Category Archives: The Church

“Give me the cross of Christ!” by J.C. Ryle

“Let others, if they will, preach the law and morality. Let others hold forth the terrors of hell, and the joys of heaven. Let others drench their congregations with teachings about the sacraments and the church. Give me the cross of Christ!

This is the only lever which has ever turned the world upside down hitherto, and made men forsake their sins. And if this will not, nothing will. A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he knows something of the cross.

Never was there a minister who did much for the conversion of souls who did not dwell much on Christ crucified. Luther, Rutherford, Whitefield, M’Cheyne, were all most eminently preachers of the cross. This is the preaching that the Holy Ghost delights to bless. He loves to honour those who honour the cross.

The cross is the foundation of a Church’s prosperity. No Church will ever be honoured in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up: nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross.

Without it all things may be done decently and in order. Without it there may be splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor.

But without the cross no good will be done. Dark hearts will not be enlightened, proud hearts will not be humbled, mourning hearts will not be comforted, fainting hearts will not be cheered.

Sermons about the Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and schism,—sermons about fasts and communion,—sermons about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.

They may amuse some: they will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting room, and splendid gold plate on the table, will never make up to a hungry man for a lack of food.

Christ crucified is God’s ordinance for doing good to men. Whenever a Church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a Church ceases to be useful.

Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.”

–J.C. Ryle, Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (London: Charles J. Thynne, 1898), 257-259.

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“Prayer on Sunday after the Sermon” by Zacharias Ursinus

“Almighty God, heavenly Father, who has promised us that whatever we ask of you in the name of Your dear Son Jesus Christ, You will surely give to us. (John 16:23)

[Hallowed be Your name]

We ask You to work in us by Your Holy Spirit, so that we may rightly know You, and sanctify, glorify, and praise You in all Your works, in which shine forth Your omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth. Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life—thoughts, words, and deeds—that Your name is not blasphemed because of us but honored and praised.

[Your kingdom come]

Rule us also by the scepter of Your Word and the power of Your Holy Spirit that we and all men may daily more and more surrender and submit to Your Majesty. Preserve and increase Your Church. Destroy all works of the devil, and every false and wicked counsel conceived against Your holy Word. Bring to ruin Your enemies by the power of Your truth and righteousness, so that every power that raises itself against Your honor may be more and more destroyed and demolished each day, until the fullness of Your kingdom comes, when on the final day You will reveal Your glory in us and You will be all in all forevermore.

[Your will be done]

Grant also that we and all men may deny our own will and all the lust of our flesh, and without any murmuring obey Your will, which alone is good. Grant that everyone may carry out the duties of his office and calling as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.

[Give us today our daily bread]

Provide us also with all our bodily needs, peace, and a good government, so that we may acknowledge that You are the only fountain of all good, and a faithful Father who cares for His children; that also our care and labor, and also Your gifts, cannot do us any good without Your blessing. Grant, therefore, that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures and put it only in You.

[Forgive us our debts]

And for the sake of the shedding of Christ’s blood, do not impute to us, poor sinners, any of our transgressions and debts, nor the evil which still clings to us, as we also find this evidence of Your grace in our hearts that we desire to wholeheartedly forgive our neighbor and increase His benefit.

[And lead us not into temptation, etc.]

And because we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand even for a moment, and moreover, our sworn enemies—the devil, the world, and our own flesh—do not cease to attack us. Will You, therefore, keep and strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may firmly resist them and not go down to defeat in this spiritual war, but remain persistent until we finally obtain the complete victory and reign together with Your Son, our Lord and Protector, Jesus Christ, in Your kingdom forevermore.

All this we ask from You, not so that we, but that You may be praised forevermore, and because You are able to do so as Almighty God, and are also willing as a faithful Father, as certainly as we wholeheartedly desire these things from You, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.”

—Zacharias Ursinus, “Palatinate Church Order (1563),” as quoted in Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 614-615.

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“It is an eternal Word” by Martin Luther

“And this is the sum of the matter: Let everything be done so that the Word may have free course instead of the prattling and rattling that has been the rule up to now.

We can spare everything except the Word. Again, we profit by nothing as much as by the Word.

For the whole Scripture shows that the Word should have free course among Christians. And in Luke 10:42, Christ Himself says, ‘One thing is needful,’ i.e., that Mary sit at the feet of Christ and hear His word daily.

This is the best part to choose and it shall not be taken away forever. It is an eternal Word.

Everything else must pass away, no matter how much care and trouble it may give Martha. God help us achieve this. Amen.”

–Martin Luther, “Concerning the Order for Public Worship,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 53: Liturgy and Hymns (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 53; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 53: 14.

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“The more often I preached, the more joy I found in the happy service” by Charles Spurgeon

“Before I came to London, I usually preached three times on the Lord’s Day, and five nights every week. And after I became Pastor at New Park Street Chapel, that average was fully maintained.

Within two or three years, it was considerably exceeded, for it was no uncommon experience for me to preach twelve or thirteen times a week, and to travel hundreds of miles by road or rail.

Requests to take services in all parts of the metropolis and the provinces poured in upon me, and being in the full vigour of early manhood, I gladly availed myself of every opportunity of preaching the gospel which had been so greatly blessed to my own soul.

In after years, when weakness and pain prevented me from doing all that I would willingly have done for my dear Lord, I often comforted myself with the thought that I did serve Him with all my might while I could, though even then I always felt that I could never do enough for Him who had loved me, and given Himself for me.

Some of my ministerial brethren used to mourn over the heavy burden that rested upon them because they had to deliver their Master’s message twice on the Lord’s Day, and once on a weeknight.

But I could not sympathize with them in their complaints, for the more often I preached, the more joy I found in the happy service.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1854–1860 (vol. 2; Chicago; New York; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1899), 81.

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“Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven” by Jonathan Gibson

“The story of human history, from beginning to end, is the story of worship. This is because God has so structured His world that every person will worship through one of two men—Adam or Jesus Christ.

The first man Adam was made homo liturgicus, and everyone bearing his image has inherited his fallen liturgical orientation toward idolatry. We are born worshiping the creature, not the Creator; we live our lives seeking salvation and satisfaction in pseudo-redeemers, not the Redeemer.

We are a restless race, wandering ‘east,’ away from the divine sanctuary. But, through the Second Man Jesus Christ, we have the invitation to return and worship God aright in spirit and truth, in His presence.

Through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the true Homo Liturgicus—God has opened a way back into His presence.

Since the first son of God, Adam, through the national (typical) son of God, Israel, and the royal (typical) son of God, Solomon, to the final (last-days) Son of God, Jesus, and now the (redeemed) sons of God, the Church—God has been seeking a people to worship Him.

We are called to worship, and our hearts are restless until we respond to that call by faith and obedience, and come and feast on Christ: ‘[W]hoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35).

The consummate experience of this truth must await the final day when we will feast on, and with, the glorified Son of God Himself, at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

For now, it is right, fitting, and delightful to worship as God’s redeemed people; then, it will be right, fitting, and delightful to do so as God’s glorified people. It is why worship matters now—because it will matter then, forever.

And so, as we gather each Lord’s Day, between the now and not yet of God’s kingdom, let us worship God for who is He, as one eternal God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and for what He has done in creation and redemption, and for what He will do in the coming consummation.

Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven.”

–Jonathan Gibson, “Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven,” Reformation Worship, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 20-21.

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“The church’s marriage with the Lamb” by Jonathan Edwards

“Above all, the time of Christ’s last coming is the time of the consummation of the church’s marriage with the Lamb, and the time of the complete and most perfect joy of the wedding.

In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in our heavens, shining in all His brightness and glory, He will come forth as a bridegroom.

He shall come in the glory of His Father, with all His holy angels. And at that glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ, shall the whole elect church, complete as to every individual member and each member with the whole man, both body and soul, and both in perfect glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with the Lord.

That will be a joyful meeting of this glorious bridegroom and bride indeed. Then the bridegroom will appear in all His glory without any veil.

And then the saints shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and at the right hand of their Redeemer and then the church will appear as the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

’Tis the state of the church after the resurrection, that is spoken of, Rev. 21:2, ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband.’ And v. 9, ‘Come hither; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’

Then will come the time, when Christ will sweetly invite His spouse to enter in with Him into the palace of His glory, which He had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall as it were take her by the hand, and lead her in with Him.

And this glorious bridegroom and bride shall with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven, the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them.

And this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father.

When Christ shall say, ‘Here am I, and the children which Thou has given Me,’ and they both shall in that relation and union, together receive the Father’s blessing, and shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love of the Father.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage to Her Sons, and to Her God,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1743–1758 (ed. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout; vol. 25; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2006), 25: 183–184.

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“Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136” by James Montgomery Boice

“The word that is used for ‘love’ in this refrain is the powerful Hebrew term hesed, which means ‘covenant love’ or the favor God shows to those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. Sometimes it is translated ‘steadfast (or ‘enduring’) love.’ It is enduring because God is a God of His word. He is forever good, and He does not break His covenant.

One night in February 358 A.D. the church father Athanasius held an all-night service at his church in Alexandria, Egypt. He had been leading the fight for the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ, knowing that the survival of Christianity depended on it. He had many enemies—for political even more than theological reasons—and they moved the power of the Roman government against him. That night the church was surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords. People were frightened.

With calm presence of mind Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136. The vast congregation responded, thundering forth twenty-six times, ‘His love endures forever.’ When the soldiers burst through the doors they were staggered by the singing. Athanasius kept his place until the congregation was dispersed. Then he too disappeared in the darkness and found refuge with his friends.

Many citizens of Alexandria were killed that night, but the people of Athanasius’s congregation never forgot that although man is evil, God is good. He is superlatively good, and ‘His love endures forever.'”

–James Montgomery Boice, Psalms: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 3: 1185. Boice is commenting on Psalm 136.

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