Spurgeon on Praying in the Spirit

The seed of acceptable devotion must come from heaven’s storehouse.  Only the prayer which comes from God can go to God.

Spurgeon’s five aspects of praying in the Spirit:

  1. Fervency: “Those who do not plead with fervency, plead not at all.”
  2. Perseveringly: “The longer the gate is closed, the more vehemently does he uses the knocker.”
  3. Humbly: “Out of hte depths must we cry, or we shall never behold glory in the highest.”
  4. Loving: “Prayer should be perfumed with love, saturated with love — love to saints, and love to Christ.”
  5. Faith: “A man prevails only as he believes.”

Most blessed Comforter, exert Thy mighty power within us, helping our infirmities in prayer!

Read the whole thing here.

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Conversation Between a Calvinist and an Arminian

This is from John Piper’s post earlier this week about how Charles Simeon, a Calvinist, tried to reason with John Wesley, an Arminian, about the supremacy of God in the salvation and perseverance of Christians.  I have adapted it to contemporary language.

So you call yourself an Arminian. People call me a Calvinist; and therefore we are supposed to argue about finer points of theology. But before we start fighting, may I ask you a few questions? Do you think that you are a depraved person, so depraved, in fact, that you would have never turned to God if God had not put it in your heart first?

Yes, I do indeed

And do you reject your coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And since you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you will be able enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is. This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance. This is really all there is to it and nothing else. Therefore, instead of searching for differences in language and definitions and having that be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?

Obviously, there is a lot more in Reformed theology than just this, but I think Simeon’s point is to show that “Arminians” and “Calvinists” have more in common than they think.  Furthermore, I think that Simeon may have tried to show the inconsistencies in Arminian thought.

How do you think the conversation would have gone if Wesley had asked the questions?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And supposing you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you can enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is to me.  This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance.  This is really all there is to it and nothing else.  Therefore, if you please, instead of fighting about language and having it be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?

‘Nuisance’ Suffering Still Builds Endurance

One of the main lessons I’ve been learning while in South Africa is that suffering that seems to be a nuisance is still building endurance in my heart.  Most of the time, when I have to wait in line for a very long time, when my car breaks down, when communication is slow and sporadic, or when working with other ministries seems to handcuff me, I’d rather experience “true” Christian suffering than these annoyances.  To me, that would seem “more spiritual” or able to build me up more in Christ.

But the Lord has been reminding me that any kind of trial is either an opportunity to worship him or an idol.  If I worship Jesus, these mini-trials will build endurance, then character, and then hope (Rom. 5:3-5).  If I worship Jesus, these trials will produce steadfastness in faith (James. 1:2-4).  On the other hand, if I worship an idol (i.e. my agenda, punctuality, structure, details, etc.), then my heart grows hard, cold, unloving, and angry with God.

The apostle James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Every kind of trail, great and small, can be fruitful.  The only question I need to ask is who am I worshiping during these trials: Jesus or myself?

Perseverance of the Saints

There’s a lot of different perspectives in Christianity about the level of assurance a believer can have.  D.A. Carson, of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, offers some great insight:

For non-reformed theologies…”at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer.  For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God–and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place.”

When people believe that their free-choice brought them to Christ, that their works bring about sanctification, and that their determination keeps them enduring, instead of God’s election, grace, mercy, and power, they are ultimately trusting in themselves and not God.  How arrogant and self-centered!

Furthermore, if we could lose our salvation, that would mean that the Christian could perform a work that is more powerful than Almighty God by leaving his saving grasp.  We must remember what Jesus said in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

Take joy in that promise.  Rejoice that your Savior is not weak or incapable of preserving you.  He is gloriously powerful and more than able to hold you in his grip for all eternity.