We are all self-righteous by nature. It is as natural for us to turn to a covenant of works as for the sparks to fly upwards. – George Whitefield (1714-1770)
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies. O, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God, we shall do valiantly. It is He who will tread down our foes. (Psalm 60.9-12)
The goodness attained by the regenerate man is never independent of the grace of God at work in him. Only the new self can see the radical need for self-denial. It is then, for the first time, fully apparent. “The regenerate man has the center of his life no more in himself nor in the world but in the crucified and risen Christ” (H. Martensen). Only where supernatural regeneration is experienced is a decisive blow dealt to the old nature. “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3.3; cf. Galatians 2.20; 6.14-15). Only as the new man is put on is the old man put off (Ephesians 4.22-23). And only one who loves God and his fellow men, in this context, can govern his life by the evangelical moderation of the self, since it now becomes obvious – as, formerly, it was not – that the love of God and of neighbor as one’s self is the exact equivalent of biblical self-denial. The Scriptures do not merely hint at this position, but they state it plainly in the strongest possible way. To “find” one’s life on the basis of the old nature is, ultimately, to “lose” life. To lose the old life is really to gain life by the new. To exalt the old self means ultimate self-humiliation. To humble the old self leads to a self-exaltation fitting one for a felicitous destiny (Matthew 20.16; 23.12; Mark 10.31; Luke 14.11; 18.14; 22.27). One of the great lessons that Jesus taught His disciples was personal humility, a virtue nowhere so impressed on human experience as by the new birth. The disciples were greatly concerned, on one occasion, about their rank in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18.1-6). Jesus set a child in their midst and spoke of conversion.
From: Christian Personal Ethics by Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), p. 394.
Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003) was a conservative Baptist theologian and writer. He was, among other things, a member of the founding faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary (1947) and founding editor of “Christianity Today” magazine (1956).
The eternal beauty of the One true God is most wonderfully concentrated in the Son of His love, in whose face we see the heart of the Father revealed (John 14.5-13). Christ comes as God made man in order to show us who God is and, in so doing, to save us and to renew the entire cosmos, which was His creation to begin with (John 1.3). God the eternal Son, who was made flesh by miraculous divine action in the womb of the chosen Jewish maiden, the virgin, Mary, finds His essential identity precisely as eternal God. He is God the Son. He has a Father, the Lord God Almighty, with whom and in whom, in the ineffable bond of charity of the Holy Spirit, He mutually indwells and coinheres, one of three coequal, undivided, and yet distinct divine persons within the one being of God.
From: Systematic Theology: Grounded in Holy Scripture and Understood in the Light of the Church: Volume 2: The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision by Douglas F. Kelly (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2014), p. 13. The above quotation is the very first paragraph of the main text.
In the summer of 387, living with Monica at Rome during what was to be the last year of her life, Augustine began a substantial and complex treatise “on the origin of evil and on free choice” (“De libero arbitrio”), a work which he finally completed six or seven years later. The critique of Manichee dualism and determinism led him to lay strong emphasis on the will. That it had a central position in every ethical action, he demonstrated by appealing to the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, self-control, and courage. Virtue depends on right and rational choices and, therefore, happiness lies in loving goodness of will. By contrast, misery is the product of an evil will. And evil originated in a misused free choice which neglected eternal goodness, beauty, and truth.
From: Augustine: A Very Short Introduction by Henry Chadwick; “Very Short Introductions” series (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 40. Previously published in 1986.
I am trying to fish in deep waters after some of you who have long escaped the net. I know that, when I have given full and free invitations, you have said, “Ah! That cannot mean me.” You are without faith in Christ because you think you are not fit. I will be clear of your blood this morning. I will show you that there is no fitness wanted, that you are commanded, now, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as you are, for Jesus Christ’s gospel is an available gospel and comes to you just where you are. Without moral or mental qualification and without any sort of reason why He should save you, He meets you as such and bids you trust Him. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), excerpt from a sermon, “Good News for You” (Luke 10.33).
I have also consulted the older translations of the “Institutes,” namely those of Norton, Allen, and Beveridge, in view of both the accuracy of those translations and the relationship in which they stand to the older or “pre-critical” text tradition of Calvin’s original. Both in its apparatus and in its editorial approach to the text, the McNeill-Battles translation suffers from the mentality of the text-critic who hides the original ambience of the text even as he attempts to reveal all of its secrets to the modern reader.
From: The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition by Richard A. Muller; “Oxford Studies in Historical Theology” series (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. ix.
Richard A. Muller (born in 1948) is probably the most important church historian and historical theologian working today.
Note: “Institutes” refers to Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, one of the most important Christian books ever published (as recognized even by secular scholars). I chose to highlight the Henry Beveridge translation of the Institutes (1845) of the three English translations listed in the text because it is, of the older translations, the one that is the most readily available for modern readers.