Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

Quotes

December 24, 2011

The Puritans used to speak of “constancy,” a word that has largely fallen out of use since then. It speaks of faithfulness and endurance and dependability—character traits of the Christian. The Puritans admired those who were constant, those who endured through all the trials of this life. They cared less for extraordinary acts and more for a life of quiet, consistent faithfulness.

As I researched that word, I came across a wonderful little poem—a sad but hopeful one that has been translated from French to English. It is the poem of one who has seen constancy in others and has had his heart moved by it.

In this great fire, the great patience
Which in dying makes the soldier a conqueror,
Moves in me the eye, the ear, and the heart,
When I see , when I hear, when I think about it.

I see suffering with joy and constancy,
I hear loud singing in extreme pain,
I think then of the greatness of God,
Who shines in the darkness of human weakness.

If you want therefore to profit in hearing,
It is not enough to both see and to hear,
For in thought is the fullness of usefulness,
And whoever comes to this place.
To see, to hear, and not to think,
Seeing, hearing, he sees nothing at all.

From a book by Chandieu, entitled Persecution et martyrs de l’Eglise de Paris. Published in Lyon in 1563. (source)

December 18, 2011

While doing some research this week I came across this wonderful little quote from Thomas Chalmers. Here he discusses the central role of the very ordinary means of God’s grace.


In bygone days when God’s covenant people sought to strengthen their piety, to sharpen their effectual intercessions, and give passion to their supplications, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When intent upon seeking the Lord God’s guidance in difficult after-times, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they were wont to express grief—whether over the consequences of their own sins or the sins of others—they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they sought deliverance or protection in times of trouble, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they desired to express repentance, covenant renewal, and a return to the fold of faith, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

Such is the call upon all who would name the Name of Jesus. Such is the ordinary Christian life.

December 11, 2011

I came across this quote by Horatius Bonar and thought it was worth sharing. Bonar is warning against a kind of soft and, in his word, effeminate Christianity, that may come about when Christians are too afraid to fight for what is right and to protest against what is wrong.

For there is some danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity, under the plea of a lofty and ethereal theology. Christianity was born for endurance…It walks with firm step and erect frame; it is kindly, but firm; it is gentle, but honest; it is calm, but not facile; obliging, but not imbecile; decided, but not churlish. It does not fear to speak the stern word of condemnation against error, nor to raise its voice against surrounding evils, under the pretext that it is not of this world.

It does not shrink from giving honest reproof lest it come under the charge of displaying an unchristian spirit. It calls sin ’sin,’ on whomsoever it is found, and would rather risk the accusation of being actuated by a bad spirit than not discharge an explicit duty. Let us not misjudge strong words used in honest controversy. Out of the heat a viper may come forth; but we shake it off and feel no harm.

The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. If anyone should be frank, manly, honest, cheerful (I do not say blunt or rude, for a Christian must be courteous and polite), it is he who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and is looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.

I know that charity covereth a multitude of sins; but it does not call evil good, because a good man has done it; it does not excuse inconsistencies, because the inconsistent brother has a high name and a fervent spirit. Crookedness and worldliness are still crookedness and worldliness, though exhibited in one who seems to have reached no common height of attainment.

December 04, 2011

I’d like to share one more quote from Phillip Schaff’s book The Person of Christ which, as I said yesterday, has just been republished by Granted Ministries. This is a short but powerful excerpt.


No biographer, moralist, or artist can be satisfied with any attempt of his to set forth the beauty of holiness which shines from the face of Jesus of Nazareth. It is felt to be infinitely greater than any conception or representation of it by the mind, the tongue, or the pencil of man or angel. We might as well attempt to empty the waters of the boundless sea into a narrow well, or to portray the splendor of the risen sun and the starry heavens with ink. No picture of the Saviour, though drawn by the master hand of a Raphael or Dürer or Rubens; no epic, though conceived by the genius of a Dante or Milton or Klopstock,—can improve on the artless, narrative of the Gospels, whose only but all-powerful charm is truth. In this case, certainly, truth is stranger than fiction, and speaks best for itself without comment, explanation, or eulogy. Here, and here alone, the highest perfection of art falls short of the historical fact, and fancy finds no room for idealizing the real; for here we have the absolute ideal itself in living reality. It seems to me that this consideration alone should satisfy any reflecting mind that Christ’s character, though truly natural and human, rises far above the ordinary proportions of humanity, and can not be classified with the purest and greatest of our race.

Christ’s person is, indeed, a great but blessed mystery. It can not be explained on purely humanitarian principles, nor derived from any intellectual and moral forces of the age in which he lived. On the contrary, it stands in marked contrast to the whole surrounding world of Judaism and Heathenism, which presents to us the dreary picture of internal decay, and which actually crumbled into ruin before the new moral creation of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one absolute and unaccountable exception to the universal experience of mankind. He is the great central miracle of the whole gospel-history. All his miracles are but the natural and necessary manifestations of his miraculous person, and hence they were performed with the same ease with which we perform our ordinary daily works. In the Gospel of St. John, they are simply and justly called his “works.” It would be the greatest miracle indeed, if He, who is a miracle himself, should have performed no miracles.

December 03, 2011

Granted Ministries has recently republished The Person of Christ, written by Dr. Phillip Schaff. This is a book that describes and celebrates the character, the humanity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. In one section Schaff discusses the way all virtues and graces are exemplified in Jesus Christ. Here is what he says:


We can not properly attribute to him any one temperament. He was neither sanguine, like Peter; nor choleric, like Paul; nor melancholy, like John; nor phlegmatic, as James is sometimes, though incorrectly, represented to have been: but he combined the vivacity without the levity of the sanguine, the vigor without the violence of the choleric, the seriousness without the austerity of the melancholic, the calmness without the apathy of the phlegmatic, temperament.

He was equally far removed from the excesses of the legalist, the pietist, the ascetic, and the enthusiast. With the strictest obedience to the law, he moved in the element of freedom; with all the fervor of the enthusiast, he was always calm, sober, and self-possessed. Notwithstanding his complete and uniform elevation above the affairs of this world, he fireely mingled with society, male and female, dined with publicans and sinners, played with little children and blessed them, sat at the wedding-feast, shed tears at the sepulcher, delighted in God’s nature, admired the beauties of the lilies, and used the occupations of the husbandman for the illustration of the sublimest truths of the kingdom of heaven. His virtue was healthy, manly, vigorous, yet genial, social, and truly human; never austere and repulsive; always in full sympathy with innocent joy and pleasure. He, the purest and holiest of men, provided wine for the wedding-feast; introduced the fatted calf and music and dancing into the picture of welcome of the prodigal son to his father’s house; and even provoked the sneer of his adversaries, that he “came eating and drinking,” and was a “glutton” and a “winebibber.”

November 27, 2011

Earlier on I found myself running through some of my old notes from the first time I read Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections. I came across a portion of his work that I wish I had discovered before writing The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. In that book I wrote about counterfeiting and missed the point that Edwards makes so clear: “It may be observed that the more excellent anything is, the more will be the counterfeits of it.” And of course this is true. Nobody counterfeits copper or aluminum! Instead, people counterfeit what is precious and what is desirable. Edwards continues to say that because love is the chief of the graces and the source from which all true affections must flow, it is love that is most often counterfeited. “So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility, these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian does especially appear.” I suppose the application is clear. We must be on guard against counterfeit love and counterfeit humility; we must watch for their presence in our own lives and be aware that they may be present in the lives of those who appear to be the most humble, most loving Christians. Such godly traits are always prone to counterfeits.

November 20, 2011

This morning we had Dr. Charles Woodrow preach at Grace Fellowship Church. For over 20 years, Dr. Woodrow has served as a missionary to Mozambique. Our church has been supporting him in this work for the past several years. In his sermon he quoted Jim Elliot—not the Elliot quote we all know (“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”), but one that I hadn’t heard before. I thought it was worth sharing.

We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the twentieth century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are “sideliners” — coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!

November 13, 2011

I came across a trio of Edwards quotes this week and each was powerful in its own right. So give these a read, not as quotes that follow one another in any sort of order, but simply as 3 quotes that represent what Edwards taught so well.


You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath spoken much to you in the Scripture; labor to understand as much of what he saith as you can. God hath made you all reasonable creatures; therefore let not the noble faculty of reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not yourselves with having so much knowledge as is thrown in your way, and as you receive in some sense unavoidably by the frequent inculcation of divine truth in the preaching of the word, of which you are obliged to be hearers, or as you accidentally gain in conversation; but let it be very much your business to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor with which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold.

***

But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and so great excellency, that when they come to see it they look no further, but the mind rests there. It sees a transcendent glory and an ineffable sweetness in him; it sees that till now it has been pursuing shadows, but that now it has found the substance; that before it had been seeking happiness in the stream, but that now it has found the ocean. The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill the capacity. It is an infinite excellency, such an one as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds; and the more the mind is used to it, the more excellent it appears. Every new discovery makes this beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind sees no end; here is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom. The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on this beauty, and it is never weary of it. The mind never has any satiety, but Christ’s excellency is always fresh and new, and tends as much to delight, after it has been seen a thousand or ten thousand years, as when it was seen the first moment.

***

It is no solid objection against God aiming at an infinitely perfect union of the creature with himself, that the particular time will never come when it can be said, the union is now infinitely perfect. God aims at satisfying justice in the eternal damnation of sinners; which will be satisfied by their damnation, considered no otherwise than with regard to its eternal duration. But yet there never will come that particular moment, when it can be said, that now justice is satisfied. But if this does not satisfy our modern free-thinkers who do not like to talk about satisfying justice with an infinite punishment; I suppose it will not be denied by any, that God, in glorifying the saints in heaven with eternal felicity, aims to satisfy his infinite grace or benevolence, by the bestowment of a good infinitely valuable, because eternal: and yet there never will come that moment, when it can be said, that now this infinitely valuable good has been actually bestowed.

November 06, 2011

R.C. Sproul’s book Now, That’s a Good Question has always been a favorite of mine. When I’ve got a basic question about the Christian life, it’s often the book I turn to first. Here is his answer to this question: How can I prevent my personal Christian growth from becoming stagnant? 


There’s only one absolute way I know of to keep your Christian growth from becoming stagnant, and that is to die. The only time Christian growth stops altogether is at death. That’s because we don’t need to grow any further; we’re ushered into the state of glorification. If a person is in Christ and Christ is in that person, it is impossible for the Christian not to move, to grow. It may seem at times as if our Christian growth has been totally arrested and is in a stagnant state, but I think that’s merely an outward appearance.

Obviously our Christian growth can move at various speeds, and we tend to have a kind of ebb and flow. Sometimes we’re moving ahead in leaps and bounds and other times at a snail’s pace. When it’s moving in such a laboriously slow fashion, we may think that it has become utterly stagnant. Again, if there is no evidence of growth whatsoever then I would say it’s time to examine our souls and our hearts to see if we’re in Christ at all because where the spirit of Christ indwells a person, he will not permit total stagnation.

If we want to increase the pace of Christian growth, I think there are some important practical keys we need to plug in. Christian growth, biblically, is usually described in terms of discipleship. To be a disciple of Jesus means to be a learner in the school of Christ. That doesn’t mean simply heaping up intellectual data or head knowledge, so to speak, but coming to an understanding of what it is that pleases God and what it is that pleases Christ. It means learning how to imitate him in our different ways of walking before him.

The word discipleship is very close to the English word discipline. To grow requires the achievement of spiritual discipline. How do you get it? When we are trying to progress in any area, so many times that involves discipline— whether it’s mastery of piano technique, an athletic endeavor, or learning in a public school or college. We have to understand that discipline doesn’t happen by magic. The best way I know of becoming disciplined is by first learning patterns of discipline under somebody else’s tutelage. If you’re having trouble growing, get yourself as fast as you can into a Christian growth group where you are under the discipline of a pastor or a spiritual leader, where as part of a team, you are learning the skills of personal growth together.

October 30, 2011

Last week I shared a quote from Edward Donnelly’s book Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell. Today I wanted to share another one that stood out to me as a great encouragement. Read it and be blessed on this Lord’s Day!


What is … amazing is that our Lord and Saviour will himself be thrilled as he looks at us in heaven. Gazing upon his people, he will be filled with affection and delight. “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11).

That will be true of his redemptive work in general. Christ will see all his sheep safely gathered in, everyone of the elect in glory. There will be no empty spaces, no one missing or lost. He will feel no sense of incompleteness or regret. He will be satisfied with the results of the labor of his soul.

But the Lord Jesus will also be satisfied with each of us individually. We may find that hard to believe, because we are far from satisfied with ourselves. All too aware of our weaknesses and limitations, we are often discouraged with ourselves, ashamed of what we are. We do not see ourselves as loveable, so how could Christ love us? A nagging fear enters our minds that, although he will be gracious and kind as he welcomes us into heaven, he will at the same time feel a distinct sense of disappointment. We may not be what he hoped for.

We need not be afraid, for we will by then be changed, conformed to his likeness. God’s work of grace in each and all of us will have been brought to such a pitch of perfection that the Lord will be ravished with love for his bride, “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27). We will be all he wants, everything he desires. We will be the people he chooses to be with him for ever. “Behold, you are fair, my love!” he will exclaim (Song of Sol. 1:15). We will then be able to say with joyful assurance, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” That will be heaven.

It is himself that Christ will see in us, himself that he will love in us. That is why we are promised that “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). For it is nothing other than his own holy beauty that he will admire.

Pages