31 January 2012

Interpreting the Parables of Mark

A lecture by a man I love, Covenant Seminary professor Hans Bayer.

Dr. Bayer, who wrote the notes on Mark for the ESV Study Bible, recently authored a commentary on Mark as well as a forthcoming volume on christology and discipleship in Mark.

30 January 2012

The Middle of the Marathon

A great word by my brother Gavin on persevering through the long stretches of ordinariness in the life of a disciple of Jesus.

Valuable for His Own Sake

We are subject to many pressing needs, and we are too much inclined to value God, not for His own sake, but only because He can satisfy those needs. . . .

[Food, clothing, companionship, and inspiring work] are lofty desires. But there is one desire that is loftier still. It is the desire for God Himself. That desire, too often, we forget.

We value God solely for the things He can do; we make of Him a mere means to an ulterior end. And God refuses to be treated so; such a religion always fails in the hour of need. If we have regarded religion merely as a means of getting things--even lofty and unselfish things--then when the things that have been gotten are destroyed, our faith will fail. When loved ones are taken away, when disappointment comes and failure, when noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turn away from God. We have tried religion, we say, we have tried prayer, and it has failed. Of course it has failed! God is not content to be an instrument in our hand or a servant at our beck and call. . . .

If we possess God, then we can meet with equanimity the loss of all besides. Has it never dawned upon us that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as personal communion is the highest thing that we know on earth, so personal communion with God is the sublimest height of all? If we value God for His own sake, then the loss of other things will draw us all the closer to Him; we shall have recourse to Him in time of trouble as to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
--J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?, 73-74

26 January 2012

Satan's Designs: Unforgiveness

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Cor 2:10-11)
If you and I are not forgiving someone, no matter how right it feels, we are being outwitted by Satan.

Hunger Filled Them to the Full

Ambrose writes of the banishment of Eusebius and Dionysius upon the Council of Milan in A.D. 355.
They did not need a grave in their own country; a heavenly mansion was prepared for them. They wandered over the world as having nothing, and possessing all things. Wherever they were sent, it was to them a paradise. Abounding in the riches of faith, they could lack nothing. Poor in money, but rich in grace, they made others rich. They were tempted, but not slain; in fastings, in labors, in imprisonments, in watchings. Out of weakness they were made strong. They looked for no tempting delicacies; hunger filled them to the full. The summer heat did not parch them; they were refreshed with the hope of eternal grace. . . . They feared no human chains; Jesus had set them free. They did not ask to be rescued from death; they took for granted that Christ would raise them from the dead.
. . . sorrowful, yet always rejoicing . . . --2 Cor 6:10

When I am weak, then I am strong. --2 Cor 12:10

"Whoever keeps his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will keep it." --Luke 17:10

Edwards: Justification

And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. --Romans 4:5

When it is said that God justifies the ungodly, 'tis as absurd to suppose that our godliness, taken as some goodness in us, is the ground of our justification, as when it is said that Christ gave sight to the blind, to suppose that sight was prior to, and the ground of that act of mercy in Christ, or as if it should be said that such an one by his bounty has made a poor man rich, to suppose that it was the wealth of this poor man that was the ground of this bounty towards him, and was the price by which it was procured.
--Jonathan Edwards, 'Justification by Faith Alone,' a sermon series on Rom 4:5 that, Edwards believed, was instrumental in sparking the first local revival of 1734-35; the 100-page sermon series can be found in the Yale edition of Edwards' Works, vol. 19, pp. 143-242 (here 147)

Mildewed and Numbing

There is a kind of piety, a kind of obedience that has about it a mildewed, numbing lack of freshness and vitality that never makes a person really happy. There are plenty of ‘good people’ whose religion never makes them really warm and happy.
--Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus (Harper, 1959), 33

25 January 2012

Christiformative Salvation

Interesting and illuminating article in the current JETS by our brother Eric Johnson over at Southern Seminary: "Rewording the Justification/Sanctification Relation with Some Help From Speech Acts Theory."

Johnson suggests that we apply the speech act model of locution/illocution/perlocution (what a statement means/what a statement does/what a statement intends to result) to current debates on the relationship between justification and progressive sanctification. He proposes that this gives us a fresh perspective by which to keep justification and sanctification distinct yet inseparable. Specifically, Johnson suggests that justification (the declarative) is God's illocution through Christ, and sanctification (the progressive) is God's perlocution through the Holy Spirit.

I don't agree with everything (e.g. the assertion that Paul spends more time on justification by faith than any other facet of salvation, p. 770) but the essay is excellent. In one solid section of the article Johnson suggests that "Christiformative salvation" is what we are after in the Christian life (he prefers the term "Christiformity" to "sanctification"). The second-to-last paragraph is a stirring portrait of Christian transformation.
As finite, temporal, and embodied creatures Christians become conformed to Christ gradually, over time, by means of multiple faith-experiences of God and his word, through which the brain-soul of believers becomes more or less permanently restructured by (1) their relationship with God; (2) God’s declarative word (“You are already righteous and holy in Christ”); and (3) virtuous practice (which depends upon and grows from relationship with God and his declarative word), such that through faith the believer’s character is more disposed to perceive, feel, and act similarly in the future.

This gradual, long-term change is what is being termed “Christiformative salvation.”

The initial changes created by God’s word through faith include regeneration (Titus 3:5; John 1:13) or being made alive to God (Eph 2:5); the entrance of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the believer (Rom 5:5; 8:11; 1 Cor 3:19); the freedom to love and obey God; the death-blow given to the old self (Rom 6:6; Gal 2:20); and the birth of the new self (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:10).

Longterm, ongoing (yet halting) Christ-centered characterological change includes the growing ability to abide in Christ and commune with God, encompassing greater knowledge, intimacy, and love for God for who he is in himself, and so better, purer worship; greater and deeper repentance; fuller, deeper faith that permeates more of one’s inner world; better obedience; growth in the quality of the fruit (or virtues) of the Spirit; increasing self-awareness and less self-deception; growing reliance upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, the mortification of the old self and fighting against the flesh (Romans 6; 8:13; Gal 5:16–20; Col 3:9–10), and increase in the psychological complexity, power, and influence of the new self (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10, 4:24); greater acceptance that one is a child of God (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6); deepening fellowship with the saints and mutual edification (Ephesians 4); greater wisdom and skill in witnessing to others of Christ; greater focus on helping the poor and weak; and more contented suffering.

In the context of a living relationship with God, the more deeply and thoroughly believers consent to God’s declarative words—“You are already righteous and holy in Christ”—the more deeply, thoroughly, and permanently they actually become righteous and holy in Christ, given by God and mediated by his word, and their experience, practice, and human relationships. (p. 779)

24 January 2012

Wildly Irreligious

Grace is wildly irreligious stuff. It's more than enough to get God kicked out of the God union that the theologians have formed to keep him on his divine toes so he won't let the rifraff off scot-free. Sensible people, of course, should need only about thirty seconds of careful thought to realize that getting off scot-free is the only way any of us is going to get off at all.
--Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word: One Man's Love Affair with Theology (Eerdmans, 1995), 11

Capon seems to have been a mildly eccentric man, and he has an awful (and awfully confused) understanding of the atonement, one which flirts with universalism. So, as with anyone, one must swallow the meat and spit out the bones. But I am loving this guy. Gospel defibrillation!

Very Helpful, Reverend

A couple great things from my brother Gavin this month--a good review over at TGC of Jerry Bridges' most recent book and a really nice article in the current JETS drawing out the saving (not just the apologetic or vindicatory) significance of Christ's resurrection.

23 January 2012

This Is Me in the New Earth

Just tell me that 3:30 to 4:10 isn't eschatological.

Our Only Sanity

Jesus, I my cross have taken
All to leave and follow Thee
Destitute, despised, forsaken
Thou from hence my all shall be

Perish ev'ry fond ambition
All I've sought or hoped or known
Yet how rich is my condition
God and heav'n are still my own
--Henry Lyte (1793-1847)

Two Aeons Converge

Contrary to Jewish expectation, the Messiah has accomplished the work of redemption, the Spirit has been poured out, yet evil has not been eradicated, the general resurrection is still future, and the final state of God's kingdom has not been established.

In other words, the new era has begun--has been inaugurated--but it has not yet replaced the old era. Both ages exist simultaneously; and this means that 'history,' in the sense of temporal sequence, is not ultimately determinative in Paul's salvation-historical scheme. Thus, the 'change of aeons,' while occurring historically at the cross, becomes real for the individual only at the point of faith. The 'change of aeons' that took place in Christ is experienced only 'in Christ.' Therefore, the person who lives after Christ's death and resurrection and who has not appropriated the benefits of those events by faith lives in the old era yet: enslaved to sin, in the flesh, doomed to eternal death. On the other hand, Abraham, for example, though living many centuries before Christ, must, in light of Rom. 4, be considered to belong, in some sense at least, to the new era.
--Doug Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Eerdmans, 1996), 26

Tullian at Wheaton

An outstanding three-message series of gospel-rich wisdom from our brother Tullian Tchividjian last week here at Wheaton College.

So Completely Different

Helmut Thielicke, the German pastor of the mid-twentieth century, on the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:
We must read and hear this gospel story as it was really meant to be: good news! News so good that we should never have imagined it. News that would stagger us if we were able to hear it for the first time as a message that everything about God is so completely different from what we thought or feared. News that he has sent his Son to us and is inviting us to share in an unspeakable joy. . . .

[This news] comes into our life as an amazing surprise. That there should be someone like Jesus, that he should gain the Father’s heart for us, that he should rescue us from the frustration of our personal lives and snatch us away from this horrible vegetating on the edge of the void—all this is indeed a tremendous surprise.
--Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus (Harper, 1959), 31-32, 36

20 January 2012


19 January 2012

Death unto Life

In 1974 the American Episcopalian priest Robert Farrar Capon had an experience so devastating to him that his life, as he understood it, was over. Though he was still physically breathing, death had come.

He writes:
I was not just devastated, or hurt, or ill-used, or broken; I was dead. Unless you have been through such an experience, you may find this overblown; but my life, as I had known it, was over, gone, kaput.
Capon then says a very interesting thing--
If I ever lived again--and it was inconceivable to me that I could--it would not be by my hand. Fairness or unfairness, guilt or innocence, blame or exculpation had nothing to do with the case. My life-designing capabilities were not impaired or in need of remedial treatment; I just didn't have my life anymore.
He goes on to describe how new life began.
But far from being a sad state of affairs, that turned out to be the best news I had ever heard. My death was not the tragedy I first thought; it was my absolution, my freedom. Nobody can blame a corpse--especially not the corpse itself. Once dead, we are out from under all the blame-harrows and guilt-spreaders forever. We are free; and free above all from the messes we have made of our own lives.

And if there is a God who can take the dead and, without a single condition of credit-worthiness or a single, pointless promise of reform, raise them up whole and forgiven, free for nothing--well, that would not only be wild and wonderful; it would be the single piece of Good News in a world drowning in an ocean of blame. It was not all up to me . It was never up to me at all. It was up to someone I could only trust and thank.

It was salvation by grace through faith, not works.
--Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word: One Man's Love Affair with Theology (Eerdmans, 1995), 8 (italics original)

So much I want to say about this. But I will leave it, for your own reflection. But be sure not to pass too quickly over the words, "especially not the corpse itself."

17 January 2012

Bless the Lord

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
--Psalm 34:1

HT: Trevor Long

Why Does Genesis 1:1 to Malachi 4:6 Exist?

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
--Romans 15:4

16 January 2012

Giving Up Our Own Defensive Will

Jack Miller, to a church he had recently visited and spoken to--
There is a release of God's power when control is surrendered to the Spirit of Christ.

This is not a matter of mere feeling but of faith relying on the word of Christ. Get down on your knees in prayer and then get up and take the risk of humbling yourself by apologizing to that brother or sister you have sinned against. Is not such a liberating act a giving up of your own defensive will? Or go to a friend and say, "I have such a critical spirit and a loose tongue. Will you pray for me?"

Here we have the beginnings of a deep surrender.
--The Heart of a Servant-Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R, 2004), 93

14 January 2012

The Necessity of Affliction

In April 1938 war was looming in Europe. Germany had just invaded Austria. C. S. Lewis wrote to his friend Dom Bede Griffiths:
I have been in considerable trouble over the present danger of war. Twice in one life--and then to find how little I have grown in fortitude despite my conversion. It has done me a lot of good by making me realise how much of my happiness secretly depended on the tacit assumption of at least tolerable conditions for the body: and I see more clearly, I think, the necessity (if one may so put it) which God is under of allowing us to be afflicted--so few of us will really rest all on Him if He leaves us any other support.
Later that year Lewis returned to this theme in writing Owen Barfield:
I had so often told myself that my friends and books and even brains were not given me to keep: that I must teach myself at bottom to care for something else more (and also of course to care for them more but in a different way) and I was horrified to find how cold the idea of really losing them struck. An awful symptom is that part of oneself still regards troubles as 'interruptions' as if (ludicrous idea) the happy bustle of one's personal interests was our real work, instead of the opposite.

I did in the end see (I dare not say 'feel') that since nothing but these forcible shakings will cure us of our worldliness, we have at bottom reason to be thankful for them. We force God to surgical treatment: we won't (mentally) diet.
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 225-26, 231-32

Jesus and Religion; Discernment and Nitpicking

Lots of discussion on this video. Our brothers Kevin DeYoung and Jared Wilson, for example, are typically thoughtful in their appreciation mingled with a bit of brotherly pushback.

This world, the church, and my own soul would be worse off without Kevin DeYoung and Jared Wilson.

I confess I find the pushback a bit strange, though, especially Kevin's. I agree with most of the actual points of disagreement, I suppose. But is a lengthy, line-by-line analysis of this video the path of wisdom? Is that a step forward for all of us? I'm not so much asking is Kevin's post right, but is it wise--a related but distinct question.

Is there a point at which discernment becomes nitpicking?

What if I applied to Kevin's sermons the strictures he does to this video? Kevin's comments on "religion," for example--is it really that hard to understand tacitly what the video means by religion? Isn't it clear that the guy in the video isn't using the word as some texts in the Bible do? Wouldn't he agree that Jesus was an observant Jew, and so on? This critique largely misses the point, I think.

Happy to receive correction here!

Above all I am so glad to be on the same team with all three of these great guys--Kevin, Jared, and Jefferson.

13 January 2012

I Must Venture You All With God

John Bunyan spent twelve years in prison, at any point of which he could have been released had he agreed to stop preaching the gospel.

Listen to him recount the pain of staying in prison while his family, including a precious blind daughter, languished in poverty. And listen to him recount what gave him the strength to persevere through such horrific circumstances.
I found myself a man encompassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as pulling the flesh from the bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I would have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family were like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer to my heart than all besides. Oh, the thoughts of the hardship my poor blind one might undergo would break my heart to pieces. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee.

But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it. . . .

But that which helped me in this temptation was diverse considerations, of which three in special here I will name: the first was the consideration of these two scriptures: "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me;" and again, "The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction.' Jer. 49: 11; 15: 11.

I had also this consideration, that if I should venture all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concerns; but if I forsook him in his ways, for fear of any trouble that should come to me or mine, then I should not only falsify my profession, but should count also that my concerns were not so sure if left at God's feet while I stood to and for his name, as they would be if they were under my own care, though with the denial of the way of God. This was a smarting consideration, and as spurs into my flesh. That scripture also greatly helped it to fasten the more on me, where Christ prays against Judas, that God would disappoint him in his selfish thoughts which moved him to sell his Master. Pray read it soberly: Psalm 109: 6, etc.

I had also another consideration, and that was, the dread of the torments of hell, which I was sure they must partake of that for fear of the cross do shrink from their profession of Christ, his words and laws, before the sons of men. I thought also of the glory that he had prepared for those that in faith and love and patience stood to his ways before them.

These things, I say, have helped me when the thoughts of the misery that both myself and mine might, for the sake of my profession, be exposed to, have lain pinching on my mind.
The rest of this addendum to his spiritual autobiography (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners) is here.

The whole thing is well worth reading.

12 January 2012

General Foolishness

Jack Miller, Philadelphia pastor, to a missionary in Uganda, July 1986:
For me: pray for revival in my life and Rose Marie's. God did powerful things for us in Spain and Europe. We have come home and left the TV off, and this has given us extra time for work, prayer, and study--and other kinds of recreation. Not that we spent long hours before the tube, but watching news in the evening put splashes of violence, sensuous advertising, and general foolishness into our heads. We didn't need this mishmash of sensate values and violence bashing us every evening. It has been most helpful.
--The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R, 2004), 144

My suspicion is that for every legalist who gets rid of the TV just to feel superior to fellow Christians, there are ten more who are absorbing "general foolishness" and "this mishmash of sensate values" without realizing what it is slowly and subtly doing to them, perhaps baptizing it as gospel freedom. I'm thinking mainly of my generation here.

Sin/not sin is not the only filter for assessing how we spend our time. Wise/unwise is the other filter. All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.

All in response, glad response, to the Lord's outrageous love for us.

11 January 2012

A High Bar, with Much Grace

Shepherds are not perfect men. Though God sets the bar for pastoral ministry necessarily high, he uses the poles of grace to support that bar.
--Thabiti Anyabwile, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons (Crossway, 2012), 16

10 January 2012

Edwards' God

In Northampton, God was jealous, arbitrary, vindictive, and absolute. . . . he preached guilt, damnation, and salvation, and by 1734 began to see an effect . . .
--Larry Witham, on Jonathan Edwards' pastoral ministry in Northampton, Mass., in A City Upon a Hill: How Sermons Changed the Course of American History (HarperOne, 2007), 48

This man does not know Jonathan Edwards.

Divine wrath does not proportionally reveal Edwards' theology any more than you walking in on me spanking my kid proportionally reveals the full range of my sentiments toward my son.

09 January 2012

One of Our Great Sins

At the end of a January 1940 letter to Dom Bede Griffiths, C. S. Leis remarked--
I agree with you very strongly about the necessity of trying as hard as we can to obey the apostolic 'Rejoice always': and I think we sin by needless neglect of this as often as by anything else. The attempt to obey it is at present one of my three morning resolutions each day. I had not realised its importance till recently. There may be objections to saying the End is happiness tout court, but I agree, I think, with all you really mean.

C. S. Lewis
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 2 (Cambridge: Cambrudge University Press, ), 327

God the All

O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much
about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.

This, by bitter providence, thou hast taught me concerning myself.
--The Valley of Vision, 'God the All,' p. 4

06 January 2012

Letting (Not Making) God Love You

This week I saw a list of answers to this question: What do you regret about this past year? Here are some answers: I regret thinking more money is all I need. I regret believing this would finally be the Cubs’ big year. I regret not spending time with my lonely neighbor. I regret the date nights with my wife I didn’t take. I regret my apathy in worship. I regret being held back by human opinions of me. I regret missing times with God but not missing my show on TV. I regret every minute I gave to pornography. I regret trying to hide my sins from others. I regret the person I’ve become.

I wonder what your regret is. I know mine. But sometimes we don’t see our biggest failing. All the regrets I’ve just read lie at the surface. And there is a deeper reason why we act these ways. The deeper reason is this. We do not savor God’s love for us. Of course, if someone asked us, Does God love you?, we’d all give the right answer. But savoring his love, enjoying his love, drawing strength from his love, especially when we see how sinful we are – that’s different. All our problems stem from this – not believing and receiving the love of God for the undeserving. I am calling you today to enter 2012 with this declaration: “I will let God love me and save me.” There’s a New Year’s Resolution for you! Every day of 2012, rather than try to make God love me, I will let God love me, because he does – for the sake of Christ.

05 January 2012


The pinnacle of beauty, the beauty toward which all creatures point, is God. He is supreme being, supreme truth, supreme goodness, and also the apex of unchanging beauty.
--Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 2:254, concluding a discussion of the glory of God

04 January 2012

The Focal Point

If Jesus of Nazareth is “the one who was to come” (Matt 11:3), if he is the goal of all biblical history, then he is the focal point that gathers all the rays of light that issue from Scripture. Now they do not shine miraculously here and there, but give a clear, unambiguous picture that is consistent with the salvation that Christ brings.
--Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New (Eerdmans, 1982), 58 (typos is a transliteration of the Greek word for 'type,' meaning pattern or imprint--this is not a book about trying to find errors in the Bible)

03 January 2012

Richard Gaffin

Professor Gaffin is a great gift to the church, much and rightly beloved for his eminent godliness and penetrating biblical scholarship. I read the Bible differently through clarity he has brought to my own understanding of the history of redemption, the ordo salutis, biblical eschatology, resurrection, and union with Christ.

Peter Lillback, the current president of Westminster Seminary, where Gaffin taught for 45 years, has a wonderful tribute to Gaffin's career in the current issue of Ordained Servant (the online magazine for the OPC, Gaffin's denomination). Dr. Lillback concludes with some warm, brotherly personal reflections.

Praise to God for this faithful servant of the church.

(And who knew Dr. Gaffin's father-in-law was E. J. Young?!)

Home Culture

A helpful reflection from our brother Trevin Wax on building a healthy culture in the home.

Jesus Is Enough

Great stuff, Joe Thorn.

Passion 2012 (Jan 2-5)

Live stream available.

He Restores

Edwards, preaching in 1739--
Christ comes down from heaven on this fallen, miserable creature and gives life from the dead. He restores that which Satan had cut down. He heals that mortal wound that he had given. . . . He restores the image of God after it had been wholly defaced. He restores spiritual life after it had been wholly extinct. He restores to God’s favor.

He restores, and much more than restores, to the former state of happiness, for he brings to a better paradise and a more excellent state of honor and an higher degree of communion with God.
--Jonathan Edwards, 'Like Rain upon Mown Grass,' in Sermons and Discourses, 1739–1742, 310

02 January 2012

I Am Not Moved

In October 1520, in the wake of refusing the pope's order to retract his writings of gospel-recovery, Luther wrote to a pastor who was similarly facing heat, and considering quitting.
Our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness. . . . Let us then stand firm and heed the trumpet of the Lord. Satan is fighting, not against us, but against Christ in us. We fight the battles of the Lord. Be strong therefore. If God is for us, who can be against us?

You are dismayed because Eck is publishing a most severe bull against Luther, his books, and his followers. Whatever may happen, I am not moved, because nothing can happen save in accord with the will of him who sits upon the heaven directing all. Let not your hearts be troubled. Your Father knows your need before you ask him. Not a leaf from a tree falls to the ground without his knowledge. How much less can any of us fall unless it be his will.

If you have the spirit, do not leave your post, lest another receive your crown. It is but a little thing that we should die with the Lord, who in our flesh laid down his life for us. We shall rise with him and abide with him in eternity. See then that you do not despise your holy calling. He will come, he will not tarry, who will deliver us from every ill. Farewell in the Lord Jesus, who comforts and sustains mind and spirit. Amen.
--quoted in Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Hendrickson, 1977), 140-41

What Does the Holy Spirit Do?

The Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated with. This is his work, and he does it effectually. To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, has thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense of this, is an inexpressible mercy.

This we have in a peculiar manner by the Holy Ghost; it is his peculiar work.
--John Owen, Communion with God (Christian Focus, 2007; repr.), 375-76

'Thoughts of tenderness.'