Category Archives: Wisdom

“The riddles of God” by G.K. Chesterton

“In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, the right method is to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.

This, I say, is the first fact touching the speech (i.e. Job 38-42); the fine inspiration by which God comes in at the end, not to answer riddles, but to propound them. The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the world work religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable.

Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told.

The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Book of Job,” in On Lying in Bed and Other Essays, Ed. Alberto Manguel (Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2000), 176.

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“The way to do a great deal” by Charles Spurgeon

“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Luminous Words,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 43 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1897), 43: 618.

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“God’s excellent gifts” by John Calvin

“Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts.

If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God.

For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity?

Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably?

Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen?

No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how pre-eminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God?

Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts.

Those men whom Scripture calls ‘natural men’ (1 Cor. 2:14) were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things.

Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 2.2.15: pp. 273–275.

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“Almighty wisdom” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us notice, secondly, in these verses, how all things in our Lord’s passion happened according to God’s word. His own address to those who took Him, exhibits this in a striking manner: ‘the Scriptures must be fulfilled.’

There was no accident or chance in any part of the close of our Lord’s earthly ministry. The steps in which He walked from Gethsemane to Calvary, were all marked out hundreds of years before.

The twenty-second Psalm, and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, were literally fulfilled. The wrath of His enemies,—His rejection by His own people,—His being dealt with as a malefactor,—His being condemned by the assembly of the wicked,—all had been foreknown, and all foretold.

All that took place was only the working out of God’s great design to provide an atonement for a world’s sin. The armed men whom Judas brought to lay hands on Jesus, were, like Nebuchadnezzar and Sennacherib, unconscious instruments in carrying God’s purposes into effect.

Let us rest our souls on the thought, that all around us is ordered and overruled by God’s almighty wisdom. The course of this world may often be contrary to our wishes.

The position of the Church may often be very, unlike what we desire. The wickedness of worldly men, and the inconsistencies of believers, may often afflict our souls.

But there is a hand above us, moving the vast machine of this universe, and making all things work together for His glory. The Scriptures are being yearly fulfilled.

Not one jot or tittle in them shall ever fail to be accomplished. The kings of the earth may take counsel together, and the rulers of the nations may set themselves against Christ. (Psal. 2:2.)

But the resurrection morning shall prove that, even at the darkest time, all things were being done according to the will of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (London: William Hunt, 1859), 322–323. Ryle is commenting on Mark 14:43-52.

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“A piece of advice” by C.S. Lewis

“Oh–I’d nearly forgotten–I have one other piece of advice. Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do.

(1) Things we ought to do

(2) Things we’ve got to do

(3) Things we like doing.

I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons, things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them.

Things you ought to do are things like doing one’s school work or being nice to people. Things one has got to do are things like dressing and undressing, or household shopping.

Things one likes doing–but of course I don’t know what you like. Perhaps you’ll write and tell me one day.

Of course I always mention you in my prayers and will most especially on Saturday. Do the same for me.

Your affectionate godfather,

C.S. Lewis

Magdalen College
Oxford
April 3, 1949″

–C.S. Lewis, “To Sarah” in C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, (New York: Touchstone, 1985), 27.

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“All the treasures of celestial wisdom” by John Calvin

“The only way by which we can persevere in the right faith is to hold to the foundation, and not in the smallest degree to depart from it. For he who holds not to Christ knows nothing but mere vanity, though he may comprehend heaven and earth. For in Christ are included all the treasures of celestial wisdom. There is no other way of being truly wise than by fixing all our thoughts on Christ alone.”

–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, trans. John Owen (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1853), 74-76. Calvin is commenting on Hebrews 13:8.

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“There is no middle ground” by D.A. Carson

“Ultimately wisdom is from the world and is opposed by God, or it is God-given and tied to the cross. There is no middle ground.”

–D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 62.

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