Saturday, February 26, 2011

Only one thing blots out sins

There is only one thing in the world that blots out sins. It is not our acts of contrition, not our repentance, not our alms or our good works. It is not even our prayers. It is the blood of Jesus Christ: ‘the blood of Jesus Christ … cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).

— Adolphe Monod
Living in the Hope of Glory, ed. Constance K. Walker
(Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 46

Monday, February 21, 2011

What I need first of all

What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel; not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me.

--John Gresham Machen

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Before any demand is made

Christian existence is a strangely relaxed kind of strenuousness, precisely because the Christian gospel is what it is. Before ever any demand is made, the gift is offered: the announcement of good news precedes the challenge.

The indicative precedes the imperative as surely as the rope is made fast round a firm piece of rock for the climber’s security before he has to apply himself to the struggle. Moreover (if the parable may be extended one clause further), the climber must attach himself to the rope before starting his effort. So the gospel not only begins with the indicative statement of what God has done, before it goes on to the imperative: even the imperative is first a command to attach oneself, before it becomes a command to struggle.

The striving does come: strenuousness is indispensable for the Christian climber—but only in dependence on all that has first been given by God and then appropriated through the means of grace.

--C. F. D. Moule, “’The New Life’ in Colossians 3:1-17,” Review and Expositor 70:4 (1973), page 479 [ht]:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I cannot get it into my head

Even though we are now in faith . . . the heart is always ready to boast of itself before God and say: 'After all, I have preached so long and lived so well and done so much, surely he will take this into account.' We even want to haggle with God to make him regard our life.


But it cannot be done. With men you may boast: (I have done the best I could toward everyone, and if anything is lacking I will still try to make recompense). But when you come before God, leave all that boasting at home and remember to appeal from justice to grace.


I myself have now been preaching and cultivating it through reading and writing for almost twenty years and still I feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that I may contribute something, so that he will have to give me his grace in exchange for my holiness. Still I cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace; yet this is what I should and must do.

--Martin Luther

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gospel mortification

The difference between legal and gospel mortification:

They differ in their motives and ends. The believer will not serve sin, because he is alive to God, and dead to sin (Rom 6:6). The legalist forsakes sin, not because he is alive, but that he may live. The believer mortifies sin, because God loves him; but the legalist, that God may love him. The believer mortifies, because God is pacified towards him; the legalist mortifies, that he may pacify God by his mortification. He may go a great length, but it is still that he may have whereof to glory, making his own doing all the foundation of his hope and comfort.

--Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)