Luther’s “Glowing Discovery” by Roland Bainton

“But he did feel constrained to declare himself more fully to the general public. The Ninety-Five Theses had been given by the printer to all Germany, though intended only for professional theologians. The many bald assertions called for explanation and clarification, but Luther could never confine himself to a mere reproduction or explication of what he had said previously. The sermons written out by request on Monday do not correspond to the notes taken by hearers on Sunday. Ideas were so churning within him that new butter always came out of the vat. The Resolutions Concerning the Ninety-Five Theses contain some new points. Luther had made the discovery that the biblical text from the Latin Vulgate, used to support the sacrament of penance, was a mistranslation. The Latin for Matt. 4:17 read penitentiam agite, ‘do penance,’ but from the Greek New Testament of Erasmus, Luther had learned that the original meant simply ‘be penitent.’ The literal sense was ‘change your mind.’ ‘Fortified with this passage,’ wrote Luther to Staupitz in the dedication of the Resolutions, ‘I venture to say they are wrong who make more of the act in Latin than of the change of heart in Greek.’ This was what Luther himself called a ‘glowing’ discovery. In this crucial instance a sacrament of the Church did not rest on the institution of Scripture.”

Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

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“… I say, they often hear these things and yet remain as they were before…” by Jonathan Edwards

“There are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty power and boundless wisdom, his infinite majesty, and that holiness of God, by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, and of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, and hear of the great works of God’s wisdom, power and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable manifestations of these perfections; they hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his dear love; they also hear the peremptory commands of God, and his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel; I say, they often hear these things and yet remain as they were before, with no sensible alteration in them, either in heart or practice, because they are not affected with what they hear; and ever will be so till they are affected.”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

“…he that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.” by Jonathan Edwards

“And as in worldly things, worldly affections are very much the spring of men’s motion and action; so in religious matters, the spring of their actions is very much religious affection: he that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

“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”

“… 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.

“A genuine Christian fears no test… He is anxious to know the worst as well as the best.” by Arthur W. Pink

“A genuine Christian fears no test; he is willing, yea, wishes, to be tried by God Himself. He cries, ‘Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart’ (Psalm 26:2). Therefore he is willing for his faith to be tried by others, for he shuns not the touchstone of Holy Writ. He frequently tries for himself, for where so much is at stake he must be sure. He is anxious to know the worst as well as the best. That preaching pleases him best which is most searching and discriminating. He is loath to be deluded with vain hopes. He would not be flattered into a high conceit of his spiritual state without grounds. When challenged, he complies with the apostle’s advice in 2 Corinthians 13:5.”

“…their unbelief, too, consisted in the spirit of self-will and open defiance, a determination to please themselves at all costs.” by Arthur W. Pink

“Consider now the case of that generation of Israel which was in Palestine when the Lord Jesus appeared among them as ‘a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God’ (Romans 15:8). John 1:11, informs us, ‘He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,’ which the next verse defines as ‘they believed’ Him not. But is that all? Were they guilty of nothing more than a failure to assent to His teaching and trust to His person? Nay, verily, that was merely the negative side of their unbelief.

Positively, they ‘hated’ Him (John 15:25), and would ‘not come to’ Him (John 5:40). His holy demands suited not their fleshly desires, and therefore they said, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us’ (Luke 19:14).

Thus their unbelief, too, consisted in the spirit of self-will and open defiance, a determination to please themselves at all costs.

Unbelief is not simply an infirmity of fallen human nature, it is a heinous crime. Scripture everywhere attributes it to love of sin, obstinacy of will, hardness of heart. Unbelief has its root in a depraved nature, in a mind which is enmity against God. Love of sin is the immediate cause of unbelief: ‘And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’ (John 3:19).

‘The light of the Gospel is brought unto a place or people: they come so near it as to discover its end or tendency; but as soon as they find that it aims to part them and their sins, they will have no more to do with it. They like not the terms of the Gospel, and so perish in and for their iniquities.’ (John Owen)”

Arthur W. Pink, Studies on Saving Faith

“…true religion, in great part consists in the affections.” by Jonathan Edwards

“II. The second thing proposed, which was to observe some things that render it evident, that true religion, in great part consists in the affections.

And here,

1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes this evident, and may be sufficient, without adding anything further, to put this matter out of doubt; for who will deny that true religion consists in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart?

That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference: God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be good in earnest, ‘fervent in spirit,” and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion: Rom. 12: 11, ‘Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ Deut. 10: 12, ‘And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord the God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?’ and chap. 6: 4, 6, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might.’ It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the heart in religion, that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and that has the promises of life; Deut. 30: 6, ‘And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.'”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

“And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ…yet…” by Jonathan Edwards

“And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will, towards divine and heavenly things, is comparatively weak; yet everyone that has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things, with such strength and vigour that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them…”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

“True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed…” by Jonathan Edwards

“And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion; they not only manifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and amiableness remarkably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials: then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold! And upon this account is ‘found to praise, and honour, and glory.'”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections