The Non-identical Twins of Legalism and Lawlessness

If you think legalism is simply too much emphasis on the law, then you will think the antidote is to talk less about obedience and more about acceptance and forgiveness. If you think that antinomianism is simply too loose an attitude toward morality and law, you will assume the remedy is to talk less about mercy and acceptance and more about God’s righteousness and holy commands. In short, you will try to cure one with a dose of the other. That will be a disaster, because both of them have the same root cause. Both come from the belief that God does not really love us or will our joy, and from a failure to see that “both the law and the gospel are expressions of God’s grace.” For both the legalist and the antinomian, obedience to the law is simply the way to get things from God, not a way to get God, not a way to resemble, know, delight, and love him for his sake.

Tim Keller, Preaching (pgs. 54-55).

A (Joyfully) Ordinary Life

He who lives in obscurity will live an ordinary life without complaint, so that he won’t be found guilty of deserting his divinely appointed post. Indeed, in the midst of troubles, hardships, annoyances, and other burdens, he will find great relief when he remembers that God is his guide in all these matters. The magistrate will more gladly attend to his duties. The father will more gladly commit himself to his responsibilities. Each person, in whatever station in life, will endure and overcome troubles, inconveniences, disappointments, and anxieties, convinced that his burden has been placed upon him by God. Great consolation will follow from all of this. For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant–most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pg. 125-126).

Why I Don’t Baptize Babies

I have great respect and affection for Paedobaptist Christians who argue along these lines. Some of them are my close friends or historical heroes. And the arguments [for paedobaptism] I’ve sketched above display careful attention to Scripture and reverence of Scripture. Yet I don’t think they’re persuasive. Here are six reasons why.

  1. Paedobaptism applies the sign of union with Christ to those who are not united to Christ. It divorces the sign from the reality.
  2. Paedobaptism confuses being born of Christian parents with being born again by the Spirit.
  3. Paedobaptism mistakenly assumes that God is forming his new covenant people the same way he formed his old covenant people.
  4. Paedobaptism undermines the church’s saltiness and lightness (Matt. 5:13-16).
  5. Paedobaptism dissolves two crucial differences between baptism and circumcision.
  6. Paedobaptism makes God’s new covenant promise less than a promise.

Bobby Jamieson, Understanding Baptism (pg. 25-35).

Questions for Reflection

Can you truly say, that you have so far taken the everlasting enjoyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the most of your heart, of your love, desire and care; and that you are resolved, by the strength of Divine grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather than hazard it; and that it is your daily, and your principal business to seek it? Can you truly say, that though you have your failings and sins, yet your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is to please God, and to enjoy him for ever; and that you give the world God’s leavings (leftovers), as it were, and not God the world’s leavings; and that  your worldly business is but as a traveller’s seeking for provision in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take for your home?

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (pg. 248).

The Line Between Good and Evil

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either–but right through every human heart–and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within the hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an unuprooted small corner of evil.

Calvin on the Proper Use of Technology

Scripture teaches that everything we own – everything appointed for our benefit – has been given to us by God’s kindness, so that all that we own is like a deposit for which we must one day give an account. Therefore, we should manage our possessions as if these words were constantly sounding in our ears: “Turn in the account of your management” (Luke 16:2). At the same time, we should remember who will receive the account we give – namely, one who has commended self-control, soberness, frugality, and modesty just as much as He has condemned luxury, pride, showiness, and vanity; one who has approved no use of possessions but that which is joined with love; one who has already condemned with His own mouth whatever pleasures drag man’s heart away from integrity and purity or muddle his thinking.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pg. 123).

Longing to Long after God

The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn; the more his heart is broken, the more he desires it should be broke: the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God. The kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn.

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (pg.303).

The Necessity of Right Affections

He who has no religious affection is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection…If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of in the Word of God, is, undoubtedly, because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things.

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (pgs. 49-50)

Do Good to All

The Lord instructs us to do good to all people throughout the entire world, many of whom are unworthy of such good if judged by their own merit. But Scripture comes to our rescue with the best of reasons for doing good to all people. It teaches us not to regard others according to their own merits, but to consider in them the image of God to which we owe both honor and love. But the image of God should be more diligently regarded in those who are of the household of faith, because it has been renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ.

Therefore, you have no cause to evade anyone who stands before you and needs your service. Suppose he’s a stranger. The Lord, however, has stamped him with his own mark that’s familiar to you, and for that reason God forbids you to despise your own flesh. Suppose he is contemptible and worthless. The Lord, however, shows him to be one whom He has condescended to decorate with His own image.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pgs. 40-41).

Good and Ill from the Hand of God

Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart, because he knows that it is ordained by the Lord. Moreover, he must not stubbornly resist the rule of God into whose power he has placed himself and all his affairs.

So let the Christian make it his priority to drive from his breast that foolish and unfortunate comfort of pagans, who, in order to bolster their spirits against all adverse events, credit those events to fortune. They think it’s silly to be angry at fortune, since she is reckless, aimless, and blind – inflicting her wounds equally on the deserving and undeserving. In contrast, the rule of godliness is to recognize that God’s hand is the sole judge and governor of every fortune, and because His hand is not recklessly driven to fury, it distributes to us both good and ill according to His orderly righteousness.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pgs. 53-54)