How the Reformers Rediscovered the Holy Spirit and True Conversion

Dan has offered Sinclair Ferguson’s insights about how two Reformers, Luther and Calvin, were drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, by the work of the Spirit of God through His Word.

The Battle Cry

by Sinclair Ferguson

Luther’s story is well known; Calvin’s less so. Luther was wrestling with the concept of the righteousness of God, and had come to hate it; Calvin had an immense thirst for a secure knowledge of God, but had not found it. While not the whole truth, there is something in the notion that Luther was looking for a gracious God while Calvin was seeking for a true and assured knowledge of him.

In Luther’s case, the ordinances of late medieval Catholicism could not “give the guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain.” In Calvin’s case, neither the Church nor the immense intellectual discipline he had displayed in his teens and early twenties, and certainly not all his acquisition of the skills of a post-medieval humanist scholar, could bring him to an assured knowledge of God.

ROMANS 1:16

For all the differences in their backgrounds, educations, dispositions…

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Short introductions to The Book of Hebrews


The Holy Bible

Old and New Testaments

Authorized King James Version

Thomas Nelson Bibles

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews

Many Jewish believers, having stepped out of Judaism into Christianity, want to reverse their course in order to escape persecution by their countrymen. The writer of Hebrews exhorts them to “go on unto perfection” (6:1). His appeal is based on the superiority of Christ over the Judaic system. Christ is better than the angels, for they worship Him. He is better than Moses, for He created him. He is better than the Aaronic priesthood, for His sacrifice was once for all time. He is better than the law, for He mediates a better covenant. In short, there is more to be gained in Christ than to be lost in Judaism. Pressing on in Christ produces tested faith, self-discipline, and a visible love seen in good works. . .


The 1599 Geneva Bible

Published by Tolle Lege PRESS

The drift and end of this Epistle, is to show that Jesus Christ the Son of God both God and man, is that true eternal and only Prophet, King, and high Priest, that was shadowed by the figures of the old Law, and is now indeed exhibited: of whom the whole Church ought to be taught, governed and sanctified.


Hebrews 1

New King James Version

God’s Supreme Revelation

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. . .

Hebrews 3

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,. . .”


 

Quote of the day – Martin, after 500 years


Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach, via Wikimedia Commons

“I did nothing: the Word did everything.”

– Martin Luther

The Legacy of Luther, Edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols, Reformation Trust Publishing, 2016.


Isaiah 55

NKJV

10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.


 

The Lord’s attitude toward the Word of God must be our own


Psalm 67

1 God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
2 That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.


THE CHURCH OF ROME

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BAR OF HISTORY

By William Webster

Chapter 1, “The Authority of Scripture,” pp. 4,5

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“Christianity is founded upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His attitude to the Scriptures is supremely important. Since he is God, then all that He teaches must be true and authoritative.

“Jesus clearly taught that Scripture is inspired by God. He regarded it as truth – infallible, inerrant, historically reliable, authoritative for living, and an all-sufficient rule of faith. He could say, for example, when speaking with the Pharisees or the Sadducees, ‘Have you not read what God said?’ and then quote from Scripture (Matt. 22:31-32). In Matthew 4:4-10, Jesus repeatedly answers Satan by using the Old Testament as the Word of God, saying, ‘It is written.’ He maintained that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all was accomplished (Matt. 5:17) and that the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). In the prayer to his Father on the night before he was crucified, Jesus declared that ‘Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). He affirmed the historicity of Adam (Matt. 19:4), Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Luke 17:26), Jonah (Matt. 12:40), the creation account (Mark 10:6-9), and the reality of heaven and hell (Mark 9:44-46).

“Jesus also used the Word of God as an ultimate standard of authority when he came into conflict with other people. He rebuked men with Scripture; correcting their false concepts, teaching and misinterpretations of Scripture by using scriptural proofs. Matthew 22:23-33, for example, describes how Jesus told the Sadduccees that they were greatly mistaken in their denial of the resurrection because they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God. Then he quoted a passage from Genesis as an authoritative declaration from God to correct them. It is highly significant that Christ never appealed to tradition as a standard of authority; instead he used Scripture to correct the errors of tradition.

“As Jesus is Lord over the Church, the Church must not only accept his teaching on the Scriptures; it must also adopt the same attitude towards them that he did. His entire life was submitted to the authority of Scripture. In quoting passages from the Old Testament during his conflict with Satan in the wilderness, Christ was applying them to his own life and thereby demonstrating that he was under the authority of Scripture. His victory was accomplished through obedience to the Scriptures as he used them as the ultimate authority for every area of his life. At another time, speaking of his relationship with his Father, Jesus said, ‘I know him and keep his word’ (John 8:55). From beginning to end, Christ’s life and ministry were governed by the authority of Scripture.

“As well as testifying to the truth of the Scriptures by submitting himself to their authority, Christ also declared their inspiration as he fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection the Messianic prophecies they contained. Over and over again he said, ‘This is being done in order that that which is written might be fulfilled.’ Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures can be seen in any cursory examination of some of the more prominent Messianic prophecies. . .”

 


 One passage Webster cited in which the Lord gave Scriptural proof:

Matthew 22:23-33

23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.


The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the many Messianic prophecies in this single passage:

 Isaiah 53:3-12

3 He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment:
and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.