Monday, September 15, 2014

The Right Kind of Scholarship in Seminary

Printed below are excerpts from this excellent article:  ‘Scholarship that helps men to preach’: The pastoral legacy of A.T. Robertson

'Robertson had a deep passion to equip gospel ministers whose hearts were impassioned and whose minds were enlightened. He vehemently rejected the idea that theological education was a waste of time. He averred, “If theological education will increase your power for Christ, is it not your duty to gain that added power? … Never say you are losing time by going to school. You are saving time, buying it up for the future and storing it away. Time used in storing power is not lost.” He also rejected the idea that the purpose of the seminary was to make scholars. The question for him was: “Does the college and seminary training tend to make better preachers?” His response:

'If not, it is a failure. The German idea is to make scholars first and preachers incidentally. But ours is to make preachers, and scholars only as a means to that end. We have small need in the pulpit for men that can talk learnedly and obscurely about the tendencies of thought and the trend of philosophy, but do not know how to preach Christ and him crucified. The most essential thing to-day is not to know what German scholars think of the Bible, but to be able to tell men what the Bible says about themselves. And if our system of theological training fails to make preachers, it falls short of the object for which it was established. But if it does meet the object of its creation, it calls for hearty sympathy and support. … But my plea is for scholarship that helps men to preach. For after all, the great need of the world is the preaching of the gospel, not saying off a sermon, but preaching that stirs sinful hearts to repentance and godliness.'

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Liberty is the Gift of God

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


"Worship, according to Scripture, is an ongoing captivation of the heart that overflows into your life to produce desire, word, and deed. Everybody worships all the time. The question is: who, or what, is your heart captivated by that results in specific desire, word, and deed?" -- Paul David Tripp

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You Are Accepted!

“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. . . . In their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification. . . . Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.

"In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation.  This means that they must be conducted into the light of a full conscious awareness of God’s holiness, the depth of their sin and the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ for their acceptance with God, not just at the outset of their Christian lives but in every succeeding day.”

-- Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life (Downers Grove, 1979), pages 101-102.  Italics his.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Even our sins testify to Him

“All those who wander far away and set themselves up against you are imitating you, but in a perverse way; yet by this very mimicry they proclaim that you are the Creator of the whole of nature and that in consequence there is no place whatever where we can hide from your presence.”

-- Augustine, Confessions, Book 2, Section 14.

Every sin is not an original composition but a fake, an imitation of something real and wonderful.  It is the photographic negative of beauty found in God alone.

There is no way to escape God.  No one, including the most extreme sinner, will ever be able to say, “God, you were completely beyond my range of awareness and experience.”  Even our sins testify to him.

-- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Authentic Pastoral Calling

“It is to feed sheep on such truth [the whole counsel of God] that men are called to churches and congregations, whatever they may think they are called to do. If you think that you are called to keep a largely worldly organisation, miscalled a church, going, with infinitesimal doses of innocuous sub-Christian drugs or stimulants, then the only help I can give you is to advise you to give up the hope of the ministry and go and be a street scavenger; a far healthier and more godly job, keeping the streets tidy, than cluttering the church with a lot of worldly claptrap in the delusion that you are doing a job for God.

"The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if they do not want to be fed. He is certainly not to become an entertainer of goats. Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland. You will certainly not turn goats into sheep by pandering to their goatishness. Do we really believe that the Word of God, by his Spirit, changes, as well as maddens men? If we do, to be evangelists and pastors, feeders of sheep, we must be men of the Word of God.”

-- From THE REFORMED READER -- a quote by Scottish pastor William Still (d. 1997) about authentically carrying out the calling of a pastor to be a faithful minister of God's Word

Friday, September 5, 2014

To Him Who Overcomes....

I often think in analogies, and right now this one occurred to me -- we in America (and the West), especially under current leadership, seem to be reluctant to face the reality that our enemies are not measured and moderate in their goals, nor in their brutal intensity of achieving them. But pretending or wishing this were true doesn't change the reality. And how hard you actually fight is pretty much determined by how hard your enemy is fighting.

And what occurred to me is that the same is true when it comes to our 'spiritual warfare' (see, e.g., Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). We may wish that authentically living the Christian life was really just kind of a casual self-improvement plan -- but it's not. It's a fight (1 Tim. 6:11-12) -- and how hard we have to fight is not really up to us -- in a key sense, it depends on how hard our Enemy is fighting to defeat and destroy us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Receiving Reproof

It is striking to me how much the Bible says about the importance, value and benefit of accepting correction and reproof/rebuke (e.g., Prov. 9:7-12; Col 1:28-29; 2 Tim. 3:16) and how unwelcome such correction is in evangelical Christanity today. In contrast, in areas like sports and fitness (things we really care about being good at) we welcome and seek out correction, because we know it's essential to our improvement and development, but when it comes to spiritual fitness (1 Tim. 4:7-8), not so much..... And thus we head down the road to the kind of cluelessness that characterizes life in Laodicea (Rev. 3:17f.). Heaven help us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Speaking Coldly of Heavenly Things?

"To speak slightly and coldly of heavenly things is nearly as bad as to say nothing of them at all." -- Richard Baxter

Monday, September 1, 2014

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature

"God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper happiness, and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here: better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops; but God is the ocean. Therefore, it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven."

-- Jonathan Edwards (WJE 17:437–38)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One Great and Predominant Affection

"It is when released from the spirit of bondage with which love cannot dwell, and when admitted into the number of God’s children through the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the spirit of adoption is poured upon us — it is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominant affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, in the only way in which deliverance is possible."

— Thomas Chalmers
"The Expulsive Power of a New Affection"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It Is Finished -- There Is Enough

“If today you feel that sin is hateful to you, believe in Him who has said, ‘It is finished.’  Let me link your hand in mine.  Let us come together, both of us, and say, ‘Here are two poor naked souls, good Lord; we cannot clothe ourselves,’ and He will give us a robe, for ‘it is finished.’ . . . ‘But must we not add tears to it?’  ‘No,’ says He, ‘no, it is finished, there is enough.’

"Child of God, will you have Christ’s finished righteousness this morning, and will you rejoice in it more than you ever have before?”

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), II:675.  Style updated. HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Will Pre-occupy the Saints in Eternity

"The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or in each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them." -- Jonathan Edwards