“Christ is Himself Christianity” by Herman Bavinck

“Christianity stands in a very different relationship to the person of Christ than the other religions do to the persons who founded them. Jesus was not the first confessor of the religion named after His name.

He was not the first and the most important Christian. He occupies a wholly unique place in Christianity.

He is not in the usual sense of it the founder of Christianity, but He is the Christ, the One who was sent by the Father, and who founded His Kingdom on earth and now extends and preserves it to the end of the ages.

Christ is Himself Christianity. He stands, not outside, but inside of it. Without His name, person, and work there is no such thing as Christianity.

In one word, Christ is not the one who points the way to Christianity, but the Way itself. He is the only, true, and perfect Mediator between God and men.

That which the various religions in their belief in a mediator have surmised and hoped, that is actually and perfectly fulfilled in Christ.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 263.

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“We owe God a love more for what He is in Himself, than for what He is to us” by Stephen Charnock

“We owe God a love for what He is in Himself; and more for what He is, than for what He is to us.

God is more worthy of our affections because He is the eternal God, than because He is our Creator; because He is more excellent in His nature than in His transient actions.

The ‘Ancient of Days’ is to be served before all that are younger than Himself.

As God is infinite, He hath right to a boundless service; as He is eternal, He hath right to a perpetual service.

If God be infinite and eternal, He merits an honour and comportment from His creatures suited to the unlimited perfection of His nature, and the duration of His being. How worthy is the psalmist’s resolution, ‘I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have any being,’ (Ps. 104:33).

It is the use he makes of the endless duration of the glory of God, and will extend to all other service as well as praise. To serve other things, or to serve ourselves, is to waste a service upon that which is nothing.

In devoting ourselves to God, we serve Him that is;

–we serve Him that was, so as that He never began;

–we serve Him that is to come, so as that He never shall end;

–we serve Him by whom all things are what they are;

–and we serve Him who hath both eternal knowledge to remember our service and eternal goodness to reward it.”

–Stephen Charnock, “The Eternity of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 373.

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“Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1936” by Wilbur L. Cross

“Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.”

–Wilbur L. Cross, “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1936,” in Proclamations of His Excellency Wilbur L. Cross Governor of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Lockwood and Brainerd Co., 1937), 16.

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“A weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain” by C.S. Lewis

“To be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son— it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”

–C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 1949/2001), 39.

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“If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?” by John Owen

“This will be exceeding effectual to endear thy soul unto God, to cause thee to delight in Him, and to make thy abode with Him.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives, than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God;—that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close walking with Him.

What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not their unskilfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love?

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in Him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him.

But if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto Him.

This, if any thing, will work upon us to make our abode with Him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in Him.

I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the streams.

You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 35-36.

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“The cross and criticism” by Alfred J. Poirier

“The cross of Christ reminds me that the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me. And because of this, God has thoroughly and forever accepted me in Christ.

Here is how grace works: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit (Gal. 3:13f).

What a sure foundation for the soul! Now, I don’t practice self-justification, but boasting—boasting about Christ’s righteousness for me.

If you truly take this to heart, the whole world can stand against you, denounce you, or criticize you, and you will be able to reply, “If God has justified me, who can condemn me?” “If God justifies me, accepts me, and will never forsake me, then why should I feel insecure and fear criticism?” “Christ took my sins, and I receive His Spirit. Christ takes my condemnation, and I receive His righteousness.”

In light of God’s judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. By agreeing with God’s criticism of me in Christ’s cross, I can face any criticism man may lay against me.

In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross has. And the most devastating criticism turns out to be the finest mercy.

If you thus know yourself as having been crucified with Christ, then you can respond to any criticism, even mistaken or hostile criticism, without bitterness, defensiveness, or blameshifting. Such responses typically exacerbate and intensify conflict, and lead to the rupture of relationships. You can learn to hear criticism as constructive and not condemnatory because God has justified you.

  • Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? (Rom. 8:33–34a).
  • Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it (Ps. 141:5).

If I know myself as crucified with Christ, I can now receive another’s criticism with this attitude:

‘You have not discovered a fraction of my guilt. Christ has said more about my sin, my failings, my rebellion and my foolishness than any man can lay against me. I thank you for your corrections. They are a blessing and a kindness to me. For even when they are wrong or misplaced, they remind me of my true faults and sins for which my Lord and Savior paid dearly when He went to the cross for me. I want to hear where your criticisms are valid.’

The correction and advice that we hear are sent by our heavenly Father. They are His corrections, rebukes, warnings, and scoldings. His reminders are meant to humble me, to weed out the root of pride and replace it with a heart and lifestyle of growing wisdom, understanding, goodness, and truth.

I do not fear man’s criticism for I have already agreed with God’s criticism. And I do not look ultimately for man’s approval for I have gained by grace God’s approval.

In fact, His love for me helps me to hear correction and criticism as a kindness, oil on my head, from my Father who loves me and says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son’ (Heb. 12:5–6).”

–Alfred J. Poirier, “The Cross and Criticism,” ed. David A. Powlison, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Number 3, Spring 1999 17 (1999): 18-20.

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“You have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“It is in our Lord’s prayer, when He is in the inner sanctuary speaking with the Father, that we have these words, ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine.’ (John 17:10)

Here is the Son speaking to the Father, not about thrones and royalties, nor cherubim and seraphim, but about poor men and women, in those days mostly fishermen and peasant folk, who believed on Him.

They are talking about these people, and the Son is taking His own solace with the Father in their secret privacy by talking about these precious jewels, these dear ones that are their peculiar treasure.

You have not any notion how much God loves you.

Dear brother, dear sister, you have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ.

You think, because you are so imperfect, and you fall so much below your own ideal, that, therefore, He does not love you much; you think that He cannot do so.

Have you ever measured the depth of Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, and of His death on Calvary? If you have tried to do so, you will be quite sure that, apart from anything in you or about you, He loves you with a love that passeth knowledge.

Believe it. ‘But I do not love Him as I should,’ I think, I hear you say. No, and you never will unless you first know His love to you.

Believe it; believe it to the highest degree, that He so loves you that, when there is no one who can commune with Him but the Father, even then their converse is about their mutual estimate of you, how much they love you: ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ’s Pastoral Prayer for His People,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 39: 507–508. Spurgeon preached this sermon on John 17:9-10 on the Lord’s Day evening of September 1, 1889 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

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