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Quotes

March 11, 2012

This quote from J.C. Ryle seems more than a little appropriate to read and ponder on this, the Lord’s Day. Today we go to hear the Word of God read and preached and on this day, more than any other, we have opportunity to work on applying it to our lives. Is the Bible the Word of God? Then…

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then mind that you do not neglect it. Read it! Begin to read it this very day. What greater insult to God can a man be guilty of than to refuse to read the letter God sends him from heaven? Oh, be sure, if you will not read your Bible, you are in fearful danger of losing your soul!

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure you always read it with deep reverence. Say to your soul, whenever you open the Bible, “O my soul, you are going to read a message from God!”

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure you never read it without fervent prayer for the help and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Humble prayer will throw more light on your Bible than any commentary that ever was written. You will not understand it unless your heart is right. You will find it a sealed book without the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Its contents are often hidden from the wise and learned, and revealed to babes.

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then let us all resolve from this day forward to prize the Bible more. God has given us the Bible to be a light to guide us to everlasting life. Let us not neglect this precious gift. Let us read it diligently, and walk in its light.

March 04, 2012

Here is a beautiful and powerful quote from John Owen who calls on you to rejoice in the love of God (It is taken from Communion with the Triune God). Owen says rightly that knowing and believing God’s love is the key to delighting in him. But he says it much better than that.

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

February 26, 2012

This seemed like a pertinent quote for a Sunday morning. As we head to church and listen to the preaching of the Word, I’m sure it will be profitable to think just a moment about the unction of the Holy Spirit. This quote comes from Charles Spurgeon’s An All-Round Ministry.

One thing more, and it is this. Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distill from you, and spread itself in every direction; — we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light.

February 19, 2012

This morning I found myself looking back through some of my old notes on Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections. It is such a dense and sweet book; I found so many powerful quotes and just had to share a few of them with you. (Each paragraph is its own quote, entirely disconnected from the one that follows.)

There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better principle than pride. A man may be forward to expose himself to the dislike of the world, and even to provoke their displeasure, out of pride. For it is the nature of spiritual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity; and so oftentimes to set themselves at war with those that they call carnal, that they may be more highly exalted among their party.

The Scripture knows of no such true Christians, as are of a sordid, selfish, cross and contentious spirit. Nothing can be invented that is a greater absurdity than a morose, hard, close, high-spirited, spiteful, true Christian. We must learn the way of bringing men to rules, and not rules to men, straining and stretching the rules of God’s word to take in ourselves, and some of our neighbors, until we make them wholly of none effect.

Holy persons, in the exercise of holy affections, do love divine things primarily for their holiness. They love God, in the first place, for the beauty of His holiness or moral perfection, as being supremely amiable in itself. Not that the saints, in the exercise of gracious affections, do love God only for His holiness; all His attributes are amiable and glorious in their eyes; they delight in every divine perfection; the contemplation of the infinite greatness, power, and knowledge, and terrible majesty of God, is pleasant to them. But their love to God for His holiness is what is most fundamental and essential in their love. Here it is that true love to God begins; all other holy love to divine things flows from hence.

A holy love has a holy object. The holiness of love consists especially in this, that it is the love of that which is holy, for its holiness.

A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discoveries of the sweet glory of God and Christ, has his mind too much captivated and engaged by what he views without himself, to stand at that time to view himself, and his own attainments. It would be a diversion and loss which he could not bear, to take his eye off from the ravishing object of his contemplation, to survey his own experience, and to spend time in thinking with himself. What a high attainment this is, and what a good story I now have to tell others!

February 12, 2012

As I was sorting through some books today, I came across a volume by Philip Schaff. As I thought of him, I just had to go looking for this quote, the one that more than any other, has outlasted him.

Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and schools combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke words of life such as never were spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of any orator or poet; without writing a single line, He has set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and sweet songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger, and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe. There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astonishing success in spite of the absence of those material, social, literary, and artistic powers and influences which are indispensable to success for a mere man.

February 05, 2012

I love this quote from A.W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God. Employing some wonderful prose, particularly near the end of the quote, he does battle with those who claim to be Christians but who show very little evidence in their lives. He describes the sweeping nature of what Christ accomplishes in giving new life.

The new birth is very, very much more than simply shedding a few tears due to a temporary remorse over sin. It is far more than changing our course of life, the leaving off of bad habits and the substituting of good ones. It is something different from the mere cherishing and practising of noble ideals. It goes infinitely deeper than coming forward to take some popular evangelist by the hand, signing a pledge-card, or “joining the church.” The new birth is no mere turning over a new leaf but is the inception and reception of a new life. It is no mere reformation but a complete transformation. In short, the new birth is a miracle, the result of the supernatural operation of God. It is radical, revolutionary, lasting.

Here then is the first thing, in time, which God does in His own elect. He lays hold of those who are spiritually dead and quickens them into newness of life. He takes up one who was shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, and conforms him to the image of His Son. He seizes a captive of the Devil and makes him a member of the household of faith. He picks up a beggar and makes him joint-heir with Christ. He comes to one who is full of enmity against Him and gives him a new heart that is full of love for Him. He stoops to one who by nature is a rebel and works in him both to will and to do of His own good pleasure. By His irresistible power He transforms a sinner into a saint, an enemy into a friend, a slave of the Devil into a child of God.

January 29, 2012

Francis Schaeffer coined some interesting terms—things like true truth and nothing nothing. He wasn’t just being silly; he was making important statements about the world. Here, from He Is There And He Is Not Silent is his description of nothing nothing.

We are considering existence, the fact that something is there. Remember Jean-Paul Sartre’s statement that the basic philosophic question is that something is there rather than nothing being there. The first basic answer is that everything that exists has come out of absolutely nothing. In other words, you begin with nothing. Now, to hold this view, it must be absolutely nothing. It must be what I call nothing nothing. It cannot be nothing something or something nothing. If one is to accept this answer, it must be nothing nothing, which means there must be no energy, no mass, no motion, and no personality.

My description of nothing nothing runs like this. Suppose we had a very black blackboard which had never been used. On this blackboard we drew a circle, and inside that circle there was everything that was — and there was nothing within the circle. Then we erase the circle. This is nothing nothing. You must not let anybody say he is giving an answer beginning with nothing and then really begin with something: energy, mass, motion, or personality. That would be something, and something is not nothing.

The truth is I have never heard this argument sustained, for it is unthinkable that all that now is has come out of utter nothing. But theoretically, that is the first possible answer.

January 22, 2012

I little while ago, while studying Paul’s first letter to Timothy, I came across a great little section of Philip Ryken’s commentary and I thought I’d share it with you. Ryken comments on 1 Timothy 1:17, those verses that inspired a classic hymn of the Christian faith: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” Here is what Ryken says:

*****

Demetrius was right to be worried. The Ephesian silversmith made shrines for the goddess Artemis, and what kept him up at night—worrying about his job security—was the rapid growth of Christianity in his city.

Up until a missionary named Paul arrived, the silver trade in Ephesus had been rather lucrative. The worship of Artemis “brought no little business to the craftsmen” (Acts 19:24). But Christianity meant the end of idolatry, and this posed a threat to their livelihood. So Demetrius called the silversmiths together and said:

Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship. (Acts 19:25-27)

The silversmiths wanted to defend the honor and majesty of their queen. More importantly, they wanted to keep their jobs. So “when they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ So the city was filled with the confusion” (Acts 19:28-29). A massive protest was held in the giant theater of Ephesus. For two straight hours, as many as twenty thousand people shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:34).

Eventually the city clerk was able to quiet the crowd. He said: “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?” (Acts 19:35). Yes, the whole world did know this, for the temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was 425 feet long and 220 feet broad, with 127 columns of white marble, each 60 feet high. It took two centuries to build it. Edwin Yamauchi calls it “the largest structure in the Hellenistic world and the first of such monumental proportions to be built entirely of marble.” Inside stood the ancient and enormous statue of Artemis herself.

The goodess seemed immortal, but Demetrius was right to be worried. The coming of Christ meant the end of the Artemis. She has now been tossed on the scrap heap of history. With the exception of a few scattered columns on a plan near Ephesus, the last fragments of her temple—a handful of coins and a few broken columns—are now on display in the basement of the British Museum in London.

The death of Artemis has turned Paul’s doxology into a hymn of triumph…

January 21, 2012

Earlier in the week I came across a quote by Albert Barnes who was an American theologian during the mid-1800’s. He writes about the Christian’s demeanor or deportment, the way a Christian should carry himself through life. And he says that constant levity is out-of-place in the life of the Christian.

I’d be interested in your take on it:

Christians should be grave and serious, though cheerful and pleasant. They should feel that they have great interests at stake, and that the world has too. They are redeemed—not to make sport; purchased with precious blood—for other purposes than to make men laugh. They are soon to be in heaven—and a man who has any impressive sense of that will habitually feel he has much else to do than to make men laugh. The true course of life is midway between moroseness and levity; sourness and lightness; harshness and jesting.  Be benevolent, kind, cheerful, bland, courteous—but serious. Be solemn, thoughtful, deeply impressed with the presence of God and with eternal things—but pleasant affable and benignant. Think not a smile sinful; but think not levity and jesting harmless.

I guess that final sentence says it all: a smile isn’t sinful, but a life of levity and jesting isn’t harmless either. Do you agree?

January 15, 2012

In my online wanderings this week I read an interview with theologian John Webster (and I confess, I know nothing about Mr. Webster other than what is in this interview). There was one thing in that interview that jumped out at me, especially since I have been thinking and writing a little bit about vocation in recent days. Webster is asked about ordinary Christians and offers quite an interesting answer. I’d love to get your thoughts on what he says here about the role of the few “professional” Christians.

Why should ordinary Christians care about such seemingly recondite matters as how to articulate the immanent being of the Trinity?

There aren’t any “ordinary” Christians; there are saints, a few of whom are appointed to the task of thinking hard about and trying to articulate the common faith of the church. We don’t usually need to use formal theological language and concepts in the everyday life of the church in prayer, preaching and service.

But like any other important human activity, faith has to achieve a measure of conceptual clarity if it is to understand and express itself, and part of that process is the development of abstract concepts like Trinity, incarnation and substance. What’s important is that we don’t treat such concepts as if they were improvements on the ordinary ways in which the saints express the faith; they are simply shorthand terms, a tool kit which helps us keep certain crucial aspects of the gospel alive in the mind and worship of the church. Theology and theological abstractions matter because the gospel matters, because the gospel concerns truth, and because living in and from the truth involves the discipleship of reason.

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