“We are never more like God than when we love His Son through His Spirit” by Kelly Kapic

“Christian anthropology recognizes that we never embody God’s image more clearly than when we love, delight in, and commune with His incarnate Son, who has reconciled all things in Himself.

Simply put, we are never more like God than when we love His Son through His Spirit.”

–Kelly Kapic, “Anthropology,” Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic, eds. Michael Allen and Scott Swain (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016), 166.

“Then he has come close to grace” by Martin Luther

“God has assuredly promised His grace to the humble [1 Peter 5:5], that is, to those who lament and despair of themselves.

But no man can be thoroughly humbled until he knows that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, devices, endeavors, will, and works, and depends entirely on the choice, will, and work of another, namely, of God alone.

For as long as he is persuaded that he himself can do even the least thing toward his salvation, he retains some self-confidence and does not altogether despair of himself, and therefore he is not humbled before God, but presumes that there is—or at least hopes or desires that there may be—some place, time, and work for him, by which he may at length attain to salvation.

But when a man has no doubt that everything depends on the will of God, then he completely despairs of himself and chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work; then he has come close to grace.”

–Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, Luther’s Works, Vol. 33: Career of the Reformer III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 33 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 33: 61–62. As quoted in Dane Ortlund, Deeper (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), 38.

“He is my hope, my end, my portion” by John Newton

“Help me, dear Sir, with your prayers in her behalf.

You ask, if my soul be more alive to Jesus than ever? I can say He is precious to my soul, and that I love His ways and His service.

He is my hope, my end, my portion; and I esteem His favour better than life.

But lively feelings are seldom my lot. Blessed be his name, he keeps and supports me.

He keeps the flock committed to my care, so that we are in the main preserved from offences and from strife.

Now and then he brings a stray lamb into the fold, and often He is seen in the fold Himself.

Then the sheep are happy, for they know His voice, and admire His love. And we know He is present when we cannot see Him, or else the wolf would quickly break in and scatter us.

Here is our security,—that His eye and His heart are upon us continually.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 107.

“I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd” by John Newton

“I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account.

I am what I would not, and would what I cannot.

I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast, and am thrown down in the same moment.

I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing, yet I can do all things. I live by miracle.

I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains.

In a word, I am a sinner, a vile one; but a sinner believing in the name of Jesus.

I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd.

I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn.

He still bears with me, He still employs me, He still enables me, He still owns me.

Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!

As a people, we have much cause of complaint in ourselves, and much cause of thankfulness to Him.

In the main, I hope we are alive, though not as we could wish; our numbers rather increase from year to year, and some flourish. In the ordinances, we are favoured in a measure with his presence.

But, oh, for a day of His power; that His work may run broader and deeper, and the fire of grace spread from heart to heart, till the whole town be in a flame!

To this I hope you will give a hearty Amen, and often remember us in your prayers.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 104-105

“This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father” by John Owen

“Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein.

How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with Him? I answer, By faith.

The receiving of it is the believing of it. God hath so fully, so eminently revealed His love, that it may be received by faith.

“Ye believe in God,” (John 14:1); that is, the Father. And what is to be believed in Him? His love; for He is “love,” (1 John 4:8).

It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the Father, but by the Son.

“He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Him,” (John 14:6).

He is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by whom we have access to the throne of grace: by Him is our introduction unto the Father; by Him we believe in God, (1 Pet. 1:21).

But this is that I say,—When by and through Christ we have an access unto the Father, we then behold His glory also, and see His love that He peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith thereon.

We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in Him; the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ alone.

Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto the fountain.

Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by Him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself.

Would believers exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.

This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing.

Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds.

All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not.

This is the will of God, that He may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love.

This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father (John 1:18).”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 22-23.

“An earnest of heaven” by John Newton

“Tomorrow is the Sabbath. I am usually glad when it returns, though it seldom finds me in that frame of mine which I would desire.

But it is my happiness to live amongst many who count the hours from one ordinance to another.

I know they pray that I may be a messenger of peace, and an instrument of good to their souls; and I have cause to hope their prayers are in a measure answered.

For their sakes, as much as my own, I am glad to go up to the house of the Lord. O that in watering others I may be also watered myself!

I have been praying that tomorrow may be a day of power with you and with us, and with all that love Jesus in sincerity; that we may see His glory, and taste His love in the sanctuary!

When it is thus, the Sabbath is a blessed day indeed, an earnest of heaven.

There they keep an everlasting sabbath, and cease not night or day admiring the riches of redeeming love, and adoring Him who washed His people from their sins in His own blood.

To have such imperfect communion with them as is in this state attainable in this pleasing exercise, is what alone can make life worth the name.

For this I sigh and long, and cry to the Lord to rend the vail of unbelief, scatter the clouds of ignorance, and break down the walls which sin is daily building up to hide Him from my eyes.

I hope I can say, ‘My soul is athirst for God,’ and nothing less than the light of His countenance can satisfy me. Blessed be His Name for the desire: it is His own gift, and He never gives it in vain.

He will afford us a taste of the water of life by the way; and ere long we shall drink abundantly at the fountainhead, and have done with complaint for ever.

May we be thankful for what we receive, and still earnestly desirous of more.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 201-202.

“We are a spectacle to the universe” by John Newton

“Our all-sufficient God can give seasons of refreshment in the darkest hours, and break through the thickest clouds of outward affliction or distress.

To you it is given not only to believe in Jesus, but to suffer for his sake (Phil. 1:29): for so we do, not only when we are called to follow Him to imprisonment or death, but when He enables us to bear afflictive dispensations with due submission and patience.

Then He is glorified: then His grace and power are manifested in us.

The world, so far as they know our case, have a proof before them that our religion is not merely notional, but that there is a power and reality in it.

And the Lord’s people are encouraged by what they see of his faithfulness to ourselves.

And there are more eyes upon us still. We are a spectacle to the universe, to angels as well as to men.

Cheer up: the Lord has put you in your present trying situation, that you may have the fairer opportunity of adorning your profession of the Gospel.

And though you suffer much, He is able to make you abundant amends.

Nor need I remind you that He has suffered unspeakably more for you: He drank for your sake a cup of unmixed wrath, and only puts into your hand a cup of affliction mixed with many mercies.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 191-192.