We must acknowledge that we have a great tendency towards false doctrine and error. Not only this, but we lust increasingly so toward the fashioning of new religious ideas. This constant pursuit of ours to change truth to suit our passions and wants is evidence that we need a Word that we cannot change and is unchangeable. Scripture written is there to keep us from error and falsehood. So stay close to the Word and receive it for what it truly is – the Word of God.
Calvin says (Inst. I.2.3) that “if religion is absent from the life of men, they are then in no wise superior to brute beasts, but are in many respects far more miserable. Subject, then, to so many forms of wickedness, they drag out their lives in ceaseless tumult and disquiet. Therefore, it is worship of God alone that renders men higher than the brutes, and through it alone they aspire to immortality.”
Ought we not to pity the unbeliever then all the more and beg God to save sinners (such as we once were)?
Calvin points out in his commentary on the Psalms (Psalm 5) that, “it is only through the goodness of God that we have access to him; and that no man prays aright but he who, having experienced his grace, believes and is fully persuaded that he will be merciful to him.”
Calvin points out quite rightly in his Institutes (Prefatory Address, p. 17, Battles edition) that Satan too, has his miracles which are nothing but deceitful tricks rather than true powers. They are of the kind that lead simple-minded and untutored folk astray. He then says that magicians and enchanters have always been noted for miracles, and idolatry is nourished by these so-called miracles. He concludes with these words,“What shall we say except that it has always been, and ever will be, a very just punishment of God to ‘send to those’ who have not received the love of the truth ‘a strong delusion to make them believe a lie'” (2 Thess. 2:11).
Is it any wonder that many seek miracles today as proof for their faith? What faith can it really be? Faith requires no miracle. Faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Note those words, ‘assurance’ and ‘conviction’. Can God do miracles? Of course he can. Does God do miracles? No doubt he does everyday. But not the miracles the modern seeker of wonders desires. So beware of those who run after signs and wonders. They are not necessary for faith. Rather, if God in his grace should reveal himself in such a way to us, they are cause for worship and submission, for encouragement and endurance of and in the faith.
Shame is an essential element in true repentance. Thomas Watson says that, “blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing: ‘I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face,’ Ezra 9:6).”
True repentance is always painful and sorrowful, but it is true. We need to recover the art of blushing in church life, private life, business life and cultural life.
Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance (Banner of Truth, p. 39)