29 November 2006

Motivation (17): Hodge

Charles Hodge (1797-1878), American Presbyterian theologian of Princeton Seminary:

"A beautiful object in nature or art may be duly apprehended as an object of vision by an uncultivated man, who has no perception of its aesthetic excellence, and no corresponding feeling of delight in its contemplation. So it is with the unrenewed man. He may have an intellectual knowledge of the facts and doctrines of the Bible, but no spiritual discernment of their excellence, and no delight in them. . . .

"Out of the heart proceed all conscious, voluntary, moral exercises. A change of heart, therefore, is a change which precedes these exercises and determines their character. A new heart is to a man what goodness is to the tree in the parable of our Lord.

"In regeneration, therefore, there is a new life communicated to the soul; the man is the subject of a new birth; he receives a new nature or new heart, and becomes a new creature. As the change is neither in the substance nor in the mere exercises of the soul, it is in those immanent dispositions, principles, tastes, or habits which underlie all conscious exercises, and determine the character of the man and of all his acts."

--Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946), 3:33, 35.

27 November 2006


Is this the way to think of sin in believers?

The Presence of Sin: Completely Present

The Penalty of Sin: Completely Gone

The Power of Sin: Progressively Weakened

A Christian, then, is someone who has had the condemnation of sin removed, while experiencing increasing freedom from sin's hold, while not knowing total freedom until the next life. That is, the penalty of sin has been killed in the past, the power of sin is being killed in the present, and the presence of sin will be killed in the future.

Another important variable, when we enfold unbelievers into the discussion, is the image of God, which is manifestly present in all, believer and unbeliever. This helps us avoid extremes. Remembering the presence of sin in believers keeps us from over-optimism regarding the Christian life, while remembering the imago dei in unbelievers keeps us from over-pessimism regarding the non-Christian life. Unbelievers are not as bad as they might be; believers are not as good as they will be.

Still pondering.

Motivation (16): Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), Free Church Scottish pastor known for his sermon "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection":

"There are a thousand things which, in popular and understood language, man can do. It is quite the general sentiment, that he can abstain from stealing, and lying, and calumny—that he can give of his substance to the poor, and attend church, and pray, and read his Bible, and keep up the worship of God in his family. But, as an instance of distinction between what he can do, and what he cannot do, let us make the undoubted assertion, that he can eat wormwood, and just put the question, if he can also relish wormwood. That is a different affair. I may command the performance; but have no such command over my organs of sense, as to command a liking, or a taste for the performance. . . . I may accomplish the doing of what God bids; but have no pleasure in God himself. The forcible constraining of the hand, may make out many a visible act of obedience, but the relish of the heart may refuse to go along with it. . . . The poor man has no more conquered his rebellious affections, than he has conquered his distaste for wormwood. He may fear God; he may listen to God; and, in outward deed, may obey God. But he does not, and he will not, love God; and while he drags a heavy load of tasks, and duties, and observances after him, he lives in the hourly violation of the first and greatest of the commandments."

--“An Estimate of the Morality that is Without Godliness,” in Thomas Chalmers, Sermons and Discourses, Vol. II (New York: Robert Carter, 1846), 34.

"[T]he love of gratitude differs from the love of moral esteem. . . . There is a real distinction of cause between these two affections, and there is also between them a real distinction of object. The love of moral esteem finds its complacent gratification, in the act of dwelling contemplatively on that Being, by whom it is excited; just as a tasteful enthusiast inhales delight from the act of gazing on the charms of some external scenery. The pleasure he receives, emanates directly upon his mind, from the forms of beauty and loveliness, which are around him. And if, instead of a taste for the beauties of nature, there exists within him, a taste for the beauties of holiness, then will he love the Being, who presents to the eye of his contemplation the fullest assemblage of them, and his taste will find its complacent gratification in dwelling upon him, whether as an object of thought, or as an object of perception. 'One thing have I desired,' says the Psalmist, 'that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.' Now, the love of gratitude is distinct from this in its object. It is excited by the love of kindness; and the feeling which is thus excited, is just a feeling of kindness back again."

--“The Principle of Love to God,” in Chalmers, Sermons and Discourses, 64-65.

20 November 2006

Motivation (15): Whitefield

George Whitefield (1714-1770), British Calvinist evangelist and, according to Arnold Dallimore, the primary fuel for the spread of 18th-century Methodism (even more than John Wesley), says this:

"It is true, we may flatter ourselves, that supposing we continue in our natural corrupt state, and carry all our lusts along with us, we should, notwithstanding, relish heaven, was God to admit us therein. And so we might, was it a Mahometan paradise, wherein we were to take our full swing in sensual delights. But since its joys are only spiritual, and no unclean thing can possibly enter those blessed mansions, there is an absolute necessity of our being changed, and undergoing a total renovation of our depraved natures, before we can have any taste or relish of those heavenly pleasures. It is, doubtless, for this reason, that the apostle declares it to be the irrevocable decree of the Almighty, that ‘without holiness, (without being made pure by regeneration, and having the image of God thereby reinstamped upon the soul,) no man shall see the Lord.’ And it is very observable, that our divine Master, in the famous passage before referred to, concerning the absolute necessity of regeneration, does not say, Unless a man be born again, he shall not, but ‘unless a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ It is founded in the very nature of things, that unless we have dispositions wrought in us suitable to the objects that are to entertain us, we can take no manner of complacency or satisfaction in them. For instance, what delight can the most harmonious music afford to a deaf, or what pleasure can the most excellent picture give to a blind, man? Can a tasteless palate relish the rich dainties, or a filthy swine be pleased with the finest garden of flowers? No: and what reason can be assigned for it? An answer is ready: Because they have neither of them any tempers of mind correspondent or agreeable to what they are to be diverted with. And thus it is with the soul hereafter: for death makes no alteration in the soul, than as it enlarges its faculties, and makes it capable of receiving deeper impressions either of pleasure or pain. If it delighted to converse with God here, it will be transported with the sight of his glorious majesty hereafter. . . ."

"The sum of the matter is this: Christianity includes morality, as grace does reason; but if we are only mere moralists, if we are not inwardly wrought upon, and changed by the powerful operations of the Holy Spirit, and our moral actions proceed from a principle of a new nature, however we may call ourselves Christians, we shall be found naked at the great day, and in the number of those who have neither Christ’s righteousness imputed to them for their justification in the sight, nor holiness enough in their souls as the consequence of that, in order to make them meet for the enjoyment, of God.”

--“On Regeneration,” in George Whitefield, Sermons on Important Subjects (London: Henry Fisher, 1832), 547-550.

"[B]efore you or I can have any well-grounded, scriptural hope, of being happy in a future state, there must be some great, some notable, and amazing change pass upon our souls. I believe, there is not one adult person in the congregation, but will readily confess, that a great change hath past upon their bodies, since they came first into the world, and were infants dandled upon their mothers’ knees. It is true, ye have no more members than ye had then; but how these are altered! Though you are in one respect the same ye were, for the number of your limbs, and as to the shape of your body, yet if a person that knew you when ye were in your cradle, had been absent from you for some years, and saw you when grown up, ten thousand to one if he would know you at all, ye are so altered, so different from what ye were, when ye were little ones. And as the words [of Matt. 18:3] plainly imply, that there has a great change passed upon our bodies since we were children, so before we can go to heaven, there must as great a change pass upon our souls; our souls considered in a physical sense are still the same, there is to be no philosophical change wrought upon them; but then, as for our temper, habit, and conduct, we must be so changed and altered, that those who knew us the other day, when in a state of sin, and before we knew Christ, and are acquainted with us now, must see such an alteration, that they may stand as much amazed at it, as a person at the alteration wrought on any person he has not seen for twenty years from his infancy."

--“Marks of a True Conversion,” Whitefield, Sermons, 270.

Seminary Exhortation

A needed message from Zack Eswine for seminarians which I found very convicting--as someone who has difficulty loving people.

17 November 2006


22 causes for praise in my life these past four years in St. Louis.

16 November 2006

Seminary Reading

If I had (which I don't) only 300 pages (which I wouldn't) to assign for a seminarian to read before beginning a pastorate, I think I would assign:

15 November 2006

Motivation (14): J. Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791), pastor, author, organizational genius, founder of Methodism, key figure in the Great Awakening of the 1740’s, and 3 months Edwards' elder, would not be the first to come to our minds as someone who preached a robust view of the supernatural change wrought in regeneration by which a new set of desires are imported into the heart. But while he may differ as to our role in bringing such a change about, he did not differ on the change itself. Indeed, he may be closer to biblical orthodoxy on this subject than many Calvinistic pulpits today.

"But as soon as he is born of God, there is a total change in all these particulars. The 'eyes of his understanding are opened' (such is the language of the great Apostle); and, He who of old 'commanded light to shine out of darkness shining on his heart, he sees the light of the glory of God,' His glorious love, 'in the face of Jesus Christ.' His ears being opened, he is now capable of hearing the inward voice of God, saying, 'Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee'; 'Go and sin no more. . . .' He 'feels in his heart,' to use the language of our Church, 'the mighty working of the Spirit of God' . . . he feels, is inwardly sensible of, the graces which the Spirit of God works in the heart. He feels, he is conscious of, a 'peace which passeth all understanding.' He many times feels such a joy in God as is 'unspeakable, and full of glory.' He feels 'the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him'; and all his spiritual senses are then exercised to discern spiritual good and evil."

"From hence it manifestly appears, what is the nature of the new birth. It is that great change which God works in the soul when He brings it into life; when He raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. It is the change wrought in the whole soul by the almighty Spirit of God. . . ."

"[E]xcept he be born again, none can be happy even in this world. For it is not possible, in the nature of things, that a man should be happy who is not holy. . . . The reason is plain: all unholy tempers are uneasy tempers: not only malice, hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge, create a present hell in the breast; but even the softer passions, if not kept within due bounds, give a thousand times more pain than pleasure. . . . Therefore, as long as they must reign in any soul, happiness has no place there. But they must reign till the bent of our nature is changed, that is, till we are born again; consequently, the new birth is absolutely necessary in order to happiness in this world, as well as in the world to come."

--Edward H. Sudgen, ed., Wesley's Standard Sermons (London: Epworth, 1951), 2:233-236.

"A . . . scriptural mark of those who are born of God, and the greatest of all, is love; even 'the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them' (Rom. v. 5). 'Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father!' (Gal. iv. 6). By this Spirit, continually looking up to God as their reconciled and loving Father, they cry to Him for their daily bread, for all things needful, whether for their souls or bodies. They continually pour out their hearts before Him, knowing 'they have the petitions which they ask of Him' (I John v. 15). Their delight is in Him. He is the joy of their heart; their 'shield,' and their 'exceeding great reward.' The desire of their soul is toward Him; it is their 'meat and drink to do His will'; and they are 'satisfied as with marrow and fatness, while their mouth praiseth Him with joyful lips' (Ps. lxiii. 5)."

--Wesley’s Standard Sermons, 1:292.

13 November 2006

Motivation (13): Francke

August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), German Lutheran who carried on the torch of Pietism in Spener's wake, on the new birth:

"Nor is it enough to explain that first and mighty Change, which is at once made in a Sinner at his Conversion, when he comes to love that God which before he hated, and to hate the Evil which he before loved; when from being an Unbeliever he becomes a Believer; or when his false and dead Faith is changed into a true and saving one: But that further progressive Change should also be much recommended, in which the Christian must be improving to the very End of his Life."

--Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 96.

"[N]o doctrine in Christianity is more necessary than the doctrine of rebirth. This is the very ground upon which Christianity stands. A person without this is not to be called a Christian. Just as the article of creation is the first, without which the others would not be (for if man were not created, how could his redemption and sanctification occur?), so if the person is not created anew or born of God, it does not help at all that Christ died for him; nor does it help at all that he has sent the Holy Spirit, and so forth. But when new birth occurs, we enjoy all the more the heavenly Father, our Savior, and the dear Holy Spirit."

--God’s Glory, Neighbor’s Good: A Brief Introduction to the Life and Writings of August Hermann Francke (Chicago: Covenant, 1982), 135, 142.

MacArthur at Southern

John MacArthur gave the Mullins Preaching Lectures at Southern Seminary last week. The message on Luke 15 is especially excellent.

10 November 2006

Motivation (12): Henry: "Happily Disabled for Sin"

Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Nonconformist English pastor known for his commentary on the entire Scripture, from which the following two quotes are drawn:

"What it is that is required: to be born again. We must live a new life. Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again is to begin anew. We must not think to patch up the old building, but begin from the foundation. We must have a new nature, new principles, new affections, new aims. We must be born anothen, which signifies both again, and from above. We must be born anew. Our souls must be fashioned and enlivened anew. We must be born from above. This new birth has its rise from heaven, it is to be born to a divine and heavenly life." (commenting on John 3:3-8)

"To be born of God is to be inwardly renewed, and restored to a holy rectitude of nature by the power of the Spirit of God. Such a one committeth not sin, his seed remaineth in him. Renewing grace is an abiding principle. Religion is not an art, an acquired dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And thereupon the consequence is the regenerate person cannot sin. He cannot continue in the course and practice of sin. And the reason is because he is born of God. There is that light in his mind which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart which disposes him to loathe and hate sin. There is the spiritual disposition, that breaks the force and fullness of the sinful acts. It is not reckoned the person’s sin, in the gospel account, where the bent and frame of the mind and spirit are against it. The unregenerate person is morally unable for what is religiously good. The regenerate person is happily disabled for sin." (commenting on 1 John 3:4-10)

--Leslie F. Church, ed., Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960)

09 November 2006

Motivation (11): Van Mastricht

Peter Van Mastricht (1630-1706), the Dutch theologian whose writings Edwards called "much better than Turretin, or any other book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion," wrote a Theoretical and Practical Theology, from which Soli Deo Gloria has published a portion under the title A Treatise on Regeneration.

"[R]egeneration, strictly so called, finds man spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:2, 5), into whom it infuses the first act or principle of the spiritual life, by which he has a power or ability to perform spiritual exercises."

"[A] man who is spiritually dead can hear spiritual truth; he can also, grammatically at least, understand what he hears. He can moreover approve in his judgment, at least speculatively, what he understands; and lastly he can, in a general manner, have some kind of affection toward what he approves. Nor does the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration and spiritual treat the elect as stocks or brutes, but as rational creatures, to whose reception, the Redeemer, with the terms of salvation, has been already offered by the external call. To receive this, the Spirit has invited them by the most pressing motives. Yea, it is possible that persons who are as yet spiritually dead may, if not by the powers which they naturally possess, yet by the assistance of common grace arrive to certain attainments not accompanying salvation (Hebrews 6:4-5, 9), or that are not inseparably connected therewith. So that we are not to think that there is nothing to be done with the unregenerate. However, while they perform all these things, they do nothing at all which is spiritual, or at least nothing in a spiritual manner (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)."

"As this spiritual life, bestowed in regeneration, is seated in the will, it is called a new heart (Psalm 51:12), a heart of flesh, or a heart easily affected (Ezekiel 36:26), a heart on which God has written His fear (Jeremiah 32:39-40; Hebrews 8:10), by which the regenerate walk in His statutes (Ezekiel 11:19-20). For the Holy Ghost implants in the heart or will by regeneration a new inclination or propensity towards spiritual good. For although the will naturally has a kind of propensity toward moral good in general (Romans 2:14-15) and toward external religious duties (Luke 18:10-12; Philippians 3:5-6), whereby in duties with which salvation is not connected an unregenerate person may sometimes perform things that are really wonderful (Mark 10:19-21; Hebrews 6:4-5), yet as for their propensity towards spiritual and saving good, mankind has utterly lost it by sin; hence they are said to be dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5), and insufficient to think even the least thought that spiritually good (2 Corinthians 3:5). Wherefore it is absolutely necessary that a new propensity toward spiritual good be restored to the will (Romans 7:22; 2 Thessalonians 3:5). For although the will naturally follows the last dictate of the practical understanding, so that were the understanding but sufficiently illuminated an immediate renovation of the will might seem unnecessary, yet this is to be admitted as truth only when the understanding, in its last dictate, judges agreeably to the inclination of the will."

--A Treatise on Regeneration, ed. Brandon Withrow (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 2002), 7-24. First published 1699.

JE: Happiness

The JE Blog cites a great statement by Edwards on happiness. Part of it:

"The great enquiry of the world in general in all ages of it, is after happiness. It was a great enquiry among the wise men of the world wherein men's happiness consists and a thing that they were exceedingly at a loss, though it be a matter that so universally and so highly concerns mankind. Yet there is scarce anything that the world is more deceived about. . . ."

07 November 2006

Motivation (10): Howe

John Howe (1630-1705), English Puritan pastor, preached a series of 13 sermons on regeneration, based on 1 John 5:1, in which he makes statements directly pertinent to an understanding of the foundation of Christian motivation. Notice in paragraph 2 that God's promises are instruments used, but not the foundation itself, to effectual motivation.

"[T]hat holy rectitude which is effected by regeneration, or this new birth, takes place in every thing belonging to the nature of man. Therefore be not so vague as to imagine, that if there be somewhat done in some one faculty, this is regeneration, or that this speaks a man new born. If now and then there be a right thought injected and cast in, if there be an inclination, some motion or desire; if something of convictive light be struck into a man’s conscience; is this regeneration? Is this being new born? No, that makes all things new: ‘If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are done away, all things are become new.’ There is a new mind, a new judgment, a new conscience, a new will, new desires, new delights, new love, new fear, every thing new."

"Here is a change to be wrought in his nature, a nature that is corrupt, depraved, averse from God, alienated from the divine life; this nature is now to be attempered to God, made suitable to him, made propense and inclined towards him. This might be done, it is true, by an immediate exertion of Almighty power, without any more ado. But God will work upon men suitably to the nature of man. And what course doth he therefore take? He gives 'exceeding great and very precious promises,' and in them he declares his own good will, that he might win theirs. In order to the ingenerating grace in them, he reveals grace to them by these great and precious promises. And what is grace in us? Truly grace in us is good will towards God, or good nature towards God; which can never be without a transformation of our vicious, corrupt nature. It will never incline towards God, or be propense towards God, till he make it so by a transforming power. But how doth he make it so? By discovering his kindness and goodness to them in 'exceeding great and precious promises,' satisfying and persuading their hearts. . . . Thus the 'exceeding great and precious promises' are instruments to the communicating a divine nature to us, though that divine nature be ingenerated by a mighty power."

"It is a creature of a very peculiar benignity and goodness. . . . This goodness shows itself in . . . an habitual propension thereunto, so as to do good with complacency and delight; so this goodness imitates the Divine goodness; he exerciseth loving-kindness in the earth, because he delights therein; so doth the good man do good even with delight, tasting and relishing his own act in what he doth. Oh, how sweet is it to do good! He tastes and the relish of it more than the receiver of it doth, incomparably more; according to that motto of our Lord, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ A more blessed thing, a thing that carries more sweet and savour in it. . . . Oh, what a pleasant savour hath grace and goodness! Oh, the sweet relishes of it! . . . when regeneration makes a man good, produceth a divine creature, his delight is in doing good as God’s own is."

--Edmund Calamy, ed., The Works of the Rev. John Howe, (London: William Ball, 1838), 895-910. Calamy also wrote a biography of Howe.

06 November 2006


New Life Church posted Ted Haggard's letter that was read to the congregation yesterday morning, and his wife's. James Dobson spoke with H. B. London, Al Mohler, and Ravi Zacharias about the whole ordeal on this morning's radio broadcast.

Amid the surprise and sadness, I find my main reaction in the wake of this to be renewed resolve, more than ever, to guard my own mind and wage war on the impure intrusions which present themselves as so harmless. O the deceitfulness of sin!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water . . .

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing greatness 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 . . .

03 November 2006

Motivation (9): Scougal

Henry Scougal (1630-1657), professor of divinity at Aberdeen University until dying of tuberculosis at age 28 (oddly similar to Brainerd), wrote a letter to a friend which was later turned into a small book called The Life of God in the Soul of Man. It was instrumental in the conversion of George Whitefield. Scougal writes these words, relevant for Christian motivation:

"[R]eligion may be designed by the name of life; because it is an inward, free and self-moving principle; and those who have made progress in it, are not acted only by external motives, driven merely by threatenings, nor bribed by promises, nor constrained by laws; but are powerfully inclined to that which is good, and delight in the performance of it."

"The love which a pious man bears to God and goodness, is not so much by virtue of a command enjoining him to do so, as by a new nature instructing and prompting him to it; nor doth he pay his devotions as an unavoidable tribute, only to appease the Divine justice, or quiet his clamorous conscience; but those religious exercises are the proper emanations of the Divine life, the natural employments of the new-born soul. He prays, and gives thanks, and repents, not only because these things are commanded, but rather because he is sensible of his wants, and of the Divine goodness, and of the folly and misery of a sinful life; his charity is not forced, nor his alms extorted from him, his love makes him willing to give; and though there were no outward obligation, his 'heart would devise liberal things'; injustice or intemperance, and all other vices, are as contrary to his temper and constitution, as the basest actions are to the most generous spirit, and impudence and scurrility to those who are naturally modest."

"The love of God is a delightful and affectionate sense of the Divine perfections, which makes the soul resign and sacrifice itself wholly unto him, desiring above all things to please him, and delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him, and being ready to do or suffer any thing for his sake, or at his pleasure. Though this affection may have its first rise from the favours and mercies of God toward ourselves, yet doth it, in its growth and progress, transcend such particular considerations, and ground itself on his infinite goodness, manifested in all the works of creation and providence."

"When we have said all that we can, the secret mysteries of a new nature and divine life can never be sufficiently expressed; language and words can not reach them; nor can they be truly understood but by those souls that are enkindled within, and awakened unto the sense and relish of spiritual things."

--The Life of God in the Soul of Man (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2001), 43-55.

01 November 2006

Motivation (8): Charnock

Stephen Charnock (1628-1680), chaplain to Henry Cromwell (son of Oliver) and Puritan pastor in London:

"[Regeneration] is a universal change of the whole man. It is a new creature, not only a new power, or new faculty: this . . . extends to every part, understanding, will, conscience, affections, all were corrupted by sin, all are renewed by grace. Grace sets up its ensigns in all parts of the soul, surveys every corner, and triumphs over every lurking enemy."

"It is principally an inward change. It is as inward as the soul itself. Not only a cleansing the outside of the cup and platter, a painting over the sepulcher, but a casting out the dead bones, and putrefied flesh; of a nature different from a pharisaical and hypocritical change. . . . If it were not so, there could be no outward rectified change."

"[T]his new creation consist[s] in gracious qualities and habits, which beautify and dispose the soul to act righteously and holily. . . . God hath put into all creatures such forms and qualities, whereby they may be inclined of themselves to motions agreeable to their nature, in an easy and natural way. Much more doth God infuse into those that he moves to the obtaining a supernatural good, some spiritual qualities, whereby they may be moved rationally, sweetly, and readily to attain that good: he puts into the soul a spirit of love, a spirit of grace, whereby as their understandings are possessed with a knowledge of the excellency of his ways, so their wills are so seasoned by the power and sweetness of this habit, that they cannot, because they will not, act contrary thereunto."

--The Doctrine of Regeneration (Welwyn, Hertfordshire: Evangelical, 1980, reprint), 103-124.