Thursday, November 02, 2017

Growing In Christ - by J. I. Packer

"Men treat God's sovereignty as a theme for controversy, but in Scripture it is matter for worship." (pg. 31)

"The key to understanding the New Testament view of the Spirit's work is to see that his purpose is identical with the Father's - namely, to see glory and praise come to the Son." (pg. 72)

"What the Spirit's witnessing effects is not private revelation of something hitherto undisclosed, but personal reception of God's public testimony which was 'there' all along in the Scriptures, but went unheeded." (pg. 73)

"The evangelical theology of revival, first spelled out in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the present-day emergence of 'charismatic renewal' on a worldwide scale, reminds us of something which Roman Catholic and Protestant disputers, in their concentration on doctrinal truth, tended to miss - namely, that church must always be open to the immediacy of the Spirit's Lordship, and that disorderly vigor in a congregation is infinitely preferable to a correct and tidy deadness." (pg. 77)

"The root reason for the practice of baptizing is to please Jesus Christ our Lord." (pg. 97)

"For Paul and all New Testament writers the link between believing and being baptized is evidently like that between inheriting the throne and being crowned: through the public ceremony the already existing reality of royal privilege is declared, confirmed, celebrated, and formally regularized." (pg. 100)

"Is there more to Christianity than practicing morality and supporting a church?  Many think not, but there is.  Christianity is a new life, consisting of new relationships with God, men, and things; and it all springs from one source - a unique link between the Christian and his Master, Jesus Christ." (pg. 119)

"If Christ is to be formed in me, doctrine, experience, and practice must all be there together." (pg. 127)

"The vitality of prayer lies largely in the vision of God that prompts it." (pg. 167)

"When Christians examine themselves, it is for omissions that they should first look, and they will always find that their saddest sins take the form of good left undone." (pg. 192)

"No statement starting, 'This is how I like to think of God' should ever be trusted.  An imagined God will always be more or less imaginary and unreal." (pg. 244)

"Is it not maddening when, after correcting someone's wrong ideas, you find that he was not listening, and is still trotting out his old mistake?  Measure by this the provocation offered to God if we fail to take note of what he has shown us of himself." (pg. 244)

J. I. Packer, Growing in Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, And The Digital World - by Tim Challies

"...if technology is a good gift from God, with the potential to help us fulfill our God-given calling and purpose, why does it so often feel like we are slaves to our technology, like we are serving it instead of demanding that it serve us?" (pg. 13)

"We dream; we imagine new possibilities; we think of creative solutions.  And in all of these activities we resemble our Creator.  Ultimately, then, God himself is the author of all technology." (pg. 22)

"The things we create to assist us in overcoming the consequences of the curse also seek to dominate us, drawing our hearts away from God rather than drawing us toward him in dependence and faith." (pg. 24)

"Technology becomes an idol when we start to believe that humanity's hope, humanity's future, will be found in more and better technology." (pg. 30)

"Meanwhile, the digital explosion has even changed the way the adult brain functions.  It has placed many of us into what has been described as a state of continuous partial attention, a state in which we devote partial attention to many tasks simultaneously, most of them having to do with communication." (pg. 45)

"Until the telegraph, information was valued for its ability to assist in understanding and solving particular problems.  It was relevant for its ability to be a means toward a greater end. ... Even as the telegraph made people feel less isolated and developed communal identity around common experiences and shared knowledge, it also began to eliminate those features that had made each community different." (pg. 51)

"Learning through images and visual media is directly opposed to learning by reading, which requires a more sustained focus and actually generates new skills and capacities in the brain." (pg. 54)

"As we began to give our thoughts and our memories - our very identities in many cases - over to computers, we allowed them to do more and more things that could have been done in other ways.  We found that if we could have it done by computer, we wanted it done that way.  And eventually we began to forget how to do certain things without a computer." (pg. 58)

"...the invention of a technology almost always precedes its function.  Technology is generally created independently from the way it will eventually be used.  It is usually only after a new technology is invented that we use our creativity and ingenuity to find ways of integrating it into our lives.  This exacerbates its unintended consequences." (pg. 62)

"In almost every case, a new technology will solve some kind of a problem, but it may not be our problem." (pg. 63)

"At a time when we are increasingly disconnected from place, a cell phone seems to represent home.  As long as we have a phone, we can find and be found." (pg. 73)

"We are created with an innate desire for unmediated contact and communication with God." (pg. 93)

"The new, postmodern form of Gnosticism that we see today also promotes a fluidity of identity. ...  What we are in virtual worlds is just an expression of what we believe culturally." (pg. 102)

"Mediated communication gives us the ability to dedicate less of ourselves to more people." (pg. 112)

"Here is one of the great dangers we face as Christians: With the ever-present distractions in our lives, we are quickly becoming a people of shallow thoughts, and shallow thoughts will lead to shallow living." (pg. 117)

"As our technologies promote speed and capacity, the ability to do more in less time, they may promote a new form of idolatry.  They push us to make productivity and efficiency ends in themselves, idols we worship and serve." (pg. 126)

"The danger today, in an era of skimming and fragmentation, is that we will fragment the Bible into small bits and have no time or ability to craft unity from the parts." (pg. 129)

"...information has become an end in itself.  We have begun to believe that the accumulation of information somehow leads to wisdom, that more information will solve society's ills and improve our lives.  We place our faith in information." (pg. 141)

"A trend we see today through our digital technologies is the exaltation of knowledge about, a kind of knowledge composed of cold facts.  This comes at the expense of a more intimate kind of knowledge." (pg. 148)

"The wiki model tells us that truth is what the majority determines it to be. ... Truth does not have its source in God; it has its source in us - the majority opinion." (pg. 166)

"New digital technologies function as a great leveler, reducing the authority of the expert and elevating the authority of the amateur.  The lifelong theologian has no more authority than the young child; the teacher has no more authority than the pupil; the parent has no more authority than the child." (pg. 172)

"Truth is not what is relevant or what is popular, but what God thinks." (pg. 174)

Tim Challies, The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, And The Digital World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015)

Monday, July 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 04, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 02, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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