Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Quotes

Test all ministers by the word of God

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to ministers of religion because of their office. Ordination and office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses introduced into the church by ordained men. Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers ought not to be lightly refused. But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch. We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes to make us crucify Christ again. We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion–but it matters greatly what it is that is said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. “To the law and to the testimony–if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). ~ J.C. Ryle

At every step Jesus is our substitute

Was he flogged? It was done so that "by his wounds we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). Was he condemned though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty. Did he wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory. Was he stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was he mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed. Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin. Was he declared unable to save himself? It was so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory. - J.C. Ryle commentary in Matthew from Take Your Vitamin Z website

Christian amnesia

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification. - Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

The fellowship of the unashamed

This is what the power of the gospel in and through a life produces. The poem below should give you a good idea what happens when you aren’t trying to become what you are not but rather are taking hold of what you have already become in Christ.

I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit
Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has
been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow
down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight
walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,
mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or
popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,
regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by
patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted,
or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the
pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of
mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed
up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a
disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My
colors will be clear for "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.." (Romans 1:16)

By Dr. Bob Moorehead

Gospel Transformation

“Receiving and resting in the truths of the gospel translates into a Christian life of joy, peace, freedom, and love. So the gospel also gives us a new way to live and relate to other people. It frees us from sin’s stranglehold on our lives, liberates our conscience, and releases us from living according to the principles of this world. Since our new identity and new way to live is based solely on faith, the gospel excludes all manner of boasting and arrogance. Everything that we have has been given to us — thus it is called the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24). Moreover, this gospel has continual and daily applicability. It is not only relevant to us when we first believe, but continues to work in us and through us as we continue to believe. This continual life of faith visibly expresses itself in love (Gal 5:6).” - Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, i-ii.

The amazing story of God's grace

God saves us by His grace and transforms us more and more into the likeness of His Son by His grace. In all our trials and afflictions, He sustains and strengthens us by His grace. He calls us by grace to perform our own unique function within the body of Christ. Then again by grace, He gives to each of us the spiritual gifts necessary to fulfill our calling. As we serve Him, He makes that service acceptable to Himself by grace, and then rewards us a hundredfold by grace. - Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

The biblical gospel

The church loses its life-changing dynamism to the degree that its theology goes off to this side or that side—into either uptight legalistic moralism, or into latitudinarianism, broadness, not believing the Bible, licentiousness, relativism.

By saying the biblical gospel is in the middle, that’s not saying “moderation in all things.” Jesus wasn’t moderate in anything. He was radically gentle and radically truth loving at the same time. The gospel isn’t a kind of middle-of-the-road, lukewarm thing. But the gospel is neither legalism nor licentiousness. And to the degree we lose the biblical gospel, we’re never going to be a movement that reaches the city.
- Tim Keller

When our best isn't good enough

“The bad news is far worse than making mistakes or failing to live up to the legalistic standards of fundamentalism. It is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires.

Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice. Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ.”

— Michael Horton
Christless Christianity
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2008), 91

The gospel is necessary for Christians

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. - B. B. Warfield (1851 – 1921)

Living by grace

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever ‘well’ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the ‘sweat’ of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘try harder’. We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily. - Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

The struggles in Christian growth

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification. - Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

Christ alone

It is Christ, I need hardly say, of whom the whole New Testament is full. The Gospels are Christ living, speaking, and moving among men. The Acts are Christ preached, published, and proclaimed. The Epistles are Christ written of, explained, and exalted. But all through, from first to last, there is but one Name above every other, and that is Christ. ~ J.C. Ryle

It may be helpful to take a few minutes and listen to this version of “In Christ Alone” as your heart prepares for a time of devotion. Click on this LINK.

The Cross Centered Life

“Christ discharged the debt of sin. He bore our sins and purged them. He did not make a token payment which God accepts in place of the whole. Our debts are not cancelled; they are liquidated. Christ procured redemption and therefore he secured it. He met in himself and swallowed up the full toll of divine condemnation and judgement against sin.” - John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Quotes for the Day

In my email this morning were the following quotes from two different members of our class. I post these in hope that as we learn and live the gospel together that we will continue to dig deeper.

Quote 1
"The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings we dare not so trifle with our eternal future." -- A.W. Tozer

Quote 2
Modern Christianity is crucially weak at three vital points.
  • The first is its compromised, deficient understanding of revelation. Without Biblical historicity and veracity behind the Word of God, theology can only grow closer to Hinduism.
  • Second, the modern Christian is drastically weak in an unmediated, personal, experiential knowledge of God. Often, what passes for religious experience is a communal emotion felt in church services, in meetings, in singing or contrived fellowship. Few Christians would know God on their own.
  • Third, the modern church is often pathetically feeble in the expression of its focal principle of community. It has become an adult social club, preaching shop, or minister-dominated group. With these weaknesses, modern Christianity cannot hope to understand why people have turned to the East, let alone stand against the trend and offer an alternative. -- Os Guinness in The Dust of Death

Take Comfort in Christ

Let all who trust in Christ take comfort in the thought that they build on a sure foundation. It is true that we are sinners, but Christ has borne our sins. It is true that we are poor helpless debtors, but Christ has paid our debts. It is true that we deserve to be shut up forever in the prison of hell. But thanks be to God, Christ has paid a full and complete ransom for us. The door is wide open. The prisoners may go free. May we all know this privilege by heartfelt experience, and walk in the blessed liberty of the children of God. ~ J.C. Ryle