A Far More Admirable Work

So, then, this also is hid in Christ — the great and unspeakable riches of the wisdom of God, in pardoning sin, saving sinners, satisfying justice, fulfilling the law, repairing his own honour, and providing for us a more exceeding weight of glory — and all this out of such a condition as wherein it was impossible that it should enter into the hearts of angels or men how ever the glory of God should be repaired, and one sinning creature delivered from everlasting ruin. Hence it is said, that at the last day God “shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). It shall be an admirable thing, and God shall be for ever glorious in it, even in the bringing of believers to himself. To save sinners through believing shall be found to be a far more admirable work than to create the world of nothing.

—John Owen
Of Communion With God

Via: The Essential Owen

The Problem of Forgiveness

…you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought.

But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine percent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one percent guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian character; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.

—C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory

Via: Desiring God Blog

The Wrath of the Lamb

Let no person deceive us with vain words upon this dreadful subject. People have arisen in these latter days, who profess to deny the eternity of future punishment, and repeat the devil’s old argument, that we “shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Let none of their reasonings move us, however plausible they may sound. Let us stand fast in the old paths. The God of love and mercy, is also a God of justice. He will surely requite. The flood in Noah’s day, and the burning of Sodom, were meant to show us what He will one day do. No lips have ever spoken so clearly about hell as those of Christ Himself. Hardened sinners will find out, to their cost, that there is such a thing as the “wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16-17).

—J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes

He is the Mediator

Believers all call themselves by the name of Christ and in communion with this Christ they are themselves anointed as prophets, priests, and kings.

Christ is given many other names in Scripture. He is called the Son of God, the only-begotten, beloved Son of God, the Word, the image of God, the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, the firstborn of all creation, the true God and eternal life, God to be praised above all, Immanuel.

In addition, He is called the Son of Man, the son of Joseph and David, the Nazarene, the Galilean, the holy and righteous one, the second Adam, the Lord of heaven, the firstborn of all creatures, and the firstborn of the dead.

Finally, in terms of His office and work, He is called Prophet, Master, Teacher, Priest, the Great Priest, the High Priest, the Servant of the Lord, the Lamb of God, the King, the King of the Jews, the King of Israel, the King of kings, the Lord, the Lord of glory, the Lord of lords, the head of the church, the bridegroom of the church, the shepherd and guardian of souls, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, the pioneer of salvation, the way, the truth, and the life, the bread of life, the prince of life, the resurrection and the life, the shepherd of the sheep, the door of the sheepfold, the light  of world, the shining morning star, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the judge of the living and the dead, the heir of all things by whom, in whom, and for whom all things have been created.

All these names sufficiently prove the incomparable dignity and entirely unique place that belong to Christ. He is the mediator of both creation and re-creation.

—Herman Bavinck
Reformed Dogmatics

Via: Tolle Lege

Clothed in Righteousness

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

—Isaiah 1:18

Choir:
Come, let us reason together, says the Lord.
Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be white as snow.
Though they be like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Choir and Congregation:
Fallen race in Eden fair,
Exposed and full of shame.
Fled we naked from Thy sight,
far from Thy holy name.

Chorus:
Clothe us in Your righteousness,
hide filthy rags of sin,
Dress us in your perfect garb,
both outside and within.

Sent from the garden to the east,
Outside of Eden’s gate,
Banished there from Thy pure light
were Adam and his mate.

Scarlet souls are now like snow
by Thy atoning grace.
Crimson hearts become like wool
for Adam’s fallen race.

No work of ours is good enough
for evil to atone.
Your merit, Lord, is all we have.
It saves and it alone.

—R.C. Sproul

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

—Isaac Watts

Allowing For A Fallen Nature

Since our subject is theology, the truths of almighty God and the worship and obedience which is his due, we must ever consider our mental faculties and the degrees to which we are able to understand such matters as these, allowing always for our fallen and finite nature, if we wish to avoid running into confusion and ambiguity.

—John Owen
Biblical Theology: The History of Theology from Adam to Christ

Via: The Essential Owen

A Loving, Merciful Christ

Since Christ is thus comfortably set out to us, let us not believe Satan’s representations of him. When we are troubled in conscience for our sins, Satan’s manner is then to present Christ to the afflicted soul as a most severe judge armed with justice against us. But then let us present him to our souls as offered to our view by God himself, holding out a sceptre of mercy, and spreading his arms to receive us.

—Richard Sibbes

Via: A Puritan At Heart

Old Paths

Thousands and tens of thousands have sought for pardon at the mercy-seat of Christ, and not one has ever returned to say that he sought in vain. Sinners of every name and nation — sinners of every sort and description — have knocked at the door of the fold, and none have ever been refused admission.

If the way which the Gospel sets before us were a new and untraveled way — we might well feel faint-hearted. But it is not so. It is an old path. It is a path worn by the feet of many pilgrims, and a path in which the footsteps are all one way. The treasury of Christ’s mercies has never been found empty. The well of living waters has never proved dry.

—J.C. Ryle
Forgiveness

Via: Of First Importance

The Sinner’s Opinion of Himself

In all unbelief there are these two things — a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.

But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?

Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!

—Horatius Bonar

Via: Tim Challies