Category Archives: Sanctification

“If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?” by John Owen

“This will be exceeding effectual to endear thy soul unto God, to cause thee to delight in Him, and to make thy abode with Him.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives, than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God;—that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close walking with Him.

What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not their unskilfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love?

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in Him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him.

But if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto Him.

This, if any thing, will work upon us to make our abode with Him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in Him.

I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the streams.

You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 35-36.

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“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works” by John Newton

“There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only shewing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from, and are nourished by, the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse was always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind.

I think I have known some Arminians—that is, persons who, for want of clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace—who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of.

Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.”

–John Newton, “Letter XIX: On Controversy,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 272-273.

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“As we ripen in grace, we shall have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians” by Charles Spurgeon

“As we grow in grace, we are sure to grow in charity, sympathy, and love; we shall have greater and more intense affection for the person of ‘Him whom having not seen we love.’

We shall have greater delight in the precious things of His gospel. The doctrine which perhaps we did not understand at first, will become marrow and fatness to us as we advance in grace.

We shall feel that there is honey dropping from the honey-comb in the deeper truths of our religion.

We shall, as we ripen in grace, have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians.

Bitter-spirited Christians may know a great deal, but they are immature. Those who are quick to censure may be very acute in judgment, but they are as yet very immature in heart.

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case.

He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.

As he has sometimes to say of himself, ‘This is my infirmity,’ so he often says of his brethren, ‘This is their infirmity,’ and he does not judge them as he once did.

I know we who are young beginners in grace think ourselves qualified to reform the whole Christian church. We drag her before us, and condemn her straightway.

But when our virtues become more mature, I trust we shall not be more tolerant of evil, but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms.

Sweetness towards sinners is another sign of ripeness.

When the Christian loves the souls of men, when he feels that there is nothing in the world which he cares for so much as endeavouring to bring others to a knowledge of the saving truth, when he can lay himself out for sinners, bear with their ill-manners, bear with anything, so that he might but lead them to the Saviour– then is the man mature in grace.

God grant this sweetness to us all.

A holy calm, cheerfulness, patience, a walk with God, fellowship with Jesus, an anointing from the Holy One– I put all these together, and I call them sweetness, heavenly lusciousness, full-flavouredness of Christ.

May this be in you and abound.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Ripe Fruit,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 16; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 16: 448–449.

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“A Collect for Peace” – The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

“Most holy God,

the source of all good desires, all right judgments, and all just works:

Give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give,

so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of Your will,

and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies,

may live in peace and quietness;

through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior.

Amen.”

The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2007), 123.

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“I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence” by John Newton

“In short, I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence.

But it is said, ‘We have an Advocate with the Father.’ (1 John 2:1)

Here hope revives; though wretched in myself, I am complete in him.

He is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30) On this rock I build.

I trust it shall be well with me at last, and that I shall by and by praise, and love, and serve him without these abatements.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 98.

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“Prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away” by John Newton

“One trial abides with me: a body of sin and death, an inward principle of evil, which renders all I do defective and defiled.

But even here I find cause for thankfulness, for with such a heart as I have, my sad story would soon be much worse if the Lord were not my keeper.

By this I may know that He favours me, since weak and variable as I am in myself, and powerful and numerous as my enemies are, they have not yet prevailed against me.

And I am admitted to a throne of grace, I have an Advocate with the Father. And such is the power, care, and compassion of my great Shepherd that, prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away.

When I am wounded, He heals me.

When I faint, He revives me again.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 170.

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“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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