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Tim Challies

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Quotes

June 12, 2011

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

June 05, 2011

Hudson TaylorOver the weekend I have been reading Vance Christie’s account of the life of Hudson Taylor (Hudson Taylor: Gospel Pioneer to China). This is, to my recollection, the first biography of Taylor I have ever read. Missionary biographies always give me a lot to consider and this one has been no exception. As with so many missionaries, and perhaps especially missionaries of that era, Taylor suffered greatly, eventually burying his first wife and four of their young children in China. One of the most heart-rending portions of the book is when his beloved eight-year-old daughter Grace, who seems to have had a precocious faith for a child of that age, very suddenly developed a high fever and was diagnosed with meningitis.

A few days after Grace was taken ill, and when it was clear that she was dying, Hudson wrote to his friend William Berger.

I know not how to write or how to refrain. I seem to be writing, almost, from the inner chamber of the King of kings. Surely this is holy ground. I am trying to pen a few lines by the couch on which my darling little Gracie lies dying. Her complaint is hydrocephalus. Dear brother, our flesh and our heart fail, but God is the strength of our heart and our portion for ever.

It was no vain nor unintelligent act when, knowing this land, its people and climate, I laid my wife and children, with myself, on the altar for this service. And He Whom so unworthily, with much of weakness and failure, yet in simplicity and godly sincerity, we are and have been seeking to serve, and not without some measure of success—He has not left us now.

Grace developed pneumonia and died about a week later. The next month Hudson, still grieving, wrote to his mother.

Except when diverted from it by the duties and necessities of our position, our torn hearts will revert to the one subject, and I know now how to write to you of any other. Our dear little Gracie! How we miss her sweet voice in the morning, one of the first sounds to greet us when we woke—and through the day and at eventide! As I take the walks I used to take with her tripping at my side, the thought comes anew like a throb of agony, ‘Is it possible that I shall never more feel the pressure of that little hand, never more hear the sweet prattle of those dear lips, never more see the sparkle of those bright eyes?’ And yet she is not lost. I would not have her back again. I am thankful she was taken, rather than any of the others, though she was the sunshine of our lives…. But she is far holier, far happier than she could ever have been here.

Hudson counted the cost when he took the gospel to a foreign land. The cost was excruciatingly high, but Hudson was sustained by the One who sent him.

May 29, 2011

Holiness
The holiness of God is his glory and crown. It is the blessedness of his nature. It renders him glorious in himself, and glorious to his creatures. “Holy” is more fixed as an epithet to his name than any other. This is his greatest title of honor. He is pure and unmixed light, free from all blemish in his essence, nature, and operations. He cannot be deformed by any evil. The notion of God cannot be entertained without separating from him whatever is impure and staining. Though he is majestic, eternal, almighty, wise, immutable, merciful, and whatsoever other prefections may dignify so sovereign a being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection, and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before.

May 22, 2011

There has been lots to learn in reading Iain Murray’s soon-to-be-released biography of John MacArthur. A couple of days ago I read the chapter that looks at MacArthur’s wife, Patricia. Here Murray turns to John Watson and Charles Spurgeon as they speak of the value of a godly wife in the ministry of a pastor. Here is just a small portion of what he says:


If whom we marry is the next most important thing to conversion itself, it is doubly so for every pastor. John Watson, advising students for the ministry at this point, warned that of all men “they ought to be most careful in the choice of a wife, for she may be either a help or a hindrance not merely to his comfort but to his work.” A good wife, he continued,

advises her husband on every important matter, and often restrains him from hasty speech … receives him weary, discouraged, irritable, and sends him out again strong, hopeful, sweet-tempered. The woman is in the shadow and the man stands in the open, and it is not until the woman dies and the man is left alone that the people or he himself knows what she has been.

MacArthur would have no doubt about the truthfulness of Watson’s words. He would go further and say with Spurgeon,

A true wife is the husband’s better half, his flower of beauty, and his heart’s treasure. In her company he finds his earthly heaven; she is the light of his home, the comfort of his soul.

May 15, 2011

I found the following quote on Paul Martin’s blog. Paul is my colleague at Grace Fellowship Church so I’m sure he won’t mind if I “borrow” this quote. After all, I read this commentary long before he did. This comes from Richard Phillips’ commentary on Hebrews. And more precisely, it comes from Phillips comments on chapter 11. And even more precisely, it comes from the comments on verses 23 and following where the author of Hebrews turns his attention to Moses.

These are encouraging words.

This is how we pass on the faith to our children: by our words, but more pointedly by our actions. Children are either hardened by the hypocrisy of their parents, or like Moses they are inspired by the consistency between word and deed. If we are unforgiving with our children and show an unwillingness to admit our sins, then we communicate a lack of grace to them. If we spend all our money on ourselves, begrudging the church or those in need, or if we speak harshly of people, seeming to rejoice in their failures and follies, then we communicate a religion other than that of Christianity.  But when we are quick to repent and ready to forgive, when we trust the Lord for our own provision and give freely to others, and when we speak graciously of other sinners … we show our children our belief in a God who is merciful and kind and mighty to save.

May 13, 2011

I bookmarked this a while back and for some reason forgot to post it. It’s well worth a read. Walt Mueller writes a brief review of Tim Chester’s book Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free and then says this:

Chester offers up five key ingredients that must be present and in place for someone to win the battle with pornography.

1. An abhorrence of porn. You have to hate porn itself (not just the shame it brings), and long for change.

2. You must adore God. Why? Because we can be confident that He offers more than porn.

3. You must be assured of God’s grace. You are loved by God and are right with God through faith in the work of Jesus.

4. You must avoid temptation. Be committed to do all you in your power to avoid temptation, starting with the controls on your computer.

5. You must be accountable to others. You need a community of Christians who are holding you accountable and supporting you in your struggle.

Tim Chester never claims it’s easy. This isn’t a “take these five steps and everything will be just fine” treatment. No, life is messy. And Tim Chester is writing about a messy battle. It’s a battle we must understand, engage in, and fight with long-suffering intensity.

Indeed.

May 08, 2011

As I was studying this week, in preparation for the sermon I preached this morning, I came across some interesting quotes from John MacArthur. MacArthur has been preaching about Genesis 3:16 and the consequence of the woman’s sin. And along the way he pauses to celebrate the impact of godly mothers. This seemed rather appropriate for Mother’s Day. So here it is.


I think about Susanna Wesley, wife of a pastor and mother of 19 children. She’s gone down in Christian history as one of the greatest mothers. Here are some of her rules. Here are the rules she kept. No child was to be given a thing because he cried for it. If a child wanted to cry, cry softly. Nineteen children and it says, in her house was rarely heard loud cries. Second rule, no eating and drinking between meals except when sick. Rule number three, sleeping was also regulated. When very small the child was given three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. This was shortened until no sleeping was allowed during the daytime to be productive. Four, punctually the little ones were laid in the cradle and rocked to sleep. At seven P.M. each child was put to bed, at 8 P.M. she left the room. She never allowed herself to sit by the bed until the children went to sleep. The little ones, fifthly, had their own table near the main table. When they could handle fork and knife they were promoted to the family table. That is a great idea. Sixth, each one must eat and drink everything before him. Seventh, children must address each other as sister and brother. Eighth, she never allowed herself to show through her ill temper or by scolding, she would always explain and explain. Listen, she spent one day each…pardon me, one hour each day shut up with God alone in her room praying for every one of her children. And her two sons under God brought revival to England while France was bathed in a bloody war. We know about John Wesley, but maybe behind all of that was a godly mother, surely that’s true.

G. Campbell Morgan, that great preacher said, quote: “My dedication to the preaching of the Word was maternal. Mother never told it to the baby or the boy, but waited. When but eight years old I preached to my little sister and to her dolls arrayed in orderly form before me, my sermons were Bible stories which I had first heard from my mother.” And G. Campbell Morgan, by the way, had four sons, all four of whom became preachers. And on one occasion when G. Campbell Morgan was explaining all the preachers in his family, someone said to him, “Who is the greatest preacher in your family?” And he replied without hesitation, “My mother.”

Joseph Parker once said that when Robert Moffat was added to the Kingdom of God, a whole continent was added as well and a mother’s kiss did it. Charles Spurgeon’s father once told Dr. Ford, an American minister, how when he had been taken away from home a good deal trying to build up congregations, there came a conviction that he was neglecting the religious training of his own children. So he decided that he would preach less. On returning home he opened the door and was surprised to find none of the children around the hall. Ascending the stairs he heard his wife’s voice and knew that she was engaged in prayer. One by one she named the children. When she had finished her petition and instruction, Spurgeon said, “I can go on with my work, the children are well cared for.”

May 01, 2011

The following quote comes from the pen of Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889), the great Scottish preacher, poet, author and hymn writer (and probably other stuff too). It talks about the true nature of belief in God. Read it and then take a couple of minutes to ponder it.

*****

In all unbelief there are these two things—a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.

But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?

Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!

April 25, 2011

I continue to read Russell Moore’s book Tempted and Tried. And it continues to give me a lot to think about (which may be a bit of an understatement). I really found this section worth pondering—a section that speaks of the allure and satanic triumph of pornography.

In our time pornography has become the destroying angel of male Eros. I don’t mean to suggest that pornography is only a male temptation (it is not), but pornography, because of the way a man has been designed toward arousal is, when available, a universal male temptation. It has come to the point now that whenever I meet with a couple in which there is a man who is an emotional shell of himself—dead to intimacy with his wife—and a marriage is fraying apart, I ask how long the pornography has been going on. In every case it’s there.

There is a kind of helplessness that a man engaged in pornography exhibits. He often speaks of it in terms of a “struggle” or an “addiction.” Now both of those terms are accurate, I believe, but they distance a person from his sin in a soul-decaying manner. Pornography is not just an addiction; it is occultism. The man who sits upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs the kids to soccer practice is not some unusual “pervert”; he is (like his forefather Adam) seeking the mystery of the universe apart from Christ. That’s the reason the one picture, stored in his memory, of that naked woman will never be enough for him. He will never be able to be satisfied because he will never be able to get an image naked enough.

I say pornography is occultism because I believe the draw toward it is more than biological (though that is strong). The satanic powers understand the “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). They understand that the pornographic act severs a one-flesh marriage union at the very point of intimate connectedness and instead joins Christ, spiritually, to an electronic prostitute (1 Cor. 6:16). They also know that those who unrepentantly practice such things “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Pornography is, in one sense, no different from any other form of sexual temptation. But in another sense it is even more insidious. Pornography brings with it a kind of pseudo-repentance. Immediately after it is “over,” the participant feels a kind of revulsion and self-loathing. Whereas an adulterer or a fornicator can at least rationalize a kind of transcendent “love” behind his sin, even a conscience thoroughly seared over rarely wants to write love songs or poetry in celebration of his pornographic self-satisfaction.

Typically—at least in those who have some sort of Christian or moral identity—the pornographic act is followed by a resolve never to do it again, to leave it behind and find some sort of accountability. But what masquerades as a repentant conscience is in most cases little more than a sated appetite. When the appetite is “hungry” once again, the demonic powers will collaborate with the biological impulses to find a way to make it seem irresistible again. As the cycle of temptation grinds on, the illusion of repentance keeps the sin in hiding, so that actual repentance never happens until, as with Esau, the conscience is so seared that repentance is then impossible (Heb. 6:4-6, 12:16-17).

And this is, of course, exactly where the powers want any child of Adam—and especially any professing brother or sister of the Lord Jesus.

I suppose this quote has been long enough. Moore goes on to show how this temptation aligns with one of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. And from there he speaks about romance novels, perhaps the closest female equivalent to the allure of pornography. But to read about that, you’ll need to buy the book (Amazon | Westminster).

April 24, 2011

I had something queued up to post this afternoon. But then I read some blogs and found “A Prayer of Great Joy for Easter Sunday” by Scotty Smith. I took the liberty of copying and pasting it. It is a prayer of celebration, on this, the day we remember and celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:20-26).
 
Most exalted and loving Jesus, I offer a three-fold “Indeed!” and a three-fold “Hallelujah!” early this morning. You have been raised from the dead! Preaching the gospel is not useless, it’s essential. Faith in you is not futile, but fertile. We’re no longer encased in our sins, we’re fully wrapped in your righteousness. Those who have “gone to sleep” in you are not slumbering in the void, they are celebrating your glory. We have hope in this life and for the life to come!

Because you are alive, we are less to be pitied than anybody and more to be grateful than everybody. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). Because you have been raised from the dead, everything changes, Jesus. You are the firstfruits and guarantee of a whole new order—the “new creation” dominion of redemption and restoration. The decay in our earthly bodies will give way to the delights of our resurrection bodies.

The kingdom of this world has become, and will be fully manifest, as the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, you! (Rev. 11:15) You are already reigning, and you will reign forever and ever. All evil dominions, wicked authorities and malevolent powers have already been defeated by your cross and, one Day they will be completely eradicated at your return.

Jesus, your death is the death of death, and your resurrection is the resurrection of all things. O the wonder, the glory, the grace of it all! By your compelling love, free us from the emptiness of living for ourselves. Bring your resurrection power to bear in our homes, churches and communities. Capture our children early and re-capture our hearts when they drift. May the rest of our days be spent for your glory and financed by your gospel. (2 Cor. 5:14-15). So very Amen, we pray, shout and dance, in your most glorious and worthy name!

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