Now More Than Ever Christians Must Exalt The Cross

“Think for a moment what the power of the gospel accomplished in the early centuries. With no political base in the Roman government, without any majority in the culture, the gospel changed the spiritual and moral climate of the Roman Empire. Christianity competed with paganism and, for the most part, won the hearts and minds of the populace. Christians were radicals in the best sense of the word—radically committed to community in worship, radically committed to serving their pagan neighbors, and radically committed to living out the implications of their redemption.

“Without freedom of religion, without a media presence, and without the ability to redress the wrongs against them, the Christians discovered that the gospel had the power to change individuals, families, and the culture.” —Dr. Erwin Lutzer, in When A Nation Forgets God (emphasis added)

Please check out my review of When A Nation Forgets God by clicking here, and then get a copy for yourself. You can also read other quotes I have shared from this book by clicking here and here.

The Value Of Gospel Truths

The fundamental truths of the Gospel are landmarks to keep us safely within the boundaries set by God. Suppose your grandfather owned some property which at one time had been carefully surveyed. He was there when they set the stakes and could have paced it off blindfolded. But he never took the time to show anyone else the markings.

“Over the years, the markers rotted, were rooted up, or washed away. Now your grandfather has died and left the land to you. But a dishonest neighbor claims it is his, and as proof of ownership points to the burgeoning crop of corn he has planted. You discover the deed and land description have been lost. Since you do not really know the proper boundary lines yourself, how will you defend your case in court? You will probably end up losing your property because no one ever told you where it ends and your neighbor’s begins.

The spiritual parallel is this: Every fundamental truth has some evil neighbor (i.e., heresy) butting up against it, eager to plant a crop of lies upon the sacred ground of God’s Holy Word and thus fool the saints. And the very reason that a spirit of error has encroached so far upon the truth in the last few years is because ministers have not walked the boundaries of the Gospel with their people and acquainted them with these primary truths.” —William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis added)

I have shared other quotes from The Christian In Complete Armor herehere, and here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Your Peace Vs. True Peace

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Your Peace Vs. True Peace

     Conviction of sin is the realization that my natural life is based on a disposition that will not have Jesus Christ. The Gospel does not present what the natural man wants but what he needs, and the Gospel awakens an intense resentment as well as an intense craving. … 

     If I am peaceful and happy and contented and living my life with my morality well within my own grasp, why does the Holy Spirit need to come in and upset the balance and make me miserable and unfit for anything? It is time we asked ourselves these questions. God’s Book gives us the answer. Thank God, we are coming to the end of the shallow presentation of Christianity that makes out that Jesus Christ came only to give us peace. Thousands of people are happy without God in this world, but that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level. Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself. He came to put us right with God that His own peace might reign. …

     If once we have allowed Jesus Christ to upset the equilibrium, holiness is the inevitable result, or no peace forever. …

     Before the Spirit of God can bring peace of mind He has to clear out the rubbish, and before He can do that He has to give us an idea of what rubbish there is.

From The Soul Of A Christian

Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

The Apostle Paul also noted that he was perfectly happy living his life as he was, until he read in the Scripture that the way he was happily living was actually sinful. And once he realized that, the sin actually became harder to break (see Romans 7:7-20).

Oswald Chambers reminds us of the same fact: God wants to upset anything on which we have based our peace that is not rooted in Him. He wants to make us aware of our trust in other sources, our wrong beliefs, our human-based equilibrium. In short, He wants to show us the rubbish in our life so that He can help us clear out that rubbish and know true peace!

Will you let Him disturb your peace so you can know true peace?

6 Quotes From “The Fi5th Gospel”

The Fi5th GospelI have been watching the One Minute Apologist videos from Bobby Conway for quite awhile, and find them very helpful. Recently I finished a reading plan in YouVersion based on Bobby’s book The Fi5th Gospel. Here are a few quotes that especially caught my attention.

“If I am the only Gospel people will ever experience are they experiencing the true Gospel?”

“At no other time in human history has God so plainly and blatantly revealed Himself than at Calvary. At no point has He so graphically uncovered His heart for mankind. It was there, on a hill outside Jerusalem, the Messiah bled for us, suffering hellish agony and sin-induced banishment, all the while enduring the brutal wrath of a holy and righteous God.”

“The exclamation point to this graphic love letter to us was the resurrection—Jesus’ conquering moment of triumph over sin, satan, and the grave. This is what Christians are all about right? It’s how we are saved. Take away the Cross and we’re no different from any other religious idea. It’s Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Strip away all the modern church fluff and this is what you find at the core of our faith. It’s essential. Nonnegotiable. Undeniable. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s what makes Christians ‘Christian.’ And it’s why Jesus is the answer to all of life’s deepest issues.”

“The sacrifice [God] requires isn’t death on a cross, but rather death to our pride and fear of what other might think. God just wants us to be proud of Jesus and what He has done for us. He wants us to be unashamed of His Son.”

“Though we were originally created in God’s image, God’s reflection in us was marred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. And though His image wasn’t completely erased, it was defaced and tarnished. When you trusted in Christ, the Holy Spirit began a beautiful work of ‘image restoration’ in you; masterfully remaking you to more accurately reflect God’s virtue. He began sculpting, forming, and transforming your character to better display Christ to the world. You become His image-bearer, and His ongoing work in your life distinguishes you from the world. This is a lifelong process, by the way, and one God is committed to completing.”

“None of us will ever perfectly represent God’s character. As long as we’re on this earth, we’ll have imperfections. And it’s these imperfections that some unbelievers are quick (and happy) to point out and expose. But there is value in listening to what others say, of taking an honest look in the mirror, of stepping into an unbeliever’s shoes to see what they perceive about Jesus and His bride. Think of it as a spiritual awareness-building exercise.”

10 Quotes From “Letters To A Birmingham Jail”

Letters To A Birmingham JailIn Letters To A Birmingham Jail, it was very eye-opening to read how modern-day clergy respond to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 50-year-old “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” What an innovative book! Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few quotes.

“Our nation is losing a sense of gratitude for the abundance and great bounty that God has bestowed upon us. In America we have witnessed the god of materialism sink his teeth into the fabric of the human soul. He has unleashed a spirit of rugged individualism, fueled by selfish greed. This has become normalized behavior that discourages a care for the other, and especially for the poor. The hope for America is that we will see our responsibility to care for the least among us in recognition of the truth that every person is created in the very image of God.” —John Perkins

“God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated churches where the gospel is cherished—these are the birthplace of the kind of racial harmony that gives long-term glory to God and long-term gospel good to the world.” —John Piper

“Some may have quoted, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!’ (Psalm 27:14). But this call to wait for the Lord never meant stop doing what He commanded us to do in the pursuit of holy goals. Waiting for the Lord means our action is essential, but His is decisive. The farmer must wait for the harvest. But no one works harder than the farmer.” —John Piper

“Now, to be sure the Bible teaches that the government does exist for the well-being of the people; but too many Christians got lock-jaw, saying very little or nothing when in fact the country needed the engagement of the church and a word from God. Silence and business as usual did severe damage to our prophetic integrity. We’ve made progress but our efforts are still woefully inadequate.” —Crawford W. Loritts, Jr.

“I believe from Genesis to Revelation that God is the God of all nations and all peoples. He created all things, including all peoples, all people groups, all races, and all skin colors. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, you see God redeeming all people to Himself. John 3:16 tells us God sent Jesus because ‘God so loved the world.’ The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the earliest church plants. The gospel-dominated people of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spilled over into the launching of gospel communities, or church plants in Acts. Racial and cultural issues surfaced almost immediately. Jesus had actually been the One to begin stirring the pot in His ministry as He intentionally went to Samaria, and did all sorts of things with and for Gentiles that Jewish men were not supposed to do.” —John Bryson

“If the torrential force of the first church as found in the book of Acts is to become our twenty-first-century reality, then the faces of most of our churches must look like the faces of the first-century church: multiethnic.” —Bryan Loritts

“If folks feel that this kind of ‘affirmative action’ equals ‘reverse discrimination,’ we can gently lead them to the apostolic solution to the racial controversy in Acts 6:1-7, where the men appointed to resolve a serious ethnic crisis all appear to be from the minority Hellenistic population! It’s called Christian wisdom.” —Sandy Willson

“The mission of the church, the pursuit of the legacy of Christ, cannot simply be about business and culture as usual. If we allow it to be so simple, we will soon find ourselves in the trap the disciples are caught in as they begin to walk around Samaria out of habit, only to notice that Jesus is going a different way. How often this conflict arises when we attempt to follow Jesus! We set out with the best of intentions, and soon find ourselves not following Him but expecting Him to follow us. The sin in us longs to travel only the road that offers comfort and familiarity. Yet Jesus unapologetically walks the more challenging road, inviting us to witness what He will do if we choose to follow.” —Albert Tate

“Diversity is an implication and hope fueled by the gospel, but it is not the good news. Yet, while the gospel and diversity are not equal ideas, diversity is nevertheless an issue that we are weak in and need to grow in—an issue that requires much time, energy, and prayer.” —Matt Chandler

“Producing homogenous churches can be done with relative ease and a total lack of dependence on the Spirit.” —Matt Chandler

6 Quotes From “Light & Truth—The Lesser Epistles”

Light & Truth The Lesser EpistlesHoratius Bonar’s insights on the Scriptures are amazing! So far I’ve read and reviewed three of the four commentaries he has prepared on the New Testament (you can read those reviews here, here and here). These are a few quotes from the third book on the epistles Galatians through Jude. Any reference in brackets is the passage from the Bible on which Bonar is commenting.

“It is a busy, lighthearted, laughing, pleasure-seeking world. But sin is here, and pain is here, and broken hearts are here, and weeping is here, and death is here, and the grave is here. Oh! in spite of all its laughter and vanity, it is an evil world. And the great proof of its evil is, that it cost the death of the Son of God to deliver you from it. … Give yourselves to Him Who came to deliver you from it, and Who stretches out His hands to you all day long, asking you to allow Him to deliver you. He yearns over you; and with sincere earnestness proffers to you His love, His friendship, His great salvation. Consent, O man, consent! His desire is to bless, and not to curse; to save, and not to destroy.” [Galatians 1:4]

“There never have been two gospels. There is not an Old Testament gospel and a New Testament Gospel. There is not one gospel for the Jew, and another for the Gentile, one gospel for the first century, and another for the nineteenth. It is but one gospel, as there is but one Cross and one Savior. Many ages, but one gospel; many sinners, but one gospel; many prophets and apostles, but one gospel. As our earth has had but one sun, so it has had but one gospel. Nor does it need more; that one is sufficient.” [Galatians 1:6-9]

“As the earth without rain or sunshine turns to barrenness, so is it with the Church or soul without the Spirit. … The age thinks it can do without the Spirit. Let the Church watch against this blasphemy. Let her keep hold of the Lord’s promise, the promise of the Father. Let her prize the gift; long for more of it. Let every saint seek more of it. Let our cry be continually: More of the Holy Spirit; more of His fullness; more of His gifts and graces!”

“Strength for the race is needed, hourly strength, superhuman strength; for it is no earthly race, but something lofty, supernatural, divine. Forgetting the supernatural source of strength, we betake ourselves to the internal or the simply external. And so we weary. For only God can supply the power which keeps us running. By Him only shall we run, and not be weary.” [Galatians 5:7]

“‘To Him who is able’—He is the Mighty One, the mighty God, the Lord God Almighty. Hear how this word ‘able’ is used. ‘He is able to subdue all things unto Himself’ (Philippians 3:21). ‘He is able to help them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). ‘He is able to save to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7: 25). ‘He is able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24). It is with the mighty God that we have to do; mightier than ourselves or our foes; mightier than earth or hell; omnipotent.” [Ephesians 3:20]

“Are you expecting the Lord? Are you living in this expectation? Is it a deep-seated, abiding, cherished hope? Is it a hope that tells upon your character, your life, your daily actings in public or private, your opinions, your whole man? Does it quicken you? Does it purify you? Does it keep you separate from the world? Does it keep you calm in the midst of earth’s most exciting events, or most untoward changes? Does it give you a new view of history as well as prophecy? … Let your expectation of the Lord’s coming be a calm and healthy one; not one that excites, but one that tranquilizes; not one that unfits for duty, but one that nerves you more firmly for it; not one that paralyzes exertion, but one that invigorates you for it; not one that makes you indifferent to present duty, but one that makes you doubly in earnest about everything that your hand findeth to do; not one that stops liberality, and prayer, and work, but one that increases all these a hundred fold; not one that dwells exclusively on the future’s dark side—the judgments that are at hand—but one that realizes the glory and the joy of Messiah’s approaching victory and triumphant reign.” [Philippians 3:20]

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.

“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”

“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”

“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”

“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”

“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” 

“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”

“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”

“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”

“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”

“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”

“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”

Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.

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