“The grandest Spectacle ever devised” by Tony Reinke

“Into the spectacle-loving world, with all of its spectacle makers and spectacle-making industries, came the grandest Spectacle ever devised in the mind of God and brought about in world history—the cross of Christ. It is the hinge of history, the point of contact between BC and AD, where all time collides, where all human spectacles meet one unsurpassed, cosmic, divine spectacle.”

–Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 77.

#competingspectacles

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“Let us first humbly beseech our most great and most wonderful God” by Franciscus Junius

“As we are about to discuss theology, that shared storehouse of divine and saving wisdom, let us first humbly beseech our most great and most wonderful God, from whom all wisdom and warm generosity proceeds, that He may condescend by the light of His own everlasting Spirit to illuminate us in this most holy undertaking and to lead us into all truth, in accordance with His own promise in Christ Jesus.

Next, if in this project we, by God’s blessing, produce anything useful and sound, may He display that same blessing of His own as saving to those who are going to read our late-night musing.

By this, His glory in us all can be more firmly established, and we in turn can grow in Him, until we attain to that proper stature of the mature man, and reach the fullness of Christ.”

—Franciscus Junius, A Treatise on True Theology: With the Life of Franciscus Junius, trans. David C. Noe (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1594/2014), 91.

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“For to me to live is Christ” by John Eadie

“Christ, says the Apostle, shall be magnified in my body by life, ‘for to me to live is Christ.’ Christ and life were one and the same thing to him.

Might not the sentiment be thus expanded? For me to live is Christ:

—the preaching of Christ the business of my life
—the presence of Christ the cheer of my life
—the image of Christ the crown of my life
—the Spirit of Christ the life of my life
—the love of Christ the power of my life
—the will of Christ the law of my life
—and the glory of Christ the end of my life.

Christ was the absorbing element of his life. If he travelled, it was on Christ’s errand; if he suffered, it was in Christ’s service. When he spoke, his theme was Christ; and when he wrote, Christ filled his letters…

And when did the Apostle utter this sentiment? It was not as he rose from the earth, dazzled into blindness by the Redeemer’s glory, and the words of the first commission were ringing in his ears.

It was not in Damascus, while, as the scales fell from his sight, he recognized the Lord’s goodness and power, and his baptism proclaimed his formal admission to the church.

Nor was it in Arabia, where supernatural wisdom so fully unfolded to him the facts and truths which he was uniformly to proclaim. It sprang not from any momentary elation as at Cyprus, where he confounded the sorcerer, and converted the Roman proconsul.

No, the resolution was written at Rome in bonds, and after years of unparalleled toil and suffering. His past career had been signalized by stripes, imprisonment, deaths, shipwreck, and unnumbered perils, but he did not regret them.

He had been ‘in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness,’ but his ardour was unchilled; and let him only be freed, and his life prolonged, and his motto still would be—’For me to live is Christ.’

It did not repent the venerable confessor now, when he was old, infirm, and a prisoner, with a terrible doom suspended over him, that he had done so much, travelled so much, spoken so much, and suffered so much for Christ.

Nor was the statement like a suspicious vow in a scene of danger, which is too often wrung from cowardice, and held up as a bribe to the Great Preserver, but forgotten when the crisis passes, and he who made it laughs at his own timidity.

No. It was no new course the Apostle proposed—it was only a continuation of those previous habits which his bondage had for a season interrupted. Could there be increase to a zeal that had never flagged, or could those labours be multiplied which had filled every moment and called out every energy?

In fine, the saying was no idle boast, like that of Peter at the Last Supper—the flash of a sudden enthusiasm so soon to be drowned in tears. For the apostle had the warrant of a long career to justify his assertion, and who can doubt that he would have verified it, and nobly shown that still, as hitherto, for him to live was Christ?

He sighed not under the burden, as if age needed repose; or sank into self-complacency, as if he had done enough, for the Lord’s commission was still upon him, and the wants of the world were so numerous and pressing, as to claim his last word, and urge his last step.

It was such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ, who placed on record the memorable clause, inscribed also on his heart—’for me to live is Christ.'”

–John Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (ed. W. Young; Second Edition.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1884), 51–51-52.

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“He could have given us nothing more excellent” by Francis Turretin

“He in whom we are beloved is Christ, the delight of His heavenly Father and the ‘express image of His person.’ He could have given us nothing more excellent, nothing dearer, even if He had given the whole universe.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (ed. James T. Dennison Jr.; trans. George Musgrave Giger; vol. 1; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 242. (3.20.6)

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“These four things” by Francis Turretin

“These four things in the highest manner commend the love of God towards us:

(1) the majesty of the Lover;

(2) the poverty and unworthiness of the loved;

(3) the worth of Him in whom we are loved;

(4) the multitude and excellence of the gifts which flow out from that love to us.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (ed. James T. Dennison Jr.; trans. George Musgrave Giger; vol. 1; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 1: 242. (3.20.6)

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“Being Lord He became a servant” by John Calvin

He became obedient. (Philippians 2:8) Even this was immense humility, that from being Lord He became a servant.

But he says that He went farther than this, because, while He was not only immortal but the Lord of life and death, He nevertheless became obedient to His Father, even so far as to undergo death.

This was extreme abasement, especially when we consider the kind of death, which he immediately adds to emphasize it. For by dying in this way He was not only covered with ignominy in the sight of men, but also accursed in the sight of God.

It is assuredly such an example of humility as ought to absorb the attention of all men. It is impossible to explain it in words suitable to its greatness.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 249. Calvin is commenting on Philippians 2:8.

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“Over-long sermons” by John Newton

“Secondly (as we say), as to long preaching. There is still in being an old-fashioned instrument called an hour-glass, which in days of yore, before clocks and watches abounded, used to be the measure of many a good sermon, and I think it a tolerable stint.

I cannot wind up my ends to my own satisfaction in a much shorter time, nor am I pleased with myself if I greatly exceed it. If an angel was to preach for two hours, unless his hearers were angels likewise, I believe the greater part of them would wish he had done.

It is a shame it should be so: but so it is; partly through the weakness and partly through the wickedness of the flesh, we can seldom stretch our attention to spiritual things for two hours together without cracking it, and hurting its spring: and when weariness begins, edification ends.

Perhaps it is better to feed our people like chickens, a little and often, than to cram them like turkeys, till they cannot hold one gobbet more. Besides, over-long sermons break in upon family concerns, and often call off the thoughts from the sermon to the pudding at home, which is in danger of being over-boiled.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1824/2006), 2: 163.

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