This morning my son Jonathan sent me this encouraging paragraph by a pastor of pastors, John Newton; may it encourage you as well. d


March 18, 1767.

I can truly say, that I bear you upon my heart and in my prayers. I have rejoiced to see the beginning of a good and gracious work in you; and I have confidence in the Lord Jesus, that He will carry it on and complete it; and that you will be amongst the number of those who shall sing redeeming love to eternity.

Therefore fear none of the things appointed for you to suffer by the way, but gird up the loins of your mind, and hope to the end. Be not impatient, but wait humbly upon the Lord.

You have one hard lesson to learn, that is, the evil of your own heart: you know something of it, but it is needful that you should know more; for the more we know of ourselves, the more we shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience will humble you, but not discourage you; humble you it should, and I believe it does. Are not you amazed sometimes that you should have so much as a hope that, poor and needy as you are, the Lord thinks of you?

But let not all you feel discourage you; for if our Physician is almighty, our disease cannot be desperate; and if He casts none out that come to Him, why should you fear? Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power.

Most of our complaints are owing to unbelief, and to the remainder of a legal spirit; and these evils are not removed in a day.

Wait on the Lord, and He will enable you to see more and more of the power and grace of our High Priest. The more you know Him, the better you will trust Him; the more you trust Him, the better you will love Him; the more you love Him, the better you will serve Him.

This is God’s way: you are not called to buy, but to beg; not to be strong in yourself, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He is teaching you these things, and I trust He will teach you to the end.

Remember, the growth of a believer is not like a mushroom, but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed, but surely. Many suns, showers, and frosts pass upon it before it comes to perfection; and in winter, when it seems dead, it is gathering strength at the root.

Be humble, watchful, and diligent in the means of grace, and endeavour to look through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus, and all shall be well.

I commend you to the care of the good Shepherd, and remain, for His sake,

Yours, &c.

John Newton

Now, let me also offer a word of exhortation to those who are married and espoused to Christ. All I will say is this: O let Christ’s Bride live on him, and take all from him! Like a poor woman married to a rich man, she lives upon his riches. Many people are prepared to say, “If Christ will call us his Bride, we will live on ourselves: We will pray, repent, believe, etc.” But the Bride of Christ must get all these things in him, and take all from him, and live wholly on him, and freely on him. When Joseph’s brethren did not recognize him, they were buying and selling with him; they would take nothing from him without offering money. But when they realized he was a brother, despite all the offenses they had committed against him, they were content to come down, every man of them, and take all from him for nothing. And this is the way we must take with Christ when we are married to him. We must not, with the legalist, have repentance and duties of our own. No, we must take everything from him, who is the repository of all divine fullness. In this matter, the believer’s part is simply to receive, out of that fullness,  grace upon grace.

–Ralph Erskine

The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the certainty thereof, which God has most abundantly revealed in His Word, for the glory of His Name and the consolation of pious souls, and which He impresses upon the hearts of the believers. Satan abhors it, the world ridicules it, the ignorant and hypocritical abuse it, and the heretics oppose it. But the bride of Christ has always most tenderly loved and constantly defended it as an inestimable treasure; and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will dispose her so to continue to the end. Now to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

The Lord is not delaying his promise in the way some people think about delays,

but is longsuffering toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

(1 Peter 5:9)


Here is a thoughtful theological note from the editors of the NET Bible, one that not only sheds light on a difficult text, but also carries us deeper into the heart of God, teaching us to love all, be patient with all, and desire that all might be saved.


This verse has been a battleground between Arminians and Calvinists. The former argue that God wants all people to be saved, but either through inability or restriction of his own sovereignty does not interfere with peoples’ wills. Some of the latter argue that the “any” here means “any of you” and that all the elect will repent before the return of Christ, because this is God’s will.

Both of these positions have problems. The “any” in this context means “any of you.” (This can be seen by the dependent participle which gives the reason why the Lord is patient “toward you.”) There are hints throughout this letter that the readership may be mixed, including both true believers and others who are “sitting on the fence” as it were. But to make the equation of this readership with the elect is unlikely. This would seem to require, in its historical context, that all of these readers would be saved. But not all who attend church know the Lord or will know the Lord. Simon the Magician, whom Peter had confronted in Acts 8, is a case in point. This is evident in contemporary churches when a pastor addresses the congregation as “brothers, sisters, saints, etc.,” yet concludes the message with an evangelistic appeal. When an apostle or pastor addresses a group as “Christian” he does not necessarily think that every individual in the congregation is truly a Christian.

Thus, the literary context seems to be against the Arminian view, while the historical context seems to be against (one representation of) the Calvinist view.

The answer to this conundrum is found in the term “wish” (a participle in Greek from the verb boulomai). It often represents a mere wish, or one’s desiderative will, rather than one’s resolve or purpose. Unless God’s will is viewed on the two planes of his desiderative and decretive will (what he desires and what he decrees), hopeless confusion will result. The scriptures amply illustrate both that God sometimes decrees things that he does not desire and desires things that he does not decree. It is not that his will can be thwarted, nor that he has limited his sovereignty. But the mystery of God’s dealings with humanity is best seen if this tension is preserved. Otherwise, either God will be perceived as good but impotent or as a sovereign taskmaster. Here the idea that God does not wish for any to perish speaks only of God’s desiderative will, without comment on his decretive will.

In opposition to (the Roman Catholic view), our forefathers not only maintained that a man is justified by faith, but that he ought to know that he is justified, and that such knowledge is the great root of a holy life. It started a man upon a happy life, because it relieved him from the burden of doubt and the gloom of uncertainty. It made his religion bright and tranquil, because it sprang so sweetly from the certainty of his reconciliation to God. It delivered him from the cruel suspense and undefined fears which the lack of assurance always carries with it.

Moreover, it rescued him from every temptation to pride, presumption, and self-righteousness, because it did not arise from any good thing in himself, but drew him away from himself to Christ–from what he was doing, to what Christ had done. Thus did it make Christ, not self, the basis and center of his new being. It made him more and more dissatisfied with self and all that self contained, but more and more satisfied with Jesus and his fullness. It taught him to rest his confidence toward God, not on his satisfaction with self, or on the development of his own holiness, or on the amount of his graces and prayers and doings, but simply on the completed work of Him with whom God is well pleased. – Horatius Bonar

Note: To read the article from which this excellent quote is taken, click here.