Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

“Evil cannot be overcome by calling in the intimidating principalities and powers as allies.”

–Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection, 264

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“I suspect that Jesus spoke many of his parables as a kind of sad and holy joke and that that may be part of why he seemed reluctant to explain them because if you have to explain a joke, you might as well save your breath.”

–Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, 63*

*This is a book you really should acquire and read. Buechner is simply brilliant when it comes to helping us understand the role of preacher.

“The depth is simply the height inverted, as sin is the index of moral grandeur. The cry is not only truly human, but divine as well. God is deeper than the deepest depth in man. He is holier than our deepest sin is deep. There is no depth so deep to us as when God reveals his holiness in dealing with our sin…[And so] think more of the depth of God than the depth of your cry. The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have no God to cry to out of the depths.”—PT Forsyth, The Cure of Souls, as quoted by Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 139

Found this at a blog I read. The blogger is giving a brief review of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God:

Keller responds to the ubiquitous atheist chorus: “If a good and powerful God exists, he would not allow pointless evil, but because there is much unjustifiable, pointless evil in the world, the traditional good and powerful God could not exist.”

Keller: “This reasoning is, of course, fallacious.  Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one.  Again we see lurking within supposedly hard-nosed skepticism an enormous faith in one’s own cognitive faculties.  If our minds can’t plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can’t be any!  This is blind faith of a high order.”  “Many assume that if there were good reasons for the existence of evil, they would be accessible to our minds…but why should that be the case?”  Keller says, essentially, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it is not there!

HT: Reformed Reader

Friends,

Here’s a lengthy, but necessary quote from my friend PT Forsyth. Every time I read something of his, I am astounded at his prescience (not to mention his depth of thought!) Here he is lamenting the church not only losing focus on the centrality of Christ’s cross and its vital connection to our salvation, but also I believe he is chiding those who purposely misrepresent the work of Christ at Calvary as a mere afterthought or aside. Instead, Forsyth rightly notes that the work of Christ is central, crucial, and second to nothing else he did.

“It has been asked concerning Christ, Was His will to die one with His will to save? Is there any doubt about the answer the Church has given to that question from first to last? The salvation has always been attached to Christ’s death, from New Testament days downward…If Christ’s atoning death is not the central effect of His person, and the central thing to our faith, if that notion of atonement has overlaid Christ’s real gospel, how has the whole Church come totally to misread its creator, and to miss what for Him was central? There has surely been some gigantic bungling on the Church’s part, some almost fatuous misconception of its Lord, a blunder whose long life and immense moral effect is quite unintelligible. An error of that kind is no misprint but a flaw. It is not mistake but heresy. And, as it concerns the centre and nature of faith, it must destroy any belief in the guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit—which, however, is not a very lively faith among those whose challenge here occupies us….The church has done its Lord many a wrong, but none so grave as this, to have determinedly perverted His legacy, and grieved His spirit in regard to the central object of His mission on earth. It has often travestied His methods, misconstrued points of His teaching, and even compromised His principles; but these things have been done against its best conscience and its holiest spirits. These errors have passed, and been reformed, and renounced. But this perversion I speak of, if perversion it be, is greater than these, less culpable possibly, but even greater as perversion. For it has been the misrepresentation of Christ’s central gospel by the Church’s best and wisest. It has been a more total and venerable perversion than even the papacy. For even had all such passing ills and historic abuses been cured, this travesty of Christ’s central intent would still have gone on, and gone on with all the force lent by a purified Church, and all the spell of saintliness to wing the central lie. If the cross was but little to Christ in comparison with His real work, if it was a mere by-produced of His mission, a mere appendix to it and not its purpose, a mere calamity that befell it and not its consummation; and if His church has yet made it central, seminal, creative, and submersive of all else, then the enemies who swore Christ’s life away did Him no such bad turn as the train of disciples whose stupidity has belied Him over the whole world for all time. And those browbeaters who would let Him say nothing did His cause less harm than those apostles who made Him say what He did not mean.” –PT Forsyth, The Cruciality of the Cross, 94-98

Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Friends,

I have been enjoying Stanley Hauerwas’ fine theological commentary on Matthew. It seems that on every page I find something that I say, “Yes,” to. It’s my first in depth reading of Hauerwas and I suppose to be fair I should read some more of his work.

Nevertheless, here’s another of those paragraphs that really stood out to my mind and the current revolution my faith is undergoing:

Scripture is the weapon of truth that enables those who follow Jesus to disarm the powers by exposing their lies and deceit. Christians are not without defense, having been given God’s word to shield us from our delusions that are the source of our violence.

Jesus, however, is clear. Attempts to secure our lives through the means offered by the world are doomed to failure. If we are to find our lives, it seems, we must be prepared to lose our lives. But this is not a general recommendation meaning that we should learn unselfishness–even unselfishness that may cost our lives–for the life we must be willing to lose is the life lost ‘for my sake,’ that is, for Jesus. Self-sacrifice, often justified in the name of family or country, can too easily be tyrannical. The language of sacrifice is often used by those in power for perverse ends. Jesus does not commend the loss of self as a good in and of itself. He demands that we follow him because he alone has the right to ask for our lives.

Too often Christianity in our time is justified as a way of life that leads to stability and order. ‘The family that prays together stays together’–but such sentiments cannot help but lead to an idolatry of the family.–109

There’s more, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun. Get the book and have a good read. It is necessary and important that Christians do understand the hard nature of the life of a Jesus follower. Consider well.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Friends,

This continues my series on The Crucifixion Driven Life. This quote is from John RW Stott a scholar admired and respected across denominational lines as a sound expositor of Scripture and a welcome ambassador for the Kingdom of God:

The uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice does not mean, then, that we have no sacrifices to offer, but only that their nature and purpose are different. They are not material but spiritual, and their object is not propitiatory but eucharistic, the expression of a responsive gratitude…What spiritual sacrifices, then, do the people of God as a ‘holy priesthood’ offer to him? Eight are mentioned in Scripture…living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)…praise, worship and thanksgiving, ‘the fruit of lips that confess his name’ (Heb 13:15, Psalm 50:14, 69:30-31, 116:17)…the sacrifice of prayer, which is said to ascend to God like fragrant incense, and our fourth ‘a broken and contrite heart,’ which God accepts and never despises (Mal 1:11, Ps 51:17, Hose 14:1-2, Rev 5:8, 8:3-4)…faith is called a ‘sacrifice and service’ and sixth are our gifts and good deeds, for ‘with such sacrifices God is pleased’ (Phil 2:71, 4:18; Heb 13:16; Acts 10:4)…sacrifice is our life poured out like a drink offering in God’s service, even unto death, while the eight is the special offering of the evangelist, whose preaching of the gospel is called a priestly duty because he is able to present his converts as ‘an offering acceptable to God’ (Phil 2:17, 2 Tim 4:6; Rom 15:16)—The Cross of Christ, 263-264

Always For His Glory!

Friends,

Today’s quote builds on the Crucifixion Driven Life theme I began a couple of days ago. Today’s quote is from James Montegomery Boice:

The Centrality of the Cross by James Montgomery Boice

…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father (Rom 4:25); and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

What a beautiful thought. Praise God for his victory in Christ!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Back in 2006 I preached a series of sermons I called ‘The Crucifixion Driven Life.’ This was my take on the popular 40 Days of Purpose that everyone was raving about at the time. We did the 40 Days of Purpose in my congregation and it was not quite as fun as I had hoped. Anyhow, shortly after we did the program I became very disillusioned with the nature of the program and shortly thereafter abandoned any hint that I had participated in the program. The main problem I had was that while there are a lot of good ideas in the program itself, the manner in which Scripture was used to arrive at those points was rather frustrating and disconcerting. Not only that, but it was the first time in my life I ever used sermon outlines that I had not prepared myself. I wrote my own sermons, but I built them around the 40 Days outlines. I am offering this as a public confession.

Anyhow, I’d like to use this blog for a couple of weeks to start publishing the majority of what I learned during the course of the 10 weeks that I preached on this subject. What I learned was simply amazing and thoroughly revolutionized my faith. What the Scripture says about the nature of what I have called the Crucifixion Driven Life is, beyond doubt, stunning. And what is more is that it stands in stark contrast with the American Driven Life of much of Western Christendom.

So I will be posting here, over the next couple of weeks or so, much of the material that I wrote, collected, and preached during this sermon series. I have quotes and sermons and I will also be including a few Skycasts–mp3’s of the sermons I preached. (Also, as with the sermons on Daniel posted last week, I will upload these sermons and Powerpoint presentations to my box.net account. This can be accessed from the widget on the left sidebar or via the links I provide.

This first quote is from one of my favorite writers and preachers, DA Carson. This particular quote is culled from his book The Cross and Christian Ministry:

What it means to be ‘spiritual’ is profoundly tied to the cross, and to nothing else. More precisely, to be spiritual, this passage, is to enjoy the gift of the Holy Spirit—and this means understanding and appropriating the message of the cross, ‘God’s secret wisdom.’…The Spiritual person is simply a believer, one who has closed with the message of the cross. In deed, those who are most mature are most grateful for the cross and keep coming back to it as the measure of God’s love for them and the supreme standard of personal self-denial….[U]ltimately wisdom is from the world and is opposed by God, or it is God-given and tied to the cross. There is no middle ground. Those who try to create some middle ground by imitating the Corinthians—who confessed the Jesus of the cross but whose hearts were constantly drawn to one or another of the public philosophy and values of the day—will gain nothing but the rebuke of Scripture.—ibid., 62

Here is another quote from Carson from the same book:

Paul is not so naïve as to think that every Christian should, ideally, suffer the same amount. In fact, in one passage he testifies to his willingness to take on a disproportionate share of suffering, so that others might be relieved. But what is at stake, for Paul, is a fundamental stance, a way of looking at things…We follow a Crucified Messiah.All the eschatological promises regarding the new heaven and the new earth, all the blessings of sins forgiven and of the blessed Spirit of God, do not negate the fact that the good news we present focuses on the foolishness of Christ crucified. And that message simply cannot be effectively communicated from the haughty position of the trumphalist’s condescension. Until the end of the age, we will take up our cross—that is, we will die to self-interest daily—and follow Jesus. The less any society knows of that way, the more foolish we will seem and the more suffering we will endure. So be it; there is no other way of following Jesus.—ibid., 107-108

I’ll post a little more later as time allows. Enjoy these quotes, there’s much more to come.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Hans Kungs On being a Christian the other day. I have had only a chance to browse through it a couple of times, but today, while studying the way in which the prophet Isaiah uses the word ‘justice’ (Hb tsadiq or tsadiqa), I opened it to see if he had any comments on it and came across this paragraph near the end of the book:

Obviously we are not going to make a sweeping attack here on achievements, good deeds, work, professional advancement, as if the Christian were not expected to make the most of his ‘talents.’ The Christian message of justification does not provide justification for doing nothing. Good deeds are important. But the foundation of Christian existence and the criterion for facing God cannot be an appeal to any kind of achievement, cannot be any self-assertion or any self-justification on man’s part. It can only be absolute adherence to God through Jesus in a trust inspired by faith. What is proclaimed here is an extraordinarily encouraging message which provides human life with a solid basis, despite all inevitable failures, errors and despair, and which at the same time can liberate it from secular pressure for achievement, bestowing a freedom which can sustain it even through the worst situations.” (588 )

Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Here’s a thought from someone you might not guess. Take your best shot:

Our kindness ought to extend much farther in tolerating imperfection of life, for here there is great danger of falling, and Satan employs all his devices to ensnare us. For there always have been persons who, imbued with a false persuasion of absolute holiness…, spurn the fellowship of all people in whom they see that something human still remains…For seeing that among those to whom the gospel is preached, the fruit of life is not in accordance with its doctrine, they at once conclude that no church exists there…But in this those of whom we have spoken sin in their turn, by not knowing how to set a boundary to their offence. For where the Lord requires mercy they omit it, and give themselves up to immoderate severity.”

I think you will be surprised by the answer and it is probably not who you think it is. Please take a minute and guess the author of this most outstanding observation.

jerry

Friends,

Terribly disconcerting quote this is:

If we believe that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we shall neither reject nor despise the truth itself, wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to insult the Spirit of God…All truth is from God, and consequently if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it, for it has come from God.”The Institutes II, ii, 15 translated by John Allen. 2 Vols. Philadelphia Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1909 and Commentary on Titus, 1:12; as quoted by David Seamands, Healing Grace, 187)

Now I am really, really afraid.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

I came across this quote in a book titled Signposts in a Strange Land which is a collection of various writings by novelist Walker Percy. In the current climate, I thought it might prove instructive. It’s from piece he called Self Interview: Questions They Never Asked Me. (Both the question and the answer are Percy’s.)

What do you think of [book] reviews?

Very little. Reading reviews of your own book is a peculiar experience. It is a dubious enterprise, a no-win game. If the review is flattering, one tends to feel vain and uneasy. If it is bad, one tends to feel exposed, found out. Neither feeling does you any good. Besides that, most reviews are of not much account. How could it be otherwise? I feel sorry for reviewers. I feel sorry for myself when I write a review. Book reviewing is a difficult and unrewarding literary form and right now no one is doing it. The reviewer’s task is almost impossible. A Writer may spend years doing his obscure thing, his little involuted sexual-theological number, and there’s the poor reviewer with two or three days to figure out what he’s up to. And even if the review is good, you’re in no mood to learn anything from it. The timing is all bad. You’re sick to death of the book and don’t want to even think about it. Then, just when you think you’re rid of the baby, have kicked him and his droppings out of the nest forever, along come these folks who want to talk about him.”—Walker Percy, Questions They Never Asked Me, 410 in Signposts in a Strange Land

Have a nice weekend! And to all you whose lives are dedicated to review and criticism, well…

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

Friends,

The following paragraphs are from Elton Trueblood’s The Predicament of Modern Man, chapter 3: The Impotence of Ethics. You can access the entire work here. Isn’t it amazing how there is nothing new under the sun? Especially note the paragraph in blue, it is simply beautiful.

 *  *  *  *  *

“We understand much of the distinction between religion and other phases of our lives when we sense the profound difference between faith and belief. Faith is closer to courage than it is to intellectual assent. Faith is easily understood by the gambler as both Blaise Pascal and Donald Hankey knew because the gambler stands to win or lose by his play. This was brought out in Kirsopp Lake’s now classic definition, “Faith is not belief in spite of evidence, but life in scorn of consequences.” Faith, as the plain man knows, is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.

The lesson of history is that those lacking such a faith are no match for those inspired by such a faith, whatever its object. The fearful aspect of the present situation is that those who have inherited the major tradition of the West now have an ethic without a religion, whereas they are challenged by millions who have a religion without an ethic. The former group will win the war, because they have the preponderance of men and resources, as well as a fortunate alliance with Russia, but that is by no means the end of the story. We should be gullible indeed if we supposed that mere military victory would end the powerful threat of the faith which is proposed as a successor to the religion of the West.

Little do we know what evil faith may grip our people when the war is over. Since men cannot live long without a faith, the choice is always a choice between competing faiths. The only practical alternative to an evil faith is a better faith. Though this is the lesson of history, we are now trying the utterly precarious experiment, in which the odds are against us, of attempting to maintain our culture by loyalty to the Christian ethic without a corresponding faith in the Christian religion that produced it.

*  *  *  *  * 

An ordinary man, merely in and of himself, is not of so great worth and may be a very poor creature. We shall not make an effective answer to the apostles of blood and soil by pointing to him. But there is something else to which we can point, as the late William Paton said in a memorable paragraph:

But if this humble and obscure man is in reality one whom God has made, whom He has made in love, so that he shall never know peace except in loving God in return; if this man is one to whom God speaks; if this man is the object of a Divine solicitude so great that the Word became flesh for his salvation, the Son of God died for him — if this be true, then this humble and obscure man has a link with eternity, with the creative love that made the world. He cannot then be rightly treated as a cog in a machine, or a sample of a racial blood-stream, or one of the individual atoms that make up a nation.(Paton, op.cit.,pp. 150, 151)

It is especially in our Christian tradition that we find the power which is so conspicuously lacking in mere moralism. We must not forget that, in the Roman Empire, Christ won, and won against tremendous odds. He won because the faith in Christ really changed the lives of countless weak men and made them bold as lions. He has taken poor creatures who could not even understand the language of moral philosophy and shaken the world through them. [My emphasis.]

This has been said brilliantly by John Baillie:

Christ did not come to earth to tell us merely what we ought to do; He came to do something for us. He came not merely to exhort but to help. He did not come to give us good advice. That, if it were no more than that, was possibly not a thing of which we stood greatly in need, for there are always plenty of people who are ready with their advice. Advice is cheap, but what Christ offered us was infinitely costly. It was the power of God unto salvation. (John Baillie, Invitation to Pilgrimage, p. 51.)

It is easy enough to hate Hitler, but what is it that we propose as an alternative to his proposal for mankind? We now have a good opportunity to know, since we see suggestions daily in our propaganda sheets and even more in the expensive advertisements that so many large commercial firms are using for the building of morale, now that they have nothing to sell to the average reader. They all say about the same thing. We are to oppose the new paganism in the name of humanity, liberty, brotherhood, the sacredness of the individual soul. These are all very fine, but the question is whether they go far enough. John Baillie’s analysis is so good that his words should be cited again:

These indeed are the ideals of the Christian ages, or some of them, or at least they sound very like them, but in the Christian Ages they were all deeply rooted in something bigger and grander, in something that was no mere ideal but an eternal reality. They were rooted in the love of God as manifest in Jesus Christ our Lord . . . . It was Christ who taught us the indefeasible value of the individual soul. It was Christ who taught us of fraternité when He said, ‘One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren’; and St. Paul when he said that ‘we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one member one of another.’ Hence the doubt that keeps raising itself in my mind when I read these fine pronouncements about our ideals . . . is whether these ideals have sufficient strength of conviction in them, or sufficient power of survival, in face of so powerful a contrary force, when they are no longer allowed to breathe their native air or draw daily sustenance from their original source.(Ibid., pp. 125. 126)

Moralizing cannot stand against a burning faith, even when that faith is an evil and perverted one. It is almost as ineffective as an umbrella in a tornado. The only way in which we can overcome our impotence and save our civilization is by the discovery of a sufficient faith. Goodness we must have, but the way to goodness is to find our peace in the love of God who, as the Source of goodness, makes us know that, even at best, we are not really good. This is the peace that passes understanding, though it is not a peace that negates the understanding.

Some of the hardest problems of our day are moral problems; rather than economic or political ones; but, moral problems as they are, many of them cannot be solved except on a religious basis. One example of this is provided by the problem of racial antipathy, a problem that has been accentuated rather than diminished in the recent development of our civilization. So great is the hold of race prejudice on men’s minds that it must be counteracted by something powerful and revolutionary. Men do not transcend the prejudice and hatred based on race by physical proximity or even by the reasonable evidence that all need each other. What is needed is a genuine conversion, striking at the roots of the sinful pride on which race hatred thrives. The great known examples of history in which this kind of animosity has been really overcome have been chiefly religious examples, like that of John Woolman. In all honesty we are compelled to state that religion does not have this effect universally, but that we should hardly expect, knowing what we do about the ability of the human heart to keep its cherished hatreds. What we can honestly state is that the religious approach is more likely to be successful in our particular culture than is any other. The reason for the greater probability of the success of the religious approach is that the problem is fundamentally a religious problem. Race hatred comes, primarily, not from ignorance, but from sin. We will not accept all men as brothers until we are really humble, and we are not really humble until we measure ourselves by the revelation of the Living God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry