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)