Thoughts on compulsory fasting from Ulrich Zwingli from the Lenten season of 1522.
Thoughts on compulsory fasting from Ulrich Zwingli from the Lenten season of 1522.
Get more Zwingli quotes and find out about by forthcoming Zwingli biography at https://www.facebook.com/Zwinglibio.
A number of years ago my wife and I woke up to our radio alarm, which was set to a local Christian station. As we began to revive from the night’s rest, the radio DJ read the station’s verse of the day, Philippians 1:6. Here Paul writes that he is “confident…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” The DJ then offered a brief commentary that was so theologically shocking, I’ll never forget it (even though I heard it through an early morning fog a decade ago). He said, “This verse describes a little doctrine we like to call the perseverance of the saints. It basically means finish what you started.”
The DJ failed to see in this verse the powerful persevering work of God and the confidence such work evokes in his saints. Instead, he focused only on the need for human endurance. Sadly, this is often the focus of those who believe Christ died for everyone according to a conditional election to supply a resistible grace for men and women who are still capable of choosing grace. In the Arminian system, whether or not believers per-severe to the end depends on their zeal to finish well. According to the Arminians’ fifth article of remonstrance, God is ready to help, and will keep Christians from falling “if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive…”
Of course, the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in salvation, and in perseverance, can be a difficult issue. But the difficulties are not resolved by prioritizing the command to persevere over God’s provision of perseverance.
The following is adapted by William Boekestein from Elizabeth Prentiss’ Six Little Princesses: And What They Turned Into.
There was once a young queen named Anitta. She had almost everything you could imagine, everything except children. “You do not know what it is to have so empty a heart as mine,” she told her wise advisor, the countess Reynosa. “I will fill your heart,” replied Reynosa, “With a vengeance.” Within an hour Reynosa returned with a charming little baby, willingly given up by its dying mother. “The Princess Novella” she announced.
The Queen so loved Novella that she surprised herself one day by saying, “One princess is next to no princess at all. One more at least will be necessary to complete my happiness.” Before long, twelve little feet pattered around the palace; six princesses: Novella, Mosella, Reima, Papeta, Moina and Delicieuse.
On the night of their christening the Queen’s subjects came from far and near bearing lavish gifts, everyone except countess Reynosa. Reynosa’s gifts, wisely chosen, came later. For Novella a pen, for Mosella an old piano for Reima a box of paint, for Papeta a stack of old sheet music, for Moina a seamstress kit. For Delicieuse she gave only a kiss to compliment her grace. Each of the girls soon began to excel in the use of their gifts. Geniuses they were called.
One evening, several years later, as Moina began to work on a beautiful robe she was startled as a tiny little green fairy popped out of her thimble. “What a shame you have to work so hard with needle and thread while your sisters enjoy the best of everything,” she said. Moina had never thought like this before. She loved her talent and she loved her sisters. But envy now began to grow in her heart. In the same way ENVY, for that was that ugly fairy’s ugly name, spoke to each of the girls. So powerful was her work that the royal family would have been forever splintered if the wise Reynosa had not intervened: “Use your gift, humble though it be,” she said, “One day you will need it, and so will others.”
That day came soon enough. Though each warned by premonition not to leave, the king and queen departed without the children for a hunt. They never returned. Thinking they would live forever the king and queen had made no provision for their adopted children. The poor girls had no palace, no inheritance and no titles. But they did have each other and they did have their gifts. And with these they made a simple home “glad with perpetual sunshine.”
Win a copy of “Faithfulness under Fire: The Story of Guide de Bres!”
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Can you preach the Westminster Shorter Catechism in a year? After dividing the 107 questions into 52 “Lord’s Days” we are on the home stretch (LD 46)! Listen to the series here. The divisions I used are below. I would heartily commend the practice.
1. Historical Intro
2. Man’s Chief End (Q/A 1)
3. Scripture (Q/A 2-3)
4. God’s Being (Q/A 4)
5. The Trinity (Q/A 5-6)
6. God’s Decrees and Creation (Q/A 7-9)
7. Creation of Man (Q/A 10)
8. Providence (Q/A 11)
9. The Covenant of Works (Q/A 12)
10. Adam’s Fall (Q/A 13-15)
11. Original Sin (Q/A 16-19)
12. The Covenant of Grace (Q/A 20)
13. The Incarnation (Q/A 21-22)
14. Christ the Mediator (Q/A 23-26)
15. Christ’s Humiliation (Q/A 27)
16. Christ’s Exaltation (Q/A 28)
17. Redemption through the Spirit (Q/A 29)
18. The Order of Salvation (Q/A30-32)
19. Justification (Q/A 33)
20. Adoption (Q/A 34)
21. Sanctification (Q/A 35)
22. “Earthly” Salvation (Q/A 36)
23. “Heavenly” Salvation (Q/A 37-38)
24. God’s Moral Law (Q/A 39-40)
25. Introduction to the Ten Commandments (Q/A 41-44)
26. The First Commandment (Q/A 45-48)
27. The Second Commandment (Q/A 49-52)
28. The Third Commandment (Q/A 53-56)
29. The Fourth Commandment (Q/A 57-62)
30. The Fifth Commandment (Q/A 63-66)
31. The Sixth Commandment (Q/A 67-69)
32. The Seventh Commandment (Q/A 70-72)
33. The Eighth Commandment (Q/A 73-75)
34. The Ninth Commandment (Q/A 76-78)
35. The Tenth Commandment (Q/A 79-81)
36. The Sinfulness of Sin (Q/A 82-84)
37. Faith (Q/A 85-86)
38. Repentance (Q/A 87)
39. The Means of Grace (Q/A 88)
40. Preaching (Q/A 89-90)
41. The Sacraments (Q/A 91-93)
42. Baptism (Q/A 94-95)
43. The Lord’s Supper (Q/A 96-97)
44. Introduction to Prayer (Q/A 98-99)
45. Praying to Our Father (Q/A 100)
46. Praying for God’s Holiness (Q/A 101)
47. Praying for God’s Kingdom (Q/A 102)
48. Praying for God’s Will (Q/A 103)
49. Praying for Our Needs (Q/A 104)
50. Praying for Forgiveness (Q/A 105)
51. Praying for Holiness (Q/A 106)
52. Amen! (Q/A 107)
The first four articles in this series on the Canons of Dort (CoD; popularly known as the Five Points of Calvinism) focused on the historical context, and the first three heads of doctrine (unconditional election, limited atonement, and total depravity, respectively).
One of the peculiar privileges granted to the president is the right to pardon a limited number of convicts. You might say that this pardon is achieved in two stages. In the first, the president determines to grant the pardon. At this point forgiveness is sure but not experienced. But when the warden calls the prisoner from his cell, and escorts him through the front gates of the jail, the “chosen” prisoner is truly pardoned. In a similar way elect sinners truly experience divine forgiveness when God’s irresistible grace releases them from the prison of sin and guilt.
D.A. Carson has made a great argument for more thorough preparation in public prayer. Here’s part of what he says:
In nonliturgical churches, many of the prayers are so predictable that they are scarcely any more spontaneous than written prayers, and most of them are not nearly as well-crafted. The answer to both situations is to provide more prayers that are carefully and freshly prepared.
The church in which I serve (The United Reformed Churches in North America) has a collection of prayers for use in worship and family life which could be a great help for those given the privilege and responsibility of praying publicly. You can download a PDF copy of these prayers here: http://www.covenantrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/URCNA-Prayers.pdf.
The first three articles in this series on the Canons of Dort (CoD; popularly known as the Five Points of Calvinism) focused on the historical context, and the first two heads of doctrine (unconditional election and limited atonement, respectively).
Like the many links of a single chain, the Five Points of Calvinism are integrally connected to each other by two inescapable truths of Scripture: Man’s complete ruin by sin, and God’s perfect, gracious, and sovereign remedy in Christ. These truths are introduced by the third and fourth points which the Canons combine into one subject (articles 1-5 focus on man’s natural depravity; articles 6-17 consider the Holy Spirit’s irresistible work in the lives of God’s elect).
Have you ever thought about the power of fear? Men will do things when they are scared that they would never do if they were at ease. Fear can be an energizing splash of cold water on a face drooping with drowsiness. There is good reason why the Scriptures, particularly in the Old Testament, describe vital religion as the “fear of God.”
Still, we tend to think of fear only negatively. Franklin Roosevelt famously stated: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The Gospel accounts of the forty days following Christ’s death would amend that motto: The only things we have to fear are unbelieving fear and God himself. Mark 16 opens a window into the power of godly fear as it spans the time from Jesus’ burial to his disciples’ ministry following his ascension.