There Can Be No Resistance

Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God that Father speaking powerfully to us, and regeneration is God that Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us, to make us alive.

Sometimes the term irresistible grace is used in this connection. It refers to the fact that God effectively calls people and also gives them regeneration, and both actions guarantee that we will respond in saving faith. The term irresistible grace is subject to misunderstanding, however, since it seems to imply that people do not make a voluntary choice in responding to the gospel – a wrong idea, and a wrong understanding of the term irresistible grace. The term does preserve something valuable, however, because it indicates that God’s work reaches into our hearts to bring about a response that is absolutely certain – even tough we respond voluntarily.

Wayne Grudem from Systematic Theology (pg. 699)

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No One Can, Unless ….

“Nobody who has not the Spirit of God can see a jot of what is in the Scriptures. All men have their hearts darkened, so that even when they can discuss and quote all that is in Scripture, they do not understand or really know it… The Spirit is needed for the understanding of all Scripture and every part of Scripture.”

Martin Luther (The Bondage Of The Will)

Most Important In A Church

The first mark of a healthy church is expositional preaching.  It is not only the first mark; it is far and away the most important of them all, because if you get this one right, all of the others should follow… If you get the priority of the Word established, then you have in place the single most important aspect of the church’s life, and growing health is virtually assured, because God has decided to act by His Spirit through His Word… The congregation’s commitment to the centrality of the Word coming from the front, from the preacher, the one specially gifted by God and called to that ministry, is the most important thing you can look for in a church.

Mark Dever (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church)

Repentance

Christians, do you have a sad regret of other things—and not of sin? Worldly tears fall to the earth—but godly tears of repentance are kept in a bottle. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8). Do not judge holy weeping to be wasted. Tertullian thought he was born for no other end—but to repent. Either sin must drown in the tears of repentance—or the soul must burn in hell.

Let it not be said that repentance is difficult. Things that are excellent deserve labor. Will not a man dig for gold—though it makes him sweat? It is better to go with difficulty to heaven—than with ease to hell! What would the damned give, that they might have a herald sent to them from God, to proclaim forgiveness upon their repentance? What volleys of sighs and groans of repentance, would they send up to heaven? What floods of tears would their eyes pour forth? But it is now too late! They may keep their tears to lament their folly—sooner than to procure God’s pity. O that we would therefore, while we are on this side of the grave, make our peace with God! Tomorrow may be our dying day; let this be our repenting day. How we should imitate the saints of old, who embittered their souls and sacrificed their lusts, and put on sackcloth in the hope of white robes. Peter baptized himself with tears; and that devout lady Paula, like a bird of paradise, bemoaned herself and humbled herself to the dust for sin.

Thomas Watson, 1668 (The Doctrine of Repentance)

Justice and Mercy at The Cross

Only the Christian gospel presents….a way in which justice and mercy kiss each other… First, Christianity confirms the fact that justice must be satisfied. Sin must be condemned according to its demerit. This means eternal doom. The sinner must be damned because God must be inexorably holy and just. His all-powerful Being must vindicate His all-holy Being. Christianity never compromises the ever-blessed purity and excellency of the divine nature. Second, Christianity alone finds a way to satisfy infinite justice and provide infinite mercy at the same time. What no other religion has dreamed of, Jesus Christ has accomplished. He underwent the infinite wrath of God against sin and lived to bestow His mercy on the damned sinners for whom He died. The infinite Son of God took upon Himself a human nature in which He underwent the full fury of the divine wrath. The omnipotent God satisfied His violated holiness by punishing sin completely in His blessed Son, who “became sin” for His people. The justice of God was vindicated in full in the substitute, His own Son, our Saviour dear. He survived that awful vengeance and rose victor over the grave by the power of His own divinity. Now He offers to every sin-sick and “pleasure” – burdened soul an everlasting mercy. Perfect mercy and perfect justice in the gospel of the crucified.

John Gerstner
The Problem of Pleasure, Soli Deo Gloria

ROUNDTABLE ON PARENTING: Jono Linebaugh, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Paul Tripp | LIBERATE 2012

Grow in grace

The way to open our hearts to others is by receiving afresh the grace of God and appreciating what it means: seeing our own need of Christ; coming to receive His mercy; sensing how undeserved His love for us is; remembering how He has also opened His heart to those whose hearts are closed against us. Then we will see that the heart which is too narrow to receive a fellow Christian is too narrow to enthrone the Lord Jesus Christ. But the heart that is opened to receive the grace of Christ will learn to welcome all those whom Christ Himself has welcomed. 

 Sinclair B. Ferguson (Grow in Grace)

“Close the front door and open the back door”

 

I reviewed some of the church growth material coming from our denominational headquarters. One publication said that, in order to get our churches growing again, we should “open the front doors and close the back doors”… What we actually need to do is to close the front door and open the back door!  If we really want to see our churches grow, we need to make it harder to join and we need to be better about excluding people. We need to be able to show that there is a distinction between the church and the world –  that it means something to be a Christian. If someone who claims to be a Christian refuses to live as a Christian should live, we need to follow what Paul said and, for the glory of God and for that person’s own good, we need to exclude him or her form membership in the church.

 Mark Dever  Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Crossway, 2000, p. 156-157.

Preachers and Preaching

  1. It is wrong to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences.
  2. In the end it may produce a condition in which what has determined the response of the man who ‘comes forward’ is not so much the Truth itself as, perhaps, the personality of the evangelist, or some vague general fear, or some other kind of influence.
  3. The preaching of the Word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking
  4. This method surely carries in it the implication that sinners have an inherent power of decision and of self-conversion.
  5. There is an implication here that the evangelist somehow is in a position to manipulate the Holy Spirit and His work. Some organizers today even predict the results.
  6. This method tends to produce a superficial conviction of sin, if any at all. People often respond because they have the impression that by doing so they will receive certain benefits.
  7. You are encouraging people to think that their act of going forward somehow saves them.
  8. It raises the whole question of the doctrine of regeneration. This is the most serious thing of all. This work is the work of the Holy Spirit, and His work alone, no one else can do it. And as it is His work it is always a thorough work; and it is always a work that will show itself.
  9. No sinner ever really decides for Christ.

 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones  – Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 269-279 (summary of his main points).

Found!

“A true Christian is not a sheep who has gone looking for the Good Shepherd and found a man who seems to fit the bill, but someone who has been looked for and found by God.”

Gerald Bray
God is Love (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2012), 20

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