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“Weaker than water but wonderfully kept” by John Newton

“With respect to my own experience, I have little now to add to what I have formerly offered. For, in one sense, every new day is filled up with new things:

–new mercies on the Lord’s part, new ingratitude on mine;
–new instances of the vileness of my nature, and new proofs of the power of sovereign pardoning grace;
–new hills of difficulty, new valleys of humiliation;
–and now and then (though, alas! very short and seldom) new glimpses of what I would be, and where I would be.

The everlasting love of God, the unspeakable merits of Christ’s righteousness, and the absolute freeness of the Gospel promises—these form the threefold cord by which my soul maintains a hold of that which is within the vail.

Sin, Satan, and unbelief, often attempt to make me let go and cast away my confidence, but as yet they have not prevailed. No thanks to me, who am weaker than water. But I am wonderfully kept by the mighty power of God, who is pleased to take my part, and therefore I trust in Him that they never shall prevail against me.

A vile sinner, indeed, I am. But, since God, who alone has a right to judge, is pleased to justify the believer in Jesus, who is there that shall dare to condemn? I bless the Lord for that comfortable portion of the Scripture, Zechariah, 3:1–5. When the Lord is pleased to pluck a brand out of the fire to save it from perishing, what power in heaven or earth shall presume or prevail to put it in again?

No. He has done it, and who can reverse it? He has said it, and His word shall stand. And I humbly believe, (Lord, help my unbelief,) that not one good thing shall fail of all that the Lord my God has, in His word, spoken to me of.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 55.

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“He kindled it, and He keeps it alive” by John Newton

“Let us be thankful for the beginnings of grace, and wait upon our Saviour patiently for the increase. And as we have chosen Him for our physician, let us commit ourselves to His management, and not prescribe to Him what He shall prescribe for us.

He knows us and He loves us better than we do ourselves, and will do all things well.

You say, ‘It never came with power and life to my soul that He died for me.’ If you mean, you never had any extraordinary sudden manifestation, something like a vision or a voice from heaven, confirming it to you, I can say the same.

But I know He died for sinners; I know I am a sinner.

I know He invites them that are ready to perish; I am such a one.

I know, upon His own invitation, I have committed myself to Him.

And I know, by the effects, that He has been with me hitherto, otherwise I should have been an apostate long ago.

And therefore I know that He died for me; for had He been pleased to kill me (as He justly might have done), He would not have shewn me such things as these.

I know that I am a child, because He teaches me to say, ‘Abba, Father.’

I know that I am His, because He has enabled me to choose Him for mine. For such a choice and desire could never have taken place in my heart, if He had not placed it there Himself.

By nature I was too blind to know Him, too proud to trust Him, too obstinate to serve Him, too base-minded to love Him. The enmity I was filled with against His government, righteousness, and grace, was too strong to be subdued by any power but His own.

The love I bear Him is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from Himself.

He kindled it, and He keeps it alive.

And because it is His work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 643–644.

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“His grip on us” by Marcus Peter Johnson

“Once joined to Christ, believers will never be separated from Him. This is not because our grasp on Christ is so strong, but because His grip on us is unbreakable.”

–Marcus Peter Johnson, One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 174.

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“I know” by John Newton

“I know Jesus died for sinners. I know I am a sinner.

I know He invites them that are ready to perish. I am such a one.

I know, upon His own invitation, I have committed myself to Him.

And I know, by the effects, that He has been with me hitherto, otherwise I should have been an apostate long ago.

And therefore I know that He died for me. For had He been pleased to kill me (as he justly might have done), He would not have shewn me such things as these…

I know that I am a child, because He teaches me to say, ‘Abba, Father.’

I know that I am His, because He has enabled me to choose Him for mine. For such a choice and desire could never have taken place in my heart, if He had not placed it there Himself.

By nature I was too blind to know Him, too proud to trust Him, too obstinate to serve Him, too base-minded to love Him.

The enmity I was filled with against His government, His righteousness, and His grace, was too strong to be subdued by any power but His own.

The love I bear Him is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from Himself. He kindled it, and He keeps it alive.

And because it is His work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 643-644. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 235.

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“His grip on us is unbreakable” by Marcus Peter Johnson

“The gospel is full of inconceivably extravagant promises from our Father. He has given these promises to provide His children with the full assurance of His freely given, irrevocable love, and they are grounded in His steadfast, immovable, unchangeable faithfulness.

What God promises He will infallibly bring to pass. And all the promises the Father makes are bound up inextricably in Jesus Christ, in whom they are fulfilled and completed: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ’ (2 Cor. 1:20, niv1984).

In order to bring to fruition all that He has promised us, God joins us indissolubly to the One in whom all the promises are contained, fulfilled, and secured. It is only in Christ that we benefit from any of God’s lavish pledges.

Thus, the assurance believers have that God will infallibly save them, and that they will never cease to be saved, is rooted in their being joined to the Savior. The Father gives us to the Son, and it is the Father’s will that the Son save us to the uttermost:

‘And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day’ ( John 6:39–40).

Our separation from Jesus Christ would mean nothing less than the failure of the Son to accomplish the Father’s will. Once joined to Christ, believers will never be separated from Him.

This is not because our grasp on Christ is so strong, but because His grip on us is unbreakable. We are not only perfectly and eternally preserved in Christ because His grasp is insuperable, but, should we need even greater assurance, Jesus tells us that His hold on us is undergirded by the invincible grasp of His Father:

‘I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one’ ( John 10:28–30).

The Son and the Father have a common and mutually re-enforcing grasp on those who belong to them. Indeed, we can say more: our preservation in Christ is anchored in the personal relations and purposes of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

The Father gives us to His Son through His Spirit or, alternatively, the Spirit joins us to the Son, and through the Son to the Father (John 14:16–20). Only a breach in the common unity and will of the triune Godhead could sever us from Jesus Christ.”

–Marcus Peter Johnson, One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 173-174.

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“His everlasting arms can bear us up” by Thomas Manton

“God is a great God, who taketh the care and charge upon Him of the sustentation and government of all things to their proper ends and uses. How soon would the world fall into confusion and nothing without His power and care!

Now this should recommend Him to our esteem and love. Oh, what a blessed thing is it to have an interest in this powerful and almighty God! All His strength and power is engaged for the meanest and weakest of His children.

1 Peter 1:5, ‘We are kept by the power of God to salvation;’ and therefore we are bidden to be ‘strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ Surely they are blessed that have such a mighty God on their side, and engaged with them against their enemies.

1 John 4:4, ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ He can enable them to do their work, satisfy their desires, maintain them in the midst of opposition: John 10:29, ‘My father, which gave them Me, is greater than all.’

Such is the efficacy of His providence, that He can subject all things to Himself, make them servants, to do what He would have them. Oh, how safe is a Christian in the love and covenant and arms of an Almighty God, whom he hath made his refuge!

Our trials are many, and grace received is small in the best. But our God is great. He that made all things, and sustaineth all things, and governeth all things, and possesseth all things, is our God.

Surely ‘His grace is sufficient for us,’ 2 Cor. 12:9, and His everlasting arms can bear us up: Deut. 33:27, ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ He can recover us from our falls, and lift us over all our difficulties.

If we could but rest upon His word and lean upon His power, why should we be discouraged? Oh, let us rejoice, then, not only in the goodness but greatness of that God whom we have chosen for our portion!”

–Thomas Manton, “Sermon XCVI – Psalm 119:91” in The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 7 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1872), 418-419.

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