Tag Archives: The Courage to Be Protestant

“Two-hundred-proof grace” by Robert Farrar Capon

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace—of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly.

The Word of the Gospel—after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection your bootstraps— suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home free even before they started.

Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”

–Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), 109-110.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Article 26: The Intercession of Christ” – The Belgic Confession (1561)

Article 26: The Intercession of Christ

“We believe that we have no access to God
except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor:
Jesus Christ the Righteous. (1 John 2:1)

He therefore was made man,
uniting together the divine and human natures,
so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty.
Otherwise we would have no access.

But this Mediator,
whom the Father has appointed between Himself and us,
ought not terrify us by His greatness,
so that we have to look for another one,
according to our fancy.

For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth
is there anyone who loves us
more than Jesus Christ does.

Although He was ‘in the form of God,’
He nevertheless ’emptied Himself,”
taking the form of ‘a man’ and ‘a servant’ for us; (Phil. 2:6-8)
and He made Himself ‘completely like His brothers.’ (Heb. 2:17)

Suppose we had to find another intercessor.
Who would love us more than He who gave His life for us,
even though ‘we were His enemies’? (Rom. 5:10)

And suppose we had to find one who has prestige and power.
Who has as much of these as He who is seated
‘at the right hand of the Father,’ (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3)
and who has all power
‘in heaven and on earth’? (Matt. 28:18)

And who will be heard more readily
than God’s own dearly beloved Son?”

–From The Belgic Confession, Article 26, as quoted in Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive, 1988), 103-104.

Leave a comment

Filed under Assurance, Christian Theology, Confession, Glory of Christ, Jesus as Priest, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Prayer, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Then Luther arose” by John Calvin

“At the time when divine truth lay buried under this vast and dense cloud of darkness;

when religion was sullied by so many impious superstitions;

when by horrid blasphemies the worship of God was corrupted, and His glory laid prostrate;

when by a multitude of perverse opinions, the benefit of redemption was frustrated, and men, intoxicated with a fatal confidence in works, sought salvation anywhere rather than in Christ;

when the administration of the sacraments was partly maimed and torn asunder, partly adulterated by the admixture of numerous fictions, and partly profaned by traffickings for gain;

when the government of the church had degenerated into mere confusion and devastation;

when those who sat in the seat of pastors first did most vital injury to the church by the dissoluteness of their lives, and, secondly, exercised a cruel and most noxious tyranny over souls, by every kind of error, leading men like sheep to the slaughter;

then Luther arose, and after him others, who with united counsels sought out means and methods by which religion might be purged from all these defilements, the doctrine of godliness restored to its integrity, and the church raised out of its calamitous into somewhat of a tolerable condition.

The same course we are still pursuing in the present day.”

—John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Trans. Henry Beveridge (London: W.H. Dalton, 1544/1843), 39-40.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Jesus Christ, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“The only haven of safety for sinners” by John Calvin

“We bid a man begin by examining himself, and this not in a superficial and perfunctory manner, but to cite his conscience before the tribunal of God, and when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced upon all sinners.

Thus confounded and amazed at his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God. And, casting away all self-confidence, he groans as if given up to final perdition. Then we show that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete.

As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, He has appeased the divine anger; by His blood, He has washed away our sins; by His cross, He has borne our curse; and by His death, He has made satisfaction for us.

We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith we come, as it were, into communion with Him.”

–John Calvin, “Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto” in A Reformation Debate, Ed. John Olin (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966/1539), 66-67.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Communion with God, Jesus Christ, John Calvin, Justification, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“The kingdom of God” by David F. Wells

“The kingdom of God, in the Gospels, is never a realm. It is a rule. And it is the rule of God. The primary idea in this language is that God Himself has begun to rule. It is present, but this reign still has to be concluded and consummated at some point in the future.

Let us not miss an important point here. It is that this reign, this rule, is something God is doing. The reason, clearly, is that this is not something that emerges from ‘below,’ which we ourselves can get going. It must come from ‘above.’ We cannot bring it about; only God can.

We can search for the kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, for example, but only God can bring it about (Luke 12:31; 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33). The kingdom is God’s to give and to take away. It is ours only to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32).

We can inherit it, posses it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt. 25:34; Luke 10:11). We can work for the kingdom, but we can never act upon it. We can preach it, but it is God’s to establish (Matt. 10:7; Luke 10:9; 12:32).

God’s inbreaking, saving, vanquishing rule is His from first to last. It has no human analogues, no duplicates, no parallels, and no surrogates. It allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the ‘age to come’ into our world is accomplished by God alone.

This is all about the spirituality that is from ‘above’ and not at all about that which is from ‘below.’ It is about God reaching down in grace and doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. For if this is God’s kingdom, His rule, the sphere of His sovereignty, then it is not for us to take or to establish.

We receive, we do not take; we enter, but we do not seize. We come as subjects in His kingdom, not as sovereigns in our own.”

–David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 196.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, David Wells, Kingdom of God, Quotable Quotes, The Church

“The church is to be otherworldly in the world” by David F. Wells

“The church is utterly unlike any other organization in the world. In the church are those who belong to another world. At least that is supposed to be the case. Why is this? Because when it gathers, it is hearing a summons to stand before the God of all eternity, to worship in awe before Him, to acknowledge His greatness, to humble itself, to learn to live in this world on His terms, and to do its business as His. It is in all these ways otherworldly.”

–David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 223-224.

1 Comment

Filed under Christ & Culture, Christian Theology, David Wells, Ecclesiology, Quotable Quotes, The Church, Worldliness

“The temptation the church always faces” by David F. Wells

“The temptation the church always experiences is to be like the world. It is the temptation to enjoy the comfort of a majority, to be at home, to be at peace, to have no enemies. Is it not true that we all yearn for such an experience? However, if the church is to be truly successful, it must be unlike anything else we find in life.”

–David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 224.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christ & Culture, Christian Theology, David Wells, Ecclesiology, Quotable Quotes, The Church, Worldliness