The Christian in Complete Armour (92)

Abuse of the doctrine of the perseverance or preservation of the saints: Two ways this doctrine may be abused.

1. It may be into a neglect of duty.

2. Into a liberty to sin.

Take heed of both.

1. Take heed of falling into a neglect of duty upon this score—if a Christian,
thou canst not fall away from grace.
(1.) A constant vigorous performing of duty should not be motivated by the fear of falling away. The Christian treasures communion with his Heavenly Father and every duty is a mount wherein God presents himself to be seen and enjoyed by the Christian.
(2.) To neglect duty upon such a persuasion, is contrary to Christ’s practice
and counsel. Though Christ never doubted of his Father’s love,
nor questioned the happy issue of all his temptations, agonies, and sufferings, ye he prays, and prays again most earnestly, Luke 22:44. he states, ‘But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.’ Sure our Saviour by this provision made for him and the rest, means to save them a labour that they need not watch or pray? No such matter. After this, as you may see, ver. 40, he calls them up to duty—‘pray that ye enter not into temptation.’ Christ’s praying for them was to strengthen their faith, when they should themselves pray for the same mercy; not to nourish their sloth that they needed not to pray, Christ’s prayers in heaven for his saints are all heard already, but the return of them is reserved to be enclosed in the answer God sends to their own prayers.

Doesn’t his mercy (toward his people) endure for ever? (Psalm 136).

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I used to argue till I was “blue in tha face” with the Arminians on the O.M. Ship Logos who believed a true Christian could fall away and be lost! Hear Gurnall, ” The ark stood in the midst of Jordan, till the whole camp of Israel was safely got over into Canaan, Joshua 3:17, and so doth the covenant, which the ark did but typify. Yea, Christ, covenant and all, stand to secure the saints a safe passage to heaven. If but one believer drowns, the covenant must drown with him; Christ and the saint are put together as co-heirs of the same inheritance. ‘If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,’ Rom. 8:17. We cannot dispute against one, but we question the firmness of the other’s title. When you hear [that] Christ is turned out of heaven, or that he is willing to sell his inheritance there; then, poor Christian, fear thy coming thither, and not till then!” Amen!

Disciplines of a Godly Man (Book review)

 

 

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Book review. “Disciplines of a Godly Man” by R. Kent Hughes. 301pages paperback. Crossway Books 2001.

Hughes’ key verse is I Timothy 4:7,8, “Exercise (discipline or train) thyself rather unto godliness.” Rev. Hughes is convinced that godliness and discipline are intrinsically linked. His opening chapter is entitled “Discipline for godliness.” Thereafter the book chapters include the topics of discipline in relationships, discipline of self (soul and character) and discipline in church life (ministry). “You will get nowhere in life without discipline, whether in the arts, business, athletics or any academic subject.” For the believer discipline is God-centred and for his glory. This means hard work! Godly habits (spiritual disciplines) are often hard on the flesh because our old man is naturally lazy, sinful and selfish but they are basic in reaching our heavenly goal and living daily with that perspective in mind.
He covers sexual purity (I Thess.4:3-8) as basic, with self-control of the eyes, commitment to spouse, a supreme love for God, prizing of fellowship with him, as together important in the battle with lust. Chapters on being a committed father, choosing friends wisely, being involved in same-sex Bible studies with accountability, he says are other important disciplines in our relationships.
A Christian must discipline his mind and exclude the intake of many things (Phil.4:8) including the various types of screens and include regular Bible reading and good (Reformed-JK) Christian books. He must pray and have a prayer list, and work at prayer. When we get to worship he mistakes worship in spirit to mean our spirit rather than the Holy Spirit which is lamentable as without the Comforter and his power we cannot worship aright. When it comes to personal godliness he emphasises integrity, control of the tongue, listing good guidelines for speech, and hard work. He has a chapter on persevering to the end of our Christian race and another on being a committed member of a true church which then becomes central in our lives. He devotes a chapter to disciplined leadership, one to witnessing, one to giving and another to serving others. Discipline in the means of grace and grace granted as a result issue in hard work (I Corinthians 15:10).
In his appendices he includes daily Bible readings for the year which are something I would hope most of us already follow. We should ignore his chapters on Christian books as many are not Reformed and may be very misleading. We have a wealth of excellent Reformed books available at the RFPA, along with the Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights. We should also ignore his unregulated and unreformed views about choirs and church singing which include a chapter of hymns and choruses many of which might be termed “spiritual nursery rhymes”, a far cry from our all encompassing Spirit-breathed edifying Psalms of David.
So notwithstanding the few weaknesses–a good read especially if you need more discipline in your Christian life!

Bible studies

The Christian in Complete Armour (90)

To believe you can fall away :

 1. Derogatory to God’s design in the gospel-covenant, which we find
plainly to be this, that his children might be put into a state sure and safe. Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ So those who by faith should be adopted into Abraham’s family, and  become a child of the promise, should not fail of inheriting the blessing of the promise, which is eternal life; called so, Titus 1:2, and all this because the promise is founded upon grace, that is, God’s immutable good pleasure in Christ, and not upon the variable and inconsistent obedience of man, as the first covenant was.

2. Reflects sadly on Christ’s honour, both as he is intrusted with the saints’
salvation, and also as he is interested in it. First. As he is intrusted with the
saints’ salvation. He tells us they are given him of his Father for this very end,
that he should give them eternal life; yea, that power which he hath over all
flesh, was given him to render him every way able to effect this one business,
John 17:2. He accepts the charge, owns them as his sheep, knows them every one, and promiseth he ‘will give them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand,’ John 10:27,28. Secondly. As he is interested in the salvation of every saint. The life of his own glory is bound up in the eternal life of his saints.  Christ and his saints make but one Christ, for which his church is called Christ.  ‘As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ,’ I Cor. 12:12. Christ and his members make one Christ. Now is it possible that a piece of Christ can be found at last burning in hell? The church is called the ‘fulness of him,’ Eph. 1:23. O how dishonourable is it to Christ, that we should think he shall want any of his fulness! and how can the man be full and complete that wants a member?

3. Wounds the saints’ comfort to the heart, and lays their joy a bleeding.
This principle of saints falling from grace gives a sad dash to the sweet wine of the promises. We have ‘the sure mercies of David,’ Acts 13:34—mercies that
shall never fail. This, this is indeed wine that makes glad the heart of a saint.Though he may be whipped in the house when he sins, yet he shall not be turned out of doors; as God promised in the type to David’s seed. ‘Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail,’ Ps. 89:33; and ver. 36, ‘his seed shall endure for ever.’ Could anything separate the believer from the love of God in Christ or eat up the joy of his present hope. The contrary to such a frame of heart is  the
spirit of adoption, and [to the] full assurance of hope which the grace of the new covenant gives.

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Why we shall persevere:

Christ’s intercedes for us. ‘I have prayed,’ saith Christ to Peter, ‘that thy faith fail not.’ Does Christ pray for us? yea, doth he not live to pray for us? O how can children of so many prayers, of such prayers, perish? And if the weak prayers of saints, coming in his name, have such credit in heaven,  what prevalency has Christ’s intercession, who is a Son, an obedient Son, that is come from finishing his great work on earth, and now prays his Father for nothing but what he hath bid him ask; yea, for nothing but what is ordained. Say not thy weak faith shall perish, till thou hearest that Christ hath left praying.Third. Because Satan cannot pluck the believer out of the hands of God. How can he overcome thee, that cannot tempt thee but in God’s appointed time? No one-angel or human can pluck us from God’s hand!

So to recap, the three reasons a believer can and will persevere and never be lost are:

  1. The earnest of the Spirit.
  2. The intercession of Christ.
  3. The power of God.

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Proof we will perseve and the reasons:

The Spirit of God is given on purpose to prevent this. Christ left us with his Spirit, to tutor and keep us-the earnest of our inheritance. “I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them,”Eze. 36:27. He doth not say they shall have his Spirit if they will walk in his statutes; no, his Spirit shall cause them to do it. But may be thou art afraid thou mayest grieve him, and so he in anger leave thee, and thou perish for want of his help and counsel. Ans. The Spirit of God is indeed sensible of unkindness, and upon a saint’s sin may withdraw in regard of present assistance, but never in regard of his care; The office of the Spirit is to abide for ever with the saints. ‘He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever,’ John 14:16.

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The necessity of persevering:

The divine armour is a necessity to persevere till we have done all, and with it we will certainly triumph with the blessed result of this perseverance being abundantly recompensed for our pain and patience in the war—‘having done all, to stand.’

The ground of our persevering:

There can be no perseverance without true grace in the heart.
Every soul clad with this armour of God shall stand and persevere; or thus, true grace can never be vanquished. The Christian is a born conqueror, the gates of hell shall not prevail against him. He that is ‘born of God, overcometh the world,’ I John 5:4.

Mark from whence the victory is dated, even from his birth. There is victory sown in his new nature; even that seed of God, which will keep him from being swallowed up by sin or Satan. As Christ rose never to die more, so doth he raise souls from the grave of sin, never to come under the power of spiritual death more. These holy ones of God cannot ‘see corruption.’ Hence he that believes is said in the present tense to have eternal life. As ‘the law that came four hundred years after,’ could not make void the promise made to Abraham, so nothing that intervenes can hinder the accomplishing of that promise of eternal life, which was given and passed to Christ in their behalf before the foundation of the world. If a saint could in any way miscarry, and fall short of this eternal life, it must be from one of these three causes: Because God may forsake the Christian, and withdraw his grace and help from him; or because the believer may forsake God; or lastly, because Satan may pluck him out of the hands of God. Another cause I know not. Now none of these can be, We have the promise that Christ will never leave us or forsake us and his kindness toward us is eternal (Isaiah 54:10,17). As God, before the world began, gave a promise of eternal life to Christ for us, so now hath he given actual possession of that glorious place to Christ, as our advocate and attorney, where that eternal life shall be enjoyed by us. For as he came upon our errand from heaven, so thither he returned again, to take and hold possession of that inheritance which God had of old promised, and he in one sum at his death had paid for. And now, what ground of fear can there be in the believer’s heart, concerning God’s love standing firm to him, when he sees the whole covenant performed already to Christ for him, whom God hath not only called to, sanctified for, and upheld in the great work he has to finish for us; but also justified in his resurrection and received him into heaven, there to sit on the right hand of the majesty on high, by which he hath not only possession for us, but full power to give it unto all believers?

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” And having done all to stand” Ephesians 6:13.

There can be no perseverance without true grace in the heart. A soul void of divine armour cannot persevere. What this divine armour is, I have shown, and the apostle here doth, in the several pieces of it. The sanctifying graces of God’s Spirit are this armour.  John’s hearers, mentioned in John 5:35, got some light and heat by sitting under his burning ministry, but how long did it last? ‘Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.’ The foolish virgins made as great a blaze with their lamps, and did expect as good a day when Christ should come, as the wise virgins; but, alas, their lamps are out before he appeared. The stony ground hearer, the seed sown among weeds and that sown on the path represent those who like many other instances in Scripture, do evince, that nothing short of solid grace, and a principle of divine life in the soul, will enable persevereance.

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A warning to the apostate who do not persevere; ‘It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them, II Peter 2:21. Better never to have walked a step towards heaven, than to put such a scorn and reproach upon the ways of God. Such a one who hath known both what a service Satan’s is, and what God’s is, then to revolt from God to the devil, seems to have compared one with the other, and as a result of his mature thoughts, to pronounce the devil’s which he chooseth, better than God’s which he leaveth. And how is it possible that any can sin upon a higher guilt, and go to hell under a greater load of wrath? These are they which God loathes. He that hates putting away, disdains much more to be himself thus put away. ‘If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him,’ Heb. 10:38. The apostate is said to tread upon ‘the Son of God,’ Heb. 10.29, as if he were no better than the dirt under his feet. Well, he shall have treading for treading, God himself will set his foot upon him, ‘Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes,’ Ps. 119:118; and who, think you, will be weary soonest? He that is under foot bears the weight of the whole man upon him. To be under the foot of God, is to lie under the whole weight of God’s wrath. O pity and pray for such forlorn souls. T