Tag Archives: Gospel

“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.

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Humility, Jesus Christ, Pride, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“You have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“It is in our Lord’s prayer, when He is in the inner sanctuary speaking with the Father, that we have these words, ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine.’ (John 17:10)

Here is the Son speaking to the Father, not about thrones and royalties, nor cherubim and seraphim, but about poor men and women, in those days mostly fishermen and peasant folk, who believed on Him.

They are talking about these people, and the Son is taking His own solace with the Father in their secret privacy by talking about these precious jewels, these dear ones that are their peculiar treasure.

You have not any notion how much God loves you.

Dear brother, dear sister, you have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ.

You think, because you are so imperfect, and you fall so much below your own ideal, that, therefore, He does not love you much; you think that He cannot do so.

Have you ever measured the depth of Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, and of His death on Calvary? If you have tried to do so, you will be quite sure that, apart from anything in you or about you, He loves you with a love that passeth knowledge.

Believe it. ‘But I do not love Him as I should,’ I think, I hear you say. No, and you never will unless you first know His love to you.

Believe it; believe it to the highest degree, that He so loves you that, when there is no one who can commune with Him but the Father, even then their converse is about their mutual estimate of you, how much they love you: ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ’s Pastoral Prayer for His People,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 39: 507–508. Spurgeon preached this sermon on John 17:9-10 on the Lord’s Day evening of September 1, 1889 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Charles Spurgeon, Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“After the cross, death is less” by Herman Bavinck

‘Mors post crucem minor est.’

‘After the cross, death is less.’

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 1: 493, fn. #168.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Death, Herman Bavinck, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Resurrection, The Gospel

“He deserves our all, for He parted with all for us” by John Newton

“Our relief lies in the wisdom and sovereignty of God. He reveals His salvation to whom He pleases, for the most part to babes; from the bulk of the wise and the prudent it is hidden.

Thus it hath pleased Him, and therefore it must be right. Yea, He will one day condescend to justify the propriety and equity of His proceedings to His creatures; then every mouth will be stopped, and none will be able to reply against their Judge.

Light is come into the world, but men prefer darkness. They hate the light, resist it, and rebel against it. It is true, all do so; and therefore, if all were to perish under the condemnation, their ruin would be their own act.

It is of grace that any are saved; and in the distribution of that grace, He does what He will with His own: a right which most are ready enough to claim in their own concerns, though they are so unwilling to allow it to the Lord of all. Many perplexing and acrimonious disputes have been started upon this subject.

But the redeemed of the Lord are called not to dispute, but to admire and rejoice, to love, adore, and obey. To know that He loved us, and gave Himself for us, is the constraining argument and motive to love Him, and surrender ourselves to Him; to consider ourselves as no longer our own, but to devote ourselves, with every faculty, power, and talent, to His service and glory.

He deserves our all; for He parted with all for us. He made himself poor, he endured shame, torture, death, and the curse, for us, that we, through Him, might inherit everlasting life.

Ah! the hardness of my heart, that I am no more affected, astonished, overpowered, with this thought!”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 485-486.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, John Newton, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures” by Michael Reeves

“In revealing Himself, not only does the Father send His Son in the power of His Spirit; together the Father and the Son send the Spirit to make the Son known. The Son makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Son known.

He does this first of all by breathing out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:11-12) so that in them, the ‘word of Christ,’ Christ may be known (Rom. 10:17; Col. 3:16).

Does this mean that we are, in fact, back to God just giving us a book, as in Islam? Far from it, for– as we shall see if you can bear the wait– God the Spirit not only inspires Scripture, He also comes to us. Indeed, He comes into us. There could be no greater intimacy than with this God.

What it does mean is that the point of all the Scriptures is to make Christ known. As the Son makes His Father known, so the Spirit-breathed Scriptures make the Son known.

Paul wrote to Timothy of how ‘from infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). He is referring to the Old Testament, of course, but the same could be said of the New.

Similarly, Jesus said to the Jews of His day: ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life… If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me’ (John 5:39-40, 46).

Clearly, Jesus believed that is quite possible to study the Scriptures diligently and entirely miss their point, which is to proclaim Him so that readers might come to Him for life.

It all dramatically affects why we open the Bible. We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons– as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives.

That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy or a list of various sacrifices.

And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work and pray today?

But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that He is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals His Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking, ‘What does this mean for me, right now?’ but ‘What do I learn here of Christ?’

Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on Him.

And as through the pages you get caught upon in the wonder of His story, you find your heart strangely pounding for Him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.”

–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 81-83.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christology, Holy Spirit, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Michael Reeves, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Reading, The Gospel, Trinity, Worship

“The more Trinitarian the salvation, the sweeter it is” by Michael Reeves

“As the oil ran down Aaron’s head to his body (cf. Psalm 133:1-2; Lev. 8:12), so the Spirit would run down from Christ over our Head to His Body, the church. Thus we become ‘partakers of His anointing’ (Heidelberg Catechism, #32).

The Spirit, through whom the Father had eternally loved His Son, would now anoint believers ‘that they may be one as we are one’ (John 17:22). One with the Lord, one with each other.

This is salvation with jam on top. In fact, the more Trinitarian the salvation, the sweeter it is.

For it is not just that we are brought before the Father in the Son; we receive the Spirit with which He was anointed. Jesus said in John 16:14 that the Spirit ‘will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’

The Spirit takes what is the Son’s and makes it ours. When the Spirit rested upon the Son at His baptism, Jesus heard the Father declare from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’

But not that same Spirit of sonship rests on me, the same words apply to me: in Christ my high priest I am an adopted, beloved, Spirit-anointed son. As Jesus says to the Father in John 17:23, You ‘have loved them even as You have loved Me.’

And so, as the Son brings me before His Father, with their Spirit in me can boldly cry, ‘Abba,’ for their fellowship I now freely share: the Most High my Father, the Son my great brother, the Spirit no longer Jesus’ Comforter alone, but mine.

–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 74-75.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, Michael Reeves, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, salvation, The Gospel, Trinity, Union with Christ, Worship

“All of the work to which the church is called” by Herman Bavinck

“The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the foundation of prophets and apostles on which all Christian churches, in fellowship with each other, take their stand or claim to take their stand.

In their official confessions, all churches have acknowledged the Divine authority of those Scriptures and have appropriated them as a reliable rule of faith and life. There has never been a difference or conflict about this point of dogma in the Christian churches.

Formerly the attack on Scripture as the Word of God came from the outside, from such pagan philosophers as Celsus and Porphyrus in the second century; inside Christendom such an attack does not appear until the eighteenth century.

Now the church has not received this Scripture from God in order simply to rest on it, and still less in order to bury this treasure in earth.

On the contrary, the church is called to preserve this Word of God, to explain it, to preach it, apply it, translate it, spread it abroad, recommend it, and defend it—in a word, to cause the thoughts of God laid down in Scripture to triumph everywhere and at all times over the thoughts of man.

All of the work to which the church is called is the effort at, and the ministration, of the Word of God. It is a service of this Word of God when it is preached in the assembly of believers, is interpreted, and applied, when it is shared in the signs of the covenant and is maintained in discipline.

And in a larger sense much more is part and parcel of this service of the Word: this, for example, that in our own hearts and lives, in our profession and business, in house and field and office, in science and art, in state and community, in works of mercy and missions, and in all spheres and ways of life, this Word be applied, worked out, and made to rule.

The church must be the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15): that is to say a pedestal and foundation bearing up the truth and maintaining and establishing it over against the world.

When the church neglects and forgets this, the church is remiss in its duty and undermines its own existence.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 101-102.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Herman Bavinck, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel