Thursday, July 31, 2014

70 Tweetable Quotes from Ortlund's The Gospel

I thoroughly enjoyed and was edified by Ray Ortlund's book The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. I have amassed a hockey-sock full of Tweetable quotes from the book. Enjoy!

  1. Let's not assume that our churches are faithful to the gospel. Let's examine whether they are (17).
  2. So the test of a gospel-centered church is its doctrine on paper plus its culture in practice ... (18).
  3. Nothing is gained by merely repackaging the church in forms more attractive to outsiders (18).
  4. We possess, in the gospel alone, God's wonder-working resources for the display of Christ among us (19).
  5. Any church ... that falls short of the gospel of Christ in either doctrine or culture will inevitably collapse ... (19).
  6. Gospel doctrine creates gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace (21).
  7. We need strength from beyond ourselves, because it's hard to hold on to gospel doctrine (22).
  8. This is the massive love of God-the Son leaving nothing of the Father's glory unexpressed, leaving nothing of our need unfilled (31).
  9. I want to be really forgiven of my real sins by a real Savior (34).
  10. God's final category for you is not your goodness versus your badness, but your union with Christ versus your distance from Christ (34).
  11. If you don't believe your way into Jesus Christ, you will perish (35).
  12. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace where good things happen to bad people (39).
  13. Gospel doctrine and gospel culture do not coexist by lucky chance (39).
  14. Being part of church frees us from a vague idealism and gives us traction for real gospel advance ... (40).
  15. Obviously, we pay a price to give our lives to a real community (40).
  16. We didn't ruin God's plan; we are his plan, his eternal plan to love the undeserving, for the display of his glory alone (40).
  17. There is nothing degrading in Christ. nothing we need to worry about or filter out (44).
  18. How can we hope to be true to Christ if we look away from the Bible's stark portrayal of our natural corruption (44)?
  19. The real holiness Christ creates is beautiful (47).
  20. A gospel-defined church is a prophetic sign that points beyond itself (51).
  21. Despair is an intellectual and social sin. It denies gospel doctrine and destroys gospel culture (55).
  22. Fixing broken things is the way of God (56).
  23. There is nothing petty and small about a church when it believes this massive and noble gospel (62).
  24. ... the hope of the gospel makes us cheerfully defiant toward every disappointment ... (62).
  25. ... the hope of the gospel and the triumph of our Savior make us cheerfully defiant even toward our own sin and failures (63).
  26. ... the beauty of human relationships, is the first thing that outsiders are likely to notice when they enter a church (66).
  27. A church should offer the world ... a counterculture, a living embodiment of the gospel (67).
  28. ... we must not import into our church families today the failed patterns of our earthly families in the past (70).
  29. The household of God must offer a clear and lovely alternative to the madness of this world (71).
  30. The family of God is where people should find lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time (72).
  31. The goal is not to make the church safe for sin; it's to make it safe for confession and repentance (73).
  32. We must not allow anything in our churches to compete with the high visibility of the gospel (75).
  33. A church can offer living and palpable proof that the gospel makes a real difference for real people living in the real world (76).
  34. As a pillar and buttress of the truth, our churches are God's Plan A for world redemption, and he has no Plan B (76).
  35. We either proudly believe we are too good to be judged, or we proudly believe we are too bad to be saved (79).
  36. We lose sight of him quickly, don't we? We all need frequent exposures to his overruling good news (82).
  37. A gospel culture is harder to lay hold of than gospel doctrine (82).
  38. And when a whole church luxuriates in Christ alone, that church embodies a gospel culture (83).
  39. Exalting ourselves always diminishes his visibility (83).
  40. The false safety of self is an enduring problem for us Christians (85).
  41. ... it is possible for us to unsay by our practical church culture what we say in our official church doctrine (88).
  42. It is possible to hold to the gospel as a theory even as we lose it as a reality (88).
  43. Right gospel doctrine + anti-gospel culture = a denial of the gospel (88).
  44. We can sincerely love the doctrine of God's grace and, at the same time, unwittingly nullify that grace (89).
  45. We must also ask, is our church culture clearly aligned with that gospel doctrine (89)?
  46. The gospel gives us more than a place to stand; it also leads us into a path to follow (89).
  47. A gospel culture is not easy. But it is possible (91).
  48. Going forward with The Lord means that the future will be both more thrilling and more
  49. It is the strong scent of Christ that people detect when our churches are filled with the gospel (94).
  50. Whatever people might thin of us, God savors us as we lift up Jesus Christ crucified (95).
  51. Throughout the Bible, God's pleasure comes to a focal point at the cross of Christ (95).
  52. And the clearer our churches are about Christ, the more polarizing we will be (95).
  53. But the one thing the gospel never does is nothing (96).
  54. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to be held at arm's length with critical detachment (96).
  55. No one judges the gospel. It judges all, and it saves some (96).
  56. ... no one is static. No one is not responding to the gospel (98).
  57. ... we must never be deflected from faithfulness to Christ because of human rejection (98).
  58. Eternal consequences hang in the balance in every gathering of the church, every Bible study, every personal conversation, every blog post (99).
  59. Faithfulness makes enemies on earth. But faithfulness also has a Friend and advocate on high ... (102).
  60. Every one of us is always five minutes away from moral and ministry disaster (103).
  61. If our purposes rise no higher than what we can attain by our own organizing and thinking, then we should change our churches into community centers (105).
  62. The gospel never advances without someone paying a price (107).
  63. The greatness of Christ creates courage in us (108).
  64. Trust him that, with every false treasure you surrender, he will  more than bless you with true spiritual riches (108).
  65. But if the leaders are courageous for Christ, their church will be too (109).
  66. The beauty of love is the crown of a well-taught church (111).
  67. This is who Christ is. He will always be to us an endless sea of sweetness (111).
  68. Love is Christ's authorized way for us to be convincing (112).
  69. If we fail to love one another in ways so striking that we actually start looking like Jesus, then the world has the right to judge that we know nothing of him (113).
  70. A heart aloof from God grows aloof from others (117).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Intentionality and Growth

The impetus for this post came with a picture that Crossway Books posted on their Twitter account (@CrosswayBooks). Here it is:

God is gracious and may cause us to grow in spite of ourselves. He is loving and kind and understands our frailty. But generally speaking, I do not think we are supposed to stand idly by and wait for God to do something in terms of our spiritual development unbeknownst to us. We should not anticipate growth in godliness to be a matter of happenstance.

Rather, as the picture above suggests, Christlikeness does not happen by accident. There is no accidentally getting closer to God. There is rarely unintentional and inadvertent sanctification. Christian maturity is not a function of passivity. If we are not intentional about discipleship in our own lives, it is either not going to happen at all or it will happen to such a minute degree that it will be hardy noticeable.

This picture also reminded of a quote from a book I am currently reading called God in the Whirlwind. The author, David Wells, suggest "we need to carve out space for ourselves in which we can daily attend to God’s Word, to study it, mark it, learn it, and inwardly digest its truth." The key word in this quotation is "carve." Carving suggest intentionality. It's cutting, but it's purposeful cutting. And it also indicates pain. It might hurt a little to carve out time for God.

But the pain is worth it. And it won't happen by accident.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Gospel as the foundation for family religion - Whitefield

George Whitefield preached a sermon from the text in Joshua-Joshua 24:15-where we get the familiar saying "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The sermon's title is The Great Duty of Family Religion and Whitefield's three main points are as follows:
I. First, That it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, “serve the Lord.”
II. Secondly, I shall endeavor to show after what manner a governor and his household ought to serve the Lord. And,
III. Thirdly, I shall offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the manner that shall be recommended.
At the sermon's conclusion,Whitfield makes it clear that it is the gospel, the cross, the person and work of Jesus Christ that is the foundation for all his exhortation to the heads of families concerning their leadership in having their families "serve the Lord." He writes,
And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
In encouraging his listeners to reflect on the gospel, finding power and desire to obey, Whitfield writes further,
Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more neglect your family's spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God's free grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own household.
For Whitfield, the power and motivation for leading families in their relationship with God is closely, inextricably, connected to the glorious gospel.

God the All

From The Valley of Vision:

I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,
that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,
that every good work or thought found in me is the effect of thy power and grace,
that thy sole motive in working in me to

will and to do is for thy good pleasure.
O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.
This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Worship Wednesday

Sorry it's been a while. Liquid+computer+puppy=no blogging!

From the Valley of Vision.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Beale and the beast - 666

Though G. K. Beale's book, We Become What We Worship, is not a commentary of Revelation, as a biblical theology focusing on idol worship it does, of necessity, deal with the apocalyptic writing of John. Beale deals with the mark of the beast-the number 666-over a few pages. As Beale is a writer of a commentary on Revelation, I was interested to hear his take on this issue.

Beale writes, "[r]egardless of whatever precise historical identifications could be given of the unbeliever's mark, the primary focus is on spiritual identification with the satanic beast" (261). Beale insists that the number 666 is not "some literal number of someone's name" (261) due to the fact that the saints have Christ's and God's name written on their foreheads. The saints' forehead identification is, according to Beale, clearly a spiritual reality and therefore the beastly mark must be as well.

Beale clarifies, " the triple six is intended as a contrast with the divine sevens throughout the book and signifies incompleteness and imperfection" (261). Those who are marked with the number of the beast are those who have identified themselves with the beast; they have aligned their thoughts and desires with the sinful, beast-like, epitome of incompleteness and imperfection.

Beale concludes:
Thus the number in revelation 13:18 is that of incomplete humanity apart from Christ. The beast is the supreme representative of unregenerate humanity, separated from God and unable to achieve divine likeness but always trying ... The triple sixes emphasize that the beast and his followers fall short of God's creative purposes for humanity." (261)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Merciful and gracious - God and Rahab

As I work through some final edits of the sermon I, God willing, will preach this Sunday I am arrested by some of the details. I'll be preaching from the second chapter on Joshua which, if you remember, is primarily about the Canaanite harlot Rahab.

Rahab helps two spies that Joshua had sent into Jericho as the Israelites prepared to begin the conquest of Canaan. In light of her help in their mission-in fact, she saved their lives as well as their mission-Rahab requests that her and her family be shown mercy. Mercy is sympathy or compassion that motivates into helpful action. Rahab is looking for some sympathy and some saving.

Since chapter one of Joshua makes it clear that the conquest of the Promised Land was ultimately God's battle, her petition is ultimately directed to Yahweh; will God be merciful to Rahab and not destroy her.

Not killing Rahab would be merciful. But God, as is His practice with His enemies, goes beyond being merciful to Rahab and is utterly gracious to her. God's grace is His sovereign and unmerited favour. God, through the Israelites, goes beyond just not killing Rahab and her family; he adopts them into his own covenant people. In the sixth chapter of Joshua we learn that Rahab and her kin are incorporated into God's family. Stunning!

And sobering.

This is how God has acted towards us. He has shown us mercy which motivated his gracious action in saving us from destruction and adopting us into His family. And He did this in the work of Jesus Christ.

Praise the merciful and gracious Sovereign God!