Archive for the 'Quotes' Category

Calvin Quote: Adherence to Scripture

For it is not right that the things which God has sought to conceal and whose knowledge he has kept secret himself should be scrutinized in this way by men. Nor is it right that the lofty wisdom which he wished us to revere rather than comprehend, so that we might wonder at his greatness, should be made subject to the human mind or sought out in the depths of his eternity. As for the secrets of his will which he thought good to impart to us, he has borne witness to them in his word. And what he thought good to impart to us was everything which he knew would be relevant and rewarding to us. Once we grasp the idea that God’s word is the only path which allows us to investigate all that we may lawfully know about him, and is likewise the only light by which we behold all that may be lawfully seen of him, it will easily stop us from acting impulsively. For then we will realize that by going beyond the bounds of Scripture we will be straying off into darkness, and will inevitably with every step wander, stumble and trip up.

–John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, pg. 464, 1541 edition translated by Robert White – you can find this in the final version in III.21.1-4

Although Scripture is perspicuous in its basic doctrine, as the scholars say, it’s obviously not an easy book to comprehend in many places. I like reading Calvin because there is so little speculation; everything is based on Scripture. For the most part, the Puritans carried this on. The better we know the Bible, the easier we can tell if someone is speculating or speaking from their own knowledge of the Bible. I don’t see it as being confined, but staying in bounds.

He who looks into the mystery of God
will be overwhelmed with his glory.
Proverbs 25:27 (unknown translation – included in the book)

I have added:

You said, ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge about it?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know.
Job 42:3 GW

My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
Psalm 131:1 NIV

And of course:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 NIV

The Glories of Christ

I bought the Kindle edition of John MacArthur’s study Bible quite a while ago when it was on sale. I hadn’t looked at it until recently, partly because I kept forgetting I have it. It’s very cumbersome to use in that format. Using one on a website is much easier. But that’s not the point. I found this when looking at Colossians, a book I’d like to study for the rest of my life. I’m not sure exactly who wrote it, but the copyright is Thomas Nelson. The value of putting it in a blog post is that you can easily put your cursor over the Scripture references to see them in a popup window, or tap them on a mobile device. I think it’s a great Christological statement. (By the way, this Scripture reference feature is also available for the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism linked at the top of the page.)

The Glories of Christ

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God …” (2Co 3:5)

One of the great tenets of Scripture is the claim that Jesus Christ is completely sufficient for all matters of life and godliness (2Pe 1:3, 4)! He is sufficient for creation (Col 1:16, 17), salvation (Heb 10:10–12), sanctification (Eph 5:26, 27), and glorification (Ro 8:30). So pure is He that there is no blemish, stain, spot of sin, defilement, lying, deception, corruption, error, or imperfection (1Pe 1:18–20).

So complete is He that there is no other God besides Him (Is 45:5); He is the only begotten Son (Jn 1:14, 18); all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him (Col 2:3); the fullness of Deity dwells bodily in Him (Col 2:9); He is heir of all things (Heb 1:2); He created all things and all things were made by Him, through Him, and for Him (Col 1:16); He upholds all things by the word of His power (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3); He is the firstborn of all creation (Col 1:15); He is the exact representation of God (Heb 1:3).

He is the only Mediator between God and man; He is the Sun that enlightens; the Physician that heals; the Wall of Fire that defends; the Friend that comforts; the Pearl that enriches; the Ark that supports; and the Rock to sustain under the heaviest of pressures; He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3; 8:1); He is better than the angels (Heb 1:4–14); better than Moses; better than Aaron; better than Joshua; better than Melchizedek; better than all the prophets; greater than Satan (Lk 4:1–12); and stronger than death (1Co 15:55).

He has no beginning and no end (Rev 1:17, 18); He is the spotless Lamb of God; He is our Peace (Eph 2:14); He is our Hope (1Ti 1:1); He is our Life (Col 3:4); He is the living and true Way (Jn 14:6); He is the Strength of Israel (1Sa 15:29); He is the Root and Descendant of David, the Bright Morning Star (Rev 22:16); He is Faithful and True (Rev 19:11); He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1, 2); He is the Author of our Salvation (Heb 2:10); He is the Champion; He is the Chosen One (Is 42:1); He is the Apostle and High-Priest of our confession (Heb 3:1); He is the Righteous Servant (Is 53:11).

He is the Lord of Hosts, the Redeemer—the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth (Is 54:5); He is the Man of Sorrows (Is 53:3); He is the Light; He is the Son of Man (Mt 20:28); He is the Vine; He is the Bread of Life; He is the Door; He is Lord (Php 2:10–13); He is Prophet, Priest and King (Heb 1:1–3); He is our Sabbath rest (Heb 4:9); He is our Righteousness (Jer 23:6); He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6); He is the Chief Shepherd (1Pe 5:4); He is Lord God of hosts; He is Lord of the nations; He is the Lion of Judah; the Living Word; the Rock of Salvation; the Eternal Spirit; He is the Ancient of Days; Creator and Comforter; Messiah; and He is the great I AM (Jn 8:58)!

© 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Calvin on God’s Providence

I’m reading Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion again, but this time it’s Robert White’s translation from the first French edition of 1541. If you’re reading the Battles edition, it may be in the first part of the Apostle’s Creed section.

This is one of my favorite quotes on God’s providence. It’s very Biblical and straightforward, which is more assuring than trying to make things sound easier than they really are.

God’s Providence a source of enduring comfort
From this the believers conscience derives particular comfort. If God liberally gives food to the young ravens which entreat his aid (Psa. 147:9), how much more will he give Food to us who are his people and the sheep of his flock? If a sparrow does not fall to earth without his knowledge and will (Matt. 10:29), how much greater is his care and concern for our salvation, seeing that he promises to keep us as the apple of his eye (Zech. 2:8)? If man does not live by bread alone, but by virtue of the word which proceeds from God’s mouth (Matt. 4:4), we should be well content with the promise that his aid will never fail us, since by itself it is enough to feed us. Conversely, when the believer sees signs of barrenness, famine or pestilence, he will recognize God’s hand in them instead of attributing them to chance. Finally, knowing that he is our Creator, Guardian and Nourisher, he will conclude that we are his and not our own, that we must live according to his will rather than ours, and that life with all its acts must be referred to him, because it subsists wholly by his grace.

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated from the first French edition of 1541, pg 232

We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12 HCSB

Jerry Bridges and His Profound Impact

Jerry Bridges died after going into cardiac arrest yesterday. I read his book The Pursuit of Holiness, soon after becoming a Christian. That was pretty standard for us who were in The Navigators college ministry, being a Nav Press book. I happen to have a renewed interest in holiness lately, having just read Rediscovering Holiness by J.I. Packer. Bridges’ book on holiness was foundational. I can’t imagine how many people he has helped understand the importance of holiness and what it is to be holy because God is holy.

Then about eight years ago I read the book Trusting God, which was life changing. It opened a whole new understanding of God’s sovereignty for me. I also read The Transforming Power of the Gospel.

we press the accelerator pedal of obedience until we have brought our behavior up to a certain level or ‘speed.’ The level of obedience is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us. … Once we have arrived at this comfortable level of obedience, we push the ‘cruise-control’ button in our hearts, ease back, and relax. … We don’t have to watch the speed-limit signs in God’s Word, and we certainly don’t have to experience the fatigue that comes with seeking to obey Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. … God is not impressed with our worship on Sunday morning at church if we are practicing ‘cruise-control’ obedience the rest of the week. You may sing with reverent zest or great emotional fervor, but your worship is only as pleasing to God as the obedience that accompanies it.

–Jerry Bridges (1929-2016), The Discipline of Grace, as quoted by Tim Challies

Also see:
God Never Wastes Suffering | Scripture Zealot blog

Quote of the Day: Happy Talk

This is a repost from a few years ago. I would like to soon post another quote from this book that I haven’t put up before.

Making matters simpler for the enemy is the fact that in these days of “happy talk,” pastors, biblically illiterate parishioners, and thousands of churches that are theology-free zones, are virtual modern Marcionites. Marcion was a second century heretic who (to oversimplify a bit) embraced the “good” Redeemer God of the New Testament but rejected the (presumably) wrathful Creator God of the Old. Any discomfort with the God of the Old Testament smacks of Marcion’s heresy. To view the God in the Old Testament as different from the God of the New Testament is to expose how little we understand either.

–Jim Andrews, Polishing God’s Monuments, pg. 97

Without elaborating, sometimes when I hear people say certain things, I feel like saying, “Have you read the Old Testament?”

We’ve lost the fear of God. We’ve lost the fact that God is jealous and hates sin. I see this more than ever when reading through Numbers and Leviticus. He wouldn’t let any little tiny thing defile them [something I have re-noticed very recently–2016] and couldn’t be in the presence of anything or anyone who was unclean. And when we don’t understand that, we don’t really know God and we can’t more fully appreciate his grace and love. We talk about his grace and love all the time, but by doing that to the exclusion of other aspects of God’s character we can’t appreciate them as much as we could. We’re really missing out on enjoying God and more importantly glorifying him even more.

This is one thing I love about the Puritans. They had that balance. And there are certainly a lot of Christians now who do too. For me this is the value of reading the Old Testament, one example being–using Psalms as a model for prayer, worship, praise. lament etc. in addition to the usual comfort. And then not neglecting Proverbs.

Ironically, I wonder if some people are afraid to fear God.

Polishing God's Monuments

Job’s Friends

This is one of the best explanations I’ve read about Job’s so-called friends. I wish that anyone who gives ‘advice’ to those who are suffering would read Job along with an exposition of it.

I think part of the reason Job is so long is so that people get a feeling of what suffering people go through–the endless assumptions, platitudes, general truths that are misplaced, etc. It can go on and on. But I want to say that with my conditions, I haven’t had to deal with this as much as a lot of people.

‘After some initial sympathy, Job’s friends place themselves above Job and his sufferings. They do not seek to comfort; rather, they seek to explain. Comforting and explaining are quite different. The basic theology of the friends is not bad, but their application of it is incorrect. As Kidner notes, the rebuke of the friends by God does not dismiss the basic theology of Proverbs as much as it “attacks the arrogance of pontificating about the application of these truths, and of thereby misrepresenting God and misjudging one’s fellow men. The friends are thus negative characters and not models of behavior for the audience. Much of what they say is true, but they say it at the wrong time and apply it to the wrong situation.’

— J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word

Also see:
Blog Posts on Job

A Biblical Twist on “Happy New Year”

A blessed (i.e., truly happy) New Year to you and yours in Immanuel! That’s what the Puritans wished each other. By “blessed” they did not mean, “I hope that everything goes your way this year, and that you don’t have any significant trials.” Rather, they meant, “I pray that whatever God sends your way this year in His providence—be it joys or sorrows, that all will be sanctified to your soul, so that you will grow in grace, be more conformed to Christ, and truly believe that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Then you and I will be truly happy indeed throughout 2016!

–Joel Beeke

via Pastor Tom

I’m afraid that if I write any commentary on this it will sound too negative, so I’ll let it speak for itself. I think it’s fantastic.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?

Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:28-39 HCSB

The King Reigns After Death

“Their King … commences his reign by advancing to death.”

–John Calvin

What a great quote. It’s from his commentary, referring to John 12:12.

12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ” Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One–the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written:

15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion.
Look, your King is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt.

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
John 12:12-16 HCSB

HT: Pastor Tom Provost

Humble and Careful Theology

In the Bible God uses ordinary human language rather than a technically precise jargon. He does not include all the technical, pedantic details that would interest a scholar. By doing so, he speaks clearly to ordinary people, not merely to scholars with advanced technical knowledge. What God says is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to save us and to provide a sure guide for our life.

Hence, the ordinary, humble readers of the Bible do all right. Paradoxically, scholars and would-be scholars can easily get into trouble by overestimating the degree of technical or pedantic precision in the Bible. They will then fall into mistakes that an ordinary reader of the Bible would not make. Therefore, if we are engaged in more scholarly theological reflection, we must become self-conscious about our language. Of course, most scholars do not explicitly do theology on the basis of some fully developed philosophy of language. Mistakes made without an explicit philosophy are nevertheless mistakes. And such mistakes do occur. In fact, mistakes, obscurities, inadequacies, and infelicities related to language occur with considerable frequency in our day, even in reputable, scholarly writings of theology.

Vern Poythress, Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology

Those of us who are going deeper into theology, which is a good thing. However I’ve read stories of elderly people who have suffered greatly and who love God, love reading their Bible, and have been sanctified over the course of their lives more than many who make a living as a theologian. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves for knowing more terms and doctrine than some others. There will be people in heaven receiving their praise from God who never knew the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Poythress is also saying that we shouldn’t make our theological terms too narrow (or too broad), along with concepts in Scripture. But that really needs the context of the book to be better understood.

We should also be aware that just because somebody is a famous scholar (if there is such a thing), that doesn’t automatically mean they’re right, whether it comes to theology, doctrine, exegesis, or original languages. (I’ve been reading more and more about the latter.) It seems that the less we know of a subject, the more we will trust others, especially if it seems to make sense at first (Proverbs 18:17).

For those of us who are more well versed, or becoming so, with theology:

“It is impossible, while Christ is in the eye of our faith as proposed in the gospel, but that we shall labor to be like Him and greatly love Him. Neither is there any way for us to attain to either of these, which are the great concerns of our souls (to be like to Christ and to love Him) but by a constant view of Him and His glory by faith; which powerfully and effectually works them in us. All the doctrinal knowledge which we have of Him is useless, all the view we have of His glory is but fancy, imagination, or superstition, which are not accompanied with this transforming power. And that which is wrought by it is the increase and vigor of all grace; for therein alone our conformity to Him consists. Growth in grace, holiness, and obedience is a growing like Christ; and nothing else is so.”

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

And this comes by God’s Word.

Also:

“If we satisfy ourselves in mere notions and speculations about the glory of Christ as doctrinally revealed unto us, we shall find no transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But when, under the conduct of that spiritual light, our affections do cleave unto him with full purpose of heart, our minds are filled with the thoughts of him and delight in him, and faith is kept up unto its constant exercise in trust and affiance on him, — virtue will proceed from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and to fill us sometimes ‘with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'”

Regarding the text that I made italic–I’ve been using an hourly chime on my phone–and changing it when I don’t hear it anymore–for memorizing Scripture. But I have slowed down with that or I won’t be able to keep up with it as far as reviewing. So I also use it to remind me to pray during downtime, meditate on Scripture and God, or simply be aware of His presence if I’m busy with something (1 Chronicles 16:11). As John Owen has written, what better way is there to spend our thinking time than thinking of Him?

Search for the LORD and his strength.
Always seek his presence.
1 Chronicles 16:11 GW

Quote of the Day: Godly Fear

This is from Crossway’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress by the Puritan John Bunyan. I recently learned that this is the second most read book other than the Bible.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Christian is the main character, a pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City (heaven), and Hopeful, a younger believer, who became his companion later in the journey. I really like this depiction of godly fear.

Christian said, “Without a doubt the right fear can be a good thing, for as the Word says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.'”1

“How would you describe right fear?” Hopeful inquired.

Christian explained, “True or right fear can be known by three things. First, by what causes it: the right kind of fear is caused by saving conviction of sin. Secondly, a good fear drives the soul to quickly lay hold of Christ for salvation. And thirdly, this fear begins and sustains in the soul a great reverence for God, His Word, and His ways. It keeps the soul tender, making it afraid to turn right or left from His Word and ways. It makes the soul sensitive to anything that might dishonor God, grieve the Spirit, or cause the enemy to speak against God.”

1 Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:28

Also see:
What Is Biblical Wisdom?
Fear of the Lord | Posts from Scripture Zealot blog

Thoughts On Guidance and Being Led By The Spirit

A few rambling thoughts and some not rambling quotes. I’m in a bit of a funk and don’t feel up to putting together a well-written post–if I’ve ever done one. I put horizontal lines between sections that don’t flow. Such a cheater.

I remember being in group Bible studies and the group would pray. Whoever was leading would say, “Go ahead and pray if you feel led.” I always thought, What if I want to pray but don’t feel led? Do I have to feel led to do anything? We can do good things without being whispered to.

Here is a verse that many people pull out and make a whole doctrine out of:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:14

Tempted as we might be to consider the Spirit’s leading as referring to guidance for vocation (“Is the Spirit leading me to change jobs?”) or matrimony (“Is the Spirit leading me to many him/her?”), this is not what Paul has in view. Paul is justifying the conclusion he drew in verse 13, that putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit leads to life.

[…]

Instead of a preoccupation with issues of guidance (the preoccupation of our era), we should be concerned to ask the Lord:

“How can I live in a way that reflects the holiness of my Savior?”

“Will You show me how to deny myself?”

“Which sin, or part of a sin, am I to kill today?”

-Derek Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home

And he shows us these things largely though Scripture or something that’s a reminder from it.

Here it is again in context:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:12-15

We aren’t trusting God when we need to know what to do in every situation. We’re not trusting his guidance (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24) or his providence. God doesn’t always, or usually, tell us what to do outside of Scripture, or give us some sort of feeling when he wants us to do something. He also doesn’t turn his leading into a guessing game of “is this the Holy Spirit or…?”

We also have this need to want to know the future. Look at all of the ‘newspaper prophecy’ books. We have to trust that even if we make what looks like a good decision today, things may change tomorrow and it might not seem like such a good decision anymore. (Although we can only judge our decisions by the information and thought put into it at the time of the decision.) This is still within God’s providential plan. Just as God doesn’t tell us the future, other than what he clearly states in the Bible, he won’t always tell us what the best thing we can do for the future is. That doesn’t seem very helpful to us. Who are we to question God or make up our own doctrines that are more to our liking? His main concern is making us more like Christ. We know how God loves us by what he sent his Son to do on the cross for us, resulting in us being the children of a loving, merciful, kind, gentle Father. And yet like any child, we often like to do things our way, even if it has nothing to do with reality.

When Jesus says that His sheep “hear his voice,” He is not referring to an ongoing conversation like a telephone call. He was not saying that people would hear audible or inner voices from God. He was referring to His call to salvation. Jesus is calling His sheep to an endless life of fellowship with the living God. These believers follow Christ and show renewal in the new direction and commitment of their lives to Him.

–Tom Provost, Thus Saith The LORD Part 2 – Word of Life Wisconsin

I think it’s important that with terms like Biblical wisdom, we need to make sure we’re defining those terms according to what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to make assumptions based on our culture, whether that be at large or the Christian culture.

Here are some quotes about guidance from a previous post:

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

Affliction Is Essential to Spiritual Health

God ordains affliction and we don’t want to believe this.

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NRSV

It is of so much greater concern for us to get our spirits brought down than our outward condition raised. But who believes this? All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it. And what is that but to be concerned to minister drink to the thirsty sick, but never to mind to seek a cure for them, by which their thirst may be carried off.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

We think the cure is comfort. God thinks the cure is the eternal state and spiritual health of a person.

The man himself is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him. What therefore betters the man is preferable to what betters only his condition.

[…]

It is far more needful for us to have our spirits humbled under the cross than to have the cross removed. The removal of the cross is needful only for the ease of the flesh, the humbling for the profit of our souls, to purify them, and bring them into a state of health and cure.

[…]

But what God requires is, rather to labor to bring down the heart than to get up the head. Here lies the proof of one’s suitableness for heaven; and then is one in the way heavenward, when he is more concerned to get down his heart than to get up his head, to go calmly under his burden than to get it off, to bow under the mighty hand than to put it off him.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

Much more could be said about this, and how it affects prayer, but I will leave it here for now. This was the most significant book I’ve read in a long time.

we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Psalm 119 – Christian Living

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;
and quicken thou me in thy way.
Psalm 119:37 KJV

I want to be quickened to more life, energy, delight, and devotedness in the way of my God. The secret of Christian progress is simplicity and diligence. “This one thing I do,-forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before; I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:13-14 KJV] The Spirit leaves no wish in the heart for beholding vanity. The world with all its flowery paths, is a dreary wilderness; and Christ and heaven are the only objects of desire-“He who shuts his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure. Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” [Isaiah 33:15 KJV]

–Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Psalm 119

We live a life of simplicity and diligence, but always keeping in mind that it’s God who actually ‘quickens’ us to change us and what we want, if we want him to.

I’m memorizing Psalm 119:33-37 and am reading Treasury of David by Spurgeon and this commentary on those verses. I highly recommend both. You can find them for free online in electronic format or in book form by using the Amazon button in the right column. Bridges also has an exposition on Proverbs which is excellent. It’s at a level everyone can read and application oriented.

I like this quote a lot and can identify with it, so I thought I’d post it since I haven’t been doing much of that. I have some other short posts in mind.

Is It OK To Lie?

This is a quick post based on an article I skimmed and would like to read more carefully. I may be too long, so I provided a quote, and you can decide if you want to read more. My writing may sound haphazard (or maybe it always does). I hope you don’t mind that I don’t want to spend time refining this one.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not it’s ever OK to lie. The law was made for man as they say, and it may be of benefit in very rare cases to lie, or so I’ve been wondering. Below is a very strict article about lying. Scripture talks about it a lot, not just “not bearing false witness”. I’ve had Numbers 19:11 memorized for decades which says, “Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.” The not deceiving part makes it much more difficult. You can technically tell the truth and still be deceiving someone. I have more thinking to do about it. I’m not just thinking about lying, but about the law. I’ve always believed in honesty and obeying Scriptural (except for OT ceremonial and those specific only to Israel–we won’t get into that) and governmental laws. I just sometimes wonder about if it’s OK to occasionally break it. This is a long (probably too long) article by a good author. A good paragraph is:

“The injunctions of Scripture which bear directly on the demand for truthfulness have reference to speech or utterance. ‘Speak every man truth with his neighbour’ (Ephesians 4:25). Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’ (Exodus 20:16). ‘Lie not one to another’ (Colossians 3:9). It will have to be understood that this covers other forms of signification as well as the spoken word. Words spoken are simply signs by which thought and meaning are conveyed, and there are numerous other means of communication by which truth can be conveyed or lying perpetrated. There are particularly the signs of gesture and action, sometimes closely associated with the spoken word and sometimes wholly intelligible without words. But as the Scripture itself deals with the question in terms of speech, and since that is the most common means of communication, we may do likewise. What does the Scripture mean by ‘lying’ as the prohibited thing and by ‘speaking truth’ as that required? May we under any circumstances utter what we know to be untrue, what we believe to be false? Are we always under obligation to declare what we know or believe to be true?7 May we affirm part of the truth and conceal the rest? These are the questions that inescapably arise, not only in the exigencies of life but in the interpretation of Scripture. We are compelled to come to terms with such questions because the biblical record supplies us with instances in which untruth was blatantly spoken and in which truth was concealed. Does the Scripture approve such conduct under certain circumstances?”

–John Murray

See the rest: The Sanctity of Truth

Many in these post-modern times will think it too strict. I personally don’t, and it helps me in thinking out this somewhat minor issue, because if honesty is your policy, it won’t come up very much at all. But it does help us to better understand the law in Scripture.

Then there are the three purposes of the law according to Calvin and many others, which I also think is a very interesting subject.