God dwells with those that mourn; however, he does so to comfort them, in order that the outcome of their mourning may be their rejoicing. -There is a great difference between being mournful or being melancholy and despondent. The Lord delights when one mournfully humbles himself, tearfully seeks grace, and is active by faith to lift himself up again; being melancholy, however is displeasing to God (and men). Therefore mourn at the appropriate time, but flee from habitual melancholy and accustom yourself to be joyful! Wilhelmus à Brakel
1. They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
3. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.
Perseverance Is A Gift (from Ligonier Ministries, Devotionals)
We have noted that Reformed theology prefers to speak of the perseverance of the saints because this terminology better reflects the New Testament passages which stress our role in holding fast to our salvation. Persevering in faith and not falling away means that we must hold fast to our confession and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
This synergistic view of perseverance where God and man work together in order to keep man from falling away from Christ seems a bit strange to our ears. Does not God do all the work in salvation? Is not all the Christian life the monergistic work of God alone?
Contrary to popular belief, Reformed theology does not teach that all of the Christian life is the monergistic work of God. We are insistent that regeneration is solely by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit. We only come to faith initially through the work of God. However, once we have been converted, our growth in actual and personal holiness is the result of cooperation between man and God.
Though perseverance is partly our work, we must never miss the chief reason to be confident of our security in Christ. Perseverance, as a reality, is not an achievement accomplished by human effort. Ultimately it is a gift. The only way anyone ever perseveres to the end is by virtue of the unmerited grace of God that sustains us.
The gift of perseverance is a necessary deduction from passages like Philippians 2:12–13, which tells us that it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. This idea is also clearly articulated in Romans 8:29–30, where the apostle Paul writes that all who have been predestined are also glorified.
We work out our salvation with fear and trembling, but we do so because God has elected and regenerated us. All those whom He has predestined will receive the full inheritance of salvation. We know this to be true from Ephesians 1:13–14, which tells us that the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantor of our inheritance. God seals Christians and gives them the Holy Spirit as an indwelling presence so that they may persevere. The Spirit is the promise from the One who never breaks His promise that those who love Christ will inherit salvation.
Augustine was one of the first to remind the church of the donum perserverantiae, the gift of perseverance. Perseverance as a gift means that even in our working to keep our faith, God receives all the glory. Praise Him for His mercy in causing and guaranteeing that all of His elect children will never fall away. Unto Him be all glory!
It is made our duty and prescribed as a remedy against disquieting care, that in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we should make our requests known to God. And it is part of the Parrhsia, the boldness, the liberty of speech (so the word signifies), which is allowed us in our access to God, that we may be particular in opening our case and seeking to him for relief; that, according as the sore and the grief is, accordingly the prayer and the supplication may be by any man. Not that God needs to be particularly informed of our condition, he knows it better than we ourselves do, and our souls too in our adversity; but it is his will that we should thus acknowledge him in all our ways and wait upon him for the direction of every step, not prescribing, but subscribing to infinite wisdom, humbly showing him our wants, burdens, and desires, and then referring ourselves to him, to do for us as he knows fit.
Matthew Henry, Method for Prayer
Resorting to a more scriptural pattern of prayer may be a simple (but profound) answer to many problems in our practice of prayer. There are a number of reasons that could be given as to why Christians should “Pray the Bible,” but the ones below combine to make a rather convincing argument:
- Praying scripturally will teach us what prayer is, even while we do it.
- It will correct “shopping list” views of prayer which abound in the Christian community.
- It will begin to solve in our own minds the question of “unanswered prayer.”
- It will remind us of just how much there is to pray about day by day.
- It will teach us of the extreme urgency of prayer.
- It will return proportion to prayers long on petition, but short on adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.
- It will instruct us how best to pray for ministers, missionaries, and one another.
- It will show us the proper way to approach God in prayer.
- It will remind us of the good things that God does for us (which we, more often than not, take for granted).
- It will remind us to always give thanks to God (which, paradoxically, is so important for our own assurance of His faithfulness in answering prayer).
- It will begin to engrave in our minds biblical patterns of thought which can help immunize us from the enticing folly of the world’s view of life.
- It will force us to rehearse the solemn warnings and precious promises of God (which will do eternal good to our souls).
- It will move us from our inherent man-centeredness in prayer to a biblical, God-centered way of praying.
The aim of the online publication of this “old-made-new” monograph is to assist and encourage modern Christians in both public and private prayer. Surely we all recognize that the Church of our day, at least in the West, is weak in the way of prayer. Few of us, perhaps, understand what prayer really is. We do not pray often. We do not pray with scriptural proportion, nor does our prayer much reflect the language and thought of the Bible. We do not pray fervently. Although we claim otherwise, maybe we really do not believe in prayer!
For those who are called upon to lead the Church in public prayer, or who simply desire to be more faithful and competent in their own private petitions, a scriptural manner of praying provides the order, proportion, and variety which should characterize all our prayers. We have aimed to provide users with a number of helps to assist in achieving this end. The core of the website is the entire text of Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer. Reading and re-reading through it will train the Christian in the use of biblical truth and language in prayer.