Friday, February 27, 2015

You Cannot Have Two Masters

from Kevin DeYoung:

"You can have two friends. You can have two hobbies. You can even have two jobs. But you cannot have two masters.

"Slavery is absolute, it requires all of you—all your time, all your allegiance, all your work, all your heart, all your soul. You may try to have two masters, but it doesn’t work. You will end up being devoted to one and despising the other.

"You may think you can be a Christian and love Jesus and go to church and be passionate about the gospel and have a little fling with money, or flirt with pride, or enjoy the fruits of the sexual revolution on the weekends. Not going to work. You can’t marry Jesus and date on the side.

"What are you working for? What are you dreaming about? We are you living for? What can’t you live without?  If only I had _________, I’d be happy. What’s in that blank: kids, spouse, grandkids, house, job, health, wealth, prosperity?

"Do you remember the parable of the sower and the soils? Each plant grows a little bit more and gets a little closer to making it. The one that looks good for quite awhile is the plant that grows up from the seed thrown among the thorns. It grows up for a time, but then gets choked out by deceitfulness of riches and the worries of life. Too many promising young “Christians” are done in by the cares of this world and the craziness of life. That happens, all the time. Maybe it’s happening to you. Maybe it’s happening to me.

"We cannot serve two masters. Jesus isn’t looking for a 60-40 split. He demands total allegiance, complete surrender, unequivocal worship. Don’t buy the lies you’re hearing from money, pride, and sex. Only God gives you real worth. Only God gives you real affirmation. Only God will make you truly special and truly loved. Only God can give you real security. If you can only serve one master, make sure you choose wisely."

-- Kevin DeYoung

It begins with a grumbling mood...

“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others... but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine...." -- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


“Let us always beware of any teaching which either directly or indirectly obscures justification by faith. All religious systems which put anything between the heavy laden sinner and Jesus Christ the Savior, except simple faith, are dangerous and unscriptural. All systems which make out faith to be anything complicated, anything but a simple, childlike dependence, – the hand which receives the soul’s medicine from the physician, – are unsafe and poisonous systems. All systems which cast discredit on the simple Protestant doctrine which broke the power of Rome, carry about with them a plague-spot, and are dangerous to souls.”

-- J.C. Ryle

Monday, February 23, 2015

You Can Stand Any Test

“The cross is practical, it is God moving in love to meet violent men and women, facing violence and suffering for us.  Your faith was born in violence.  The Christian is not scared when the whole world is shaking.  Your faith was born on Calvary.  It can stand anything.  It is an all-weather faith.

"Don’t imagine you can only be a Christian when everything is smooth.  Christians shine better when everything is just the opposite.  Your faith was born in blood and sweat in the loneliness of Calvary.  You can stand any test.”

-- Bishop Festo Kivengere, When God Moves in Revival (Wheaton, 1973), page 16.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mr. Law or Mr. Grace

“A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. . . . and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.  Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another.”  Romans 7:2-4

From Ray Ortlund, Jr.:

"We were married to Mr. Law.  He was a good man, in his way, but he did not understand our weakness.  He came home every evening and asked, “So, how was your day?  Did you do what I told you to?  Did you make the kids behave?  Did you waste any time?  Did you complete everything I put on your To Do list?”  So many demands and expectations.  And hard as we tried, we couldn’t be perfect.  We could never satisfy him.  We forgot things that were important to him.  We let the children misbehave.  We failed in other ways.  It was a miserable marriage, because Mr. Law always pointed out our failings.  And the worst of it was, he was always right!  But his remedy was always the same: Do better tomorrow.  We didn’t, because we couldn’t.

"Then Mr. Law died.  And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace.  Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day.  Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, “I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  And our hearts melt.  We don’t understand such love.  We expect him to despise us and reject us and humiliate us, but he treats us so well.  We are so glad to belong to him now and forever, and we long to be “fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:10)!

"Being married to Mr. Law never changed us.  But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nothing Is Neutral

"The opposition between light and dark, life and death, wisdom and folly, health and sickness, obedience and disobedience manifests itself everywhere. Nothing is ‘neutral’ in the sense that sin fails to effect it or that redemption fails to hold out the promise of deliverance."

— Albert Wolters
"Creation Regained"
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 82

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All our sufferings and afflictions...

"Believers are assured that everything works together for good because the God who set his covenantal love upon them, predestined them to be like his Son, called them effectually to himself, and justified them will certainly glorify them. All the sufferings and afflictions of the present era are not an obstacle to their ultimate salvation but the means by which salvation will be accomplished."

— Thomas R. Schreiner
Romans (BECNT)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Sunlight of God's Love

"Measure not God's love by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not the sun, but the clouds, which hinder the manifestation of light."
-- Richard Sibbes

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address


  AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

  On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

  One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

  "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

-- President Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

"Whoever comes to me I will never cast out."  John 6:37

“But I am a great sinner, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I am an old sinner, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I am a hard-hearted sinner, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I am a backsliding sinner, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I have served Satan all my days, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I have sinned against light, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I have sinned against mercy, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.  But I have nothing good to bring with me, you say.  ‘But I will never cast you out,’ says Christ.”

-- John Bunyan, Works (London, 1861), I:279-280.  Style updated.

HT:  Dane Ortlund 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

He is praying for you.

"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room I would  not fear a million enemies.  But distance makes no difference.   He IS praying for me." (Rom. 8:34;  Heb. 7:25;  1 Jn. 2:1)

-- Robert Murray McCheyne

Let My Soul Live in Glorious Thoughts of God's Grace

"By his cross, divine holiness and justice were exalted, and through his triumph, grace and mercy are poured out to the full. In glorious thoughts of this let my soul live, and in believing it let my soul die. And let the present wonder of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fullness.

"One view of Christ’s glory by faith will scatter all the fears, answer all the objections and disperse all the depressions of poor, tempted, doubting souls. To all believers it is an anchor which they may cast within the veil, to hold them firm and steadfast in all trials, storms and temptations, both in life and in death."

— John Owen
"The Glory of Christ"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quietness before God; humility before men

More deep, Scriptural wisdom from Ray Ortlund, Jr. (and Francis Schaeffer)...

"I have calmed and quieted my soul."  Psalm 131:2

How did David get into that quiet place before God?  He forsook ambition.  “My eyes are not raised too high,” he wrote.  He checked that restless impulse of ingratitude and the itch of attention-seeking.  He settled into the role and place God had assigned to him, because he trusted in the wisdom and goodness of God’s providential care.

“Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”  No longer fretful, demanding, impatient, infantile, David’s heart came to rest with a sense of God’s plan, God’s nearness.

The upward glance to the higher place of visibility and recognition destroys quietness of heart.  Francis Schaeffer, in his sermon “No little people, no little places,” counsels us to look by faith beyond our place, wherever it may be, into the greater battle raging in the heavenlies today, the real battle of our generation that bears no necessary relation to the seeming prominence or obscurity of the soldiers involved, and trust that the Lord of hosts is deploying each of us most effectively right where we are, moment by moment.  Human appearances can be false.  Divine strategies are unfailing.

Unless I am extruded (Schaeffer’s wonderful word) into the higher place by the force of God’s own hand, my life ends up counting for less than before, not more, no matter how impressive my promotion may appear.

Quietness of heart before God is more powerful than prominence of position among men.

Choosing Christ...

"When I choose Christ, I am, in the same choice, necessarily rejecting and renouncing all that is not 'for Christ' in my life." -- Jon G. Baldwin

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Relocation of Our Devotion

"Consumerism is perhaps the number-one religion in America today. Our shopping malls have become the new shrines, the public places of devotion where our culture gathers in search of salvation. We identify ourselves through the fashions we wear, the music we listen to, the cars we drive.

"Our primary priesthood is a mixture of corporations, advertisers and political machinations that mediate transcendence for us through the global market. Community [fellowship] has been replaced by affinity as we congregate wit those who share our age range, cultural tastes, and socioeconomic bracket.

"Religious devoition is not dead in the West; if has merely migrated towaward a new center....
"...The cultural decline of institutional religion has simply meant the relocation, not the destruction, of social norms through which we pursue personal justification and social acceptance for our existence."

-- Joshua Ryan Butler, "The Skeletons in God's Closet"

Lack of Joy in Christ?

"The sin under all other sins is a lack of joy in Christ." -- Timothy Keller

Friday, February 6, 2015

An Imperfect Preview

The gospel creates the kind of community that is even now an imperfect preview of the kingdom’s marriage feast that awaits us. The church originates, flourishes, and fulfills its mission as that part of God’s world that has been redeemed and redefined by this strange announcement that seems foolish and powerless to the rest of the world.

— Michael Horton
The Gospel-Driven Life
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 11

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Christ" Means "Ruler"

“The connection between ‘the good news’ and the kingdom of God is obscured for Christians by the use of the Greek word ‘Christ’ for Messiah throughout our translations of the New Testament. Every time we come across the phrase ‘Jesus Christ,’ instead of hearing ‘Jesus, the king who was promised to Israel,’ all we hear is ‘Jesus’ followed by a meaningless syllable. For most, probably, the phrase means, ‘Jesus, who saves me from my sins.’ This is certainly true, but it falls short of saying ‘Jesus, the ruler of a whole new order of life, who have delivered me so I can be part of it.”

-- Richard Lovelace, “Renewal as a Way of Life”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our Best Friend

"Christ is our best friend, and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with him."

— John Owen, quoted by Adrian Warnock in
Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everything
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 201-202
Related Quotes

How Transformation Takes Place

“First comes the actual exercise of the mind, fixing thoughts and meditations upon spiritual truths.

". . . Next comes the inclination of all the affections toward these things, whereby they cleave to the spiritual truths and make an engagement unto them. . . .

“Finally comes a relish and a savor in which lies the sweetness and the satisfaction of the spiritual life. We taste then by experience that God is gracious, and that the love of Christ is better than wine . . .
"If we settle for mere speculations and mental notions about Christ as doctrine, we shall find no transforming power of efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But when, under the conduct of spiritual light, our affections do cleave unto him — then virtue [change in character]* will proceed from him to purify us, increase our holiness, and sometimes fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory . . .

"Where light leaves the affections behind, it ends in formality and or atheism; where affections outrun light they sink into the bog of superstition.”

- John Owen, quoted by Timothy Keller, "Gospel Christianity 2"

Keller has ‘change of character’ in brackets as his explanatory phrase, but I think he misunderstands Owen’s use of the word ‘virtue’ here, which reflects the KJV rendering of Lk. 8:46, and means ‘power’.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Look steadily at Jesus on the cross...

"Look steadily at Jesus on the cross, if you want to feel inward peace. Look to anything of your own, and you will never feel comfortable. Your own life and doings, your own repentance and amendment, your own morality and regularity, your own church-going, your own Bible-reading and your prayers, your own almsgiving and your charities, – what are they all but a huge mass of imperfection? Rest not upon them for a moment, in the matter of your justification. As evidences of your wishes, feelings, bias, tastes, habits, inclinations, they may be useful helps occasionally. As grounds of acceptance with God they are worthless rubbish. They cannot give you comfort; they cannot bear the weight of your sins; they cannot stand the searching eye of God. Rest on nothing but Christ crucified, and the atonement He made for you on Calvary. This, this alone is the way of peace."

~ J.C. Ryle