Archive for the ‘Voices from the Past’ Category
Posted on May 15th, 2013 by Eric Parker
We live in a day and age of instant gratification. Microwaves cook your meals quicker. Cell phones go everywhere with you for instant access to anyone and everyone. The internet (on your phone no less) puts whole libraries of information instantly at your finger tips. Naturally, then, we would expect everyone we share the gospel with to quickly and instantly become a Christian. While conversion does happen in an instant, it is not always immediately clear or discernable. It can be weeks, months, or years before someone acknowledges Jesus as Lord. When this turns into a lengthy process, we often feel discouraged, and are even tempted to give up. Jim Elliot offers this testimony and observation:
Personally, I wasn’t ‘saved’ all at once, but took some years coming into my present settled convictions about the truth of God. So why should I demand that conversion be immediate in all others? Christ healed men differently. Some, in absentia – He spoke a word, and there was a lightning-fast reaction. Others he touched, spat upon, made clay, spoke to and questioned, then when they saw men ‘as trees walking’ he went through the whole process again. Let not him who accepts light in an instant despise him who gropes months in shadows. It took the Twelve three years to apprehend what was being shown them. The natural, so often illustrative of the spiritual, teaches that healing and growth, yea, even birth, are processes, and I think we alter-callers often perform abortions in our haste to see ‘results.’
Jim Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty, 102-103
Posted on May 8th, 2013 by David Burnette
Jeremiah Burroughs on the necessity of God’s grace in attaining contentment:
“All the rules and helps in the world will do us little good unless we get a good temper within our hearts. You can never make a ship go steady, by propping it outside; you know there must be ballast within the ship, to make it go steady. And so, there is nothing outside us that can keep our hearts in a steady, constant way, but what is within us: grace is within the soul, and it will do this.”
– Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 216
Posted on May 1st, 2013 by David Burnette
“Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought or experience. When Christ arose from death and ascended into heaven He established forever three important facts; namely, that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come …. The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it. We do well to think of the long tomorrow.”
– A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men, 129-130
Photo by Science Photo Library/Rex Features
Posted on April 24th, 2013 by Eric Parker
The late Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said,
“As men and women look at the world in which they live, with its wars its vicissitudes, its false hopes and all its suffering, those who are not content with observing these things merely on a superficial level, and who have any true interest or concern, are bound to ask the questions: What is the trouble; what is the difficulty; why is the world as it is?
And it is just at that point, of course, that as Christian people we have something very special and vital to say; it is just there in a sense that the Christian gospel comes in. And surely, if we as individual Christians are called upon to do one thing more than any other at the present time, it is to proclaim the word of the gospel; it is to speak the word of God in that situation and just in that very connection. That is the point where the world comes to an end in its thinking; it is baffled, it does not understand; all its prophecies have been falsified, all its confident hopes have been dashed to the ground, and the world is thus undoubtedly bewildered.”
It can be a struggle to see how the gospel is relevant in our culture, but we are reminded that it is at the point of disruption, or brokenness, that we have the most relevant message imaginable. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
Posted on April 17th, 2013 by David Burnette
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
– William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”, 1774
Posted on April 10th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
A.W. Tozer on the eternal, immutable, and omniscient nature of God:
“What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal. He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.
“He is immutable. He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. To change He would need to go from better to worse or from worse to better. He cannot do either, for being perfect He cannot become more perfect, and if He were to become less perfect He would be less than God.
“He is omniscient. He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him.” (The Pursuit of God, p. 37)
Posted on April 3rd, 2013 by Eric Parker
Oftentimes in our desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, we can feel as if it is all dependent upon us to ‘get them saved.’ Charles Spurgeon gives a helpful reminder that we are not ultimately instruments of necessity (i.e. either we do it or it doesn’t happen), but rather, we are instruments of mercy (i.e. God mercifully uses us to spread the gospel).
If all the men who preach the gospel today were struck down in the pulpit with apoplectic fits tomorrow, the Holy Spirit would still qualify men to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are none of us necessary to him, nor is any mere man necessary to God. Do not get into that state of mind which makes you attach undue value to men or means. The salvation of souls is God’s work, and if it be God’s work it will go on.
Charles H. Spurgeon, New Library of Spurgeon’s Sermons: Vol. 11, 143
Posted on March 27th, 2013 by Eric Parker
John Calvin on the priestly work of Christ on our behalf,
[W]e or our prayers have no access to God unless Christ, as our High Priest, having washed away our sins, sanctifies us and obtains for us that grace from which the uncleanness of our transgressions and vices debars us. Thus we see that we must begin from the death of Christ in order that the efficacy and benefit of his priesthood may reach us.
John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes (abridged edition), 57
Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Eric Parker
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the Cappadocian Fathers, was a profound theologian in the early centuries of Church history (c. 330-c. 390). He fought for an orthodox understanding of Christ and the Trinity. He helps us today as we consider how God graciously reveals himself to all people in the created order.
How could this universe have had foundation or constitution, unless God gave all things being and sustains them? No one seeing a beautifully elaborated lyre with its harmonious, orderly arrangement, and hearing the lyre’s music will fail to form a notion of its craftsman-player, to recur to him in thought though ignorant of him by sight. In this way the creative power, which moves and safeguards its objects, is clear to us, though it be not grasped by the understanding. Anyone who refuses to progress this far in following instinctive proofs must be very wanting in judgement.
Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ, 41
Posted on March 13th, 2013 by Eric ParkerGodliness is next to, well, godliness. There is nothing that compares with what it means to be a “godly” individual when you realize how sinful we are apart from Christ. The Puritan Thomas Watson had these insightful and eloquent words to say about godliness:
‘Godliness is the sacred impression and workmanship of God in a man, whereby from being carnal he is made spiritual.’ When godliness is wrought in a person, he does not receive a new soul, but he has ‘anther spirit’. The faculties are not new, but the qualities are; the strings are the same, but the tune is corrected…. Godliness is a real thing. It is not a fantasy but a fact. Godliness is not the feverish conceit of a sick brain; a Christian is no enthusiast, one whose religion is all made up of fancy…. The dew lies on the leaf, the sap is hidden in the root. The moralist’s religion is all in the leaf; it consists only in externals, but godliness is a holy sap which is rooted in the soul…. It is breathed in from heaven. God must light up the lamp of grace in the heart. Weeds grow of themselves; flowers are planted. Godliness is a celestial plant that comes from the New Jerusalem. Therefore it is called a ‘fruit of the Spirit’.
Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture, 12-13
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