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God Will Deliver

Whatever misery God’s children are in, yet in the best time God will deliver them. … The Israelites were under a long and strong affliction for many years, under tyrants that whipped their bodies, and scourged them, and put them to labor above their strength, and (which was a most intolerable vexation) made the parents drown their own children. No one ever treated any so spitefully as they were used; yet we see that God delivered them. So in the Psalm He says, “Many are the troubles of the righteous, but God delivers them out of all” (34:19). It is not their wealth, nor money, for of that they are often bare enough; nor friends, for sometimes they have none; nor their strength, for they are often weak and brought low. But God will deliver them. Let them get righteousness, and faith, and the spirit of prayer, and though they were in an iron furnace under Pharaoh, in a house of bondage, let them but cry, and from thence God will deliver them. So in Esther’s time, a wonderful affliction it was, that the day of execution was appointed, when all the godly should be put to the sword, not one to be left alive. But now, when they could cry to God, and had no one else to go to but only to Him, and Him they would go to, and stay upon, knowing that He could help them if He would, and would also for His promise’s sake deliver them, then we see, the day that was appointed for their sorrow, turned to their joy; that which was purposed to bring destruction upon them, brought destruction upon their enemies; and the day of their most extreme misery, proved to be a day of their most joyful deliverance.

John Dod, A Plain and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments (1632), 20.

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Acceptable Time

Now or never is the season to prepare for eternity, seeing that your states are unchangeable after death. The gulf will then be fixed; there is no possibility for repentance, or hope of pardon beyond the grave. …

Now is your time to hearken to good counsel. Many of you have misspent a great part of your life; you shall not live it over again. You are not certain of the future. You may be in an unchangeable state before you are aware. So that to defer it one week or day longer may be your undoing. You have now a promise of forgiveness, if you repent, and the hopes of God’s grace, if you seek it. You have yet an opportunity to make peace with God. This is your accepted time, the day of salvation. The door of mercy and of hope is yet open, but before long it will be shut, and your state immutable. Whatever is to be done in preparation for eternity must be now or never. Now quickly or it will be too late; now presently, and without delay, or it may be too late.

John Shower, Heaven and Hell (1700), 55-57.

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The Substitution of Christ

But when we say that grace was imparted to us by the merit of Christ, we mean this: by his blood we were cleansed, and his death was an expiation for our sins. “His blood cleanses us from all sin.” [1 John 1:7.] “This is my blood … which is shed … for the forgiveness of sins.” [Matt. 26:28; cf. Luke 22:20.] If the effect of his shedding of blood is that our sins are not imputed to us, it follows that God’s judgment was satisfied by that price. On this point John the Baptist’s words apply: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. For he sets Christ over against all the sacrifices of the law, to teach that what those figures showed was fulfilled in him alone. We know what Moses often says: “Iniquity will be atoned for, sin will be blotted out and forgiven” [cf. Ex. 34:7; Lev. 16:34]. In short, the old figures well teach us the force and power of Christ’s death. And in The Letter to the Hebrews the apostle skillfully using this principle explains this point: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” [Heb. 9:22]. From this he concludes that “Christ has appeared once for all … to wipe out sin by the sacrifice of himself” [Heb. 9:26]. Again, “Christ was offered … to bear the sins of many” [Heb. 9:28]. He had previously said: “He entered once for all into the Holy Place not through the blood of goats and calves but through his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” [Heb. 9:12]. He now reasons on this wise: “If the blood of a heifer sanctifies unto the cleanness of the flesh, much more does the blood of Christ … cleanse your consciences from dead works” [Heb. 9:13–14 p.]. This readily shows that Christ’s grace is too much weakened unless we grant to his sacrifice the power of expiating, appeasing, and making satisfaction. As he adds a little later: “He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred meanwhile which redeems them from the preceding transgressions that remained under the law” [Heb. 9:15 p.].

It is especially worth-while to ponder the analogy set forth by Paul: “Christ … became a curse for us,” etc. [Gal. 3:13]. It was superfluous, even absurd, for Christ to be burdened with a curse, unless it was to acquire righteousness for others by paying what they owed. Isaiah’s testimony is also clear: “The chastisement of our peace was laid upon Christ, and with his stripes healing has come to us” [Isa. 53:5 p.]. For unless Christ had made satisfaction for our sins, it would not have been said that he appeased God by taking upon himself the penalty to which we were subject. The words that follow in the same passage agree with this: “I have stricken him for the transgression of my people” [Isa. 53:8 p.]. Let us add the interpretation of Peter, which will remove all uncertainty: “He … bore our sins … on the tree” [1 Peter 2:24]. He is saying that the burden of condemnation, from which we were freed, was laid upon Christ.

—John Calvin
Institutes II, xvii, 4.

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Grace Alone Sufficient

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. – Gal 3:11-12

Now, the prophet [Habakkuk] had spoken about the chastisements and judgments that God would send on the people; therefore, having examined the situation, we might well have concluded that all was lost. Then he says that the pride of the wicked will swell and increase, but that their feet are in a slippery place and they will stumble in the way. The more they seek to exalt themselves, the more grievous will be their fall. This is what the prophet pronounces upon the wicked. On the other hand, he says of the just that they shall ‘live by faith’. Notice he says that the just shall live, implying that God’s children will not find life here below. Even if they were to travel all over the world, and search high and low, they would soon realise that there is death and decay everywhere and in everything. However, though they do not enjoy this ‘life’ at the present time, they look forward to a life to come, and cherish it in their hearts and minds by faith. The prophet is seeking to draw the minds of God’s elect away from both the world and themselves, so that they may cleave entirely to God, finding his grace alone sufficient for their salvation.

—John Calvin
Sermons of John Calvin: A Selection of Thirty Six Various Sermons, “We All Stand Condemned by the Law”

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Emmanuel—”God with us”

In addition to explaining the Name of Jesus, and recording its God-given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” If, when our Lord was born, and named “Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Emmanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Emmanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us.” And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Saviour, because He is Emmanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Emmanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Saviour. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another Name which rings melodiously in mine ears,—Emmanuel, God with us!

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation (Passmore and Alabaster, 1901), 39.