As the perseverance of the saints yields a most powerful comfort, it is likewise a powerful motive for sanctification. Opposing parties, being neither acquainted with the nature of grace nor the possessors of grace, are of the opinion that this doctrine renders men carless. The contrary is true, however. There is nothing that moves man so sweetly and purely unto sanctification as grace and the permanency of this grace, for the love of God kindles the love of those whom He loves. ‘We love Him, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). The steadfast hope and sure expectation of salvation is a powerful incentive unto holiness. ‘And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure’ (1 John 3:3)” (Wilhelmus á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 4, 299).
We read to know that human beings are hopelessly predictable, to know that we’re not alone, and to realize that the best and worst of times don’t last. Reading is essential to an understanding that investing will never be reduced to mathematical models, that it is and forever will be a social science. Most important, it should help you steer clear of trouble (Jason DeSena Trennert, My Side of the Street, 189).
Since spiritual life originates in heaven, it will always gravitate toward heaven. God is not only the cause of spiritual life, but also the object of its motions. God Himself is all the delight, pleasure, and joy of the regenerate man. He cannot be without God. He wishes for and must enjoy the light of God’s countenance, peace with God, and love and communion with God. Due to being united to God, he wishes to be united with His will, and thus to hate and shun what He hates, and to find delight in and in doing whatever God delights in and is pleasing to Him (Wilhelmus á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 2, The Church and Salvation, 251).
The health and wholeness of our human relationships find their source in the wholeness of our relationship with the Lord through Jesus. I might add that strength, wisdom, and love for others are fueled by the vitality of our life in the Lord. His work on our behalf enables us to grow in our relationships not only with our God, but also with others, especially our wives and children (Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader at Home, 19).
As for the order and decree of bishops superior to that of elders, that there is no divine ordinance nor institution for it, it is not only held by Calvin, Beza, Bucer, Martyr, Sadeel, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Balduin, the Magdeburgians, Musculus, Piscator, Hemmingius, Zanchius, Polanus, Junius, Paraeus, Fenner, Danaeus, Morney, Whittaker, Willet, Perkins, Cartwright, the Professors of Leyden, and the far greatest part of writers in reformed churches, but also by Jerome, who, upon Titus 1, and in his epistle to Evagrius, speaks so plainly, that the Archbishop of Spalato is driven to say, “in this sense we are abandoning Jerome, and we are not in agreement with him in these pronouncements”; also by Ambrose on 1 Tim. 3; Augustine in his Book of Questions out of both Testaments, Quest. 101; Chrysostom on 1 Tim. 3; Isidore (dist. 21, cap. 1); the Canon Law (dist. 93, cap. 24; dist. 95, cap. 5); Lombard (lib. 4, dist. 24). And after him, by many schoolmen, such as Aquinas, Alensis, Albert, Bonadventura, Richardus, and Dominic de Soto, all mentioned by the Archbishop of Spalato. Gerhard cites for the same judgment, Anselm, Sedulius, Primasius, Theophlact, Oecumenius, the Council of Basil, Arelatensis, Joh. Parisiensis, Erasmus, Medina, and Cassander, all which authors have grounded that which they say upon Scripture; for besides that Scripture makes no difference of order and degree between bishops and elders, it shows also that they are one and the same order. For in Ephesus and Crete, they who were made elders were likewise made bishops (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7). And the apostle divides the whole ministry in the church of Philippi into two orders, bishops and deacons, but says nothing of a third order (1 Tim. 3). Wherefore it is manifest, that beside those two orders of elders and deacons, there is no other ecclesiastical order which has any divine institution, or necessary use in the church; and princes should do well to apply their power and authority to the extirpation and rooting out of popes, cardinals, patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops, suffragans, abbots, deans, vice-deans, priors, archdeacons, subdeacons, abbots, chancellors, chantors, subchantors, exorcists, monks, eremites, acolytes, and all the rabble of popish orders, which undo the church, and work mischief in the earth that can be either soon seen or shortly told (George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, 313-315).
Secondly, That the will of God to which our obedience is required is the revealed will of God contained in his word; whose compliance with his decree is such, that hence we learn three things tending to the execution of it:
First, That it is the condition of the word of God, and the dispensation thereof, instantly to persuade to faith and obedience.
Secondly, That it is our duty by all means to aspire to the performance of all things by it enjoined, and our fault if we do not.
Thirdly, That God by these means will accomplish his eternal decree of saving his elect; and that he willeth the salvation of others, inasmuch as he calleth them unto the performance of the condition thereof.
Now, our obedience is so to be regulated by this revealed will of God, that we may sin either by omission against its precepts or commission against its prohibitions; although by our so omitting or committing of anything the secret will or purpose of God be fulfilled. Had Abraham disobeyed God’s precept, when he was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac, though God’s will had been accomplished thereby, who never intended it, yet Abraham had grievously sinned against the revealed will of God, the rule of his duty. The holiness of our actions consisteth in a conformity unto His precepts, and not unto His purposes. On this ground Gregory affirmeth, “That many fulfil the will of God” (that is, his intentions) “when they think to change it” (by transgressing his precepts); “and by resisting imprudently, obey God’s purpose.”
And to show how merely we in our actions are tied to this rule of our duty, St Augustine shows how a man may do good in a thing cross to God’s secret will, and evil in that which complieth with it, which he illustrates by the example of a sick parent having two children, the one wicked, who desires his father’s death, the other godly, and he prays for his life. But the will of God is he [the father] shall die, agreeably to the desire of the wicked child; and yet it is the other who hath performed his duty, and done what is pleasing unto God. (Works of John Owen, Vol. 10, 48-49).
After his always strikingly appropriate opening prayer had been offered, and we had been settled back into our seats, he would open his well thumbed Greek Testament–on which it was plain that there was not a single marginal note–look at the passage for a second, and then throwing his head back, and closing his eyes, begin his exposition. He scarcely again glanced at the Testament during the hour, the text was evidently before his mind, verbally, and the matter of his exposition thoroughly at his command. In an unbroken stream it flowed from subject to subject, simple, clear, cogent, unfailingly reverent. Now and then he would pause a moment to insert an illustrative anecdote–now and then lean forward suddenly with tearful, wide-open eyes, to press home a quick-risen inference of the love of God to lost sinners. But the web of his discourse–for a discourse it really was–was calm, critical and argumentative [source].
In His sovereignty God has bound Himself to impart His grace not on account of our use of the means, but along the route of the means that He has prescribed for us (Herman Bavinck, Saved By Grace, 102).
Nature and grace are distinct, yet they do not stand detached from one another. The same God who regenerates His elect in Christ through the Holy Spirit is the one who, as Creator and Sustainer, cares for them and leads them also to the moment when He visits them with His grace. Therefore the means of grace are not superfluous; and how we make use of them is not an insignificant matter. . . . For grace is imparted by means of warnings; and to the degree that we perform our obligation readily, to that degree will the benefit of God who works in us be the more excellent (154).
The Christians’ moral life has faith as its root, the law as its rule, and the honor of God as its goal (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3., 528).