Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

“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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“God’s purpose” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“Consider for a moment from whom your life, breath, and whatever you possess proceed– the air which you breathe; the sun, moon, and stars which illuminate and delight you; the heavens which cover you; the earth on which you walk; the food and drink you partake of; and the animals which you use.

Does all this proceed from you? Are you worthy of them? Is not all this the Lord’s? Is it not He who, each day again, grants you His goodness in spite of your unworthiness and sinfulness? Yes, children of God, is it not the Lord who has granted you that precious Savior, who grants you the Holy Spirit, who graces you with spiritual light and life, and who has prepared eternal glory for you?

Everything will return from whence it proceeded. Therefore let your heart, while conscious of your insignificance and reflecting upon the inestimable value of the blessings and goodness of the Lord, also bring all this to Him, and with a heart filled with love and adoration cry out, ‘For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Him be glory forever. Amen’ (Rom. 11:36).

Consider the purpose for which God has placed you upon the earth. Is it only to labor and to rest, to eat and to drink, and to return again to nothing after many troubles and activities? Tell me, why are you here? Is it to know, acknowledge, and glorify your Maker?

And, children of God, to what end has He regenerated you and placed you in His church? Did He do so without purpose? Is it merely to lead you by that way to heaven? No, but it is that you would glorify Him upon earth.

Observe this in the following passages: ‘This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise’ (Isa. 43:21); ‘…that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified’ (Isa. 61:3); ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light’ (1 Pet. 2:9).

You would not have been born, you would not live, and you would not receive and have what you enjoy, if this were not the purpose. If this is the purpose, what else is there to do for you but this?

God has, to some degree, been pleased to place His interests and honor into your hand, and has appointed you to be the heralds of His Name. Ought you then not to see to it how you preserve this precious gift entrusted to you, and how you answer to God’s purpose and engage inestimable activity?

Well, arise therefore, and engage in it with delight.”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 3, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 3: 256-257.

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“Cross and crown” by Herman Bavinck

“Cross and crown, death and resurrection, humiliation and exaltation lie on the same line. As Jesus Himself put it after His resurrection: It was necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and so enter His glory (Luke 24:26).

The sum and substance of the original gospel, therefore, was the Christ who died and rose again. The cross was an immense offense—also for the disciples (Matt. 26:31). But for them that offense was removed by the resurrection.

Then they perceived that Jesus had to die and did die in accordance with the counsel of the Father (Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28), and that by His resurrection God had made Him a cornerstone (4:11; 1 Peter 2:6), Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), a Leader and a Savior (5:31), the Lord of all (10:36), the Lord of glory (James 2:1), in order by Him to give repentance, forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; 1 Peter 1:3ff., 21), outside of whom there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).

Now taken up into heaven, He remains there until He comes again for judgment (1:11; 3:21), for He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead (10:42; 17:31), and then all things will be restored of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old (3:21).

Similarly Paul teaches that Christ, though He was the Son of God even before His incarnation (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15), was designated Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). Then He received a spiritual, glorified body (1 Cor. 15:45; Phil. 3:21), became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17), the firstborn of the dead (Col. 1:18), who from then on lives to God forever (Rom. 6:10).

Precisely because of His deep humiliation, God highly exalted Him, giving Him the name that is above every other name, that is, the name ‘Lord’ (1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11), granting Him dominion over the living and the dead (Rom. 14:9), and subjecting all things under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25, 27).

As such He is the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8), seated at God’s right hand (Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 2:8), in whom the fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Col. 1:19; 2:9), who is the head of the church, prays for it, and fills it with all the fullness of God (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:23; 3:19; 4:16).

The Letter to the Hebrews further adds to this profile the unique idea that Christ, the Son, who with the Father was the Creator of all things, was also appointed ‘the heir of all things’ (Heb. 1:2; 2:8) by the Father and designated eternal high priest (5:6; 7:17).

But for a short time, in order to attain this destiny, He had to become lower than the angels (2:7, 9), assume our flesh and blood (2:14), become like us in all respects except sin (2:17; 4:15), and learn obedience from the things He suffered (5:8).

But thereby He also sanctified, that is, perfected Himself (2:10; 5:9; 7:28), and was designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (5:10). This, accordingly, is the sum of the things of which the Letter to the Hebrews says that we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (1:13; 8:1; 10:12).

He who is the liturgist of the heavenly sanctuary (8:2), a high priest, therefore, who is at the same time the king whose throne is established forever (1:8), who is crowned with honor and glory (2:9), subjects all things under Him (2:8), and is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them (5:9; 7:25; 10:14).

The Apocalypse, finally, loves to picture Christ as the Lamb who purchased us and washed us by his blood (5:9; 7:14) but also as the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5), the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who with the Father sits on the throne, has power and honor and glory, even the keys of Hades and death (1:18; 3:21; 5:12–13; 19:16). Clothed with such power, He rules and protects His church (2:1, 18; etc.) and will one day triumph over all His enemies (19:12f.).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 423-424.

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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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“You shall not wait in vain” by John Newton

“Though our sins have been deep-dyed, like scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, and countless as the sands, the sum total is, but, Sin has abounded. But where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded.

After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in His own hands, yet He has commanded us to attempt comforting one another. I should rejoice to be His instrument of administering comfort to you.

I shall hope to hear from you soon, and that you will then be able to inform me He has restored to you the joys of His salvation. But if not yet, wait for Him, and you shall not wait in vain.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 288.

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“A Christian’s growth” by John Newton

“A Christian is not of hasty growth, like a mushroom, but rather like the oak, the progress of which is hardly perceptible, but in time becomes a great deep-rooted tree.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 285.

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