Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose In The Glory Of Christ - by John Piper

"At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God's grace. God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil." (pg. 12)

"If any person or any power or any wisdom or any love awakens any admiration or any amazement or any joy, let it be the greatest person and the greatest power and the greatest wisdom and the greatest love that exists - Jesus Christ." (pg. 32ff)

"The Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be more highly honored and more deeply appreciated and loved in the end because he defeats Satan not the moment after Satan fell, but through millennia of long-suffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and decisively through his own death." (pg. 49)

"He created the universe, and it has the meaning he gives it, not the meaning we give it. If we give it a meaning different from his, we are fools. And our lives will be tragic in the end." (pg. 57)

"Thousands of languages around the world and thousands of different peoples limit the global aspirations of arrogant mankind." (pg. 69)

"If God plans four hundred years of affliction for his people (Gen. 15:13) before the Promised Land, we should not be surprised that he says to us, 'through many tribulations you must enter the kingdom of God' (Acts 14:22)." (pg. 77)

"God's allegiance to his own name is the foundation of his faithfulness to us. If God ever forsook his supreme allegiance to himself, there would be no grace for us. If he based his kindness to us on our worth, there would be no kindness to us." (pg. 93)

John Piper, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose In The Glory Of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Assurance of Faith: Conscience in the Theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin - by Randall C. Zachman

"The conscience is that power of the soul that judges what the person does on the basis of what the person should do, thereby rendering the person either condemned or acquitted - that is, justified - before God. Apart from the grace of Christ, the conscience only finds such condemnation by the performance of good works. The grace of Jesus Christ frees the conscience from its attempt to justify itself before God by trusting in its own works, and places the trust of the conscience in the righteousness and forgiveness of Christ alone." (pg. 2)

"The question that the testimony of a good conscience addresses is not, 'Do I have a gracious God?' but rather, 'Is my faith in the grace of God sincere or hypocritical?' In other words, the testimony of the good conscience builds on the foundation of God's witness to us in the gospel and cannot replace that foundation." (pg. 6)

"The church cannot be judged by its appearance, but only by whether it has the Word of Christ crucified. Hence the primary task of the church is to preach the Word of God, while letting externals take their course." (pg. 10ff)

"On the basis of the evidence, I am convinced it is possible to show that the theologia crucis is the governing motif of Luther's theology, and that the Fatherhood of God in the Son through the Holy Spirit is the guiding doctrine of Calvin's theology." (pg. 14)

" the heart of all false knowledge of God - which Luther calls either theologia gloriae, general knowledge (cognitio generalis), or legal knowedge (cognitio legalis) - is the conscience's attempt to testify to itself about God and its status before God on the basis of what it sees and feels, that is, works of the law." (pg. 20)

"False teaching creates a false conscience. 'It is the nature of all hypocrites and false prophets to create a conscience where there is none, and to cause conscience to disappear where it does exist.'" (pg. 27)

"The more the conscience is guided by its feelings of piety, the more it falls from works that are good in themselves to works that seem to be good and holy but are in fact worthless and even harmful." (pg. 35)

"According to God's own self-revelation in the Word, however, the acquittal of God is offered only to those who are condemned before God in their own consciences; and the law is preached not so that we might attain an approving testimony of conscience through works, but so that the conscience might stand condemned before God on the basis of its own works. The self-revelation of God thus directly contradicts the testimony of the conscience to itself about God." (pg. 41)

"Without the revelation of sin in the Word, the conscience could never arrive at the conclusion that we are helpless sinners who deserve only the wrath of God." (pg. 45)

"In sum, because of the limitations of the natural mind, compounded by the blindness inflicted by Satan, the conscience is not capable of hearing the Word of the law and acknowledging its truth. Unless God works inwardly in the heart and conscience, the Word will be rejected as a lie." (pg. 47)

"Just as no one but Christ could perform the work of redemption, so no one but Christ could testify as to the significance of that work; for the testimony that God wishes to be gracious to sinners is unknown to the heart, mind, and conscience of humanity." (pg. 58)

" believes God's promise to have mercy on sinners to be true, even though both reason and conscience oppose such a promise." (pg. 60)

"Works are done with a free conscience when they are not performed to improve our relationship with God but are done out of confidence and trust in the mercy of God revealed in Christ." (pg. 73)

"The testimony of the good conscience has its most direct use not before the judgment seat of God - for there we are all sinners - but before the judgment of the world." (pg. 80ff)

"In sum, the good conscience testifies to the truth of our faith, yet true faith trusts only in Christ and not in the testimony of conscience." (pg. 86)

"This darkness of mind is especially apparent when the human mind judges the governance and providence of God in the world; in its ignorance the mind thinks that all things are tumbled about fortuitously, and believes in fortune or chance instead of providence. The mind's limitations are also apparent in our contemplation of the works of God in general, for in contemplating creation we look only at the works and do not consider their author." (pg. 107)

"Even though we are aware of our sins by the accusing testimony of conscience, we are not aware of our inability to do anything but sin, because of our ignorance of the sin of concupiscence, which gives birth to all actual sins; thus we think that the solution lies not in the grace of repentance given by Christ, but in our own efforts to do good and shun evil." (pg. 120)

"Hypocrites pretend to worship the God from whom they flee, but when they hear the Word of God they cannot help but openly blaspheme God. In this way the Word of God discloses the thoughts of many hearts (Luke 2:35)." (pg. 125)

"Without the Holy Spirit, the Word of God only removes all excusing ignorance of God by awakening the condemning judgment of conscience." (pg. 125)

"The fountain of every good is only known by participation in the triune life of God itself: for the Son and Holy Spirit bring about our participation in the powers of God that can only come from the Father. No creature will be able to know or call on God as Father without being engrafted into the Son by the Holy Spirit." (pg. 133)

"Any desire or motion of the heart or conscience not in accord with the holiness of God is a mortal sin." (pg. 147)

"The essential functioning of the conscience is short-circuited by pride and self-love, so that its accusing testimony results not in humility but in hypocrisy. It is therefore necessary for the conscience to be awakened by the teaching of the law so that it might come to a genuine knowledge of its sin and a serious awareness of the judgment of God." (pg. 149)

"To call Jesus the Christ is the same as to call him the fountain from which we must draw every good thing." (pg. 165)

"Because it is axiomatic that God is true and cannot lie, God's witness in the gospel of Jesus Christ establishes our minds, hearts, and consciences in certainty, which all human opinion taken together is unable to do." (pg. 179)

"Only the godly simultaneously have confidence in God as their Father while they fear God as their Lord and judge." (pg. 182)

"The testimony of a good conscience that arises out of our conformity to Jesus Christ has as it primary purpose the confirmation that our knowledge of Christ is genuine and our confession of faith sincere." (pg. 198)

"Justification is the irreducible basis, and sanctification is the irreducible goal, of our adoption as children of God in Jesus Christ." (pg. 213)

Randall C. Zachman, The Assurance of Faith: Conscience in the Theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2005)