The Truth is a Person

7b8575f1051bd7d55f17e3aa06a0adff copy 2Make sure that your study of the truth of God leads you to the Truth, that your study of words of God leads you to the Word, that your study of the ways of God leads you to the Way. Jesus said . . . “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

–J.O. Schulz

 

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Celestial matchmaker

bride copy 3bIt is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message to us is never, “Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me,” but always, “Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him and hear his word; go to him and have life; get to know him and taste his gift of joy and peace.” The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together.

–James I. Packer
Keep in Step with the Spirit

The way, the truth, and the life

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Any lights shining on the wrong subject will mislead you. I focus on my Lord Jesus, the true light that enlightens every man. He does not blind me, dazzle me, or confuse me. He shines on my path to show me the way, shines on my thoughts to show me the truth, and shines on my life to lead me to Life, because He is the way, the truth, and the life. His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot resist it.

–Luis Fernando Aragon 
Pilgrim: One Thousand Days on the Road

Following a Person or a Belief?

Christ 9C2We must call men, not to loyalty to a belief but loyalty to a Person. We may be loyal to a belief and dead spiritually, but we cannot be loyal to this Person and be other than alive spiritually. He creates belief. He is the great Believer himself, and in the light of his radiant faith we cannot but believe. We do not get Jesus from our beliefs, we get our beliefs from Jesus. And they must of necessity be under constant correction by his mind and spirit.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of the Indian Road

In Christ alone

165296248793116748ER6k6y70c copyFor how comes it that we are carried about with so many strange doctrines, (Hebrews 13:9) but because the excellence of Christ is not perceived by us? For Christ alone makes all other things suddenly vanish. Hence there is nothing that Satan so much endeavors to accomplish as to bring on mists with the view of obscuring Christ, because he knows, that by this means the way is opened up for every kind of falsehood. This, therefore, is the only means of retaining, as well as restoring pure doctrine—to place Christ before the view such as he is with all his blessings, that his excellence may be truly perceived.

–John Calvin

Too Much Religion

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It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing. We can’t get too much of God, we can’t get too much faith and obedience, can’t get too much love and worship. But religion—the well intentioned efforts we make to “get it all together” for God—can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us. The main and central action is everywhere and always what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. Jesus is the revelation of that action. Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith.

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But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents worth. We add on, we supplement, we embellish. But instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity. We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious. We get in the way.

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That’s when it’s time to read and pray our way through the letter to the Hebrews again, written for “too religious” Christians, for “Jesus-and” Christians. In the letter, it is Jesus-and-angels, or Jesus-and-Moses, or Jesus-and-priesthood. In our time it is more likely to be Jesus-and-politics, or Jesus-and-education, or even Jesus-and-Buddha. This letter deletes the hyphens, the add-ons. the focus becomes clear and sharp again: God’s action in Jesus. And we are free once more for the act of faith, the one human action in which we don’t get in the way but on the Way.

–Eugene Peterson
Living the Message

Delighting in Christ

Beautiful-Sunset-Mountain-Wallpapers-3-300x300Anyone can use the word, of course, but without Christ holiness tends to have all the charm of an ingrown toenail. For, very simply, if holiness is not first and foremost about knowing Christ, it will be about self-produced morality and religiosity. But such incurved self-dependence is quite the opposite of what pleases God, or what is actually beautiful.

God is not interested in our manufactured virtue; he does not want any external obedience or morality if it does not flow from true love for him. He wants us to share his pleasure in his Son. What is the greatest commandment, after all? “Love the Lord your God” (Mt 22:36–37). That is the root of true God-likeness. Nothing is more holy than a heartfelt delight in Christ. Nothing is so powerful to transform lives.

–Michael Reeves
Christ Our Life

He was the message

Christ 1D copy 2Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, “I am the bread.” He did not come merely to shed light; He said, “I am the light.” He did not come merely to show the door; He said, “I am the door.” He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, “I am the shepherd.” He did not come merely to point the way; He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.

–J. Sidlow Baxter
Explore the Book

Squarely in the center

Cleansing temple 7 copyJesus will break our idols, complicate our assumptions, overturn our tables and put himself squarely in the center of every question. He is the way, the truth, the life. He is the answer. He is the one way we think about, know, love, worship and relate to God.

–Michael Spencer
(1956 – 2010)

The Central Issue

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Immediately you lose sight of the central, majestic figure of Jesus Christ, you are swept off your feet by all kinds of doctrine; and when big things hit us we find that our religion does not stand us in good stead; our creed does not agree with Jesus Christ.

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The revelation of the Deity of Christ does not come to a man’s intellect first, but to his heart and life, and he says with amaze-ment, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The great point of the Bible revelation of God is not only that God was in Christ but that Jesus Christ is God. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” said Jesus.

If Jesus Christ is not God,
then the only God we have is an
abstraction of our minds.

–Oswald Chambers
(1874-1917)

Not following a code

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It is not said in the Book,
“The Word became printer’s ink,”
but it is said,
“The Word became flesh.”
Had the Word become printer’s ink,
we should have followed a code.
Instead our code is a Character.
We follow a living mind
instead of a fixed letter.

–E. Stanley Jones
(1884 – 1973)

Looking beyond

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The purpose of the Bible is that you may look through it and see Jesus Christ. Some people stop with the Bible. . . . But I say that the Bible is not a thing to be analyzed, criticized, outlined and examined, just for it’s own sake. That would be just like sitting in a room and writing a book about a window, without seeing the ocean with its waves curling up the beach or the way the lights and clouds play upon the water.

The Bible is not an end in itself
any more than a window
is an end in itself.

The window allows us to see the beauty that lies beyond. The Bible is the way to life in Jesus Christ.

–Donald G. Barnhouse
(1895 – 1960)

Image: David Miller

The best sentence Calvin wrote

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We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are compre-hended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.

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If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.

 –John Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion

 

From Charismania to Christ

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Before I truly understood the Gospel, I needed angels, bizarre miracles, and the spooktacular in order to keep my attention. When one fad grew old, I needed to learn of another. I stayed on the cutting edge of all that was weird and wild in the crazy land of Charismania. I was bored with what I perceived the Gospel to be, and required shiny things to keep me interested. However, upon truly discovering the Glories of Jesus Christ and His perfect work, I instantly outgrew my obsession with the supernatural for the sake of the supernatural. I no longer needed portals, miraculous hankies, or supernatural flows of oil. I’d found the source of all things glorious, and my thirst was quenched.

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Trust me, I have no problem with the supernatural, or with the miraculous. However, I do find it disturbing when we are fascinated with the spooky simply for the sake of being spooky. When the most popular charismatic books have titles like, “How to live in the supernatural flow of Heaven’s supernatural economy while living under an open heaven and to the right of an ancient portal . . . while petting the four living creatures”, we need to be concerned. The supernatural is not an end to itself. Jesus is, however.

If you’re going to be fascinated
with something, don’t let it be
with feathers, gems, angels, or manifestations.
Let it be with Jesus Christ, Himself!

Don’t misread me! I’m for the supernatural. I’ll receive and rejoice in anything of that nature the Father sends my way. However, it is not my focus, and I no longer have an inordinate fascination with such things. When I did, it was simply because there was a vacuum in my life. I didn’t not truly grasp the depth of Christ’s finished work, and most of the time when folks obsess over such things, it’s a symptom of the very same problem. Let Jesus be your obsession. Nothing else.

–Jeff Turner

Looking for a Person

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I do not approach
the Scripture looking
for principles to practice.
I approach the Scriptures
looking for a Person to know,
a Lord to worship, and
a King to yield to.

–Stephen Crosby

Full and sufficient

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All the good things that can be reckoned up here below have only a finite and limited goodness. Some can clothe but cannot feed; others can nourish but cannot secure; others adorn but cannot advance; all do serve but none do satisfy. They are like a beggar’s coat made up of many pieces, not all enough either to beautify or defend. But Christ is full and sufficient for all His people: righteousness to cover all their sins, plenty enough to supply all their wants, grace enough to subdue all their lusts, wisdom enough to vanquish all their enemies, virtue enough to cure all their diseases, living waters to feed them.

He is a garment of righteousness
to advise them;
a Captain to defend them;
a Prince to rule;
a Prophet to teach;
a Priest to make
atonement for them.

[He is] a Husband to protect; a Root to quicken; a Head to guide; a Treasure to enrich; a Sun to enlighten; and a Fountain to cleanse; so that as the one ocean hath more waters than all the rivers of the world, and one sun more light than all the luminaries in heaven, so one Christ is more to a poor soul than if it had all the world a thousand times over.

–John Spencer

What we were made for

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The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ . . . If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose . . . It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are [fully] drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

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A cure for insomnia

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To be perfectly candid, there are few things that are as dull and boring in life as Christianity without the living, breathing, radiant, triumphant Christ. It’s a first-degree snoozer. If you could bottle it, you would have the cure for insomnia.

–Leonard Sweet
–Frank Viola
Jesus Manifesto

Not just a system

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We must not offer people
a system of redemption,
a set of insights and principles.
We offer people a Redeemer.

–Paul David Tripp

It’s all about Him

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Jesus isn’t the vital piece
of the puzzle.
He’s the picture.

–Glen Scrivener

Published in: on 06/08/2013 at 16:11  Leave a Comment  
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The first law of life

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For the first law of life is this; You must lose your life to find it. If you find it by centering on yourself, in no matter how religious a way, you will lose it. It will disintegrate through conflict. You are an off-centered person—“ecc-centric.” The universe doesn’t back that way of life. Hence you always are “up against it.” But when to decide “to belong”—to surrender to Christ and make Him the center—then you are not up against it”; you’re “with it”; the sum total of reality works with you and not against you. You are aligned.

When you belong to Jesus Christ,
“then everything belongs to you”—
everything works with you and for you.

Only evil, which is “live” spelled backwards, works against you.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Way to Power and Poise

The one real issue

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I have come to a fixed conclusion:
the issue is simply Jesus Christ . . .

My message therefore is simply Jesus Christ. He is enough. Of course we are familiar with the fact that Christ is the Christian’s life and message, but we need to familiarize ourselves with the familiar. We assume what we ought to assert. He is the hub, but too many of us are out on our favorite spokes like owls on different limbs.

–Vance Havner
Jesus Only
(emphasis added)

The music behind all things

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The spotlight of heaven and earth
never leaves Christ. He is the melody,
the harmony, the rhythm, the tempo,
and the music behind all things.
The heavens and the earth
sing His song and play His tune.

–Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola
Jesus Manifesto

Messing up the decor

Christ 66

It’s easy to get attached to idols,
good things inappropriately adored.
But when you have Jesus in the centre of a room,
everything else only junks up the decor.

–Charles Swindoll

Published in: on 03/22/2013 at 5:13  Leave a Comment  
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The conversion that counts

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This is a reason for much
of the powerlessness of the church today;
we have converted men to the church,
to our doctrines, to our projects
and organizations—to almost anything
but Christ Himself.

–Rick Joyner

The Gospel is a Person

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If the gospel were primarily
a set of good ideas, then the end
would be intellectual assent and acceptance.
But if the gospel is primarily a Person,
then the end is a surrender to,
and a following of, that Person.

–E. Stanley Jones

Faith’s object

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The object of faith
is not the teaching
but the Teacher.

–Søren Kierkegaard
(1813 – 1855)

Finding more than “principles”

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God tried sending His “principles” once. It didn’t work. He then sent a Son, not a book of principles. The book reveals the Son. If we have the principles, and miss the Person, we miss everything that matters.

–Stephen Crosby

The starting point

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Our starting point is Jesus. But someone objects and says, “The Gospel begins with God.” No, for until Jesus came, there were views about God and there was news about God, but no Good News. Apart from Jesus we know little about God, and what little we know is not Good News. The conception of the character of God apart from Jesus is questionable. In Jesus our question marks about God turn into exclamation points.

In the face of Jesus we know what God is like
and what we must be like if we are to be good.

If God is other than Jesus, He is not good; if He is like Jesus, He is good. This is an astounding thing to say, yet when I say it, I hear the Ages give an resounding Amen. And it reverberates through all things.

–E. Stanley Jones

The starting point

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“In the beginning was the Word . . .
and the Word became flesh…”
(John 1:1,14)

The Gospel begins with Jesus, the Incarnate. If you don’t begin with Jesus, you don’t begin—you don’t begin with anything except roads with dead ends. We know little or nothing about God, and what we know is wrong, unless we begin with Jesus.

If you do not see God
in the face of Jesus,
you see something other
than God—and different.

–E. Stanley Jones
(emphasis added)

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