Archive for the 'Quotes' Category

What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

Here is a repost from a couple of years ago that seems to be popular.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV). This is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. Is there another interpretation that you or another scholar prefer?

GRACE AND LAW

John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7, The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

Quotes on Bible Reading

Here are some quotes I’ve posted before on the most important thing we can do along with prayer. In order to pray, we need to use the language of the Bible.

The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.

–James Merritt

If I want to love God more, I have to know Him more deeply. The more I search the Scriptures and focus my mind’s attention on who God is and what He does, the more my soul breaks out in flames.

–R.C. Sproul

Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.

Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 97

We measure Scripture’s story by ours. The attitude the psalm [Psalm 1] commends involves delighting in Yhwh’s teaching—especially (we might add) when its story seems irrelevant or it takes a different stance from us. That is the moment when studying Scripture becomes interesting, significant, and important. We then delight in it. The way that delight expresses itself is by talking about it day and night–-in other words, ceaselessly.

–John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg 84, referring to Psalm 1

We have become so accustomed to hearing preachers or expositors, as important as that is, that many in the process have abandoned the grand privilege of personally hearing from God’s Word daily.

–Ravi Zacharias

The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11

Happy Are They Who Submit to the Appointments of Their Maker!

How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker! and how necessary is it to our peace!

This great attainment is too often unthought of and overlooked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting whatever befalls us is according to His purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good.

From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings, which are not only sinful but tormenting; whereas if all things are in His hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered, if every event, great and small are under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient; then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as He leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue.

The path of present duty is marked out; and the concerns of the next and every succeeding hour are in His hands.

How happy are they who can resign all to Him, see His hands in every dispensation, and believe that He chooses better for them then they possibly could for themselves!

—-John Newton (who wrote Amazing Grace)

This is the entirety of Happy Are They Who Submit to the Appointments of Their Maker! | Monergism

Earth

When People Insult You

I think the quote below is great. This applies to obviously unfair criticism. Of course, there are also times to take it into serious consideration.

Don’t take everything that people say to heart, or you may hear your own servant cursing you.
Ecclesiastes 7:21 GW

or

do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. (NASB)

One wise man responded to criticism by saying, “He didn’t insult me at all; in fact, he was talking about another man: the man he thought I was.”

–Philip Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters

There’s a lot more to it than that; I just wanted to post this quote, which is a perspective I hadn’t previously thought about.

This post is in the Small Thoughts category.

Allen Ross on Psalm 119

As promised in a recent review on this blog, here are some quotes on Psalm 119 from A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 3 by Allen Ross. I especially like this Psalm and I really appreciate how he treated it.

Psalm 119 has not received the kind of attention that it deserves. For many students of the Bible its massive size and apparent repetition is off—putting. This is reflected in a number of commentaries and studies as well. Leopold Sabourin, for example, says, “Tedious repetitions, poor thought-sequence, apparent lack of inspiration reflect the artificiality of the composition.” Anderson calls it monotonous, but impressive in many ways. Weiser considers it a purely literary composition that is wearisome in its repetition of motifs—and one that opens the way for later legalism; he offers no commentary on the text. But most would agree with Breuggemann that it is a massive achievement.

Finding himself in persecution from powerful people who ridicule his faith in an effort to shame him into abandoning it, the psalmist strengthens himself by his detailed meditations on the Word of the LORD, which is his comfort, his prized possession, his rule of life, his resource for strength, and his message of hope, all of which inspire him to desire it even more, to live by it, and to pray for its fulfillment.

If people simply read through Psalm 119 quickly they most likely will conclude it is a repetitious and random collection of meditations on the Word of God. But if they take time to study each stanza in sequence, they will discover how each of the stanzas forms a complete meditation with certain themes and emphases. They will also see how the collection builds on the themes from stanza to stanza to develop a general flow to the message. To gain a full appreciation for this amazing work one must study it carefully from beginning to end, stanza by stanza.

As a major resource for meditation this psalm is superb. It reveals how divine revelation is the basis for everything that the believer does; but it also shows how the Word of the LORD is applied in all the circumstances of life.

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3

Vern Poythress Describes Me and My Friends

Herman and Dottie are me. My friend, who happens to be named Peter, is Peter and his cohort Laura. Other friend Nathan is like Missy. A motley crew we are.

I found this while I was taking a look at the book God-Centered Biblical Interpretation by Vern Poythress, which he offers free in PDF format. There are others along with samples of some of John Frames’ books.

Herman Hermeneut: Can we come up with a “how-to” list for interpreting the Bible?

Dottie Doctrinalist: That’s definitely useful, provided it is based solidly on the Bible.

Oliver Objectivist: We certainly need such a list, in order to be rigorously objective in our interpretation, and to eliminate subjective biases.

Peter Pietist: I’m not so sure. Won’t a method interfere with my personal communion with the Lord?

Laura Liturgist: I’m just as uneasy as Peter. Does “method” mean something purely academic? Or would it include participation in worship?

Missy Missiologist: I can see both advantages and disadvantages. We certainly need to take steps in order to make sure we are not blinded by the blind spots of the culture in which we were raised. But we need to be careful. Our focus on method can introduce a Western bias. The idea of having a technique or assembly-line process for producing the right meaning seems natural within an industrialized society, where we pursue technique.

He then provides some guidelines for interpreting the Bible.

Calvin on Freedom in Christ

We so often have a material or temporal understanding of manye of the Biblical teachings that are largely spiritual in nature. I wouldn’t have been able to keep count even if I tried. Reading commentaries has helped a lot in this regard, but having been brought up in this society, and having started out with bad habits regarding interpretational skills, it will probably always be something to work on for me.

This quote doesn’t have the benefit of the context that preceded it, but it’s still instructive.

Freedom never an excuse for self-gratification

Now we must take careful note that Christian freedom is, in all its parts, a spiritual thing. Its whole force lies in the fact that it gives peace with God to timid consciences, whether they are troubled by doubts about forgiveness for their sins, fearful that their works, being defiled by the flesh, are unacceptable to God, or unsure about the use of indifferent things.

–John Calvin, –John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, pg. 713, 1541 edition translated by Robert White – you can find this in the final version in III.19.7-8

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:17-19 NIV

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