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Quotes

April 06, 2012

A few hours from now I will be heading downtown for a Good Friday service that will bring together several local congregations and, we hope, hundreds or maybe even over a thousand, Christians. Together we will remember the death of our Lord. Today I found a few choice quotes from Frederick Leahy’s wonderful little book The Cross He Bore (seriously, it’s an amazing book and bears repeated readings).

In this first quote Leahy writes about Satan’s hour.

Initially the plans of his enemies would succeed, not just because they came to him under cover of darkness, but essentially because in this hour Satan and his forces were permitted by God to subject Christ to further suffering and humiliation. God reserved this hour for Satan. In all of time this hour was especially his. The darkness of which Christ spoke was the darkness of evil and of the prince of darkness. In this dread hour Satan had free rein. In the case of Job God set a limit to Satan’s activity. In the experience of Christ there were no limits to Satan’s onslaught. He was free to do his worst, and he did.

Gethsemane and Calvary marked high noon in the world’s long day, and God’s permission was absolute as Satan mustered his legions for the decisive encounter. The first Adam had been easy prey. How would he fare with this Adam? As Satan entered the battlefield he did so fully conscious of the Word of God: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Did he recall his cynical contempt for God’s Word earlier when he asked, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3:1). Or did he fear the sentence passed in Eden? Doubtless he did. But the hour was fixed. It was decreed by God. When tempting Christ in the wilderness, Satan had done his utmost to deflect him from this hour, to take some other road than the way of the cross, but all in vain. Now the battle had commenced in earnest. Nothing could stop it. This is your hour, Satan!

And in this second quote he writes about the Lamb who was silent before his accusers:

Christ remained silent about the hidden things. He left his judges with the Word of God and there lay their great responsibility. They must busy themselves with the things that had been revealed. Christ will take his riddle with him to the grave. The meaning will become apparent in due course. He will not cast his pearls before swine, rather he will leave it to his judges to execute their high office before God. In this he did justice to them and at the same time condemned them.

To have explained the riddle to the Sanhedrin would not have been to the glory of God or for the good of Christ’s judges. Imagine what would have happened had he said, “Bury me and within three days I will rise again.” He would have been regarded as an ostentatious and supernatural escapologist! He would have relieved the Sanhedrin of its moral responsibility. The dawn of the New Testament Sabbath would have become the occasion for a gathering of gawping spectators hoping to see the latest wonder. What a mockery of predestination that would have been! And what a windfall for Satan! Christ the redeemer reduced to a mere super-fakir, not lying on a bad of nails or walking on hot coals, but rising from the grave!

If Christ had explained his riddle that day, it would have been a most untimely word. That he would never do. He would not prostitute his God-given mission. All his miracles, including his resurrection, were essentially part of his kingdom and of his redeeming work. They were totally different from those related in the Apocryphal Gospels, as when it is written that the boy Jesus making clay birds with other children made his birds fly! But Christ was no magician; he had neither need nor place for stunts.

All too often Christ’s silence has been given a dangerous one-sidedness, as his passive obedience is stressed almost, if not altogether, to the exclusion of his active obedience. Christ’s silence was deliberate, emphatic and authoritative; it was his deed. The passivity of his suffering was real, but so was the activity of his obedience. Led as a lamb to the slaughter and like a sheep before the shearers, he was active right up to and on the cross. He went as a king to die.

There are just two small dimensions of Christ’s crucifixion for you to ponder today.

April 01, 2012

Last week I shared a quote from Richard Sibbes that called on us to hate sin from the heart. I want to share another pearl of wisdom from Sibbes, this one telling why Christians are often charged with distraction. You’ll need to read the quote to get the context for that word.

It has been an old imputation to charge distraction upon men of the greatest wisdom and sobriety. John the Baptist was accused of having a devil, and Christ to be beside Himself and the Apostles to be full of new wine, and Paul to be mad. The reason is because as religion is a mystical and spiritual thing, so the tenets of it seem paradoxes to carnal men; as first, that a Christian is the only freeman, and other men are slaves; that he is the only rich man, though never so poor in the world; that he is the only beautiful man, though outwardly never so deformed; that he is the only happy man in the midst of all his miseries. Now these things though true seem strange to natural men, and therefore when they see men earnest against sin, or making conscience of sin, they wonder at this commotion for trifles. But these men go on in a course of their own and make that the measure of all; those that are below them are profane, and those that are above them are indiscreet. By fanciful affections, they create idols, and then cry down spiritual things as folly. They have principles of their own, to love themselves and to love others only for themselves, and to hold on the strongest side and by no means expose themselves to danger. But when men begin to be religious, they deny all their own aims, and that makes their course seem madness to the world, and therefore they labor to breed an ill opinion of them, as if they were madmen and fools.

March 25, 2012

Here is some wisdom from Richard Sibbes—the kind of wisdom that, if we could just take it to heart, all the way to heart, it would make every difference in our lives.

If we would make it evident that our conversion is sound we must loathe and hate sin from the heart; now a man shall know his hatred of evil to be true, first if it be universal. He that hates sin truly hates all sin. Secondly, where there is true hatred it is fixed; there is no appeasing it, but by abolishing the thing it hates. Thirdly, hatred is a more rooted affection than anger; anger may be appeased, but hatred is against the whole kind. Fourthly, if our hatred be true, we hate all evil in ourselves first, and then in others. He that hates a toad would hate it most in his own bosom. Many like Judah are severe in censuring others but are partial to themselves (Genesis 38:24). Fifthly, he that hates sin truly, hates the greatest sin in the greatest measure; he hates all evil in a just proportion. Sixthly, our hatred is right if we can endure admonition and reproof for sin and not be enraged with him that tells us of it; therefore those that swell against reproof, hate not sin; only with this caution, it may be done with such indiscretion and self-love that a man may hate the reprover’s proud manner. In disclosing our hatred of sin in others, we must consider our calling; it must be done in a sweet temper, reserving due respect to those to whom reproof is offered, that it may be done out of true zeal, and not out of anger nor pride.

March 21, 2012

Reading Michael Wittmer’s excellent new book The Last Enemy, I came across a powerful little story that I wanted to share with you. I trust you will enjoy it as I did.


My friend Jeff stopped by the hospital to visit one of his dearest senior saints. Charlotte was in her eighties, but she had been young enough in heart to blossom under Jeff’s ministry. She had paid close attention as Jeff proclaimed the story of God—how the world began with God’s good creation, suffered a cataclysmic fall that ruined us and everything else, is being redeemed by Jesus’ cross and resurrection, and will be consummated when Jesus returns and delivers this world to His Father.

Charlotte said learning God’s story had changed her life. “I get it now,” she told anyone who would listen. “The parts of the Bible make sense when you read them in light of the whole. For the first time in my life, I understand how my salvation fits into the larger picture.”

Now Charlotte was dying. She chatted with her pastor about family, church, and the general quality of hospital food, and then Jeff said a prayer and promised to come see her again.

Jeff was minutes from home when his cell phone rang. It was the floor nurse calling from the hospital.

“Charlotte told me to contact you,” she began. “She said that it’s time for her to die. She told me to tell you not to hurry; she’ll wait until you get here.”

March 18, 2012

Jonathan Edwards says that a truly Christian love is a humble, broken-hearted kind of love. You will want to read and ponder this short quote from The Religious Affections.

Christian affections are like Mary’s precious ointment that she poured on Christ’s head, that filled the whole house with a sweet odor. That was poured out of an alabaster box; so gracious affections flow out to Christ out of a pure heart. That was poured out of a broken box; until the box was broken, the ointment could not flow, nor diffuse its odor; so gracious affections flow out of a broken heart. Gracious affections are also like those of Mary Magdalene (Luke 7 at the latter end), who also pours precious ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster broken box, anointing therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed them with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken-hearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken-hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit; and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior.

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.

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