Category Archives: Holy Spirit

“The safe-guard of Christ’s Church” by J.C. Ryle

“That old enemy of mankind, the devil, has no more subtle device for ruining souls than that of spreading false doctrine. ‘A murderer and a liar from the beginning,’ he never ceases going to and fro in the earth, ‘seeking whom he may devour.’

Outside the Church he is ever persuading men to maintain barbarous customs and destructive superstitions. Human sacrifice to idols,—gross, revolting, cruel, disgusting worship of abominable false deities,—persecution, slavery, cannibalism, child-murder, devastating religious wars,—all these are a part of Satan’s handiwork, and the fruit of his suggestions. Like a pirate, his object is to ‘sink, burn, and destroy.’

Inside the Church he is ever labouring to sow heresies, to propagate errors, to foster departures from the faith. If he cannot prevent the waters flowing from the Fountain of Life, he tries hard to poison them. If he cannot destroy the medicine of the Gospel, he strives to adulterate and corrupt it. No wonder that he is called ‘Apollyon, the destroyer.’

The Divine Comforter of the Church, the Holy Ghost, has always employed one great agent to oppose Satan’s devices. That agent is the Word of God.

The Word expounded and unfolded, the Word explained and opened up, the Word made clear to the head and applied to the heart,—the Word is the chosen weapon by which the devil must be confronted and confounded.

The Word was the sword which the Lord Jesus wielded in the temptation. To every assault of the Tempter, He replied, ‘It is written.’

The Word is the sword which His ministers must use in the present day, if they would successfully resist the devil.

The Bible, faithfully and freely expounded, is the safe-guard of Christ’s Church.”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (London: William Hunt and Company, 1885), 347–348.

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“Seeing is a gift” by John Piper

“No one decides to see glory. And no one merely decides to experience the Christian Scriptures as the all-compelling, all-satisfying truth of one’s life.

In the end, seeing is a gift. And so the free embrace of God’s word is a gift.

God’s Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, and what was once boring, or absurd, or foolish, or mythical is now self-evidently real.

You can pray and ask God for that miracle. I ask daily for fresh eyes for His glory.”

–John Piper, A Peculiar Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 283.

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“The heartbeat of God’s entire revelation” by Herman Bavinck

“In the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity. Though foreshadowed in the Old Testament, it only comes to light fully in Christ.

Religion can be satisfied with nothing less than God himself. Now in Christ God Himself comes out to us, and in the Holy Spirit He communicates Himself to us.

The work of re-creation is trinitarian through and through. From God, through God, and in God are all things.

Re-creation is one divine work from beginning to end, yet it can be described in terms of three agents: it is fully accomplished by the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.

A Christian’s faith life, accordingly, points back to three generative principles. ‘We know all these things,’ says article 9 of the Belgic Confession, ‘from the testimonies of holy Scripture, as well as from the operations of the persons, especially from those we feel within ourselves.’

We know ourselves to be children of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and in communion with both through the Holy Spirit. Every blessing, both spiritual and material, comes to us from the triune God.

In that name we are baptized; that name sums up our confession; that name is the source of all the blessings that come down to us; to that name we will forever bring thanksgiving and honor; in that name we find rest for our souls and peace for our conscience.

Christians have a God above them, before them, and within them. Our salvation, both in this life and in the life to come, is bound up with the doctrine of the Trinity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Vol. 4, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 4: 333–334.

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“There is another kind of reading” by John Piper

“The Bible is a book. Jesus came in the flesh and was called the Word of God. He taught many things, and He did many things. He died for sins, and He rose again. He founded the church and poured out the Holy Spirit.

All that foundational speaking and doing is preserved in a book. My ninth point is this: reading a substantial book well is hard mental work.

You learned your native language when you were very young– before you were five years old. You didn’t know you were working when you did it. And so most of us assume that reading just comes naturally.

But there is more than one kind of reading. One kind of reading is passive and involves very little aggressive effort to understand. We just take what comes and let it happen to us.

But there is another kind of reading that is very active, and digs down into the author’s mind, and wants to understand everything it sees. It may sound strange to say it, but one of the most scholarly things I ever learned was that many parts of the Bible (like Paul’s letters and Jesus’s sermons) are less like a string of pearls and more like chains of steel.

That is, the authors don’t just give a sequence of spiritual gems; they forge a chain of logical argumentation. Their statements hang together. They are linked. One connects to another, and those two connect to another, and those three to another, and so on as the unbreakable argument of glorious truth extends through a passage.

And, when the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds, this chain of argumentation is on fire.

Rigorous reading– scholarly reading– traces these kinds of argumentation. Each proposition begins with a logical connector (‘for,’ ‘that is,’ ‘as,’ ‘because,’ ‘ever since,’ ‘and,’ ‘therefore,’ etc.). These small words are among the most important in the Bible. They tell us how the statements are related to each other…

On and on the chain of argumentation grows. Words become statements, and statements are linked to form larger units. And these larger units are linked to build whole books.

The point here is simply: since much of the Bible is written this way, pastors are called to trace these arguments with active, careful, rigorous reading, and explain statements and the connections and the larger units to their people, and then apply them to their lives. This kind of reading is exceedingly demanding.

All this is involved in the fact that God revealed Himself to the church through the centuries in a book. He did not have to give the church a book. He could have done it in another way. He could have just given daily dreams to His people. He could have caused dramatizations to appear in the sky.

He could have communicated to a select few with secret knowledge and made them memorize everything and pass it on to another select few in each generation. He could have communicated to us any way He wanted to. And He did it in a book.

This is one reason that everywhere the Christian church has spread, there have been not only churches and hospitals, but also schools– places of rudimentary and then advanced scholarship. It’s because we’re dependent on a book. Since our faith is rooted in the understanding of a book, we want people to learn to read, and then to have the Bible in their language, and to learn how to think carefully and doctrinally about the book.

So the very existence of the Bible as a book signals that the pastor is called to read carefully and accurately and thoroughly and honestly.”

–John Piper and D.A. Carson, The Pastor As Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 64-66.

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“His measureless benevolence” by John Calvin

“Godly souls can gather great assurance and delight from this Sacrament. In it they have a witness of our growth into one body with Christ such that whatever is His may be called ours.

As a consequence, we may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which He is the heir, is ours. And that the Kingdom of Heaven, into which He has already entered, can no more be cut off from us than from Him.

And again that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt He has absolved us, since He willed to take them upon Himself as if they were His own.

This is the wonderful exchange which, out of His measureless benevolence, He has made with us:

that, becoming Son of man with us, He has made us sons of God with Him;

that, by His descent to earth, He has prepared an ascent to heaven for us;

that, by taking on our mortality, He has conferred His immortality upon us;

that, accepting our weakness, He has strengthened us by His power;

that, receiving our poverty unto Himself, He has transferred His wealth to us;

that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon Himself (which oppressed us), He has clothed us with His righteousness.

In this Sacrament we have such full witness of all these things that we must certainly consider them as if Christ here present were Himself set before our eyes and touched by our hands.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vols. 1-2; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), (4.17.2-3), pp. 1361–1362.

[HT: Matt Merker]

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“Smoothing out wrinkles and cleansing spots” by John Calvin

“If we are not willing to admit a church unless it be perfect in every respect, we leave no church at all. True, indeed, is Paul’s statement:

‘Christ … gave himself up for the church that he might sanctify her; he cleansed her by the washing of water in the word of life, that he might present her to himself as his glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle,’  [Eph. 5:25–27].

Yet it also is no less true that the Lord is daily at work in smoothing out wrinkles and cleansing spots. From this it follows that the church’s holiness is not yet complete.

The church is holy, then, in the sense that it is daily advancing and is not yet perfect: it makes progress from day to day but has not yet reached its goal of holiness.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), IV.i.17; p. 1031.

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“The ever-living, eternally youthful Word” by Herman Bavinck

“Holy Scripture is not an arid story or ancient chronicle but the ever-living, eternally youthful Word, which God, now and always, issues to His people. It is the eternally ongoing speech of God to us.

It does not just serve to give us historical information; it does not even have the intent to furnish us a historical story by the standard of reliability demanded in other realms of knowledge.

Holy Scripture is tendentious: whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope [Rom. 15:4].

Scripture was written by the Holy Spirit that it might serve Him in guiding the church, in the perfecting of the saints, in building up the body of Christ.

In it God daily comes to His people.

In it He speaks to His people, not from afar but from nearby.

In it He reveals himself, from day to day, to believers in the fullness of His truth and grace.

Through it He works His miracles of compassion and faithfulness. Scripture is the ongoing rapport between heaven and earth, between Christ and His church, between God and His children.

It does not just tie us to the past; it binds us to the living Lord in the heavens.

It is the living voice of God, the letter of the omnipotent God to His creature.

God once created the world by the word, and by that word He also upholds it [Heb. 1:2, 3].

But He also re-creates it by the word and prepares it to be His dwelling. Divine inspiration, accordingly, is a permanent attribute of Holy Scripture.

It was not only ‘God-breathed’ at the time it was written; it is ‘God-breathing.’

‘It was divinely inspired, not merely while it was written, God breathing through the writers; but also, whilst it is being read, God breathing through the Scripture, and the Scripture breathing Him [He being their very breath].’ (Bengel)

Having come forth from revelation, it is kept alive by divine inspiration and made efficacious.

It is the Holy Spirit who maintains both prophecy and miracle, Scripture and church, joining them together, thus preparing the parousia.

Some day when being and consciousness are completely renewed, revelation will end and Scripture will no longer be necessary.

Divine inspiration (θεοπνευστια) will then be the portion of all God’s children. They will all be taught by the Lord and serve Him in His temple. Prophecy and miracle have then become ‘nature,’ for God dwells among His people.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, Vol. 1  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 384-385.

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