Category Archives: Christian Theology

“He will keep me to the end” by John Newton

“I am still supported, and in some measure owned, in the pleasing service of preaching the glorious Gospel to my fellow-sinners. And I am still happy in an affectionate, united people.

Many have been removed to a better world, but others have been added to us so that I believe our numbers have been increased, rather than diminished from year to year. But most of our old experienced believers have finished their course, and entered into their rest.

Some such we had, who were highly exemplary and useful ornaments to their profession, and very helpful to the young of the flock. We miss them. But the Lord, who has the fulness of the Spirit, is, I hope, bringing others forward to supply their places.

We have to sing of abounding grace, and at the same time to mourn over the aboundings of sin, for too many in this neighbourhood have resisted convictions so long, that I am afraid the Lord has given them up to hardness of heart.

They are either obstinately determined to hear no more, or sit quietly under the preaching, and seem to be sermon-proof. Yet I hope and pray for a day of power in favour of some who have hitherto heard in vain.

Blessed be God, we are not without some seasons of refreshment, when a sense of His gracious presence makes the ordinances sweet and precious. Many miracles He has wrought among us in the twelve years I have been here.

The blind see, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised to spiritual life. Pray for us, that His arm may be revealed in the midst of us.

As to myself, I have had much experience of the deceitfulness of my heart, much warfare on account of the remaining principle of in-dwelling sin. Without this experience I should not have known so much of the wisdom, power, grace, and compassion of Jesus.

I have good reason to commend Him to others, as a faithful Shepherd, an infallible Physician, an unchangeable Friend. I have found Him such.

Had He not been with me, and were He not mighty to forgive and deliver, I had long ago been trodden down like mire in the streets. He has wonderfully preserved me in my outward walk, so that they who have watched for my halting have been disappointed.

But He alone knows the innumerable backslidings, and the great perverseness of my heart. It is of His grace and mercy that I am what I am: having obtained help of Him, I continue to this day.

And He enables me to believe that He will keep me to the end, and that then I shall be with Him forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton (Vol. 6; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 54-55.

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“Greater is He that is for us” by J.C. Ryle

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, as God, has almighty power. We see Him in these verses doing that which is proverbially impossible. He speaks to the winds, and they obey Him. He speaks to the waves, and they submit to His command.

He turns the raging storm into a calm with a few words,—’Peace, be still.’ Those words were the words of Him who first created all things. The elements knew the voice of their Master, and, like obedient servants, were quiet at once.

Let us mark this lesson also, and lay it up in our minds. With the Lord Jesus Christ nothing is impossible. No stormy passions are so strong but He can tame them. No temper is so rough and violent but He can change it.

No conscience is so disquieted, but He can speak peace to it, and make it calm. No man ever need despair, if He will only bow down his pride, and come as a humbled sinner to Christ.

Christ can do miracles upon the heart. No man ever need despair of reaching his journey’s end, if he has once committed his soul to Christ’s keeping. Christ will carry him through every danger.

Christ will make him conqueror over every foe. What though our relations oppose us? What though our neighbours laugh us to scorn? What though our place be hard? What though our temptations be great?

It is all nothing, if Christ is on our side, and we are in the ship with Him. Greater is He that is for us, than all they that are against us.

We learn from this passage, that our Lord Jesus Christ is exceedingly patient and pitiful in dealing with His own people. We see the disciples on this occasion showing great want of faith, and giving way to most unseemly fears.

They forgot their Master’s miracles and care for them in days gone by. They thought of nothing but their present peril. They awoke our Lord hastily, and cried, ‘carest thou not that we perish?’

We see our Lord dealing most gently and tenderly with them. He gives them no sharp reproof. He makes no threat of casting them off, because of their unbelief. He simply asks the touching question, ‘Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?’

Let us mark well this lesson. The Lord Jesus is very pitiful and of tender mercy. ‘As a father pitieth his children, even so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.’ (Psalm 103:13.) He does not deal with believers according to their sins, nor reward them according to their iniquities.

He sees their weakness. He is aware of their short-comings. He knows all the defects of their faith, and hope, and love, and courage. And yet He will not cast them off. He bears with them continually. He loves them even to the end. He raises them when they fall.

He restores them when they err. His patience, like His love, is a patience that passeth knowledge. When He sees a heart right, it is His glory to pass over many a short-coming.

Let us leave these verses with the comfortable recollection that Jesus is not changed. His heart is still the same that it was when He crossed the sea of Galilee and stilled the storm.

High in heaven at the right hand of God, Jesus is still sympathizing, still almighty, still pitiful and patient towards His people.

Let us be more charitable and patient towards our brethren in the faith. They may err in many things, but if Jesus has received them and can bear with them, surely we may bear with them too.

Let us be more hopeful about ourselves. We may be very weak, and frail, and unstable; but if we can truly say that we do come to Christ and believe on Him, we may take comfort.

The question for conscience to answer is not, ‘Are we like the angels? Are we perfect as we shall be in heaven?’ The question is, ‘Are we real and true in our approaches to Christ? Do we truly repent and believe?'”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 67-68. Ryle is commenting on Mark 4:35-41.

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“For eternity” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Like many others I owe an incalculable debt to William Still for the way in which he invested himself in me from my earliest encounter with him in my teenage years until his death in 1997. Particular conversations with him return to the front of my memory as I think of him now—and with respect to the work of the pastor none more clearly than the occasion on which he said to me, quietly:

‘I never preach now without believing that something will be done that will last for eternity.’

With some sense of the extent to which his ministry had that kind of effect on my own life, I recall thinking ‘That is the measure of faith I too need to have.’ The words have lingered with me now for four decades and been a constant reminder to me of Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s wise comment that it is not ‘many words’ but ‘words spoken in faith’ that God blesses.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, “Foreword,” in William Still, The Work of the Pastor (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, IV20 1TW, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1984/2010), 9.

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“It runs through the whole web of the world” by Stephen Charnock

“Can anything more delightful enter into us, than that of the kind and gracious disposition of that God who first brought us out of the abyss of an unhappy nothing, and hath hitherto spread His wings over us?

Where can we meet with a nobler object than Divine goodness?

What nobler work can be practiced by us than to consider it?

What is more sensible in all the operations of His hands than His skill, as they are considered in themselves, and His goodness, as they are considered in relation to us?

It is strange that we should miss the thoughts of it.

It is strange that we should look upon this earth, and everything in it, and yet overlook that which it is most full of, namely, Divine goodness (Psalm 33:5).

It runs through the whole web of the world. All is framed and diversified by goodness. It is one entire single goodness, which appears in various garbs and dresses in every part of the creation.

Can we turn our eyes inward, and send our eyes outward, and see nothing of a Divinity in both that is worthy of our deepest and most serious thoughts?

Is there anything in the world we can behold, but we see His bounty, since nothing was made but is one way or other beneficial to us?”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 347.

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“A record of His majesty” by John Calvin

“God has given us a record of His majesty in the holy Scriptures.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 180. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

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“His arms outstretched” by John Calvin

“When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

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“The Infinite One” by Mark Jones

“The doctrine of God’s infinity gives us great joy because it assures that our sins are forgiven, due to the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice. Additionally, we can rejoice that we as finite creatures can never comprehend the infinite.

Far from being a problem, this doctrine is a delight, for we shall one day be given glorious resurrected bodies. As Paul says, ‘Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven’ (1 Cor. 15:49).

In this exalted state, we will be able to perfectly apply our minds to the knowledge of God and Christ by means of the Holy Spirit illuminating our spiritual and intellectual faculties. We shall spend an eternity knowing God, because He is the infinite God.

Yet even for all eternity, we shall never fully comprehend God. Still, this impossibility remains our delight insofar as we have so much to look forward to in what awaits us.

By knowing God, I do not mean merely coming to a greater awareness of who He is but also coming to a greater awareness of all that He has done and will continue to do for us, including our understanding of His attributes displayed in the new creation.

We all, for example, shall be true scientists of the highest order. But we should always remember our established place as creatures. We serve an infinite God, and our praises in this life come so very short of what is due to Him.

But He accepts our praises, despite our weaknesses. The Infinite One stoops and stoops and stoops in order to raise us to places that are undeserved.

Our union with the infinite Son of God puts us in the most privileged place possible for a human being– far more privileged than Adam’s place in the garden. We belong to an infinite God who will satisfy us forever because He alone is in the position to pour out everlasting blessings on His creatures.”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 48-49.

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