'Wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! And riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity. Now, if there be no way to prevent this, Christianity is inconsistent with itself and, of consequence, cannot stand, cannot continue long among any people; since, wherever it generally prevails, it saps its own foundations.'
John Wesley in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.38.
'If silver and gold are things evil in themselves, then those who keep away from them deserve to be punished. But if they are good creatures of God, which we can use for the needs of neighbor and for the glory of God, is not a person silly, yes, even unthankful to God, if he refrains from them as if they were evil?'
Martin Luther in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.15.
'Are we considered worthy to enter the kingdom because of faith in Christ's death or because of our persevering good works? Are we saved by faith in Christ plus good works? An analogy might help explain.
You must pay money in order to obtain entry to a professional football game. In order to enter the stadium, however, you must present a ticket at the gate. Is it the money that provides access to the game or the ticket? Both! But are the money and the ticket equal "causes" that get you in? Ultimately, the money paid is what really gets you in, but you must have the ticket as evidence that you really paid the price for the game. Likewise, true Christians are those on behalf of whom Christ has paid the penalty of sin, but they must have the badge of good works as evidence that Christ paid their purchase price in order to be considered worthy of passing through the final judgment and entering the kingdom. Therefore, both faith in Christ and human good works are absolutely necessary for being considered worthy of salvation, but the former is the ultimate cause of the latter. At the last judgment people will not be able to say that they have benefitted from Christ's redemptive work only because they have believed; they will have to show evidence of their belief through their good works (Mt 7:21).'
GK Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series), p.184.
'Each of our lives is positioned like a bow, drawn across the strings of a cosmic violin, producing vibrations that resound for all eternity. The slightest action of the bow produces a sound, a sound that is never lost. What I do today has tremedous bearings on eternity.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.xv.
'The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend on that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in. What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do on the last day.'
AW Tozer in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.xv.
'To preach the Word of God well, one must already have cultivated, at a minimum, three sensibilities: the sensibility of the close reading of texts, the sensibility of composed communication, and the sensibility of the significant.'
'I believe that as people's confidence in Christ grows, they do, ordinarily and inevitably, bear fruit that accords with faith. Thus, there is no need for some trade-off here, or some alleged dichotomy suggesting that we need to preach morality if we are to have morality. No; preach Christ, and you will have morality. Fill the sails of your hearers' souls with the wind of confidence in the Redeemer, and they will trust in him as their Sanctifier, and long to see his fruit in their lives. Fill their minds and imaginations with a vision of the loveliness and perfection of Christ in his person, and the flock will long to be like him. Impress upon their weak and wavering hearts the utter competence of the mediation of the One who ever lives to make intercession for them, and they will long to serve and comfort others, even as Christ has served and comforted them.'
'When the poet stares at that which the rest of us merely glance at, he invites us to take a longer look along with him. It is precisely this longer look that is necessary to cultivate a sensibility for the significant.'
'Exposition is...virtually a lost art. We don't really read texts to enter the world of the author and perceive reality through his vantage point; we read texts to see how they confirm what we already believe about reality. Texts are mirrors that reflect ourselves; they are not pictures that are appreciated in themselves. This explains, in part, the phenomenon that many Christians will read their Bibles daily for fifty years, and not have one opinion that changes in the entire fifty-year span. Texts do not change or alter or skew their perspective; texts do not move them or shape them; they merely use them as mnemonic devices to recall what they already know. They have no capacity to expound a text, or describe what another has said and how he has said it; and they retain only the capacity to notice when something in the language of another appears to concur with their own opinions. To employ C.S.Lewis's way of stating the matter, they "use" texts but do not "receive" them.'
'If the patients of a given hospital's surgeons continue to die, we could, I suppose, abandon the scalpel. We might also consider employing it more skillfully. My challenge to the contemporaneists and emergents is this: Show me a church where the preaching is good, and yet the church is moribund. I've never seen such a church. The moribund churches I've seen have been mispreached to death. But the fact that large segments of the church are abandoning anything like traditional preaching altogether establishes my point: that Johnny can't preach. He preaches so poorly that even believers have come to disbelieve that God has chosen through the folly of preaching to save those who believe (I Cor. I:21).'
'...sermon-length is not measured in minutes; it is measured in minutes-beyond-interest, in the amount of time the minister continues to preach after he has lost the interest of his hearers (assuming he ever kindled it in the first place.'
'I've really desired something fairly simple for my family: to be able to talk intelligently about the sermon on Sunday afternoon or throughout the week. And to do this, all I really desire is the ability to answer three questions: What was the point or thrust of the sermon? Was this point adequately established in the text that was read? Were the applications legitimate appilcations of the point, from which we can have further fruitful conversation about other possible applications?'
'The impetus, energy, and direction for world-making and world-changing are greatest where various forms of cultural, social, economic, and often political resources overlap. In short, when networks of elites in overlapping fields of culture and overlapping spheres of social life come together with their varied resources and act in common purpose, cultures do change and change profoundly. Persistence over time is essential; little of significance happens in three to five years. But when cultural and symbolic capital overlap with social capital and, in time, political capital, and these various resources are directed toward shared ends, the world, indeed, changes.'
'...Vilfredo Pareto...argued that change occurs through a "circulation of elites." His theory was pretty complex, though in its simple and sanitized form, he argued that elites were either foxes or lions. Foxes, as he puts it, were those who innovated, experimented, and took risks. Lions, by contrast, were those who defended the status quo in the name of social stability. Foxes and lions were in tension over power. When lions were ascendant, foxes challenged their authority and would seek to infiltrate their ranks in order to replace them. Yet because it is difficult for foxes to maintain a stable social order, the lions would eventually replace them or - more interestingly - the foxes became lions.'
James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, p.43.
'Duties are to be taken together: the greatest is to be preferred, but none are to be neglected, that can be performed; no one is to be pleaded against another, but each is to know its proper place. But if there were such a case of necessity, that we could not carry on further studies, and instruct the ignorant too, I would throw aside all the libraries in the world, rather than be guilty of the perdition of one soul; or at least, I know that would be my duty.'
'He will be ablest physician, lawyer, and divine too, that addeth practice and experience to his studies: while that man shall prove a useless drone, that refuseth God's service all his life, under pretence of preparing for it, and lets men's souls pass on to perdition while he pretendeth to be studying how to recover them, or to get more ability to help and save them.'
'The harvest is great, the labourers are few; the loiterers and hinderers are many, the souls of men are precious, the misery of sinners is great, and the everlasting misery to which they are near is greater, the joys of heaven are inconceivable, the comfort of a faithful minister is not small, the joy of extensive success will be a full reward. To be fellow-workers with God and his Spirit is no little honour; to subserve the blood-shedding of Christ for men's salvation is not a light thing. To lead on the armies of Christ through the thickest of the enemy; to guide them safely through a dnagerous wilderness; to steer the vessels through such storms and rocks and sands and shelves, and bring it safe to the harbour of rest, requireth no small skill and diligence. The fields now seem even white to harvest; the preparations that have been made for us are very great; the season of working is more calm than most ages before us have ever seen. We have carelessly loitered too long already; the present time is posting away; while we are trifling, men are dying; oh how fast are they passing into another world! And is there nothing in all of this to awaken us to our duty, nothing to resolve us to speedy and unwearied diligence? Can we think than a man can be too careful and painful under all these motives and engagements?'
'Confession to another person is not a way to artificially unload guilt. The one who hears your confession is not a priest who will grant absolution. The reason you confess something private is to test your own heart. It is also a way to close the door to one of Satan's condemnatory devices. Satan delights in keeping things in the dark, where they can accumulate more condemnation, but we can do battle by keeping our lives in the light.'
'It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror or corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these two destionations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.105.
'...our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation...
...At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.104.
'The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive the examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in his son - it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory, which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.102.
'In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.102.
'When I began to look into this matter I was shocked to find such different Christians as Milton, Johnson and Thomas Aquinas taking heavenly glory quite frankly in the sense of fame or good report. But not fame conferred by our fellow creatures - fame with God, approval or (I might say) "appreciation" by God. And then, when I had thought it over, I saw that this view was scriptural; nothing can eliminate from the parable the divine accolade, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." With that, a good deal of what I thinking all my life fell down like a house of cards. I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child - not in a conceited child, but in a good child - as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only in a child either, but even in a dog or a horse. Apparentely what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures - nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p. 101.
'The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised, firstly, that we shall be with Christ; secondly, that we shall be like Him; thirdly, with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have "glory"; fourthly, that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and, finally, that we shall have some sort of official position in teh universe - ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God's temple.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.100.
'If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith Christianity and the Church, p.96.
'We stand in the shadow of Jesus, who revealed what true human life was intended to be: He loved others even when he wasn't loved. Jesus shows us that to be truly human means that our desire to love others outdistances our desire to be loved ourselves. True humanness is found more in a sacrificial love for our enemies than in being the object of another person's affections.'
'Many times in my experience with homosexuality I have wished my life was different, that I had some other burden to bear - anything but this one. But I have also felt that if Someone is watching - taking note; caring about each footfall, each bend in the trail; marking my progress - then the burden may be bearable.
When the road is long and the loneliness and sheer longing threaten to extinguish hope, it helps me to remember that, like Frodo and Sam, I, too, am in a grand tale, with an all-seeing, all-caring Reader or Listener who also happens to be in some mysterious way the Author...my story and the depths of my struggle may never be observed or known by any human watcher. But I can still endure - I can keep on fighting to live faithfully as a believer bearing my broken sexuality - so long as I have the assurance that my life matters to God, that, wonder of all wonders, my faith pleases him, that somehow it makes him smile.'
'The Bible calls the Christian struggle against sin faith (Hebrews12:3-4; 10:37-39). So I am trying to appropriate these biblical descriptions for myself. I am learning to look at my daily wrestling with disordered desires and call it truth. I am learning to look at my battle to keep from giving in to my temptations and call it sanctification. I am learning to see that my flawed, imperfect, yet-never-giving-up faithfulness is precisely the spiritual fruit that God will praise me for on the last day, to the ultimate honor of Jesus Christ.
My continuing struggle for holiness as a gay Christian can be a fragrant aroma to the Father. I am coming to believe that it will be, in C.S.Lewis's words, "an ingredient in the divine happiness."'
'More and more, I have the sense that what many of us need is a new conception of our own perseverance in faith. We need to reimagine ourselves and our stuggles. The temptation for me is to look at my bent and broken sexuality and conclude that, with it, I will never be able to please God, to walk in a manner worthy of his calling, to hear his praise. But what if I had a conception of God-glorifying faith, holiness, and righteousness that included within it a profound element of struggle and stumbling? What if I were to view my homosexual orientation, temptations, and occasional failures not as damning disqualifications for living a Christian life but rather as part and parcel of what it means to live by faith in a world that is fallen and scarred by sin and death?'
'...the struggles facing homosexual Christians...the struggle to be faithful to the gospel's "terrible decree" that we must hold in check our strongest urges and not engage in homosexual activity; the struggle to belong, to find the end of loneliness; and the struggle with shame, with nagging feelings of being constantly displeasing to God.'
'The remedy for loneliness - if there is such a thing this side of God's future - is to learn, over and over again, to do this: to feel God's keeping presence embodied in the human members of the community of faith, the church.'
'A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in... Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist.'
CS Lewis in Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.75.
'When we homosexual Christians bring our sexuality before God, we begin or continue a long, costly process of having it transformed. From God's perspective, our homoerotic inclinations are like "the craving for salt of a person who is dying of thirst" (to borrow Frederick Buechner's fine phrase). Yet when God begins to change the craving and give us the living water that will ultimately quench our thirst, we scream in pain, protesting that we were made for salt. The change hurts...
...our pain - the pain of having our deeply ingrained inclinations and desires blocked and confronted by God's demand for purity in the gospel - far from being a sign of our failure to live the life God wants, may actually be the mark of our faithfulness. We groan in frustration because of our fidelity to the gospel's call. And though we may miss out in the short run on the lives of personal fulfillment and sexual satisfaction, in the long the cruelest thing God could do would be to leave us alone with our desires, to spare us the affliction of his refining care.'
'In the end, what keeps me on the path I've chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church's traditional teaching against homosexual practice. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions and teachings as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ - and the whole perspective on life and the world that flows from that story, as expressed definitively in Scripture. Like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle finally locked into its rightful place, the Bible and the church's no to homosexual behavior make sense - it has the ring of truth, as J.B.Philips once said of the New Testament - when I look at it as one piece within the larger Christian narrative. I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of the Scriptural story.'
'...worry reveals our allegiances. Fear and worry are not mere emotions; they are expressions of what we hold dear. They reveal the loyalties of our hearts. If we know Christ and have affirmed our allegiance to him, worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways. We certainly don't want to renounce our allegiance to Jesus, but we want to protect what we feel is our own. We are not so sure that the Lord can be trusted with some of these things, so we look for help elsewhere. And if there is no obvious alternate source of help we worry.'
'...that unbridgeable gulf between two people which is the product of their early years. Childhood - which sets the scene, the determining scene, which establishes the norm, which has you observing other people's arrangements with surprise. Childhood - which you do not remember except in cinematic fragments, which was simply accepted and is forever the foundation on which you stand.'
'It were an easy thing to be a Christian, if religion stood only in a few outward works and duties, But to take the soul to task, and to deal roundly with our own hearts, and to let conscience have its full work, and to bring the soul into spiritual subjection unto God, This is not so easy a matter, because the soul out of self-love is loath to enter into itself, lest it should have other thoughts of itself than it would have.' Richard Sibbes in David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, p.33.
'We have a base man-pleasing disposition, which will make us let men perish lest we lose their love, and let them go quietly to hell, lest we make them angry with us for seeking their salvation: and we are ready to venture on the displeasure of God, and risk the everlasting misery of our people, rather than draw on ourselves their ill-will. This distemper must be dilligently resisted.'
'I am convinced, by sad experience, that it is none of the least impediments to their salvation, and to a true reformation of the Church, that the people understand not what the work of a minister is, and what is their own duty to him. They commonly think, that a minister hath no more to do with them, but to preach to them, and administer the sacraments to them, and visit them in sickness; and that, if they hear him, and receive the sacraments from him, they owe him no further obedience, nor can he require any more from their hands. Little do they know that the minister is in the church, as the schoolmaster in his school, to teach, and take account of every one in particular; and that all Christians, ordinarily, must be disciples or scholars in such a school.'
'By means of it you will come to be familiar with your people, and may thereby win their affections. The want of this, with those who have very numerous congregations, is a great impediment to the success of our labours. By distance and unacquaintedness, abudance of mistakes between ministers and people are formented; while on the other hand, familiarity will tend to beget those affections which may open their ears to future instruction. Besides, when we are familiar with them, they will be encouraged to open their doubts to us and deal freely with us. But when a minister knows not his people, or is as strange to them as if he did not know them, it must be a great hinderance to his doing any good among them.'
'It is a great and common sin throughout the Christian world, to take up religion in a way of faction; and instead of a love and tender care of the universal Church, to confine that love and respect to a party. No but that we must prefer, in our estimation and communion, the purer parts before the impure, and refuse to participate with any in their sins; yet the most infirm and diseased part should be compassioned and assisted to the utmost of our power; and communion must be held as far as is lawful, and nowhere avioided, but upon the urgency of necessity...'
'When we are telling the drunkard that he cannot be saved unless he become temperate, and the fornicator that he cannot be saved unless he become chaste, have we not as great reason, if we are proud, to say to ourselves, that we cannot be saved unless we become humble? Pride, in fact, is a greater sin than drunkenness or whoredom; and humility is as necessary as sobriety and chastity.'
'...God says to us, "Let me remind you of how I listen and see if you think I could listen even to you." Then he recounts stories of adulterers like King David, murderers like the apostle Paul, and grumblers like the newly delivered Israel. If he hears and loves them, he will hear and love us. The lesson is clear: He doesn't hear because of us and the qualities of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.'
'God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. To live with your "thorn" uncomplainingly, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak, is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is supreme victory of grace. The healing of your sinful person this goes forward even though the healing of your mortal body does not. And the healing of persons is the name of the game as far as God is concerned.'
JI Packer in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.139.
'Please understand that when God speaks in ways that are completely contrary to our expectations, then we have encountered something quite genuine. No one could invent a god who, in response to rebellion, is so generous that he gives his entire kingdom. Since this is too good to be true, it must be true. This, indeed, must be the Holy One.'