Tag Archives: Gospel

“God has life in Himself” by J.I. Packer

“Children sometimes ask, ‘Who made God?’ The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because He was always there.

He exists in a different way from us: we, His creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way— necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in Him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever.

We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is His eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.

God’s self-existence is a basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the world’s Creator, ‘is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else’ (Acts 17:23–25).

Sacrifices offered to idols, in today’s tribal religions as in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the Creator needs no such support system.

The word aseity, meaning that He has life in Himself and draws His unending energy from Himself (a se in Latin means ‘from Himself’), was coined by theologians to express this truth, which the Bible makes clear (Pss. 90:1–4; 102:25–27; Isa. 40:28–31; John 5:26; Rev. 4:10).

In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God. The doctrine of His aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes.

In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stands as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1–7), and grasping the truth of His aseity is the first step on the road to doing this.”

–J.I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 26-27.

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“The invitation is as free as the blessing is full” by Charles Spurgeon

“Everything that I believe to be in God’s Word I shall preach, whether my hearers accept it or not. It is to me a great comfort that such numbers do receive my teaching; and I never feel surprised when I meet with those who do not.

I do not expect everybody to eat everything that I put on the table. I may flavour a dish with too much salt or too much pepper at times, but your own prayerful judgments will guide your tastes.

We must preach all the truth; and this one thing is certain, we shall never give up loving the souls of men, or cease from trying to bring in the lost from the highways and hedges.

We shall throughout life echo that blessed call of our Lord Jesus— ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’

Labourers and burden-bearers shall hear continually that gracious word; and if they do not come to Jesus, their blood shall be upon their own heads, for the invitation is as free as the blessing is full.

The gospel trumpet rings out clearly over hill and dale. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’

We cannot make men come; that is the work of the Holy Spirit; but we can persuade them by the love of Jesus and by the terrors of the Lord.

We can preach Christ to sinners if we cannot preach sinners to Christ; and we know that the Lord’s word shall not return unto Him void.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel: 1883 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883), 207–208.

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“With His all-sufficiency He can fill and saturate the soul to an overflowing measure” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“All creatures, whatever the degree of their perfection may be, are dependent upon an external source for their being and well-being.

God’s perfection, however, excludes such a possibility, as He has no need of anything. No one can add to or subtract anything from His being, neither can anyone increase or decrease His felicity.

His perfection consists in His self-sufficiency, His self-existence, and that He is the beginning— the first (Rev. 1:8). His all-sufficiency is within and for Himself, the אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י (El Shaddai), the All-sufficient One (Gen. 17:1).

‘Neither is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything’ (Acts 17:25).

‘Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to Him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?’ (Job 22:3).

‘My goodness extendeth not to Thee’ (Ps. 16:2).

Thus there is no common ground between the perfection of God and of creatures— except in name. That which is in man is contrary to the perfection of God, however, and thus the perfection of God is an incommunicable attribute of God.

The salvation of man consists in knowing, honoring, and serving God.

Such is our God, who not only is all-sufficient in Himself but who with His all-sufficiency can fill and saturate the soul to such an overflowing measure that it has need of nothing else but to have God as its portion.

The soul so favored is filled with such light, love, and happiness, that it desires nothing but this.

‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee’ (Ps. 73:25).””

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1 (God, Man, and Christ), Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 1: 91.

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“Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace” by Thomas Watson

“All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. The mercy and pity a mother hath to her child is from God.

God is called, ‘The Father of mercies,’ (2 Cor. 1:3) because He begets all the mercies in the world. If God hath put any kindness into the creature, how much kindness is in Him who is the Father of mercy?

God’s mercy, as it makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God’s goodness.

Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud who live upon the alms of God’s mercy. ‘If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,’ (Job 10:15). All my righteousness is the effect of God’s mercy, therefore I will be humble, and will not lift up my head.

Mercy stays the speedy execution of God’s justice. Sinners continually provoke God, and make His fury come up in His face (Ezek. 38:18). Why is it that God does not presently arrest and condemn them? It is not because God cannot do it, for He is armed with omnipotence. It is because of God’s mercy.

Mercy gets a reprieve for the sinner, and stops the speedy process of justice. God would, by His goodness, lead sinners to repentance. It is only mercy that saves the sinner.

I might shew you several species or kinds of mercy: preventing mercy, sparing mercy, supplying mercy, guiding mercy, accepting mercy, healing mercy, quickening mercy, supporting mercy, forgiving mercy, correcting mercy, comforting mercy, delivering mercy, and crowning mercy.

God’s mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood. We may force God to punish us, not to love us: ‘I will love them freely,’ (Hos. 14:4).

Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace.

Election is free: ‘He hath chosen us in Him… according to the good pleasure of His will,’ (Eph. 1:4-5).

Justification is free: ‘Being justified freely by His grace,’ (Rom. 3:24).

Salvation is free: ‘According to His mercy He saved us,’ (Titus 3:5).

Mercy is free. If God should show mercy only to such as are worthy, then He would show none at all.

God’s mercy is an overflowing mercy. It is infinite: ‘Plenteous in mercy,’ (Ps. 86:5); ‘Rich in mercy,’ (Eph. 2:4); ‘Multitude of Thy mercies,’ (Ps. 51:1).

The vial of wrath doth but drop, but the fountain of mercy runs. The sun is not so full of light as God is full of mercy.

God hath morning-mercies: ‘They are new every morning,’ (Lam. 3:23). God hath night-mercies: ‘In the night his song shall be with me,’ (Ps. 42:8).

God hath mercies under heaven, those we taste of; and in heaven, those we hope for.

God’s mercy is eternal: ‘The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting,’ (Ps. 103:17). It is repeated twenty-six times in one psalm, ‘His mercy endureth forever,’ (Ps. 136).

The souls of the blessed shall be ever bathing themselves in this sweet and pleasant ocean of God’s mercy. God’s anger to His children lasts but a while (Ps. 103:17), but His mercy lasts forever.

As long as He is God He will be shewing mercy. As His mercy is overflowing, so it is everflowing.”

–Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1970), 95-96.

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“Turn from broken cisterns and drink from the Fountain of living waters” by Joel Beeke

“This is only a sampling of the many false views about God. Calvin rightly said, ‘Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.’ (Institutes, 1.11.8)

It is not our intention, however, to look down upon other people and thank God that we are not as other men, but to reflect upon ourselves and cry out, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:11, 13).

The sad fact is that the idols we have just exposed exist in hearts that attend Christian churches every Lord’s Day. To indulge in sin is practical atheism. If our hearts are divided in loyalty, we are guilty of polytheism.

Whenever we give our adoration to created things, we live as practical pantheists. Our trust in our own thoughts and feelings as if they had divine authority is no better than panentheism.

When we fail to trust God’s sovereign providence and plan for the future, we engage in finite theism. We might add other idols to the list, such as greed for material things (Col. 3:5).

John’s warning ‘Keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21) is directed to believers, and the only idols he specifically lists in that epistle are ‘the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ (1 John 2:16).

How pitiful are such things compared to the true God! He is the great ‘I AM,’ the infinitely personal and immanently sovereign Lord. His beauty shines in the world that He created, but He is not the world.

Instead, He transcends the cosmos in glorious and eternal independence. Unspeakable splendor and joy dwell in His presence. And all who trust in Christ have access to His presence, the holy place, even while they sojourn on earth.

God’s wisdom, righteousness, and power radiate from the crucified Christ. At the cross, while all natural glory lay in ruins, God was redeeming the nations.

The resurrected Lord now reigns over all things as the only Mediator of the kingdom of grace. He will return with the holy angels to Judge the wicked and reward those made righteous by grace.

God’s call for men to repent of idolatry is not the death knell of human happiness, but the beginning of real life. God commands us to turn from broken cisterns and drink from the Fountain of living waters.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit say, ‘Come, eat and drink.’ The feast to which they summon us is nothing less than fellowship with the One true and living God.”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God, Volume 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 1: 602-603.

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“Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of our best friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.

He suffered that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of hell, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure. His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.

Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best friend. And we have this friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.

And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved. Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed.

In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy; even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.

When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place.

When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.

Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’ If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth.

He will be our light in darkness and our morning star that is a bright harbinger of day. And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.

That this glorious Redeemer would manifest his glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam, your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,

And most humble servant,

Jonathan Edwards.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; Vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 418–419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge to Lady Pepperrell on November 28, 1751, to console her on the loss of her son.

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“A rock rising above the storm” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“How sweet that Jesus ever liveth!

He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness.

Then He is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation,—a rock rising above the storm.”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 289.

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