"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for." - C. H. Spurgeon.
"Justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone does not lead to more sinning. On the contrary, it is the only sure and hopeful base of operations from which the fight against sin can be launched. All the bombers that go out to drop bombs on the strongholds of sin remaining in our lives take off from the runway of justification by faith alone. The missiles that we shoot against the incoming attack of temptation are launched from the base of justification by faith alone. The whole lifelong triumphant offensive called "operation sanctification" – by which we wage war against all the remaining corruption in our lives – is sustained by the supply line of the Spirit that comes from the secure, unassailable home-base of justification by faith alone. And it will be a successful operation – but only because of the unassailable home base."
- Dr. John Piper
“Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinner, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on top of it. View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, Ah! how he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcase, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in its natural state;...thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with graveclothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions; and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so there is a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou has lain in this estate, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God’s nostrils. And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy boasted free will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said ‘take away the stone” and cried “Lazarus, come forth,” also quicken you. This is grace, graciously offered, and grace graciously applied. Or as the Confession originally puts it, “grace offered and conveyed.” - George Whitefield
And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth. (Rev. 5:9-10)
"One of the glorious truths of Scripture is that Jesus is not a hypothetical Savior, a mere wanna-be who fails with regularity. No, we proclaim a powerful Savior who perfectly does the will of the Father. His death did not make the purchase of men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation possible, it actually accomplished that which the Triune Majesty intended. Why so many long for an "atonement" that atones not I will never understand, but when they make reference to the extent of the atonement, point them to this text that defines what it means to speak of the "world" in a New Testament context." - Dr. James White
"The perfection of Christ’s work of salvation—from the reality of God’s eternal decree, the deadness of man in sin, the effectiveness of His substitutionary death in behalf of the elect, to the application in time by the Spirit of God—is the sole and only basis of any consistent doctrine of perseverance or “eternal security.” Every system that reduces the work of Christ to the hypothetical level must abandon the solid rock of assurance that comes only from recognizing His awesome power. Reduce Jesus to the role of making us “savable” and you no longer have the slightest reason to believe that, once a person is in Christ, they will remain there. But strip man of his pretended autonomy, recognize his utter dependence and God’s unparalleled power, and the truth of the eternal nature of Christ’s saving work (and its inability to fail) will find a firm and necessary foundation. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness: He will never fail to do the Father’s will, and that is my hope (John 6:38–39)." - Dr. James White - Debating Calvinism, p. 406
"If all of us are so depraved that we cannot come to God without being born again by the irresistible grace of God, then it is clear that the salvation of any of us is owing to God's election. Election refers to God's choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith." - Dr. John Piper, in "What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism"
GRACE ALONE - "grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord."
"Because of God's amazingly generous heart toward those who thoroughly deserve only His wrath, He both planned for and provided this mediator to resolve the divine dilemma - a mediator who, through His blood, would accomplish a unique assignment utterly unlike any other work of mediation. In the mystery of His mercy, God - the innocent, offended party - offers up to death His own Son, to satisfy His righteous wrath and save the guilty party from it." C. J. Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life
"I will venture to assert that not one grain of Arminianism ever attended a saint [with him] into heaven... They may be compared to Paul, when he went from Jerusalem to Damascus, and the grace of God struck him down: he fell a free-willer; but he rose a free-gracer." - Augustus Montague Toplady, hymn writer, Rock of Ages
"If we hold that we become regenerate because we have already believed, then we have to show why we need to be regenerated at all... The doctrine of regeneration has a great deal to say about election and this doctrine of divine choice... The natural man hates this doctrine more than any other." - Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"If you say to me, 'Is it fair that the sin of Adam should be imputed to me?' I will reply by asking, 'Is it fair that the righteousness of Christ should be imputed to you?'" - Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"You think that if you had a long hand you could reach the grace of God. No, but if you have a withered hand, that grace can reach you." - C.H. Spurgeon
"To declare that God helps those who help themselves, is to repudiate one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, and in the Bible alone; namely, that God helps those who are unable to help themselves, who have tried again and again only to fail." A.W. Pink
"A man is opposed to Christ, he hates his gospel, does not understand it and will not receive it-- the Holy Spirit comes, puts light into his darkened understanding, takes the chain from his bondaged will, gives liberty to his conscience, gives life to his dead soul, ... and the man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus." - C.H. Spurgeon
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day." - Jesus (John 6:44)
1714 – 1770
8 Minutes in John Chapter 6 - Dr. James White
The Tower Experience
Romans 1:17 (and reading the insights of Augustine on this verse from a fairly obscure article he had written centuries before):
"For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” - Rom 1:17
"I greatly longed to understand Paul's epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression "the righteousness of God," because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.
My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that "the just shall live by faith." Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before "the righteousness of God" had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven..."
outstanding insights from both classical and contemporary writings
In the last 1,000 years, what came to be known as "The Tower Experience" of Martin Luther might well be the most significant historical event in the Western world for all the ramifications which ensued. Here are Luther's own words as he describes what happened as he was studying
"As grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace." - J.I. Packer
"We cannot respond to the good news of the gospel until we want Christ, and we cannot want Christ simply by a decision we can take at any moment we choose. We cannot say to our will, 'Will, will to belong to the Lord!' It is beyond our powers to do that. No one can will the will to will what it will not will! Only God's grace can set us free to come to trust in Him." — Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
"All that God has to do to harden Pharaoh's heart, or to harden your heart, is to withhold His own grace." - Dr. R. C. Sproul
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." - 1 John 2:19
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1
In the original Greek, the verb tenses in this verse are very revealing. A literal translation reads as follows: "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God." The fact that someone is presently going on believing in Christ shows that they have first been born again. Faith is the evidence of regeneration, not the cause of it. Since both repentance and faith are possible only because of the work of God (regeneration), both are called the gift of God in scripture (Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim 2:24-26).
GOD'S SELF EXALTATION - God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is not the act of a needy ego, but an act of infinite giving. The reason God seeks our praise is not because he won’t be fully God until he gets it, but that we won’t be happy until we give it. This is not arrogance. This is grace. This is not egomania. This is love.
MISSIONS - Missions is calling the world to do what they were created to do, namely, to enjoy making much of God forever. If missions does not reach a people with the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ, God will be dishonored and the people will be miserable—forever. Therefore we are driven by two motives (which turn out to be one): the glory of God, and the good of man. They are one because praise to God is the consummation of pleasure in God.
NEW BIRTH - We do not cause the new birth. God causes the new birth. Any spiritually good thing that we do is a result of the new birth, not a cause of the new birth. This means that the new birth is taken out of our hands. It is not in our control. And so it confronts us with our helplessness and our absolute dependence on Someone outside ourselves. (Finally Alive, pg. 27)
JOY IN GOD - We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full.
So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, He must not only give us Himself; He must also win from us the praise of our hearts—not because He needs to shore up some weakness in Himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because He loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising Him, the most magnificent of all Beings. (Desiring God, pg. 49)
GOD IS THE GOSPEL - "... all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully. Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven - none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him.... And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God."
THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST - "All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.
… Oh, that the almighty God would help us see and savor the supremacy of his Son. Give yourself to this. Study this. Cultivate this passion. Eat and drink and sleep this quest to know the supremacy of Christ.
EXPOSITORY EXULTATION - "Our hearts will not be drawn out to worship if someone just dissects and analyzes the worth and glory of God but does not exult in it before us. Our hearts long for true preaching. Some of us don't even know that is what we are missing.
Like children who grew up in homes where mom and dad never exulted in anything. They never rejoiced or praised or verbally admired and treasured anything. They were always flat and unenthused (except when they got angry). You couldn't tell if anything really moved them deeply and positively. So the kids grow up not knowing what they are missing. That is what many people in the church are like who have never tasted true preaching.
God exists to be worshiped—to be admired and treasured and desired and praised. Therefore, the Word of God is written primarily to produce worship. This means that if that Word is handled like a hot-dish recipe or a repair manual, it is mishandled. And the people will suffer.
The Truth of God begs to be handled with exultation. And our hearts yearn for this and need it. Something in us starts to die when precious and infinitely valuable realities are handled without feelings and words of wonder and exultation. That is, a church starts to die, without preaching.
Christian faith is shaped, and its nature determined, entirely by its object, just as the impression of a seal is shaped entirely by the die-stamp that is pressed down on the hot wax. The object of the Christian faith, Packer writes, is threefold:
first, God the Three-in-One, the Creator-become-Redeemer, who throughout history has been, and still is, transforming sinners into a new humanity in Christ; second, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate and Saviour, now absent from us in the flesh but personally and powerfully present with us through the Holy Spirit; and third, the many invitations, promises, commands and assurances that the Father and the Son extend to all who will receive Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and become his disciples, living henceforth by his teaching in his fellowship under his authority. Biblically, then, faith is a matter of knowing the facts of the gospel (the person, place and work of Jesus Christ), welcoming the terms of the gospel (salvation from sin and a new life with God) and receiving the Christ of the gospel (setting oneself to live as his follower, by self-denial, cross-bearing, and sacrificial service). Packer calls New Testament faith a “two-tone” reality: Believing the biblically revealed facts and truths about God, and trusting the living Lord to whom these facts and truths lead us, are the two “tones,” the intellectual and relational aspects, of real faith, blending like a chord in music. This is the understanding of faith that need to be re-established.
"Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty."
"The Word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed."
- John Calvin
"He that will maintain that man's free will is able to do or work anything in spiritual cases, be they ever so small, denies Christ." - Martin Luther, Table Talk
"If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly." - Martin Luther, quoted by C.H. Spurgeon - New Park Street Pulpit, Sermon 52, Free will - a slave, Vol One, p. 395
"The saved are singled out not by their own merits, but by the grace of the Mediator." - Martin Luther