Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

“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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“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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“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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“The main business of the Christian life” by Jonathan Edwards

“Our subject exhorts us to seek a spirit of love, to grow in it more and more, and very much to abound in the works of love.

If love is so great a thing in Christianity, so essential and distinguishing, yea, the very sum of all Christian virtue, then surely those that profess themselves Christians should live in love, and abound in the works of love. For no works are so becoming as those of love.

If you call yourself a Christian, where are your works of love?

Have you abounded, and do you abound in them?

If this divine and holy principle is in you, and reigns in you, will it not appear in your life, in works of love?

Consider what deeds of love have you done?

Do you love God?

What have you done for Him, for His glory, for the advancement of His kingdom in the world?

And how much have you denied yourself to promote the Redeemer’s interest among men?

Do you love your fellowmen?

What have you done for them?

Consider your former defects in these respects, and how becoming it is in you as a Christian hereafter to abound more in deeds of love.

Do not make excuse that you have not opportunities to do anything for the glory of the God, for the interest of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and for the spiritual benefit of your neighbors.

If your heart is full of love, it will find vent and then you will find or make ways enough to express your love in deeds. When a fountain abounds in water, it will send forth streams.

Consider that as a principle of love is the main principle in the heart of a real Christian, so the labor of love is the main business of the Christian life. Let every Christian consider these things.

And may the Lord give you understanding in all things, and make you sensible what spirit it becomes you to be of, and dispose you to such an excellent, amiable, and benevolent life, as is answerable to such a spirit, that you may not love only in word and tongue, but in deed and truth.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, in Ethical Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 8, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1749/1989), 147-148.

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“The deep things of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“We shall gaze awhile upon the glory which awaits us. We shall say a little—and oh, how little it will be—upon that glory of which we have so sure a prospect, that glory which is prepared for us in Christ Jesus, and of which He is the hope!

I pray that our eyes may be strengthened that we may see the heavenly light, and that our ears may be opened to hear sweet voices from the better land.

As for me, I cannot say that I will speak of the glory, but I will try to stammer about it. For the best language to which a man can reach concerning glory must be a mere stammering.

Paul did but see a little of it for a short time, and he confessed that he heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter. And I doubt not that he felt utterly nonplussed as to describing what he had seen.

Though a great master of language, yet for once he was overpowered. The grandeur of his theme made him silent. As for us, what can we do, where even Paul breaks down?

Pray, dear friends, that the Spirit of glory may rest upon you, that He may open your eyes to see as much as can at present be seen of the heritage of the saints.

We are told that ‘eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ Yet the eye has seen wonderful things.

There are sunrises and sunsets, Alpine glories and ocean marvels which, once seen, cling to our memories throughout life. Yet even when nature is at her best she cannot give us an idea of the supernatural glory which God has prepared for His people.

The ear has heard sweet harmonies. Have we not enjoyed music which has thrilled us? Have we not listened to speech which has seemed to make our hearts dance within us?

And yet no melody of harp nor charm of oratory can ever raise us to a conception of the glory which God hath laid up for them that love Him. As for the heart of man, what strange things have entered it!

Men have exhibited fair fictions, woven in the loom of fancy, which have made the eyes to sparkle with their beauty and brightness; imagination has revelled and rioted in its own fantastic creations, roaming among islands of silver and mountains of gold, or swimming in seas of wine and rivers of milk.

But imagination has never been able to open the gate of pearl which shuts in the city of our God.

No, it hath not yet entered the heart of man. Yet the text goes on to say, ‘but He hath revealed it unto us by His Spirit.’ So that heaven is not an utterly unknown region, not altogether an inner brightness shut in with walls of impenetrable darkness.

God hath revealed joys which He has prepared for His beloved; but mark you, even though they be revealed of the Spirit, yet it is no common unveiling, and the reason that it is made known at all is ascribed to the fact that the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.’

So we see that the glory which awaits the saints is ranked among the deep things of God, and he that would speak thereof after the manner of the oracles of God must have much heavenly teaching.

It is easy to chatter according to human fancy, but if we would follow the sure teaching of the word of God we shall have need to be taught of the Holy Spirit, without whose anointing the deep things of God must be hidden from us.

Pray that we may be under that teaching while we dwell upon this theme.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Glory!” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 29 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883), 277–278.

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“Joy is the fruit of grace” by Charles Spurgeon

“Do not set too much store by your own feelings as evidences of grace. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is joy,’ but you may not at this moment be conscious of joy: trees are not always bearing fruit, and yet their substance is in them when they lose their leaves.

Some young people say, ‘Oh, we know we are saved, because we are so happy.’ It is by no means a sure evidence, for joy may be carnal, unfounded, unspiritual. Certain Christians are afraid that they cannot be in a saved state because they are not joyous, but we are saved by faith and not by joy.

The word of God is a more sure testimony to the soul than all the raptures a man can feel. I would sooner walk in the dark, and hold hard to a promise of my God, than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.

Precious as the fruit is, do not put the fruit where the root should be. Please to recollect that. Joy is not the root of grace in the soul, it is the fruit, and must not be put out of its proper position.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 27 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1881), 77.

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