Tag Archives: Cross

“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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“Prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away” by John Newton

“One trial abides with me: a body of sin and death, an inward principle of evil, which renders all I do defective and defiled.

But even here I find cause for thankfulness, for with such a heart as I have, my sad story would soon be much worse if the Lord were not my keeper.

By this I may know that He favours me, since weak and variable as I am in myself, and powerful and numerous as my enemies are, they have not yet prevailed against me.

And I am admitted to a throne of grace, I have an Advocate with the Father. And such is the power, care, and compassion of my great Shepherd that, prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away.

When I am wounded, He heals me.

When I faint, He revives me again.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 170.

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“I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour” by John Newton

“Near the end, William Jay visited his friend Newton, who was then barely able to speak.

But Newton said: ‘My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.'”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 401.

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“His grace can soften the hardest heart” by John Newton

“O praise the Lord with me, for He has done great things for us, and I trust He will do yet more in His own set time, and in His own way, which must be the best.

What shall I say of Old Seventy-Eight? I thank the Lord, my health is remarkably good. I eat, drink, and sleep well. But my sight, hearing, and recollection greatly fail me. I can seldom remember what I saw, heard, or said, but two hours before.

Yet when in the pulpit, I am not often much at a loss. I still preach as long, as loud, as often, as formerly, and my auditory are still willing to hear me. The church was never more thronged, nor the hearers more attentive.

Indeed I am a wonder to many and to myself. I am a stranger to sickness and pain; but there is a cloud over my spirit, a nervous affliction so that though I am mercifully supported, and have some daylight in the path of duty I take but little comfort in anything.

I walk in comparative darkness but I am encouraged, and in some measure enabled, to stay myself in the Lord, and to trust in Him, as my God (Isaiah 50:10).

Perhaps this depression may be owing in part to old age. I often compare myself to Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:31-38), who, when he was but a little older than I, had lost all relish for what is called pleasure.

But, precious Bible, what a treasure!

Blessed be the Lord, I can see that my acceptance, and perseverance, do not depend upon my frames or feelings, but upon the power, compassion, care and faithfulness of Him, who in the midst of all the changes to which we are exposed in this wilderness state, is unchangeably the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

O what a horrid wretch was I when on board the Harwich, on the coast of Africa, and too long afterwards. Surely no one who did not finally perish was ever more apparently given up to a reprobate mind!

I am a singular and striking proof, that the atoning blood of Jesus can cleanse from the most enormous sins, that His grace can soften the hardest heart, subdue the most obstinate habits of evil, and that He is indeed able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Lord I believe, O help me against my unbelief (Mark 9:24). I have been, yea to this day, I am a chief sinner, and yet I am permitted to preach the truth I once laboured to destroy.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 396-397.

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“The older I grow” by John Newton

“The older I grow, the more I am drawn to preach much concerning

the person of the Saviour,

the atonement of the Saviour,

the glory of the Saviour,

and the influences of the Holy Spirit.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 232.

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“All our tears wiped away” by John Newton

“Accept this hasty line as a token my sympathy.

May the Lord bless you both.

And may we all so weep as becomes those who expect, ere long, to have all our tears wiped away.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 187.

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“Oh it is a mercy that people need not be learned in order to receive the Gospel” by John Newton

“Oh it is a mercy that people need not to be learned men, fine reasoners, metaphysicians, in order to receive the Gospel and be happy!”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 155.

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