Do try, as far as you can, to make the very way in which you speak minister to the great end you have in view. Preach, for instance, as you would plead if you were standing before a judge, and begging for the life of a friend, or as if you were appealing to the Queen herself on behalf of someone very dear to you. Use such a tone in pleading with sinners as you would use if a gibbet were erected in this room, and you were to be hanged on it unless you could persuade the person in authority to release you. That is the sort of earnestness you need in pleading with men as ambassadors for God
Top 10 Quotes from ‘The Archer and the Arrow’ (Jensen)
"We fail when we do not preach prayerfully"
"Ultimately, the preacher has no other agenda or goal but to make God’s word clear to the church"
"We need to preach less about what we have to do, and more about the wonder of what God has already done for us in Christ Jesus"
"Good preaching will occur when we read the Bible doctrinally and when we evaluate our doctrine biblically"
"All preaching involves communicating God’s life-giving special revelation through the often mundane gifts of common grace"
"If we are preaching for the sake of God’s honour, then we will long for our hearers to say, ‘Jesus is a great Saviour’ not ‘He is a great preacher’"
"True biblical preaching will flow from genuine love, and genuine love will be grown by true biblical preaching"
"Preachers must learn not to spend their entire lives trying to protect their reputation. It is impossible"
"A penitent heart is one that has been battered by the truth"
"If we commit ourselves to the dangerous declaration of a gospel that demands response, we will see at work our zealous, attention-demanding God"
Top 10 Quotes from ‘Every Good Endeavour’ (Keller)
"If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever"
"Work is not all there is to life. You will not have a meaningful life without work, but you cannot say that your work is the meaning of your life”
"Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives"
"The modern idol of individualism has tended to raise work from being a good thing to being nearly a form of salvation"
"Without an understanding of the gospel, we will be either naively utopian or cynically disillusioned [about work]. We will be demonising something that isn’t bad enough to explain the mess we are in; and we will be idolising something that isn’t powerful enough to get us out of it"
"God’s loving care comes to us largely through the labour of others. Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world"
"An understanding of common grace, as well as an experience of God’s pardoning grace in Christ, should lead us to freely and humbly work with others who may not share our faith but can be used greatly by God to accomplish enormous good. At the same time, an understanding of the gospel worldview means we should at times respectfully pursue a different path or winsomely point out how our own Christian faith gives us powerful resources and guidance for what we are doing"
"We all work for an audience, whether we are aware of it or not. Christians look to an Audience of One, our loving heavenly Father, and that gives us both accountability and joy in our work"
"You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making…Give up yourself, and you will find your real self"
"When your heart comes to hope in Christ and the future world he has guaranteed - when you are carrying his easy yoke - you finally have the power to work with a free heart"
The Search for Satisfaction is found only in Christ
'I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets - that's fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Inland Revenue - that's success. Furnished with money and a little fame, even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions - that's pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time - that's fulfilment. Yet I say to you, and I beg you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing - less than nothing, a positive impediment - measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are'
Malcolm Muggeridge, cited in J. Gladstone, Living with Style
Pray for the Pope (that he’d become a Christian)
I was in the kitchen of my flat last night, cooking a mean omelette and watching BBC News coverage of hordes of people flooding into St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. White smoke had been pouring out of the chimney - a sign that the men all locked in a room somewhere had finally chosen someone to replace the outgoing Pope.
150,000 people crammed into the Square. 150,000! Flags from all over the world. Men, women and children standing cramped in the freezing cold and rain.
And then finally, one of the robed men comes out and says something in Latin and then a bit in Italian, and then after much faffing around, the new Pope is revealed. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina.
By all accounts, he’s a nice enough bloke. He lives a humble lifestyle, choosing a simple flat rather than the cathedral to live in when in Buenos Aires. Rather than buying a new set of Cardinal robes he just re-used the ones worn by his predecessor. He’s hot on social justice, talking in 2007 about ‘the unjust distribution of goods’.
And he’s pretty old. At 76, he’s hardly a spring chicken, and apparently only has one functioning lung so his health isn’t first class.
But for all the stuff about his age and his good nature and his drive for social equality, he carries absolutely no clout when it comes to teaching the truth of the Bible.
What bookends his first ever speech as Pope? Mary!
As he begins…
"Let us all pray together for him [previous Pope], that the Lord would bless him and Our Lady protect him"
And then as he finishes:
"Tomorrow I want to go to pray [to] the Madonna, that she may protect Rome"
Clearly he hasn’t spent much time looking at Paul’s letters, bookended not by talking about praying to Mary, but talking about the grace that comes through Jesus (Gal 1:1-3/5:18 // Eph 1:1-2/6:24… I could go on). And it’s not just Mary, is it. I could write for ages on transubstantiation, purgatory, praying for the dead etc.
So while I hope he does a good job in the way that I hope David Cameron does a good job or Barack Obama does a good job, I’m not looking to him for any sort of Christian counsel or leadership.Why would I?! He’s a false teacher, and so I don’t quite understand people on Twitter, who would say they are evangelical Christians, tweeting things like: “Pray for the new Pope…give him all the grace and courage he needs”, as if this guy is a Bible-believing Christian pastor who has got a tough job ahead of him.
While Francis may well do a decent job in the social sense, for evangelical Christians he should sit in the same camp as the Dalai Lama and the Chief Rabbi - men who are in positions of ‘religious’ power who will quite possibly live a life full of good works, but ultimately have zero authority on teaching the Bible.
As John Stevens, director of the FIEC, tweeted yesterday in response to Francis’ speech - “Evangelicals can have no illusions. How can they welcome [him]?”
This isn’t someone who ‘has a slightly different view, but ultimately we’re all Christians so let’s join hands in unity across the world’.
This is someone who leads a religious group which is ‘distorting the gospel of Christ’ (Galatians 1:7).
So yes, let’s pray for Pope Francis. But let’s pray that he will repent of his false teaching and trust in the sanctifying grace of the gospel. Wouldn’t it be incredible if Pope Francis had a Luther moment while reading Romans.
Think what that would do.
Top 10 Quotes from ‘Pleasures of God’ (Piper)
"We need to be more God-conscious, so that we can laugh the laugh of faith knowing that we have power over all the power of the enemy. He has already lost control because of Calvary where the Lamb was slain. What confidence and rest of heart this gives us as we face a world in turmoil and such spiritual need"
"In the very moment when God’s curse rested most heavily on Jesus because of sin, the Father’s love for the Son reached explosive proportions"
"God’s anger must be released by a stiff safety-lock, but his mercy has a hair-trigger"
"Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God to give sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God"
"Prayer is the power that yields the weapon of the Word; but the Word itself is the weapon by which the nations will be brought to faith and obedience"
"The crying need of the hour - every hour - is to put the churches on a wartime footing. Mission leaders are crying out, ‘Where is the church’s concept of militancy, of a mighty army willing to suffer, moving ahead with exultant determination to take the world by storm? Where is the risk-taking, the launching out on God alone?"
"Obedience is the irrepressible PR project of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good"
"Grace is not simply the pardon of sin. It is the power to press on in obedience"
"It would be better to starve for lack of food than fail to understand the written Word of God"
"The fact that the pleasure of God in his Son is pleasure in himself is not vanity. It is the gospel"
13 Tweets on The Trinity
This weekend I was away at the Dundonald Church 7pm congregation weekend away. We enjoyed a great time relaxing at Denham Grove, spending time with one another, and hearing some fantastic teaching from Sam Allberry (@samallberry) on The Trinity.
Sam has written a book on this very topic, ‘Connected’ (IVP), which can be bought on Amazon here.
Here are a few soundbites from the weekend. 13 tweets. Hope they are an encouragement at the start of this week.
"Without the Trinity, we cannot authentically be God’s people. The Trinity is the framework for our discipleship"
"Because God is one, our devotion to Him must be total. He’s an all or nothing God”
"It’s not a front. How God reveals himself to us in Christ is how he is!”
"We can’t be about doctrinal diversity and institutional unity. If so, we dishonour God in both ways…”
"We are not the cause of God’s happiness and love. We are the product of it!"
"Forgiveness isn’t our meal voucher into the restaurant of heaven. It’s about becoming part of the wonderful fellowship of the Trinity"
"Understanding the Trinity sheds light on what we do when we pray. All Christian prayer is Trinitarian"
"It is the Spirit that applies to our hearts the truth that we are adopted as sons!”
"The gospel is more than just a pardon - it’s adoption!"
"Because prayer is by the Spirit, no prayer is ever wasted"
"Prayer is not me trying to drum up a rapport with God. There has been a rapport between the Father and the Son for all eternity, and I get to join in with that!"
"The floor of the throne room of God is not sprinkled with the sweat of my good works, but with the blood of Jesus Christ. And so because of Jesus, I can come into the Father’s throne room and call him, ‘Abba!’"
"Whatever you most esteem, you will begin to emulate. The sign that we worship Jesus is that we become like him"
To join the outcry against dogma and fact means to lower the ideal of what the Christian consciousness ought normally to be to the level of the spiritual depression of our own day and generation.
How much better that we should all strive to raise our drooping faith and to re-enrich our depleted experience up to the standard of those blessed periods in the life of the Church when the belief in Bible history and the religion of the heart went hand in hand and kept equal pace, when people were ready to lay down their lives for facts and doctrines, because facts and doctrine formed the daily spiritual nourishment of the souls.
May God by his Spirit maintain among us, and through our instrumentality revive around us, that truly evangelical type of piety which not merely tolerates facts and doctrines, but draws from them its strength and inspiration in life and service, its only comfort and hope in the hour of death.
Are you afraid that preaching the gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? Is this why you must have music, and architecture, and flowers and millinery? After all, is it by might and power, and not by the Spirit of God? It is even so in the opinion of many.
Brethren beloved, there are many things which I might allow to other worshippers which I have denied myself in conducting the worship of this congregation. I have long worked out before your very eyes the experiment of the unaided attractiveness of the gospel of Jesus. Our service is severely plain. No man ever comes hither to gratify his eye with art, or his ear with music. I have set before you, these many years, nothing but Christ crucified, and the simplicity of the gospel; yet where will you find such a crowd as this gathered together this morning? Where will you find such a multitude as this meeting Sabbath after Sabbath, for five-and-thirty years? I have shown you nothing but the cross, the cross without flowers of oratory, the cross without diamonds of ecclesiastical rank, the cross without the buttress of boastful science. It is abundantly sufficient to attract men first to itself, and afterwards to eternal life!
In this house we have proved successfully, these many years, this great truth, that the gospel plainly preached will gain an audience, convert sinners, and build up and sustain a church. We beseech the people of God to mark that there is no need to try doubtful expedients and questionable methods. God will save by the gospel still: only let it be the gospel in its purity. This grand old sword will cleave a man’s chine [i.e., spine], and split a rock in halves.
How is it that it does so little of its old conquering work? I will tell you. Do you see the scabbard of artistic work, so wonderfully elaborated? Full many keep the sword in this scabbard, and therefore its edge never gets to its work. Pull off that scabbard. Fling that fine sheath to Hades, and then see how, in the Lord’s hands, that glorious two-handed sword will mow down fields of men as mowers level the grass with their scythes.
There is no need to go down to Egypt for help. To invite the devil to help Christ is shameful. Please God, we shall see prosperity yet, when the church of God is resolved never to seek it except in God’s own way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1888, vol. 34, p. 563
(first posted by Justin Taylor here)