Salvation by Grace

“God in His sovereign good pleasure from eternity elected certain persons in Christ to everlasting life. By nature the elect, like all other men, are totally depraved sinners who cannot save themselves. In order to save the elect God sent His Son into the world to purchase redemption for them by His precious blood and perfect obedience. By the atonement Christ merited for the elect the Holy Spirit, who effectually regenerates them and works the gift of saving faith in their hearts. That God’s chosen, whom Christ has redeemed and to whom the Holy Spirit has applied redemption, should perish is entirely out of the question. Those are the five points of Calvinism. Together they constitute one doctrine – that of salvation by sovereign grace.”

– R. B. Kuiper, For Whom did Christ Die? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 70.

Suffering: The Path to Future Glorification

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)

“[T]his glorious inheritance is attained only through suffering. Because we are one with Christ, we are his fellow heirs, assured of being “glorified with him.” But, at the same time, this oneness means that we must follow Christ’s own road to glory, “suffering with him” (cf. also Phil. 1:29; 3:10; 2 Cor. 1:5)… [T]he suffering Paul speaks of here refers to the daily anxieties, tensions, and persecutions that are the lot of those who follow the one who was “reckoned with the transgressors” (Luke 22:37). Paul makes clear that this suffering is the condition for the inheritance; we will be “glorified with” Christ (only) if we “suffer with him.” Participation in Christ’s glory can come only through participation in his suffering… the glory of the kingdom of God is attained only through participation in Christ, and belonging to Christ cannot but bring our participation in the sufferings of Christ. Just as, then, Christ has suffered and entered into his glory (1 Pet. 1:11), so Christians, “fellow heirs with Christ,” suffer during this present time in order to join Christ in glory.”
– Douglas Moo, Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 505-506.

“Suffering is the path to future glorification.”
– Thomas Schreiner, Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 428

photo: Resclassic2

The Inheritance: Reality Through Union

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)

“To say that believers are [only] heirs of God, however, leaves out a major motif in Paul’s thinking, for believers are also “fellow heirs with Christ.” This statement does not function as a corrective to the previous one but elucidates the means by which believers are heirs of God. The inheritance becomes a reality through union with Christ, the true seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). Those who are united with Christ share in the inheritance that he has gained for them.”
– Thomas Schriener, Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 428.

“Paul is… reminding us that Christians inherit the blessings of God’s kingdom only through, and in, Christ. We, “the sons of God,” are such by virtue of our belonging to the Son of God; and we are heirs of God only by virtue of our union with the one who is the heir of all God’s promises (see Mark 12:1-2; Gal. 3:18-19; Heb. 1:2).”
– Douglas Moo, Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 505.

God: The Supreme Benefit of the Covenant

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)

“Paul asserts that believers have inherited the promise of Abraham (Gal. 3:14, 29), and this promise is an astounding one, for Abraham is heir of the world (Rom. 4:13…). Here he says something even more stunning: believers are “heirs of God” himself. The wording suggests not merely that believers are heirs of what God has promised but of God himself. The supreme benefit of the covenant with Abraham is not inheriting the land but having God as one’s God (Gen. 17:7).”

– Thomas Schreiner, Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 427-28.

“Divine love is love for the undeserving.”

“Paul’s meaning is that, in dying for us, Christ died for those who were helpless, ungodly, sinners, enemies. What Paul is here concerned to bring out is the fact that the divine love is love for the undeserving, love that is not the result of any worth in its objects but is self-caused and in its freedom itself confers worth upon them.”

– C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, Ed. J.A. Emerton, Vol. 1 (International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 264.

What is Total Depravity?

Total depravity means “that every sinner is totally destitute of that love to God which is the fundamental requirement of the law (Deut. 6:4f; Matt. 22:37); that he is supremely given to a preference of himself to God (2 Tim. 3:2-4); that he has an aversion to God which on occasion becomes active enmity to him (Rom. 8:7); that his every faculty is disordered and corrupted (Eph. 4:18); that he has no thought, feeling, or deed of which God can fully approve (Rom. 7:18); and that he has entered upon a line of constant progress in depravity from which he can in no wise turn away in his own strength (Rom. 7:18).”

– Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 191-192.

If God Came to Church

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to the pews. ”

– Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 40.

photo: source

God Helps the Helpless

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6

“Christ’s work was not according to the ‘God helps them that helps themselves’ of Poor Richard’s Almanac. He did not wait for us to start helping ourselves, but died for us when we were altogether helpless.”

– C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, Ed. J.A. Emerton, Vol. 1 (International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 263-64.

photo: source

The Supply Far Exceeds the Needs

“For the first time in my life I experienced what Abraham felt when he fell upon his face and laughed. I was riding home, very weary with a long week’s work, when there came to my mind this text – ‘My grace is sufficient for thee:’ but it came with the emphasis laid upon two words: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ My soul said, ‘Doubtless it is. Surely the grace of the infinite God is more than sufficient for such a mere insect as I am,’ and I laughed, and laughed again, to think how far the supply exceeded all my needs.”

– Charles Spurgeon, The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry in the second series of Lectures to My Students.

“While he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength.”

“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” – Genesis 32:24

Commenting on this verse Calvin says, “in short, such is [God’s] apportioning of it is conflict, that, while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome. It is true he remains at perfect unity with himself: but the double method in which he deals with us cannot be otherwise expressed, than that in striking us with a human rod, he does not put forth his full strength in the temptation; but that in granting the victory to our faith, he becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us.”

photo: Ray Ortlund

No Human Will is Free

“Of the unregenerate it is said that Satan is working in them or energizing them (Eph. 2:2), while of the regenerate it is said that God is energizing them ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13). These two passages account for the whole of humanity and therefore determine the truth – important indeed – that no human will, in the absolute sense, is free.”

– Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Volume II (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1971), 195.

photo: marc falardeau

“The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.”

“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”

– William Cowper

photo: source

I Cannot But Rejoice

“Sometimes a light surprises, the Christian while he sings,
It is the Lord Who rises, with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again,
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after the rain.

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue,
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow, bring with it what it may.

Tomorrow can bring us nothing, but He will bear us through:
Who gives the lilies clothing, will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens, will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither, their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither, nor flocks or herds be there,
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.”

– William Cowper

photo: apdk

A Lifelong Flame

“Many marriages built on emotional chemistry that ignore the importance of shared values do not last. After the flames of passion fade, they are left with a mate that doesn’t want what they want or value what they value.

For those who chose mates based on shared values and commitments, the chemistry is more than just a flare which quickly goes out. It is a spark which is fanned into a lifelong flame.”

– William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009), 168,

photo: A Askew

The God To Whom We Pray

When we pray to God as Governor of the world, “we pray to One that hath the whole globe of heaven and earth in his hand, and can do whatsoever he will: though he be higher than the cherubims, and transcendently above all in majesty, yet we may soar up to him with the wings of our soul, faith, and love, and lay open our cause, and find him as gracious as if he were the meanest subject on earth, rather than the most sovereign God in heaven. He hath as much of tenderness as he hath of authority, and is pleased with prayer.”
– Stephen Charnock, Discourse Upon the Existence and Attributes of God (London: James Blackwood and Co., ND), 699.

He has the whole of heaven and earth in his hand and can do whatever he wants to do. He has as much tenderness as he does authority. This is the God to whom we pray.

photo: FlyingSinger

Comfort Found in Musing on the Godhead

“Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”

– C.H. Spurgeon, in The Immutability of God.

Widening the Gap

God’s being is also something totally unique. It is not just that God does not need the creation for anything; God could not need the creation for anything. The difference between the creature and the Creator is an immensely vast difference, for God exists in a fundamentally different order of being. It is not just that we exist and God has always existed; it is also that God necessarily exists in an infinitely better, stronger, more excellent way.

The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, more than the difference between the ocean and a raindrop, more than the difference between the arctic  ice cap and a snowflake, more than the difference between the universe and the room we are sitting in: God’s being is qualitatively different. No limitation or imperfection in creation should be projected onto our thought of God. He is the Creator; all else is creaturely. All else can pass away in an instant; he necessarily exists forever.

– Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 162.

photo: amanderson2

Great is Thy Faithfulness

We may hold unswervingly to our hope because he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23). He is faithful to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), sanctify believers until the return of Christ (1 Thess. 5:23-24), strengthen and protect from the evil one (2 Thess. 3:3), and not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself (2 Tim. 2:13).

– Gordon R. Lewis, “God, Attributes of,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Ed. Walter A. Elwell, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 495.

The Decision to Marry

“The decision to marry somebody isn’t about maintaining an emotional high. It’s about making a wise decision. The wisdom of that decision is based on choosing someone to marry that you will love not only in their strengths, but you’ll be prepared to love and minister to in their weaknesses. Then, conversely, a wise decision is choosing somebody who will love you not just in the fun moments and in your strengths, but will minister to you and love you in your weakness. That’s a [wise] decision.”

– Winston Smith in a 9marks interview on Premarital Counseling, Pornography and Marriage.

photo: quan ha