But What About My Works?

I have been asked many times, in the context of biblical counseling, about the relationship between a person’s faith and their good works. In most cases, the person asking the question was struggling at some level with their own sense of assurance of pardon from . . . Continue reading →

Witsius On Aspects Of True Faith

A True faith in God through Jesus Christ is the principal act of that spiritual life, which is begun in the elect by regeneration, as well as the fountain head, from whence, all those living works which follow after regeneration, proceed: the . . . Continue reading →

What Is Assurance?

During the darkest moments of our lives—when it feels we’re taking more delight in sin instead of Christ—where should we turn for the assurance of our salvation? All believers struggle with this at times. Even John Calvin said he could not “imagine . . . Continue reading →

New Resource Page: On The Assurance Of Salvation

One of the animating forces that drove the Reformation was problem and doctrine of assurance. In the medieval church (as in the Roman communion and in some Protestant quarters today) it was ordinarily impossible for a Christian to have confidence that he had been saved and was accepted by God. Tragically, one finds this sort of approach among some evangelicals and even among some ostensibly Reformed writers. Continue reading →

Calvin As Theologian Of Comfort

Wikipedia, that ubiquitous source of unimpeachable scholarship, defines “consolation” as “something of value, when one fails to get something of higher value….” That is precisely the opposite of what John Calvin (1509–64) meant by “consolation.”For Calvin, the consolation that Christ gives to his people, by the gospel, through the Spirit, is not second prize but to be valued above that which we lost. When we consider Calvin, “consolation” might not be the thing we first associate with him. The dominant perception of Calvin in our culture is that of a tyrannical, dyspeptic fellow, who delighted in nothing more than to dispatch a few heretics to the flames before breakfast. That caricature, however, was one drawn by his enemies during his lifetime and sadly, despite the facts, it has stuck for a variety of reasons. Continue reading →

Christ Is The Firm Foundation For Your Assurance

I would fain leave every one of you upon a good bottom, built upon the rock, that ‘sure foundation,’ Isa. xxviii. 16, which will stand firm and steady in all winds and weather, having that anchor-hold which will abide under all storms. . . . Continue reading →

Canons Of Dort 33: The Grace Of Perseverance Is A Spiritual Doctrine

The Reformation gospel of salvation by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), as defined and confessed by the Reformed churches and as rejected by the Remonstrants (Arminians) was intended to produce and had the effect of giving comfort to . . . Continue reading →

Canons of Dort (32): Our Sovereign God Uses Means To Encourage Us

For perhaps 20 years we have been in the midst of a movement which Collin Hansen (2008) described as Young, Restless, and Reformed. Others have spoken of the “New Calvinists” (see the resources below). The one doctrine that animates these movements is the sovereignty of God. For many American evangelicals it is a given that God has his opinion and we have ours. Continue reading →

On The Canons Of Dort (31): Doubts, Carelessness, and Godliness

The Remonstrants (Arminians) charged the orthodox Reformed, i.e., those who confessed the Belgic Confession (1561) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) sincerely (without crossed fingers) with being unconcerned about sanctification. The Remonstrants were convinced that the Reformed faith did not produce sufficient godliness. . . . Continue reading →

Canons Of Dort (30): God’s Gracious Assurance Of Perseverance

The single most frequent way to corrupt the doctrine of perseverance has been to turn it into a covenant of works. This happens regularly outside the Reformed churches. E.g., the Romanists teach that, in baptism, sins are graciously washed away, initial justification . . . Continue reading →

Canons Of Dort (25): Perservance Is Not A Covenant Of Works

In the previous essay we saw that the Reformed Churches defended perseverance by grace alone (sola gratia) against the Remonstrant attempt to deny perseverance by making grace resistible and conditional rather than sovereign and free. To see that we looked at the . . . Continue reading →