Solid Ground for Faith

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Death, Life, and Trees

1200740_f248 copyDo you see how the devil is defeated by the very weapons of his prior victory? The devil had vanquished Adam by means of a tree. Christ vanquished the devil by means of the tree of the Cross. The tree sent Adam to hell. The tree of the Cross brought him back from there. The tree revealed Adam in his weakness, laying prostrate, naked and low. The tree of the Cross manifested to all the world the victorious Christ, naked, and nailed on high. Adam’s death sentence passed on to all who came after him. Christ’s death gave life to all his children.

–John Chrysostom,
4th century bishop

Published in: on 03/23/2016 at 8:47  Comments (1)  
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God explained

blank squareChrist 25 copy Jesus is the exegesis,
the exposition,
the explanation of God.
We cannot know God
outside of Christ.
There IS no God
outside of Jesus.
He’s God enfleshed.
      –Frank Viola

The bad dream will be over

Paradise 3What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ — can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are 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

Published in: on 02/12/2016 at 15:51  Comments (1)  
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Overcoming the world

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The best way to overcome the world
is not with morality or self-discipline.
Christians overcome the world
by seeing the beauty
and excellence of Christ.
They overcome the world
by seeing something more attractive
than the world: Christ.

–Thomas Chalmers
(1780–1847)

Learning from the Master

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Somehow Jesus had mastered
the ability of loving people
whose behavior he disapproved.
That’s a lesson the church
has not been so good
at learning.

–Philip Yancey

Knowing Christ

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To know Jesus
is the shortest description
of true grace;
to know him better is
the surest mark
of growth in grace;
to know him perfectly
is eternal life.

–John Newton
(1725—1807)

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

Under or overwhelmed?

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If we’re underwhelmed
with the gospel we’ll be
more easily overwhelmed
with almost anything.

–Scotty Smith ‏

Image: Maxwell Dickson

Published in: on 02/08/2015 at 5:17  Leave a Comment  
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All these toys

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All these toys
were never intended
to possess my heart.
My true good
is in another world,
and my only real treasure
is Christ.

–C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Three things promised

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Jesus promised
the disciples three things–
that they would be
completely fearless,
absurdly happy and
in constant trouble.

—G. K. Chesterton

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)

A Christlike God

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God is Christlike,
and in him is no
un-Christlikeness
at all.

–Andrew M. Ramsey

Rabbi, begone

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He had wrought for them a sign
of love, and hope,
and tenderness divine—
They wanted swine.
Christ stands without your door
and gently knocks;
But if your gold, or swine,
the entrance blocks,
He forces no man’s hold—
he will depart,
And leave you to the treasures
of your heart.

–John Oxenham
(1852 – 1941)

Image: James Tissot

God came near

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And look, now this distant God has come near to you in incomprehensible love. When you could not take hold of him, he has taken hold of you. When you could not seek him, he found you. When you were persecuting him, he loved you.

–Helmut Thielicke
Between God and Satan

Published in: on 10/09/2013 at 6:36  Leave a Comment  
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On the ground spirituality

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By accepting Jesus as the final and definitive revelation of God, the Christian church makes it impossible for us to make up our own customized variations of the spiritual life and get away with it. Not that we don’t try. But we can’t get around him or away from him: Jesus is the incarnation of God, God among and with us. Jesus gathered God’s words spoken to and through God’s people and given to us in our scriptures and spoke them personally to us. Jesus performed God’s works of healing and compassion, forgiveness and salvation, love and sacrifice among us, men and women with personal names, with personal histories.

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Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, gathered disciples in Galilee, ate meals in Bethany, went to a wedding in Cana, told stories in Jericho, prayed in Gethsemane, led a parade down the Mount of Olives, taught in the Jerusalem temple, was killed on the hill Golgotha, and three days later had supper with Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, none of us are free to make up our private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to scores of these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and inter-penetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says.

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Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air and trying to be someone else or somewhere else.

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unself-consciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Why Spirituality Needs Jesus

 

Already connected

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One of the most difficult aspects of piety is learning that in a sense there is nothing we need to do.

No amount of spiritual experience
will get us more connected to the vine.

No virtue will bring us any more into union with Christ than we are already.

The only issue for us to attend with utter seriousness is what it means to be who we are in union with Christ.

-Andrew Purves
The Crucifixion of Ministry

What is God like?

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If God isn’t like
Jesus Christ,
He ought to be.


–Lord Byron
(1788 – 1824)

Impossible to nail down

Nail

We can never nail him down,
not even if the nails we use
are real ones and the thing
we nail him to is a cross.

–Frederick Buechner
The Magnificent Defeat

Published in: on 04/04/2013 at 3:35  Comments (2)  
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When Christ left the grave

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When Christ left the grave, it was not merely an announcement that there is a hereafter and a life beyond, it was the shattering of history by a creative act of God Almighty. In this cosmic event God was doing something comparable only with what He had done at the first creation.

This was the beginning
of a new era for the universe,
the decisive turning-point
for the human race.

In the Resurrection the new age had arrived, and this stupendous miracle signified the storming of history and the transforming of the world.

—James S. Stewart
A Faith to Proclaim

Faith is rest

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Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth . . . that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

—Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
“The Everlasting Righteousness”

Faith’s object

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

–Søren Kierkegaard
(1813 – 1855)

One draught of living water

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I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets – that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Internal Revenue – that’s success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions – that’s pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time – that’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you – and I beg you to believe me – multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing – less than nothing, a positive impediment – measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are.

–Malcolm Muggeridge
(1903 – 1990)

With or without Him—forever

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If your life is Christ, then your death will be only more of Christ, forever. If your life is only Christlessness, then your death will be only more Christlessness, forever. That’s not fundamentalism, that’s the law of non-contradiction.

–Peter Kreeft
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Published in: on 01/13/2013 at 20:36  Comments (1)  
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The Word is a Person

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The Word became flesh
not paper and leather.

–Don Keathley

This is our God

Every false theology in history has been a failure to take seriously — that the only true understanding of God is that which comes through revelation of the Son, who is the full, perfect, absolute representation . . .  of who God is and what God is like.

–Gordon Fee

He came to show us God

Because of Jesus…I must adjust my instinctive notions about God. Perhaps that lay at the heart of his mission? Jesus reveals a God who comes in search of us, a God who makes room for our freedom even when it costs the Sons life, a God who is vulnerable. Above all, Jesus reveals a God who is love.

–Philip Yancey

He is the seeker

Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost.

So long as we imagine
that it is we who have to look for God,
then we must often lost heart.
But it is the other way about:
He is looking for us.

And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from Him, in high rebellion against Him. And He knows that and has taken it into account He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape Him, we run straight into His arms.

So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation. Our hope is in His determination to save us. And He will not give in!

–Simon Tugwell

Firmly in fellowship

Within the last century, the term fellowship has evolved into a construct that Christians use to talk about feelings of closeness to God at a given time. It’s a framework for relating to God that, unfortunately, we tend to develop from our interpersonal relationships. If we’ve sinned against a friend, family member, or coworker, we feel that our relationship with them is strained or broken until we apologize, are forgiven, and then restored to previous communication.

In the Scriptures, fellowship with God is not described in this way. Instead, a person is either in fellowship with God and therefore saved, or out of fellowship and therefore lost.

In the ten instances of the word fellowship
in the epistles, not once is there
a moving “in and out of fellowship” with God
based on recent performance.

Of course, we still mature spiritually. And when we sin, consequences hit us. We can’t escape the laws of the land. We also can’t escape the reactions of others. If we sin against someone, we may experience difficult circumstances and our own disappointment with our choice. But we shouldn’t mistake these earthly consequences for moving out of fellowship with God.

Our fellowship is stable and certain. God’s face is always toward us. When we sin, he’s there every step of the way to help us learn from our mistake. How arrogant it is to assume that we could escape sin alone, while out of fellowship, in order to get back in!

If we buy the lie that God sits in a swivel chair, ready to rotate his face away from us when we sin, then we proclaim a God of conditional love and conditional fellowship. But this is to ignore the work of Jesus, who on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was out of fellowship with his Father so we would never be.

–Andrew Farley
(emphasis added)

He keeps knocking

Jesus also wants very much to have rich fellowship with us today, for he declares, “Here I am! I [always] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). God himself thus wants nothing so much as to have fellowship with each of us; otherwise he would not keep knocking twenty-four hours a day.

–Daniel P. Fuller

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