Saturday, January 30, 2010

A temptation that tops the list

This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash.

C. S. Lewis, “A Slip of the Tongue,” in The Weight of Glory, page 187.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus

“All my fresh springs shall be in Thee.”
Psalms 87:7

Our Lord never patches up our natural virtues, He re-makes the whole man on the inside. "Put on the new man," i.e., see that your natural human life puts on the garb that is in keeping with the new life. The life God plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power you have, until you learn to draw your life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus. Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience!

The sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts confidence in the natural virtues, because they are not promises of what we are going to be, but remnants of what God created man to be. We will cling to the natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us into contact with the life of Jesus Christ which can never be described in terms of the natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity. God does not build up our natural virtues and transfigure them, because our natural virtues can never come anywhere near what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus.

"And every virtue we possess
Is His alone."

-Oswald Chambers,
My Utmost for His Highest, "And Every Virtue We Possess", December 30

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He doesn't promise to save us from becoming sinners

Who are his people? We are eager to know who they are, and we are glad to find that his people need to be saved, and will be saved, for it is written, ‘He will save his people.’ It is not said, ‘He will reward his people for their righteousness,’ nor is it promised that he will ’save them from becoming sinners,’ but ‘He will save his people from their sins.’ . . .

If you are righteous in yourself, you are not one of his people. If you were never sick in soul, you are none of the folk that the Great Physician has come to heal. If you were never guilty of sin, you are none of those whom he has come to deliver from sin. Jesus comes on no needless errand and undertakes no unnecessary work. If you feel yourselves to need saving, then cast yourselves upon him, for such as you are he came to save.

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament, I:4-5, on Matthew 1:21.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The most important business of your life

We have, through the goodness of the Lord, been permitted to enter upon another year, and the minds of many among us will no doubt be occupied with plans for the future and the various fears of our work and service for the Lord.

If our lives are spared, we shall be engaged in those: the welfare of our families, the prosperity of our business, our work and service for Christ may be considered the most important matters to be attended to; but according to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord.

Other things may press upon you, the Lord’s work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life.

This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.

–George Mueller,
A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Mueller, Written by Himself, pp. 730-732. It is excerpted from a sermon the 59-year-old Mueller preached to his congregation at a New Year’s service.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Filling voids

“All sins are attempts to fill voids.” -Simone Weil

We might try to fill the voids we so deeply feel by doing bad things or by doing good things. When we salve the ache in our hearts, which only God himself can satisfy, by doing good things, we then feel proud and think God owes us and we get angry when he doesn’t fork over. When we salve the ache within by doing bad things, we feel shamed and think God despises us and slink away from him in bitterness and cynicism. But we are the ones complicating our souls.

Filling the void with anything but God is a sin. Sin can involve doing a good thing, or sin can involve doing a bad thing. But only God can comfort us. Only God can fill our souls with the magnitude of the One we long for. And he does, freely, on terms of grace. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18

To be empty and disappointed and brokenhearted does not disqualify you from God. It means God is near, if you’ll have him.

--Ray Ortlund
source: here

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The cross redefining our theology

[Referring to The Heidelberg Disputation...]

According to Martin Luther's terminology, the "theologians of glory" are those who build their theology in the light of what they expect God to be like—and, surprise, surprise, they make God to look something like themselves. The "theologians of the cross," however, are those who build their theology in the light of God's own revelation of himself in Christ hanging on the cross.

The implications of this position are revolutionary. For a start, Luther is demanding that the entire theological vocabulary be revised in light of the cross. Take for example the word power. When theologians of glory read about divine power in the Bible, or use the term in their own theology, they assume that it is analogous to human power. They suppose that they can arrive at an understanding of divine power by magnifying to an infinite degree the most powerful thing of which they can think. In light of the cross, however, this understanding of divine power is the very opposite of what divine power is all about. Divine power is revealed in the weakness of the cross, for it is in his apparent defeat at the hands of evil powers and corrupt earthly authorities that Jesus shows his divine power in the conquest of death and of all the powers of evil. So when a Christian talks about divine power, or even about church or Christian power, it is to be conceived of in terms of the cross—power hidden in the form of weakness.

Luther's Theology of the Cross
by Carl Trueman
source: here