Mumbling On

Those who still believe in the wrath of God (not all do) say little about it; perhaps they do not think much about it. To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex and self-will, the church mumbles on about God’s kindness but says virtually nothing about his judgment. How often during the past year did you hear, or, if you are a minister, did you preach, a sermon on the wrath of God? How long is it, I wonder, since a Christian spoke straight on this subject on radio or television, or in one of those half-column sermonettes that appear in some national dailies and magazines? (And if one did so, how long would it be before he would be asked to speak or write again?) The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter.

—J.I. Packer
Knowing God

Via: Tony Reinke

Set Apart to Die and to Live

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was about thirty years old when he penned these words in his classic work The Cost of Discipleship. Eight years later he was executed for his crimes against the Third Reich. The prison doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer’s execution wrote, “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” The doctor’s words could not have been more appropriate to describe not only the manner in which Bonhoeffer submitted himself to God in death but also the manner in which he submitted himself to God in life. In his life and at his death, Bonhoeffer grasped one crucial truth: To be set apart to God is to be set apart to die, to die to sin, to self, and to life itself — to take up our crosses daily and to live unto Christ and embrace the true freedom that only comes when Christ calls a man to die and live abundantly in Him.

—Burk Parsons
Tabletalk, May 2010

Via: Ligonier Ministries

Pursuing the Quest for Purpose

In the quest for purpose, we must distinguish between proximate and remote purposes. The proximate refers to that which is close at hand. The remote refers to the distant, far-off, ultimate purpose. The football player’s proximate goal is to make a first down. The more remote goal is a touchdown. The even more remote goal is to win the game. The ultimate goal is to win a championship.

We remember the poignant meeting between Joseph and his brothers, when the brothers feared recriminations from their powerful brother for the treachery they had committed against him. But Joseph saw a remarkable concurrence at work between proximate and remote intentions. He said, “You meant it for evil; God meant it for good.”

Here the proximate and the remote seemed to be mutually exclusive. The divine intention was the exact opposite of the human intention. Joseph’s brothers had one goal; God had a different one. The amazing truth here is that the remote purpose was served by the proximate one. This does not diminish the culpability of the brothers. Their intent and their actions were evil. Yet it seemed good to God to let it happen that His purpose might be fulfilled.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

The Nails and the Spear-thrust and the Cross

The things that crucify Christ and wreck the whole world are the common sins of every day — self-centeredness, pride, apathy, cynicism, slackness, unkindness, every temptation put in another’s path, every wasted opportunity, every pitiful compromise of which we are ashamed — these are the nails and the spear-thrust and the cross. And will anyone deny, with Jesus hanging there, that sin is the critical enemy, the most dangerous insatiable thing in the world, and that he personally needs to be forgiven?

—James S. Stewart
A Faith to Proclaim

Via: Of First Importance

Godly Fear

The Lord bids me ‘fear not’& #8212; and at the same time he says, ‘Happy is the man who fears always.’ How to fear and not to fear at the same time is, I believe, one branch of that secret of the Lord which none can understand but by the teaching of his Spirit. When I think of my heart, of the world, of the powers of darkness — what cause of continual fear! I am on an enemy’s ground, and cannot move a step but some snare is spread for my feet. But when I think of the person, grace, power, care, and faithfulness of my Savior, why may I not say — I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. I wish to be delivered from anxious and unbelieving fear, which weakens the hands and disquiets the heart. I wish to increase in a humble jealousy and distrust of myself and of everything about me.

—John Newton

Via: A Puritan At Heart

C.S. Lewis on Theological Devotion

I read the following quote on Dr. Ray Ortlund’s weblog today and wanted to pass it along. For my part, I too have found more food for my soul in reading deeper doctrinal works than I have in reading purely devotional books.

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

—C.S. Lewis
quoted in R. L. Green and W. Hooper, C. S. Lewis: A Biography

Maybe it is the way that I am wired, but the most direct and lasting path to my heart is through my head — which reminds me of another quote often attributed to C.S. Lewis: “the soul cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects.”

Via: Dr. Ray Ortlund