Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love - by Milton Vincent

"Re-preaching the gospel and then showing how it applied to life was Paul's choice method for ministering to believers, thereby providing a divinely inspired pattern for me to follow when ministering to myself and to other believers." (pg. 13)

"When God chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world, He did not merely choose me to be 'holy and blameless'; He chose me also to be 'before Him in love.' To be sure, I am always in God's presence on earth, and in heaven I will be in His presence more fully than ever. But it could also be said that in this life I am especially 'before Him in love' when I come 'before Him' in prayer and worship." (pg. 35)

"...the key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to eliminate the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I accomplish this by feasting on the gospel." (pg. 46)

"The gospel is called 'the gospel of God,' not simply because it is from God, nor merely because it is accomplished through God, but also because ultimately it leads me to God, who is Himself its greatest Prize." (pg. 49)

Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2008)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

If God Already Knows Why Pray? - by Douglas F. Kelly

"The better you know God the more certain it is that you will pray to Him." (pg. 21)

"At last, here is the answer to the question: what is God like? This is what the triune God is like: life, light, and love. That is the secret to this universe and the key to understanding everything that exists." (pg. 26)

"Praise takes us outside ourselves, above all our petty worries, and catches us up in something wonderful and ennobling. It catches us up into the very purposes and the person of God." (pg. 45)

"In the prayers of His people, as everywhere else, our God has the initiative. This is very encouraging if we grasp what it means! Effective prayers start in heaven and are sent down to us by God Himself." (pg. 63)

"It is the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man (that) prevails. But what renders prayer 'effectual'? Not its length, not its vehemence, not its eloquence, not its passion, but simply the living sympathy which is established between the soul pleading in the closet, and the Saviour interceding in the heavens." [quote by B. M. Palmer] (pg. 64)

"Chosen by the Father to be engrafted by the Spirit and bonded by faith into His son, we have an incredibly happy, new family identity: we are united to Christ! How different our prayers are when we kneel down with an awareness of who we are and what we have in Christ!" (pg. 86)

"Power in prayer is found not by looking at ourselves, but by concentrating on the one with whom and through whom we wrestle. Instead of fainting, we need to keep looking to Jesus, who will enable us to win the battle of intercession." (pg. 140ff)

Douglas F. Kelly, If God Already Knows Why Pray? (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1995)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters - by Timothy Keller

"There is a difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through it. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing." (pg. x)

"What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give." (pg. xvii)

"People who have never suffered in life have less empathy for others, little knowledge of their own shortcomings and limitations, no endurance in the face of hardship, and unrealistic expectations for life. As the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us, anyone God loves experiences hardship (Hebrews 12:1-8)." (pg. 15)

"Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it." (pg. 53)

"Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding and identity, our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without a complete change of heart will be superficial and fleeting." (pg. 68)

"More than other idols, personal success and achievement lead to a sense that we ourselves are god, that our security and value rest in our own wisdom, strength, and performance. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap, means no one is like you. You are supreme." (pg. 75)

"The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart's desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable." (pg. 93)

"An ideology, like an idol, is a limited, partial account of reality that is raised to the level of the final word on things. Ideologues believe that their school or party has the real and complete answer to society's problems. Above all, ideologies hide from their adherents their dependence on God." (pg. 104)

"What we learn here is that theology matters, that much of our addiction to power and control is due to false conceptions of God. Gods of our own making may allow us to be 'masters of our fate.' Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name 'moralistic, therapeutic, deism' to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans." (pg. 115)

"Because of the self-justifying nature of the human heart, it is natural to see our own culture or class characteristics as superior to everyone else's. But this natural tendency is arrested by the gospel." (pg. 139)

"There is no way to challenge idols without doing cultural criticism, and there is no way to do cultural criticism without discerning and challenging idols." (pg. 167)

"Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to 'plant' the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back." (pg. 172)

Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Conversations of Jesus: Learning From His Encounters - by Simon J. Kistemaker

"We should remember that God is never indebted to us when we show our love to him and to our neighbor. We cannot claim any reward or merit for performing a good deed. Instead, we humbly confess that all our deeds are incomplete and imperfect in his sight. His blessings, then, are not in response to our good works but stem from his grace and goodness to us in Christ Jesus." (pg. 42)

"Jesus wants us to express our thankfulness to him by living our lives in harmony with God's will. This is a matter not merely of politeness but of worship. As God's children, we should daily thank our heavenly Father for his goodness and provision." (pg. 99)

"None of us are able to write the script of our lives. Yet when we look back, we see the hand of God leading, guiding, and preparing us. We must confess that God in his providence has prepared us for productive service in his church and kingdom. And we thank him for his abundant blessings." (pg. 161)

"The air in a room may appear to be dust-free, but when a beam of sunlight illumines the air, it reveals a multitude of floating particles. Though you know you are a sinner, it is not until the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, enlightens your soul that your sin shows up. When your conscience convicts you, confess your sin to Jesus and he'll forgive you." (pg. 192)

Simon J. Kistemaker, The Conversations of Jesus: Learning From His Encounters (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World - by David F. Wells

"God's disappearance not only is evident on the one end of the production chain. It is evident all the way along and, not least, in what keeps it all going: unbridled consumer desire. In an older time, desire used to be bridled." (pg. 38)

"In a secularized culture, God has ceased to be a player in regulating our desires and, besides, his regulation, such as it is, has ceased to be moral and has become only therapeutic. The restraints, therefore, are gone." (pg. 39)

"If postmoderns do not want to find any objective realm in which what is true and right finds its validation - and they do not - what other avenues are left open to them but that of nihilism?" (pg. 67)

"As our world has thus fallen in on us, stripping us of a worldview larger than our own perceptions, denying that we have access to what is true, and leaving us purposeless, so many people in the West are, perhaps surprisingly, now reaching out for what is spiritual." (pg. 89)

"Here, then, are what we might call the underlying motifs of the postmodern mind. They constitute a gravitational pull toward three simple affirmations: no (comprehensive) worldview, no truth, and no purpose." (pg. 90)

"Spirituality travels light. It needs no buildings, no rituals, no professionals, or even sacred books. It can be practiced alone. Perhaps, then, it should not be so surprising that in the business world, for example, which is driven by fierce competition, suffused with insecurity, where corporate vitality can turn to corporate death with astonishing speed, spirituality is appearing everywhere." (pg. 111)

"In the absence of an authoritative, and perhaps privileged, interpretation, one that can comprehend all of life, what we are left with is simply our own private perspectives." (pg. 118)

"For Christian [in Pilgrim's Progress], the pilgrimage through life is all about its destination, not about the experience of wandering or, in contemporary parlance, of being a spiritual seeker. Christian always knew where he was headed; postmoderns on the spiritual journey do not and their modus vivendi is to experiment rather than to imagine they know the destination to which they are headed." (pg. 121ff)

"It is true, of course, that the modernization of the Western world has also filled it with abundance and with relief from so many of the ills that once afflicted life. It is offering up new possibilities, new choices, and an astounding array of new opportunities. Yet, at the same time, we live with more anxiety, more loneliness, more meaninglessness, a deeper sense of having been uprooted from family, place, and work. And the technology that has produced miracle drugs and genetically altered foods has also produced a world more dangerous and threatening than ever before with its nuclear bombs, its chemical and biological weapons, and its pollution. What has enabled us to progress in some ways also casts its own long, dark shadow across life in other ways." (pg. 146)

"Given our cultural climate, religion which is useful is that which is therapeutically helpful. And the need to discern between what is true and what is false, we have come to think, is a bad habit which needs to be abandoned." (pg. 150)

"For while the evangelical Church is aware of such things as the fight for gay and lesbian rights, hears about the eco-feminists, knows about pornography, has a sense that moral absolutes are evaporating like the morning mist, knows that truth of an ultimate kind has been dislodged from life, it apparently does not perceive that in these and many other ways a new worldview is becoming ensconced in the culture. If it did, it surely would not be embracing with enthusiasm as many aspects of this postmodern mindset as it is or be so willing to make concessions to postmodern habits of mind." (pg. 158)

"Paul's teaching [1 Corinthians 15] is not that life loses its emptiness because there is life beyond the grave but that what has made life empty is destroyed by Christ's death and resurrection." (pg. 198)

"In a decentered culture, eclecticism is the coin of the realm. This is what excessive choice has done to us. There is simply too much to choose between, ranging from products, to beliefs, to lifestyles, so choice becomes almost random. And the sheer weight of all of the information - the knowledge of other religions, belief systems, products, and services - blurs everything so that one idea seems no truer than another." (pg. 235)

"Exploiting generational distinctions in the pursuit of success, which is what is at the heart of the seeker church movement, should be as offensive as exploiting racial differences for personal advantage." (pg. 295)

"Needs, in a therapeutic society, multiply faster than fruit flies. No sooner is one need met than two take its place. Coopting the needy to church is not the same thing as seeing a sinner converted and brought into the Church." (pg. 303)

"In a postmodern culture, with its deep relativism and its pervasive individualism, any belief is tolerated up to a point. What is not tolerable, and what will not be tolerated, is the kind of faith which makes absolute claims, which recognizes the right of all religions and spiritualities to exist but does not accept as viable their claims to religious truth. Christianity practiced and believed in private is not in any jeopardy; Christianity which makes its beliefs public in the sense that it asserts its own beliefs as being normative is not wanted. This is seen as plain, unvarnished bigotry and, in this age of unrepentant relativism, it simply is not acceptable." (pg. 312ff)

"The more the culture abandons truth and goodness which are absolute, the less the evangelical Church speaks about truth and goodness which are absolute!" (pg. 314)

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Serpent of Paradise: The Incredible Story of How Satan's Rebellion Serves God's Purposes - by Erwin W. Lutzer

"Let us boldly affirm that whatever mischief Satan is allowed to do, it is always appointed by God for the ultimate service of and benefit to the saints." (pg. 13ff)

"Our age believes in a tame devil. He is eager to serve our need to explain the existence of evil and willing to be a symbolic description of the horrors we struggle to understand." (pg. 19)

"We must stand in awe of a God who can use a rebel to glorify His name. We must never see Satan without seeing God." (pg. 22)

"Lucifer's bad judgment is a warning to us. We must never think that our obedience is best for God, but not best for us. When God commands us to obey Him, he no only has His best interests in mind but ours too." (pg. 28)

"If we really knew God, we would always choose righteousness. Satan's opening gambit is always intended to cause us to think wrongly about the Almighty." (pg. 44)

"...The devil is just as much God's servant in his rebellion as he was God's servant in the days of his sweet obedience." (pg. 102)

"A thousand devils cannot keep a soul from believing in Christ if God has chosen to grant such a one the gift of life." (pg. 104)

"Satan never becomes our friend, for he hates us and seeks our destruction, but he can do us good if he is sent by God to purify us. God uses Satan to show us that God's grace can be sufficient even in the thorns of life." (pg. 113)

"The devil does not have absolute power over human beings; he simply takes a bad situation and makes it worse. He tempts us with evil, but at the end of the day it is we who do what we want to do. Let us face up to our own sins, the sins of the flesh." (pg. 153)

"Control - the desire to own, possess, and command - is the fruit of self-will. It is just one more characteristic that we share, at least in some way, with the Evil One." (pg. 159)

"We must get beyond the notion that something has to be pleasant in order for it to be good. We must also get beyond the notion that if it is from Satan it is bad. Of course Satan means it to be bad, but God means it to be good. Satan's attacks can only be bad if we respond to them wrongly." (pg. 164)

"When we are willing to put "to death the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13), we will no longer tell God what He can and cannot use to refine us. The ownership of our lives will have been transferred, and we will believe that God is greater than our circumstances and the devil, who often is permitted to arrange them." (pg. 164ff)

"Whether our day has been good or bad, our basis for approaching God is always the same, namely, the blood of Christ. And whether our guilt is objective (the guilt that appears before God) or subjective (the feelings of guilt we have within our own consciences), the remedy is always the same: the blood of Christ." (pg. 176ff)

Erwin W. Lutzer, The Serpent of Paradise: The Incredible Story of How Satan's Rebellion Serves God's Purposes (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1996)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tying The Knot Tighter: Because Marriage Lasts a Lifetime - by Martha Peace & John Crotts

"The main command for husbands in the primary passage about marriage roles is not to lead your wife - that's assumed. The main command is to love your wife." (pg. 45)

"Whether or not you have been well-taught on your role, whether or not your wife is a spiritually-minded woman, whether or not you feel adequate to do the job, you are ultimately going to be called to account by the Lord for your life as well as how you led your wife." (pg. 58)

"Probably the best summary describing a wife who sets a godly, joyful tone in her home is that she has a 'gentle and quiet spirit' (1 Peter 3:4)." (pg. 82)

"Almost every fight, angry reaction, stressful overload, or anxiety attack is caused by practical atheism. You may say you believe the right things about God and the Bible, but when you react to trials as if God doesn't exist, you are a practical atheist." (pg. 93)

"When couples are tested by money, money is not the problem, even when it is lacking - the character of the couple is what is being examined. Hidden structural flaws within the marriage are discovered by financial hardships." (pg. 106)

Martha Peace & John Crotts, Tying The Knot Tighter: Because Marriage Lasts a Lifetime (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2007)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands: People In Need Of Change Helping People In Need Of Change - by Paul David Tripp

"As we listen to eternity [Rev. 19:6-8], we realize that the kingdom is about God radically changing people, but not in the self-absorbed sense our culture assumes. Christ came to break our allegiance to such an atrophied agenda and call us to the one goal worth living for. His kingdom is about the display of his glory and people who are holy." (pg. 5)

"We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change." (pg. 8)

"Rebellion is the inborn tendency to give in to the lies of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-focus. It results in a habitual violation of God-given boundaries." (pg. 14)

"Sin also produces foolishness in us. Foolishness believes that there is no perspective, insight, theory, or 'truth' more reliable than our own. It buys into the lie that we know better." (pg. 14)

"Foolishness is a rejection of our basic nature as human beings. We were never created to be our own source of wisdom. We were designed to be revelation receivers, dependent on the truths God would teach us, and applying those truths to our lives. We were created to base our interpretations, choices, and behavior on his wisdom. Living outside of this will never work." (pg. 15)

"The changes God produces in his people are directly connected to the ministry of the Word." (pg. 21)

"...a truly effective ministry of the Word must confront our self-focus and self-absorption at its roots, opening us up to the vastness of a God-defined, God-centered world. Unless this happens, we will use the promises, principles, and commands of the Word to serve the thing we really love: ourselves." (pg. 24ff)

"...our problem as human beings is deeper than the individual sins we commit each day, creating the specific problems that complicate our lives. Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside the story of redemption. If the entire goal and direction of our lives are wrong, we need much more than practical advice on how to do the right thing in a particular situation. We need a message big enough to overcome our natural human instinct to live for our own glory, pursue our own happiness, and forget that our lives are much, much bigger than this little moment in life." (pg. 27)

"At the bottom of a broken marriage, a shattered family, or a forsaken friendship you will always find stolen glory. We crave glory that does not belong to us, and we step on one another to get it. Rather than glorifying God by using the things he has given us to love other people, we use people to get the glory we love." (pg. 34)

"When we say that God designed human beings to be interpreters, we are getting to the heart of why human beings do what they do. Our thinking conditions our emotions, our sense of identity, our view of others, our agenda for the solution of our problems, and our willingness to receive counsel from others. That is why we need a framework for generating valid interpretations that help us respond to life appropriately. Only the words of the Creator can give us that framework." (pg. 43)

"Foolishness is more than being stupid, that deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance. The core presupposition of fools is that there is no God, and we don't need his revelation in order to live." (pg. 48)

"Whatever rules the heart will exercise inescapable influence over the person's life and behavior." (pg. 68)

"If we fail to examine the heart and the areas where it needs to change, our ministry efforts will only result in people who are more committed and successful idolaters." (pg. 69)

"If adultery is the sin of giving someone the love I have promised another, then I am a spiritual adulterer whenever I give the rule of my heart to someone or something other than God." (pg. 82)

"Relationships are not primarily for our fulfillment. On the contrary, relationships between sinners are messy, difficult, labor-intensive, and demanding, but in that, they are designed to result in God's glory and our good as he is worshiped and our hearts are changed." (pg. 120)

"The hope we offer people is more than a set of strategies. Our hope is Christ! In him alone do lost, confused, angry, hurt, and discouraged people find what they need to be and do what God intends. We are not gurus. We are nothing more than instruments in the hands of a powerful Redeemer." (pg. 138)

"As we point people to Christ, he becomes the focus of our attention and the recipient of our praise. Truly biblical personal ministry always results in increasingly mature worship." (pg. 150)

"Personal ministry is not about always knowing what to say. It is not about fixing everything in sight that is broken. Personal ministry is about connecting people with Christ so that they are able to think as he would have them think, desire what he says is best, and do what he calls them to do even if their circumstances never get 'fixed.' (pg. 184)

"We cannot properly understand people without accurately exegeting Scripture, and we cannot properly apply Scripture without accurately exegeting people. Because the Bible tells us that people live out of their hearts, we are always interested in how the heart's thoughts and cravings are revealed by the choices people make and the things they say and do. It is in the convergence of this two-sided interpretive process that hearts and lives change for the long run." (pg. 186ff)

"The truth is that we fail to confront, not because we love others too much, but because we love ourselves too much. We fear others misunderstanding us or being angry with us. We are afraid of what others will think." (pg. 202)

"Remember, it is impossible to celebrate God's work of transformation without confessing your need for more. No one is more ready to communicate God's grace than someone who has faced his own desperate need for it." (pg. 211)

"Change always demands a deeper understanding of the things of God and a more careful application of those truths to our lives." (pg. 239)

Paul David Tripp, Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands: People In Need Of Change Helping People In Need Of Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2002)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Christian In An Age Of Terror - by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (edited by Dr. Michael Eaton)

"The sinful life is always an unreasonable life. Sin is always something that is based upon passion. Sin can give no explanation of what it does." (pg. 18)

"...the most powerful of all the arguments for the reality of God is the fact of the persistence of the Christian church." (pg. 51)

"It is only in the light of the law, which reveals the holy nature of God, that man can see himself as a sinner; that man really begins to understand the nature of this foul canker that is inbred into his being, and that has marred the image of God, and brought chaos into the universe." (pg. 76)

"With all our self-centeredness in recent years we have always been waiting for something which will make us happier or more comfortable. Yet the word of God is a word about God. It is because of this morbidity and introspection that we lose sight of the great authority of the Christian faith. In our concern about men, we have been forgetting God." (pg. 96)

It is something which is almost incredible and astounding that, having our Bibles as we have them, after having read them so often, nevertheless when we are suddenly questioned or question ourselves about these matters, how prone we are to apply tests that are never put in the forefront of the New Testament, but which are the tests put by the man in the street in order to determine what is a Christian or what is not a Christian." (pg. 124)

"Beyond doubt one of the best ways of testing whether we love God is to test our feelings and attitude towards Him when we have sinned against Him." (pg. 133)

"The reason for being holy is not that we may be happy; there is only one reason for being holy and that is that it is God's will for me. It is God's purpose for me. It is God's desire for me." (pg. 141)

"Enthusiasm in connection with religion has been at a very serious discount. Our idea of the general standard to adopt is to display no emotion, or fervency of spirit in relation to any matter. We have rather cultivated a philosophical calm and detachment, and the result is, of course, that in our actions and activities we have become more or less paralysed and slow moving." (pg. 219ff)

"Nothing to me is of such significance as the increasing realization that without a given body of doctrine, without a fresh study of Christian theology, there can be no true revival in the church." (pg. 243)

"There is nothing that so drives and urges a man to live a truly ethical, moral, Christian life as an understanding of the doctrines of the faith." (pg. 244)

"However much strength and courage and manliness I may possess, if it is not in terms of faith, it is useless and valueless from the Christian standpoint." (pg. 250)

"Christian people far too often rush after new cults and lop-sided gospels and fail to stand four-square in the faith itself. There is only one way to avoid being carried to and fro like a bubble on the surface of the waves and that is by being strong as the result of studying and understanding the truth; by developing a knowledge of biblical theology, by reading, by developing a knowledge of what has been written by the great saints of the past in the interpretation of the word of God." (pg. 254)

"If the Christian church were doing nothing else at the present time, she could justify her existence by simply saying this, that there are ultimately just these two views with respect to life. You either face it with God, or else you do not." (pg. 272)

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (edited by Dr. Michael Eaton), The Christian In An Age Of Terror (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)

Monday, August 17, 2009

In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement - by J. I. Packer & Mark Dever

"Just justification - justified justification - through the doing of justice in penal substitution is integral to the message of the gospel." (pg. 24)

"The wrath of God is as personal, and as potent, as his love; and, just as the blood-shedding of the Lord Jesus was the direct manifesting of his Father's love toward us, so it was the direct averting of his Father's wrath against us." (pg. 35)

"The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ's so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God's good pleasure." (pg. 36)

"Our sins have been punished; the wheel of retribution has turned; judgment has been inflicted for our ungodliness - but on Jesus, the lamb of God, standing in our place." (pg. 40)

"The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God; it is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us." (pg. 49)

"Surely the primary issue with which penal substitution is concerned is neither the morality nor the rationality of God's ways, but the remission of my sins; and the primary function of the concept is to correlate my knowledge of being guilty before God with my knowledge that, on the one hand, no question of my ever being judged for my sins can now arise, and, on the other hand, that the risen Christ whom I am called to accept as Lord is none other than Jesus, who secured my immunity from judgment by bearing on the cross the penalty that was my due." (pg. 79)

"The way to stand against naturalistic theology is to keep in view its reductionist method that makes man the standard for God; to stress that according to Scripture the Creator and his work are of necessity mysterious to us, even as revealed (to make this point is the proper logical task of the word 'supernatural' in theology); and to remember that what is above reason is not necessarily against it." (pg. 89)

"If we have any assurance of salvation, it is because of Christ's atonement; if any joy, it flows from Christ's work on the cross. The atonement protects us from our native tendency to replace religion with morality and God's grace with legalism. Apart from Christ's atoning work, we would be forever guilty, ashamed, and condemned before God." (pg. 102)

"One way of stating the difference between it [today's substitute gospel] and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be 'helpful' to man - to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction - and too little concerned to glorify God." (pg. 112)

"The knowledge of being the object of God's eternal love and Christ's redeeming death belongs to the individual's assurance, which in the nature of the case cannot precede faith's saving exercise; it is to be inferred from the fact that one has believed, not proposed as a reason why one should believe." (pg. 131)

"The cross on which the divine-human mediator hung, and from which he rose to reign on the basis and in the power of his atoning death, must become the vantage point from which we survey the whole of human history and human life, the reference point for explaining all that has gone wrong in the world everywhere and all that God has done and will do to put it right, and the center point for fixing the flow of doxology and devotion from our hearts." (pg. 148ff)

J. I. Packer & Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Defending The Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America - by D. G. Hart

"...he held that theological integrity and cultural authority were inversely related: a theology eager for public influence invariably compromised the Christian faith, while a principled theology could at best benefit society indirectly." (pg. 8)

"For Machen, although he was very conservative in religion, the threat of cultural modernism - pitting modern relevance against old-fashioned dogma, scientific verification against an implausible faith, and metaphysical skepticism against religious certainty - was not as great as the danger posed by Protestant hegemony in a free and diverse society. As great as the challenges of modern science and philosophy were, in the end they were not as profound as the peril of a religion that tailored its faith and practice to fit the prevailing temper of the age." (pg. 9)

"Instead of reducing seminaries to centers of religious sentiment and professional training, Machen wanted them to become 'battlegrounds of the faith.'... This was Machen's call to the ministry, the vision that he hoped to instill in students at Princeton, and the message he would eventually take before the councils of the Presbyterian Church." (pg. 34)

"'Jesus, according to Paul,' Machen concluded, 'came to earth not to say something, but to do something.' Paul's writings did not 'deal with general principles of love and grace, and fatherliness and brotherliness' but instead with the 'thing most distasteful to the modern liberal Church,' Jesus' death and resurrection. The clear implication was that Paul and Jesus were of a piece and the modern church could not reject Paul without also rejecting Jesus." (pg. 57ff)

"In Christian teaching, Machen wrote, a great gulf lay between God and man, and it was widened by human sinfulness. In contrast, the modern age had exhibited a 'supreme confidence in human goodness,' giving liberal ministers the impossible task of 'calling the righteous to repentance.' But Christianity, Machen said, began with the law of God and a conviction of sin." (pg. 70)

"Using religion as a means for solving social ills, Machen asserted, was altogether different from Christ's 'stupendous words' which demanded utter loyalty from his followers, even to the point of hating father and mother." (pg. 76)

"...following the example of the early church Machen recommended that modern church membership be restricted to those believers with an adequate understanding of their denomination's doctrinal standards. Although theological knowledge did not make one a Christian, it redressed the modern tendency to divorce faith from knowledge." (pg. 92)

"By stressing the intellectual aspects even in the subjective dynamics of religious experience Machen, in effect, made theologians out of all believers. Only in the act of regeneration, he explained, once the 'blinding' effects of sin had been removed, could the truth of Christianity be understood properly." (pg. 94)

"He believed that historic Christianity was fundamentally narrow, exclusive, and partisan and, therefore, could not provide the basis for public life in a free society. To do so, he argued, was to mistake ethics for salvation. Using Christian morals to promote public duties gave the faulty impression that people could do good without grace. 'When any hope is held out to lost humanity from the so-called ethical portions of the Bible apart from its great redemptive core, then the Bible is represented as saying the direct opposite of what it really says.'" (pg. 138)

"Indeed, at the same time that secular intellectuals attacked the Protestant ethos of American culture, Machen argued that the churches' involvement in cultural and social life was harmful because it undermined faithful witnessing to Christian truth. Unfortunately for Machen, that twin commitment - to Presbyterian orthodoxy and religious pluralism - went largely unheeded in fundamentalist and evangelical circles. Yet his outlook may still prove instructive to believers and secularists in America today who through a series of cultural wars struggle to reconcile the demands of faith with the realities of modernity." (pg. 170)

D. G. Hart, Defending The Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2003)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost Of The New Sexual Tolerance - by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

"The integrity of Christian marriage requires a man to exercise his will even in the arena of love and to commit all of his sexual energy and passion to the honorable estate of marriage, refusing himself even the imagination of violating his marital vows." (pg. 7)

"Sex has lost its public shamefulness; moral boundaries have been pulled down in the name of moral 'progress'; and overt sexuality now drives much of our entertainment, advertising, and cultural conversation. How is lust to be separated from all that?" (pg. 14)

"In an odd twist, hyperexposure to pornography leads to a lower net return on investment, which is to say that the more pornography one sees, the more explicit the images must be in order to excite interest. Thus, in order to sustain the excitement of 'transgressing,' as the postmodernist would put it, pornographers must continue to push the envelope." (pg. 29)

"We must also be careful to make clear that while we reject the concept of sexual orientation as a category of identity, we are not denying that there are some persons who discover themselves to be sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. Since our sexuality is such an important part of our lives, we are naturally tempted to think that our profile of sexual attraction is central to our identity. But our identity must not be constituted by mere sexuality. We are first of all human beings created in the image of God. Secondly, we are sinners whose fallenness is demonstrated in every aspect of our lives - including our sexuality." (pg. 67ff)

"We must learn to address the issue of homosexuality and other difficult sexual issues with candor, directness, and unembarrassed honesty. This is not an hour for prudish denial. To fail at the task of speaking clearly and directly to this issue is to fail to speak where God has spoken." (pg. 81)

"In the eyes of all too many in our culture, gender is merely a plastic social construct. Indeed, in the postmodern world, all realities are plastic and all principles are liquid. Everything can be changed. Nothing is fixed. All truth is relative, all truth is socially constructed, and anything that is constructed can also be deconstructed in order to liberate." (pg. 136ff)

"The very habits of human life - the customs and traditions on which civilization is grounded - are now being reversed, marginalized, and discarded in an effort to eliminate all norms by normalizing the abnormal." (pg. 141)

"The single greatest obstacle to the victory of the culture of polymorphous perversity is the Judeo-Christian heritage. The greatest obstacle to the normalization of homosexuality is the Bible." (pg. 152)

"Civilization cannot survive the triumph of the age of polymorphous perversity, because the idea of polymorphous sex is hopelessly incompatible with the very notion of civilization itself. Civilization is based upon order, respect, habit, custom, and institution - all of which are rejected outright by the age of polymorphous perversity." (pg. 155)

"...we must make certain that our marriages and our families are a testimony to God's intention, and that we live before the world declaring that even if insanity, irrationality, and sexual anarchy rule the world, it will not rule us. God's glory will be shown in faithfulness wherever it is found, even in the tiny domestic picture of our seemingly insignificant families." (pg. 159)

R. Albert Mohler Jr., Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost Of The New Sexual Tolerance (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2008)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs In The New Spiritual Openness - by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

"...we live among the ruins of a moral value structure destroyed by the wrecking ball of a radical secularist agenda, but already weakened by compromise from within - even from within the church." (pg. 21)

"These days, most people think themselves to be imperfect, leaving room for improvement - but they do not think of themselves as sinners in need of forgiveness and redemption." (pg. 25)

"For millions of persons in the postmodern age, truth is a matter of personal choice - not divine revelation. Clearly, we moderns do not choose for hell to exist." (pg. 32)

"Sin has been redefined as a lack of self-esteem rather than as an insult to the glory of God. Salvation has been reconceived as liberation from oppression, internal or external. The gospel becomes a means of release from bondage to bad habits rather than rescue from a sentence of eternity in hell." (pg. 43ff)

"...Augustine suggested that Christians uniquely understand that the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real, are indeed one, because they are established in the reality of the self-revealing God - the triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He alone is beautiful, He alone is good, He alone is true, and He alone is real." (pg. 50)

"Several years ago, a major study of religious belief revealed just how radically our culture has compromised the doctrine of God. Sociologists asked the question, 'Do you believe in a God who can change the course of events on earth?' One answer, which became the title of the study, was 'No, just the ordinary one.' That is to say, modern men and women seem to feel no need to believe in a God who can change the course of events on earth - just an 'ordinary God' who is an innocent bystander observing human events. Measured against the biblical revelation, this is not God at all." (pg. 117ff)

"The decline of church discipline is perhaps the most visible failure of the contemporary church. No longer concerned with maintaining purity of confession or lifestyle, the contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members, with minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other." (pg. 121)

"The very notion of shame has been discarded by a generation for which shame is an unnecessary and repressive hindrance to personal fulfillment. Even secular observers have noted the shamelessness of modern culture." (pg. 126ff)

"Unable or unwilling to deal with moral categories, modern men and women resort to the only moral language they know and understand - the unembarrassed claim to 'rights' that society has no authority to limit or deny. This 'rights talk' is not limited to secular society, however. Church members are so committed to their own version of 'rights talk' that some congregations accept almost any behavior, belief, or 'lifestyle' as acceptable, or at least off-limits to congregational sanction." (pg. 129ff)

"The Bible reveals three main areas of danger requiring discipline. These are fidelity of doctrine, purity of life, and unity of fellowship. Each is of critical and vital importance to the health and integrity of the church." (pg. 149)

"We are no longer seeing the first signs of cultural trouble, but rather the indicators of advanced decay. The reality is that people now do not even know what they have lost, much less that they themselves are lost." (pg. 158)

" a truly post-Christian age, the saddest loss of all is a loss of the memory of what was lost. The saddest aspect of our dawning post-Christian age is that there is no longer even a memory of what was discarded and what was denied and rejected. Having lived for so long on the memory of Christian truth, without the substance of Christian truth, the culture now grows hostile to that truth." (pg. 164)

"Postmodernism claimed that this new postmodern age - with the end of modernity, the demise of scientific objectivity, and the openness to new forms and understandings of truth - would lead to an opening of the mind. But as is always the case, the totalitarian opening of the mind always ends with the radical closing of the mind. There is nothing less tolerant than the modern ethos of tolerance." (pg. 169)

"We must recognize that the church has been compliant for far too long, and if we are effectively to challenge the prevailing worldview of postmodern culture, the church must become a post-compliant people." (pg. 176)

"...numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations - messages that avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth." (pg. 190)

R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs In The New Spiritual Openness (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2009)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Growing Up In Grace: The Use of Means for Communion with God - by Murray G. Brett

"...communion with God consists in giving, receiving, and returning; we might even say, a gracious giving, a humble receiving, and a bold returning." (pg. 12)

"Our egos will never be satisfied until clothed in gospel humility. And the essence of gospel humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking more of Christ than ourselves." (pg. 37)

"Our flesh cannot possibly pump repentance out of a heart that is indifferent to God's covenant graces. The flesh cannot possibly produce power to overcome even one single sin, but the covenant grace of God in the gospel can." (pg. 65)

"Enjoying the sweetness of felt communion with God is the highest motive for repentance. The more pleasure we derive from our communion with God, the stronger our desire for His fellowship will be and the more dissatisfied we are without it." (pg. 93)

"The key to answered prayer is abiding in Christ. That is the key to our motivation for prayer and the key to obtaining answers to prayer." (pg. 123)

"To take delight in God's law means that we take 'exquisite pleasure' in it, and Isaiah [58:13] reasons that when we take exquisite pleasure in God's law, we take exquisite pleasure in God Himself." (pg. 158)

Murray G. Brett, Growing Up In Grace: The Use of Means for Communion with God (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Communion With The Triune God - by John Owen (edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor)

"Now, communion is the mutual communication of such good things as wherein the persons holding that communion are delighted, bottomed [grounded] upon some union between them." (pg. 93)

"Our communion, then, with God consists in his communication of himself unto us, with our return unto him of that which he requires and accepts, flowing from that union which in Jesus Christ we have with him." (pg. 94)

The Father communicates no issue of his love unto us but through Christ; and we make no return of love unto him but through Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposes all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return unto the Father." (pg. 117)

"Love in the Father is like honey in the flower - it must be in the comb before it be for our use. Christ must extract and prepare this honey for us. He draws this water from the fountain through union and dispensation of fullness - we by faith, from the wells of salvation that are in him." (pg. 117)

"There are three things in general wherein this personal excellency and grace of the Lord Christ does consist: (1) His fitness to save, from the grace of union, and the proper necessary effects thereof. (2) His fullness to save, from the grace of communion; or the free consequences of the grace of union. (3) His excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness to all the wants of the souls of men:" (pg. 148)

"This is the first thing on the part of Christ - the free donation and bestowing of himself upon us to be our Christ, our Beloved, as to all the ends and purposes of love, mercy, grace, and glory; whereunto in his mediation he is designed, in a marriage covenant never to be broken. This is the sum of what is intended: The Lord Jesus Christ, fitted and prepared, by the accomplishment and furniture of his person as mediator, and the large purchase of grace and glory which he has made, to be a husband to his saints, his church, tenders himself in the promises of the gospel to them in all his desirableness; convinces them of his goodwill toward them, and his all-sufficiency for a supply of their wants; and upon their consent to accept of him - which is all he requires or expects at their hands - he engages himself in a marriage covenant to be theirs forever." (pg. 157)

"Let it be evinced that all true and solid knowledge is laid up in, and is only to be attained from and by, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the hearts of men, if they are but true to themselves and their most predominate principles, must needs be engaged to him." (pg. 183)

"That we may have a saving knowledge of the properties of God, attended with consolation, these three things are required: (1) that God has manifested the glory of them all in a way of doing good unto us. (2) that he will yet exercise and lay them out to the utmost in our behalf. (3) that, being so manifested and exercised, they are fit and powerful to bring us to the everlasting fruition of himself; which is our blessedness." (pg. 197)

"For the knowledge of ourselves, which is the second part of our wisdom, this consists in these three things, which our Savior sends his Spirit to convince the world of - even 'sin, righteousness, and judgment' (John 16:8). To know ourselves in reference unto these three is a main part of true and sound wisdom; for they all respect the supernatural and immortal end whereunto we are appointed; and there is none of these that we can attain unto but only in Christ." (pg. 200)

" is not enough that we are not guilty, we must also be actually righteous - not only all sin is to be answered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled." (pg. 213)

"The more abilities the mind is furnished with, the more it closes with the curse, and strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. All that it receives does but help it to set up high thoughts and imaginations against the Lord Christ. So that this knowledge comes short of what in particular it is designed unto; and therefore cannot be that solid wisdom we are inquiring after." (pg. 225)

"If in any things, then, we are straitened, it is in ourselves; Christ deals bountifully with us. Indeed, the great sin of believers is that they make not use of Christ's bounty as they ought to do; that we do not every day take of him mercy in abundance. The oil never ceases till the vessels cease; supplies from Christ fail not but only when our faith fails in receiving them." (pg. 269)

"And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our obedience and personal holiness: God has appointed it, he requires it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the distinct dispensation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the work of our salvation." (pg. 306)

"This is the great mystery of faith in this business of our acceptation with God by Christ: that whereas the soul of a believer finds enough in him and upon him to rend the very caul [membrane; the pericardium] of the heart (Hos. 13.8), to fill him with fears, terror, disquietments all his days, yet through Christ he is at perfect peace with God (Isa. 26:3; Ps. 4:6-8). Hence do the souls of believers exceedingly magnify Jesus Christ, that they can behold the face of God with boldness, confidence, peace, joy, assurance - that they can call him Father, bear themselves on his love, walk up and down in quietness, and without fear. How glorious is the Son of God in this grace!" (pg. 314)

"This is that which I intend by this habit of grace - a new, gracious, spiritual life, or principle, created and bestowed on the soul, whereby it is changed in all its faculties and affections, fitted and enabled to go forth in the way of obedience unto every divine object that is proposed unto it, according to the mind of God." (pg. 326)

"...adoption is the authoritative translation of a believer, by Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and Satan into the family of God, with his investiture in all the privileges and advantages of that family." (pg. 335)

"The Comforter may always abide with us, though not always comfort us; he who is the Comforter may abide, though he do not always that work. For other ends and purposes he is always with us; as to sanctify and make us holy." (pg. 367)

"A soul does never glorify or honor Christ upon a discovery or sense of the eternal redemption he has purchased for him, but it is in him a peculiar effect of the Holy Ghost as our Comforter." (pg. 377)

"When we find any of the good truths of the gospel come home to our souls with life, vigor, and power, giving us gladness of heart, transforming us into the image and likeness of it - the Holy Ghost is then at his work, is pouring out of his oil." (pg. 387ff)

John Owen (edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor), Communion With The Triune God (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books, 2007)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World - by David F. Wells

"When all is said and done today, many evangelicals are indifferent to doctrine - certainly they are when they 'do church.' Privately, no doubt, there are doctrines that are believed. But in church...well, that is different because, many think, doctrine is an impediment as we reach out to new generations." (pg. 3)

"The truth is that without a biblical understanding of why God instituted it, the church easily becomes a liability in a market where it competes only with the greatest of difficulty against religious fare available in the convenience of one's living room and in a culture bent on distraction and entertainment." (pg. 11)

"For seeker-sensitives, by their own reckoning, traditional evangelical belief is their dance partner but, in building their churches, they cannot be seen dancing with their partner. They must dance alone, theologically speaking. Actually, in place of the old partner is the new one. The new partner is the customer. It is the customer who is their theology!" (pg. 40)

"Those who were once the unconverted have become the unchurched. This spares us the embarrassment of uttering theological truth. And that is the tip-off that something is amiss here. What is amiss is that the Christianity being peddled is not about theological truth. Christianity is not just an experience, we need to remember, but it is about truth." (pg. 45)

"My conclusion is that absolute truth and morality are fast receding in society because their grounding in God as objective, as outside of our self, as our transcendent point of reference, is disappearing. There is nothing outside the individual that stands over against the individual, that remains as the measure for the individual's actions, the standard for what is right and wrong, or as the test of what is true and what is not." (pg. 61)

"The short answer, then, to the question why life has lost its center has a beguiling simplicity to it. The center has not been lost. It has only been lost to our view. And that is because our disposition, the orientation of our nature from birth, leads us inexorably to replace God with our own selves, to substitute our interests for his, and to redefine life around its new substitute center in ourselves." (pg. 104)

"When the (post)modern self becomes religious, it may become liberal, emergent, or loosely evangelical. But when it becomes (post)modern in these ways, it will no longer be historically Protestant. It will not be biblical. It will not be apostolic. It will be Christian in name but not in thought." (pg. 142ff)

"To speak of Virtue, then, is to speak of the moral structure of the world God has made. Rebellious though we are, we have not broken down this structure, nor dislodged God from maintaining it. It stands there, over against us, whether we recognize it or not. We bump up against it in the course of life and we encounter its reflection in our own moral makeup. And from all sides a message is conveyed to our consciousness: 'Beware! This is a moral world that you inhabit!'" (pg. 145)

"Our world is filled with offers of help and of hope, of meaning and of fulfillment, and even of surrogate regeneration, but they all come from a world that is spiritually dead and therefore ultimately worthless. That is an extraordinary, a breathtakingly radical, position to take. The New Testament takes it unapologetically." (pg. 195)

"The gospel, understood as a product, loses its depth and cost. ... The result is a set of damaging triumphs: the triumph of appeal over depth, of technique over truth, and of consumption over cost." (pg. 213)

"An authentic church is one that is God-centered in its thought and God-honoring in its proclamation and life. It can be authentic only when it honors, reflects, and proclaims who God is and what he has done in Christ." (pg. 242)

David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Joy of Fearing God - by Jerry Bridges

"...a profound sense of awe toward God is undoubtedly the dominant element in the attitude or set of emotions that the Bible calls "the fear of God." (pg. 18)

"If we make it a practice to think great thoughts about God..., we will develop a sustained attitude of the fear of God." (pg. 30)

"We cannot separate trust in God from the fear of God. We will trust Him only to the extent that we genuinely stand in awe of Him." (pg. 48)

"So it is with us: Our reaction to God's majestic holiness is a realization of our own insignificance; our response to His ethical holiness is an awareness of our sinfulness and impurity." (pg. 71)

"It is only in Christ and His work that we see God's justice reconciled with mercy, His law reconciled with grace, His holiness with His love, and His power with His compassion." (pg. 91)

"This is when we really start to enjoy fearing God: when we realize in the depth of our being that we justly deserve the wrath of God, then see that wrath poured out on Jesus instead of on ourselves. We're both awed at His wrath and astonished at His love." (pg. 104)

"The fear of God flows from...a sound impression that the word of God makes on our souls; for without an impress of the Word, there is no fear of God." [John Bunyan] (pg. 127)

"We do not, to use a popular expression, 'make Christ Lord of our lives.' He is Lord. Our duty is to acknowledge His Lordship and submit to His authority." (pg. 137ff)

"Since God knows our every thought in exact detail, the person who fears God seeks to control his or her thought life in the same way we regulate our conduct." (pg. 181)

"Unfortunately our degree of trust in God often lies more in our ability to foresee a way in which He might answer our prayers than in our belief in His power. If we can't see how He can answer, we tend to doubt that He will answer." (pg. 204)

"If we're to glorify God in the way we live, we must make God's glory our primary aim. All other goals in life, both temporal and spiritual, must be secondary." (pg. 214)

"The only fruit of character that brings glory and praise to God is that which comes through Jesus Christ as we look to Him to work in our lives and enable us to glorify Him." (pg. 223)

"This is the essence of worship: Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name." (pg. 235)

"The truth is, though, we cannot glorify God - either by our lives or by worship - unless we are enjoying Him." (pg. 253)

"...You grow in the fear of the Lord by gazing upon the beauty of His attributes and by seeking an ever-deepening relationship with Him." (pg. 255)

Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 1997)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Christ & Culture Revisited - by D. A. Carson

"Worldwide, people in the 'liberal Christian' heritage make up only a tiny percentage of those who call themselves 'Christians.' Apparently, then, liberal Christianity and Gnostic Christianity have this in common: for a while, both seemed to sweep everything in front of them, such that if orthodoxy is measured by popularity rather than by some measure of commitment to conform to God's self-disclosure in Scripture and in his Son, they constituted the new orthodoxy. And both will be left on the ash pit of history." (pg. 34)

"...the two terms 'Christ' and 'culture' cannot be set absolutely over against each other, not only because Christians constitute part of the culture, but also because all authority is given to Christ in heaven and on earth, so all culture is subsumed under his reign." (pg. 63)

"Reacting against the condescension intrinsic to the colonial past, cultural anthropologists have for decades attempted to describe cultures in entirely neutral, purely descriptive, terms. Sometimes this passion for neutrality, for objective description without moral judgment, becomes, itself, a moral judgment: the only 'good' cultural anthropology is the sort that refuses to make any moral judgments." (pg. 71)

"...the Christian heritage of meanings and values turns on disclosure from God that makes us look at everything differently. In the much-quoted words of C. S. Lewis, 'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.' That is why consideration of Christ and culture promises to be fruitful and revealing: it is a consideration of a different way of seeing, of a different vision, even when we are looking at the same thing." (pg. 86ff)

"...a Christian worldview, a Christian theological vision, is more than a system of beliefs (though it is never less): it also includes the volition that self-consciously thinks and acts in line with such beliefs." (pg. 96)

"In much of the Western world, however, faith is not at all tied to the truthfulness or reliability of its object. Faith is little more than personal, subjective, religious preference. Many people think that faith is utterly nonfalsifiable, and therefore competing faiths cannot usefully or realistically be discussed." (pg. 110)

"...arguing for morality from the assumption of Deism is a far cry from upholding Christianity. Deism has no power to check the advances of secularization, for it is religion without either robust intellectual defense or genuine power. Deism is not a halfway house between secularism and Christianity; it is in fact a form of secularism." (pg. 118)

"Tensions between Christ and culture are unavoidable because tensions between democracy and religion are unavoidable." (pg. 128)

"The irony, then, is that as citizens espouse increasingly diverse visions of what it means to be free, governments (including the courts) step in to resolve the divergences and end up making people less free." (pg. 137)

"Religious pluralism cannot be an ultimate good, for it will not be found in the new heaven and the new earth, toward which we press; but if in this broken world it curbs violence and coercion, if it promotes relative freedom among those who (whether they recognize it or not) bear God's image, then we thank God for the gifts of common grace and for the wisdom of the Master who insisted on some kind of distinction, no matter how complex and how little absolute, between the sphere of Caesar and the sphere of God." (pg. 193)

"It is unwise to speak of 'redeeming culture': if we lose the unique significance bound up with the redemption secured by Christ in his death and resurrection, we lose the ongoing tension between Christ and culture that must subsist until the end. Yet it is possible so to focus on the rescue and regeneration of individuals that we fail to see the temporally good things we can do to improve and even transform some social structures." (pg. 217ff)

"To a generation that scrambles for the top and then looks around and asks, 'Is this all there is?' a biblical vision that focuses on Christ and his cross, on the links between this world and the next, on bold Christian living and faithful witness, and on a large-scale vision that makes the world our parish while loving the neighbor next door, raises our eyes above ourselves, and delights in the glory of God." (pg. 228)

D. A. Carson, Christ & Culture Revisited (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin - by Kris Lundgaard

"Believers are the only people who ever find the law of sin at work in them. Unbelievers can't feel it. The law of sin is a raging river, carrying them along; they cannot measure the force of the current, because they have surrendered themselves to it and are borne along by it. A believer, on the other hand, swims upstream - he meets sin head-on and strains under its strength." (pg. 25)

"Sin can be like trick birthday candles: you blow them out and smile, thinking you have your wish; then your jaw drops as they burst into flames." (pg. 39)

"So when Paul identifies the flesh with enmity and hatred of God [Romans 8:7], he cuts off any hope that the flesh will bow to God or befriend him. A treaty between God and the flesh is impossible." (pg. 44)

" can write this down as a maxim: When the flesh deceives you, you will sin. ... The flesh plies deceit to knock out the watchman of your soul: your mind." (pg. 55)

"If your mind is persuaded to believe a sin is good for your soul, and your affections work up an appetite for it, your will gives its consent - the dominoes fall and the flesh bears its putrid fruit in your life." (pg. 56)

"In order to walk before God, this is the mind's first duty: to know and hold on to the evil of sin and the love of God." (pg. 64)

"You must understand this: the flesh weakens conviction against sin by separating the remedy of grace from the design of grace. ... The flesh works to make you forget the design (that you are saved to be holy) and think only of the remedy (if you sin you'll be forgiven). (pg. 64ff)

"A duty offered to God as an act of mind and will without the affections is abominable to God." (pg. 82)

"When God's love touches your soul and moves you, and you know that every sin is against the Lover of your soul, you will not sin." (pg. 86)

"To protect your affections, you need to be careful of two things: the object of your affections, and the vigor of your affections. And the object of your affections, what you fix your eyes on, should always be heavenly things...(Colossians 3:2)." (pg. 96)

"...many ways to fight against the flesh, such as: meditating on the cross to see the rottenness of your sin and the fulness of Christ's love; keeping watch against sin's deceit; filling your affections with heavenly things; applying your will to every means of God's grace to fight temptation; renewing your first love for Jesus; hungering for a glimpse of God's holy glory." (pg. 142)

"Faith has to be the only thing that destroys the flesh because 'salvation come from the Lord' (Jonah 2:9). Faith has to be the only thing that destroys the flesh because the whole work of our salvation is God's from beginning to end." (pg. 142)

Kris Lundgaard, The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 1998)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

God's Way of Holiness: Finding True Holiness Through True Peace - by Horatius Bonar

"These are weighty words of the apostle, 'we are his workmanship. Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things pertaining to us. Chosen, called, quickened, washed, sanctified and justified by God himself, we are, in no sense, our own deliverers. The quarry out of which the marble comes is his; the marble itself is his; the digging and hewing and polishing are his; he is the sculptor and we the statue." (pg. 10)

"How the Holy Spirit operates in producing the newness of which we have spoken, we know not; yet we know that he does not destroy or reverse man's faculties; he renovates them all, so that they fulfil the true ends for which they were given." (pg. 14)

"As the vessels of the sanctuary were at once separated to God and his service, the moment the blood touched them, so are we. This did not imply that these vessels required no daily ablution afterwards; so neither does our consecration intimate that we need no daily sanctifying, no inward process for getting rid of sin. The initiatory consecration through the blood is one thing, and the continual sanctifying by the power of the Holy Ghost is another." (pg. 17)

"The gospel does not command us to do anything in order to obtain life, but it bids us live by that which another has done; and the knowledge of its life-giving truth is not labour but rest - rest of soul - rest which is the root of all true labour; for in receiving Christ we do not work in order to rest, but we rest in order to work. In believing, we cease to work for pardon, in order that we may work from it; and what incentive to work or source of joy in working, can be greater than an ascertained and realised forgiveness." (pg. 30)

"The sinner's legal position must be set to right before his moral position can be touched. Condition is one thing, character is another. The sinner's standing before God, either in favour or disfavour, either under grace or under wrath, must first be dealt with ere his inner renewal can be carried on." (pg. 39)

"All through the ages has this struggle gone on, between the love and the dread of sin, the delight in lust and the sense of degradation because of it; men clasping the poisoned robe, yet wishing to tear it off; their life steeped in the evil, yet their words so often lavished upon the good." (pg. 53)

"Under law and its curse, a man works for self and Satan; 'under grace' he works for God. It is forgiveness that sets a man a-working for God." (pg. 57)

"The cross on which we are crucified with Christ, and the cross which we carry, are different things, yet they both point in one direction, and lead us along one way. They both protest against sin, and summon to holiness. They both 'condemn the world,' and demand separation from it." (pg. 69)

"It may seem a possible thing just now, by avoiding all extremes and all thoroughness, either in religion or in worldliness, to conjoin both of these, but in the day of the separation of the real from the unreal, it will be discovered to have been a poor attempt to accomplish an impossibility; a failure; a failure for eternity, a failure as complete as it is disastrous and remediless." (pg. 70)

"We want not merely a high and full theology, but we want that theology acted out in life, embodied nobly in daily doings, without anything of what the world calls 'cant' or 'simper'. The higher the theology, the higher and the manlier should be the life resulting from it." (pg. 110)

"Christ's truth sanctifies as well as liberates; his wisdom purifies as well as quickens; let us beware of accepting the liberty without the holiness, the wisdom without the purity, the peace without the zeal and love." (pg. 132)

Horatius Bonar, God's Way of Holiness: Finding True Holiness Through True Peace (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World - edited by C. J. Mahaney

"Today, the greatest challenge facing American evangelicals is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world." (pg. 22)

"The world we're not to love is the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God. The world God forbids us to love is the fallen world. Humanity at enmity with God. A world of arrogant, self-sufficient people seeking to exist apart from God and living in opposition to God." (pg. 26)

" [worldliness] is to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God." (pg. 27)

"When it comes to waging the war of sanctification, severe trial usually alerts us to battle, rousing us to our need for God. Popular culture, especially entertainment media, often lulls us to ignore our battle with the flesh." (pg. 41)

"Do we risk legalism by establishing personal viewing standards? Absolutely! But the risk doesn't lie in having standards; it lies in our motivation. The question is not, 'Should we view selectively?' but 'Why do we view selectively?'" (pg. 44)

"Any discussion of biblical obedience, including entertainment guidelines, must spring from a robust understanding of grace." (pg. 47)

"We need more than a rating if we're to honor God through our viewing. We need an evaluation process that takes into account our time and our motive, as well as offering a biblical benchmark for measuring content." (pg. 57)

"What's appropriate for one person to listen to might be sin for someone else because of the differing associations we make. We rarely hear music in a vacuum. Depending on the state of our hearts, any song we hear is a potential carrier of worldly values and perspectives." (pg. 80ff)

"...coveting is desiring stuff too much or desiring too much stuff. It's replacing our delight in God with joy in stuff. Materialism is what happens when coveting has cash to spend." (pg. 95)

"When we're discontented, cost or practical utility is rarely the point of a purchase. The point is the pursuit of happiness." (pg. 101)

"Covetousness chains the heart to things that are passing away." (pg. 106)

"Of all people, it is the Christian who should appreciate aesthetics, discerning with renewed powers of perception the handiwork of God in creation. And as our own aesthetic achievements reflect his creativity and skill, we join him in expressing and celebrating beauty - a beauty that points us to God and intensifies our delight in him." (pg. 153)

"Every aspect of our involvement in this world is to have a redemptive component, illuminating the character of the Creator, imitating his activity, and embodying his intentions to save, renew, and restore. If we're appropriately 'heavenly minded,' we'll be alert to endless earthly opportunities to glorify God." (pg. 166)

C. J. Mahaney, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners - by John Bunyan

"157. Now I saw, that as God had His hand in all the providences and dispensations that overtook His elect; so He had His hand in all the temptations that they had to sin against Him; no to animate them to wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles for them; and also to leave them for a time, to such sins only that might not destroy, but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in the way of the renewing His mercy. But oh! what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see, mixing itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God's ways to His people!" (pg. 51)

"214. This was a wonderment to me; yet truly, I am apt to think it was of God; for the word of the law and wrath, must give place to the word of life and grace; because, though the word of condemnation be glorious, yet the word of life and salvation doth far exceed in glory (2 Cor. 3:8-11; Mark 9:5-7; John 6:37)." (pg. 70)

"301. Thus therefore I came to perceive that, though gifts in themselves were good, to the thing for which they are designed, to wit, the edification of others; yet empty, and without power to save the soul of him that hath them, if they be alone: neither are they, as so, any sign of a man's state to be happy, being only a dispensation of God to some, of whose improvement, or non-improvement, they must when a little love more is over, give an account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead." (pg. 96ff)

"C5. Of all fears, they are best that are made by the blood of Christ; and of all joy, that is the sweetest that is mixed with mourning over Christ. Oh! it is a goodly thing to be on our knees, with Christ in our arms, before God. I hope I know something of these things." (pg. 110)

"'...for men might have many elegant, or excellent words, and yet not pray at all; but when a man prayeth, he doth, through a sense of those things which he wants (which sense is begotten by the Spirit), pour out his heart before God through Christ; though his words be not so many and so excellent as other are.'" (pg. 126)

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2007)

Monday, January 26, 2009

The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists - by Ravi Zacharias

"A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions - questions that relate to origin, meaning, morality, and hope that assures a destiny. These answers must be correspondingly true and, as a whole, coherent." (pg. 33ff)

"I want to add that our arguments for the existence of God do not hinge on debunking evolution. Evolution is a straw man that has been thrown up, as if all that needs to be done to achieve the crashing down of belief in God is to posit evolution." (pg. 37)

"The greatest disappointment (and resulting pain) you can feel is when you have just experienced that which you thought would bring you the ultimate in pleasure - and it has let you down. Pleasure without boundaries produces a life without purpose. That is real pain." (pg. 41)

"To believe that there is no moral order, one must assume knowledge of what a moral order would look like if there were one. But why should one person's opinion of what the moral order should look like be any more authentic than anyone else's? And besides, if there truly is no moral order, any attempt to enforce one is sheer pragmatism, open to any challenge for other pragmatic reasons." (pg. 60ff)

"Denying the existence of God leads us to preposterous conclusions so that, in the end, the amoral world of the skeptic who simply cannot explain good is worse than the world of the theist who has an explanation of evil." (pg. 67ff)

"Wickedness is always excused as anything but the moral degeneracy that has resulted from each one of us becoming the god of God." (pg. 68)

"Given a starting point of primordial slime, one is forced to live apart from the moral law, with no meaning, no real understanding of love, and no hope." (pg. 79)

"For the believer in God and the follower of Jesus, there is more than the existential test, which is subject to circumstance and condition. We also have the empirical test of the person, teaching, and work of Jesus Christ." (pg. 79)

"It boils down to this: for the follower of Jesus Christ, the fact that the universe cannot explain itself, added to the obvious intelligence behind the universe, linked to the historical and experiential verification of what Jesus taught and did, make belief in him a very rational and existentially fulfilling reality." (pg. 120)

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008)

Monday, January 19, 2009

God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself - by John Piper

"The acid test of biblical God-centeredness - and faithfulness to the gospel - is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever?" (pg. 11)

"If the enjoyment of God himself is not the final and best gift of love, then God is not the greatest treasure, his self-giving is not the highest mercy, the gospel is not the good news that sinners may enjoy their Maker, Christ did not suffer to bring us to God, and our souls must look beyond him for satisfaction." (pg. 12)

"When I say that God Is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment." (pg. 13)

"Nothing fits a person to be more useful on earth than to be more ready for heaven." (pg. 16)

"The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel." (pg. 47)

"The glory of Christ is not synonymous with raw power. The glory is the divine beauty of his manifold perfections. To see this requires a change of heart." (pg. 54)

"The natural self-centered condition of human hearts cannot believe, because they cannot see spiritual beauty. It is not a physical inability, as though they can't act even if they have a compelling desire to act. It is a moral inability because they are so self-absorbed, they are unable to see what would condemn their pride and give them joy through admiring another. That is why seeing the glory of Christ requires a profound spiritual change." (pg. 54)

"...the glory of God in Christ, revealed through the gospel, is a real, objective light that must be spiritually seen in order for there to be salvation. If it is not seen - spiritually tasted as glorious and precious - Satan still has his way, and there is no salvation." (pg. 64)

"This is the way the Holy Spirit does his ongoing change in us. He does not change us directly; he changes us by enabling us to see the glory of Christ." (pg. 90)

"The purpose of the gospel - both its central events of Good Friday and Easter, as well as their proclamation in the world - is to make the glory of God in Christ the foundation and the means of all salvation and sanctification and glorification. There is no gospel where the glory of God in Christ is not shown. And there is no salvation through the gospel where the glory of God in Christ is not seen." (pg. 97)

"Something else must be present in faith if it is to be saving faith that honors Christ rather than just using him. Saving faith must have a quality to it that tastes what is Christ-exalting and embraces it." (pg. 129)

"...gratitude that is pleasing to God is not first a delight in the benefits God gives (though that will be part of it). True gratitude must be rooted in something else that comes first - namely, a delight in the beauty and excellency of God's character." (pg. 136)

"Divine love labors and suffers to enthrall us with what is infinitely and eternally satisfying: God in Christ." (pg. 155)

John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005)