts, as they always have done, and do; but, says he, “This is the work of the Spirit; by him alone is it to be wrought, and by no other power is it to be brought about.” Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-inven­tion, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.

~John Owen~





Overcoming Sin & Temptation (Wheaton, IL; Crossway; 2006) p. 47.

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John Calvin – The Spirit and the Word Go Together

9 Jan

The Holy Spirit so inheres in his truth, which he expresses in Scripture, that only when its proper reverence and dignity are given to the Word does the Holy Spirit show forth his power…. For by a kind of mutual bond the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit so that the perfect religion of the Word may abide in our minds when the Spirit, who causes us to contemplate God’s face, shines; and that we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word. So indeed it is. God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it. Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.

~John Calvin~






The Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press; 1974) Vol. 1.9.3.

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Jonathan Edwards – Resolutions and the Spirit of God

2 Jan

Wednesday, Jan. 2. Dull. I find, by experience, that, let me make resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God; for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away. I perceive, if God should withdraw his Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself. Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day, we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God. For, if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next. I find also by experience, that there is no guessing out the ends of Providence, in particular dispensations towards me—any otherwise than as afflictions come as corrections for sin, and God intends when we meet with them, to desire us to look back on our ways, and see wherein we have done amiss, and lament that particular sin, and all our sins, before him:—knowing this, also, that all things shall work together for our good; not knowing in what way, indeed, but trusting in God.

~Jonathan Edwards~






The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 2007) p. xxiv. Dairy

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Herman Bavinck – Has Scripture Lost It’s Authority?

13 Dec

It [Scripture] has maintained its authority in the church of Christ to this day. It has prompted all believers–including the greatest minds and noblest spirits–to yield to its authority. What power in the world is comparable to that of Scripture? The testimony of the Holy Spirit is the triumph of the foolishness of the cross over the wisdom of the world, the victory of the thoughts of God over the deliberations of human beings. In this sense the apologetic value of the testimony of the Holy Spirit is second to none. Surely this is the victory that overcomes the world: our faith! (1 John 5:4).

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 600.

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Herman Bavinck – The Triumph of the Holy Spirit in the World

10 Dec

The testimony of the Holy Spirit is not a private opinion but the witness of the church of all ages, of Christianity as a whole, of reborn humankind in its entirety. At one time the church in all of its members, like the world, was hostile to the word of God. But the Holy Spirit, working in it and with it, took up the defense of the truth of Christ. He has broken its enmity, illumined its intellect, bent its will, and keeps it in touch with the truth from century to century and from day to day. The whole testimony of the believing community is a testimony to the Holy Spirit. It is the “yes!” and “Amen!” which that community utters in response to the truth of God. It is the “Abba! Father! Your word of truth” that rises up from the hearts of all believers. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is so far from being the Achilles’ heel of Protestantism that it should rather be called the cornerstone of our Christian confession, the crown and seal of all Christian truth, the triumph of the Holy Spirit in the world. Take away the testimony of the Holy Spirit, not only in relation to Scripture, but to all the truths of redemption, and there is no more church. For the witness the Holy Spirit bears to Scripture as the word of God is but a single tone in the song he has put on the lips of the believing community. It is but a small part of that splendid divine work assigned to the Holy Spirit: to cause the fullness of Christ to dwell in his community.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 599.

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Herman Bavinck – The Threefold Testimony of the Holy Spirit

8 Dec

This threefold testimony is one and from the same Spirit. From Scripture, through the church, it penetrates the heart of the individual believer. Still, in each of these three forms, it has a meaning of its own. The testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture is “the primary motive toward faith or the principle by which, or the argument on account of which, Scripture become regulative (κανονικον) and non-apodictic (άναποδεικτον).” The testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church is “the other motive or instrument though which we believe. It is introductory (εισαγωγικον) and supportive (ύπουπγικον).” The witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is the “efficient cause of faith, the principle by which or through which we believe. It is originating (άπχηγικον) and effecting (ένεργητικον).”

Given these distinctions, also the charge of circular reasoning usually advanced against the testimony of the Holy Spirit is invalidated. For, strictly speaking, the testimony of the Holy Spirit is not the final ground but the means of faith. The ground of faith is, and can only be, Scripture, or rather, the authority of God, which comes upon the believer materially in the content as well as formally in the witness of Scripture. Hence the ground of faith is identical with its content and cannot, as Herrman believes, be detached from it. Scripture as the word of God is simultaneously the material and the formal object of faith. But the testimony of the Holy Spirit is the “efficient cause,” “the principle by which,” of faith. We believe Scripture, not because of, but by means of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Scripture and the testimony of the Holy Spirit relate to each other as object truth and subjective assurance, as the first principles and their self-evidence, as the light and the human eye. Once it has been recognized in its divinity, Scripture is incontrovertibly certain to the faith of the believing community, so that it is both the principle and the norm of faith and life.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 597-598.

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Matthew Henry – The Difference the Holy Spirit Makes

6 Dec

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Those that are full of the Holy Spirit are fit for any thing, either to act for Christ or to suffer for him. And those whom God calls out to difficult services for his name he will qualify for those services, and carry comfortably through them, by filling them with the Holy Spirit, that, as their afflictions for Christ abound, their consolation in him may yet more abound, and then none of these things move them.

~Matthew Henry~


Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Spokane, WA; Olive Tree Bible Software) Commentary on Acts 7:54-60

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Herman Bavinck – The Witness of the Holy Spirit

8 Nov

The witness of the Holy Spirit has been all too one-sidedly applied, by Calvin and the later Reformed theologians, to the authority of Holy Scripture. It seemed that it had no other import than the subjective assurance that Scripture is the word of God. As a result this testimony came to stand by itself… Scripture, however, teaches very differently.

Generally speaking, the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus as the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who leads first the apostles, then, by their word, also all other believers, into the truth. He witnesses of Christ to them and glorifies him (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:14). To that end he convicts people of sin (John 16:8-11), regenerates them (John 3:3), and prompts them to confess Christ as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). He further assures them of their adoption as children of God and of their heavenly inheritance (Rom. 8:14f.; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), makes known all the things believers have received from God (1 Cor. 2:2; 1 John 2:20;; 3:24; 4:6-13), and in the church is the author of all Christian virtues and all spiritual gifts (Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 12:8-11). It is evident from all these passages that the testimony of the Holy Spirit is of a religious-ethical kind and intimately bound up with people’s own faith life. It does not bypass people’s faith; it is not a voice from heaven, a dream or a vision. It is a witness that the Holy Spirit communicates in, with, and through our own spirit in faith. It is not given to unbelievers but is the portion only of the children of God. Episcopius therefore raised the objection that the testimony of the Holy Spirit cannot be a ground of faith because it is something that only comes later (John 7:38; 14:17; Acts 5:32; Gal. 3:2; 4:6). But from the very beginning faith itself is the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3) and receives its seal and confirmation in the Spirit of adoption. Believing itself is a witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and through our spirit.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 593-594.

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Herman Bavinck – What is the Testimony of the Holy Spirit

18 Oct

The testimony of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is found not to be a new revelation or communication of unknown truths. It is essentially distinct from prophecy and inspiration; it only causes us to understand the truth that exists outside and independently of us as truth and therefore confirms and seals it in the human consciousness.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 588.

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