Category Archives: J. Gresham Machen

“He atoned for all our sins” by J. Gresham Machen

“This business of letting by-gones be by-gones has a pleasant sound. But in reality it is the most heartless thing in the world.

It will not do at all even in the case of sins committed against our fellow-men. To say nothing of sin against God, what shall be done about the harm that we have wrought to our neighbor?

Sometimes, no doubt, the harm can be repaired. If we have defrauded our neighbor of a sum of money, we can pay the sum back with interest. But in the case of the more serious wrongs such repayment is usually quite impossible.

The more serious wrongs are those that are done, not to the bodies, but to the souls of men. And who can think with complacency of wrongs of that kind which he has committed?

Who can bear to think, for example, of the harm that he has done to those younger than himself by a bad example? And what of those sad words, spoken to those we love, that have left scars never to be obliterated by the hand of time?

In the presence of such memories, we are told by the modern preacher simply to repent and to let by-gones be by-gones. But what a heartless thing is such repentance!

We escape into some higher, happier, respectable life. But what of those whom we by our example and by our words have helped to drag down to the brink of hell? We forget them and let by-gones be by-gones!

Such repentance will never wipe out the guilt of sin— not even sin committed against our fellow-men, to say nothing of sin against our God.

The truly penitent man longs to wipe out the effects of sin, not merely to forget sin. But who can wipe out the effects of sin? Others are suffering because of our past sins; and we can attain no real peace until we suffer in their stead.

We long to go back into the tangle of our life, and make right the things that are wrong—at least to suffer where we have caused others to suffer.

And something like that Christ did for us when He died instead of us on the cross; He atoned for all our sins.

The sorrow for sins committed against one’s fellowmen does indeed remain in the Christian’s heart. And he will seek by every means that is within his power to repair the damage that he has done.

But atonement at least has been made—made as truly as if the sinner himself had suffered with and for those whom he has wronged. And the sinner himself, by a mystery of grace, becomes right with God.

All sin at bottom is a sin against God. ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned’ is the cry of a true penitent.

How terrible is the sin against God! Who can recall the wasted moments and years? Gone they are, never to return; gone the little allotted span of life; gone the little day in which a man must work. Who can measure the irrevocable guilt of a wasted life?

Yet even for such guilt God has provided a fountain of cleansing in the precious blood of Christ. God has clothed us with Christ’s righteousness as with a garment; in Christ we stand spotless before the judgment throne.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (New Edition.; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 109–110.

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“Childlike faith” by J. Gresham Machen

“What mars the simplicity of the childlike faith which Jesus commends is not an admixture of knowledge, but an admixture of self-trust. To receive the kingdom as a little child is to receive it as a free gift without seeking in the slightest measure to earn it for one’s self.

There is a rebuke here for any attempt to earn salvation by one’s own character, by one’s own obedience to God’s commands, by one’s own establishment in one’s life of the principles of Jesus; but there is no rebuke whatever for an intelligent faith that is founded upon the facts.

The childlike simplicity of faith is marred sometimes by ignorance, but never by knowledge; it will never be marred—and never has been marred in the lives of the great theologians—by the blessed knowledge of God and of the Saviour Jesus Christ which is contained in the Word of God.

Without that knowledge we might be tempted to trust partly in ourselves; but with it we trust wholly to God. The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we trust Him; the greater be our progress in theology, the simpler and more childlike will be our faith.”

–J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith? (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1925/1991), 95.

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“He is risen” by J. Gresham Machen

“What was it that within a few days transformed a band of mourners into the spiritual conquerors of the world? It was not the memory of Jesus’ life; it was not the inspiration which came from past contact with Him.

But it was the message, ‘He is risen.’ That message alone gave to the disciples a living Saviour; and it alone can give to us a living Saviour today.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923/2009), 35-36.

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“The miracle of all miracles” by J. Gresham Machen

“The very point of the Christian view of the cross is that God does not wait for someone else to pay the price of sin, but in His infinite love has Himself paid the price for us– God Himself in the person of the Son, loved us and gave Himself for us; God Himself in the person of the Father, who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

It is a strange thing that when men talk about the love of God, they show by every word that they utter that they have no conception at all of the depths of God’s love.

If you want to find an instance of true gratitude for the infinite grace of God, do not go to those who think of God’s love as something that cost nothing, but go rather to those who in agony of soul have faced the awful fact of the guilt of sin, and then have come to know with a trembling wonder that the miracle of all miracles has been accomplished, and that the eternal Son has died in their stead.”

–J. Gresham Machen, “What the Bible Teaches About Jesus,” in Selected Shorter Writings, ed. D.G. Hart. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004), 31-2.

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The Liberal Jesus and the Real Jesus by J. Gresham Machen

“The liberal Jesus, despite all the efforts of modern psychological reconstruction to galvanize Him into life, remains a manufactured figure of the stage. Very different is the Jesus of the New Testament and of the great Scriptural creeds. That Jesus is indeed mysterious. Who can fathom the mystery of His Person?

But the mystery is a mystery in which a man can rest. The Jesus of the New Testament has at least one advantage over the Jesus of modern reconstruction– He is real. He is not a manufactured figure suitable as a point of support for ethical maxims, but a genuine Person whom a man can love. Men have loved Him through all the Christian centuries. And the strange thing is that despite all the efforts to remove Him from the pages of history, there are those who love Him still.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 116

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Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

“In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), pp. 1-2.

“The great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 2.

“What prophet ever spoke in this way? The prophets said, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ but Jesus said ‘I say.’ We have no mere prophet here, no mere humble exponent of the will of God; but a stupendous Person speaking in a manner which for any other person would be abominable and absurd.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 36.

“Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity– liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, which Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 47.

“Indifferentism about doctrine makes no heroes of the faith.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 51.

“At the very root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the consciousness of sin.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 64.

“Without the consciousness of sin, the whole of the gospel will seem to be an idle tale.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 66.

“It (that is Christian experience) is a fair flower, and should be prized as a gift of God. But cut it from its root in the blessed Book, and it soon withers away and dies.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 72.

“Liberalism regards Him as an Example and Guide; Christianity, as a Saviour: liberalism makes Him an example for faith; Christianity, the object of faith.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), p. 96.

“The greatest menace to the Christian Church today comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923. Reprinted 2001), pp. 159-160.

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