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  1. What Is Reformation Day?

    A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let's meet the cast. First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo. When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out. But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Soul's Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther's home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther's soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right. Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same. One of Luther's 95 Theses simply declares, "The Church's true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ." That alone is the meaning of Reformation Day. The church had lost sight of the gospel because it had long ago papered over the pages of God's Word with layer upon layer of tradition. Tradition always brings about systems of works, of earning your way back to God. It was true of the Pharisees, and it was true of medieval Roman Catholicism. Didn't Christ Himself say, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light?" Reformation Day celebrates the joyful beauty of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God's Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation. So we celebrate Reformation Day. This day reminds us to be thankful for our past and to the Monk turned Reformer. What's more, this day reminds us of our duty, our obligation, to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do. Click here to listen to Stephen Nichols’ special daily editions of 5 Minutes of Church History throughout the month of October. Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and teaches on the podcast 5 Minutes in Church History. View the full article
  2. It's time for our weekly $5 Friday sale. As part of Reformation Week, today's collection includes more than 60 trustworthy books, DVDs, CDs, digital downloads, and Spanish resources available for $5 each. Sale ends Friday, October 27 at 11:59 pm ET. While supplies last. View today's $5 Friday sale items. View the full article
  3. The Reformation was a movement back to the Word of God, and Tabletalk magazine exists for that same reason: to help growing Christians deepen their understanding of God and His Word, and apply this knowledge to their daily living. This Reformation Week, we're offering a 6-month subscription to Tabletalk for only $6. That's almost 50% off our standard subscription rate and is valid until Reformation Day, October 31. Subscribe today and receive: 6 issues of Tabletalk with digital access to current and past months Daily Bible studies covering a book of the Bible or specific topic Monthly articles and columns exploring a variety of issues An effective plan for reading through the Bible in one year Begin your 6-month subscription today for only $6. Start Today Note: Offer valid for new subscriptions in the US & Canada only. Offer expires 10/31/17. View the full article
  4. Here's an excerpt from The Geography of the Reformation, Ryan Reeves' contribution to the October issue of Tabletalk: The Reformation is remembered as a struggle over theology and the Bible. The doctrines of sola fide and sola gratia form the core of the message of the Reformers. We also remember the great figures of Protestant history, individuals such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Thomas Cranmer. A feature often missing in the story, however, is the land. The Reformation, in fact, can best be conceived not in abstraction, but down in the dust of history. To understand the land is to understand the emergence of Protestantism and how individual nations or cities embraced or rejected the Reformation. Continue reading The Geography of the Reformation, or begin receiving Tabletalk magazine by signing up for a free 3 month trial. For a limited time, the new TabletalkMagazine.com allows everyone to browse and read the growing library of back issues, including this month's issue. View the full article
  5. In this brief clip from Luther and the Reformation, R.C. Sproul describes the moment of awakening Martin Luther had as he read Romans 1:17, "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" Transcript He says, "Here in it," in the gospel, "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith.'" A verse taken from the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament that is cited three times in the New Testament. As Luther would stop short and say, "What does this mean, that there's this righteousness that is by faith, and from faith to faith? What does it mean that the righteous shall live by faith?" Which again as I said was the thematic verse for the whole exposition of the gospel that Paul sets forth here in the book of Romans. And so, the lights came on for Luther. And he began to understand that what Paul was speaking of here was a righteousness that God in His grace was making available to those who would receive it passively, not those who would achieve it actively, but that would receive it by faith, and by which a person could be reconciled to a holy and righteous God. Now there was a linguistic trick that was going on here too. And it was this, that the Latin word for justification that was used at this time in church history was—and it's the word from which we get the English word justification—the Latin word justificare. And it came from the Roman judicial system. And the term justificare is made up of the word justus, which is justice or righteousness, and the verb, the infinitive facare, which means to make. And so, the Latin fathers understood the doctrine of justification is what happens when God, through the sacraments of the church and elsewhere, make unrighteous people righteous. But Luther was looking now at the Greek word that was in the New Testament, not the Latin word. The word dikaios, dikaiosune, which didn't mean to make righteous, but rather to regard as righteous, to count as righteous, to declare as righteous. And this was the moment of awakening for Luther. He said, "You mean, here Paul is not talking about the righteousness by which God Himself is righteous, but a righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don't have righteousness of their own." And so Luther said, "Woa, you mean the righteousness by which I will be saved, is not mine?" It's what he called a justitia alienum, an alien righteousness; a righteousness that belongs properly to somebody else. It's a righteousness that is extra nos, outside of us. Namely, the righteousness of Christ. And Luther said, "When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through." View the full article
  6. Through Reformation Day, we'll send you this Reformation USB Resource Drive for a donation of any amount in support of the ongoing outreach of Renewing Your Mind and Ligonier Ministries. Offering Ligonier teaching series, Reformation Trust ebooks, and digital editions of Tabletalk magazine, this collection of resources will help you study the history, theology, and impact of the Reformation. What’s Included 8 audio teaching series including R.C. Sproul’s Justified by Faith Alone, What Is Reformed Theology?, and Luther and the Reformation 6 ebooks including R.C. Sproul’s Are We Together? 5 digital issues of Tabletalk magazine including this month’s special Reformation issue Get These Resources Offer ends 10/31. (U.S. & Canada only). View the full article
  7. The church is always in need of reform. Even in the New Testament, we see Jesus rebuking Peter, and we see Paul correcting the Corinthians. Since Christians are always sinners, the church will always need reform. The question for us, however, is when does the need become an absolute necessity? The great Reformers of the sixteenth century concluded that reform was urgent and necessary in their day. In pursuing reform for the church, they rejected two extremes. On the one hand, they rejected those who insisted that the church was essentially sound and needed no fundamental changes. On the other hand, they rejected those who believed that they could create a perfect church in every detail. The church needed fundamental reform, but it would also always need to be reforming itself. The Reformers reached these conclusions from their study of the Bible. In 1543, the Reformer of Strasbourg, Martin Bucer, asked John Calvin to write a defense of the Reformation for presentation to Emperor Charles V at the imperial diet set to meet at Speyer in 1544. Bucer knew that the Roman Catholic emperor was surrounded by counselors who were maligning reform efforts in the church, and he believed that Calvin was the most capable minister to defend the Protestant cause. Calvin rose to the challenge and wrote one of his best works, “The Necessity of Reforming the Church.” This substantial treatise did not convince the emperor, but it has come to be regarded by many as the best presentation of the Reformed cause ever written. Calvin begins by observing that everyone agreed that the church had “diseases both numerous and grievous.” Calvin argues that matters were so serious that Christians could not abide a “longer delay” for reform or wait for “slow remedies.” He rejects the contention that the Reformers were guilty of “rash and impious innovation.” Rather, he insists that “God raised up Luther and others” to preserve “the truth of our religion.” Calvin saw that the foundations of Christianity were threatened and that only biblical truth would renew the church. Calvin looks at four great areas in the life of the church that needed reform. These areas form what he calls the soul and the body of the church. The soul of the church is composed of the “pure and legitimate worship of God” and “the salvation of men.” The body of the church is composed of the “use of the sacraments” and “the government of the church.” For Calvin, these matters were at the heart of the Reformation debates. They are essential to the life of the church and can only be rightly understood in light of the teaching of the Scriptures. We might be surprised that Calvin placed the worship of God as the first of the Reformation issues, but this was a consistent theme of his. Earlier, he had written to Cardinal Sadoleto: “There is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God.” Worship is where we meet with God, and that meeting must be conducted by God’s standards. Our worship shows whether we truly accept God’s Word as our authority and submit to it. Self-created worship is both a form of works-righteousness and an expression of idolatry. Next, Calvin turned to what we often think of as the greatest issue of the Reformation, namely, the doctrine of justification: We maintain, that of what description so ever any man’s works may be, he is regarded as righteous before God, simply on the footing of gratuitous mercy; because God, without any respect to works, freely adopts him in Christ, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to him, as if it were his own. This we call the righteousness of faith, viz., when a man, made void and empty of all confidence of works, feels convinced that the only ground of his acceptance with God is a righteousness which is wanting to himself, and is borrowed from Christ. The point on which the world always goes astray, (for this error has prevailed in almost every age,) is in imagining that man, however partially defective he may be, still in some degree merits the favor of God by works. These foundational matters that form the soul of the church are supported by the body of the church: the sacraments and the government of the church. The sacraments must be restored to the pure and simple meaning and use given in the Bible. The government of the church must reject all tyranny that binds the consciences of Christians contrary to the Word of God. As we look at the church in our day, we may well conclude that reformation is needed—indeed, is necessary—in many of the areas about which Calvin was so concerned. Only the Word and Spirit of God will ultimately reform the church. But we should pray and work faithfully that such reform will come in our time. This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine. View the full article
  8. Through Reformation Day, we are offering a special $40 discount when you register for our 2018 National Conference on March 8-10 in Orlando. Very limited space remains, so register today to secure your spot. "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26) Over these three days in spring, we will consider the theme of “Awakening.” Our goal will be to help Christians understand the importance of awakening and the way the Lord brings it about so that we might be used by God to be the means of a new awakening today. R.C. Sproul will be joined by Rosaria Butterfield, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, Burk Parsons, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Derek Thomas to discuss awakening in Scripture and history, the means of awakening, the signs of an awakened church, and several other topics. Thousands of Christians will gather in Orlando for this event. We hope that you'll join us. Register today and save. Don't forget to use #ligcon to let us know you're coming. Offer ends 10/31 or until sold out. View the full article
  9. Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide

    Here's an excerpt from Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, Guy Waters' contribution to the October issue of Tabletalk: This year, many people are celebrating the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. But not everyone is. Some have raised severe criticisms against the Reformers and their work. The Reformers, they allege, replaced the authority of the church with the authority of the autonomous individual. Moreover, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, these critics claim, cut the nerve of morality and, effectively, baptized licentious living. Martin Luther and John Calvin, they continue, opened Pandora’s box, releasing two forces that not only rent the church but also went on to define the modern age: radical individualism and antinomianism. Understood on these terms, the Reformation is cause for lamentation, not celebration. Continue reading Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, or begin receiving Tabletalk magazine by signing up for a free 3 month trial. For a limited time, the new TabletalkMagazine.com allows everyone to browse and read the growing library of back issues, including this month's issue. View the full article
  10. We are pleased to announce the new Condensed Edition (ESV) of the Reformation Study Bible (RSB) is here. The RSB elevates Scripture on every page, providing comprehensive and trustworthy commentary in an accessible format. The Condensed Edition (ESV) is available in various styles and features the best of that commentary in a portable study Bible, half the weight of the original. It's suitable for travel, public worship, and life on the go. Order yours today. Important Features The best commentary from the original Reformation Study Bible Smaller size and half the weight of the original Book introductions that reveal Christ in all of Scripture Edited by a team of 75 pastors and theologians led by Dr. R.C. Sproul Available in genuine leather and leather-like styles English Standard Version (ESV) Buy NOW Learn More R.C. Sproul on the Reformation Study Bible As the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law,” I have discovered time and time again the beauty, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Word. That is why I consider it a real privilege to share the Reformation Study Bible with you. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve assembled a team of seventy-five pastors and scholars—men I trusted—to help me preserve, refine, and expand what I believe are the best study Bible notes we have to date. These notes have been forged by centuries of Christian reflection and thought, including pastors and theologians who were willing to lose their lives or—in some cases—lost their lives to ensure the next generation could know and behold God’s Word. We have labored to demonstrate the beauty and authority of Scripture in both the design and function of this important discipleship resource. I pray it serves you well. May God continue to open our eyes to behold wondrous things. View the full article
  11. The gospel of Jesus Christ is always at risk of distortion. It became distorted in the centuries leading up to the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. It became distorted at innumerable other points of church history, and it is often distorted today. This is why Martin Luther said the gospel must be defended in every generation. It is the center point of attack by the forces of evil. They know that if they can get rid of the gospel, they can get rid of Christianity. There are two sides to the gospel, the good news of the New Testament: an objective side and a subjective side. The objective content of the gospel is the person and work of Jesus—who He is and what He accomplished in His life. The subjective side is the question of how the benefits of Christ’s work are appropriated to the believer. There the doctrine of justification comes to the fore. Many issues were involved in the Reformation, but the core matter, the material issue of the Reformation, was the gospel, especially the doctrine of justification. There was no great disagreement between the Roman Catholic Church authorities and the Protestant Reformers about the objective side. All the parties agreed that Jesus was divine, the Son of God and of the Virgin Mary, and that He lived a life of perfect obedience, died on the cross in an atoning death, and was raised from the grave. The battle was over the second part of the gospel, the subjective side, the question of how the benefits of Christ are applied to the believer. The Reformers believed and taught that we are justified by faith alone. Faith, they said, is the sole instrumental cause for our justification. By this they meant that we receive all the benefits of Jesus’ work through putting our trust in Him alone. The Roman communion also taught that faith is a necessary condition for salvation. At the seminal Council of Trent (1545–1563), which formulated Rome’s response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic authorities declared that faith affords three things: the initium, the fundamentum, and the radix. That is, faith is the beginning of justification, the foundation for justification, and the root of justification. But Rome held that a person can have true faith and still not be justified, because there was much more to the Roman system. In reality, the Roman view of the gospel, as expressed at Trent, was that justification is accomplished through the sacraments. Initially, the recipient must accept and cooperate in baptism, by which he receives justifying grace. He retains that grace until he commits a mortal sin. Mortal sin is called “mortal” because it kills the grace of justification. The sinner then must be justified a second time. That happens through the sacrament of penance, which the Council of Trent defined as “a second plank” of justification for those who have made shipwreck of their souls. The fundamental difference was this. Trent said that God does not justify anyone until real righteousness inheres within the person. In other words, God does not declare a person righteous unless he or she is righteous. So, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, justification depends on a person’s sanctification. By contrast, the Reformers said justification is based on the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus. The only ground by which a person can be saved is Jesus’ righteousness, which is reckoned to him when he believes. There were radically different views of salvation. They could not be reconciled. One of them was the gospel. One of them was not. Thus, what was at stake in the Reformation was the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though the Council of Trent made many fine affirmations of traditional truths of the Christian faith, it declared justification by faith alone to be anathema, ignoring many plain teachings of Scripture, such as Romans 3:28: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” This excerpt is adapted from Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul. Learn more by watching R.C. Sproul's teaching series Justified by Faith Alone. View the full article
  12. Here are highlights from our various social media accounts over the past week. View the full article
  13. All for the Gospel

    Martin Luther’s chief pastoral concern was that his people would know Christ and His gospel. To this end, Luther carried on a profoundly deep practice of intercessory prayer. He said: Open your eyes and look into your life and the life of all Christians, particularly the spiritual estate, and you will find that faith, hope, love … are languishing…. Then you will see that there is need to pray throughout the world, every hour, without ceasing, with tears of blood. Luther’s pastoral heart is seen not only in his prayers but most notably in his preaching. He was a doctor of the church, a professor, and an academic. In his role as a professor, his primary task was to teach. There is a clear difference between teaching and preaching. The teacher instructs; he imparts information to his students. But a theologian/preacher can never sever the two roles of teacher and preacher. The great teacher/preachers of history never taught as mere isolated spectators of the past. They combined exhortation with instruction—inspiration with education. In a word, at times their teaching turned to preaching. In like manner, the scholar/pastor mixes teaching with his preaching. Luther mirrored this method in his preaching. He was concerned to inform his congregation as well as to exhort it. He insisted that his messages should be clear and simple enough that the unlearned could understand them. He said: Infinite and unutterable is the majesty of the Word of God…. These words of God are not words of Plato or Aristotle, but God himself is speaking. And those preachers are the most suitable who very simply and plainly, without any airs or subtlety, teach the common people and youth, just as Christ taught the people with homespun parables. The gospel, the gospel… all for the gospel. This is the love, the task, the vocation of all who wear the robes of the theologian and all who wear the gowns of the preacher. Luther was equally comfortable attired in either. This excerpt is adapted from R.C. Sproul's contribution to The Legacy of Luther of Luther. View the full article
  14. In 1610, the followers of the Dutch pastor and professor Jacob Arminius drafted a protest called “the Remonstrance.” The document contained five negative statements that rejected specific Calvinistic doctrines, followed by five articles stating Arminian doctrines. Among the Calvinistic teachings with which the Remonstrance took issue was the doctrine of irresistible grace. In the fourth negative statement, the Arminians rejected the following: “That the Holy Spirit works in the elect by irresistible grace, so that they must be converted and be saved; while the grace necessary and sufficient for conversion, faith, and salvation is withheld from the rest, although they are externally called and invited by the revealed will of God.” The statement of the Arminian doctrine was then presented in the fourth article on Resistible Grace: “Grace is the beginning, continuation, and end of our spiritual life, so that man can neither think nor do any good or resist sin without prevening, co-operating, and assisting grace. But as for the manner of co-operation, this grace is not irresistible, for many resist the Holy Ghost (Acts vii).” The publication of the Remonstrance led to a lengthy debate between Calvinists and Arminians in the Netherlands. Eventually, in order to resolve the debate, the Dutch Estates General called an ecclesiastical assembly, the Synod of Dort, which met from November 1618 until May 1619. In addition to the approximately seventy Dutch delegates present, there were twenty-six delegates from eight foreign nations, including England, Switzerland, and parts of Germany. The synod set forth its conclusions in the Canons of Dort. This document contains “the decision of the Synod of Dort on the five main points of doctrine in dispute in the Netherlands.” Each main point in the canons contains a positive exposition of the Calvinist doctrine, followed by a rejection of the corresponding Arminian error. The synod’s defense of the doctrine of irresistible grace is found in Main Point III/IV of the canons. After setting forth the effects of the fall upon human nature and the inability of the light of nature or of the law to convert fallen man, the synod declares that what neither nature nor the law can do, God “accomplishes by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Art. 6). In eternity, God chose His own, and within time He effectively calls them and grants them faith (Art. 10). The Holy Spirit supernaturally regenerates God’s chosen ones in an incomprehensible manner (Arts. 11–13). This regenerating work is irresistible: “all those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe” (Art. 12). The Westminster Confession of Faith, which was completed in 1646, sets forth the same doctrine of irresistible (or effectual) grace that was defended at Dort. Its statement of the doctrine is found in Chapter 10, “Of Effectual Calling.” This doctrine is found as well in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 67.7 We see, then, that by the seventeenth century, the doctrine of irresistible grace was considered to be an established point of Reformed orthodoxy. Here the Reformed churches were following the lead of John Calvin, who had simply set forth the teaching of Scripture. As we have seen, the doctrine of irresistible grace involves several doctrinal issues, including effectual calling and regeneration. Calvin addressed these themes in his biblical commentaries, his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and in several treatises, including one specifically addressed to the topics.8 Calvin found the doctrine of effectual grace in several texts of Scripture. One of the clearest of these references is John 6. Commenting on verse 44, Calvin explains how God draws sinners to Himself. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. Jesus had said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44a). As Calvin explains, this verse clearly expresses the truth that God is sovereign in man’s salvation. Man does not initiate the process, for he cannot come to Christ unless God acts first. This is the case because man is dead in sin, and a dead man can do nothing for himself. Calvin’s most extended systematic treatment of the doctrine of irresistible grace is found in his 1559 edition of the Institutes. Here Calvin explains that God must begin the good work of salvation in us because our wills are evil and set against Him. Man’s will cannot turn to the good in its own power, but must be changed by God. As Calvin explains, this divine change is efficacious: “He does not move the will in such a manner as has been taught and believed for many ages—that it is afterward in our choice either to obey or resist the motion—but by disposing it efficaciously.” Because salvation is God’s work, from beginning to end, perseverance ultimately depends on Him. It is a free gift of God, not a reward based on man’s merit. In 1542, the Dutch Roman Catholic theologian Albert Pighius wrote a work titled Ten Books on Human Free Choice and Divine Grace. Pighius was critiquing Calvin’s teaching on the subject of free will and predestination as found in the 1539 edition of the Institutes. In 1543, Calvin wrote a response to Pighius titled The Bondage and Liberation of the Will. This book contains Calvin’s most extended treatment of the relationship between God’s grace and man’s will. In it, Calvin sums up his argument against Pighius in the following statement: But all that we say amounts to this. First, that what a person is or has or is capable of is entirely empty and useless for the spiritual righteousness which God requires, unless one is directed to the good by the grace of God. Secondly, that the human will is of itself evil and therefore needs transformation and renewal so that it may begin to be good, but that grace itself is not merely a tool which can help someone if he is pleased to stretch out his hand to [take] it. That is, [God] does not merely offer it, leaving [to man] the choice between receiving it and rejecting it, but he steers the mind to choose what is right, he moves the will also effectively to obedience, he arouses and advances the endeavor until the actual completion of the work is attained. Contrary to Pighius, Calvin affirms that grace is efficacious: [In the Institutes] I say, then, that grace is not offered to us in such a way that afterwards we have the option either to submit or to resist. I say that it is not given merely to aid our weakness by its support as though anything depended on us apart from it. But I demonstrate that it is entirely the work of grace and a benefit conferred by it that our heart is changed from a stony one to one of flesh, that our will is made new, and that we, created anew in heart and mind, at length will what we ought to will. For Paul bears witness that God does not bring about in us [merely] that we are able to will what is good, but also that we should will it right up to the completion of the act. How big a difference there is between performance and will! Likewise, I determine that our will is effectively formed so that it necessarily follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, and not that it is sufficiently encouraged to be able to do so if it wills. In his teaching on the subject of saving grace, Calvin merely followed the doctrine set forth in the Scriptures. The doctrine of efficacious grace is necessary because of the state of fallen man. Man is born dead in sin (cf. Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13), with his mind and heart corrupted (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14). He is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:20; Titus 3:3) and therefore unable to repent and come to God (Jer. 13:23; Matt. 7:18; John 6:44, 65). Because of this, man must be born again (John 3:5–7). Those whom God elected and for whom Christ died are brought to life by the Holy Spirit (John 1:12–13; 3:3–8; 5:21; Eph. 2:1, 5; Titus 3:5). God gives them faith and repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 13:48; Eph. 2:8–9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:25–26), and they are justified. This excerpt is adapted from Keith Mathison's contribution to John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology. View the full article
  15. It's time for our weekly $5 Friday sale. This week's resources include such topics as John Calvin, sanctification, the Sermon on the Mount, prayer, the atonement, baptism, revelation, and more. Sale runs through 12:01 a.m. — 11:59 p.m. Friday ET. View today's $5 Friday sale items. View the full article