The Way of the Cross

Following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed him very far. It soon became apparent that being a disciple of Christ involved far more than a joyful acceptance of the Messianic promise: it meant the surrender of one’s whole life to the Master in absolute submission to his sovereignty….This was strong teaching. Not many people could take it. They liked to be numbered among his followers when he filled their stomachs with bread and fish, but when Jesus started talking about the true spiritual quality of the Kingdom and the sacrifice necessary in achieving it (John 6:25-29), many of his disciples “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). As they put it, “This is a hard saying: who can hear it?” (John 6:60). The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll. He was training leaders for the Kingdom, and if they were going to be fit vessels of service, they were going to have to pay the price.

Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism (pgs. 50-51).

The Supremacy of God

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotence is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.”…The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form “gods” out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a “god” out of their own carnal mind.

A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God (pg. 10-11).

Living Like a King

“For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (pg. 223).

Repetition in Scripture

Repetitions have diverse uses in Scripture.

In prayer they argue affection.
In prophecy they note celerity and certainty.
In threatenings they note unavoidableness and suddenness
In precepts they note a necessity of performing them.
In truths, like that before us, they serve to show the necessity of believing and knowing them.

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John, Vol. 1 (pg. 7).

Angel Ministers

Does the way seem long and lonely?
Does the silence whisper fear,
as if enemies were watching,
and no loving eye were near?
On each side are unseen friends;
every step an angel tends.

Angel-legions all about thee,
death and danger to repel;
angels o’er thee and before thee,
what are all the hosts of hell?
Perils thicken, tempests chafe,
fiends assail thee; thou art safe.

Angel-guards, how near and gracious;
angel-shields, how broad and bright;
angel-eyes, how quick and tender;
angel-hands, how full of might!
What a wondrous company,
pilgrim, waiteth upon thee!

Not the thousand times ten thousand
of man’s proudest war array,
not the steel of bannered squadrons
could thee shield so well as they,
sent from heaven as ministers
of the kingdom’s blessèd heirs.

Hopeless oft may seem the ventures
of the pilgrim-march below;
never will thy guards desert thee,
never fear to face thy foe;
caring for thee day and night,
in the journey or the fight.

Gabriel, Michael – who I know not –
may be leader of the host;
named or unnamed, they will keep thee,
fearing, fainting, danger-tossed;
wounded oft and battle-worn,
thou canst never be o’erborne.

Yet ’tis not angelic legions,
with their skill, and care, and might,
that can guard thee from the perils
of the darkness or the light.
‘Tis the King of angels who
can conduct thee safely through.

Lean on him to whom the legions
of the angelic host belong,
Captain of the heavenly army,
true and faithful, wise and strong.
Hands may slacken, eyes grow dim;
only, only lean on him.

Horatius Bonar, Until the Day Break: And Other Hymns and Poems Left Behind (pg. 6-8).

Sermons–Their Matter

Some brethren have done with their text as soon as they have read it. Having paid all due honor to that particular passage by announcing it, they feel no necessity further to refer to it. They touch their hats, as it were, to that part of Scripture, and pass on to fresh fields and pastures new. Why do such men take a text at all? Why limit their own glorious liberty? Why make Scripture a horsing-block by which to mount upon their unbridled Pegasus? Surely the words of inspiration were never meant to be boot-hooks to help a Talkative to draw on his seven-leagued boots in which to leap from pole to pole.

Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (pg. 73-74).

America, Race, and Religion

There is no point in trying to hide the fact that the Bible has been used by Americans to justify both race-based, demeaning slavery and its abolition. Mark Noll’s book God and Race in American Politics: A Short History clarifies this painful confession. With an eye for concrete (incarnational) stories and meticulous historical detail, Noll is above all a seer of the both-and. Or call it paradox. Or historical conundrum. There are no simple explanations.

The thesis of Noll’s book is: “Together, race and religion make up, not only the nation’s deepest and most enduring moral problem, but also its broadest and most enduring political influence.” That is provocative enough. But his working out of how race and religion are interwoven is where the puzzles come. For example, “Before the Civil War, religion drove abolitionist assaults upon slavery even as it under-girded influential defenses of slavery in both the North and the South.” Agonizingly both-and, not comfortably either-or….

It is fitting that we frankly confess that Christians—we Christians—have often used our Bible to justify sinful attitudes and actions. We have done it in our personal lives, and we have done it in the larger structural dimensions of life.

John Piper, Bloodlines (pg. 228).

“Jesus Held by Wood”

Delivered and delivering.

Jesus held by the wood.

Witnesses on either side.

Mary stood waiting,

quietly gazing,

with great feeling,

on her Son.

The sky dark above.

As at the beginning,

so at the end.

Jesus held by the wood,

delivered and delivering.

Jesus held by the wood.

The scene of Christmas and of Calvary.

Of the cradle and the cross.

Mark Dever, The Christmas Thingamabob (Leyland, England: 10Publishing, 2013), 26.

On Ear​th As It Is In Heaven

Without Jesus willingly living the prayer that he taught all of us to pray, the angels would have had nothing to sing about, those tombs would’ve never opened, sin and death would have never been conquered, and we would be the dead walking. Without Jesus living in the same surrender to which he now calls us, there would be no hope of the defeat of sin and no reality of eternal life for all who believe. It is true and valuable to remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that the most wonderful things in life come to us not as the result of demand and control, but through sacrifice and surrender. Blessings that you could never achieve on your own come when you humbly and willing pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, right here, right now as it is in heaven.” Aren’t you glad that Jesus willingly did on earth what he taught us to do in this prayer?

Paul David Tripp, Come Let Us Adore Him (pg. 65).

The Excellency of Christ’s Kingdom

I was in the foregoing part of this week. But now these thoughts seemed to be wholly dashed to pieces; not by necessity, but of choice: for it appeared to me, that God’s dealings towards me had fitted me for a life of solitariness and hardship; and that I had nothing to lose, nothing to do with earth, and consequently nothing to lose by a total renunciation of it. It appeared to me just right, that I should be destitute of house and home, and many comforts of life, which I rejoiced to see others of God’s people enjoy. And at the same time, I saw so much of the excellency of Christ’s kingdom, and the infinite desirableness of its advancement in the world, that it swallowed up all my other thoughts; and made me willing, yea, even rejoice, to be made a pilgrim or hermit in the wilderness, to my dying moment, if I might thereby promote the blessed interest of the great Redeemer.

David Brainerd, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd