Thursdays With Spurgeon—Jesus Is All We Need

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

Jesus Is All We Need

     So is it with every other ordinance, whether ordained of God or of man. It must never be placed in the front as if it were the means of salvation! I say to you who may have been sprinkled, or to you who may have been immersed; to you who may bow at your altars, or to you who may come to the communion table, I do not place these rites on a level, certainly, for some are of God and some are not. But I do place them all on a par in this respect: that they enter not into the essence of our salvation! And I say to all of you, “These things cannot save you, for ‘Christ is all’” [Colossians 3:11]. Be you who you may, and do you what you may, you will not be saved because of your natural birth or because of any supposed holy acts that you may perform! Neither will you be saved by any transactions that may be the work of a human priest! You must have Christ as your Savior and you must rest in Him alone, or you cannot be saved! He is the one foundation, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11), for “Christ is all.” The Lord Jesus Christ sums up everything that ordinances can possibly mean and all that pedigree and descent can possibly bring, and He is infinitely more than all of them! …  

     You must not add anything to Christ as your ground of confidence, but just lean the weight of your sin, your sorrow, your needs, and your desires wholly and entirely upon Him who lives to stand for you before God. Christ, then, is all our trust!

From All And All In All

It’s not our family lineage, it’s not our church attendance, it’s not our religious activities. It’s all Jesus. 

Jesus alone paid for our salvation, and it’s by faith in Him alone that we have the forgiveness of our sins. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that it’s “Jesus plus something else.” Nothing else needs to be added—Jesus is completely sufficient in and of Himself!

Jesus In Me (book review)

When Jesus was about to ascend back into heaven, His disciples were understandably anxious. But Jesus spoke these reassuring words to them, “I will not leave you alone. I will ask the Father to send the Comforter to you.” And true to His word, the Holy Spirit was made available to all Christians. This is what Anne Graham Lotz explores in Jesus In Me.

In the opening pages, Anne explains that an important verse to help us understand the Holy Spirit is found in John 16:7. Anne and I both like the Amplified Bible’s rendering of this verse—However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Using the multiple names of the Holy Spirit captured in this verse—Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby—Anne begins to dive deeper into what the Spirit of God does in these various roles.

This is not a heavy theological dissertation, nor does this book wade deeply into complex doctrines. Jesus In Me feels like Anne is your friend, and she is just sharing with you what the Bible has said to her about the Holy Spirit and how she has experienced Him for herself. The Scripture references are there for you to read on your own, and Anne shares her personal stories, but both of these simply invite you and me to experience more of the Holy Spirit for ourselves. I really like this book! 

I am a Multnomah book reviewer. 

P.S. There are some special pre-order offers available from Anne Graham Lotz’s website which you may want to check out.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Holding Two Extreme Truths

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

Holding Two Extreme Truths

     This is a deep, unsearchable mystery. Man walks without a leash yet treads in the very steps that God ordained him to tread in as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot! Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position; guided by his will, he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace, he chooses right. And yet in His choice God sits as sovereign on the throne, not disturbing but still overruling and proving Himself to be as able to deal with free creatures as with creatures without freedom. As able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought and reason and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and with the imbedded sea.

     O Christians! You will never be able to fathom this, but you may wonder at it. I know there is an easy way of getting out of this great deep either by denying predestination altogether or by denying free agency altogether. But you can hold the two: You can say, “Yes, my consciousness teaches me that man does as he wills, but my faith teaches me that God does as He wills, and these two are not contrary the one to the other. And yet I cannot tell how it is. I cannot tell how God effects His end. I can only wonder, and say, ‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’” (Romans 11:33). Every creature is free and doing as it wills, yet God is freer still and doing as He wills not only in heaven, but also among the inhabitants of this lower earth. 

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

The debate has raged for years: predestination vs. freewill. 

People will sometimes ask me, “Are you a Calvinist (predestination) or an Arminian (freewill)?” And I always give the same answer, “Yes, I am a solid Cal-minian!” As with most things that are difficult for our finite, human minds to grasp about God’s nature, the answer is not either-or but it’s both-and.

C.S. Lewis captured the same sentiments as Spurgeon. Lewis always said the best course between two immovable ideas was right between them. He added, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem” (emphasis mine).

Spurgeon would agree—there never was any problem, at least not with God. Any problems of understanding are in ourselves, not in Him. So far better than choosing one over the other, choose the both-and, and then stand in awe and wonder and worship that our infinite God is sovereign over all. Even over our puny, limited theologies and doctrines. 

6 Quotes From “Do More Better”

Tim Challies has a highly practical guide to helping you learn how to be more productive for God’s glory. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your purpose.” 

“Your good works make God look great before a watching world.” [see Titus 3:8; Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Matthew 5:16] 

“What is productivity? Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.” 

“The absence of productivity or the presence of woefully diminished productivity is first a theological problem.” 

“You do not exist in this world to get things done. You exist to glorify God by benefiting others.” 

“Idolatry: taking on the tasks that glorify us, not the tasks that glorify God.” 

Life In The Spirit Study Bible (book review)

I love to read, averaging about 30 books per year. In addition to books, I have a lot of news feeds that I check daily. But hands down, everything else comes in a distant second place to my number-one read: the Bible. 

I read the Bible for myself. I read the Bible to prepare my Sunday messages. I read the Bible to teach classes. I read the Bible to confirm or refute what I am reading in other books and news feeds. And with all that Bible reading, I have also gravitated toward my favorite study Bible—The Life In The Spirit Study Bible. 

At one time people referred to this Bible as “the fire Bible” because of the graphic on the front cover depicting the fire that fell on praying Christians at the Pentecost celebration immediately following Christ’s ascension into heaven. That fire still falls in my heart every time I read God’s Word!

The study notes in this Bible are fantastic! But don’t be deceived by the name: these are not study notes that focus on the Holy Spirit out of proportion; rather, the role of the Spirit is merely noted where others have ignored it. Far too many people don’t ponder very much about the Holy Spirit’s involvement, except for perhaps the Book of Acts and maybe Paul’s instruction on the operational gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians. The Life In The Spirit Study Bible simply seeks to make us aware of the Spirit’s involvement. 

In addition to the short commentary notes at the bottom of each page, there are several insightful and scholarly articles throughout this whole book that will make the Scripture come alive in new ways. 

This is my “preaching Bible” that I take with me for every sermon I deliver, which means it is the Bible I am diving deep into each day as I study. I cannot recommend this Bible to you highly enough. 

Soul And Spirit

If I were to ask you to define the material/physical part of you versus the immaterial part of you, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult. Obviously, we can touch the physical part but we cannot touch the immaterial part. 

But human as a three-part being—we have a body, a soul, and a spirit. So if I were to now ask you to describe the “dividing line” between the two immaterial parts of us (the soul and the spirit), you would probably have a more difficult time coming up with a definition. 

Both terms are used throughout the Bible. Sometimes it seems the words soul and spirit are almost used interchangeably, but they are most assuredly two separate parts of what makes us us. 

Please check out this chart that I shared with my friends at Calvary Assembly of God, and perhaps even take a few minutes to watch the video below. If you would like to download a PDF version of this chart, you may do so by clicking here → Soul and spirit side-by-side

Verses referenced—Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7; Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 4:12

9 Quotes From “Surprised By Paradox”

Jen Pollock Michel has given us a thought-provoking look into her thoughts of some of the and solutions to the either-or challenges many Christians face. Please be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Allowing for paradox does not represent a weakened approach to theological understanding. On the contrary, it allows for a robust theology, one that is filled with the sort of awe that not only regards God as unimaginably wondrous but also awakens in us the same desire Moses had to see Him as He is.” 

“As psychologists have described it, awe is ‘the experience of encountering something so vast—in size, skill, beauty, intensity, etc.—that we struggle to comprehend it and may even adjust our world to accommodate it.’ Awe is our slack-jawed response to natural phenomena like waterfalls and childbirth. To feel awe is to confirm a beautiful, wild universe, a world we neither made nor control. … For those of us inclined to religious belief, awe nurtures our certainty about God.”

“Modernity gave us more certainty than uncertainty—or at the very least certainty in certainty. We’ve come to an unassailable confidence that mystery, by dint of inquiry and scientific effort, can be wrestled and pinned down and made to cry uncle. We are no longer victims of the unknowable: we are masters of our own understanding. The great modern lie is one of infinite human autonomy and control.” 

“It is an old sin seduced by an old lie that we can be like God, perfectly knowing as He knows.… As soon as we think we have God figured out, we will have ceased to worship Him as He is.” 

“I also get tricked into thinking that the world must quiet around me if I mean to meet God. I forget the paradox of the burning bush: that Moses met God at Horeb on an unspectacular day, that his encounter with God was less planned and more happenstance. God did not speak to Moses as the prophet sat cross-legged and silent, his hands folded in reverent to prayer. God blazed up in the landscape of an ordinary Wednesday afternoon. This seems to be how it goes with God: a spiritual life is a material one.” 

“The paradox of God’s story is that He’s chosen to write its timelessness in the ticking heart of His Son and that He’s choosing to write it in our ticking hearts too.” 

“If the kingdom is good news, it surely isn’t safe. Because there is no square inch of our lives Jesus doesn’t intend to rule.” 

“To define grace apart from the Cross would be to say that God is simply given to leniency. It would be to essentially say that there are rules which we break and break badly, but God reassures us kindly that ‘it’s no big deal.’… The Cross speaks a thundering word about the cosmic big deal that is sin.” 

“To receive grace, we need humility. The only prerequisite for grace is empty hands. We have done nothing to make God notice us, and He is not impressed by us.” 

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