Miscellaneous Quotes (96)

quotes“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

Praying for Churches and Pastors

prayer39 Ways to Pray for Churches and Pastors, found in the 9Marks 2013 report:

1. Expositional Preaching: pray that more pastors will commit to preaching the whole counsel of God, making the point of the passage the point of their sermons.

2. Biblical Theology: pray that more pastors will preach about the big God from the big Story of the Bible, protecting the church from false teaching.

3. The Gospel: pray that pastors will faithfully proclaim the gospel every chance they have. Pray their churches will ask for nothing more than the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

4. Conversion: pray that more churches would grasp the doctrine of conversion rightly, and shape their practices to promote born-again believers, not nominal believers.

5. Evangelism: pray that churches will be bold and faithful in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus.

6. Church Membership: pray that churches will take the biblical call to church membership seriously, and encourage the whole body of Christ toward holiness and active participation.

7. Church Discipline: pray that churches will grow in purity and holiness as they seek to warn, rebuke, and admonish lost sheep.

8. Discipleship and Growth: pray that Christians will grow in their knowledge of the Word, and their commitment to discipling one another.

9. Biblical Leadership: pray that God will raise up many faithful shepherds to guard, teach, and encourage his flock.

Jesus and the issue of homosexuality

Morgan criticized Phil Robertson’s recent anti-gay remarks as “repulsive” and claimed that he should be fired. Apparently, that’s Morgan’s way of handling opposing viewpoints from major celebrity figures.

On his program last night, he decided to invite a Biblical scholar, Dr. Michael Brown, on the show so that he could trap him into admitting that Jesus did not, in fact, condemn homosexuality.

That trap was not set properly.

When Morgan asked Brown to cite just one instance of Jesus condemning homosexuality, he probably thought that he had already won the debate. But alas, he was hoisted on his own petard.

Brown cited not one, but three instances of Jesus condemning homosexuality.

First, Jesus said that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In other words, the Old Testament law, even in Jesus’ day, was still in force and Jesus accepted it. That is the same law that condemns homosexuality in the Book of Leviticus.

Next, Brown cited Matthew 15 in which Jesus states that all sexual acts committed outside of marriage defile a human being.

Finally, Brown cited Matthew 19 in which Jesus said that marriage, as God intended it, is the union of one man and one woman.

Game, set, and match. Brown.

Have a look at the video below.

Understanding Roman Catholicism

In the video below Dr. James White is interviewed in Berlin, Germany on the subject of Roman Catholicism. It is a very useful discussion and recommended highly (contains Czech subtitles).

Interaction with a Roman Catholic…

quill_paperHere is an excerpt from correspondence I had with a Roman Catholic named Steve today – I will put my words in bold so that it is easy to follow along:

John Samson: Luther argued that the Bible is our sole ultimate authority.

Steve: I would say he (Martin Luther) argued that his interpretation of his particular version of the Bible was the ultimate authority.

John Samson: and I would strongly disagree with what you would argue for. I would argue for the perspecuity of Scripture – that in its essential message, it is clearly understood. The Scriptures on the subject of salvation are clear to anyone who will read the Bible.

2 Tim 3: “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

I also do not need a so called infallible council to tell me that “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28) actually means “a man is justified by faith along with works of the law.”

Steve: James 2:24 (AKJV) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

As St. Augustine said, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

John Samson: I do not pick and choose what I believe. I believe ALL of Scripture and seek to rightly interpret it by means of the context in which those verses occur…

“In Romans 3:28 Paul says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” In James 2:24 we read, “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” If the word justify means the same thing in both cases, we have an irreconcilable contradiction between two biblical writers on an issue that concerns our eternal destinies. Luther called “justification by faith” the article upon which the church stands or falls. The meaning of justification and the question of how it takes place is no mere trifle. Yet Paul says it is by faith apart from works, and James says it is by works and not by faith alone. To make matters more difficult, Paul insists in Romans 4 that Abraham is justified when he believes the promise of God before he is circumcised. He has Abraham justified in Genesis 15. James says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” (James 2:21). James does not have Abraham justified until Genesis 22.

This question of justification is easily resolved if we examine the possible meanings of the term justify and apply them within the context of the respective passages. The term justify may mean (1) to restore to a state of reconciliation with God those who stand under the judgment of his law or (2) to demonstrate or vindicate.

Jesus says for example, “Wisdom is justified of all her children” (Lk 7:35 KJV). What does he mean? Does he mean that wisdom is restored to fellowship with God and saved from his wrath? Obviously not. The plain meaning of his words is that a wise act produces good fruit. The claim to wisdom is vindicated by the result. A wise decision is shown to be wise by its results. Jesus is speaking in practical terms, not theological terms, when he uses the word justified in this way.

How does Paul use the word in Romans 3? Here, there is no dispute. Paul is clearly speaking about justification in the ultimate theological sense.

What about James? If we examine the context of James, we will see that he is dealing with a different question from Paul. James says in 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” James is raising a question of what kind of faith is necessary for salvation. He is saying that true faith brings forth works. A faith without works he calls a dead faith, a faith that is not genuine. The point is that people can say they have faith when in fact they have no faith. The claim to faith is vindicated or justified when it is manifested by the fruit of faith, namely works. Abraham is justified or vindicated in our sight by his fruit. In a sense, Abraham’s claim to justification is justified by his works. The Reformers understood that when they stated the formula, “Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.””

R. C. Sproul – Knowing Scripture; InterVasity Press, p. 83, 84

Steve: Yes it may take a man of R. C. Sproul’s erudition to make sense of this mess and still remain in the reformed tradition. As for me, a mere uneducated, semi-literate reader, I can not make the mental leaps necessary to reconcile the citations of James and Paul via Luke. To me it seems that Paul is talking about works of the law. Paul is saying we are not justified by sacrificing crops or livestock. We are not justified by circumcision or observing holy days. After all Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles knew little of Jewish law. James, on the other hand is stating that if you don’t do good, you aren’t good. Do right and you must be right. In that we have the tempest in the teapot that Martin Luther had to make into a movement. At any rate, as Sproul says, “The claim to faith is vindicated or justified when it is manifested by the fruit of faith.” and you can’t manifest fruit without work for the work is the fruit. And since you need faith to manifest fruit, faith alone isn’t enough. So in spite of this easy explanation you want to make a big deal out of it and start your own religion? Oh wait, . . . yes you do, and Martin Luther did! I’ll stick with Christendom as it had been practiced.

By the way, did Martin Luther mention who won the farting contest he had with the devil?

John Samson: It was not a tempest in a tea pot when the very gospel of Christ was (and is) at stake. Paul and James spoke of justification in TWO DIFFERENT CONTEXTS. There is nothing hard to understand here. Luther did not start his own religion – justification by faith alone has always been the way of salvation and is contstantly affirmed by the early Church fathers. Please read this.

Also: taking a cheapshot at Luther is an ad hominem attack and evidence of a failed argument – it is like saying “you cannot be right because you have a big nose.”

Steve: Mentioning that a man misunderstood the context of Paul and James,mentioning that a man wanted to eliminate the “straw gospel” of James because it disagreed with his feelings about justification by faith alone, and mentioning that he had mental delusions is not the same as saying a man has a big nose. It is merely pointing out that his reliability as a church authority should be questioned. Martin Luther was a man of great faith unto his own interpretations of the Bible and was able to start a movement of which you are an adherent. Was the man of sound mind? To me, his argument fails on its own merit. But when you fail to agree with me on the merit if is argument (and vice versa, I fail to agree with you on the merits of his argument), then the soundness of his mind is a secondary test. A test which he also fails to pass. In my opinion, of course.

John Samson: 1) I believe Sproul’s argument is sound regarding the context of James and Paul and EASILY understood. Paul in Romans has a context of justification in the ultimate sense of being declared right in the sight of God for salvation. That is what the entire book of Romans is addressing. James is asking a completely different question concerning what true faith looks like. That is what the entire book of James is addressing. Both of these assertions are easily defended. Even a casual reading of the two books would affirm this.

2) Luther was a young reformer when he said the book of James was an epistle of straw. No one claims Luther’s infallibility on the Protestant side … Luther changed his view after lengthy study of the book and ADMITTED such. As the link I gave you provided, Luther DID NOT come up with a new doctrine when he heralded justification by faith alone. He was merely the one that stood for it in a historical context that meant his life was in danger for doing so – facing Rome’s anathema in the process, just as I do, for conscience sake. As we look at some of the world changers in history, there is often a fine line between genius and insanity. If Luther was indeed insane, may God raise up many millions of lunatics in our own day who will stand for the truth of the Gospel, no matter what the cost.

Steve: Agreed: “may God raise up many millions of lunatics in our own day who will stand for the truth of the Gospel” Amen, brother. I am one of the Catholic ones standing up.

John Samson: If you truly do so, you will face the eternal and irrevocable curse and sentence of damnation (anathema) of Rome, just as I do.

“If anyone says, that by faith alone the impious is justified; let him be anathema” (Council of Trent #9)

and…

“If anyone says that the justice [or justification] received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, #24).

Steve: Not bothered. I have faith and works. Separately and together. So by St, James and St. Paul, I am covered.

John Samson: We can make a distinction between a man’s head and a man’s body without inflicting harm on the person, but if we separate head and body, we kill him. Though faith and works are not to be separated (works flow from true faith) they HAVE TO BE DISTINGUISHED or else we believe a false gospel. With all my heart I appeal to you to flee the false gospel of Rome and embrace the once for all message of the gospel of Christ – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8,9

…..

For a comparison of evangelical v. Roman Catholic issues see this helpful short article by Nathan Busenitz here.

Cell Phone Crashing

“Don’t you hate when people talk loudly on their phones in public?” asks professional prankster Greg Benson.

Benson, of MediocreFilms, believes he’s come up with the perfect way to get people to stop having loud private conversations on their cellphones when they’re out in public. He calls his technique “cellphone crashing,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

In his latest candid camera video (shot by his wife), Benson situates himself next to chatty cellphone users at the airport, and proceeds to pretend he and the person next to him are having identical conversations. Simple yet diabolical yet harmless yet effective. The best kind of trolling.

The Conditionality and Unconditionality of Grace

From Sinclair Ferguson’s response to Gerhard Forde in Christian Spirituality: Five Views on Sanctification, 1988), pp 34-35:

Reformed theology is as anxious as Lutheran thought to safeguard grace. It has wrestled very seriously with the whole question of conditions. The term conditions has a certain infelicity about it. But there is a difference between what we might call “conditionality” (which compromises grace by saying, “God will be gracious only if you do X or Y“) and the fact that there are conditions for salvation which arise directly out of the gospel message and do not compromise its graciousness.

These conditions do not render God gracious to us, but are the noncontributory means by which we receive his grace.

Our Lord himself says, “Unless you repent, you too will perish” (Lk 13:3).

Only if we suffer with Christ will we reign with him (Rom 8:17).

“If we confess out sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 Jn 1:9).

There is a sine qua non to forgiveness and to justification. They cannot be received apart from faith. This is a biblical condition that does not compromise grace, but arises from it. The important thing is not to deny condition, but to underscore that “It is not faith that saves, but Christ that saves through faith” (B.B. Warfield).”

HT: Jason Taylor

Still Protesting?

of course, began the Reformation by posting his 95 theses. His chief concern was the sale of indulgences. Underscoring that concern were two principle concerns—the singular authority of the Bible, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Luther, along with the other magisterial Reformers, argued that the Bible is our alone ultimate authority in binding our conscience with respect to our faith and practice. It denied that the church provided either a compelling interpretation of the Bible, or a second source of infallible information. (For an outstanding exposition of this issue see my friend and colleague Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura.)

On justification, Protestants protested against what seemed, at the time of Luther’s posting his theses, to be Rome’s perspective that the way a man had peace with God was by trusting in the finished work of Christ, and cooperating with the means of grace as they were poured out by the sacraments. That seeming perspective, however, became crystal clear during the counter-Reformation, specifically at the Counsel of Trent. There Rome declared as settled canon law, that anyone who says a man is justified by faith alone, apart from the works of the law, should be damned. The heresy that was prior to Trent more practical, implicit and consequential became precise, explicit and unchangeable.

What then Protestants protest is the false authority of Rome and her false gospel. We protest not because we are complainers, grumblers, sticks in the mud. We protest precisely because of our dual love for Jesus Christ, and those who are not yet covered in His blood. We do not protest Rome for all she ever was, or ever said. Indeed we protest the notion that Protestantism is something novel. We protest the turning aside from the gospel once delivered. We protest the notion that we are a mere branch of or an offshoot from the true church. We are, insofar as we hold to the glorious gospel truth that we have peace with God through trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, the continuing church, the sons of Augustine, Athanasius, Anselm, the sons of the father of the faithful, Abraham.

We protest that Rome is not catholic, that she in fact shuts out the saints. We, however, are catholic, embracing all those who turn to the living Christ alone. We protest that guarding, defending, proclaiming justification by faith alone is not sectarian, narrow, nor divisive. It is instead a fulfillment of the command that we contend for the faith (Jude 3). We protest against squishy, feel-good ecumenism that imperils souls, that buys the love and respect of men and sells the wrath of God. We protest the beard-stroking, nuance exploring, subtlety affirming of those who refuse to remember that Rome damned and damns justification by faith alone with clarity, forthrightness and immutability.

We protest the notion that we who protest are hidebound, out of step, tilting at long since fallen windmills. We are fighting for the faith. Would that all who take upon themselves the name “Reformed” would join us.

Source: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-do-protestants-protest/

The Baptism & Temptation of Jesus

Text: Matthew 3:

The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 4:

The Temptation of Jesus
4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

What is the significance of Jesus’ baptism? In what way was Jesus tempted? What application can be made to our lives today?

Sermon on audio found here.