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The Potter's Clay

Scripture, Theology, the Christian worldview, and other ramblings.

12 February 2008

It will soften a stone!


--Thomas Watson, "The Mischief of Sin"

"The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin!"
1 John 1:7

Christ's blood is a SOFTENING blood.

There is nothing so hard, that it cannot be softened
by this blood. It will soften a stone! Water will
soften the earth—but it will not soften a stone; but
Christ's blood mollifies a stone. It softens a heart of
stone. It turns a flint into a spring. The heart, which
before was like a piece hewn out of a rock, being
steeped in Christ's blood—becomes soft, and the
waters of repentance flow from it.

"They will look on Me whom they have pierced and
mourn for Him as for an only son. They will grieve
bitterly for Him as for a firstborn son who has died."
Zechariah 12:10

How was the jailer's heart dissolved and made tender
when the blood of sprinkling was upon it! "Sirs, what
must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30. His heart was
now like melting wax. God might now set whatever
seal and impression He desired, upon it.

"I will give you a new heart with new and right desires,
and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your
stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart."
Ezekiel 36:26

15 January 2008

The free, sovereign grace of God!


--Octavius Winslow, "Christ, Our Righteousness"

"Those He predestined, He also called;
and those He called, He also justified;
and those He justified, He also glorified."
Romans 8:30

The justified sinner stands the closest to God,
of any created being in the universe. Nearer
to the throne of the Eternal, he cannot stand.

What marvelous love!

Who will dare assert that salvation is not,
from first to last—of free, sovereign grace!

Let your eye pierce the veil which falls between
earth and heaven. Behold that shining, worshiping
being, standing so near to the throne of glory,
bathed in the overpowering effulgence of its rays!

Who is he?

He was once a sinner upon earth, the vilest
of his race, the dishonored of his generation,
forsaken by man—and abhorred of God.

But Jesus met him, and divine love drew him, and
sovereign grace rescued, pardoned, and saved him!
And now washed from all his guilt by the blood,
freed from all condemnation by the righteousness
of Christ—he stands before the throne "blameless,"
a "king and a priest unto God." Such is the great
love of Jesus! And all this grace, and all this
glory, and all this bliss—flows from the free,
sovereign grace of God!

23 December 2007

Only the blood of Christ can soften it!


--Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660

"I will take away their hearts of stone and
give them tender hearts!" Ezekiel 11:19

Oh the misery of a hard heart!

A heart of stone is insensible. A stone is not
sensible of anything. Lay a heavy weight upon
it; or grind it to powder—it does not feel. So it
is with a hard heart—it is insensible to both its
own sin and God's wrath. The stone in the
kidneys is felt—but not the stone in the heart.
"Having lost all sensitivity" (Ephesians 4:19).

A heart of stone is inflexible. A stone will not
bend. Just so, the hard heart will not comply with
God's command. It will not stoop to Christ's scepter.
A heart of stone will sooner break, than bend by
repentance. It is so far from yielding to God, that
like the anvil—it beats back the hammer. A heart
of stone will "always resist the Holy Spirit." (Acts 7:51)

A hard heart is void of all grace. While the wax is
hard—it will not take the impression of the seal.
Just so, the heart, while it is hard—will not take the
stamp of grace. It must first be made tender and
melting. The plough of the Word will not penetrate
a hard heart!

A hard heart is good for nothing—but to make
fuel for hellfire. "Because of your hardness and
unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for
yourself in the day of wrath!" (Romans 2:5).

Hell is full of hard hearts—there is not one soft heart
there! There is much weeping there—but no softness.
We read of "vessels of wrath—prepared for destruction"
(Romans 9:22). Hardness of heart, fits these vessels
for hell, and makes them like withered wood, which
is fit only to burn!

Hardness of heart makes a man's condition worse
than all his other sins besides. If one is guilty of
great sins—yet if he can mourn, there is hope. But
hardness of heart binds guilt fast upon the soul. It
seals a man under wrath. It is not heinousness of
sin—but hardness of heart—which damns!

Oh the misery of a hard heart!

A stony heart is the worst heart. If it were bronze,
it might be melted in the furnace; or it might be
bent with the hammer. But a stony heart is such,
that only the arm of God can break it—and only
the blood of Christ can soften it!

"I will take out your stony heart of sin and give
you a new, obedient heart." Ezekiel 36:26

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17 December 2007

The way to be like Jesus



--Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660

To render evil for evil is brutish;
to render evil for good is devilish;
to render good for evil is Christian.

"Blessed are the meek." Matthew 5:5

Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by
the Spirit of God, to moderate our angry passions.
Meekness has a divine beauty and sweetness in
it. This meekness consists in three things:
the bearing of injuries,
the forgiving of injuries,
the recompensing good for evil.

Meekness is opposed to:
anger,
malice,
revenge and
evil-speaking.

Meekness is a great ornament to a Christian. "The
ornament of a meek spirit—which is so precious to
God!" (1 Peter 3:4). How lovely is a saint in God's
eye, when adorned with this jewel! No garment
is more befitting to a Christian, than meekness.
Therefore we are bid to put on this garment, "Put
on therefore as the elect of God—meekness."
(Colossians 3:12)

Meekness is a noble and excellent spirit. A meek man
is a valorous man. He gets a victory over himself! Anger
arises from weakness of character. The meek man is able
to conquer his fury. "He who is slow to anger is better
than the mighty; controlling one's temper is better than
capturing a city." (Proverbs 16:32). To yield to one's
anger is easy—it is swimming along with the tide of
corrupt nature. But to turn against nature—to resist
anger, to "overcome evil with good"—this is truly
Christian.

Meekness is the best way to conquer and melt the
heart of an enemy. Meekness melts and thaws the
heart of others. The greatest victory is to overcome
an enemy—without striking a blow! Mildness prevails
more than fierceness. Anger makes an enemy of a
friend. Meekness makes a friend of an enemy.

Meekness is the way to be like Jesus—"Learn of
Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." Mat. 11:29.
It is not profession which makes us like Jesus—but
imitation. Where meekness is lacking—we are like
brutes. Where it is present—we are like Jesus.

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03 December 2007

All enameled and interwoven with free grace!


-Thomas Watson, "A Divine Cordial" 1663

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.
Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many
were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God
chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the
strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the
despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify
the things that are, so that no one may boast before
Him." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Without this effectual call—there is no going to heaven.

This effectual call, is a GRACIOUS call. It is the fruit and
product of free grace! That God should call some—and
not others; that some should be taken—and others left;
that one should be called who is of a more wicked
disposition—while another of a sweeter temper, is
rejected; here is free grace! That the poor should be
rich in faith, heirs of a kingdom (James 2:5), and the
nobles and great ones of the world for the most part
rejected; this is free and rich grace! "Even so, Father,
for so it seemed good in Your sight!" (Matthew 11:26)

That under the same sermon one should be effectually
wrought upon—while another is no more moved than a
dead man with the sound of music; that one should hear
the Spirit's voice in the Word—while another does not
hear it; that one should be softened and moistened with
the influence of heaven—while another, like Gideon's dry
fleece, has no dew upon him; behold here distinguishing,
sovereign grace!

What is the cause of this—but the free grace of God! It
is all enameled and interwoven with free grace!
Those who are monuments of God's mercies, will be
trumpets of His praise. "So that no one may boast
before Him!" 1 Corinthians 1:29

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02 November 2007

My sweet pomegranate wine


Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer"

"Christ's love compels us." 2 Corinthians 5:14

True love to love God turns the soul into a seraphim;
it makes it burn in a flame of affection. Love is the
truest touchstone of sincerity.

Love is the queen of the graces; it commands the
whole soul. If our love to God is genuine, we let Him
have the supremacy of our love. We will set Him in
the highest place of our soul. We will give Him the
purest of our love. "I would give You spiced wine to
drink, my sweet pomegranate wine." Canticles 8:2.
If the spouse had anything better--a cup more juicy
and spiced--Christ would drink of that!

We give the creature the milk of our love;
but God gets the cream!

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31 October 2007

True faith


--Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer"

True faith is joined with holiness. As a little
musk sweetens, so a little faith purifies. Though
faith does but touch Christ--it fetches a healing
virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a
spiritual sense, which miraculous faith does--it
removes the mountains of sin, and casts them
into the sea of Christ's blood!

True faith is prolific. It brings forth fruit; it has
Rachel's beauty--and Leah's fruitfulness. Faith is
full of good works. It believes as if it did not work
--and it works as if it did not believe. Faith is the
spouse-like grace which marries Christ; and good
works are the children which it bears!

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11 September 2007

How may we know whether we love God?


by Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments

How may we know whether we love God?

He who loves God desires His presence. Lovers cannot be
long asunder, they soon have their fainting fits, for lack
of a sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love
with God desires the enjoyment of Him. David was ready
to faint away, when he had not a sight of God. "My soul
faints for God." Psalm 84:2

He who loves God, does not love sin. "You who love the
Lord--hate evil." Psalm 97:10. The love of God--and the
love of sin, can no more mix together than iron and clay.
Every sin loved, strikes at the being of God. He who loves
God, has an antipathy against sin. He who would part two
lovers is a hateful person. God and the believing soul are
two lovers; sin parts between them, therefore the soul is
implacably set against sin. By this try your love to God.
How can he say he loves God, who loves sin--which is
God's enemy?

He who loves God is not much in love with anything else.
His love is very cool to worldly things. The love of the world
eats out the heart of piety; it chokes holy affections, as earth
puts out the fire. He who loves God--uses the world but
chooses God. The world engages him--but God delights
and satisfies him. He says as David, "God, my exceeding
joy!" Psalm 43:4. "God is the cream of my joy!"

He who loves God cannot live without him. Things we love,
we cannot be without. A man can do without music or flowers,
but not food. Just so, a soul deeply in love with God looks upon
himself as undone without Him. "Hide not Your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down into the pit." Psalm 143:7.
If God is our chief good--we cannot live without Him! Alas!
how do they show they have no love to God--who can do
well enough without Him! Let them have but food and drink,
and you shall never hear them complain of the lack of God.

He who loves God will be at any pains to get Him. What
pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs--to have
a rich return. Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the
heat by day, and the frost by night--that he might enjoy her.
A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of
Him. "My soul follows hard after You." Psalm 63:8. The soul
is much in prayer; it strives as in agony, that he may obtain
Him whom his soul loves. "I will seek Him whom my soul
loves." Canticles 3:2.

He who loves God, prefers Him before estate. "For Whom
I have suffered the loss of all things." Phil 3:8. Who that
loves a rich jewel--would not part with a flower for it?

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31 August 2007

Touchdown Washington!



Let's hope this is the start of something good. Jake Locker looked solid in his debut. Go Dawgs!!!

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01 August 2007

What is the chief end of man?


--Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity"

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God,
and to enjoy Him forever.

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When
can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:2

Is the enjoyment of God in this life so sweet? How
wicked are those who prefer the enjoyment of their
lusts, before the enjoyment of God! 'The lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life,' is the
evil trinity they worship.

Lust is an inordinate desire or impulse, provoking the
soul to that which is evil. Lust, like a feverish heat, puts
the soul into a flame. Aristotle calls sensual lusts, brutish,
because, when any lust is violent--reason and conscience
cannot be heard. These lusts besot and brutalize the man.

How many make it their chief end, not to enjoy God--but
to enjoy their lusts! Lust first bewitches with pleasure--and
then comes the fatal dart! This should be a flaming sword
to stop men in the way of their carnal delights--Who, for
a drop of pleasure, would drink a sea of wrath?

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10 July 2007

Prayer for the Lost


The Sovereignty of God and Prayer

The following is a great biblical explanation of why we are to pray for the unconverted....


I am often asked, "If you believe God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11) and that his knowledge of all things past, present, and future is infallible, then what is the point of praying that anything happen?" Usually this question is asked in relation to human decision: "If God has predestined some to be his sons and chosen them before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4,5), then what's the point in praying for anyone's conversion?"

The implicit argument here is that if prayer is to be possible at all man must have the power of self-determination. That is, all man's decisions must ultimately belong to himself, not God. For otherwise he is determined by God and all his decisions are really fixed in God's eternal counsel. Let's examine the reasonableness of this argument by reflecting on the example cited above.

1. "Why pray for anyone's conversion if God has chosen before the foundation of the world who will be his sons?" A person in need of conversion is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1); he is "enslaved to sin" (Romans 6:17; John 8:34); "the god of this world has blinded his mind that he might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (II Corinthians. 4:4); his heart is hardened against God (Ephesians 4:18) so that he is hostile to God and in rebellion against God's will (Romans 8:7).

Now I would like to turn the question back to my questioner: If you insist that this man must have the power of ultimate self-determination, what is the point of praying for him? What do you want God to do for Him? You can't ask that God overcome the man's rebellion, for rebellion is precisely what the man is now choosing, so that would mean God overcame his choice and took away his power of self-determination. But how can God save this man unless he act so as to change the man's heart from hard hostility to tender trust?

Will you pray that God enlighten his mind so that he truly see the beauty of Christ and believe? If you pray this, you are in effect asking God no longer to leave the determination of the man's will in his own power. You are asking God to do something within the man's mind (or heart) so that he will surely see and believe. That is, you are conceding that the ultimate determination of the man's decision to trust Christ is God's, not merely his.

What I am saying is that it is not the doctrine of God's sovereignty which thwarts prayer for the conversion of sinners. On the contrary, it is the unbiblical notion of self-determination which would consistently put an end to all prayers for the lost. Prayer is a request that God do something. But the only thing God can do to save a lost sinner is to overcome his resistance to God. If you insist that he retain his self-determination, then you are insisting that he remain without Christ. For "no one can come to Christ unless it is given him from the Father" (John 6:65,44).

Only the person who rejects human self-determination can consistently pray for God to save the lost. My prayer for unbelievers is that God will do for them what He did for Lydia: He opened her heart so that she gave heed to what Paul said (Acts 16:14). I will pray that God, who once said, "Let there be light!", will by that same creative power "shine in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6). I will pray that He will "take out their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26). I will pray that they be born not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God (John 1:13). And with all my praying I will try to "be kind and to teach and correct with gentleness and patience, if perhaps God may grant them repentance and freedom from Satan's snare" (II Timothy 2:24-26).

In short, I do not ask God to sit back and wait for my neighbor to decide to change. I do not suggest to God that He keep his distance lest his beauty become irresistible and violate my neighbor's power of self-determination. No! I pray that he ravish my unbelieving neighbor with his beauty, that he unshackle the enslaved will, that he make the dead alive and that he suffer no resistance to stop him lest my neighbor perish.

2. If someone now says, "O.K., granted that a person's conversion is ultimately determined by God' I still don't see the point of your prayer. If God chose before the foundation of the world who would be converted, what function does your prayer have?" My answer is that it has a function like that of preaching: How shall the lost believe in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach unless they are sent (Romans 10:14f.)? Belief in Christ is a gift of God (John 6:65; II Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 2:8), but God has ordained that the means by which men believe on Jesus is through the preaching of men. It is simply naive to say that if no one spread the gospel all those predestined to be sons of God (Ephesians 1:5) would be converted anyway. The reason this is naive is because it overlooks the fact that the preaching of the gospel is just as predestined as is the believing of the gospel: Paul was set apart for his preaching ministry before he was born (Galatians 1:15), as was Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5). Therefore, to ask, "If we don't evangelize, will the elect be saved?" is like asking, "If there is no predestination, will the predestined be saved?" God knows those who are his and he will raise up messengers to win them. If someone refuses to be a part of that plan, because he dislikes the idea of being tampered with before he was born, then he will be the loser, not God and not the elect. "You will certainly carry out God's purpose however you act but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John." (Problem of Pain chapter 7, Anthology, p 910, cf. p 80)

Prayer is like preaching in that it is a human act also. It is a human act that God has ordained and which he delights in because it reflects the dependence of his creatures upon Him. He has promised to respond to prayer, and his response is just as contingent upon our prayer as our prayer is in accordance with his will. "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14). When we don't know how to pray according to God's will but desire it earnestly, "the Spirit of God intercedes for us according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27).

In other words, just as God will see to it that His Word is proclaimed as a means to saving the elect, so He will see to it that all those prayers are prayed which He has promised to respond to. I think Paul's words in Romans 15:18 would apply equally well to his preaching and his praying ministry: "I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles." Even our prayers are a gift from the one who "works in us that which is pleasing in his sight" (Hebrews 13:21). Oh, how grateful we should be that He has chosen us to be employed in this high service! How eager we should be to spend much time in prayer!

John Piper

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06 July 2007

Who sees us? Who will know?


--Thomas Brooks, "London's Lamentations" 1670

Atheism reigns in the hearts and lives of sinners.

The covetous make their gold their god.

The drunkard and glutton make their bellies their god.

The ambitious make honors their god.

The voluptuous make pleasures their god.

The religionists make pious duties their god.

The moral make virtue their god.

"The fool says in his heart--There is no God!"
Psalm 14:1

Atheism denies God either:
in opinion--saying there is no God; or
in affection--wishing there were no God; or
in practice--living as if there were no God.

What abundance of atheists there are in the land!

"He says to himself--God has forgotten; He covers
His face and never sees." Psalm 10:11

"They say--How can God know? Does the Most
High have knowledge?" Psalm 73:11

"They say--The Lord does not see; the God
of Jacob pays no heed." Psalm 94:7

What horrid blasphemy, what gross atheism is here!
How do these atheists ungod the great God! How do
they deny His omnipotence and omniscience! What
an idol-god do they make the great God to be!

There are many who sin freely in secret, who can
be drunk and filthy in the dark, when the eye of man
is not upon them. Certainly those men's hearts are
very atheistic, who dare do that in the sight of God
--which they tremble to do before the eyes of men!
How many are there who flatter themselves in their
sins, and conclude that surely the bitterness of hell
and wrath is past, and that they are in a fair way for
heaven--when every step they take is towards the
bottomless pit, and divine vengeance hangs over
their heads, ready every moment to fall upon them!

"On earth are atheists many,
In hell there are not any."

"Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their
plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness
and think--Who sees us? Who will know?"
Isaiah 29:15

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