Sermon Quotes – Bittersweet Pie

A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavored with a deep and bitter sense of sin is of great value to him that hath had it. It is terrible in the drinking, but it is most wholesome in the bowels, and in the whole of the afterlife. Possibly much of the flimsy piety of the day arises from the ease with which men reach to peace and joy in these evangelistic days. We would not judge modern converts, but we certainly prefer that form of spiritual exercise which leads the soul by the way of Weeping cross, and makes it see its blackness before it assures it that it is “clean every whit.” Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore lightly of a Savior. He who has stood before his God, convicted, and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.  – C.H. Spurgeon, Light for Those Who Sit in Darkness

Christ is not only light, but great light; he reveals great things, he manifests great comforts, saves us from great sin and great wrath, and prepares us for great glory. He is, however, a Savior that must be seen.   – C.H. Spurgeon, Light for Those Who Sit in Darkness

If you are unhappy at the thought that you do not love God as you ought to, that is a wonderful proof that you love Him. Love is never satisfied with itself; it always feels it is insufficient. The men and women who are unhappy because they do not love God more are, in a sense, people who ought to be very happy, because their very unhappiness at their lack of love is proof that they do love.  – D. Martyn lloyd-Jones, Life in Christ

Though [repentance] be a deep sorrow for sin that God requires as necessary to salvation, yet the very nature of it necessarily implies delight. Repentance of sin is a sorrow arising from the sight of God’s excellency and mercy, but the apprehension of excellency or mercy must necessarily and unavoidably beget pleasure in the mind of the beholder. ‘Tis impossible that anyone should see anything that appears to him excellent and not behold it with pleasure, and it’s impossible to be affected with the mercy and love of God, and his willingness to be merciful to us and love us, and not be affected with pleasure at the thoughts of [it]; but this is the very affection that begets true repentance. How much sovever of a paradox it may seem, it is true that repentance is a sweet sorrow, so that the more of this sorrow, the more pleasure.  – Jonathan Edwards, The Pleasantness of Religion

Spoiling the Gospel

You may spoil the gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith – Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place… and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the gospel is totally spoiled! …

You may spoil the gospel by addition. You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honor, and the mischief is done. Add anything to Christ, and the gospel ceases to be pure Gospel! …

You may spoil the gospel by interposition. You have only to push something between Christ and the eye of the soul, to draw away the sinner’s attention from the Savior, and the mischief is done…

You may spoil the gospel by disproportion. You have only to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. Once alter the proportion of the parts of truth, and truth soon becomes downright error! …

Lastly, but not least, you may completely spoil the Gospel by confused and contradictory directions.  Complicated and obscure statements about faith, baptism, Church privileges, and the benefits of the Lord’s Supper, all jumbled together, and thrown down without order before hearers, make the Gospel no Gospel at all! Confused and disorderly statements of Christianity are almost as bad as no statement at all! Religion of this sort is not Evangelical.  – J.C. Ryle as quoted in The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies

The full tract from which Challies quoted is available online here.

Isaiah 42:1-9 & Justice

We readily realize the immaturity of a child when they cry out, “It’s not fair”, yet the arrogance that fuels the statement is revealed when the pain and loss is our own, and we echo the statement that we formally thought ourselves beyond. We seem to only want justice when it benefits us.

The ultimate injustice is that the God worthy of our all gets none, or very little. When justice is ultimately brought forth it will not simply mean that there will be no more wars, or that poverty will be ended. No, above all justice will be had when all worship is given to Jesus as He supremely deserves.

I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols (Isaiah 42:8).

Fortunately for the saints God is also just to justify us based on the merits of Christ, such that the stamping out of idols does not result in our condemnation, but our greatest comfort. The war I hate most – the battle within with indwelling sin against every false contender for His throne will be ended in glorious worship. The poverty that is most devastating – a famine of seeing and savoring Jesus will give way to feast. Oh for justice to have its perfect work in my soul. Jesus purchased me with His blood, I am His. May His sanctifying grace destroy airy substitutes.

Ink and Pen

In his commentary on Hebrews R. Kent Hughes refers to A History of Preaching in Britain and America, a work by F.R. Webber. According to Hughes, Webber “tells us that one of the curious by-products of the Awakening was the sudden interest in shorthand.”

Men and women studied shorthand in order that they might take down the sermons that were stirring the English speaking countries. This had happened once before in Scotland, and it made its appearance once more in all countries where the influence of the Awakening was felt. It was not unusual to see men with a portable inkwell strapped about them, and a quill pen thrust over and ear, hastening to join the throng assembling on the village green.

Few come with an attitude of an uninterested, but invested student who takes notes because they need to take them. Many come to church as they would the movies, “I hope this is entertaining!” There is a medium that seems to be reflected in the paragraph quoted above; i.e. an earnest, joyful seriousness that anticipates the preaching of God’s word demonstrated by note-taking. While note-taking is no definitive mark of the Spirit, it may say something about our attitude toward the Bible and preaching.

Isaiah 40:6-31 & Wait

A span is the distance from your thumb to you little finger with you fingers spread out. My span is less than the official figure of 9-10 inches coming in at 8.5, my shoe size. I am curious if there is a correlation between your personal span size and your shoe size.

I measure picture frames, where to put a nail in the wall, and shelf space in spans. God marked off the heavens in a span!

It seems in recent decades that God is enjoying keeping the astronomers on the edge of their seats with new glimpses of his power. In the fall of 1989, newspapers reported the discovery by two Harvard astronomers of a “Great Wall” of galaxies stretching hundreds of millions of light years across the known universe. The wall is supposedly some five hundred million light years long, two hundred million light years wide and fifteen million light years thick. In case your high school astronomy has grown fuzzy, a light year is a little less than six trillion (6,000,000,000,000) miles. This Great Wall consists of more than fifteen thousand galaxies, each with millions of stars, and was described as the “largest single coherent structure seen so far in nature.”

I say “was described” because three months later in February 1990, God opened another little window for tiny man to marvel again, and the newspapers reported that astronomers have discovered more than a dozen evenly distributed clumps of galaxies stretching across vast expanses of the heavens, suggesting a structure to the universe that is so regular and immense that it defies current theories of cosmic origins. The newly found pattern of galactic matter dwarfs the extremely long sheet of galaxies, dubbed the “great wall” (now written without caps!), that was reported in November 1989 to be the largest structure in the universe. They now say the great wall is, in fact, merely one of the closest of these clumps, or regions, that contain very high concentrations of galaxies.  – John Piper in The Pleasures of God

The “great walls” are all contained within a span and are all packed full of stars which God knows by name. If he so easily created them, knows them, names them, sustains them, be comforted, wait, He is able.

If His promises and comforts sound too good to be true, Behold your God, He is mighty to save.

[youtube.com/watch?v=FpGmm244N8M]

(I had to search for a video that seemed to have genuine Hubble images, non-X-Files/Contact music, and with the absence of an alien life form agenda.  Alas a testimony to our depravity that we look to the stars and think of aliens rather than the majesty of God.)

Easter Comfort

John Piper’s son Abraham lost their baby girl Felicity in September 07. 

Here is the story.

Here is a poem.

Here is Grandpa John’s funeral comments.

And here is Abraham’s Easter poem of hope.

Bethany and I have found comfort here.  More than anywhere else I have found comfort in the crucified and risen Christ, and here are the two linked together beautifully.