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Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.
-John G. Paton, John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, an Autobiography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 56.
That was John G. Paton’s response to an objection that he would be eaten by Cannibals if he went to share Christ with indigenous people in the South Sea Islands.
I want the perspective Paton had. Serving and honoring Christ is vastly more valuable than the comfort of this short, temporal life. No matter how nice the life, one’s body rots in the ground when all is said and done. Thus, what is ease and comfort if it takes away from honoring Christ? It is empty! The true life is one sacrificing with eternity in view. And with Christ in view! What will it be like to come to the Great Day with comfort and ease in one’s hands? It will be embarrassing if not condemning! But what glory and joy for the one who is willing to lose everything to posses the incalculable riches of Christ in their life now and to come! I want glorifying Christ, not comfort, to be my guiding perspective.
The hope we offer people is more than a set of strategies. Our hope is Christ! In him alone do lost, confused, angry, hurt, and discouraged people find what they need to be and do what God intends. We are not gurus. We are nothing more than instruments in the hands of a powerful Redeemer. The hope and help we offer is always focused on him. The most important encounter in ministry is not the person’s encouter with us, but his encouter with Christ. Our job is simply to set up that encounter, so that God would help people seek his forgiveness, comfort, restoration, strength, and wisdom.
Paul David Tripp, Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002), 138.
“When Jesus judges our imperfection, he does it with such compassion that he releases us from the fear that we must pretend to be better than we are. He assures us that if we will be honest with God, God will be gracious with us. And the moment we enter into a gracious relationship with God, we not only fall heir to the promises of the gospel, but we are also ready to accept our present duties in the kingdom of love.
With pride dethroned, we are able to accept a much more modest concept of the self. We are delivered from the error of thinking that we must prove ourselves all the time. Kindness and truth become acceptable signs of status. Destructive anxiety cannot overwhelm us, for we are content to leave the work of salvation to God.”
-Edward John Carnell, The Kingdom of Love and the Pride of Life (Grand Rapids, 1960), pages 152-153.
HT: Ray Ortlund
As one who loves books this is a great word from Peter Adam,
A good test of love of people for those who like books is this: when you buy the next book, is it because you would love to have the book, or because you love your people and want to use this book to help in your preparation to serve them?
-Peter Adam, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 1996), 164.
Honestly, I have not shopped with this intent enough. But I need too!
then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb. 10:17-18)
The New Covenant promise that God will “remember our sins no more” means that the whole category of “sins” is gone forever from God’s sight, as far as the law and satisfaction of justice are concerned. Believers have been “made prefect” as to their consciences and are no longer to have “consciousness of sin” with regard to the wrath of God! In this sense, there is “no more reminder of sin” (Heb. 10:3) in the New Covenant. “Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Heb. 10:18) “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)
What does this mean in daily life? It means that, as a Christian, I can get up in the morning and know that I am accepted in Christ. God delights in me as His child, and the guilt of my sins is gone forever. If I commit a sin, I am “conscious” of my sin as a child, not as a convicted felon, and I confess my sin to God as a son confesses to his Father, not as a criminal confesses to a judge. I come with confidence into the holy place by the blood of Jesus.
-Charles Leiter, Justification And Regeneration (Muscle Shoals, AL: HeartCry, 2007), 43-44. Emphasis by the author.
The center of Christianity…is the dishonorable, foolish, gruesome, and utterly glorious reality of the tortured God-Man, Jesus Christ. More and more, He must become the issue. Not a vague, comfortable, pleasant Jesus that everybody likes but the one who is a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to Gentiles. The closer you get to what makes Christianity ghastly, the closer you get to what makes it glorious.
-John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, xi.
The Twelve were like the rest of us; they were selected from the unworthy and the unqualified. They were, like Elijah, men “with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). They did not rise to the highest usefulness because they were somehow different from us. Their transformation into vessels of honor was solely the work of the Potter.
Many Christians become discouraged and disheartened when their spiritual life and witness suffer because of sin or failure. We tend to think we’re worthless nobodies—and left to ourselves, that would be true! But worthless nobodies are just the kind of people God uses, because that is all He has to work with.
Satan may even attempt to convince us that our shortcomings render us useless to God and to His church. But Christ’s choice of the apostles testifies to the fact that God can use the unworthy and the unqualified. He can use nobodies. They turned the world upside down, these twelve (Acts 17:6). It was not because they had extraordinary talents, unusual intellectual abilities, powerful political influence, or some special social status. They turned the world upside down because God worked in them to do it.
-John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group), 11.
Who can tell us whether this aweful and mysterious silence, in which the Infinite One has wrapped himself, portends mercy or wrath? Who can say to the troubled consience whether He, whose laws in nature are inflexible and remorseless, will pardon sin? Who can answer the anxious inquiry whether the dying live on or whether they cease to be? Is there a future state? And if so, what is the nature of that untried condition of being? If there be immoratal happiness, how can I attain it? If there be an everlasting woe, how can it be escaped? Let the reader close his Bible and ask himself seriously what he knows upon there momentous questions apart from its teachings. What soild foundation has he to rest upon in regard to matters which so absolutely transcend all earthly expereince and are so entirely out of the reach of our unassited faculties? A man of facile faith may perhaps delude himself into the belief of what he wished to believe. He may thus take upon trust God’s unlimited mercy, his ready forgiveness of transgressors, and eternal happiness after death. But this is all a dream. He knows nothing, he can know nothing about it, except by direct revelation from heaven.
-John D. Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago: Moddy Press, 1992), p. 209.
The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 115.
God; who is a breadth, beyond all breadths; a length, beyond all lengths; a depth, beyond all depths; and a height, beyond all heights, and that in all his attributes: He is an eternal being, an everlasting being, and in that respect he is beyond all measures, whether they be of breadth, or length, or depth, or height. In all his attributes he is beyond all measure: whether you measure by words, by thoughts, or by the most enlarged and exquisite apprehension; His greatness is unsearchable…
The greatness of God, of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that, if rightly considered, which will support the spirits of those of his people that are frighted with the greatness of their adversaries. For there is a greatness against a greatness. Pharaoh was great, but God more great, more great in power, more great in wisdom, more great every way for the help of his people; wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them. These words therefore take in for this people, the great God who in his immensity and infinite greatness is beyond all beings.
-John Bunyan, All Loves Excelling: The Saints’ Knowledge of Christ’s Love (Carlisle, Pa: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998), 4-5.