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By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:4 )
We have been changed by his grace, are being changed by his grace, and will be changed his grace.
What is the goal of this change? It is more than a better marriage, well-adjusted children, professional success, or freedom from a few nagging sins. God’s goal is that we would actually become like him. He doesn’t just want you to escape the fires of hell—though we praise God that through Christ you can! His goal is to free us from our slavery to sin, our bondage to self, and our functional idolatry, so that we actually take on his character!
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, p.15
Indeed, this restoration [of the image of God in the Christian] does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them to himself as temples, renewing all their minds to true purity, that they may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this warfare will end only at death.
Therefore, I think he has profited greatly who has learned to be very much displeased with himself, not so as to stick fast in this mire and progress no farther, but rather to hasten to God and yearn for him in order that, having been engrafted into the life and death of Christ, he may give attention to continual repentance.
~John Calvin, Institutes, III.iii. 9 and 20.
At age 20 George Matheson (1842-1906) was engaged to be married but began going blind. When he broke the news to his fiancee, she decided she could not go through life with a blind husband. She left him. Before losing his sight he had written two books of theology and some feel that if he had retained his sight he could have been the greatest leader of the church of Scotland in his day.
A special providence was that George’s sister offered to care for him. With her help, George left the world of academia for pastoral ministry and wound up preaching to 1500 each week–blind.
The day came, however, in 1882, when his sister fell in love and prepared for marriage herself. The evening before the wedding, George’s whole family had left to get ready for the next day’s celebration. He was alone and facing the prospect of living the rest of his life without the one person who had come through for him. On top of this, he was doubtless reflecting on his own aborted wedding day twenty years earlier. It is not hard to imagine the fresh waves of grief washing over him that night.
In the darkness of that moment George Matheson wrote this hymn. He remarked afterward that it took him five minutes and that it was the only hymn he ever wrote that required no editing.
HT: Justin Taylor
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
from Justin Taylor,
Many of you are probably aware of Frank Thielman’s textbook, Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and SyntheticAccount(Zondervan, 2005).
Here is a free online seminary class by Dr. Thielman on this very topic. It’s about 15 hours of careful, helpful lectures.
I pulled together the outline for the course, along with the suggested textbooks, for those who are interested.
Here’s the PDF.
“Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler, the celebrated Brooklyn divine, was visiting the famous London preacher, Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon. After a hard day of work and serious discussion, these two mighty men of God went out into the country together for a holiday. They roamed the fields in high spirits like boys let loose from school, chatting and laughing and free from care. Dr. Cuyler had just told a story at which Mr. Spurgeon laughed uproariously. Then suddenly he turned to Dr. Cuyler and exclaimed, ‘Theodore, let’s kneel down and thank God for laughter!’ And there, on the green carpet of grass, under the trees, two of the world’s greatest men knelt and thanked the dear Lord for the bright and joyous gift of laughter.”
The Sabbath Recorder, 4 January 1915, page 157.
HT: Ray Ortlund
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:23)
God has prepared a banquet of salvation for people to partake in. At this table is true delight, after true delight. It is all things righteous and bearing true joy. For what the banquet represents is the kingdom of God. It is the kingdom where righteousness and goodness reigns. There are no deceitful pleasure of sin which promise happiness but only return sorrow. No, here Jesus is a never ending fountain of pure joy. He is the holder of life and in His right hand is pleasures ever more.
God wants you to partake in this banquet so much that he compels you to come in and enjoy. He is not hiding the banquet from us, having us search it out. And then, if we did find it, make it difficult to partake in. No, He compels us to come and enjoy! He wants us to partake in all the joys of His Son: loving Him, walking obediently to Him, enjoying the free grace His Son gives. He compels us to come and enjoy salvation. He wants the house of the kingdom filled with people glorifying Him by enjoying the rich banquet He has prepared.
So let us come and enjoy it to the fullest!
Some more good answers to tough questions by D. A. Carson.
How Can God Allow Suffering?
How Can God Be Loving and Send People to Hell?
HT: Tim Challies
Jesus is the “author” of our sanctification, in the sense that he creates it for us, but he is also its “pioneer” because he does so out of his own incarnate life, death and resurrection. He is the “pioneer” of our salvation, because as the Hero of Faith (to be distinguished from the long list of those heroes who bear witness to him [Heb 12:1]), he has endured the cross, despising its shame and the opposition of sinners, and is now seated at God’s right hand. He is the first and only fully sanctified person. He has climbed God’s holy hill with clean hands and a pure heart (Ps 24:3-6). It is as the “Lead Climber” that gives the sanctification he has won to others (Acts 5:31). As “pioneer, ” Jesus has himself gone ahead of us to open the way to the Father. By doing so, he brings to the Father in similar obedience all those who are “roped” to him by grace and faith.
Christ is our sanctification. In him it has first come to its fulfillment and consummation. He not only died for us to remove the penalty of our sin by taking it himself; he has lived, died, risen again and been exalted in order to sanctify our human nature in himself for our sake. This is the significance of his words shortly before the cross, “Sanctify [the disciples] by the truth….As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (Jn 17:17-19).
~Sinclair B. Ferguson, Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, p. 49