All means all…

25 Jul

“All things work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28

“Observe what he says. Make no exception when he makes none. All! Remember he excepts nothing. Be encouraged in your faith, give glory to God, and resolve with Job, ‘Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.’ The Almighty may seem for a season to be your enemy, in order that he might become your eternal friend. Oh! believers, after all your tribulation and anguish, you must conclude with David, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.’ Under all your disquietudes you must exclaim, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!’ His glory is seen when he works by means; it is more seen when he works without means; it is seen, above all, when he works contrary to means. It was a great work to open the eyes of the blind; it was greater still to do it by applying clay and spittle; things more likely, some think to take away sight than to restore. He sent a horror of great darkness on Abraham as he was preparing to give him the best light. He touched the hollow of Jacob’s thing, and lamed him, when he was going to bless him. He smote Paul with blindness, when he was intending to open the eyes of his mind. He refused the request of the woman of Canaan for a while, but afterwards she obtained her desire. See, therefore, that all the paths of the Lord are mercy, and that all things work together for good to them that love him.” Daniel Rowlands

It’s for me…

18 Jul

HT: Alan Lester and Charles Spurgeon!

The One Grand Distinction of Great Men

18 Jul

“Those that extol men above measure, strip them of their true dignity. For the grand distinction of them all is … that they gain disciples to Christ, not to themselves.”

John Calvin

Do you believe that?

17 Jul

Martyn Lloyd Jones gives a simple test to evaluate whether you really believe what the Bible teaches about justification:

“Before man can be reconciled to God, before man can know God, this sin of his must be removed. God has sad that He will punish sin, and that the punishment of sin is death and banishment from the face of God. This has to be dealt with. And what has happened? Well, says Paul, God has set Him forth as a propitiation. That is the means which God has employed. His being the propitiation for our sins means that God has made Him responsible for our sins. They have been placed upon Him and God has dealt with them and punished them there, and therefore because He has punished out sins in Christ in His body upon the Cross, He can justly forgive us. You see this is high doctrine. It is a daring thing for the Apostle to say, but it has to be said and I repeat it. God, because He is righteous and holy and eternal, could not forgive the sin of man without punishing it. He said He would punish it, so He must punish it, and, blessed be His Name, He has punished it. He is just, therefore, and the justifier of them that believe in Jesus. The sin has been punished, so God, who is just and righteous, can forgive sin. How then does it work? It works like this. God accepts this righteousness of Christ, this perfect righteousness face to face with the law which He honoured in every respect. He has kept it, and given obedience to it, He has borne its penalty. The Law is fully satisfied. God’s way of salvation, says Paul, is that. He gives to us the righteousness of Christ. If we have seen our need to go to God and confess it, God will give us His own son’s righteousness. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to us who believe in Him, and regards us as righteous, and declares and pronounces us to be righteous in Him. That is the way of salvation, the Christian way of salvation, the way of salvation through justification by faith. So that it comes to this. That I see and I believe and I look to nothing and to no one except to the Lord Jesus Christ. I like Paul’s way of putting it. He asks: ‘Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith’. You foolish Jews, says Paul, you are boasting about the fact that you have been circumcised, that you have the oracles of God and that you are God’s people. You must cease to do that. You must not rest upon the fact that you have this tradition and that you are children of your forefathers. There is no boasting, you have to rest exclusively upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect work. The Jew is not superior to the Gentile in this respect. ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ We look to Christ and to Christ alone, and not to ourselves in any respect whatsoever.

To make it quite practical let me say that there is a very simple way of testing yourself to know whether you believe that. We betray ourselves by what we say. The Lord Himself said we should be justified by our words, and how true it is. I have often had to deal with this point with people, and I have explained the way of justification by faith and told them how it is all in Christ, and that God puts His righteousness upon us. I have explained it all to them and then I have said: ‘Well, now are you quite happy about it, do you believe that?’ And they say ‘Yes’. Then I say: ‘Well then are you now ready to say that you are a Christian.’ And they hesitate. And I know they have not understood. Then I say: ‘What is the matter, why are you hesitating?’ And they say: ‘I do not feel that I am good enough’. At once I know that in a sense I have been wasting my breath. They are still thinking in terms of themselves; their idea still is that they have to make themselves good enough to be a Christian, good enough to be accepted with Christ. They have to do it! ‘I am not good enough.’ It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil, it is a denial of the faith. You think that you are being humble. But you will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of the Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him! As long as you go on thinking about yourself and saying; ‘Ah, yes, I would like to, but I am not good enough; I am a sinner, a great sinner,’ you are denying God and you will never be happy. You will continue to be cast down and disquieted in your soul. You will think that you are better at times and then again you will find that you are not as good as you thought you were. You read the lives of the saints and you realize that you are nowhere. So you keep on asking: ‘What can I do? I still feel that I am not good enough’. Forget yourself, forget all about yourself. Of course you are not good enough, you will never be good enough. The Christian way of salvation tells you this, that it does not matter what you have been, it does not matter what you have done. How can I put this plainly? I try to say it from the pulpit every Sunday because I think it is the thing that is robbing most people of joy of the Lord. It does not matter if you have almost entered into the depths of hell, if you are guilty of murder as well as every other vile sin, it does not matter from the standpoint of being justified with God. You are no more hopeless than the most respectable, self-righteous person in the world. Do you believe that?”

Some forms of stupidity…

11 Jul

J. Budziszewski:

“I have already said that everything goes wrong without God. This is true even of the good things He’s given us, such as our minds. One of the good things I’ve been given is a stronger than average mind. I don’t make the observation to boast; human beings are given diverse gifts to serve Him in diverse ways.

The problem is that a strong mind that refuses the call to serve God has its own way of going wrong.

When some people flee from God they rob and kill. When others flee from God they do a lot of drugs and have a lot of sex. When I fled from God I didn’t do any of those things; my way of fleeing was to get stupid.

Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. God keeps them in his arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all. That is how I ended up doing a doctoral dissertation to prove that we make up the difference between good and evil and that we aren’t responsible for what we do. I remember now that I even taught these things to students; now that’s sin.

It was also agony.

You cannot imagine what a person has to do to himself–well, if you are like I was, maybe you can–what a person has to do to himself to go on believing such nonsense.

St. Paul said that the knowledge of God’s law is “written on our hearts, our consciences also bearing witness.” The way natural law thinkers put this is to say that they constitute the deep structure of our minds. That means that so long as we have minds, we can’t not know them.

Well, I was unusually determined not to know them; therefore I had to destroy my mind.

I resisted the temptation to believe in good with as much energy as some saints resist the temptation to neglect good. For instance, I loved my wife and children, but I was determined to regard this love as merely a subjective preference with no real and objective value. Think what this did to my very capacity to love them. After all, love is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person, and how can one’s will be committed to the true good of another person if he denies the reality of good, denies the reality of persons, and denies that his commitments are in his control?

Visualize a man opening up the access panels of his mind and pulling out all the components that have God’s image stamped on them. The problem is that they all have God’s image stamped on them, so the man can never stop. No matter how much he pulls out, there’s still more to pull. I was that man. Because I pulled out more and more, there was less and less that I could think about. But because there was less and less that I could think about, I thought I was becoming more and more focused.

Because I believed things that filled me with dread, I thought I was smarter and braver than the people who didn’t believe them. I thought I saw an emptiness at the heart of the universe that was hidden from their foolish eyes.

Of course I was the fool.”

How to Know You are a Sinner

10 Jul

“You will never make yourself feel that you are a sinner, because there is a mechanism in you as a result of sin that will always be defending you against every accusation. We are all on very good terms with ourselves, and we can always put up a good case for ourselves. Even if we try to make ourselves feel that we are sinners, we will never do it. There is only one way to know that we are sinners, and that is to have some dim, glimmering conception of God.” Martyn Lloyd Jones

But now…

2 Jul

Commenting on Romans 3:21 where Paul writes, ‘But now the righteousness of God has been manifested…’ Martyn Lloyd Jones says,

“There is an aspect of faith of which it is true to say this, that faith is a kind of protest. All things seem to be against us. Very well, are you a man of faith, or not? That is the vital question, and your answer to it proclaims what you are. Having listened to all that can be said against you, and in the most grievous circumstances, do you then say, ‘But now’? That is a part of the fight of faith. Do not imagine that as a Christian you are going to be immune to the assaults of Satan or to the attacks of doubt. They will certainly come. But the whole secret of faith is the ability to stand up with these two words against it all – ‘we walk by faith and not by sight.’ There is a sense in which what Browning said about faith is true. It is not the whole statement about faith, but there is this aspect to it. ‘With me,’ he said, ‘faith means perpetual unbelief kept quite, like the snake ‘neath Michael’s foot.’ He paints the picture of Michael standing there with his foot on the head of the snake. The snake is wriggling and is trying to get at him in order to bite him; but as long as Michael keeps his pressure firm upon the neck of the snake it cannot harm him. On top of all the wriggling doubt and unbelief and denial, and all these accusations, faith keeps its foot firmly down and says, ‘But now.'”