Monday, July 24, 2017

Devoted To God: Blueprints For Sanctification - by Sinclair B. Ferguson

"Holiness is the intensity of the love that flows within the very being of God, among and between each of the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (pg. 2)

"Knowing (i) whose you are, (ii) who you are, and (iii) what you are for, settles basic issues about how you live." (pg. 7)

"...God has in the past destined us, and in the present is transforming us, so that in the future we will 'be conformed to the image of his Son'." (pg. 17)

"If holiness is our heavenly happiness, and true happiness is, ultimately, holiness, then the prospect of the future will influence and shape our lives here and now.  How strange it is that people think (as many seem to do) that they will be happy pursuing holiness there and then in heaven, if they are singularly unhappy about the calling to pursue it here and now on earth! ...if we do not desire heaven as a world of holiness and freedom from the presence of sin, a world of delight in Jesus Christ here and now, what possesses us to think we will love it and enjoy it - or him - then?  There could surely be no greater self-delusion." (pg. 28ff)

"God's truth (given now to us in Scripture) expresses the power of Christ and the grace of Christ that transforms and renews our way of thinking and then our manner of living." (pg. 48ff)

"To understand rightly how baptism functions in our Christian lives we must first recognize that it points to Jesus Christ and to union with him by faith.  It does not point at faith so much as summon us to faith." (pg. 75)

"...we have lost hold of baptism's power and usefulness in our lives.  We do not get much beyond thinking about ourselves, and our faith in or 'decision for' Christ.  We therefore forfeit the life-long blessing baptism is intended to be.  And so our baptism fails to accomplish its purpose of defining our daily life in Christ." (pg. 87)

"Exhortations to be holy are always derived from an exposition of what God has done and provided for us in Christ and through the gift of the Spirit." (pg. 93)

"...You cannot have the Spirit as your Leader unless you have Christ as your Savior, because you cannot have the Spirit without having Christ, and vice-versa." (pg. 106ff)

"When we have rejected or denied our basic created desire for God (we were, after all, made for him), we do not destroy our need; we only distort it.  In its place we deify something that God has made." (pg. 117)

"Growing in holiness, enjoying closer fellowship with God, brings with it an ongoing and very painful revelation of layers of sin that have been subtly hidden in our hearts but rarely if ever exposed." (pg. 143)

"This spirit of the age has undoubtedly bled into the life of the church.  Now to place any emphasis on the law of God is often regarded by professing Christians as 'legalism'.  A new 'narrative' has arisen to interpret the 'old evangelicalism' which is now characterized - actually caricatured - as a religion of the 'dos and don'ts'.  Now we frequently hear that God loves us the way we are.  Any element of divine demand is seen as a return to the bad old ways and days - in a word to legalism." (pg. 173)

"Without the power of the Spirit we would lack the love for God that energizes us to keep his law.  But without the law of God our love for him would lack direction.  Thus we discover that the way of Christ leads us more and more into obedience to God's law." (pg. 187)

"Indwelling corruption has the potential to express itself in any and every from of sin.  Yet, as Augustine argued, sin is not an objective, quantifiable 'something' which attaches itself to us.  Rather it is the distortion of our persons.  Sin is not 'it' but 'I'!" (pg. 198)

"...we must make sure that these two things are held together - on the one had our own pursuit of Jesus Christ and on the other our desire to see others running with us." (pg. 212)

"...God's ultimate goal provides a touchstone by which we regulate our lives.  Nothing now is seen as an end in itself; the end of everything we do becomes glorifying God in the knowledge that we will enjoy him both now and for ever." (pg. 220)

"Likeness to Christ is the ultimate goal of sanctification.  It is holiness.  It is therefore also the ultimate fruit of being devoted to God." (pg. 235)

Sinclair B. Ferguson, Devoted To God: Blueprints For Sanctification (Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Trust Trust, 2016)

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior - by J. Gresham Machen

"Pure feeling, if such a thing exists, is non-moral.  That can be observed in the sphere of human relationships.  What makes my affection for a human friend such an ennobling thing is the knowledge that I have of the character and the needs of my friend." (pg. 2)

"It is not a sin to worship the Jesus who is God and man.  But it is a sin to manufacture a Jesus who was man only and not God, and then after you have manufactured that purely human Jesus to bow down and worship him." (pg. 25)

"The upshot of what I have been saying is this: when men today say that Christ is God they often do so not because they think high of Christ but because they think desperately low of God." (pg. 26)

"...the gospel of Jesus was also a gospel about Jesus; the gospel that he preached was also a gospel that offered him as Savior.  He did not say merely: 'Have faith in God like the faith that I have in God,' but he said: 'Have faith in me.'" (pg. 40)

"If the Jesus of the Gospels were a purely natural and not a supernatural person, then we should have no difficulty in believing that such a person lived in the first century of our era.  Even skeptics would have no difficulty in believing it.  Defenders of the faith would have an easy victory indeed.  Everybody would believe.  But then there would be one drawback.  It would be this: the thing that everybody would believe would not be worth believing.  A purely natural, as distinguished from a supernatural, Christ would be just a teacher and example." (pg. 74ff)

"What those men had from the appearances of the risen Christ was not merely the conviction that Jesus was still alive.  No, what they had was the conviction that he had risen.  It was not merely the state of Jesus resultant upon the resurrection which was valuable for them, but the act of the resurrection.  At the heart of their faith was the conviction that Jesus had done something for them by his death and resurrection.  The Christian religion in other words is rooted in an event." (pg. 91)

"The evidence of the truth of Christianity must be taken as a whole.  The direct evidence for the resurrection must be taken together with the total picture of Jesus in the Gospels, and then that must be taken in connection with the evidence for the existence of God and the tremendous need of man which is caused by sin.  If you take the Bible as a whole you have a grand consistent account of God, of the world, and of human life.  If you reject the Bible, and particularly if you reject the fact of the resurrection, you have a jumble of meaningless and detached bits of information that dance before your imagination in a wild and riotous rout." (pg. 100ff)

J. Gresham Machen, The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2017)

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ - by Chap Bettis

"This book is not a cookbook.  A cookbook lists the ingredients to include, the mixing method, and the needed cooking temperature.  Followed exactly, the dish turns out perfectly every time.  As parents it's easy to assume that if we give our children the right ingredients, keep out the wrong ingredients, and put them in the right environment for the right amount of time, we are guaranteed a certain result.  Parenting doesn't work that way. ... Instead, it's better to think of this material as a guidebook to help you on your parenting journey.  A guidebook is written by someone who has been where you are going.  While not feeling compelled to do everything the guidebook says, it is still helpful to learn from someone else's experience as you forge your own path.  Or, alternatively, you can think of this as a playbook.  Every football team has a collection of plays, called a playbook.  Any of these can be executed during the course of a game.  The goal of the team is to win the game, not execute every play in the playbook." (pg. XIIIff)

"God's intent in giving you the privilege of creating new lives is for you to raise them to know and love him." (pg. 5)

"Children are God's means to transform us.  Their sin reveals our sin.  Their questions reveal our ignorance.  All of these are God's prompts for us to grow." (pg. 15)

"The first battleground of family discipleship is not my child's heart; it is my heart.  Each parent must decide whether he is more concerned that this child is accepted into Heaven or 'Harvard.'" (pg. 17)

"Before God commands us to teach our children, he reminds us of the need we have to love God and to carry his Word in our hearts.  It is impossible to pass on something we do not possess.  Example has always been and will always be the most powerful teacher." (pg. 40)

"A child is God's sanctification machine, calling you to die to yourself daily.  Children are a floodlight on the idols of the heart.  Idols like comfort, looking good before others, control, success, or peace are all revealed by my little sinner!" (pg. 51)

"Circumstances don't cause the reaction of the heart; they merely reveal the true heart." (pg. 52)

"Unfortunately, a shallow view of sin will produce a shallow view of the cross and shallow Christians, as well.  Sin is much deeper than our actions.  It is also wrong attitudes toward God and others.  And deeper than wrong attitudes are wrong affections." (pg. 87)

"...talking together, learning the Word together, and serving others together are all effective means of grace to your children." (pg. 131)

"Your child is made to live for this purpose, battling real spiritual enemies and living a life of kingdom expansion.  He or she cannot be entertained enough to stay in the kingdom.  Why, then, do most youth groups base their ministry on entertainment?  Where is the youth group based on cosmic war?" (pg. 167)

"If spiritual leadership is moving God's people in God's direction through God's means, then prayer is a foundational means." (pg. 187)

Chap Bettis, The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ (Diamond Hill Publishing, 2016)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance - Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters - by Sinclair B. Ferguson

"The benefits of the gospel (justification, reconciliation, redemption, adoption) were being separated from Christ, who is himself the gospel.  The benefits of the gospel are in Christ.  They do not exist apart from him.  They are ours only in him.  They cannot be abstracted from him as if we ourselves could possess them independently of him." (pg. 44)

"Wherever the benefits of Christ are seen as abstractable from Christ himself, there is a decreasing stress on his person and work in preaching and in the books that are published to feed that preaching. This is accompanied by an increased stress on our experience of salvation rather than on the grace, majesty, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ." (pg. 49ff)

"The root of legalism is almost as old as Eden, which explains why it is a primary, if not the ultimate, pastoral problem.  In seeking to bring freedom from legalism, we are engaged in undoing the ancient work of Satan." (pg. 80)

"It is this - a failure to see the generosity of God and his wise and loving plans for our lives - that lies at the root of legalism and drives it.  It bears repeating:  in Eve's case antinomianism (her opposition to and rejection of God's law) was itself an expression of her legalism!" (pg. 82ff)

"...legalism and antinomianism are, in fact, nonidentical twins that emerge from the same womb." (pg. 84)

"The ongoing function of God's law is not to serve as a standard to be met for justification but as a guide for Christian living." (pg. 114)

"In contemporary terms God stated the indicative - his commitment to his people; this in turn give rise to the imperative - the implications for the lifestyle of his people.  The implications are the outworking of his declarations." (pg. 116)

"It is, after all, through the gospel-gift of the Spirit that 'the law' is written in the heart - not as a 'covenant of works,' but as a 'rule of life.'" (pg. 121)

"At root then antinomianism separates God's law from God's person, and grace from the union with Christ in which the law is written in the heart.  In doing so it jeopardizes not simply the Decalogue; it dismantles the truth of the gospel." (pg. 154)

"There is only one genuine cure for legalism.  It is the same medicine the gospel prescribes for antinomianism: understanding and tasting union with Jesus Christ himself." (pg. 157)

"Love empowers the engine; law guides the direction.  They are mutually interdependent.  The notion that love can operate apart from law is a figment of the imagination.  It is not only bad theology; it is poor psychology.  It has to borrow from law to give eyes to love." (pg. 169)

"Obedience strengthens faith and confirms it to us because it is always marked by what Paul calls 'the obedience of faith.'" (pg. 201)

"We must never confuse the heart of assurance in faith with its confirmation in a life of service." (pg. 214)

Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance - Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Puritans on Loving One Another - from the writings of Ralph Venning, Thomas Manton, Joseph Caryl & John Ball - edited by Rev. Don Kistler

"Indeed, the glory of all our hereafter glory will be oneness of communion with the Father, Son, Spirit, and one another in God, who is one in all and all in one." (pg. 8)

"It is true that the multitude of years teaches wisdom, and so may the youth of days; it is truth, and nothing but the truth, and all the truth, which should have our esteem, whether it is old or young, whether it is the firstborn of time or the last." (pg. 17)

"Jealousy is as quick as martial law: it arraigns, condemns, and executes all in a moment." (pg. 23)

"When we are inferior and others superior, we beg (as did the servant in Matthew 18:26), 'Have patience a little.' Have a little patience! But when we are superior and others inferior, we have no patience at all." (pg. 26)

"Nature is so in love with unity that particular beings will forsake their own interests, their elements and centers which are their rest and happiness, rather than there should be a breach or vacuity in nature. And it is but reasonable that particulars should serve the universal (for they who so lose, shall save), seeing that unless the vessel be preserved their cabins cannot." (pg. 28)

"...none must look upon love as an indifferent thing, which we may practice or forbear at our own pleasure. No, it is a debt or duty by virtue of Christ's express command, a duty to Christ, a debt that we owe to God more than to our neighbor. (pg. 62)

"Those works of love, of love toward man, much more of love toward God, which are the end of the commandment, must flow from a good spring, from a gracious principle, a principle of grace." (pg. 79)

"...the heart is evangelically pure though there is sin dwelling in us, or an indwelling sin; and though sin is stirring, having strong motions in us, it makes war in our souls from day to day, though sin sometimes prevails and gives us that foil; yet, notwithstanding all this, when: First, the soul is free from the command of every sin. Second, when the soul is free from the customary practice of every sin. And, third, when the soul is free from the love of any sin, then the soul is evangelically pure." (pg. 101)

"It is an easy matter to be pure in our own eyes and yet remain altogether unclean." (pg. 102ff)

"Love causes the soul of him who loves to be more where it loves than where it lives." (pg. 119)

Venning, Manton, Caryl, Ball, edited by Rev. Don Kistler, The Puritans on Loving One Another (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God - by J. I. Packer

"The recovering of old truth, truth that has been a means of blessing in the past, can under God become the means of blessing again in the present, while the quest for newer alternatives may well prove barren." (pg. 13)

"Holiness is always the saved sinner's response of gratitude for grace received." (pg. 22)

"Genuine holiness is genuine Christlikeness, and genuine Christlikeness is genuine humanness - the only genuine humanness there is. Love in the service of God and others, humility and meekness under the divine hand, integrity of behavior expressing integration of character, wisdom with faithfulness, boldness with prayerfulness, sorrow at people's sins, joy at the Father's goodness, and single-mindedness in seeking to please the Father morning, noon, and night, were all qualities seen in Christ, the perfect man." (pg. 27)

"To long for total spiritual well-being is right and natural, but to believe that one is anywhere near it is to be utterly self-deceived." (pg. 39)

"Our time will surely go down in history, at least as far as the West is concerned, as the age of the God-shrinkers. Mainstream thinkers, inside as well as outside the church, have affirmed either the bloodless deism of a God who is cool, faraway, and uninvolved, and who lets His world run free; or the static monism of a God whose achievement is limited to unifying reality by linking all entities and processes with Himself in an interdependent whole; or the pathetic impotence of a God who is revealed in Jesus as an unsuccessful lover; or the faceless force of a God who animates all religions equally, so that none should dream of displacing any other." (pg. 64)

"When almighty love has thus totally taken over the task of getting me home to glory, responsive love, fed by gratitude and expressed in thanksgiving, should surface spontaneously as the ruling passion of my life." (pg. 71)

"Spirituality without ethics corrupts itself by becoming morally insensitive and antinomian, more concerned to realize God's presence than to keep His law. Ethics without spirituality corrupts itself by becoming mechanical, formalistic, proud, and unspiritual." (pg. 86)

"All ventures in holiness go rotten at the core when gain in any form, rather than gratitude, motivates them." (pg. 97)

"Godly Christians have always been marked by a two-sided perception of the numinous [the sense of divine holiness]. On the one hand, the transcendent glory of God's purity and love, as focused in the plan of salvation, fascinates them. On the other hand, the transcendent glory of God's sovereignty, as focused in the divine threat of judgment for impiety, alarms them. This characteristically Christian sense of the mercy and the terror (fear) of the Lord is the seed-bed in which awareness grows that life-long repentance is a 'must' of holy living." (pg. 120ff)

"Some forms of so-called holiness teaching encourage us to be insensitive to, or unconcerned about, the ungodly thoughts and motives that lurk within us, but one index of true holiness is an increasing awareness of them, a growing hatred toward them, and a deepening repentance for them, when we find ourselves harboring them in our hearts." (pg. 136)

"The fact is that Christians today are all victims of our decadent late twentieth century ethos that wrenches public orthodoxy and personal morality apart, implying that the latter does not matter so long as one is valiant for the truth." (pg. 140)

"The point I am trying to drive home is that holiness is the healthy growth of morally misshapen humans toward the moral image of Jesus Christ, the perfect man. This growth is supernatural. It takes the sanctifying work of the indwelling Holy Spirit to effect it." (pg. 152)

"Law-keeping love is the epitome of holiness, though love in any other sense negates it. Law-keeping love is God's prescription for the fulfilling of our humanity." (pg. 163)

"It has been truly said that the greatest social problem of the modern world is extreme emotional immaturity masquerading as an adult lifestyle. In God's ordering of things, the human family is meant to function as a relational network in which the lesson of responsible love and life-strategy will be thoroughly learned. But with the weakening of family life almost everywhere this is not happening." (pg. 182ff)

"Christian endurance, as we have seen, means living lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, and patiently under conditions that we wish were different." (pg. 227)

"...Christian contentment, cheerfulness and joy are fed, not directly by spiritual experiences - feelings, visions, raptures, thrills, which come and go, and in particular cases may hardly come at all - but by cognitive meditation and reflection - that is, by thinking, and thinking often - about the goodness, glory, and grace of the holy Three." (pg. 262ff)

J. I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009)