Jesus Christ

Jesus Repulses, Jesus Draws

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I Think we all love the story of the Garasene Demonaic, don’t we? It is the story of a poor, pathetic, hopeless, demon-oppressed man and his life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. And there is something in the story I find particularly fascinating.

Though at one time in his life this man had been a normal person with a normal life, at some point demons had begun to oppress him. Maybe he was a young man still living in his parents’ home when something about him began to change. Over time his parents and family saw him start to exhibit erratic and downright scary behavior. Or maybe he was a married man and it was his wife who first began to notice that strange behavior. He began to act in ways that were out of character. He began to cry out in weird ways. Though he used to love his kids and cuddle them and tell them stories and play with them, over time he became distant, then even dangerous. Soon she had to protect the kids from their own father.

Eventually his behavior became so outrageous that the people around him acted in the only way they knew how—they chained him and locked him up. But then he grew so strong that he could break those chains and attack anyone who approached him. So they did the only thing left to do and drove him away. By the time we meet him in Mark 5 (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), he is living in the tombs, roaming the hills naked, cutting and brusing himself, crying out in agony of body, soul and spirit. He can go no lower.

And then Jesus meets him. And then Jesus frees him. Jesus sends that horde of demons into a herd of pigs which immediately rushes into the sea and drowns. And then we come to a part of the story I find absolutely fascinating. The nearby townsfolk come running to see what has happened, to see this oppressed man in his right mind, to see thousands of dead pigs floating in the water. And we see two very different reactions to this encounter with Jesus Christ.

When this man has been freed by Jesus, he begs Jesus to be able to go with him. Please let me remain with you, let me learn from you, let me serve you. Where you go I will go. This man saw Jesus and wanted Jesus more than anything.

When this crowd of villagers saw this man freed by Jesus, they had a reaction that was exactly opposite. They begged Jesus to leave. Please go. Get back in your boat and leave and don’t come back. They saw Jesus and wanted Jesus less than anything.

The people wanted Jesus as far as possible, this man wanted Jesus as close as possible. And in those two reactions we see something fascinating: Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. Some people encounter Jesus and find him the most dreadful thing in the world; some people encounter Jesus and find him the most desirable thing in the world. Some beg him to leave and some beg to follow.

When we preach Jesus today, we preach for a response. And there is always a response. Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. But an encounter with Jesus never accomplishes nothing.

Truth grounded in revelation

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D.A. Carson:

The revelation has come to us in the natural world, in great events of miraculous power attested by witnesses, in the personal work of the Spirit of God, in the enormously rich variety of writings that make up the Bible, and supremely in the person of Jesus Christ. These are not mutually exclusive channels. For instance, most of what we know propositionally about Jesus is found in the Bible, including those parts that preserve the testimony of witnesses – so here we have Jesus himself, witnesses who have left words about him, and the Bible that preserves them and conveys them.

First, the content can be indeed, has been- put into propositions, creeds, catechisms, statements of faith. It has substance. Of course there is an interpretive element in all our confessions, for finite beings cannot know anything without interpreting it. Only omniscience can escape the limitations of perspectivalism – of looking at things form a limited perspective. But that does not mean that all perspectives are equally valid, or that there is no truth in any particular interpretation.

As Christians band together to study the Bible, they come to convictions about what the Bible is saying – and that leads, rightly, to shared creeds that are modifiable only by more light from the Bible itself. Our confession of such truth cannot participate in the perfection of omniscience, but it is nonetheless valid and appropriate to the limitations of our finitude and our fallenness. Better yet, it is made possible by a gracious god who condescends to disclose himself in human words, and by the Spirit who convicts rebels of sin and illumines darkened minds.

The Intolerance of Tolerance, pg. 111-112

(HT: Marco Gonzalez)

Go to Christ immediately

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I feel when I have sinned an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would not do to go, as if it were making Christ the minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe, and a thousand other excuses. But I am persuaded they are all lies direct from hell.

John argues the opposite way—‘If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father.’ The holy sensitiveness of the soul that shrinks from the touch of sin, the acute susceptibility of the conscience at the slightest shade of guilt, will of necessity draw the spiritual mind frequently to the blood of Jesus. And herein lies the secret of a heavenly walk. Acquaint yourself with it, my reader, as the most precious secret of your life. He who lives in the habit of a prompt and minute acknowledgement of sin, with his eye reposing calmly, believingly, upon the crucified Redeemer, soars in spirit where the eagle’s pinion [wings] range not.

— Robert Murray M’Cheyne, quoted by Andrew Bonar in
Robert Murray M’Cheyne
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1960), 176

(HT: Of First Importance)

Things Jesus will never say to you

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Love this from Jared Wilson:

To those who trust in him for salvation, Jesus will never say:

“Go play somewhere; I’m busy.”

“Fake it til you make it.”

“I just don’t think it’s gonna work out between us.”

“I knew you were a screw-up, but this one really surprised me.”

“It’s too late.”

“I don’t care.”

“My assistant will get back to you on that.”

“We’re through.”

“I need some ‘me time’ right now.”

“I just ‘can’t’ right now.”

“I feel like I’m doing all the giving; what have you done for me lately?”

“Yeah, good job on ___________, but what about ____________?”

“I’ll be glad to help if you’ll ‘let’ me.”

“I can’t bless you until you release my power with positive words.”

“Who are you, again?”

“Beat it.”

The Danger of Coasting

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Tim Challies:

I don’t know how much I’ve driven in the twenty years since I got my license, but I do know it’s a lot, what with all those drives down to the South to visit my family. Here is one thing that has never varied across the hundreds of thousands of miles: When I take my foot off the pedal, the car does not speed up. It doesn’t even maintain the same speed. Instead, from the very moment I take my foot off the accelerator, the car begins to slow. Allowing the car to coast is inviting the car to stop. It may take some time, but left on its own, it will stop eventually. It is inevitable.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I see in my own life a tendency to coast—to coast in my relationships, to coast in my pursuit of godliness, to coast in my pursuit of God himself. And here are some things I’ve observed:

I do not coast toward godliness, but selfishness.

I do not coast toward self-control, but rashness.

I do not coast toward a love for others, but agitation.

I do not coast toward patience, but irritability.

I do not coast toward purity, but lust.

I do not coast toward self-denial, but self-obsession.

I do not coast toward the gospel, but self-sufficiency.

In short, I do not coast toward Christ, but toward self. When I stop caring, when I stop expending effort, when I allow myself to coast, I inevitably coast away from God and godliness. And this is exactly why I am so deeply dependent upon those ordinary means of grace, those oh-so-ordinary ways of growing in godliness—Scripture and prayer, preaching and fellowship, worship and sacrament. The moment those sweet means no longer appeal is the moment I begin to slow.

The effective love of Christ

 

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“A man may love another as his own soul, yet his love may not be able to help him. He may pity him in prison, but not relieve him, bemoan him in misery, but not help him, suffer with him in trouble, but not ease him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the greatest desire of our soul. . . . But the love of Christ, being the love of God, is effective and fruitful in producing all the good things which he wills for his beloved. He loves life, grace and holiness into us; he loves us into covenant, loves us into heaven.”

John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1980), II:63. Style updated, italics added.

(HT: Ray Ortlund)

God’s last and effective word

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The secret of the promise is the bearing of the curse so that the blessing may prevail. The gospel is that in Jesus Christ the curse has been set aside and God’s creative purpose for the blessing of his creation is established beyond any possibility of reversal.

God’s last and effective word is his blessing. It is a particular word spoken in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, broadcast by those who like Paul cannot but pass it on, so powerful is its effect, over flowing with blessing from those who, blessed by it, become a blessing to others.

— Richard Bauckham
Bible and Mission
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 35-36

(HT: Of First Importance)

When the heart is fat with the love of Jesus

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On the most basic levels, I desire fullness, and fleshly lusts seduce me by attaching themselves to this basic desire. They exploit the empty spaces in me, and they promise that fulness will be mine if I give in to their demands. When my soul sits empty and is aching for something to fill it, such deceptive promises are extremely difficult to resist.

Consequently, the key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to eliminate the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I accomplish this by feasting on the gospel. Indeed, it is in the gospel that I experience a God who glorifies Himself by filling me with His fullness. This is the God of the gospel, a God who is satisfied with nothing less than my experience of fullness in Him!

Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal. Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free. Eyes do not rove, nor do fleshly lusts rule, when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus!

— Milton Vincent
A Gospel Primer for Christians
45-46

(HT: Of First Importance)

A dissatisfied Messiah

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The One on whom we wait is a dissatisfied Messiah. He will not relent, he will not quit, he will not rest until ever promise he has made been fully delivered. He will not turn from his work until every one of his children has been totally transformed. He will continue to fight until the last enemy is under his feet. He will reign until his kingdom has fully come. As long as sin exists, he will shower us with forgiving, empowering, and delivering grace.

He will defend us against attack and attack the enemy on our behalf. He will be faithful to convict, rebuke, encourage, and comfort. He will continue to open the warehouse of his wisdom and unfold for us the glorious mysteries of his truth. He will stand with us through the darkness and the light. He will guide us on a path we could never have discovered or would never have been wise enough to choose. He will supply for us every good thing that we need to be what he’s called us to be and to do what he’s called us to do in the place where he’s put us.

And he will not rest from his work until every last microbe of sin has been completely eradicated from every heart of each of his children!

— Paul David Tripp
“Psalm 27: Inner Strength”

(HT: Of First Importance)

Only Jesus Is Enough

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Eric Costa:

We don’t often live with a functional understanding of biblical justification and sanctification. We often try—usually subconsciously—to attain feelings of assurance, satisfaction, or righteousness in our sanctification. “If I can perfectly confess and repent of this sin… If I can just figure out how to change my life in this way… If I can just achieve a certain level of sanctification, then it will be enough.” We can invest a lot of hope and effort in our sanctification in order to obtain what we’re only supposed to get from our justification: that joyful sense of assurance, satisfaction, and righteousness that comes vicariously through Jesus Christ, by his grace alone.

You cannot truly and perfectly diagnose your own sin, in order to feel that “enough-ness” about your confession and repentance. You cannot understand how you’re supposed to change to the degree where you will feel that “enough-ness” about your sanctification. What you can achieve will never be enough. You’re not meant to feel that “enough-ness” about anything other than Jesus Christ, and God’s full acceptance of you through him. Only Jesus is enough. In him is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). So fill your head and heart with thoughts of him! “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is… Set your minds on things that are above” (Col. 3:1-2). “Whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely… commendable… excellent… worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). “Think over what I say… Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:7-8). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

Individual and cosmic

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Jesus is the divine curse-remover and creation-renewer. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross broke the curse of sin and death brought on by Adam’s cosmic rebellion. His bodily resurrection from the dead three days later dealt death its final blow, guaranteeing the eventual renewal of all things ‘in Christ.’

The dimensions of Christ’s finished work are both individual and cosmic. They range from personal pardon for sin and individual forgiveness to the final resurrection of our bodies and the restoration of the whole world. Now that’s good news—gospel—isn’t it? If we place our trust in the finished work of Christ, sin’s curse will lose its grip on us individually and we will one day be given a renewed creation.

The gospel isn’t only about reestablishing a two-way relationship between God and us; it also restores a three-way relationship among God, his people, and the created order. Through Christ’s work, our relationship with God is restored while creation itself is renewed. This is what theologians mean when they talk about redemption. They’re describing this profound, far-reaching work by God.

— Tullian Tchividjian
Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different
(Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2009)

(HT: Of First Importance)

The Heart of the True Father

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Matt Chandler, in The Explicit Gospel:

There is this really magical thing that happens in homes all over the world. When you first have a child, you want your child to crawl. And then you want your kid to walk. My first child, Audrey, pulled herself to the coffee table. When she got to the coffee table, she began to bounce on her knees, and then she began to coast along. From there she started letting go and just being wobbly. At that point, we began to get really, really excited about the fact that Audrey is about to walk. Eventually she took her hands off of the coffee table, and we watched physics in motion.

God has created children, specifically young children, with gargantuan heads and tiny little bodies. So when Audrey let go of the coffee table, her gigantic head fell forward, and suddenly she has a decision to make. She can stick that foot out to catch herself or she can die. So she sticks her foot out, and now we’ve got momentum. It’s step, step, step, fall. And do you know what we did? We exploded in celebration.

We picked her up, spun her around, kissed her face, we sat her down and pleaded with her to walk towards us again. And then we were e-mailing, Facebooking, taking pictures, tweeting and all sorts of other things to get the word out that Audrey was walking. We did that with our son Reid, and we’ve done that with our daughter Norah.

What I have learned as I watched all of our friends have children is that there is always this epic celebration around the kid walking. This is news to be declared. “This kid is walking!”
For all the people I have watched go through that process, I’ve never seen anybody watch their kid go step, step, step, fall and say out loud, “Man, this kid is an idiot. Are you serious? Just three steps? Man, I can get the dog to walk two or three steps. Honey, this must be from your side of the family, because my side of the family is full of walkers. This must be some sort of genetic, shallow gene pool on your side of things.”

No father does that. Every father rejoices in the steps of his child. The father celebrates the steps of his child. I think what we have here is a picture of God celebrating us walking. So we step, step, step, fall, and heaven applauds. At what? The obedience to take those three steps. The Father in heaven is crying, “He’s walking!” “She’s doing it!” And maybe the accuser’s saying, “No, he only took a couple of steps. That’s nothing.”

But the celebration is in the steps, even if there are still falls. Because here’s what I know about all of my children: they start to walk farther and farther and farther, and they begin to skip, they begin to run, they begin to jump, they begin to climb and they begin to tear the house up. It’s beautiful. And I knew even when they were step, step, step, falling that that process was the beginning of what would result in climbing trees, dancing, and sprinting. Knowing in my mind what’s to come, the two steps and the stumble was a celebration.

The moralist sees the fall and believes that the Father is ashamed and thinks they’re foolish. So more often than not, they stop trying to walk because they can’t see the Father rejoicing in and celebrating his child.

Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the do’s and don’t’s of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s “Done!” Resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ crucified. We are not looking to conform people to a pattern of religion but pleading with the Holy Spirit to transform people’s lives. Let us move forward according to that upward call, holding firmly to the explicit gospel.

What we see in the Father’s heart in the Bible is its immensity, its bottomless depths. God’s heart is as complex and unfathomable as he is. Shouldn’t the gospel we believe stand firm in, and proclaim reflect the bigness of God’s heart for a fallen world? The cross of Christ and his resurrection are cataclysms of the unsearchable judgments and affections of God. It is this immense gospel that spurs Paul to pray:

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For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(HT: Jared Wilson)

Gone, totally and forever!

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When God pardons, he does not say he understands our weakness or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one.

He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers our iniquities no more in the oblivion of Jesus’ expiration.

He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home.

–Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2002), 188

(HT: Dane Ortlund)

The sufferings of Christ do fully repair the injury

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God may save any of the children of men without prejudice to the honour of his majesty. If men have affronted God, and that ever so much, if they have cast ever so much contempt on his authority; yet God can save them, if he pleases, and the honour of his majesty not suffer in the least.

If God should save those who have affronted him, without satisfaction, the honour of his majesty would suffer. For when contempt is cast upon infinite majesty, its honour suffers, and the contempt leaves an obscurity upon the honour of the divine majesty, if the injury is not repaired.

But the sufferings of Christ do fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honourable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender, and in the mediation suffer in his stead, it fully repairs the injury done to the majesty of heaven by the greatest sinner.

— Jonathan Edwards
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2
(Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997), 851

(HT: Of First Importance)

It is finished: A reflection on John 19:30

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Matthew Barrett:

Looking back upon the first half of the twentieth century, H. Richard Niebuhr famously described liberal Christianity’s understanding of the gospel like this: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” Sadly, such a view is alive and well today in the twenty-first century. The reason we cannot begin to fathom a God who is holy and just, and the reason we are so hostile to a God who executives his wrath and judgment is because we do not truly understand two things: (1) Just how holy God is, and (2) just how sinful we are.

Bad news

Because we do not understand how desperately wicked and depraved we are, nor how offensive and hideous our sin is to a righteous Judge, a God who pours out his wrath through a cross is offensive, foolish, detestable, and sour to our taste buds.

Unfortunately, many Christians today make the situation much worse. We simply approach the unbeliever and say, “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.” But for the unbeliever who has absorbed this view, our words make little sense. Be saved? From what? In other words, because they do not first understand the gravity of their sin, they see no need for a Savior who dies for the forgiveness of sins. We often view salvation as receiving eternal life (and rightly so). But we cannot forget that we are saved from something as well, and that is the wrath of God and eternal condemnation.

The entire storyline of Scripture is one that presents us with a massive problem: we are sinners and the judgment of God is coming. As Paul says in his letter to the church at Ephesus, prior to Christ each one of us is “dead” in our “trespasses” and “by nature” we are “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (2:1-2). We have a sin problem. Not only does our sin separate us from God, but we deserve the wrath of God to be brought down upon us for all eternity. The punishment for sin is death (Rom. 3:23). Adam discovered this in the garden, and as children of Adam, all of mankind is by nature under the wrath of God. This is the bad news.

Good news

But what makes Christianity Christianity is that this bad news is not the end of the story. While God would have been perfectly just to leave us in our sin and condemnation, he lovingly and graciously gave his only Son, Christ Jesus, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

What does John mean when he says God gave his only Son? This act of giving takes us back to Isaiah 53. Isaiah, prophesying about the Suffering Servant, the Messiah to come, says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:4-6). Isaiah goes on to say that this suffering servant is like a “lamb that is led to the slaughter” (53:7).

When we come to the cross and we see the enormous amount of suffering Jesus underwent, we tend to focus solely on his physical suffering: the crown of thorns, the nails, and the crucifix. But as important as all of this is, we cannot miss the main thing: the most excruciating thing about the suffering servant’s cross is that he bore the very wrath of God that was ours. The Lord laid upon Christ our iniquities and Christ took the due penalty for those iniquities. We see this and we hear it when Christ cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34). And then come three beautiful words, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

What is finished? Christ, as he says in the garden of Gethsamani, has drunk the cup of God’s wrath in full (Matt. 26:39), and by doing so, as Hebrews 1:3 reminds us, Christ “made purification for sins.” As our high priest Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11-12; cf. 9:13, 25-26).

Indeed, this is good news.

Sanctifying Success is the Lord’s

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Jared Wison:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Not a single one of us is a perfect repenter. And not a single one of us ever will be. I do believe we cooperate in the work of our sanctification, working out what God has worked in (Phil. 2:12-13), striving to lay hold of the holiness with which God has already laid hold of us (Phil. 3:12), holding true to what we’ve already attained (Phil. 3:16), but the power and the success of sanctification must be the Lord’s alone, if only because only he sees all we need cleansing from.

It is a mistake to think that as we progress in sanctification we have less sin to address. We walk through victories, successions of freedoms, but my experience has been that the further into Christ’s righteousness I press, the more of my own unworthiness I see, not the less. And even as the Spirit bears more and more fruit in my life, even as I learn to trust more and more, when I do finally cross that heavenly finish line, there will nevertheless still be sins unrepented, especially among the sins I don’t even remember or don’t even see. And I will pull my sorry self across that line, some stupid sin still entangled around my ankle, and I will look up to see Christ the Judge standing over me, looking down, considering my pitiful soul. And do you know what he will say? “Well done.”

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
– Jude 1:24-25

Beholding the glory of Christ

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It is by beholding the glory of Christ by faith that we are spiritually edified and built up in this world, for as we behold his glory, the life and power of faith grow stronger and stronger. It is by faith that we grow to love Christ. So if we desire strong faith and powerful love, which give us rest, peace and satisfaction, we must seek them diligently beholding the glory of Christ by faith. In this duty I desire to live and to die.

On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy.

— John Owen
The Glory of Christ
(Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 7

( HT: Of First Importance)

I long for a church where…

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Mack Stiles:

I long for a church that understands that it—the local church—is the chosen and best method of evangelism. I long for a church where the Christians are so in love with Jesus that when they go about the regular time of worship, they become an image of the gospel. I long for a church that disarms with love, not entertainment, and lives out countercultural confidence in the power of the gospel. I long for a church where the greatest celebrations happen over those who share their faith, and the heroes are those who risk their reputations to evangelize.

I yearn for a culture of evangelism with brothers and sisters whose backs are up to mine in the battle, where I’m taught and I teach about what it means to share our faith; and where I see leaders in the church leading people to Jesus. I want a church where you can point to changed lives, where you can see people stand up and say, ‘When I came to this church two years ago, I didn’t know God, but now I do!’ I long to be part of a culture of evangelism like that. I bet you do, too.

Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus

(HT: Tim Challies)

The Uniqueness and Universality of Jesus

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John Stott:

Only one way, only one name, only one God, only one Lord, only one Mediator. The claim is exclusive, and the implication inescapable. What is genuinely unique has universal significance and must be universally made known…

Thus uniqueness and universality belong together.

It is because God has super-exalted Jesus, and given him the unique name of ‘Lord’, towering above every other name, that every knee must bow to him. It is because Jesus Christ is the only Savior, that we are under obligation to proclaim him everywhere. The ‘inclusivism’ of the mission is precisely due to the ‘exclusivism’ of the Mediator.

In addition, universal authority over the nations has been given to him; that is why he commissions us to go and disciple the nations.

- John Stott, The Contemporary Christian

(HT: Trevin Wax)

A Watchman on the Walls

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Kevin DeYoung:

It is not the work of the pastor to say whatever seems relevant or whatever seems noncontroversial or whatever is especially interesting to itching ears. Our responsibility, before God and for the sake of God’s people, is to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 10:27).

The teachers of the church must disclose all of the glorious parts in Scripture and all the hard parts, all the promises and all the warnings, all the blessings and all the curses, all the parts that make us smile and all the parts that make us wince.

While we do not like to upset people and we do not wish to be thought uncouth, we answer to a higher authority. It is the solemn task of the preacher–weak and failing though he may be–to stand fast as a watchman on the walls. We cannot shrink back from the uncomfortable bits in the Bible (Acts 20: 20-21, 25-32). If we see the sword coming upon the land and refuse to blow the trumpet, the blood of the perishing will be upon our hands (Ezekiel 33:1-6).

It should make us shudder to think about some churches and pastors and what sort of judgment they might fall under when all they did was give people what they wanted to hear, instead of speaking to them of righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment (Acts 24:25).

“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” is what the Good Shepherd and most loving man who ever lived once said (Luke 13:3).

People may not want to hear hellfire and brimstone sermons. But as a pastor, I don’t want to face hellfire and brimstone for failing to preach as a dying man to dying men.

For the watchman on the walls must give a warning; he must speak of this judgment which is to come; he must herald the glorious salvation found in Christ alone; he must share the glad tidings of peace on earth and good will toward men; he must tell the hard news that we need a Savior, the unpopular news that there is only one Savior, and the unimaginably good news that there is one who actually saves.

O shepherds, may it never be that someone sitting under your preaching or someone subject to your elder care could stand before God on the Day of Judgment and say, “No one ever told me I needed a Savior.”