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The Preservation of the saints is wrought by the work of the Spirit

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

During recent years much has been written upon the eternal security of the saints, some of it helpful, but most of it superficial and injurious. Many Scriptures have been quoted, but few of them explained. A great deal has been said about the fact of Divine preservation, but comparatively little on the method thereof. The preservation of the believer by the Father and by the Son has been given considerable prominence, but the work of the Spirit therein was largely ignored. The general impression conveyed to the thoughtful reader has been that, the “final perseverance” of the Christian is a mechanical thing rather than a spiritual process, that it is accomplished by physical force rather than by moral suasion, that it is performed by external might rather than by internal means— something like an unconscious non-swimmer being rescued from a watery grave, or a fireman carrying a swooning person out of a burning building. Such illustrations are radically faulty, utterly misleading, and pernicious in their tendency.

Arthur W. Pink—Studies in the Scriptures March, 1937 The Spirit Preserving

Several Principal Effects Produced by Being Transformed by the Spirit

September 11, 2012 2 comments

Here, then, are some of the principal effects produced by our being “changed,” or reformed, conformed, and transformed by the Spirit of God. There is a growing realization of the ineffable holiness of God and of the righteousness and spirituality of the Law, and the extent of its requirements. There is a deepening sense of our utter sinfulness, failure and blameworthiness, and the daily loathing of ourselves for our hard-heartedness, our base ingratitude, and the ill returns we make to God for His infinite goodness to us. There is a corresponding self-abasement, taking our place in the dust before God, and frankly owning that we are not worthy of the least of His mercies (Gen. 32:10). There is an increasing appreciation of the grace of God and of the provision He has made for us in Christ, with a corresponding longing to be done with this body of death and conformed fully to the lovely image of the Lord; which longings will be completely realized at our glorification.—A.W.P.

Arthur W. Pink–Studies in the Scriptures February, 1937 The Spirit Transforming.

We are to use the means God appointed, in order to grow

“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. 

Chapter XVI : Of Good Works

1. Good Works are only such as God hath (a) commanded in his Holy word; and not such as without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, (b) or upon any pretence of good intentions.

a Mic. 6.8. Heb. 13 21.

b Mat. 15.9. Isa. 29.13.

2. These good works, done in obedience to Gods commandments, are the fruits, and evidences (c) of a true, and lively faith; and by them Believers manifest their (d) thankfullness, strengthen their (e) assurance, edifie their (f) brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries and glorifie (g) God whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus (h) thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end (i) eternal life.

c Jam. 2.18.22.

d Ps. 116.12,13.

e 1 Joh. 2 3.5. 2 Pet. 1.5-11.

Mat. 5.16.

g 1 Tim. 6.1. 1 Pet. 2.15. Phil. 1.11

h Eph. 2.10.

i Rom. 6.22.

3. Their ability to do good works, is not at all of themselves; but wholly from the Spirit (k) of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an (l) actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in (m) stirring up the Grace of God that is in them.

k Joh. 15.4.6.

l 2 Cor. 3.5. Phil. 2.13.

m Phil. 2.12. Heb. 6.11 12. Isa. 64.7.

4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to superrogate, and to do more then God requires, as that (n) they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

n Job 9.23. Gal. 5.17. Luk. 17.10.

5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of Sin or Eternal Life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfie for the debt of our (o) former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his (p) Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled (q) and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot endure the severity of Gods judgement.

o Rom. 3.20. Eph. 2.8,9.Rom. 4.6.

p Gal. 5.22,23.

q Isa. 64.6. Ps. 143 2.

6. Yet notwithstanding the persons of Believers being accepted through Christ their good works also are accepted in (r) him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in Gods sight; but that he looking upon them in his Son is pleased to accept and reward that which is (s) sincere although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

r Eph. 1.6. 1 Pet. 2.5.

s Mat. 25.21.23. Heb. 6.10

7. Works done by unregenerate men although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use, both to themselves and (t) others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by (u) faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the (w) word, nor to a right end the (x) glory of God; they are therefore sinful and cannot please God; nor make a man meet to receive grace from (y) God; and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and (z) displeasing to God.

t 2 King. 10.30. 1 King. 21.27,29

u Gen. 4.5. Heb. 11 4.6.

w 1 Cor. 13.1.

x Mat. 6.2.5.

y Amos 5 21,22.Rom. 9.16 Tit. 3.5.

z Job 21.14,15. Mat. 25.41,42,43.

The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith

God Reproves by his Spirit

By his Spirit. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him. The Spirit is sent to admonish. Its language is, “Sinner, whither are thou going, and what will be the end of thy sinful course? Prepare to meet thy God. “God (sometimes) reproves one sinner by the conviction and conversion of another. Here is one who has been your intimate friend, and companion. Your views and feelings and pursuits and objects of delight, and I may add, your sins too, have been the same. But yesterday he thought and spoke and acted in all respects like yourself. Today he is alarmed at his awful condition. He trembles in view of a judgment to come. Hither to he has been moving merely along with you side by side. But he dares follow you no farther. He has quit your company, and fled. But why? Alas, he finds himself a sinner-He has a soul to be saved or lost forever. This, my friends, is loud preaching to some of you. When near and dear friends begin to forsake and shun you, it is time for you to begin to look about you. This is a silent, but a solemn warning to you to Flee from the wrath to come. When you see or hear of a hardened sinner alarmed at his awful condition; it carries with it this solemn admonition. See the end to which you are coming. Though you may think to hold out, yet you cannot endure long. Your stout heart will soon tremble. And all your boasted courage will end in cowardice. See the fearful end to which you are fast approaching. You too must repent or perish.

Asahel Nettleton-The Destruction of Hardened Sinners

Being Conformed to the Design of Christ Mediatorial Work

This being “changed into the same image” of the glory of the Lord, is also the same as Christ being “formed” in the soul (Gal. 4:19). It is having in kind, though not in degree, the same mind that was in the Lord Jesus. It is being imbued with His Spirit, being brought into accordance with the design of His mediatorial work, which was to honour and glorify God. In a word, it is being at heart the very disciples of Christ. This being “changed into the same image” of the glory of the Lord, is to be “reconciled to God” (2 Cor.5:20). Previously, we were at enmity against Him, hating His sovereignty, His strictness, His severity; but now we perceive the surpassing beauty of His every attribute and are in love with His whole Person and character. No greater change than this can be conceived of: “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). This great change is to “come unto” God (Heb.7:25), causing us to diligently seek daily supplies of grace from Him. A.W.P.

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937 The Spirit Transforming

The Law of God is Now Written on the Heart

This being “changed into the same image” of the glory of the Lord, is but another way of saying that the Law of God is now written on the heart (Heb.8:10), for as we have said previously, the Law is a transcript of the Divine nature, the very image of God. As the Law was written in indelible characters on the tables of stone by the very finger of God, so at regeneration and throughout the entire process of sanctification, views and dispositions in accord with the nature of the Law become habitual in the heart, through the operations of the Holy Spirit, according to the measure of grace which He supplies. The genuine language of the soul now becomes, “How reasonable it is that I should love with all my heart such an infinitely glorious being as God, that I should be utterly captivated by His supernal excellency. How fitting that I should be entirely for Him and completely at the disposal of Him who is Lord of all, whose rectitude is perfect, whose goodness and wisdom are infinite, and who gave His Son to die for me!”

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937 The Spirit Transforming.

 

Just in Condemning and Just in Pardoning

In the glass of the Law there shines the glory of God’s holiness and righteousness, and in the glass of the Gospel the glory of His grace and mercy, and as by the Spirit’s enablement the believer is beholding them, there is wrought in him a love for the same,there is given to him an answerable frame of heart. He cordially owns God as righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works. He acknowledges that God is just in condemning him, and equally just in pardoning him. He freely confesses that he is as evil as the Law pronounces him to be, and that his only hope lies in the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb. Christ is now “The Fairest of ten thousand” to his soul. He desires and endeavours to exercise righteousness and truth, grace and mercy, in all his dealings with his fellows. Thus a personal experience of the transforming power of the Law and the Gospel brings its subject into a conformity to their temper and tendency.

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937 The Spirit Transforming.

A Radical Change Takes Place in the Sinner

As the soul by faith, with broken heart (and not otherwise), beholds the glory of the Lord, in the mirror of the two Testaments (and not in the New without the Old), he is by the continual operations of the Spirit in him (Phil. 1:6) “changed into the same image.” The views thus obtained of the Divine character excite answerable affections in the beholder. Rational argument may convince a man that God is holy, yet that is a vastly different thing from his heart being brought to love Divine holiness. But when the Spirit removes the veil of enmity and prejudice from the mind and enables the understanding to see light in God’s light, there is a genuine esteem of and delight in God’s character. The heart is won with the excellency of His moral perfections, and he perceives the rightness and beauty of a life wholly devoted to His glory. Thus there is a radical change in his judgment, disposition and conduct.

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937 The Spirit Transforming

Changed into the same Image

Not only does the Spirit give that soul to behold “the glory of the Lord” as it shines first in the “glass” of the Law, and second in the “glass” of the Gospel, but He also causes him to be “changed into the same image,” that is, He begets within him corresponding principles and affections, to the one and to the other. In other words, He brings his heart to a conformity to the Law and to a compliance with the Gospel. He causes the believer to “set to his seal” (John3:33) to the whole Truth of God. He brings him to a full acquiescence with the Law, consenting to its righteous claims upon him, and working in him a desire and determination to adopt the Law as his rule of life or standard of conduct. So too the Spirit causes him to gladly embrace the Gospel, admiring the consummate wisdom of God therein, whereby the perfect harmony of His justice and mercy are blessedly exhibited. He brings him to renounce all his own works, and rest alone on the merits of Christ for his acceptance with God.

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937  The Spirit Transforming.