Just as surely as Christ’s all-mighty power will, on the resurrection morning, transform the bodies of His people from mortality to life and from dishonour to glory, so also does the Holy Spirit now exert a supernatural power in morality transforming the characters of those whom He indwells. The great difference between these two—the future work of Christ upon the bodies of the saints and the present work of the Spirit upon their souls—is that the one will be accomplished instantaneously, whereas the other is effected slowly and gradually; the one we shall be fully conscious of, the other we are largely unconscious of. This being “changed into the same image” of the glory of the Lord is a progressive experience, as the “from glory to glory” plainly intimates—from one degree of it to another. It is begun at regeneration, is continued throughout our sanctification, and will be perfected at our glorification.
Arthur W. Pink–Studies in the Scriptures February, 1937 The Spirit Transforming
The term delight does not express that divine love to our souls which is the source of our salvation, but a complacency in our character and labours. Thus it is to be understood in the speech of David, when fleeing from the conspiracy of Abaslom: If he say, I have no delight in thee, here I am: let him do with me as seemeth him good! He could not mean by this, If God have no love to my soul, I submit to be forever separated from him, for such submission is not required of any who live under a dispensation of mercy: but If he approve not of me as the head of his people, here I am: let him take my life away, as it pleaseth him. The amount is, That if we would hope to succeed in God’s work, our character and undertakings much be such as he approves.
Rev. Andrew Fuller-God’s Approbation of our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success-Preached May 6, 1801
Let us get that very clear. Two scriptures will serve to show that God’s providence is directive with reference to the actions of evil men when it so operates that this evil action shall miss its issue, shall come to another issue neither intended nor desired by the perpetrator.
The first scripture is from the book of Genesis. The wicked brothers of Joseph, who had sold him into Egypt, are now in trouble in that very land. Their consciences accuse them:
“And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” (Genesis 42:21, 22.)
This was the human side.
On the other hand, hear Joseph: “I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold intoEgypt. Now, therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life *** to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” That is, you meant evil. God directed that action so as to change it into an issue that was not foreseen nor purposed by you.
The other scripture is from the fourth chapter of Acts. These two will answer for a thousand. They equal in importance any in the Bible:
“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, Thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou has anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:24-28.)
Now here was an entirely independent purpose and expectation on the part of Herod, on the part of Pilate, on the part of the Jews. They meant death and ruin and yet God’s providence governed their very malice to an issue neither foreseen, desired nor purposed by them, in that it accomplished not only His own predetermined purpose, working not for the ruin but for the salvation of the world.
B. H. Carroll—The Providence of God
God is unchanging in his threatenings. If every promise stands fast, and every oath of the covenant is fulfilled, hark thee, sinner!-mark the word hear the death-knell of thy carnal hopes; see the funeral of the fleshy trustings. Every threatening of God, as well as every promise shall be fulfilled. Talk of decrees! I will tell you of a decree : “He that believeth not shall be damned.” That is a decree, and a statute that can never change. Be as good as you please, be as moral as you can, be as honest as you will, walk as uprightly as you may,-there stands the unchangeable threatening: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” What sayest thou to that, moralist? Oh, thou wishest thou couldst alter it, and say, “He that does not live a holy life shall be damned.” That will be true; but it does not say so. It says, “He that believeth not.” Here is the stone of stumbling, and the rock of offense; but you cannot alter it. You believe or be damned, saith the Bible; and mark, that threat of God is as unchangeable as God himself. And when a thousand years of hell’s torments shall have passed away, you shall look on high, and see written in burning letters of fire, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” “But, Lord, I am damned.” Nevertheless it says “shall be” still. And when a million acres have rolled away, and you are exhausted by your pains and agonies you shall turn up your eye and still read “SHALL BE DAMNED,” unchanged, unaltered. And when you shall have thought that eternity must have spun out its last thread-that every particle of that which we call eternity must have run out, you shall still see it written up there, “SHALL BE DAMNED.” O terrific thought! How dare I utter it? But I must. Ye must be warned, sirs, “lest ye also come into this place of torment.” Ye must be told rough things for if God’s gospel is not a rough thing; the law is a rough thing;Mount Sinaiis a rough thing. Woe unto the watchman that warns not the ungodly! God is unchanging in his threatenings. Beware, O sinner, for ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’
Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855
1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and Sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his Elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace; (a) but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without Repentance, (whence he still begets and nourisheth in them Faith, Repentance, Love, Joy, Hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality) and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastned upon: notwithstanding through unbelief and the temptations of Satan the sensible sight of the light and love of God, may for a time be clouded, and obscured from (b) them, yet he is still the same (c) and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto Salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all Eternity.
a Joh. 10.28,29. Phi. 1.6. 2 Tim. 2.19. 1 Joh. 2.19.
b Psal. 89.31,32. 1 Cor. 11.32.
c Mal. 3.6.
2. This perseverance of the Saints depends not upon their own free will; but upon the immutability of the decree of (d) Election flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ (e) and Union with him, the (f) oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit & the (g) seed of God within them, and the nature of the (h) Covenant of Grace from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
d Rom. 8.30. ch. 9.11.16.
eRom. 5.9,10. John 14.19.
f Heb. 6.17,18.
g 1 Joh. 3.9.
h Jer. 32.40.
3. And though they may through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation fall into grievous (i) sins, and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur (k) Gods displeasure, and grieve his holy Spirit, come to have their graces and (l) comforts impaired have their hearts hardened, and their Consciences wounded, (m) hurt, and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgements (n) upon themselves: yet they shall renew their (o) repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
i Mat. 26.70,72.74.
k Is. 64.5.9. Eph. 4.30
l Psal. 51.10.12.
m Psa. 32.3,4.
n 2 Sam. 12.14.
o Luk. 22.32. & v. 61 62.
The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith
Allusion is made to the bullock which has repeatedly felt the galling yoke. At length his neck becomes hardened, and he can bear it without feeling or flinching. The sinner never hears a galling reproof without producing some effect. If his heart be not subdued, and changed, he becomes at length more hardened. The child which is often corrected, but not subdued, becomes more hardened.
Asahel Nettleton-The Destruction of Hardened Sinners
“Mine eye affecteth mine heart” (Lam. 3:51). We are influenced by the objects we contemplate, we become ostensibly assimilated to those with whom we have much intercourse, we are molded by the books we read. This same law or principle operates in the spiritual realm: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18)—beholding, we are changed. Here, then, is our responsibility: to use the means which God has appointed for our growth in grace, to be daily occupied with spiritual objects and heavenly things. Yet our study and contemplation of the Truth will not, by itself, produce any transformation: there must be a Divine application of the Truth to the heart. Apart from the Divine agency and blessing all our efforts and use of the means amount to nothing, and therefore is it added “We are changed . . .by the Spirit.”
Arthur W. Pink–Studies in the Scriptures February, 1937 The Spirit Transforming.