Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Quote for the day

Michael Horton writes in his book Christless Christianity the following;
My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for “relevant” quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be.

Quote for the day

Normally when I share a quote for the day it relates to an area of Bible study and prayer. Our class is about teaching essential doctrines of the Christian faith that are found in Scripture, and then living them out in such a way that Christ is demonstrated as great! I have lots of teaching projects and this fall some of you know that I am teaching Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Therefore lots of reading, preparation, prayer and power point. When my schedule is not as intense I am able to focus on other projects and those things frequently involve books I would like to read. In the first 5-7 years of full time ministry the only thing I read was the Bible. It was my dear friend and fellow pastor Jason McKnight that really introduced me to reading outside the Bible. At the retreat last May I introduced some basic reading materials that I found very helpful as it relates to the gospel. It seems that in the last 4 years the Lord has drawn me into a deeper understanding, appreciation and proclamation in the teaching of the gospel. The cross-centered life, or the gospel-centered life or the Christ-crucified life is where a lot of my study and reading has been focused in my discretionary time.
At the present time I am reading a book by Michael Horton called “The gospel driven life.” This is a follow us book to “Christless Christianity” the basic problem of what is happening today in the evangelical church.

So the quote for today comes from Horton’s book “The gospel driven life” and reads as follows:

“In the 1950’s, Yale’s H. Richard Niebuhr described the so-called “gospel” of Protestant liberalism poignantly:
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Each clause is telling. First, more like Mr. Rogers than the judge of all the earth, the sentimental deity of many Americans is incapable of wrath. Since He exists for us and our happiness this heavenly friend may be disappointed and sad when we hurt ourselves, but He never sees sin as an offense primarily against Himself and His perfect justice. Second, we may make mistakes-pretty bad ones, from time to time-but it would be wrong to call ourselves sinners, much less to imagine that we were captive to sin, helpless to do anything to will or work our way out of the mess. So, third, God brings us basically good people into a kingdom without judgment, since there is no law that could condemn and no gospel that could justify. And finally, for this sort of religious therapy you don’t need a vicarious, atoning sacrifice if you are basically a nice person; what you really need is a good example.”

Quote for the day

Mark what I say. You may know a good deal about Christ, by a kind of head knowledge. You may know who He was, where He was born, and what He did. You may know His miracles, His sayings, His prophecies, and His ordinances. You may know how He lived, how He suffered, and how He died. But unless you know the power of Christ’s cross by experience–unless you know and feel within that the blood shed on that cross has washed away your own particular sins–unless you are willing to confess that your salvation depends entirely on the work Christ did on the cross–unless this be the case, Christ will profit you nothing. The mere knowing Christ’s name will never save you. You must know His cross and His blood…or you will die in your sins. Beware, I say again, of a religion without a cross. - J.C. Ryle (from his sermon entitled ‘The cross of Christ) 1816 – 1900

Quote for the day

The Bible is not a collection of timeless principles offering a gentle thought for the day. It is not a resource for our self-improvement. Rather, it is a dramatic story that unfolds from promise to fulfillment, with Christ at the center. Its focus is God and his action. God is not a supporting actor in our drama; it is the other way around. God does not exist to make sure that we are happy and fulfilled. Rather, we exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. God is not a facilitator of our ‘life transformation’ projects. He is not a life coach. Rather, he is our Creator, Lawgiver, Judge, and Covenant Lord. - (Michael Horton, The Gospel Driven Life), p. 26

Quote for the day

"I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished...I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it." - George Mueller

Quote for the day

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” - D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, pp. 20-21:

Quote for the day

“I sometimes feel as if what we need most is a sense of proportion in our presentation of the truth; a new sense of where the center of gravity in the gospel lies; a return to the ideal of Paul who determined not to know anything among the Corinthians save Jesus Christ and him crucified. This does not mean that every sermon which we preach must necessarily be what is technically called an evangelistic sermon. There may be frequent occasions when to do that would be out of place and when a discourse on some ethical or apologetic or social topic is distinctly called for. But whatever topic you preach on and whatever text you choose, there ought not to be in your whole repertoire a single sermon in which from beginning to end you do not convey to your hearers the impression that what you want to impart to them, you do not think it possible to impart to them in any other way than as a correlate and consequence of the eternal salvation of their souls through the blood of Christ, because in your own conviction that alone is the remedy which you can honestly offer to a sinful world.” — Geerhardus Vos, “A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 5:7” (October 1, 1902; Princeton Theological Seminary).

Quote for the day

A theology which does not want to speak out of the mouth of the Lord and have as its direct aim eternal salvation has no place in the Christian Church and has forfeited its right to be heard. It is an exotic plant, not one which the heavenly Father has planted (Matt. 15:13). In the Church only God’s Word (λόγια θεοῦ) should be heard, and that for the purpose of saving men (John 20:31,1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Tim. 1:4; 6:3). - Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics Vol 1, page 104

Quote for the day

“Growing in the gospel means seeing more of God’s holiness and more of my sin. And because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need not fear seeing God as he really is or admitting how broken we really are. Our hope is not in our own goodness, nor in the vain expectation that God will compromise his standards and ‘grade on a curve.’ Rather, we rest in Jesus as our perfect Redeemer — the One who is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).”

- Bob Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life (World Harvest Mission, 2009), 6.

Quote for the day

“What we have created in America is false Christianity based on the premise that God exists to help us be more successful as we seek these things. He is here to help us get what we want, do what we please and achieve our own goals and ambitions. God is here to help us find happiness and fulfillment in life....Nothing could be further from the biblical truth. God does not offer to come and help us be more successful in our lives. He calls us to die! We are to die to self, to sin, to the lives we lived without him. We turn aside from the purposes of our lives and yield to his purposes. We are to “deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow him.” We must present our bodies as living sacrifices. We must be buried with Christ by baptism into death so that we may be raised to walk a new life in him." - Dave Miller

Quote for the day

The gospel is not simply the story of “Christ, and Him crucified” it is also a story of my own crucifixion. For the Bible tells me that I , too, was crucified on Christ’s cross (Galatians 2:20).
My old self was slain there, and my love affair with the world was crucified there too. The cross is also the place where I crucify my flesh and all its sinful desires. Truly, Christ’s death and my death are so intertwined as to be inseparable.

God is committed to my dying every day, and He calls me to that same commitment. He insists that every hour be my dying hour, and He wants my death on the cross to be as central to my own life story as is Christ’s death to the gospel story. “Let this same attitude by in you,” He says, “which was also in Christ Jesus”...who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Crucifixion hurts. In fact, its heart-wrenching brutality can numb the senses. It is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. It is not merely death, but excruciating death.

Nevertheless, I must set my face like a flint toward the cross and embrace this crucifixion in everything that I do. I should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God’s commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ’s death, no matter the pain involved.

When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don’t want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When I want to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die.

“Not My will, but Yours be done,” Christ trustingly prayed on the eve of His crucifixion; and preaching His story to myself each day puts me in a frame of mind to trust God and embrace the cross of my own dying also. - Milton Vincent, “A Gospel Primer for Christians” pp. 41-43

Quote for the day

“On the cross the wrath and love of God are both vindicated, they are both demonstrated, they are both expressed completely, and they both shine out and are utterly fulfilled.”
- Dr. Tim Keller

Quote for the day

“The point I am making is quite offensive to us today. It is that God hides himself from us that he cannot be had on our terms, and that he cannot be accessed from “below” through natural revelation. In the malls, and in much of life, we encounter nothing like this. We expect access. We expect to be able to get what we want, when we want it, and on our terms.

Here this is not the case. Here we have to be admitted to God’s presence, on his terms, in his way … or not at all. We cannot simply walk into his presence. Here nature does not itself yield grace. God’s grace comes from the outside, not the inside, from above and not from within. It is not natural to fallen human life. We enter the presence of God as those who have been estranged, not as those who have been in continuity with the sacred simply because we are human. We are brought into a saving relationship through Christ; we do not put this together from within ourselves.”

—David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 190

Quote for the day

“Let us be very careful that we never exalt any minister, or sermon, or book, or tract, or friend above the Word. Cursed be that book, or tract, or human counsel, which creeps in between us and the Bible, and hides the Bible from our eyes!”

~ J.C. Ryle

Practical Religion, p. 137

Quote for the day

Cheap grace is the enemy of the church. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth . . . an intellectual assent to that idea is held to be sufficient to secure remission of sins. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without repentance. . . grace without discipleship, grace without a cross . . . Costly grace is the gospel [of the church] . . . It is costly because it costs a man his life, and grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his son . . . it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God . . . When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York, NY: MacMillan, 1959), 45-48.

Quote for the day

A. W. Tozer once wrote, ‘We of the nervous West are victims of the philosophy of activism… if we are not making plans or working to carry out plans already made we feel that we are failures, that we are sterile, unfruitful, eunuchs, parasites on the body of society. The gospel of work has crowded out the gospel of Christ in many Christian churches... (but) the centre of attraction in a true church is the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Question for us to think about in the American church:
Is it possible to be more devoted to the work of God than to the God for whom we are

Quote for the day

“By Justification we mean – man’s acceptance with God, or his being treated as righteous in His sight – as the object of His favor, and not of His wrath; of His blessing, and not of His curse. The breach of the Law in its covenant form by the sin of our first parents, rendered it for ever impossible that either they, or any of their descendants, should be justified on the ground of their personal righteousness.” - J.I. Packer

Quote for the day

“The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.”

- Timothy Keller

It is God who justifies

Since our subject this morning was justification here is a related quote from Octavius Winslow

“It is God who justifies.”
(Romans 8:33)

Behold the eternal security of the weakest believer in Jesus. The act of justification, once passed under the great seal of the resurrection of Christ, God can never revoke without denying Himself. Here is our safety. Here is the ground of our dauntless challenge, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies.’ What can I need more? What more can I ask?

If God, the God of spotless purity, the God of inflexible righteousness, justifies me, ‘who is he that condemns?’ Sin may condemn, but it is God that justifies! The law may alarm, but it is God that justifies! Satan may accuse, but it is God that justifies! Death may terrify, but it is God that justifies! ‘If GOD is for us, who can be against us?’ Who will dare condemn the soul whom He justifies?

How gloriously will this truth shine forth in the great day of judgment! Every accuser will then be dumb. Every tongue will then be silent. Nothing shall be laid to the charge of God’s elect. GOD Himself shall pronounce them fully, and forever justified: ‘And those He justifies, He also glorifies.’”

The Pursuit of God

In his book “The Pursuit of God” A.W. Tozer has the following quotation:

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

Quote for the day

“Suppose a man should come to his dinner table, and there should be a knife laid down, and it should be told him, ‘This is the very knife that cut the throat of your child!’ If the man would use this knife as a common knife, would not everyone say, ‘Surely this man had but very little love to his child, who can use this bloody knife as a common knife!’

Look upon the cross on which Christ was crucified, and the pains He suffered thereon—and the seeming sweetness which is in sin, will quickly vanish. When you are solicited to sin, cast your eye upon Christ’s cross; remember His astonishing sufferings for your sin, and sin will soon grow distasteful to your soul. How can sin not be hateful to us—if we seriously consider how hurtful it was to Jesus Christ?”

—Thomas Brooks, “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures”

Quote for the day

Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated.

They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps. Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation… Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it. - A.W. Tozer

Quote for the day

See to it that you fasten your attention on God's Word and stay in it, like an infant in a cradle. If you let go for one moment, you have fallen away from the truth. The one intention of the devil is to get people away from the Word and to induce them to measure God's will and works with their reason." ~ Martin Luther

Quote for the day

“The doctrines of the gospel are meant to mould us so that our lives begin to ’set’ in the likeness of Christ. We have made little or no impression upon the world, for the very reason that the gospel doctrine has made a correspondingly slight impression upon us. It cannot be overemphasized that men and women who have accomplished anything in God’s strength have always done so on the basis of their grasp of truth.”

- Sincalir Ferguson, The Christian Life (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1981), 8-9.

Quote for the day

“Life can only be received. Life is offered as sheer gift. In new birth from above, there is no way for those already dead in their sins even to ask for new life, which being dead in sin they cannot even conceive (Rom. 8:10, 11; Eph 2:1-5).

Apart from grace one cannot even pray for or hope for a reborn relationship to God. No one can simply grasp, claim, or seize the new birth of faith, hope, and love. They are gifts of the Spirit which until given, the unawakened sinner cannot manipulate into conception, birth, or growth. Like Incarnation and Resurrection, the new birth comes on God’s own initiative.” — Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader (Grand Rapids: Eeerdmans, 2002), 85