“Christ has His arms outstretched to embrace us” by John Calvin

“Let everyone one of us know for his own part, how we had forgotten God and were quite turned away from Him in our dissoluteness until He called us again to Him.

When we know this, let us learn to magnify His grace for vouchsafing to reconcile us to Himself and to put away all the enmity that was between Him and us, and to make us His children who were His deadly enemies, assuring ourselves that all this is done through our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that out of that fountain we should draw all that belongs to our salvation.

And furthermore, let us consider also what encouragement we have by the helps God has given us by which to come to Jesus Christ, and to confirm us in Him in order that we may have a settled and sure doctrine.

When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.

And afterwards let us add the sacraments. And, seeing that Jesus Christ has not only commanded the open preaching of the gospel, by which He shows Himself to be our Shepherd and that He will have us to be His flock, but also confirms it by baptism and by the Supper, let us take good heed that we do not make those signs useless through our own evil and ingratitude.

But let us rather consider to what end God has ordained them, and let us so use them that we may grow more and more in faith and be thereby inflamed with such zeal that we may endeavor to give ourselves wholly to God, since it has pleased Him also to give Himself to us.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

“A Prayer for Spiritual Reformation” by D.A. Carson

“And now, Lord God, I ask your blessing on all who read this book, for without it there will be no real benefit.

We may have education, but not compassion; we may have forms of praying, but no fruitful adoration and intercession; we may have oratory, but be lacking in unction; we may thrill your people, but not transform them; we may expand their minds, but display too little wisdom and understanding; we may amuse many, but find few who are solidly regenerated by your blessed Holy Spirit.

So we ask you for Your blessing, for the power of the Spirit, that we may know You better and grow in our grasp of Your incalculable love for us.

Bless us, Lord God, not with ease or endless triumph, but with faithfulness.

Bless us with the right number of tears, and with minds and hearts that hunger both to know and to do your Word.

Bless us with a profound hunger and thirst for righteousness, a zeal for truth, a love of people.

Bless us with the perspective that weighs all things from the vantage point of eternity.

Bless us with a transparent love of holiness.

Grant to us strength in weakness, joy in sorrow, calmness in conflict, patience when opposed or attacked, trustworthiness under temptation, love when we are hated, firmness and farsightedness when the climate prefers faddishness and drift.

We beg of You, holy and merciful God, that we may be used by You to extend Your kingdom widely, to bring many to know and love You truly.

Grant above all that our lives will increasingly bring glory to Your dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 225-226.

“A record of His majesty” by John Calvin

“God has given us a record of His majesty in the holy Scriptures.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 180. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

“His arms outstretched” by John Calvin

“When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

“Sing and preach His praises always” by John Calvin

“Now let us fall down before the majesty of our good God, with acknowledgement of our faults, praying Him to make us feel them more and more, that we may be sorry for them, and so strive to follow His service, that we may show by our deeds all our life long that He has not redeemed us in vain from the tyranny of Satan, and set us at liberty even to serve Him with a free will, and to give ourselves wholly to the glorifying of His holy name.

And let us beseech Him also to grant us the grace so to taste the benefits which He bestows upon us that they may incite us more and more to glorify Him, and that it may be our continual exercise and study to sing and preach His praises always, and to acknowledge how greatly we are bound and indebted to Him, that by that means our Lord Jesus may so reign over us that we may be joined to Him in an inseparable bond, until we come to the kingdom that He has bought so dearly for us, that it may please Him to grant this grace not only to us, but also to all people.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974), 591.

“Bless us, Lord God, with faithfulness” by D.A. Carson

“And now, Lord God, I ask your blessing on all who read this book, for without it there will be no real benefit.

We may have education, but not compassion; we may have forms of praying, but no fruitful adoration and intercession; we may have oratory, but be lacking in unction; we may thrill your people, but not transform them; we may expand their minds, but display too little wisdom and understanding; we may amuse many, but find few who are solidly regenerated by your blessed Holy Spirit.

So we ask you for Your blessing, for the power of the Spirit, that we may know You better and grow in our grasp of Your incalculable love for us.

Bless us, Lord God, not with ease or endless triumph, but with faithfulness. Bless us with the right number of tears, and with minds and hearts that hunger both to know and to do your Word.

Bless us with a profound hunger and thirst for righteousness, a zeal for truth, a love of people. Bless us with the perspective that weighs all things from the vantage point of eternity.

Bless us with a transparent love of holiness. Grant to us strength in weakness, joy in sorrow, calmness in conflict, patience when opposed or attacked, trustworthiness under temptation, love when we are hated, firmness and farsightedness when the climate prefers faddishness and drift.

We beg of You, holy and merciful God, that we may be used by You to extend Your kingdom widely, to bring many to know and love You truly.

Grant above all that our lives will increasingly bring glory to Your dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 225-226.

“He is the fountain which never dries up” by John Calvin

“We should be satisfied with the benefits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that when we are grafted into His body and made one with Him by belief of the gospel, then we may assure ourselves that He is the fountain which never dries up, nor can ever become exhausted, and that in Him we have all variety of good things, and all perfection.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974), 355.

“We can never plumb its depths” by Peter T. O’Brien

“To speak of Christ’s love as ‘surpassing knowledge’ means that it is so great that one can never know it fully. We can never plumb its depths or comprehend its magnitude. No matter how much we know of the love of Christ, how fully we enter into His love for us, there is always more to know and experience.

And the implication, in the light of the following words, is that we cannot be as spiritually mature as we should be unless we are empowered by God to grasp the limitless dimensions of the love of Christ.”

–Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 264.

“This is music out loud” by Douglas Wilson

“In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul requires musical instrumentation in worship. He says there that we are to be ‘speaking to [one another] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19). The translation in the heart would better be rendered as with the heart. We would say ‘singing and making melody with all our hearts.’

This is not an arbitrary choice; we can tell this contextually. The short phrase ‘making melody’ is a rendition of a word that means to pluck a string–psallo. Going over a song in our hearts is something we have all done. Singing silently can be done–even though it is frustrating, and is always looking for an outlet.

But very few of us have played the oboe in our hearts, or played a trumpet or piano there. Doing that kind of thing is way too close to playing air guitar. Telling the Ephesians to play the violin in their hearts would be a little bit odd. So Paul tells the Ephesians to sing and play stringed instruments–just the kind of thing that the psalmist would exhort Israel and all the nations to do.

This is music out loud. But the driving force of the exhortation reveals the motive for instruments, and the motive for robust singing. We are told to sing with all our hearts. This kind of heart attitude looks around for ways to make it better, richer, louder. The same kind of thing comes out in Colossians.

As the word dwells in us richly, the music should come out richly. A rich interior life cannot result in a poverty-stricken musical expression. We are here to worship God. We have music before us that is designed to help us with this. We should stand on the balls of our feet, eager to express in song what we believe God has done for us. After all, He is worthy.”

–Douglas Wilson, “Instruments in Worship,” (accessed on 9/17/2009).

“What will He not do for us now?” by John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407)

“The wonder is not only that God the Father gave His Son but that He did so in this way, by sacrificing the one He loved. It is astonishing that He gave the Beloved for those who hated Him. See how highly He honors us. If even when we hated Him and were enemies He gave the Beloved, what will He not do for us now?”

–John Chrysostom, “Homily on Ephesians I.I.8.” in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 8, Ed. Mark J. Edwards (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 114.