An Avalanche of Promises

Our good God, our overflowing God, our God of yes and amen, has always been able to promise far more than we are able to believe. I am not here speaking of unbelief, or of hard hearts, which is an other problem. I am speaking here of a true and sincere faith, a God-given faith, but one which is still finite, and which God loves to bury under an avalanche of promises. We serve and worship the God who overwhelms, who delights to overwhelm. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore — a cascading waterfall of infinite pleasures, with no top, no bottom, no back, no front, and no sides. Nothing but infinite pleasure in motion, and every one of those pleasures is attached to His promises.

—Douglas Wilson
God Rest Ye Merry

Never Hesitate To Stand Alone

Never hesitate to stand alone when the truth is to be confessed. Never be overawed by sacerdotalism, or daunted by rage, or swayed by multitudes. Unpopular truth is, nevertheless, eternal, and that doctrine which is scouted and cast out as evil today shall bring immortal honor to the man who dares to stand by its side and share its humiliation…. Through flood or flame, in loneliness, in shame, in obloquy, in reproach, follow him! If it be without the camp, follow him! if every step shall cost you abuse and scorn, follow still; yea, to prison and to death still follow him, for as surely as he sitteth at the right hand of power so shall those who love him and have been faithful to his truth sit down upon his throne with him. His overcoming and enthronement are the pledges of the victory both of the truth and of those who courageously espouse it.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon
From a sermon entitled Nevertheless. Hereafter.

Via: The Daily Spurgeon

You Must Be Born Again

This is an excerpt from a great post on regeneration that was published today on the Ligonier Ministries Blog. If you have time, I would encourage you to visit their site and read the entire article.

It is for this reason that Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). The spiritually dead cannot enter God’s holy presence. “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In order to see God’s kingdom, then, the spiritually stillborn must be brought to life. There must be spiritual resurrection.

There must be new life, eternal life. “You must be born again.” Jesus’ words befuddled Nicodemus. He said to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). Here Nicodemus gives us a textbook example of missing the point.

Nicodemus is not alone. There are a large number of professing Christians who miss the point. To hear some tell it, you would think Jesus merely said, “You must be well again.” According to many, we are not spiritually dead but are simply sick. We are on our death beds, and Jesus offers us the cure. All we have to do is reach out and take it. Or we are drowning and Jesus offers us a life buoy, and all we have to do is grab it to save our lives. The picture painted by Jesus and the apostles, however, is much more bleak. In our natural Adamic state, we are not on our sick beds. We are in the grave. We are not flailing about on the surface of the sea. We are lifeless at the bottom of the ocean. We are dead.

This is the point that Nicodemus and we must understand. When Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again, He is indicating that this is not something Nicodemus can do himself. Just as we had no control over our physical birth, we do not control our spiritual birth. It is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Those who say that we are only spiritually wounded will say that we can be regenerated, born again, by placing our faith in Christ. This, however, puts everything precisely backwards. We do not believe in order to be regenerated; we must be regenerated in order that we might believe. Regeneration precedes faith.

Our spiritual situation is similar in some ways to that of Lazarus in the grave (see John 11). Lazarus was dead. He could do nothing in and of himself to gain new life. Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth from the grave, but Lazarus could not respond unless God first gave him life. In the same way, we are spiritually dead and can do nothing to gain spiritual life. Jesus commands us to believe in Him, but we cannot respond unless God first gives us spiritual life. Jesus gives us this new life because he has overcome death, once and for all. As Peter explains, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

If you are a Christian, consider what God has done for you. Consider the fact that you were born dead in sin. Jesus came to your grave. He commanded you to come forth and gave you spiritual life and faith. Now you have been born again and are an adopted child of God (John 1:12). You are a co-heir with Christ. And although your physical body will still die, you can rest secure in the hope of the resurrection. Those in Christ will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). Our present body is perishable, but it will be raised imperishable, never to die again. When God raises us, death will finally be swallowed up in victory.

—Keith A. Mathison
Tabletalk Magazine, June 2008

I love the way that Jesus explained this to the Jews when he was at the temple in Jerusalem:

The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

— John 10:25-30, ESV

Jesus makes it clear that belief (or faith) is the result of our rebirth and inclusion in the family of Christ, not the grounds for it. Regeneration precedes faith. Soli Deo Gloria!

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

Be Not Ashamed

This is a great quote from Burk Parsons’ article in the July 2012 edition of TableTalk, the monthly devotional from Ligonier Ministries.

Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is the truth of God, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed.

—Charles Spurgeon
Foreward to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith

The Sinner’s Opinion of Himself

In all unbelief there are these two things — a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.

But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?

Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!

—Horatius Bonar

Via: Tim Challies

Being Thankful For the Faith To Believe

To believe Christ’s power and willingness to help, and to make a practical use of our belief, is a rare and precious gift. Let us be ever thankful if we have it. To be willing to come to Jesus as helpless, lost sinners, and commit our souls into His hands is a mighty privilege. Let us ever bless God if this willingness is ours, for it is His gift. Such faith is better than all other gifts and knowledge in the world. Many a poor converted heathen, who knows nothing but that he is sick of sin, and trusts in Jesus, shall sit down in heaven, while many learned English scholars are rejected for evermore. Blessed indeed are those who believe!

—J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes

What Is Faith

I think the whole concept of faith is one of the most misunderstood ideas that we have, misunderstood not only by the world but by the church itself. The very basis for our redemption, the way in which we are justified by God, is through faith. The Bible is constantly talking to us about faith, and if we misunderstand that, we’re in deep trouble.

The great issue of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century was, how is a person justified? Luther’s controversial position was that we are justified by faith alone. When he said that, many of the godly leaders in the Roman Catholic Church were very upset. They said, “Does that mean that a person can just believe in Jesus and then live any way they want to live?” In other words, the Roman Catholic Church reacted fiercely because they were afraid that Luther’s view would be understood as an easy-believism in which a person only had to believe and never had to be concerned about bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. It was crucial that those who were involved in the Protestant Reformation carefully define what they meant by saving faith. So they went back and did their studies in the New Testament, specifically on the Greek word pistein, which means “to believe,” and they were able to isolate three distinctive aspects of biblical faith.

The first is the Latin term notitia: “believing in the data” or the information. It’s an intellectual awareness. You can’t have faith in nothing; there has to be content to the faith. You have to believe something or trust someone. When we say that a person is saved by faith, some people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere.” That’s not what the Bible teaches. It matters profoundly what you believe. What if I believed that the devil was God? That wouldn’t save me. I must believe the right information.

The second aspect of faith is what they call assensus, or intellectual assent. I must be persuaded of the truthfulness of the content. According to James, even if I am aware of the work of Jesus—convinced intellectually that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead – I would at that point qualify to be a demon. The demons recognize Jesus, and the devil himself knows the truth of Christ, but he doesn’t have saving faith.

The crucial, most vital element of saving faith in the biblical sense, is that of personal trust. The final term is fiducia, referring to a fiduciary commitment by which I put my life in the lap of Jesus. I trust him and him alone for my salvation. That is the crucial element, and it includes the intellectual and the mental. But it goes beyond it to the heart and to the will so that the whole person is caught up in this experience we call faith.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
Now, That’s a Good Question!

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

Where the Battle Rages

If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

—Martin Luther
quoted by Francis Schaeffer in The God Who Is There