“Paul ran from Christ; Christ pursued and overtook him. Paul resisted Christ; Christ disarmed him. Paul persecuted Christ; Christ converted him. Paul was an alien; Christ made him a member of the family. Paul was an enemy; Christ made him a friend. Paul was ‘in the flesh’; Christ set him ‘in the Spirit.’ Paul was under the law; Christ set him in grace. Paul was dead; Christ made him alive to God. How does one give reasons for this? He does not give reasons; he sings, ‘Blessed be God who blessed us . . . even as he chose us in him.’” – Lewis B. Smedes, Union With Christ (Grand Rapids, 1983), pages 86-87.
“It is the supreme art of the devil that he can make the law out of the gospel. If I can hold on to the distinction between law and gospel, I can say to him any and every time that he should kiss my backside. Even if I sinned I would say, ‘Should I deny the gospel on this account?’ . . . Once I debate about what I have done and left undone, I am finished. But if I reply on the basis of the gospel, ‘The forgiveness of sins covers it all,’ I have won.” – Martin Luther, quoted in Reinhard Slenczka, “Luther’s Care of Souls for Our Times,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 67 (2003): 42.
“Now suppose both death and hell were utterly defeated. Suppose the fight was fixed. Suppose God took you on a crystal ball trip into your future and you saw with indubitable certainty that despite everything — your sin, your smallness, your stupidity — you could have free for the asking your whole crazy heart’s deepest desire: heaven, eternal joy. Would you not return fearless and singing? What can earth do to you, if you are guaranteed heaven? To fear the worst earthly loss would be like a millionaire fearing the loss of a penny — less, a scratch on a penny.” – Peter Kreeft, Heaven (San Francisco, 1989), page 183.
“They tell you there is steady progress in history; they tell you modern man is better and happier than any man in the past; they tell you we are more advanced, spiritually, morally, intellectually than all the ages of the past. This is all false. In the most important things of life, history does not disclose steady progress. There are a few shining peaks of the spirit with many intervening sloughs and valleys. Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Goethe, Dostoyevsky — we have nobody comparable to these men in our age. You can live ten lives on them, and the remarkable thing is that they are more relevant to the present than any man in the present. Progress! Fiddlesticks! Who has progressed from the Psalms, or from Isaiah or Jeremiah, or from the New Testament? . . . Ages are to be compared not by numbers but by the best in them. And the best souls in our age pale before the best souls in the past. The decay of respect for the past, the decay of respect for authority, the decay of the notion of the classics — these are the banes of the age.” – Charles Malik, Wheaton College, June 1981.
“Gospel humility frees you from the need to posture and pose and calculate what others think, so that you are free to laugh at what is really funny with the biggest belly laugh. Proud people don’t really let themselves go in laughter. They don’t get red in the face and fall off chairs and twist their faces into the contortions of real free laughter. Proud people need to keep their dignity. The humble are free to howl with laughter.” – Dr. John Piper, quoted by Justin Taylor.
Concerning George Whitefield:
“The ‘Grand Itinerant’, as his contemporaries called him, was, more than anyone else, the trail-blazing pioneer and personal embodiment of the eighteenth-century revival of vital Christianity in the West, the revival that shaped English-speaking society on both sides of the Atlantic for over a hundred years and that fathered the evangelical missionary movement which for the past two centuries has been taking the gospel literally round the world. . . .
First to preach the transforming message of the new birth, first to take it into the open air and declare the world his parish, first to publish journals celebrating God’s work in and through him, and first to set up societies for the nurturing of those who came to faith under his ministry, Whitefield proclaimed Christ tirelessly throughout Britain and colonial America, drawing huge crowds, winning thousands of souls, impacting myriads more, and gaining celebrity status. . .
Wesley’s influence as a renewer of popular religion is sometimes credited with saving England from an upheaval like the French revolution; if there is substance in such reasoning, Whitefield should receive greater credit, for his ministry ranged wider and his pulpit power was greater.” (This quote is from Packer’s introduction to Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man.)
“‘Immanuel, God with us.’ It is hell’s terror. Satan trembles at the sound of it. . . . Let him come to you suddenly, and do you but whisper that word, ‘God with us,’ back he falls, confounded and confused. . . . ‘God with us’ is the laborer’s strength. How could he preach the gospel, how could he bend his knees in prayer, how could the missionary go into foreign lands, how could the martyr stand at the stake, how could the confessor own his Master, how could men labor if that one word were taken away? . . . ‘God with us’ is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of the angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky. . . .
Feast, Christians, feast; you have a right to feast. . . . But in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem. Let him have a place in your hearts, give him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived him, but think most of all of the Man born, the Child given.
I finish by again saying, A happy Christmas to you all!” – C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the Old Testament (London, n.d.), III:430. Continue reading