“If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we expect a comfortable event? by John Owen

“So that sin is always acting, always conceiving, always seducing and tempting. Who can say that he had ever anything to do with God or for God, that indwelling sin had not a hand in the corrupting of what he did? And this trade will it drive more or less all our days. If then, sin will be always acting, if we be not always mortifying, we are lost creatures. He that stands still and suffers his enemies to double blows upon him without resistance, will undoubtedly be conquered in the issue. If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we expect a comfortable event? There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so whilst we live in this world.”

John Owen, “Mortification of Sin in Believers”

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“… should they earnestly inquire how they are to obtain a genuine and saving faith, we answer… use the means which God has prescribed.” By Arthur W. Pink

“Should the Lord be pleased to use this article in shattering the false confidence of some deluded souls, and should they earnestly inquire how they are to obtain a genuine and saving faith, we answer, use the means which God has prescribed. When faith be His gift, He gives it in His own way; and if we desire to receive it, then we must put ourselves in that way wherein He is wont to communicate it. Faith is the work of God, but He works it not immediately but through the channels of His appointed means. The means prescribed cannot effect faith of themselves. They are no further effectual than in instruments in the hands of Him who is the principal cause. Though He has not tied Himself to them, yet He has confined us. Though He be free, yet the means are necessary to us.

The first means is prayer. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezek. 36:26). Here is a gracious promise, but in what way will He accomplish it, and similar ones? Listen, “Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them”’ (Ezek. 36:3 7). Cry earnestly to God for a new heart, for His regenerating Spirit, for the gift of saving faith. Prayer is a universal duty. Though an unbeliever sin in praying (as in everything else), it is not a sin for him to pray.

The second means is the written Word heard (John 17:20; 1 Cor. 3:5) or read (2 Tim. 3:15). Said David, “I will never forget Thy precepts: for with them Thou hast quickened me” (Psalm 119:93). The Scriptures are the Word of God; through them He speaks. Then read them, asking Him to speak life, power, deliverance, peace, to your heart. May the Lord deign to add His blessing.

Elders and the Dereliction of Theological Duty by Phil A. Newton

“Perhaps even more dangerous is the disappearance of theology in evangelical churches while spiritual leaders–in dereliction of their duties–ignore that it is happening. David Wells has pointed out, ‘No one has abducted theology,’ as in the abduction of a child. Rather, ‘The disappearance is closer to what happens in homes where the children are ignored and, to all intents and purposes, abandoned. They remain in the home, but they have no place in the family. So it is with theology in the church. It remains on the edges of evangelical life, but it has been dislodged from its center. Watchfulness of a congregation demands attentiveness to the church’s theological understanding. Neglect of theology cracks the church’s foundation, and ultimately affects its practice. In our day, one of the chief results of such neglect is the rise of pragmatism, which has moved the church away from a biblically centered ministry that effectively changes the church to a church structure that more resembles the world than the New Testament pattern. Wells adds, ‘It is evangelical practice rather than evangelical profession that reveals the change.’ As evangelicals, we still profess to believe the confessions and creeds of the church, but our practice reveals that we often do not understand the theological implications of what we profess. Spiritual leaders must remain alert and watchful for this kind of neglect.”

-Phil A. Newton, Elders in Congregational Life: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership

“Out with your hand, man, and take Him at once!” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“I have heard of a Sunday-school teacher who performed an experiment which I do not think I shall ever try with children, for it might turn out to be a very expensive one. Indeed, I feel sure that the result in my case would be very different from what I now describe. This teacher had been trying to illustrate what faith was, and, as he could not get it into the minds of his boys, he took his watch, and he said, ‘Now, I will give you this watch, John. Will you have it?’ John fell thinking what the teacher could mean, and did not seize the treasure, but made no answer. The teacher said to the next boy, ‘Henry, here is the watch. Will you have it?’ The boy, with a very proper modesty, replied, ‘No, thank you, sir’. The teacher tried several of the boys with the same result; till at last a youngster, who was not so wise or so thoughtful as the others, but rather more believing, said in the most natural way, ‘Thank you, sir,’ and put the watch into his pocket ‘Then the other boys woke up to a startling fact: their companion had received a watch which they had refused. One of the boys quickly asked of the teacher, ‘Is he to keep it?’. ‘Of course he is,’ said the teacher, ‘I offered it to him, and he accepted it. I would not give a thing and take a thing: that would be very foolish. I put the watch before you, and said that I gave it to you, but none of you would have it.’ ‘Oh!’ said the boy, ‘if I had known you meant it, I would have had it.’ Of course he would. He thought it was a piece of acting, and nothing more. All the other boys were in a dreadful state of mind to think that they had lost the watch. Each one cried, ‘Teacher, I did not know you meant it, but I thought—’. No one took the gift; but every one thought. Each one had his theory, except the simple-minded boy who believed what he was told, and got the watch. Now I wish that I could always be such a simple child as literally to believe what the Lord says, and take what He puts before me, resting quite content that He is not playing with me, and that I cannot be wrong in accepting what He sets before me in the gospel. Happy should we be if we would trust, and raise no questions of any sort. But, alas! we will get thinking and doubting. When the Lord uplifts His dear Son before a sinner, that sinner should take Him without hesitation. If you take Him, you have Him; and none can take Him from you. Out with your hand, man, and take Him at once!”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Around the Wicket Gate  

“It is entering into Jesus, hiding in His wounds.” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“The dove is hunted by the hawk, and finds no security from its restless enemy. It has learned that there is shelter for it in the cleft of the rock, and it hastens there with gladsome wing. Once wholly sheltered within its refuge, it fears no bird of prey. But if it did not hide itself in the rock, it would be seized upon by its adversary. The rock would be of no use to the dove, if the dove did not enter its cleft. The whole body must be hidden in the rock. What if ten thousand other birds found a fortress there, yet that fact would not save the one dove which is now pursued by the hawk! It must put its whole self into the shelter, and bury itself within its refuge, or its life will be forfeited to the destroyer.

What a picture of faith is this! It is entering into Jesus, hiding in His wounds. “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.” The dove is out of sight: the rock alone is seen. So does the guilty soul dart into the riven side of Jesus by faith, and is buried in Him out of sight of avenging justice. But there must be this personal application to Jesus for shelter; and this it is that so many put off from day to day, till it is to be feared that they will “die in their sins”. What an awful word is that! It is what our Lord said to the unbelieving Jews; and He says the same to us at this hour: “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” It makes one’s heart quiver to think that even one who shall read  these lines may yet be of the miserable company who will thus perish. The Lord prevent it of His great grace!”  

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Around the Wicket Gate

“Nothing can show God’s infinite abhorrence of any wickedness more than this.” by Jonathan Edwards

“God may save any of them without prejudice to the honour of his holiness. God is an infinitely holy being. The heavens are not pure in his sight. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. And if God should in any way countenance sin, and should not give proper testimonies of his hatred of it, and displeasure at it, it would be a prejudice to the honour of his holiness. But God can save the greatest sinner without giving the least countenance to sin. If he saves one, who for a long time has stood out under the calls of the gospel, and has sinned under dreadful aggravations; if he saves one who, against light, has been a pirate or blasphemer, he may do it without giving any countenance to their wickedness; because his abhorrence of it and displeasure against it have been already sufficiently manifested in the sufferings of Christ. It was a sufficient testimony of God’s abhorrence against even the greatest wickedness, that Christ, the eternal Son of God, died for it. Nothing can show God’s infinite abhorrence of any wickedness more than this. If the wicked man himself should be thrust into hell, and should endure the most extreme torments which are ever suffered there, it would not be a greater manifestation of God’s abhorrence of it, than the sufferings of the Son of God for it.”

Jonathan Edwards, God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men

“Does a dead man prick the consciences of men, so that they throw all the traditions of their fathers to the winds and bow down before the teaching of Christ?” by Athanasius

“But if anyone finds even this insufficient, let him find proof of what has been said in present facts. Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living. Well, then, look at the facts in this case. The Saviour is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking word, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life ? Does a dead man prick the consciences of men, so that they throw all the traditions of their fathers to the winds and bow down before the teaching of Christ ? If He is no longer active in the world, as He must needs be if He is dead, how is it that He makes the living to cease from their activities, the adulterer from his adultery, the murderer from murdering, the unjust from avarice, while the profane and godless man becomes religious? If He did not rise, but is still dead, how is it that He routs and persecutes and overthrows the false gods, whom unbelievers think to be alive, and the evil spirits whom they worship? For where Christ is named, idolatry is destroyed and the fraud of evil spirits is exposed; indeed, no such spirit can endure that Name, but takes to flight on sound of it. This is the work of One Who lives, not of one dead; and, more than that, it is the work of God. It would be absurd to say that the evil spirits whom He drives out and the idols which He destroys are alive, but that He Who drives out and destroys, and Whom they themselves acknowledge to be Son of God, is dead.”

-Athanasius, On the Incarnation (circa 326-328)

“This is the flood tide that drowns legalism in its tracks.” by Sinclair Ferguson

“What, then, is the remedy for legalism?

At the stage we have reached in reflecting on the Marrow, it scarcely needs to be said.

It is grace. But it is not ‘grace’ as commodity, grace as substance. It is grace in Christ. For God’s grace to us is Christ.

Yes, it is the atonement; but not atonement as theory, or as an abstract reality, something that has an identity of its own outside of and apart from the Lord Jesus. For Christ himself, clothed as he is in his gospel work, is the atonement—’He is the propitiation for our sins.’

The remedy therefore is the one that healed Paul of the deep disease of legalism. It is not difficult to imagine that he too knew what it was to be beaten by Moses. He was after all ‘the chief of sinners.’ But here is what he discovered:

Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes though faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

The remedy is that prescribed by Charles Wesley, discovering that these words are true:

‘O Jesus, full of truth and grace,—More full of grace than I of sin . . .’

Where sin abounds, where the law condemns, there grace abounds all the more even to the chief of sinners. Indeed especially to the chief of them, for the more sin there has been, the more God’s grace has abounded. This is the flood tide that drowns legalism in its tracks.”

-Sinclair Ferguson The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters

“Salvation is by grace, but grace never stands alone without good works.” by Graeme Goldsworthy

“The relationship of good works to salvation is essentially the same in both Old and New Testaments. In both salvation is by grace, but grace never stands alone without good works. To put it another way we may say that no-one (in Old or New Testaments) is saved because of good works, but no-one is saved without good works. This is one aspect of the unity of the two Testaments which makes the Old Testament so applicable to Christians. The same unity underlies Paul’s use of the exodus situation in I Corinthians 10: 1-12.”

-Graeme Goldsworthy Gospel and Kingdom

“The gospel is not simply ‘forgiveness of sins’ and ‘going to heaven when you die'” by Graeme Goldsworthy

“Jesus Christ (as we have seen) contains in himself the Kingdom of God. The gospel is a gospel of man restored to proper relationships in Christ. Now, these relationships involve the whole of reality: God, man, and the created order. As Eden and Canaan are in Christ, so God’s perfect World is in Christ. This truth has one vital implication often forgotten by evangelicals, but which the Old Testament reinforces by its historicity. The gospel is not simply ‘forgiveness of sins’ and ‘going to heaven when you die’. The gospel is a restoration of relationships between God, man and the world. The typology of the Bible and the transformation of Old Testament imagery by the gospel should not be misused to lift us completely outside the created world. The gospel involves us not only with God, but with our fellow men and with the world. How this fact should affect the Christian’s view of the world, politics, culture, the arts, ecology and science, should be our continuing concern.”

-Graeme Goldsworthy Gospel and Kingdom