Category Archives: grace

“A pastor who has been mastered by the unconditional grace of God” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Beloved, men who have only a conditional offer of the gospel, will have only a conditional gospel.

The man who has only a conditional gospel knows only conditional grace.

And the man who knows only conditional grace knows only a conditional God.

And the man who has only a conditional God will have a conditional ministry to his fellow men.

And at end of the day, he will only be able to give his heart, and his life, and his time, and his devotion to his people… on condition.

And he will love and master the truth of the great doctrines of grace, but until grace in God Himself masters him, the grace that has mastered him will never flow from him to his people.

And he will become a Jonah in the 20th century, sitting under his tree with a heart that is shut up against sinners in need of grace, because he thinks of God in conditional terms.

And that, you see, was the blight upon the ministry in the Church of Scotland of those days, men who were thoroughly Reformed in their confessional subscription, but whose bowels, whose hearts, were closed up to God’s people and to the lost in all the nations.

Wasn’t it Alexander Whyte of Freesen Georges that used to say there was such a thing as sanctification by vinegar that makes men accurate and hard? And that’s what they were.

When your people come and have been broken by sin, and have been tempted by Satan, and are ashamed to confess the awful mess they have made of their life, it is not a Calvinistic pastor who has been sanctified by vinegar that they need.

It is a pastor who has been mastered by the unconditional grace of God, from whom ironclad orthodoxy has been torn away, and the whole armor of a gracious God has been placed upon his soul — the armor of One who would not break the bruised reed or quench the dimly burning wick: the God of free grace.

It’s the pastor who will say, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to have you, but I have prayed for you; and when you are converted, strengthen the brethren.’

You see, my friends, as we think together in these days about a godly pastor… What is a godly pastor?

A godly pastor is a pastor who is like God, who has a heart of free grace running after sinners.

The godly pastor is the one who sees the prodigal returning, and runs and falls on his neck and weeps and kisses him; and says, ‘This my son was dead; he was lost and now he is alive and found.’

So that we discover, even in the stretching of our minds over this Marrow Controversy, that the first pastoral lesson we learn is really a question:

What kind of pastor am I to my people? Am I like the Father? Or am I like the elder brother, who would not go in?

–Sinclair B. Ferguson, “The Marrow Controversy Lecture #1: Historical Details,” p. 13. Consider taking a few minutes to listen to this powerful exhortation from Dr. Ferguson, that I trust will serve your soul.

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“You will never exhaust the supply of God’s grace” by Jerry Bridges

“God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

It is sufficient for all your needs; it is sufficient regardless of the severity of any one need.

The Israelites never exhausted God’s supply of manna. It was always there to be gathered every day for forty years.

And you will never exhaust the supply of God’s grace.

It will always be there every day for you to appropriate as much as you need for whatever your need is.”

—Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 152.

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“Oh it is a mercy that people need not be learned in order to receive the Gospel” by John Newton

“Oh it is a mercy that people need not to be learned men, fine reasoners, metaphysicians, in order to receive the Gospel and be happy!”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 155.

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“Do you hear the melody of the voice of Christ in the gospel?” by Jonathan Edwards

“In order to learn the new song, you must hear the melody of the voice of Christ in the gospel.

You have heard that the glorious gospel is that out of which this song is to be learned, and that ’tis Christ that must teach it. And this is the way that He teaches it: by causing the soul to hear the melody of His own voice in the gospel.

’Tis Christ that speaks to us in the gospel. Many hear His words, but they perceive no sweetness in them. They perceive no pleasantness in His voice, in the doctrines and invitations and promises of the gospel. ’Tis all an insipid thing and dead letter to them.

But to the godly, Christ’s mouth is found to be most sweet. You must perceive the sweetness of the voice. You must see the glory of those doctrines, and the sweetness of those invitations, and the exceeding preciousness of those promises.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “They Sing A New Song (Revelation 14:3)” in Sermons and Discourses, 1739–1742 (ed. Harry S. Stout, Nathan O. Hatch, and Kyle P. Farley; vol. 22; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2003), 22: 243-244.

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“Your worst days and your best days” by Jerry Bridges

“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.

And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

—Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 9.

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“Gospel truth is the only root whereon gospel holiness will grow” by John Owen

“These things are inseparable. Gospel truth is the only root whereon gospel holiness will grow.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 7: Sin and Grace (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 7: 188.

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“Beat it into their heads continually” by Martin Luther

“Just as our opponents refuse to concede to us the freedom that faith in Christ alone justifies, so we refuse to concede to them, in turn, that faith formed by love justifies. Here we intend and are obliged to be rebellious and stubborn with them, for otherwise we would lose the truth of the Gospel.

We would lose that freedom which we have, not in the emperor or in kings and princes or in the pope or in the world or in the flesh, but in Christ Jesus.

We would lose faith in Christ, which, as I have said, takes hold of nothing but Christ, the Jewel. If our opponents will let us keep intact this faith by which we are born again, justified, and incorporated into Christ, we are willing to do anything for them that is not contrary to this faith.

But because we cannot obtain this concession from them, we for our part will not budge the least little bit. For the issue before us is grave and vital; it involves the death of the Son of God, who, by the will and commandment of the Father, became flesh, was crucified, and died for the sins of the world.

If faith yields on this point, the death of the Son of God will be in vain. Then it is only a fable that Christ is the Savior of the world. Then God is a liar, for He has not lived up to His promises.

Therefore our stubbornness on this issue is pious and holy; for by it we are striving to preserve the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to keep the truth of the Gospel.

If we lose this, we lose God, Christ, all the promises, faith, righteousness, and eternal life.

But here someone will say: ‘But the Law is divine and holy.’ Let the Law have its glory. But no Law, no matter how divine or holy, has the right to tell me that I obtain justification and life through it.

I will grant that it can teach me that I should love God and my neighbor, and live in chastity, patience, etc.; but it is in no position to show me how to be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell.

For this I must consult the Gospel and listen to the Gospel, which does not teach me what I should do—for that is the proper function of the Law—but what someone else has done for me, namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death.

The Gospel commands me to accept and believe this, and this is what is called ‘the truth of the Gospel.’ It is also the main doctrine of Christianity, in which the knowledge of all godliness is comprehended.

It is, therefore, extremely necessary that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 90–91. Luther is commenting on Galatians 2:5.

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