The Gospel Will Produce Conflict

In every generation the gospel will have to be reaffirmed because if you preach the gospel — boldly and accurately — it will produce conflict.

—RC Sproul quoting Martin Luther
Together for the Gospel 2006

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

—Jesus Christ
Matthew 10:34-39

This is All My Calvinism

December 20, 1784

Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions.

Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

“Yes,” says the veteran, “I do indeed.”

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation soley through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

“Yes, solely through Christ.”

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

“No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

“No.”

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in it’s mother’s arms?

“Yes, altogether.”

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

“Yes, I have no hope but in Him.”

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.

—Conversation between Charles Simeon and John Wesley
Quoted by J.I. Packer in “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”

The Active Obedience of Christ

What did the Messiah need to do in order to be the Lamb of God, in order to make an atonement for the people of Israel? We know that Jesus came to die for our sins, but why didn’t he simply come down from heaven on Good Friday, go to the cross, arise on Easter, and go back to Heaven? It was because Christ’s work on the cross was only half of His mission. In order for Jesus to die for our sins, it was first necessary for Him to fulfill the role that Adam failed to fulfill. He had to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus had to pass the test in the wilderness. He had to resist temptation. And He had to obey the law of God. In other words, we are saved by two things — the death of Christ and the life of Christ. The death of Christ covers our sin, but the life of Christ provides the merit and the righteousness that we must have in order to enter into heaven. So Jesus’ life is as important for us as His death. He lived to fulfill all of the law of God.

—R.C. Sproul
A Taste of Heaven

A few hours before he passed away on New Year’s Day in 1937, J. Gresham Machen, the founder of Westminster Theological Seminary, sent the following telegram to his friend and colleague John Murray:

I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.

—J. Gresham Machen

J.I. Packer: The Five Points of Arminianism

(1) Man is never so completely corrupted by sin that he cannot savingly believe the gospel when it is put before him, nor (2) is he ever so completely controlled by God that he cannot reject it. (3) God’s election of those who shall be saved is prompted by his foreseeing that they will of their own accord believe. (4) Christ’s death did not ensure the salvation of anyone, for it did not secure the gift of faith to anyone (there is no such gift): what it did was rather to create a possibility of salvation for everyone if they believe. (5) It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith; those who fail here fall away and are lost. Thus, Arminianism made man’s salvation depend ultimately on man himself, saving faith being viewed throughout as man’s own work and, because his own, not God’s in him.

—J.I. Packer
A Quest For Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life

J.I. Packer: The Five Points of Calvinism

(1) Fallen man in his natural state lacks all power to believe the gospel, just as he lacks all power to believe the law, despite all external inducements that may be extended to him. (2) God’s election is a free, sovereign, unconditional choice of sinners, as sinners, to be redeemed by Christ, given faith, and brought to glory. (3) The redeeming work of Christ had as its end and goal the salvation of the elect. (4) The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing men to faith never fails to achieve its object. (5) Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory. These five points are conveniently denoted by the mnemonic TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Preservation of the saints.

—J.I. Packer
A Quest For Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life

God Loves Us Because He Loves Us

Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love, God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask, Why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him? We have an answer at hand, Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us; for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7-8: ‘The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you…’ That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton

Via: Tony Reinke