Sunday, October 2, 2011

eight: withdrawn

The modern way with God is to set Him at a distance, if not to deny Him altogether; and the irony is that modern Christians, preoccupied with maintaining religious practices in an irreligious world, have themselves allowed God to become remote. Clear-sighted persons, seeing this, are tempted to withdraw from the churches in something like disgust to pursue a quest for God on their own. Nor can one wholly blame them, for churchmen who look at God, so to speak, through the wrong end of the telescope, so reducing Him to pigmy proprortions, cannot hope to end up as more than pigmy Christians.

J.I. Packer again (in his book, Knowing God)

seven: abandon

Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short - then why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?

Richard Baxter (quoted in J.I. Packer's book, Knowing God)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

six: unbelief

But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. (Luke 10:12)
The great sinfulness of those who reject the offer of Christ's gospel.

Our Lord declares that it shall be 'more tolerable' at the last day 'for Sodom', than for those who receive not the message of His disciples. And He proceeds to say that the guilt of Chorazin and Bethsaida, cities in Galilee, where he had often preached and worked miracles, but where the people had nevertheless not repented, was greater than the guilt of Tyre and Sidon.

Declarations like these are peculiarly awful. They throw light on some truths which men are very apt to forget. They teach us that all will be judged according to their spiritual light, and that from those who have enjoyed most religious privileges, most will be required. They teach us the exceeding hardness and unbelief of the human heart. It was possible to hear Christ preach, and to see Christ's miracles, and yet to remain unconverted. They teach us, not least, that man is responsible for the state of his own soul. Those who reject the gospel, and remain impenitent and unbelieving, are not merely objects of pity and compassion, but deeply guilty and blameworthy in God's sight. God called, but they refused. God spoke to them, but they would not regard. The condemnation of the unbelieving will be strictly just. Their blood will be upon their own heads. The Judge of all the earth will do right.

Let us lay these things to heart, and beware of unbelief. It is not open sin and flagrant profligacy alone which ruin souls. We have only to sit still and do nothing, when the gospel is pressed on our acceptance, and we shall find ourselves one day in the pit.

We have only to remain cold, careless, indifferent, unmoved and unaffected, and our end will be in hell. This was the ruin of Chorazin and Bethsaida. And this, it may be feared, will be the ruin of thousands, as long as the world stands. No sin makes less noise, but none so surely damns the soul, as unbelief.

J.C. Ryle (in his book, Day by Day)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

five: rejoice

"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: 
and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." 
(Psalm 32:11)

Here is a word of comfort to saints, and a good reason is given for that too. (1.) They are assured that if they will but trust in the Lord, and keep closely to Him, mercy shall compass them about on every side (v.10), so that they shall not depart from God, for that mercy shall keep them in, nor shall any real evil break in upon them, for that mercy shall keep it out. (2.) They are therefore commanded to be glad in the Lord, and to rejoice in Him, to such a degree as even to shout for joy, v.11. Let them be so transported with this holy joy as not to be able to contain themselves; and let them affect others with it, that they also may see that a life of communion with God is the most pleasant and comfortable life we can live in this world. This is that present bliss which the upright in heart, and they only, are entitled to and qualified for.

Matthew Henry (on Psalm 32)

Friday, September 23, 2011

four: His approval

God is the only unerring judge of what is excellent. His approval alone is the substance of honor; all other praise is but the shadow of honor. But the Sovereign of the world sees you in every light in which you can be seen ... From Him you may receive the praise of good actions that you had no opportunity of performing. For He sees them through your motives; He judges you by your intentions; He knows what you would have done if you but had the opportunity. You may be in His eyes a hero or a martyr, without undergoing the labors of the one, or the sufferings of the other. His inspection, therefore, opens a much wider field for praise than what the world can offer you...

Hugh Blair (quoted in Lou Priolo's "Pleasing People")

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

two: theology

I am a lover of the Reformed faith — the legacy of the protestant Reformation expressed broadly in the writings of John Calvin and John Owen and Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, and contemporaries like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and John Frame.
I speak of love for this legacy the way I speak of loving a cherished photo of my wife. I say, “I love that picture.” You won’t surprise me if you point out, “But that’s not your wife, that’s a picture.” Yes. Yes. I know it’s only a picture. I don’t love the picture instead of her, I love the picture because of her. She is precious in herself.
The picture is precious not in itself, but because it reveals her. That’s the way theology is precious. God is valuable in himself. The theology is not valuable in itself. It is valuable as a picture. That’s what I mean when I say, “I love reformed theology.” It’s the best composite, Bible-distilled picture of God that I have.