ELECTION

GOD CALLS A PEOPLE

“’Your sins have made you disgustingly ugly.  But I love you anyway, not because you are attractive, but because it is my nature to love.’  And in the case of the elect, God adds, ‘I have set my affection on you from before the foundation of the universe, not because you are wiser or better or stronger than others but because in grace I chose to love you…’” D.A. Carson (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, p61).

“…he does not ‘fall in love’ with us; he sets his affection on us. D.A. Carson (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, p61).

“…it is only when…salvation…is ascribed to gratuitous election, we arrive at the knowledge that God saves whom he wills of his mere good pleasure…” John Calvin (ref#113, p607).

“…to extend the pleasure that God has in his own name, he calls out a people to enjoy and praise and proclaim that name” John Piper (ref#220, p125).  “…The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession…because the LORD loves you…” (Deut 7:6,8 ESV).

“God’s electing love is absolutely free.  It is the gracious overflow of his boundless happiness guided by his infinite wisdom.  Deut 10:14-15 describes the delight God had in choosing Israel from all the peoples of the earth” John Piper (ref#220, p128-129).

“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.  Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose…you above all people…” (Deut 10:14-15 ESV).

“…the way God decided to make a name for his glorious grace in the Old Testament was to choose a people for himself from all the peoples of the earth and to make that people the showcase of his redeeming work….In other words, in order to extend the pleasure that God has in his own name he chooses a people to enjoy and praise and proclaim that name to all the peoples.  And so God has pleasure in election” John Piper (ref#220, p132).

REDEMPTION

SABBATH RENEWAL

“…we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16 ESV).

“…the Spirit’s quickening is only the beginning of God’s work of grace in the soul.  This does not wholly renew the heart at once: no indeed, the inner man needs to be ‘renewed day by day’…” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p65).

“…the Sabbath…God is not satisfied by the people’s merely resting from their weekly labors; rather, inward sanctification is the primary purpose of the Sabbath…Sabbath is a sacrament of regeneration…” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).

“…though spiritual things always remain the same, yet we do not experience their effect or perceive their value unless we are careful that our lack of faith does not profane what God has consecrated to our salvation….Merely taking time off from work and going to church perfunctorily may be missing the most crucial benefit of all: the blessing of the Spirit in our inward sanctification.  By faith we must observe the wondrous grace of the sacraments, including this sacrament of regeneration” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).

FATHER, I learn keeping the Sabbath is just as important as following Your commands for You always link Sabbath-keeping with a call for obedience. One example:  “…they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes and profaned my Sabbaths…” (Ezek 20:16 ESV).

I ask that You fulfill my need for day to day regeneration by forever reminding me to keep the Sabbath so that I might not “lose the blessing of the Spirit” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).

1ST COVENANT

THE LAW OUR GUARDIAN

“…the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin…we were held captive under the law, imprisoned…So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came…” (Gal 3:22-24 ESV).

“The law took men into its training…to make the very best that could be made of them by external instruction….God dealt with them as men in whom, with all the ruin sin had brought, there still was a conscience to judge of good and evil, a heart capable of being stirred to long after God, and a will to choose the good and to choose Himself” Andrew Murray (ref#279).

“Before Christ and His salvation could be revealed and understood and truly appreciated, these faculties of man had to be stirred and wakened” Andrew Murray (ref#279).

  “The law, in short, was nothing else than an immense variety of exercises, in which the worshippers were led by the hand to Christ” John Calvin (ref#281).

“The law had promised life; but it could not give it (Deut iv. 1; Gal iii.21).  The real purpose for which God had given it was the very opposite:…He gave it that it might convince man of his sin and might so waken the confession of his impotence, and of his need of a New Covenant and a true redemption…” Andrew Murray (ref#279).

1ST COVENANT

OLD COVENANT LAW

“The LORD was pleased for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious” (Isa 42:21 ESV).

“To understand the Old Covenant aright we must ever remember its two great characteristics — the one, that it was of Divine appointment, fraught with much true blessing, and absolutely indispensable for the working out of God’s purposes; the other, that it was only provisional and preparatory to something higher, and therefore absolutely insufficient for giving that full salvation which man needs if his heart or the heart of God is to be satisfied” Andrew Murray (ref#279).

“The dispensation of the old covenant was one of distance….When He [GOD] manifested Himself on Mount Sinai to His own chosen…one of the first commands He gave was, ‘Set bounds about the mount’ (Exod 19:23)….It was as if the Lord…wanted to teach man that sin was…utterly loathsome to Him…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 15th PM, brackets mine).

“A…use of the Law is to curb sinners….not only the reprobate, but also of the elect, previous to regeneration” John Calvin (ref#113, p218).

“God’s end in giving us the law was, that we might be fitted for Christ, and obtain justification by believing in him” Matthew Poole (ref#282).  “People see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves…Hence, the importance of preaching the Law still;…it is needful that people should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy” Albert Barnes (ref#280).

FAITH

FROM FAITH TO FAITH

 “…the righteous will shall by his faith” (Hab 2:4 ESV).

“When faith and duty demand anything from us, we must close our eyes to all obstacles and go forward in our work; for all events are in God’s hands alone, and they will happen as he pleases.  Our duty is to proceed, even if we think our labors may be in vain and will not bear fruit” John Calvin (ref#164, April 28th).  FATHER, I desire help to possess the faith to allow the days to play out by Your hand.  May I find it not important whether I think I’m doing well or poorly.

“The grace you’ve been given is not just the grace of forgiveness and acceptance; it’s also the grace of empowerment.  So get up and follow….So here’s how this works.  God has promised to supply and empower; your joy is to follow him by faith where you live every day.  You don’t wait for the provision before you move.  God has not promised that you will see it beforehand.  You don’t try to figure out what God is going to do next and how he will meet your needs; you move forward in the certainty that he is with you, for you, and in you” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 6th).

“Would you have more faith?…Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace,–diligent in your private communion with God,–diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue,–diligent in your private Bible-reading,–diligent in your own private prayers” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p195).

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17 NIV).

“Faith…teaches us to hope for and to desire every blessing from God” John Calvin (ref#164, March 1st).

FAITH

INTELLIGENT FAITH

“…It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going….” (2 Cor 5:6-8 MSG).  “…Faith is the assurance of the heart in the adequacy of the evidence” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“When Jesus Christ and the apostles called upon a person to exercise faith, it was not a ‘blind faith’ but rather an ‘intelligent faith.’  The apostle Paul said, ‘I know whom I have believed’ (II Timothy 1:12)” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object.  The Christian concept of ‘saving’ faith is a faith that establishes one’s relationship with Jesus Christ (the object)…” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“’Faith in Christianity,’ Paul Little justifiably writes, ‘is based on evidence.  It is reasonable faith.  Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it.’” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“…defining faith…has to do with the substance (assurance grounded in reality) of our hope….It involves evidence (reliable proof) of things we can’t see.  God’s definition of faith removes it far from the realm of irrational leaps in the dark….Christian belief is based on fact” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p135).

“We shall have a full definition of faith if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit” John Calvin (ref#113, p360).

FATHER, I have found it is fatal to read something in Scripture then try to implement it in the flesh.  When I read about faith moving mountains, my carnal mind thinks, “this will take a lot of energy; I’ll have to conjure up a lot of faith.”

Moving with blind faith is like being willing to step over the cliff knowing nothing more—just closing my eyes tight and jumping—just trusting GOD to catch me.

No, no, no.  I must know my action is okayed by You, FATHER.  It is not about blind faith or my abilities; the SPIRIT must enable. There is something that must go on beforehand and it is not me talking myself into it.  It is the SPIRIT strengthening my faith by evidence giving me the confidence needed to proceed.  It is what I trust in but don’t yet see.

SCRIPTURE

THE BIBLE, GOD’S GIFT TO ME

“God’s Word has a claim…upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p47).

“Every word that God has given us in this Book claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him that spake it…God’s claim to be heard lies also in the condescension that has led Him to speak to us….Thou art so full of lovingkindness and tenderness that Thou wilt stoop out of heaven to converse with Thy sinful creatures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p46-47).

FATHER, You did not speak Your Word to me just to increase my knowledge but that it move me to change my conduct. Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p187)

“…to make progress in all the good things that he gives us, we must have his Word so we may be built upon it and grow more and more through it.  To bring this about, we must be teachable.  From day to day , we must labor to seek help in the Word to strengthen our faith…” John Calvin (ref#164, Oct 12th).

“We don’t see ourselves with clarity, but we think we do, and we don’t know ourselves with accuracy, but we are convinced we do….” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).  “…the mind was designed not to defend what we want, but to discover what is ultimately true….The purpose of the mind is not to rationalize subjective preferences, but to recognize objective reality and to help the heart revel in God” John Piper (ref#220, p261, underlining mine).  “Only when the Word of God is applied to a person’s life does he realize how deep and wide is his corruption” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 13th).

FATHER, I am reminded again what a great gift Your Word is as the SPIRIT convicts me of utilizing my mind all too often to “rationalize subjective preferences.”  How refreshing it is to follow “objective reality” reading Your Scriptures, instead.

“…we all need help.  It comes to us in the gift of God’s Word…” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).

SCRIPTURE

NECESSITY OF SCRIPTURE

“..thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Ps 138:2 KJV).

“…let us become stronger in the Word that God has been pleased to communicate to us…so we might have much greater love for his holy Word and give ourselves wholly to it” John Calvin (ref#164, Dec 31st).

“…the works of creation…while they testify to ‘His power and Godhead’—thus leaving man inexcusable for his atheism—nowhere supply an answer to the momentous question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’…They tell of a fallen, but not of a restored humanity” Octavius Winslow (ref#248, p33).

“We do not read anywhere that God delights in the cloud-capped mountains or the sparkling stars, but we do read that…His delights are ‘with the sons of men.’ (Prov 8:31)” Charles Surgeon (ref#34, Sept 21st AM).

FATHER, nature displays Your creative beauty and tells me there is a great and powerful GOD, but Your written words informs me of Your love for me personally.

“As a revelation of the love of God, His Word is inexpressibly precious.  We want to know more than the mind of God.  We are sinners, and we want to read His heart—His loving, gracious, sin-forgiving heart.  We want to know, not only what His thoughts and purposes are, but what His [thoughts] towards us are….And when we approach the subject yet closer…what a transcendent, marvelous unfolding of His love is presented in the gift of His beloved Son” Octavius Winslow (ref#248, p36)!

“…There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus….” (2 Tim 3:14-17 MSG).

“Beloved, let this be the one and chief object in your study of the Bible: the knowledge of Jesus.  The Bible is not a history, a book of science, a poem—it is a record of Christ.  Study it to know more of Him, His nature, His love, His work” Octavius Winslow (ref#248, p37).

“Of these Scriptures, He is the…substance, the sweetness, the glory—the one, precious, absorbing theme” Octavius Winslow (ref#248, p37).  “Search the Scriptures, know the Scriptures, love the Scriptures, and live the Scriptures” John Calvin (ref#164, Dec 31st).

“Whatever you neglect, neglect not the Bible” Octavius Winslow (ref#248, p37).

HOLY SPIRIT

BF’s COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 16:15-19

 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you…For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.    And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it….    (Matt 16:15-18 ESV).

 This passage comprises CHRIST announcing His FATHER’s church building program.  The FATHER, through the HOLY SPIRIT gave Peter his revelation.

The close identity to the words, “Peter” and “rock” in the original language means nothing.  The only connection “this rock” has to do with Peter is that he demonstrated how “the Father in heaven” conveys His will to His chosen.  The HOLY SPIRIT is the One through whom GOD will “build His church.”  The HOLY SPIRIT is the “rock.”

And he who is led by the SPIRIT—who is learning first hand by the “Father who is in heaven,” will possess the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and will “bind and loose” as the SPIRIT leads him because he is not doing as he wishes but as the FATHER wishes.

CHRIST was the first to demonstrate the indwelling operation of the HOLY SPIRIT.  While on earth he exhibited how the FATHER directed and implemented His will.  The prophet Isaiah speaks of it.  He “…shall not judge by what his eyes see…” (Isa 11:3 ESV).  He will not follow his human understanding, for “…the Spirit ofthe LORD shall rest upon him…” (Isa 11:2 ESV).

The HOLY SPIRIT led CHRIST through His tenure on earth and now CHRIST is announcing in this passage that the FATHER will lead His children to build His church through the HOLY SPIRIT. This “rock,” is the foundation—delivering all that is the predetermined will of GOD.  “…For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:10 ESV).  The FATHER’s reveals His will through the HOLY SPIRIT.

The FATHER, GOD was called a “rock” in the Old Testament (Ps 62:7), and JESUS was also called the ”rock” in the New (1 Cor 10:4).  And here the third Person of the Trinity is called “rock.”  The SPIRIT gave Peter the words, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.”  The SPIRIT will also give GOD’s chosen the way to build His church.

“…let us humbly suffer ourselves to be inwardly taught by the…Spirit alone…” John Calvin (Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, “Commentary on Matthew 16:17”).

HOLY SPIRIT

THE HOLY SPIRIT AS SPIRIT KNOWLEDGE

“…all that has been done by God the Father and by God the Son will be of no value to us unless the Spirit reveals these things to our souls” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Feb 29thPM).

 “’What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God”(1 Cor 2:9-10 ESV).

“…our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjectures, judgments, or reasons; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit” John Calvin (ref#113, p33).

“When the Holy Spirit…comes, he shall guide you into all truth.  For he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard….” (John 16:13 TLB).

“God’s truth comes to us through three essential processes: revelation, inspiration, and illumination” Carol Ruvolo (ref#228, p70).

“Revelation involves the actual disclosure of God’s truth…” Carol Ruvolo (ref#228, p70). “By revelation is understood those truths made known by supernatural means, because they lie beyond the power of man to discover” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p102).

“Inspiration is concerned with the means and processes by which these truths are made known” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p102).  “…inspiration has to do with recording divine revelation perfectly and completely…” Carol Ruvolo (ref#228, p70).

“…illumination is what enables us to understand that truth” Carol Ruvolo (ref#228, p70).   “…The Bible can neither be accounted for nor interpreted but by His [the SPIRIT’s] guidance…Revealed truth can be known only through the Revealer” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p15, brackets mine).

FATHER, since human reasoning is my default way of thinking, I ask Your help that I may train myself to be aware of the SPIRIT’s activity in giving the Truth.  I recognize my head knowledge has no ability to spawn appropriate spiritual actions.