Friday, May 08, 2020

Christ the Controversialist - by John R. W. Stott

"We are to be dogmatic about what has been plainly revealed and agnostic about what has not; and it is this Christian combination of dogmatism and agnosticism which we find it difficult to preserve.  Our troubles begin when we allow our dogmatism to invade the realm of 'the secret things' or our agnosticism to obscure 'the things that are revealed'." (pg. 15)

"Dislike of dogmatism, hatred of controversy, love of tolerance, the call to close our ranks, and the spirit of ecumenism - these are some of the modern tendencies which are unfriendly to the purpose of this book." (pg. 26)

"The Christian's welcome to change must be discriminating, however.  It does not include the apostolic doctrine of the New Testament.  Our responsibility towards this is not to abandon it but to hold it fast, not to modify it but to maintain it in its pristine purity." (pg. 37)

"If God occupies only the gaps, then as scientific discoveries increase and the gaps decrease, God is gradually edged out of His own universe." (pg. 57)

"The true function of Scripture is to testify to Christ so plainly and powerfully that first we see Him, and secondly we believe in Him for life." (pg. 100)

"If the priesthood of all believers is the first fruit of justification, 'assurance' is the second, that is to say, the God-given certainty that through Christ our sins have been forgiven, we have peace with God and He has given us eternal life." (pg. 124)

"We need to remember that the living God of the biblical revelation is not only the Saviour and Father of His covenant people; He is also the Creator, Lord and Judge of all mankind." (pg. 146)

"...'pride' usually betrays its presence in haughty looks and vain practices, but even if the proud man succeeds in preserving a humble appearance, his secret pride is still an abomination to the Lord." (pg. 147)

"...although we are not sanctified by the law but by the Spirit, yet what the Spirit does in sanctifying us is precisely to write the law in our hearts!  Thus the observance of the law, though not the ground of our justification, is the result of it, and though not the means of our sanctification is the essence of it." (pg. 153)

"The only worship pleasing to God is heart-worship, and heart-worship is rational worship.  It is the worship of a rational God who has made us rational beings and given us a rational revelation so that we may worship Him rationally, even 'with all our mind'." (pg. 165)

"The history of the world has been soiled by the pursuit of religion without morality, of piety without love.  Sometimes the conscience of worshippers has been so blind or hard that they have actually introduced evil into their acts of worship and even identified the two." (pg. 170)

"So true Christian love will care for people as people, and will seek to serve them, neglecting neither the soul for the body nor the body for the soul." (pg. 188)

"...to practice our religion before men is certain to degrade it, to practice it before God is equally certain to ennoble it." (pg. 202)

John R. W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist (London, England: The Tyndale Press, 1970)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Intolerance of Tolerance - by D. A. Carson

"The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another's position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own." (pg. 3)

"The issue ought to be whether any particular act of discrimination is good, sensible, and proper, for there are both good and evil forms of discrimination." (pg. 22)

"Genuine pluralism within the broader culture is facilitated when there is a strong Christian voice loyal to the Scriptures - as well as strong Muslim voices, skeptical voices, Buddhist voices, atheistic voices, and so forth.  Genuine pluralism within the broader culture is not fostered when in the name of tolerance none of the voices can say that any of the others is wrong, and when this stance is the only ultimate virtue." (pg. 35)

"...historically, toleration was tied to societies that had a shared moral vision and a conscience, while today it is far more tightly tied to individual freedom." (pg. 50)

"By some assessments, a nation may become more secularized and more religious at the same time.  It's just that the religious side does not matter very much anymore in the public square and therefore in the direction of the nation, in its public pulse." (pg. 71)

"The impact of this increasing empirical pluralism is multiplied many times over by the digital revolution: with minimal effort we find ourselves exposed to an incredibly broad diversity of cultures, opinions, interpretations of history, languages, and so forth.  Moreover, in the virtual world we can create our own realities.  All of this conspires to push questions of truth to the margins while magnifying the importance of tolerance." (pg. 74)

"In the name of tolerant diversity and a free press, the agenda of hidden motives surfaces: a targeted contempt for and hatred of Christ and Christians, a contempt and hatred reserved for no other religion.  The current pattern of distinctly anti-Christian polemic is worse than bad taste: it betrays a myopia, not to say a willful ignorance of history, that is frankly shocking." (pg. 93)

"To talk about the tolerance of God apart from this richer biblical portrayal of God is to do him an injustice.  His love is better than tolerance; his wrath guarantees justice that mere tolerance can never imagine." (pg. 103)

"The failure to recognize the evil in our own hearts is precisely what convinces so many of us that our opinions and motives are above reproach while those who contradict us are stupid or malign." (pg. 130)

"...when the vision of what is 'the good' becomes hugely polarized in any culture, such that widespread consensus is no longer possible, then it is not only a question of who 'wins' or 'loses' on any particular issue, but also a matter of the extent to which the opposing view is tolerated." (pg. 146)

"No Christian should ever succumb to the idolatrous notion that the right party will bring in utopia.  That is not where our ultimate confidence lies." (pg. 157)

D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Crook in the Lot - by Thomas Boston

"As to the crook in thy lot, God hath made it; and it must continue while He will have it so." (pg. 3)

"Since the crook in the lot is the special trial appointed for every one, it is altogether reasonable, and becoming the wisdom of God, that it fall on that which of all things doth most rival him." (pg. 12)

"The truth is, the crook in the lot is the great engine of Providence for making men appear in their true colours, discovering both their ill and their good: and if the grace of God be in them, it will bring it out, and cause it to display itself." (pg. 30)

"The truth is, the crook in the lot of a believer, how painful soever it proves, is a part of the discipline of the covenant, the nurture secured to Christ's children by the promise of the Father." (pg. 35)

"In managing of which exchange, God first puts out His hand and takes away some earthly thing from us: and it is expected we put out our hand next, and take some heavenly thing from Him in the stead of it, and particularly his Christ." (pg. 49)

"A serious view of death and eternity might make us set ourselves to behave rightly under our crook while it lasts." (pg. 55)

"A humble spirit is better than a heightened condition." (pg. 67)

"As you meet with crosses in your lot in the world, let your desire be rather to have your spirit humbled and brought down, than to get the cross removed.  I mean not but that you may use all lawful means for the removal of your cross, in dependence on God; but only that you be more concerned to get your spirit to bow and ply, than to get the crook in your lot evened." (pg. 84)

"Prosperity puffs up sinners with pride; for it is very hard to keep a low spirit with a high and prosperous lot." (pg. 93)

"Pride at every turn finds something that is below the man to condescend or stoop to, measuring by his own mind and will, not by the circumstances God has placed him in.  But humility measures by the circumstances one is placed in, and readily falls in with what they require." (pg. 96)

"Will nothing please you but two heavens, one here, another hereafter?  God has secured one heaven for the saints, one place where they shall get all their will, wish, and desire; where there shall be no weight on them to hold them down; and that is in the other world." (pg. 107)

"And so it is, that while the proud, through their obstinacy, do but wreath the yoke faster about their own necks, the humble ones, by their yielding, make their relief sure." (pg. 111ff)

"To conclude: we may assure ourselves, God will at length break in pieces the proud, be they ever so high; and He will triumphantly lift up the humble, be they ever so low." (pg. 143)

Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot (Choteau, MT: Old Paths Gospel Press)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Anatomy of Secret Sins - by Obadiah Sedgwick

"...(1) pride is a bold and presuming sin; and (2) it is that which is the main ingredient of a presumptuous kind of sinning." (pg. 3)

"The heart of man is a scheme of wickedness.  A man says that in his heart which he dares not speak with his tongue, and his thought will do that which his hands dare not execute.  Well, then, sin may be called secret when it is sin and acted as sin even there, where none but God and conscience can see." (pg. 11)

"Satan shall not need to tempt him much who has already tempted himself: and he who will work sin in his heart, a weak occasion will draw it out into his life." (pg. 15)

"...Fore-past sins must be eyed with grief, present inclinations with combat, and future with fear." (pg. 61)

"...presumption disposes of mercy beyond all allowance and writes a pardon which God will never seal." (pg. 74)

"We carry about with us vile natures and treacherous hearts!  Even those abominations which sometimes we would have trembled at, unto them will our wicked selves deliver ourselves, if God does not keep us back." (pg. 103)

"Mercy is the tenderest goodness but, with all, it is a special goodness, and is set up not as a light by the sea, that a man may know thereby how to sail more freely, that a man should therefore sin more violently, but as a proclamation from a prince to draw in the rebel to sheath his sword, and to fall down on his knees." (pg. 123)

"Deliverance from the greatest evil is reason enough for great thanks.  It is more than if God had delivered you from hell if He has delivered you from the dominion of sin." (pg. 187)

"If ignorance rules the mind, then sin will easily rule the heart.  All sinful dominion is enabled by ignorance." (pg. 213)

"There are some graces which are, as it were, the guard of other graces.  Look, as faith is a grace which feeds all the rest, so fear is a grace which keeps all the rest." (pg. 223)

"A man's heart is upright when God alone, HIs ways alone, and His truth alone satisfy, order, and bound it; when a man can say in truth, as they in the matter of choice, 'Nay, but the Lord is our God, Him will we serve.'" (pg. 233)

"A hypocrite may do so much about duties as to manifest the excellency of his gifts, but he does not that regarding duties that will argue the efficacy of grace." (pg. 277)

"There are two things which show great rottenness of heart.  One is when any sin has our warrant sealed with secret allowance.  Another is when we drive on the sin with a customary trade and continuance." (pg. 310)

"Unbelief is the root of all hypocrisy and apostasy.  That men are but half in duties, is because they do not indeed believe the extent of obedience to God; and that they keep some private lust is because they do not indeed believe the truth of God's justice, power, and wrath." (pg. 329)

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Anatomy of Secret Sins (Morgan, PA:Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995)

Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Weight of Glory - by C. S. Lewis

"Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object." (pg. 29)

"To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son - it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain.  But so it is." (pg. 39)

"We can be left utterly and absolutely outside - repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored.  On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged.  We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities." (pg. 41ff)

"The main difference between Reason and Conscience is an alarming one.  It is thus: that while the unarguable intuitions on which all depend are liable to be corrupted by passion when we are considering truth and falsehood, they are much more liable, they are almost certain to be corrupted when we are considering good and evil." (pg. 68)

"The attempt to discover by introspective analysis our own spiritual condition is to me a horrible thing which reveals, at best, not the secrets of God's spirit and ours, but their transpositions in intellect, emotion, and imagination, and which at worst may be the quickest road to presumption or despair." (pg. 106ff)

"As long as this deliberate refusal to understand things from above, even where such understanding is possible, continues, it is idle to talk of any final victory over materialism.  The critique of every experience from below, the voluntary ignoring of meaning and concentration on fact, will always have the same plausibility." (pg. 114)

"Of all passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things." (pg. 154)

"We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship." (pg. 160)

"There is, in fact, a fatal tendency in all human activities for the means to encroach upon the very ends which they were intended to serve." (pg. 162)

"The Christian is called not to individualism but to membership in the mystical body.  A consideration of the differences between the secular collective and the mystical body is therefore the first step to understanding how Christianity without being individualistic can yet counteract collectivism." (pg. 163)

"Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality." (pg. 167)

"Authority exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live." (pg. 170)

"Neither the individual nor the community as popular thought understands them can inherit eternal life, neither the natural self, nor the collective mass, but a new creature." (pg. 176)

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York, NY:HarperCollins, 2001)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Power In Praising God - by Charles Spurgeon

"There is no activity under heaven that is more exalting than praising God.  However great may be the work for which we are responsible, we will always do well if we pause to spend time in sacred praise." (pg. 7)

"There is, perhaps, no exercise that, on the whole, strengthens us as much as praising God." (pg. 23)

"If we are always blessing the Lord, we will be saved from complaining; the spirit of discontent will be ejected by the spirit of thankfulness." (pg. 48)

"When your mind finds all its joy in God, then it is clear that God and you, as much as can be, are standing on the same plane and moving in the same direction.  Then you will have the desire of your heart because the desire of your heart is the desire of God's heart. (pg. 74)

"...it does not matter what you think or what you know, unless it leads you to glorify God and to be thankful.  In fact, your knowledge may be a millstone around your neck that will plunge you to eternal misery unless your knowledge is turned to holy practice." (p.g 148)

"No song is so sweet, I think, in the ear of God as the song of a man who blesses Him for grace he has not tasted yet - for what he has not received, but what he is sure will come.  The praise of gratitude for the past is sweet, but that praise is sweeter that adores God for the future in full confidence that all will be well." (pg. 166)

Charles Spurgeon, The Power In Praising God (New Kensington, PA:Whitaker House, 1998)