Category Archives: Sanctification

“The way of most holiness is always the way of most happiness” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us leave the passage with the settled conviction that sin is sure to lead to sorrow, and that the way of most holiness is always the way of most happiness.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 263-264. Ryle is commenting on Mark 14:66-72.

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“The great fire of the love of God for us” by Martin Luther

“The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize Him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own.

This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ Himself, with His deeds and suffering, belongs to you. On this you may depend as surely as if you had done it yourself; indeed as if you were Christ Himself.

See, this is what it means to have a proper grasp of the gospel, that is, of the overwhelming goodness of God, which neither prophet, nor apostle, nor angel was ever able fully to express, and which no heart could adequately fathom or marvel at.

This is the great fire of the love of God for us, whereby the heart and conscience become happy, secure, and content. This is what preaching the Christian faith means.

This is why such preaching is called gospel, which in German means a joyful, good, and comforting ‘message’; and this is why the apostles are called the ‘twelve messengers.’

Concerning this Isaiah 9:6 says, ‘To us a child is born, to us a son is given.’ If He is given to us, then He must be ours; and so we must also receive him as belonging to us.

And Romans 8:32, ‘How should God not give us all things with His Son?’ See, when you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian.

Faith redeems you from sin, death, and hell and enables you to overcome all things. O no one can speak enough about this! It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world.

Now when you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows: that you take Him as your example, giving yourself in service to your neighbor just as you see that Christ has given Himself for you.

See, there faith and love move forward, God’s commandment is fulfilled, and a person is happy and fearless to do and to suffer all things. Therefore make note of this, that Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian. But Christ as an example exercises your works.

These do not make you a Christian. Actually they come forth from you because you have already been made a Christian. As widely as a gift differs from an example, so widely does faith differ from works, for faith possesses nothing of its own, only the deeds and life of Christ.

Works have something of your own in them, yet they should not belong to you but to your neighbor. So you see that the gospel is really not a book of laws and commandments which requires deeds of us, but a book of divine promises in which God promises, offers, and gives us all His possessions and benefits in Christ.”

–Martin Luther, “A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels (1521),” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 35 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 119-120.

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“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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“Our final destiny” by Sinclair Ferguson

“God the Father has destined us to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn of many brothers (Romans 8:29). This is our final destiny.

It is both individual and corporate. It is the climactic ingredient in the blueprints Scripture has drawn for our ongoing Christian experience.

It is the epicenter of all God’s work in us. It belongs to the essence of the process of sanctification and the holiness which is its end product.

Likeness to Christ is the ultimate goal of sanctification. It is holiness. It is therefore also the ultimate fruit of being devoted to God.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted To God: Blueprints For Sanctification (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 234-235.

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“Think and act with greater maturity” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Paul calls the church to think and act with greater maturity. He argues that the key issue is not merely legitimacy but spiritual profitability.

The question we need to be asking is not:

‘Is it alright for me to do this as a Christian?’

But rather these questions:

‘Is this going to build up?’

‘Is this going to strengthen the fellowship of God’s people?’

‘Is this going to advance my goal of running towards Jesus Christ and glory?’

‘Is this something that laying to one side will better enable me to serve Christ?’

So mature Christians develop an instinct to ask:

‘Will this bring most glory to God?’

‘Is this wise?'”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted To God: Blueprints For Sanctification (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 195-196.

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“Against the tide all the way” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Hebrews is all about persevering in sanctification. Without holiness, writes the author, ‘no one will see the Lord.’ We must therefore ‘strive’ for it (Hebrews 12:14).

He uses vigorous language. His verb (διώκω, strive) appears regularly in the New Testament with the sense of ‘persecute.’

Such strong language was needed here because these Christians were facing hardship and opposition. They therefore needed to pay careful attention to the gospel, to digest what they had heard, so that they would not drift away.

What do you need to do to slow down and go backwards in the Christian life? Hebrews’ answer is: ‘Nothing.” Drifting is the easiest thing in the world.

It is swimming against the tide that requires effort. And the Christian life is against the tide all the way. Spiritual weariness, being ‘sluggish,’ is one of our great enemies. The author is all-too-familiar with its tell-tale signs.

Christians then, as now, were confronted by many pressures. Some of them had suffered deeply for their testimony to Jesus Christ. We might think that anyone who has withstood trials would be in no danger of failing to persevere.

But the battle to be holy is fierce, the opposition is strong, and the obstacles are many. Even those who have won great victories in the past can become weary. Spiritual lethargy can set in, and we begin to drift.

We constantly need to be encouraged to keep going (Hebrews 3:12-13).”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted To God: Blueprints For Sanctification (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 191.

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“The whole Scripture” by John Newton

“I agree with you, that some accounted evangelical teachers have too much confined themselves to a few leading and favourite topics. I think this a fault, and I believe when it is constantly so the auditories are deprived of much edification and pleasure, which they might receive from a more judicious and comprehensive plan.

The whole Scripture, as it consists of histories, prophecies, doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortations, admonitions, encouragements, and reproofs, is the proper subject of the Gospel ministry.

And every part should in its place and course be attended to, yet so as that, in every compartment we exhibit, Jesus should be the capital figure, in whom the prophecies are fulfilled and the promises established, to whom, in a way of type and emblem, the most important parts of Scripture history have an express reference, and from whom alone we can receive that life, strength, and encouragement, which are necessary to make obedience either pleasing or practicable.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 275.

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