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Pastoral Care Practical Notes Quotations

Sanctification Is Also By Grace

Walter Marshall The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Direction IX, Subpoint 3

The usual method of gospel doctrine, as it is delivered to us in the Holy Scriptures, is first, to comfort our hearts, and in this way to establish us in every good word and work (2 Thess. 2:17). And it appears how clearly this method is adjusted in several Epistles written by the apostles, in which they first acquaint the churches with the rich grace of God towards them in Christ, and the spiritual blessings which they are made partakers of for their strong consolation, and they exhort them to a holy conversation, answerable to such privileges. And it is not only the method of whole Epistles, but of many particular exhortations to duty, in which the comfortable benefits of the grace of God in Christ are made use of as arguments and motives to stir up the saints to a holy practice; which comfortable benefits must first be believed, and the comfort of them applied to our own souls, or else they will not be forcible to engage us to the practice for which they are intended.

To give you a few instances, out of a multitude that might be alleged, we are exhorted to practice holy duties because we are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:11); and because sin shall not have dominion over us, for we are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14); because we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and God will quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9, 11); because our bodies are the members of Christ and the temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:15, 19); because God has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21); and has promised that He will dwell in us, and walk in us, and be to us a Father, and we shall be to Him sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18; 7:1); because God has forgiven us for Christ’s sake, and accounts us His dear children; and Christ has loved us, and given Himself for us; and we, that were sometimes darkness, are now light in the Lord (Eph. 4:32; 5:1, 2, 8 ); because we are risen with Christ and, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:1, 4); because God has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5); because of the many promises made to us (2 Cor. 7:1). Search the Scriptures, and you may with delight see that this is the vein that runs through gospel exhortations, and you may find the like vein of comfort running through the prophetical exhortations in the Old Testament.

Some may object that the apostles used this method, in their writings to saints, who had practiced holiness already, that so they might continue and increase therein. But to that I may easily reply, ‘If it be a method needful for grown saints, much more for beginners, that find the work of obedience most difficult and have most need of strong consolation.’ And I hope to show how we may be able to lay hold of these consolations by faith, in the very first beginning of a holy life. Besides, the gospel proposes peace and comfort freely to those that are not yet brought to holiness that, if they have hearts to receive it, they may be converted from sin to righteousness. When the apostles entered into a house they were first to say, ‘Peace be to this house’ (Luke 10:5). At their very first preaching to sinners, they acquainted them with the glad tidings of salvation by Christ, for everyone that would receive it as a free gift by faith (Acts 3:26; 13:26, 32, 38; 16:30, 31). They assured them, if they would but trust heartily on Christ for all His salvation, they should have it, although they were at present the chief of sinners – which was comfort sufficient for all that duly esteem spiritual comfort, hungering and thirsting after it. And this is a method agreeable to the design of the gospel, which is, to advance the riches of the grace of God in all our spiritual enjoyments. God will give us His consolations before our good works, as well as after them, that we may know that He gives us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, and not through the procurement of our works (2 Thess. 2:16).

This excellent book

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Categories
Pastoral Care Practical Notes Quotations Theological Reflections

Why think about the canon of Scripture?

James White, Scripture Alone, “The Canon of Scripture Considered”

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The fact that many churches avoid uncomfortable topics, not only in the preaching of the Word but in Bible study as well, leads to the creation of blind spots in the theology of even the most devout Christians. These blind spots can then function as a door through which false teaching is introduced; hence the importance of doing as Paul said, preaching the “whole counsel of God”.

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Practical Notes Quotations

Dagon is not the real problem

From “When the Gods Fall” by Dr. Lloyd-Jones, a sermon on 1 Samuel 5:1-4

[Speaking about the Philistines’ capture of the Ark ] Why is it, do you think, that Israel ever suffered that defeat? Why is it that God’s people should ever thus be defeated by the Philistines and apparently routed? That is a most important question. It is one of the most urgent questions facing the church today. If you are content to receive the answer that is given by the great religious denominations in practically every country, you will believe that the cause of the defeat of Israel is to be found in the strength, the power, and the prowess of the Philistines. That is the explanation we are given. ‘Brethren,’ they say, ‘we must not be down-hearted. The Christian church today is facing an enemy such as our fathers scarcely ever had to face. Our fathers did not have to compete with the motor-car; they did not have to compete with the cinema, with the radio and with television, and all these other things that today are attracting the people away from God’s house.’ That is the cause of the trouble. And on top of all this, they add, ‘the modern man is educated, he has been to school and to the university”. We are confronted by this powerful enemy; and the suggestion is that the church has been defeated, and appears to be in a state of defeat today, because of the power and ability of the Philistines.

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But I want to suggest to you that this is a completely false explanation. It was false in the time of the Old Testament, and it is equally false today. Go back, and read the story of the children of Israel, and you will find invariably that when they were defeated, it was never due to the strength of the enemy, it was always due to their own internal weakness. When the children of Israel were in the right relationship to God they always conquered their enemies. But the moment they forgot God and became indolent and slack in their religion, and trusted to themselves and their own powers, they were always defeated. It was never the strength of the Philistines that matter, it was always the strength or the weakness of Israel. (…) There is no variation in this world: the world is always opposed to us. Where is the variation, then? I am suggesting that the variation is in the Christian church herself, and that the church is in her present weak and powerless condition because she has repeated the mistake of the children of Israel of old. We have been trusting to ourselves and our own abilities and powers and our own understanding. And I believe that God has, as it were, abandoned us to ourselves in order that he may teach us this vital and all-important lesson. (…) And I am certain that I am right when I say that until we come to the end of our own self-reliance (it does not matter what form it takes), until the church is crushed to her knees, and has come to the end of her power and ability, and looks to God for his power and the might of the Holy Spirit –until then I am certain that the declension will continue and even increase. When the church of God is in a state of eclipse and apparent defeat, it is always because she has forgotten who she is, has forgotten her reliance upon God and has been trusting, in her folly, to her own ability and powers.

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Practical Notes Quotations

Use your brain!

A good way to start off your Monday, with a profound reflection from Johnson.

Dr. Johnson, as cited in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

“Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.”

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Literary Criticism Practical Notes Quotations

Trumpets and Rubberoid

C.S. Lewis “A Preface to Paradise Lost”

If Mr. Eliot disdains the eagles and trumpets of epic poetry because the fashion of this world passes away, I honour him. But if he goes on to draw the conclusion that all poetry should have the penitential qualities of his own best work, I believe he is mistaken. As long as we live in merry middle earth it is necessary to have middle things. If the round table is abolished, for every one who rises to the level of Galahad, a hundred will drop plumb down to that of Mordred. Mr. Eliot may succeed in persuading the reading youth of England to have done with robes of purple and pavements of marble. But he will not therefore find them walking in sackcloth on floors of mud –he will only find them in smart, ugly suits walking on rubberoid. It has all been tried before. The older Puritans took away the maypoles and the mince-pies: but they did not bring in the millennium, they only brought in the Restoration. Galahad must not make common cause with Mordred, for it is always Mordred who gains, and he who loses by such alliance.

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Practical Notes Quotations

Helping us see better by using a dark curtain

John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 1

[Speaking of those who found support for the doctrine of the Trinity in the writings of pagan philosophers]

Now those who are so curious as to wish thus to make the Philosophers agree with Holy Scripture think they do great service to the Christian Church when they can say that the Gospel-writers have not been the only ones who have spoken thus and that even the pagans have well known such things. It is very apropos! As though one put a veil before clear vision. Behold God Who makes Himself clear to us by the doctrine of His Gospel, and we are going to put a veil before it by saying, “Look at this! Your clearness will be still more clear.”

It is very certain that God willed that these same things might be known by pagan Philosophers to render them so much more inexcusable before His Majesty. But that is not to say that His doctrine ought to be confirmed by what they have said. For the fact is that, although the more they thought they were approaching God, the further away they were straying. So is fulfilled this sentence which Saint Paul pronounces against all mankind. All those who wished to be too clever, who did not seek God in such reverence and humility as they ought, have fallen into the depth of error. And it is a just punishment from God if we come thus to pollute His doctrine, classing it among the foolish inventions of men.