Sanctification

The Reformed Catholic Family: Timeless Wisdom From A Westminster Divine by Blake Blount

public.jpeg

An Introduction To The Series on Building a Godly Home by William Gouge

By now I ought not to be surprised that an old Reformed churchman is a fountain of godly piety, encouragement, and conviction, but here I am again. William Gouge’s practical handbook on family life is a refreshing stream of water flowing from such a wellspring. Modernized in three volumes under the title Building a Godly Home, the book was originally released in a single volume as Domestical Duties, and it excellently presents the blessings we have in Christ, along with the duties we owe to Him and to one another in our homes. It’s just what you’d like to see from an honored member of the Westminster Assembly: warm, firm, attentive, fatherly, compassionate, biblical, and catholic. It’s a work worthy of rediscovery in all the churches of God.

To that end, I’ll be posting a series of excerpts from Building a Godly Home.

The first is the very opening lines of the book:

It has pleased God to call every one to two vocations. One vocation is general, in which certain common duties are to be performed by all men (as knowledge, faith, obedience, repentance, love, mercy, justice, truth, etc.). The other is particular, in which certain specific duties are required of individual people, according to those distinct places where divine providence has set them in the nation, church, and family.

Therefore God’s ministers ought to be careful in instructing God’s people in both kinds of duties; both those which concern their general calling and those which concern their particular calling. Accordingly Paul, who, like Moses, was faithful in all the house of God (Num. 12:7), after he had sufficiently instructed God’s church in the general duties that belong to all Christians, regardless of sex, state, degree, or condition (Eph. 4:1-5:21), proceeds to lay down certain particular duties, which apply to particular callings and conditions (Eph. 5:22-6:9). Among these particular duties, he notes those which God has established in a family.

With excellent skill he passes from those general duties to the particular ones, laying down a transition between the with these words, “ Submitting your selves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21). The form and manner of setting down this verse, with the participle “submitting,” shows that it depends on that which was said before. Again, the fact that the word itself is the very same which is used in the following verse, shows that this verse contains the sum of that which follows, and connects the general to the particulars. This manner of passing from one point to another, by a perfect transition which looks both to that which is past and to that which is coming, is very elegant and frequently employed by our apostle.

Thereby he teaches us to pay attention to that which follows, while we do not forget that which is past. While we must give diligent attention to that which remains to be said, we must also retain that we have heard, and not let it slip. Otherwise, if (as one nail drives out another) one precept makes another be forgotten, it will be altogether in vain to add line to line, or precept to precept.

Let us not upon pretext of one duty, though it may seem to be the weightier, think to discard another, lest that fearful “woe” which Christ denounced against the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:23) fall upon our heads. As God is careful to instruct us how to act both towards His own majesty and also towards one another, so in both let us seek His approval. Remember what Christ said to the Pharisees, “These ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone” (Luke 11:42). The same Lord that requires praise to His own majesty instructs us in mutual service one to another. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

As was the case throughout, I was struck by how pointedly this speaks to our modern moment, which is to say: pitting duties one against another to avoid the ones we don’t like is a timeless temptation. One of the two broad classes of duties Gouge identifies here often cannibalizes the other. In teachings on the sexes, for instance, it’s not hard to find folks denying that there are manly duties distinct from womanly duties; all are simply to “be like Christ.”

But while all are to be like Christ with regard to our general duties, we must also render our due according to the particular callings to which we are called. Likewise, I see in young men (myself included) a tendency to use particular calls to defend the Faith as a cover to their lack of general, personal holiness. It is a deadly poison. Let us all endeavor to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and not think to discard one duty on the pretext of another.

Godliness Evidenced When Against The Stream: Richard Baxter by Shane Anderson

IMG_0038.JPG

I know law, and custom, and education, and friends, when they side with godliness, are a great advantage to it, by affording helps, and removing those impediments that might stick much with carnal minds. But truth is not your own, till it be received in its proper evidence; nor your faith divine, till you believe what you believe, because God is true who doth reveal it; nor are you the children of God, till you love him for himself; nor are you truly religious, till the truth and goodness of religion itself be the principal thing that maketh you religious. It helpeth much to discover a man's sincerity, when he is not only religious among the religious, but among the profane, and the enemies, and scorners, and persecutors of religion: and when a man doth not pray only in a praying family, but among the prayerless, and the deriders of fervent constant prayer: and when a man is heavenly among them that are earthly, and temperate among the intemperate and riotous, and holdeth the truth among those that reproach it and that hold the contrary: when a man is not carried only by a stream of company, or outward advantages, to his religion, nor avoideth sin for want of a temptation, but is religious though against the stream, and innocent when cast (unwillingly) upon temptations; and is godly where godliness is accounted singularity, hypocrisy, faction, humour, disobedience, or heresy; and will rather let go the reputation of his honesty, than his honesty itself. 

From Richard Baxter’s “Christian Directory”  http://a.co/0rbSMSd

Always In Christ Alone: Baxter On Sanctification by Shane Anderson

IMG_5129.JPG

I am continuing slowly through Richard Baxter’s monumental Directory and am sharing various ideas and quotations I have found particularly encouraging. Immediately preceding this quotation, he has been challenging the person who wants to please God to rid himself of any thought of self-merit or deserved acceptance before God in anything but Jesus Christ. Conversion and the beginnings of new life are only in and by Christ, but so it the way of sanctification and ultimate victory:  

 Alas! without Christ,

we know not how to live an hour;

nor can have hope or peace in any thing we have or do;

nor look with comfort either upward or downward, to God, or the creature;

nor think without terrors of our sins, of God, or of the life to come.

Resolve, therefore, that as true converts,

you are wholly to live upon Jesus Christ,

and to do all that you do by his Spirit and strength;

and to expect all your acceptance with God upon his account.

A Cheerful & Constant Use Of The Means & Helps Appointed By God: Richard Baxter by Shane Anderson

I’ve recently begun reading Baxter’s monumental  “A Christian Directory, Or A Sum Of Practical Theology And Cases Of Consience.”  In this post I provide a quotation of a brief section in which he next lays out the road map of spiritual growth. He describes the means God gives and we must use to progress spiritually. I hope it will be a help to you, and may the Lord provide you with each of these means and the grace of His Spirit to use them cheerfully and constantly!

Read More

Zealous For Good Works: What Are Good Works (part 2)? by Shane Anderson

In light of some recent online controversy surrounding the place of good works in the lives of Christians, I am engaged in this series of posts with the aim of encouraging zealousness (rather than mere theological debate) for good works. In the previous post, I began to discuss what we mean by “good works” by attempting to clear out some misconceptions. This post turns in a more positive direction, seeking to answer the question more directly—soon enough we will be on to examining excerpts from historic Reformed preaching and writing.

But first, what are good works?

Read More

When The Truth Sounds Like Heresy: Piper and A. W. Pink On The Need For Repentance by Shane Anderson

I was struck then by A. W. Pink’s old explanation of the necessity of repentance. In the passage below he shows his concern over similar problems that Piper and representatives of the historic Reformed tradition are addressing: the necessity of sanctification, repentance, and good works is a pressing need for our lawless day, but some in our own circles not only sound an uncertain sound, they actually often actively fight against these biblical and necessary emphases. 

Read More

Bavinck: God’s Threats Against Believers Are Means Of Them Persevering by Shane Anderson

Herman Bavinck outlines the passages where Christians are warned and threatened against falling away, and are called to persevere in Christ, his word, and his love. Bavinck argues that these threats are used by God to motivate the willing perseverence, a perseverence that he has guaranteed in our regeneration and is not undermined by these threats.

Read More