Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Christianity is a creation-centered teaching — Francis Schaeffer

"We always should realize, and I cannot say it often enough, that Christianity is a creation-centered teaching. It is not that suddenly for some strange reason out of nowhere if you accept Christ as Savior you are in. That is a part of a total structure. Christianity is a system, and I would say that I have no apology for using the word system, though it must not be allowed to be a mere academic system or theoretical or dead intellectualism. In the proper sense of the word, God is systematic in His creation and revelation.

It has got to be the whole man coming to know this is truth, acting upon it, living it out in his life, and worshiping God. But it is a system, it begins with the fact that there is a Creator, there is the God, the triune God who has existed forever. He has created all things, so there is nothing autonomous from Him."

— Francis Schaeffer (1982). The complete works of Francis A. Schaeffer: a Christian worldview (Vol. 1, p. 186). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.

Friday, May 23, 2014

our fall in Adam —Charles Simeon

"The great Charles Simeon of Cambridge wrote more than a century ago that if each human being were asked whether he would prefer to be judged in Adam or in himself, every thinking person would answer “in Adam” (Romans 5:12-19). After all, Adam faced only one temptation and that a mere trifle. He was not to eat of one tree. Besides, he was as yet unfallen. He did not have a sinful nature. He was possessed of his full faculties (which were undoubtedly superior to our own). He lived in a perfect environment and had a perfect companion. For our part, we are sinful, weak, and ignorant, and we live in a world filled with all kinds of temptations. Was it not merciful of God to judge us in Adam? Was God not gracious in that choice?"

—James Montgomery Boice (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 567–568). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

and here is quote from Charles Simeon:

"From the doctrine of our fall in Adam and our recovery in Christ, we cannot but OBSERVE (Romans 5:12-19),

1. How deep and unsearchable are the ways of God!

[That ever our first parent should be constituted a federal head to his posterity, so that they should stand or fall in him, is in itself a stupendous mystery. And it may appear to have been an arbitrary appointment, injurious to the whole race of mankind. But we do not hesitate to say, that if the whole race of mankind had been created at once in precisely the same state and circumstances as Adam was, they would have been as willing to stand or fall in Adam, as to have their lot depend upon themselves; because they would have felt, that, whilst he possessed every advantage that they did, he had a strong inducement to steadfastness which they could not have felt, namely, the dependence of all his posterity upon his fidelity to God: and consequently, that their happiness would be more secure in his hands than in their own. But if it could now be put to every human being to determine for himself this point; if the question were asked of every individual, Whether do you think it better that your happiness should depend on Adam, formed as he was in the full possession of all his faculties; subjected to one only temptation, and that in fact so small a temptation as scarcely to deserve the name; perfect in himself, and his only companion being perfect also, and no such thing as sin existing in the whole creation; whether would you prefer, I say, to depend on him, or on yourself, born into a world that lieth in wickedness, surrounded with temptations innumerable, and having all your faculties only in a state of infantine weakness, so as to be scarcely capable of exercising with propriety either judgment or volition: Would any one doubt a moment? Would not every person to whom such an option was given, account it an unspeakable mercy to have such a representative as Adam was, and to have his happiness depend on him, rather than on his own feeble capacity and power? There can be no doubt on this subject: for if Adam, in his more favourable circumstances, fell, much more should we in circumstances where it was scarcely possible to stand. Still however, though we acknowledge it to be a gracious and merciful appointment, we must nevertheless regard it as a stupendous mystery."

—Charles Simeon (1833). Horae Homileticae: Romans (Vol. 15, p. 135). London: Holdsworth and Ball.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Prayer our dealings with others —Martyn Lloyd-Jones

"Prayer is also equally necessary in our dealings with others. That is what is most prominent here, of course. Paul was writing this rich, profound doctrine, and he knows that the Ephesians were going to read and discuss and study it together. But he knows that that is not enough, so he is praying that his teaching of them may be made real to them. And he knows that it never can be made real to them except under the direct blessing of God. The best teaching in the world is useless unless the Holy Spirit takes hold of it and applies it and opens our understanding to it, and gives it a deep lodging place in our whole being. We have already seen in the first chapter how the Apostle had been praying for the Ephesian Christians that ‘the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened’. For if the Holy Spirit did not open ‘the eyes of their understanding’ Paul’s teaching would be quite useless and void.

Let us learn a very practical lesson from this. We all have friends who are not Christians, about whom we are concerned. We are anxious to help them, and we talk to them about these things. We quote Scriptures to them and explain them. We try to show them the Christian attitude and position with respect to present conditions and the whole of life. But I must emphasize that if we leave it at that, it may come to nothing. You cannot reason anyone into the Christian life. You can give the reasons for believing but you cannot reason them into belief. You can put the case before them, but you cannot prove it as if it were a matter of a theorem in geometry. We must realize that while we are instructing them, we must also be praying for them. It is only as the Holy Spirit deals with them and prepares them and opens their understanding that they can receive the truth.

The Apostle is perfectly consistent with his own doctrine. He knew that it was as essential that he should pray for these Ephesians as that he should instruct them by his Epistle. We, likewise, must never forget that instruction and prayer go together. If you are interested in a particular person, and desire his salvation, you must not stop at befriending him, helping him, spending time with him, and putting the truth before him; equally you must pray for him. Indeed I would go so far as to say that unless you are giving more weight to your prayer than to your instruction your work is likely to be a failure.

Note the place that is given to intercessory prayer in the New Testament. It is extraordinary and quite amazing, and is exemplified particularly in the Apostle Paul. Notice, too, how very dependent Paul was upon the prayers of other Christians. In most of his letters he pleads with them to pray for him. He urges them to pray that he may have a door of opportunity, that he may have liberty, and so on. He fully realized his dependence upon the prayers of others."

—Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1972). The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3 (pp. 110–111). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Must God be condemned for you to be justified? —Timothy Keller

"Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?" —Job 40:8

"Look at verse 8. Do you see the place where God asks this question? Literally he says, “Must I be condemned that you be justified?” See that? That’s a question where he’s coming after Job, is he not? He’s saying, “How dare you vilify me and say, ‘Well, I’m living a good life, so I don’t know what the heck God is doing here’?”

God says, “In order to justify yourself, you’re condemning me.” He says, “Must I be condemned for you to be justified?” In the micro at that moment, the answer, of course, is “No.” Job needs to be quiet. Job needs to rest in the will of God. But in the macro, in the long run, the most amazing answer possible … The Bible says, the gospel says, Jesus Christ says, the answer to this question, “Must God be condemned for you to be justified?” is “Yes.”

Unless Jesus Christ came to the cross and was condemned, you can’t be justified. Do you see what happens? Jesus Christ, when he went to the cross and died for our sins … This means the infinite stormy justice of God is satisfied, but also the incredible love of God is satisfied at the same time. You now have a terrible but wonderful God, a God who’s so holy and yet so loving, so holy Jesus had to die, and so loving Jesus was willing and glad to die.

The cross makes God able, you might say, to be both holy and loving toward us … infinitely holy and infinitely loving at the same time. It’s because Jesus Christ bowed his head into the ultimate storm of divine justice and let it crush him. He was condemned in your place. Now, out of the storm of God’s holiness, all that comes for you, like Job, is a voice of love. That is your vindication. Who cares what the world thinks? God loves you. God knows you. That’s all Job needed.

What’s amazing here is Job actually says … Do you see? He says, “I heard of you with my ear, but now I see you with my eye.” Do you know what he’s saying? He is saying, “I had an abstract idea of the greatness of God, but now I’m having the experience of the might and wonder and size of God, so I don’t need an explanation.

Secondly, I kind of understood the grace of God in general, but now I actually see the infinite power of God, and somehow …” See, Job didn’t understand how. “Somehow, in spite of this infinite power and infinite holiness, you still love me. Therefore, I don’t need any other vindication.” When he says, “I repent,” literally the word means “I take back. I retract what I said. I take back my demand for an explanation. I take back my demand for vindication.”

He says, “As I see the size of God, I don’t need an explanation, and as I see the grace of God now, I don’t need a vindication. It’s enough that he loves me, and I know he knows what he’s doing, and I don’t have to.” He’s healed and is content, and it’ll heal you too."

—Timothy Keller, My servant Job

Thursday, May 8, 2014

the effectual working of God's power —Martyn Lloyd-Jones

"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power." —Ephesians 3:7

"One of the most fundamental questions confronting us as we preach the gospel is, What can turn any man from being a hater of God into one who loves God? What is it that can turn the natural man, to whom the things of God are ‘foolishness’, into a man who delights in them, and enjoys them, and lives for them, and whose highest ambition is to know them more and more? According to the Apostle there is only one answer; it is the ‘effectual working’ of the power of God—nothing else!

The Apostle Paul himself was very conscious of this power. Had he been left to himself he would still have been the persecuting, blaspheming Pharisee. He had heard about the preaching of Christ, he had heard the preaching of Stephen; he knew all that Christians claimed. But he hated the ‘good news’: he saw nothing in it except blasphemy. What happened to this man? There is only one answer; he had been made a new man. He had been regenerated, born again, ‘a new creation’, nothing less than that! And this was the result of the ‘effectual working’ of the power of God.

It is the effectual working of the power of God that makes anyone a Christian. It means a rebirth, a regeneration. It is not the result of our decision, it is not something that you and I decide to do; it is what is done to us! ‘The effectual working of his power!’ Paul would never have been a Christian at all were it not for this power. But even after becoming a Christian he would have been ineffective apart from this same power. It is this working, it is this power of God, that not only transformed his whole outlook, but it called him into the ministry and gave him the gifts that are requisite to the ministry, the understanding of the truth, the power to speak, the power to write, the power to teach. It was all of God."

—Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1972). The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3 (p. 55).