Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Art of Divine Contentment - by Thomas Watson

"Discontent is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward." (pg. v)

"The main proposition I shall insist upon is this: a gracious spirit is a contented spirit. The doctrine of contentment is very superlative, and until we have learned this we have not learned to be Christians." (pg. 11)

"Here is the difference between a holy complaint and a discontented complaint. In the one we complain to God; in the other we complain of God." (pg. 17)

"Contentment is a divine thing; it becomes ours, not by acquisition, but by infusion. It is a slip taken off from the tree of life and planted by the Spirit of God in the soul." (pg. 19)

"God's Providence, which is nothing but the carrying out of His decrees, should be a counterpoison against discontent. God has set us in our station, and has done it in wisdom." (pg. 23)

"Be your material losses what they will, remember that in every loss there is only a suffering, but in every discontent there is a sin; and one sin is worse than a thousand sufferings." (pg. 37)

"The ship in the gospel was tossed because sin was in it, but it was not overwhelmed because Christ was in it. Christ is in the ship of His Church; do not fear sinking." (pg. 55)

"If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Resting satisfied with this promise gives contentment." (pg. 60)

"Discontent both eclipses reason and weakens faith. It is Satan's usual policy to break over the hedge where it is weakest. Discontent makes a breach in the soul, and usually at this breach the devil enters in by a temptation and storms the soul. How easily can the devil, by his logic, dispute a discontented Christian into sin!" (pg. 66)

"True faith will trust God where it cannot trace Him, and will venture upon God's bond though it has nothing in view. You who are discontented because you do not have all you want, let me tell you, either your faith is a non-entity, or at best it is but an embryo." (pg. 80ff)

"As the throat of a malicious man is an open sepulchre, so is the heart of a covetous man. Covetousness is not only a sin, but the punishment of a sin. It is a secret curse upon a covetous person that he shall thirst and thirst and never be satisfied." (pg. 97)

"All our disquiets issue immediately from unbelief. It is this that raises the storm of discontent in the heart. Oh, set faith to work!" (pg. 112)

"The way for a Christian to be content is not by raising his state higher, but by bringing his spirit lower; not by making his barns wider, but his heart narrower." (pg. 125)

Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2001)

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism - by Timothy Keller

"Skeptics believe that any exclusive claims to a superior knowledge of spiritual reality cannot be true. But this objection is itself a religious belief. It assumes God is unknowable, or that God is loving but not wrathful, or that God is an impersonal force rather than a person who speaks in Scripture." (pg. 12)

"Broadly understood, faith in some view of the world and human nature informs everyone's life. Everyone lives and operates out of some narrative identity, whether it is thought out and reflected upon or not." (pg. 15)

"Just because you can't see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn't mean there can't be one. Again we see lurking within supposedly hard-nosed skepticism an enormous faith in one's own cognitive faculties. If our minds can't plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can't be any! This is blind faith of a high order." (pg. 23)

"Freedom cannot be defined in strictly negative terms, as the absence of confinement and constraint. In fact, in many cases, confinement and constraint is actually a means to liberation." (pg. 45)

"Freedom, then, is not the absence of limitations and constraints but it is finding the right ones, those that fit our nature and liberate us." (pg. 49)

"In short, hell is simply one's freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity." (pg. 78)

"The belief in a God of pure love - who accepts everyone and judges no one - is a powerful act of faith. Not only is there no evidence for it in the natural order, but there is almost no historical, religious textual support for it outside of Christianity. The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears." (pg. 83)

"We must not universalize our time any more than we should universalize our culture. Think of the implication of the very term "regressive." To reject the Bible as regressive is to assume that you have now arrived at the ultimate historic moment, from which all that is regressive and progressive can be discerned. That belief is surely as narrow and exclusive as the views in the Bible you regard as offensive." (pg. 111)

"It comes down to this: If, as the evolutionary scientists say, what our brains tells us about morality, love, and beauty is not real - if it is merely a set of chemical reactions designed to pass on our genetic code - then so is what their brains tell them about the world. Then why should they trust them?" (pg. 139)

"Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him." (pg. 162)

"So racism, classism, and sexism are not matters of ignorance or a lack of education. Foucault and others in our time have shown that it is far harder than we think to have a self-identity that doesn't lead to exclusion. The real culture war is taking place inside our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them." (pg. 169)

"Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something is becomes "Lord of your life," whether you think of it that way or not. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally." (pg. 173)

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel - by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander

"When it comes to building a people for His own name and glory, God cares how we go about participating in His redemptive purposes." (pg. 27)

"God's Word is His supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That's why our eloquence, innovations, and programs are so much less important than we think; that's why we as pastors must give ourselves to preaching, not programs; and that's why we need to be teaching our congregations to value God's Word over programs." (pg. 35)

"...when we assume the Gospel instead of clarifying it, people who profess Christianity but don't understand or obey the Gospel are cordially allowed to presume their own conversion without examining themselves for evidence of it - which may amount to nothing more than a blissful damnation." (pg. 43)

"The only external evidence that the Bible tells us to use in discerning whether or not a person is converted is the fruit of obedience (Matt. 7:15-27; John 15:8; James 2:14-26; 1 John 2:3)." (pg. 53)

"Remember - what you win them with is likely what you'll win them to. If you win them with entertainment, they're likely to be won to the show rather than the message, which increases the likelihood of false conversions." (pg. 54ff)

"Entertainment is therefore a problematic medium for communicating the Gospel, because it nearly always obscures the most difficult aspects of it - the cost of repentance, the cross of discipleship, the narrowness of the Way." (pg. 55)

"Edification - building people up - happens when people are encouraged to understand and apply the Gospel more biblically, not necessarily when they are led into an emotional experience or encouraged to identify temporary emotional expressiveness with worship." (pg. 84ff)

"Corporate worship is not about pleasing people, whether ourselves, the congregation, or unbelieving seekers. Worship in the corporate gathering is about renewing our covenant with God by meeting with Him and relating to Him in the ways that He has prescribed." (pg. 115)

"Transformation into the likeness of the Lord happens as we gaze at Him together over time. The biblical hallmarks of church health - holiness, faith, love, sound doctrine - are cultivated in us as we are captivated by Him." (pg. 195)

"As our ministry methods become more complex, more reliant on human ingenuity, and more concerned with the approval of the world, they begin to cast a shadow on the image of God, and 'the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ' (2 Cor. 4:6) appears correspondingly dimmer. The mirror of God's Word becomes increasingly opaque, tarnished by the overapplication of human technique, and the result is a gradual diminishing of the transforming power that enables the church to reflect the character and knowledge of God." (pg. 196)

Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005)

Friday, October 17, 2008

When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage - by Dave Harvey

"...What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage." (pg. 20)

"...marriage is most amazing not because it brings people joy, or allows for a nurturing environment for children, or because it stabilizes society (even though it does all those things). Marriage is awesome because God designed it to display his glory." (pg. 28)

"It is very important in our Christian lives to be suspicious of any claims to righteousness we bring to our relationship with God. It is in Christ alone, and in his merit alone, that we trust. True humility is living confident in Christ's righteousness, and suspicious of our own." (pg. 63)

"Scripture does not give me permission to make the sins of my spouse my first priority. I need to slow down, exercise the humility of self-suspicion, and inspect my own heart first." (pg. 66)

"It's not wrong to desire appropriate things like respect or affection from our spouses. But it is very tempting to justify demands by thinking of them as needs and then to punish one another if those needs are not satisfied. A needs-based marriage does not testify to God's glory; it is focused on personal demands competing for supremacy." (pg. 74)

"There is fresh grace for each failure for both the sinner and the one sinned against. And kindness is a posture of heart that flows out in actions - daily-life stuff that reprograms behavior in marriage away from self-focus to the redemptive purposes of God." (pg. 85)

"Self-righteousness is a sense of moral superiority that appoints us as prosecutor of other people's sinfulness. We relate to other as if we are incapable of the sins they commit. Self-righteousness wages war against mercy." (pg. 91)

"The gospel, let us remember, has created something astounding - relationships among sinners where the King's rule is experienced and expressed! Do you see your marriage that way? Do you see it as two sinners experiencing and expressing the rule of Christ in the most significant human relationship he has created? When sinners say "I do," they acknowledge the Son of God's presence and Lordship in the endeavor of marriage." (pg. 111)

"If we sow loving honesty and courageous care, we will reap growth in godliness. If we avoid confrontation, we'll just get confrontation anyway, because sin unaddressed is sin unconfined. In an attempt to preserve peace, we sow war." (pg. 127)

"In marriage, to be meek is not to be weak or vulnerable, but to be so committed to your spouse that you will sacrifice for his or her good. A meek person sees the futility of responding to sin with sin." (pg. 130)

"So when life comes at you in ways you don't expect, remember this: Regeneration is the initial burst of spiritual life in our souls. Renewal is that same power working itself out in every facet of who we are, fitting us, as it were, for eternal life with Jesus." (pg. 172)

Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2007)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues With Timeless Truth - By R. Albert Mohler Jr.

"Love of neighbor for the sake of loving God is a profound political philosophy that strikes a balance between the disobedience of political disengagement and the idolatry of politics as our main priority." (pg. 4)

"With the advent of modernity, and now the postmodern age, the view that public law is or ought to be predicated on Christian morals is no longer taken for granted. Not only is the idea questioned, but it is even rejected out of hand." (pg. 8)

"...if we accept the argument that Christian moral arguments are forbidden entry into the public space, we have decided not only to violate the clear intention of our Constitution's framers, not only to reject the inherited civilization that has brought us to this point, not only to redefine what it means to be a liberal democracy, but we have actually privileged one form of religious discourse over another. That is, we have privileged irreligious religious discourse over self-consciously religious discourse." (pg. 18)

"Christians must not only contend for the preservation and protection of free speech - essential for the cause of the gospel - we must also make certain that we do not fall into the trap of claiming offendedness for ourselves. We must not claim a right not to be offended, even as we must insist that there is no such right and that the social construction of such a right will mean the death of individual liberty, free speech, and the free exchange of ideas." (pg. 35-36)

"Moral relativism has denied any objective judgment of right and wrong. A naive non-judgmentalism often masquerades as moral humility. But a refusal to make moral judgments is not humility. It is insanity." (pg. 48-49)

"Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square. It is the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth." (pg. 51)

"The God Gene is a parable for our postmodern times, further evidence of the lengths to which clever humans will go in trying to deny that we were made by a Creator who designed us with the capacity to know Him. Hamer's book is bad science and bad theology combined, but it does succeed in making one point clear: materialism just can't answer the big questions." (pg. 80)

"Keyes identifies the academic world as the source of much confusion when it comes to honesty. Postmodern philosophers routinely dismiss objective truth and assert that all truth is simply social construction and invention. Authorities in power simply invent truth in order to buttress their authority, the postmodernists allege. Following this logic, lying becomes a means of liberation." (pg. 101-102)

"Having established a truce with the naturalistic world-view, liberal theology simply accommodates itself to the secular temptation by denying God's active and sovereign rule. In other words, God's goodness is affirmed while His greatness is denied. Process theology does this by putting God within the created order, struggling along with His creation toward maturity." (pg. 130-131)

R. Albert Mohler Jr., Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues With Timeless Truth (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2008)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Humility: True Greatness - by C. J. Mahaney

"Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God's holiness and our sinfulness." (pg. 22)

"Why does God hate pride so passionately? Here's why: Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him." (pg. 31)

"Here's an essential truth: To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus' personal example of humble service. What we need is His death." (pg. 47)

"The end of each day offers us a unique opportunity to cultivate humility and weaken pride, as well as to sense God's pleasure. How? By reviewing our day and carefully assigning all glory to God for the grace we've experienced that day." (pg. 79)

"...only those who are humble can consistently identify evidences of grace in others who need adjustment. It's something the proud and the self-righteous are incapable of." (pg. 100)

"Our deliberate pursuit of obedience and growth in godliness isn't something we enter into with self-confidence, but as an expression of humble dependence upon the God who is actively working." (pg. 105)

"The biblical purpose for every conversation you have, in every personal interaction, is that the person who hears you will receive grace." (pg. 118)

"As I understand it, corrupt talk is the fruit of pride and the revealer of pride, while edifying words are the fruit of hearts that have been transformed by the gospel and evidence that a heart has been humbled by the gospel. Only the humble are genuinely concerned about edifying and encouraging others." (pg. 121)

C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2005)

Friday, July 25, 2008

God's Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith - by Bruce A. Ware

"God's full self-revelation must be accepted by evangelical theology with the deep conviction that all of what God has disclosed of himself is important for our understanding, and that no part of it should be granted the regulatory function of a prime datum in its doctrine of God." (pg. 44)

"If we felt the strain and ultimate inability to comprehend fully each of these two truths central to a proper understanding of God - the transcendent self-existence of God, by which he stands eternally independent of the world, possessing the infinite fullness of all perfections within his own nature, intrinsically; and the immanent self-relatedness of God, a relatedness expressed supremely in the cross, in God's relentless love that pursued its beloved in the face of open and willful rebellion - we now must acknowledge our complete wonder and amazement at an even greater mystery, one that is exposed only when these two grand truths of God are brought together: the God of the Bible loves and seeks us out with such eagerness and persistence when he himself stands in no need whatever of the objects of his love. His love, then, is unconditional without qualification." (pg. 56)

"If...our freedom consists in our choosing to act according to our strongest desires or inclinations, then it stands to reason that we can change our behavior only when our strongest desires and inclinations change. Character transformation is the key to behavior modification. And, of course, this is why Scripture is so consistently concerned with the renewal of our minds, our hearts, our characters, and our inner persons. Only as the Spirit of God works in us to transform our deepest desires will we choose and act in ways, increasingly, that are pleasing to the Lord." (pg. 81)

"The work that God does, then, in the life of a believer to produce fruitfulness and growth is by his direct-causative agency, working in and through us from out of his very character of wisdom, truth, goodness, holiness, and love. And because it is altogether his work, to him belongs all the glory, honor, and praise (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14)." (pg. 105)

"...God possesses eternally and necessarily the attributes of goodness and love, but apart from the creation and fall, God simply would not appropriately be called or thought of as "merciful" or "gracious" since neither of these can have any rightful and appropriate expression within the immanent Trinity." (pg. 153)

"...worship happens only when we are granted eyes to behold God's magnificence, and splendor, and glory, and majesty. This is a seeing with deep and abiding longing, a seeing that savors, eliciting a savoring that satisfies. In this seeing, God invades our lives, and we experience the truths about him that we have beheld. Truth about him becomes existential within our own minds, hearts, hopes, fears, plans, dreams, values, and desires. We marvel at his character, we embrace his will and his ways as we savor the richness and bounty of all that he is." (pg. 158)

"...the end of life is God - God's worth and glory extolled as needy and humble creatures live in full and happy dependence upon him, to the glory of his name." (pg. 159)

Bruce A. Ware, God's Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Respectable Sins: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate - by Jerry Bridges

"In the biblical sense of the term, sainthood is not a status of achievement and character but a state of being - an entirely new condition of life brought about by the Spirit of God." (pg. 14)

"Usually, however, our sinful actions stem not from a failure to achieve but from an inner urge to fulfill our own desires." (pg. 21)

"If I complain about the difficult circumstances of my life, I impugn the sovereignty and goodness of God and tempt my listener to do the same. In this way, my sin "metastasizes" into the heart of another person." (pg. 24)

"The truth is, there is never a day in our lives when we are so "good" we don't need the gospel." (pg. 37)

"Practically speaking, we live under the controlling influence of the Spirit as we continually expose our minds to and seek to obey the Spirit's moral will for us as revealed in Scripture. We live in dependence on Him through prayer as we continually cry out to Him for His power to enable us to obey His will." (pg. 41)

"Ungodliness may be defined as living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God's will, or of God's glory, or of one's dependence on God." (pg. 54)

"A person may be moral and upright, or even busy in Christian service, yet have little or no desire to develop an intimate relationship with God. This is a mark of ungodliness." (pg. 58)

"We can resign ourselves to circumstances we know will never change but still harbor in our hearts a smoldering discontentment. But as Amy Carmichael so helpfully brought out, it is neither in resignation nor submission but only in acceptance that we find peace." (pg. 75)

"What is self-control? It is a governance or prudent control of one's desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions. It is saying no when we should say no. It is moderation in legitimate desires and activities, and absolute restraint in areas that are clearly sinful." (pg. 110)

"Let me make a statement loud and clear. It is never okay to be angry at God. Anger is moral judgment, and in the case of God, it accuses Him of wrongdoing. It accuses God of sinning against us by neglecting us or in some way treating us unfairly. It also is often a response to our thinking that God owes us a better deal in life than we are getting." (pg. 127)

"The damage to God's glory by our sin is determined not by the severity of our sin but by the value of God's glory." (pg. 137)

"Usually, there are two conditions that tempt us to envy. First, we tend to envy those with whom we most closely identify. Second, we tend to envy in them the areas we value most." (pg. 149)

Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Quest For Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life - by J. I. Packer

"Maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. The Puritans exemplified maturity; we don't." (pg. 22)

"Pastor, they [Puritan clergy] said, are responsible for rebuking heresy and defending truth, lest their flocks be misled and thereby enfeebled, if not worse. Biblical truth is nourishing, human error is killing, so spiritual shepherds must guard sound doctrine at all costs." (pg. 64)

"Not only in connection with justification, but at every point, first to last, the Puritan account of faith's focus, exercise, and fruits is structured in terms of conscience receiving God's word and by its light judging how God sees one and how through Christ one may or does stand related to him in covenant mercy." (pg. 68)

"He who would interpret Scripture aright, therefore, must be a man of a reverent, humble, prayerful, teachable and obedient spirit; otherwise, however tightly his mind may be 'stuffed with notions', he will never reach any understanding of spiritual realities." (pg. 100)

"'There is a dangerous error grown too common in the world [it is commoner still today] that a man is bound to do every thing which his conscience telleth him is the will of God; and that every man must obey his conscience, as if it were the lawgiver of the world; whereas, indeed, it is not ourselves, but God, that is our lawgiver. And conscience is...appointed...only to discern the law of God, and call upon us to observe it: and an erring conscience is not to be obeyed, but to be better informed....'" (pg. 113)

"A good conscience is a tender conscience. The consciences of the godless may be so calloused that they scarcely ever act at all; bu the healthy Christian conscience (said the Puritans) is constantly in operation, listening for God's voice in his word, seeking to discern his will in everything, active in self-watch and self-judgement." (pg. 116)

"Its [the old gospel] centre of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the centre of reference is man. This is just to say tha the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach people to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed." (pg. 126)

"...we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of his redeeming work as if he had done no more by dying than make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God's love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence 'at the door of our hearts' for us to let them in." (pg. 126ff)

"'It is a mercy to have a faithful friend that loveth you entirely...to whom you may open you mind and communicate your affairs...And it is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul and...to stir up in you the grace of God.'" (pg. 262)

"It was a Puritan maxim that 'all grace enters by the understanding'. God does not move men to action by mere physical violence, but addresses their minds by his word, and calls for the response of deliberate consent and intelligent obedience. It follows that every man's first duty is to explain it. The only way to the heart that he is authorised to take runs via the head." (pg. 281)

"Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ's sheep. The preacher's job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers - in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats." (pg. 285)

"To their [Puritans] minds, it would be the worst advice possible to tell a troubled person to stop worrying about his sins and trust Christ at once when that person had not yet faced the specifics of his or her sinfulness and has not yet come to the point of clear-headedly desiring to leave all sinful ways behind and be made holy. To give this advice, they held, before the heart is weaned from sin would be the way to induce false peace and false hopes, as so to produce 'gospel-hypocrites', which is the last thing that a Christian counsellor should be willing to do." (pg. 298)

J. I. Packer, A Quest For Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1990)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Life Of God In The Soul Of Man - by Henry Scougal

"...true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the Divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, 'it is Christ formed within us'." (pg. 41-42)

"The root of the Divine life is faith; the chief branches are love to God, charity to man, purity and humility;..." (pg. 52)

"...I had rather see the real impressions of a godlike nature upon my own soul, than have a vision from heaven, or angel sent to tell me that my name were enrolled in the book of life." (pg. 55)

"The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love: he who loveth mean and sordid things doth thereby become base and vile; but a noble and well-placed affection doth advance and improve the spirit unto a conformity with the perfections which it loves." (pg. 68)

"The true way to improve and ennoble our souls is, by fixing our love on the divine perfections, that we may have them always before us, and derive an impression of them on ourselves, and 'beholding with open face, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory'." (pg. 69)

"Love is the greatest and most excellent thing we are masters of; and therefore it is folly and baseness to bestow it unworthily;..." (pg. 69-70)

"But oh! how happy are those who have placed their love on him who can never be absent from them!" (pg. 75)

"...let us never look upon any sin as light and inconsiderable; but be fully persuaded, that the smallest is infinitely heinous in the sight of God, and prejudicial to the soul of men: and that if we had the right sense of things, we should be as deeply affected with the least irregularities as now we are with the highest crimes." (pg. 100)

"The love of the world, and the love of God, are like the scales of a balance, as the one falleth, the other doth rise:..." (pg. 110)

"...the deepest and most pure humility doth not so much arise from the consideration of our own faults and defects, as from a calm and quiet contemplation of the divine purity and goodness." (pg. 129)

Henry Scougal, The Life Of God In The Soul Of Man (Scotland, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1996, 2001, 2002)

Future Grace - by John Piper

"Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself (Psalm 63:3)." (pg. 9-10)

"Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve as the power for holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform?" (pg. 11)

"...faith is the God-appointed means of justification and sanctification because, better than any other act, it highlights the freedom of grace and magnifies the glory of God." (pg. 19)

"In regard to justification, faith is not the channel through which a power or a transformation flows to the soul of the believer, but rather faith is the occasion of God's forgiving and acquitting and reckoning as righteous. ... However, in regard to sanctification, faith is indeed the channel through which divine power and transformation flow to the soul; and the work of God through faith does indeed touch the soul, and change it." (pg. 26)

"The only debt that grace creates is the "debt" of relying on more grace for all that God calls us to be and do." (pg. 42)

"As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety. The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus." (pg. 54)

"Every act of grace shown to a person because he is a sinner is also an act of mercy because his sin brings misery. And every act of mercy shown to a person because of his miserable plight is also an act of grace because he doesn't deserve it." (pg. 77)

"God made us alive and secured us in Christ so that he could make us the beneficiaries of everlasting kindness from infinite riches of grace. This is not because we are worthy. Quite the contrary, it is to show the infinite measure of his worth." (pg. 82-83)

"Belief is not merely an agreement with facts in the head; it is also an appetite for God in the heart, which fastens on Jesus for satisfaction." (pg. 86)

"Pride does not like the sovereignty of God. Therefore pride does not like the existence of God, because God is sovereign." (pg. 92)

"God reigns so supremely on behalf of his elect that everything which faces us in a lifetime of obedience and ministry will be subdued by the mighty hand of God and made the servant of our holiness and our everlasting joy in God." (pg. 116-117)

"Justification by faith secures final glorification. God has ordained it. God accomplishes it. The future grace of glorification is guaranteed by the past grace of justification." (pg. 125)

"...much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire. Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a good handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root." (pg. 134)

"Loving your enemy doesn't earn you the reward of heaven. Treasuring the reward of heaven empowers you to love your enemy." (pg. 163)

"...the strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours. This requires great faith in future grace, because the evidence is seldom evident." (pg. 174)

"All future obedience comes by the power of future grace." (pg. 185)

"Therefore, two things are necessary for saving faith to emerge. One is to use our perception and our mind to hear and see and understand and validate a testimony to the truth of Christ. The other is that we must apprehend and embrace the spiritual beauty and worth of Christ through the illumination of the Holy Spirit." (pg. 202)

"The safest place in the universe is with our arms around the neck of God. And the most dangerous place is any path where we flee from his presence." (pg. 243)

"It is not the memory of past grace that 'wills and works for God's good pleasure.' It is God himself, graciously arriving each moment, that brings the future into the present." (pg. 292)

"When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, remember this: the first shockwaves of the bomb are not sin. The real danger is yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of that surrender is unbelief - a failure to fight for faith in future grace. A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus." (pg. 307)

"The key to assurance is not to eliminate the biblical commands for endurance, but rather to magnify grace as a future power to believe, as well as a past pardon of sin." (pg. 317)

"All true virtue comes from faith in future grace; and all sin comes from lack of faith in future grace." (pg. 323)

"Faith stands or falls on the truth that the future with God is more satisfying than the one promised by sin. Where this truth is embraced and God is cherished above all, the power of sin is broken." (pg. 326)

"...the test of whether our faith is the kind of faith that justifies is whether it is the kind of faith that sanctifies." (pg. 332)

"The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness." (pg. 338)

"God so values our wholehearted faith in future grace that he will, graciously, take away everything else in the world that we might be tempted to rely on - even life itself." (pg. 347)

"If the nature of faith is to be satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, then the universal biblical mandate to believe is a radical and pervasive call to pursue our own happiness in God." (pg. 386)

"My discovery is that God is supreme not where he is simply served with duty but where he is savored with delight." (pg. 399)

John Piper, Future Grace (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1995)

When People Are Big And God Is Small - by Edward T. Welch

"1. We fear people because they can expose and humiliate us. 2. We fear people because they can reject, ridicule, or despise us. 3. We fear people because they can attack, oppress, or threaten us." (pg. 23)

"The roots of shame-induced fear of man lie in our relationship with God. We stand ultimately under his penetrating, holy gaze." (pg. 35-36)

"What is it that shame-fear and rejection-fear have in common? To use a biblical image, they both indicate that people are our favorite idol. We exalt them and their perceived power above God." (pg. 44)

"Feelings have become the inarticulate mutterings of the divine soul: to be morally upright is to do whatever your heart inspires you to do. When following inner impulses, this assumption declares, we can do no wrong." (pg. 81)

"Yet if our use of the term "needs" is ambiguous, and its range of meaning extends all the way to selfish desires, then there will be some situations where we should say that Jesus does not intend to meet our needs, but that he intends to change our needs." (pg. 89)

"Most sins are ungodly exaggerations of things that are good. As a result, we can supply proof texts to justify our behavior long after it has become idolatrous." (pg. 101)

"The triune God delights in showing us his grandeur and holiness, and we should never be satisfied with our present knowledge of him. So aspire to the fear of the Lord." (pg. 133)

"When psychological needs, rather than sin, are seen as our primary problem, not only is our self-understanding affected, but the gospel itself is changed." (pg. 146)

"The main reason why there is an epidemic of emptiness is that we have created and multiplied our needs, not God." (pg. 151)

"People are most similar to God when he is the object of their affection. People should delight in God, as he does in himself." (pg. 156)

"To image God means to imitate and represent God for the sake of his glory." (pg. 199)

"No one should have to ask what their gifts are; we should tell people their gifts as they minister to us." (pg. 205)

Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big And God Is Small (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1997)

The Knowledge Of The Holy - by A. W. Tozer

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." (pg. 1)

"The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him." (pg. 3)

"The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God." (pg. 4)

"For while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself. These we call His attributes." (pg. 11)

"What God declares the believing heart confesses without the need of further proof. Indeed, to seek proof is to admit doubt, and to obtain proof is to render faith superfluous." (pg. 19)

"Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator. God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself." (pg. 32)

"The unbeliever denies the self-sufficiency of God and usurps attributes that are not his. This dual sin dishonors God and ultimately destroys the soul of the man." (pg. 35)

"Nothing in God is less or more, or large or small. He is what He is in Himself, without qualifying thought or word. He is simply God." (pg. 46)

"Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means." (pg. 60)

"We rest in what God is. I believe that this alone is true faith. Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith." (pg. 62)

"The testimony of faith is that, no matter how things look in this fallen world, all God's acts are wrought in perfect wisdom." (pg. 62)

"With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures." (pg. 64)

"Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a 'law'." (pg. 66)

"When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone." (pg. 71)

"The greatness of God rouses fear within us, but His goodness encourages us not to be afraid of Him. To fear and not be afraid - that is the paradox of faith." (pg. 84)

"God's compassion flows out of His goodness, and goodness without justice is not goodness." (pg. 88)

"Because God is immutable He always acts like Himself, and because He is a unity He never suspends one of His attributes in order to exercise another." (pg. 98)

"Theological knowledge is the medium through which the Spirit flows into the human heart, yet there must be humble penitence in the heart before truth can produce faith. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth. It is possible to have some truth in the mind without having the Spirit in the heart, but it is never possible to have the Spirit apart from truth." (pg. 104)

A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge Of The Holy (New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1961)

The Cross Centered Life - by C. J. Mahaney

"Only when we hear the very bad news that we're deserving of judgment can we appreciate the very good news that God has provided salvation through His Son." (pg. 14-15)

"Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be." (pg. 21)

"'Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.'" [quote from D.A. Carson] (pg. 22)

"Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through obedience to God." (pg. 25)

"We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He's accomplished for us at the cross." (pg. 47)

"...our emotions shouldn't be vested with final authority. This should be reserved for God's Word alone." (pg. 48)

"'We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.'" [quote from David Prior] (pg. 74)

C. J. Mahaney/Sovereign Grace Ministries, The Cross Centered Life (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2002)

The Cross and Christian Ministry - by D. A. Carson

"...Paul here sets forth the only polarity that is of ultimate importance: he distinguishes between those who are perishing and those who are being saved. The dividing line between these two groups is the message of the cross...(1 Cor. 1:18-21)." (pg. 14)

"...the demand for signs becomes the prototype of every condition human beings raise as a barrier to being open to God. I will devote myself to this God if he heals my child. I will follow this Jesus if I can maintain my independence." (pg. 21)

"We depend on plans, programs, vision statements - but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning." (pg. 26)

"The only thing of transcendent importance to human beings is the knowledge of God." (pg. 32)

"When the pressure to 'contextualize' the gospel jeopardizes the message of the cross by inflating human egos, the cultural pressures must be ignored." (pg. 34)

"...the possibility of knowing God and of understanding his ways does not belong to any human being as an essential component of his or her being. The distance is too great; our self-centeredness is too deep. ... What is required, then, is revelation." (pg. 53)

"...truly grasping the truth of the cross and being transformed cannot be separated - and both are utterly dependent on the work of the Spirit." (pg. 65)

"If the church is being built with large portions of charm, personality, easy oratory, positive thinking, managerial skills, powerful and emotional experiences, and people smarts, but without the repeated, passionate, Spirit-anointed proclamation of 'Jesus Christ and him crucified,' we may be winning more adherents than converts." (pg. 80)

"The way of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it - admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively on the long haul." (pg. 83)

"...what is required in some sense of all believers is peculiarly required of the leaders of believers. There is a difference of degree." (pg. 95)

"...a leader's ultimate allegiance must not be to the church, or to any individual leader or tradition. It must be to the Lord alone and to the 'secret things of God' he has entrusted to him or her." (pg. 98)

"Leaders in the church suffer the most. They are not like generals in the military who stay behind the lines." (pg. 108)

"Strong Christians may be right on a theological issue, but unless they voluntarily abandon what is in fact their right they will do damage to the church and thus 'sin against Christ' (1 Cor. 8:12). To stand on your rights may thus involve you in sin after all - not the sin connected with your rights (there, after all, you are right!), but the sin of lovelessness, the sin of being unwilling to forgo your rights for the spiritual and eternal good of others." (pg. 125)

D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1993, 2003)

The Practice Of Godliness - by Jerry Bridges

"Devotion is not an activity; it is an attitude toward God. This attitude is composed of three essential elements: 1) the fear of God; 2) the love of God; and, 3) the desire for God." (pg. 14)

"The practice of godliness is an exercise or discipline that focuses upon God." (pg. 14)

"As we mature in our Christian lives we are increasingly aware of God's holiness and our own sinfulness." (pg. 25)

"True godliness engages our affections and awakens within us a desire to enjoy God's presence and fellowship. It produces a longing for God Himself." (pg. 28)

"...minimum characteristics necessary for training" in godliness: 1) commitment; 2) A competent teacher/coach (Holy Spirit); and, 3) practice. (pg. 34ff)

"...five methods of intake of the Word of God - hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating." (pg. 37ff)

"...we can build Godlike character only upon the foundation of a wholehearted devotion to God." (pg. 54)

"...Devotion to God is the only acceptable motive for actions that are pleasing to God." (pg. 57)

"...The power or enablement for a godly life comes from the risen Christ." (pg. 59)

"...Though the power for godly character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours." (pg. 61)

"...The development of godly character entails both putting off and putting on character traits." (pg. 63)

"...We are to pursue growth in all of the graces that are considered the fruit of the Spirit." (pg. 65)

"...Growth in all areas is progressive and never finished." (pg. 67)

"We must not treat the Scriptures only as a source of knowledge about God, but also as the expression of His will for our daily lives." (pg. 75)

"The Scriptures repeatedly affirm that the focal point of our joy should be our hope of the eternal inheritance that awaits us in Jesus Christ and the final revelation of His glory." (pg. 116)

"...the most essential elements of holiness. They can be summed up in five words: conviction, commitment, discipline, dependence, and desire." (pg. 123)

"This is where holiness begins: with the knowledge of the truth that renews our minds and enables us to understand how God wants us to live." (pg. 125)

"A conviction is not truly a conviction unless it includes a commitment to live by what we claim to believe." (pg. 125)

"...Self-control is the exercise of inner strength under the direction of sound judgment that enables us to do, think, and say the things that are pleasing to God." (pg. 134)

"...love is a vigorous spirit that rules the whole man, ever directing him to the humble and loving fulfillment of his duties to God and man." (pg. 210)

"...Godlike character is both the fruit of the Spirit as He works within us and the result of our personal efforts." (pg. 211)

Jerry Bridges, The Practice Of Godliness (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1983, 1996)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What Angels Wish They Knew - by Alistair Begg

"...we believe 'what we like,' and what most of us 'like' is the idea of a god who exists for us. Far less attractive is the 'outmoded' notion of a personal Creator-God who made us and to whom we are accountable." (pg. 14)

"Learning to be content with what we have is a safeguard against the temptation to break the previous nine commands." (pg. 52)

"The deity of Jesus Christ is the essential presupposition of the finality of Christian revelation and the validity of Christian redemption." (pg. 99)

"This is what Professor Nathaniel Micklem of Mansfield College, Oxford, referred to: 'The ultimate scandal of evangelical religion...lies not in dogma or symbolism but in its intolerable offense to human pride.'" (pg. 127)

"We are so driven by the idea that in order to appeal to the mind of contemporary society we must ensure that we are always pragmatic, positive, and careful to avoid anything that may unsettle or disturb potential 'clients.' How unlike Jesus, who explains how it will be at the end of the age. Some will go away to eternal punishment and others to eternal life." (pg. 140)

Alistair Begg, What Angels Wish They Knew (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1998)

Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics - by R. C. Sproul

"The term apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which literally means 'a reasoned statement or a verbal defense.'" (pg. 13)

"Notitia (content) and assensus (assent to its truth) are necessary conditions for saving faith (we can't have saving faith without them), but they are not sufficient to save us." (pg. 24)

"Epistemology, or the study of how human knowledge is obtained, is indispensable to the apologetic task." (pg. 29)

"...the four basic epistemological premises (all of which are presupposed in Scripture): 1) the law of noncontradiction; 2) the law of causality; 3) the basic (although not perfect) reliability of sense perception; and 4) the analogical use of language." (pg. 30)

"Indeed, the assumption of an objectively rational structure of reality is an assumption that is necessary for any obtaining of knowledge to take place." (pg. 36)

"The law of causality does not require that everything have a cause, only that every effect must have a cause. An eternal object need not have a cause..." (pg. 51)

"...our senses have limitations; that is, our powers of perception can never penetrate the invisible realm where perhaps various kinds of unseen forces (most significantly the providence of God) are in operation." (pg. 58)

"The truth all sinners suppress, which exacts the wrath of God, is knowledge about the Creator." (pg. 76)

"...the two corresponding spheres of enquiry, science and theology, so far from being separated and opposed to one another, are actually in perfect agreement - because all truth is God's truth. Science and theology both presuppose God's divine revelation; and they both meet, as it were, at the top." (pg. 83)

"The greatest myth in modern mythology is the myth of chance." (pg. 116)

"Chance is a perfectly legitimate word for describing coin tosses and unexpected encounters. Today, however, the word chance has been subtly elevated to indicate something far more than mathematical odds or probabilities. To many modern minds, chance is seen as having causal power." (pg. 118)

"The idea of self-existence, which in theology we call the attribute of aseity, is the idea that something exists in and of itself; it is uncaused, uncreated, and differs from everything in the universe that has a cause. A self-existent, eternal being is one that has the power to be, in and of itself." (pg. 122)

"Ex nihilo nihil fit - 'out of nothing, nothing can come'..." (pg. 123)

"When we say that God is transcendent we mean, simply, that he is a higher order of being than we are." (pg. 132)

"No, intention is always attached to intelligence. Indeed, the single most important characteristic of personality is intention. For intention to exist, something must be acting with purpose. One cannot have design accidentally." (pg. 143)

"The ungodly seek an impersonal and ignorant God precisely because we are personal beings and we know we are ultimately accountable to our Creator for our behavior." (pg. 143)

"Our relativistic culture today attempts to get around the need for a moral law by declaring that there is no right or wrong at all, that every act is amoral (neither moral nor immoral). This is nothing more than an educated barbarism; and despite its efforts to the contrary, the conscience cannot be eradicated." (pg. 148)

"If there were no God, then there would be no ultimate ground for doing what is right. All things would be permissible, because all choices would reduce to a battle over preferences." (pg. 149)

"To summarize, in order for ethical standards to have any absolute meaning (thereby imposing obligations upon us), justice must exist; and, granted that our justice is imperfect on earth, there must be perfect justice in the hereafter; and that perfect justice must be secured by a morally perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent judge." (pg. 151)

"Just as we are capable of inventing gods where there are none, so we are capable of doing everything possible to deny our guilt before a God who actually exists." (pg. 160)

"...the dual nature of God's Word. The first 'nature' of Scripture is the humanity of the human authors, which includes all of the idiosyncrasies of style; the second is the deity of its ultimate author, which includes the infallible superintendence of every word, thereby elevating the book into the very word of God himself." (pg. 187)

"Far from being a threat, there is no greater liberation for the seeker of truth than the certainty that God exists and reveals himself and his will in the special revelation of sacred Scripture." (pg. 196)

R. C. Sproul, Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hard To Believe - by John MacArthur

"Self-importance is the reigning reality in human fallenness: man is the master of his own soul, the captain of his own fate, the monarch of his own world." (pg. 14)

"Perhaps the dominant myth in the evangelical church today is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is, and that the kingdom of God and the glory of Christ somehow advance on the back of public favor." (pg. 19)

"The gospel is hard to believe, and the people who bring it to the world are nobodies. The plan is still the same for all who are God's clay pots. To summarize, here is Paul's humble, five-point strategy: We will not lose heart. We will not alter the message. We will not manipulate the results, because we understand that a profound spiritual reality is at work in those who do not believe. We will not expect popularity, and therefore, we will not be disappointed. And we will not be concerned with visible and earthly success but devote our efforts toward that which is unseen and eternal." (pg. 51)

"God offers nothing to people who are content with their own condition, except judgment." (pg. 68)

"Fallen people set the Law of God aside, constantly inventing new systems that accommodate their shortcomings, then affirming that they are okay before their gods, based on their own personal criteria or religious beliefs and behaviors." (pg. 79)

"The only visible evidence you will ever have of your salvation is a life lived in the direction of obedience; it is the proof that you genuinely have bowed to the lordship of Jesus Christ and been transformed by His grace into a servant of His righteousness." (pg. 112-113)

"Pride is an illusion that curses greatness. The great are the ones who see their failings and work to overcome, not the ones who fancy themselves to be without weakness." (pg. 142)

"...prepare for the rejection the truth is likely to receive. No matter how many features or enticements you add, and how many difficulties you remove, all except true believers will turn you down in the end." (pg. 162)

"The truth divides people. The more fundamental the truth, the deeper and wider the division. The goal of Christian preaching - the goal of presenting the gospel, the goal of the church - is not just to open the door so wide that we can suck everybody in and make them feel comfortable. The goal is to preach the truth to as many people as possible, so that we can sort out the true from the false." (pg. 173)

"If you don't believe the gospel, you don't know God. If you don't know God, you're going to be judged without regard for your human morality." (pg. 211)

John MacAurthur, Hard to Believe (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2003)

"Fundamentalism" and the Word of God - by J. I. Packer

"We agree that no single human formulation of God's truth can be final or exhaustive; we agree that it will take the combined insight of the whole Church to grasp the whole truth of God, and that all groups within Christendom have much to learn from each other; we know that we are all prone to misunderstand the views of others, and to do so in an unfavourable sense; we recognize that there is at least a grain of truth in every heresy, and that views which are partly wrong are also partly right. It is indeed important in theological discussion to bear these things in mind. But it is even more important to remember that the essential step in sound theologizing is to bring all views - one's own as well as those of others - to the touchstone of Scripture." (pg. 18)

"We shall argue that subjection to the authority of Christ involves subjection to the authority of Scripture. Anything short of unconditional submission to Scripture, therefore, is a kind of impenitence; any view that subjects the written Word of God to the opinions and pronouncements of men involves unbelief and disloyalty towards Christ." (pg. 21)

"...as Machen insisted, 'the true way in which to examine a spiritual movement is in its logical relations: logic is the great dynamic, and the logical implications of any way of thinking are sooner or later certain to be worked out'." (pg. 26-27)

"Liberalism swept away entirely the gospel of the supernatural redemption of sinners by God's sovereign grace. It reduced grace to nature, divine revelation to human reflection, faith in Christ to following His example, and receiving new life to turning over a new leaf; it turned supernatural Christianity into one more form of natural religion, a thin mixture of morals and mysticism." (pg. 27)

"The Concise Oxford Dictionary is thus right when it defines 'Fundamentalism' as: 'maintenance, in opposition to modernism, of traditional orthodox beliefs such as the inerrancy of Scripture and literal acceptance of the creeds as fundamentals of protestant Christianity.'" (pg. 29)

"The Evangelical is not afraid of facts, for he knows that all facts are God's facts; nor is he afraid of thinking, for he knows that all truth is God's truth, and right reason cannot endanger sound faith." (pg. 34)

"The deepest cleavages in Christendom are doctrinal; and the deepest doctrinal cleavages are those which result from disagreement about authority." (pg. 44)

"There are three distinct authorities to which final appeal might be made - Holy Scripture, Church tradition or Christian reason; that is to say, Scripture as interpreted by itself; Scripture as interpreted (and in some measure amplified) by official ecclesiastical sources; and Scripture as evaluated in terms of extra-biblical principles by individual Christian men. The problem of authority can be answered in three ways, and three only, according to which of the authorities mentioned is given precedence over the other two: we call these three types of answer the evangelical, the traditionalist and the subjectivist respectively. Confessional Protestants give the first; Romanists, some Anglo-Catholics and Orthodox give the second; modern Liberal Protestants give the third." (pg. 46-47)

"To undercut Christ's teaching about the authority of the Old Testament is to strike at His own authority at the most fundamental point." (pg. 61)

"Apostolic utterances are the truth of Christ and possess the authority of Christ; they are to be received as words of God, because what they convey is, in fact, the word of God." (pg. 64)

"...because the Church on earth consists of imperfectly sanctified sinners, there are always two defects in the lives of its members, both corporately and individually. These are ignorance and error, which cause omissions and mistakes in belief and behaviour. The Church, therefore, has two constant needs; instruction in the truths by which it must live, and correction of the shortcomings by which its life is marred." (pg. 68-69)

"...it is entirely natural for sinners to think of themselves as wise, not by reason of divine teaching, but through the independent exercise of their own judgment, and to try to justify their fancied wisdom by adjusting what the Bible teaches to what they have already imbibed from other sources ('modern knowledge')." (pg. 70)

"...inspiration is to be defined as a supernatural, providential influence of God's Holy Spirit upon the human authors which caused them to write what He wished to be written for the communication of revealed truth to others." (pg. 77)

"But the Bible teaches rather that the freedom of God, who works in and through His creatures, leading them to act according to their nature, is itself the foundation and guarantee of the freedom of their action." (pg. 81)

"There is no such thing as an exhaustive exegesis of any passage. The Holy Spirit is constantly showing Christian men facets of revealed truth not seen before." (pg. 89)

"Our God-given textbook is a closed book till our God-given Teacher opens it to us." (pg. 112)

"Unscriptural ideas in our theology are like germs in our system. They tend only to weaken and destroy life, and their effect is always damaging, more or less." (pg. 123)

"Liberalism, like all Subjectivism, discounts the perfection and truth of Scripture in order to make room for man to contribute his own ideas to his knowledge of God, just as Mediaevalism discounted the perfection of Christ's merits in order to make room for man to contribute his own merits to his acceptance with God. But Christ's merits do not need to be augmented by human works; and God's revealed truth does not need to be edited, cut, corrected and improved by the cleverness of man. To attempt either task is to insult God (by denying the perfection of His gifts) and to flatter ourselves (by supposing that we can improve on them)." (pg. 173)

J. I. Packer, "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Problem of Pain - by C. S. Lewis

"All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own, and all men therefore are conscious of guilt." (pg. 11)

"Whatever human freedom means, Divine freedom cannot mean indeterminacy between alternatives and choice of one of them. Perfect goodness can never debate about the end to be attained, and perfect wisdom cannot debate about the means most suited to achieve it. The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes them - that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow and His own omnipotence the air in which they all flower." (pg. 26-27)

"Our life is, at every moment, supplied by Him: our tiny, miraculous power of free will only operates on bodies which His continual energy keeps in existence - our very power to think is His power communicated to us." (pg. 33)

"When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some 'disinterested', because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one." (pg. 39)

"The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word 'love', and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake." [Rev. 4:11] (pg. 40)

"The first answer, then, to the question why our cure should be painful, is that to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain." (pg. 88-89)

"It is hardly complementary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts. The creature's illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature's sake, be shattered; and by trouble or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of the eternal flames, God shatters it 'unmindful of His glory's diminution'." (pg. 96)

"The full acting out of the self's surrender to God therefore demands pain: this action, to be perfect, must be done from the pure will to obey, in the absence, or in the teeth, of inclination." (pg. 98)

"But if suffering is good, ought it not to be pursued rather than avoided? I answer that suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads." (pg. 110-111)

"In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguish (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the exploitation of that evil by God for His redemptive purpose, which produces (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute." (pg. 111)

"To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity." (pg. 127-128)

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001)

Holy Spirit Power - by Charles Spurgeon

"Paraclete is the Holy Ghost, and it is the original Greek word, but it has other meanings besides 'Comforter.' Sometimes it means 'monitor' or 'instructor.' Frequently it means 'advocate,' but the most common meaning of the word is 'comforter.'" (pg. 10)

"No man ever learns anything correctly unless he is taught by the Spirit. No man can know Jesus Christ unless he is taught by God." (pg. 11)

"He (Holy Ghost) is the mighty Advocate when He pleads in the soul. He makes us aware of sin, of righteousness, and of the judgment to come." (pg. 13)

"The Holy Ghost does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance. [John 14:26]" (pg. 20)

"If you have one blessing, you will have all. God will never divide the Gospel. He will not give justification to one and sanctification to another, or pardon to one and holiness to another." (pg. 24)

"The Spirit comes to Convict before He comforts..." (pg. 25)

"Now, man can guide us to a truth, but it is only the Holy Spirit who can guide us into a truth. [John 16:13]" (pg. 69)

"...the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth by suggesting ideas, directing our thoughts, and illuminating the Scriptures when we read them." (pg. 75)

"...wherever there is a real work of grace in any soul, it begins with a pulling down. The Holy Ghost does not build on the old foundation." (pg. 91)

"We cannot fetch anything from elsewhere and bring it to God, but the praises of God are simply the facts about Himself." (pg. 163)

"That it came from Christ is the best thing about the best thing that ever came from Christ. That He saves me is somehow better than my being saved. It is a blessed thing to go to heaven, but I do not know that it is not a better thing to be in Christ and so, as the result of it, to get into heaven." (pg. 164)

"The Holy Ghost will glorify Christ by making us see that these things from Christ are indeed of Christ, completely from Christ, and still in connection with Christ, and we only enjoy them because we are in connection with Christ." (pg. 165)

Charles Spurgeon, Holy Spirit Power (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1996)

Authority - by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

"Use your reason, use your intellect; do so honestly, and you will come to the conclusion that there is a limit to reason. And then wait. It is at that point that God in His infinite grace and kindness meets us in revelation." (pg. 13)

"We must never conceive of revelation as existing only in Jesus Christ or beginning with His coming into the world. God had revealed Himself in times past, ..." (pg. 31)

"You cannot separate the Lord Jesus Christ from the background and the context of the Old Testament Scriptures." (pg. 32)

"The whole Bible comes to us and offers itself to us in exactly the same way, and as a whole. There is no hint, no suspicion of a suggestion that parts of it are important and parts are not. All come to us in the same form." (pg. 35)

"Just as a man may have an intellectual conception of, and give an intellectual assent to, the truth about Christ without really receiving Him and becoming a Christian, so he can do exactly the same with the Scriptures." (pg. 38)

"...the only adequate view of the world as it is today is to be found in the biblical view of man, the biblical view of the fall, and of sin. It is only in the light of this teaching that you can understand the whole process of history." (pg. 42)

"...all that we believe about the Scriptures and about the Lord Himself can only be applied in our ministry, and so become relevant to the world and its situation, as we are under the authority and power of the Holy Spirit." (pg. 62)

"We are so concerned about ourselves and our self-importance that we are almost afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to gain control, lest we find ourselves doing something or saying something, or appearing in a guise which does not accord fully with our ideas of what befits the modern educated, sophisticated individual." (pg. 66)

"We seem to have forgotten that God has done most of His deeds in the Church throughout its history through 'remnants'. We seem to have forgotten the great story of Gideon, for instance, and how God insisted on reducing the thirty-two thousand men down to three hundred, before He would make use of them." (pg. 71)

"You can be an advocate of Christianity without being a Christian. ... You may be talking about something which you do not really know, about Someone you have never met. You are an advocate, perhaps even a brilliant advocate. But note what the Lord said to the apostles: 'Ye shall be my witnesses.'" (pg. 82)

"A revival is something that can never be arranged and organized by men. A revival is the result of the direct action of the Holy Ghost in authority and power." (pg. 89)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authority (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1984, 1985, 1992, 1997)