The Grace & Truth Paradox — Randy Alcorn

The Grace & Truth Paradox
This mar­velous lit­tle book by Randy Alcorn fell into my metaphor­ic hands just at the right time when I and my room­mate were asked to start a small-group bible study and the top­ic asked for was “How to debate with love.”

Below are quotes that I found espe­cial­ly mean­ing­ful. (More to fol­low as I con­tin­ue my exploration.)

What Gives Us Away?

A friend sat down in a small Lon­don restau­rant and picked up a menu.

What will it be?” the wait­er asked.

Study­ing the puz­zling selec­tions, my friend said, “Uhh…”

The wait­er smiled. “Oh, a Yank. What part of the States are you from?”

He hadn’t said a word. But he’d already giv­en him­self away.

In the first cen­tu­ry, Christ’s fol­low­ers were also rec­og­nized imme­di­ate­ly. What gave them away?

It wasn’t their build­ings. They had none.

It wasn’t their pro­grams. They had none.

It wasn’t their polit­i­cal pow­er. They had none.

It wasn’t their slick pub­li­ca­tions, TV net­works, bumper­stick­ers, or celebri­ties. They had none. What was it?

With great pow­er the apos­tles con­tin­ued to tes­ti­fy to the res­ur­rec­tion of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. ~ Acts 4:33

They tes­ti­fied to the truth about Christ and lived by His grace. Truth was the food they ate and the mes­sage they spoke. Grace was the air they breathed and the life they lived.

The world around them had nev­er seen any­thing like it. It still hasn’t.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace & Truth Para­dox, Ch 1

“We should nev­er approach truth except in a spir­it of grace, or grace except in the spir­it of truth. Jesus was­n’t 50 per­cent grace, 50 per­cent truth, but 100 per­cent grace and 100 per­cent truth.

Truth-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love study­ing Scrip­ture and the­ol­o­gy. But some­times they’re quick to judge and slow to for­give. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.

Grace-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love for­give­ness and free­dom. But some­times they neglect Bible study and see moral stan­dards as “legal­ism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.

Count­less mis­takes in mar­riage, par­ent­ing, min­istry, and oth­er rela­tion­ships are fail­ures to bal­ance grace and truth. Some­times we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other.” 

“A para­dox is an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion. Grace and truth aren’t real­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry. Jesus didn’t switch on truth and then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are per­ma­nent­ly switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.” 

“Some church ser­vices are per­me­at­ed with Chris­t­ian clichés that mys­ti­fy unbe­liev­ers. Nobody’s drawn to what’s incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Grace com­pels us to put the cook­ies on the low­er shelf where the unini­ti­at­ed can reach them. Jesus warm­ly wel­comed the non­re­li­gious and spoke words they under­stood. So should we.

Oth­er church­es try to make sin­ners feel com­fort­able. How? They nev­er talk about sin. Nev­er offend any­one. They replace truth with tol­er­ance, low­er­ing the bar so every­one can jump over it and we can all feel good about ourselves.

But Jesus said, ’ ‘No ser­vant is greater than his mas­ter.’ If they per­se­cut­ed me, they will per­se­cute you also’ (John 15:20).

Some­thing’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers hate us.

Some­thing’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers like us.

If we accu­rate­ly demon­strate grace ‑and- truth, some will be drawn to us and oth­er will be offend­ed by us—just as they were by Jesus.

When we offend every­body, it’s because we’ve tak­en on the truth man­tle with­out the grace. When we offend nobody, it’s because we’ve watered down truth in the name of grace.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 2.

“Grace nev­er ignores the awful truth of our deprav­i­ty. In fact, it empha­sizes it. The worse we real­ize we are, the greater we real­ize God’s grace is.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 3.

“God has writ­ten His truth on human hearts (Romans 2:15). Shame and twinges of con­science come from rec­og­niz­ing that truth has been vio­lat­ed. When peo­ple hear truth spo­ken gra­cious­ly, many are drawn to it because of the moral vac­u­um they feel. Hearts long for truth—even hearts that reject it.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

This next one is very sim­i­lar to Ray Com­fort’s anal­o­gy in his talk Hel­l’s Best Kept Secret in which he talks of Jesus being offered not as sal­va­tion from the trans­gres­sions of the law, but as “Life Enhance­ment”. Peo­ple are enticed to ‘try on Christ’ with promis­es that their dif­fi­cul­ties in life will be resolved (using a para­chute as metaphor for Christ), but with­out any true under­stand­ing of the jump out of the air­plane that is to come. They put it on. It is uncom­fort­able and bulky and gives no ben­e­fit and so they tear it off, are angry at the para­chute (and the stew­ardess who gave it to them), and resolves nev­er to be fooled by that non­sense again. This as opposed to the one who is told at the out­set that there will be a jump to come and the only thing that will save them is wear­ing the para­chute. Then when the dif­fi­cul­ties of life befall him, say for instance, a new stew­ardess who trips and spills boil­ing hot cof­fee on him, he does­n’t cast off the para­chute and say “You stu­pid para­chute!” No, holds it all the tighter, and may ever Look For­ward to the jump to come.

If a teacher is guilty of preach­ing life enhance­ment instead of the truth, then there is noth­ing at all redemp­tive in his min­istry. Indeed, it is less than redemp­tive. It is damning.

The oppo­site is near­ly as bad. That is, preach­ing truth in absence of all grace. Ray Com­fort clar­i­fies, “I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled converts.”

The world’s low stan­dards, its dis­re­gard for truth, are not grace. The illu­so­ry free­dom, how­ev­er, ‑feels- like grace to some­one who’s been pound­ed by grace­less truth—beaten over the head with a piece of the guardrail. In fact, peo­ple who grow up in joy­less reli­gion learn that there’s no hope of liv­ing up to such daunt­ing stan­dards. “Why even try? It’s ‑impos­si­ble!-.”

But prop­er­ly under­stood, bib­li­cal truths are guardrails that pro­tect us from plung­ing off the cliff. A smart trav­el­er does­n’t curse the guardrails. He does­n’t whine, “That guardrail dent­ed my fend­er!” He looks over the cliff, and sees demol­ished autos below, and is ‑grate­ful- for guardrails.

The guardrails of truth are there not to pun­ish, but to pro­tect us.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

God­ly liv­ing cen­ters not on what we avoid, but on whom we embrace. Any­time we talk more about dos and don’ts than about Jesus, some­thing’s wrong.

—Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4

Disappearance of Theology from the Church

David F. Wells

“The dis­ap­pear­ance of the­ol­o­gy from the life of the Church, and the orches­tra­tion of that dis­ap­pear­ance by some of its lead­ers, is hard to miss today, but odd­ly enough, not easy to prove. It is hard to miss in the evan­gel­i­cal world–in the vac­u­ous wor­ship that is so preva­lent, for exam­ple, in the shift form God to the self as the cen­tral focus of faith, in the psy­chol­o­gized preach­ing that fol­lows this shift, in the ero­sion of its con­vic­tion, in its stri­dent prag­ma­tism, in its inabil­i­ty to think inci­sive­ly about the cul­ture, in its rev­el­ing in the irrational.” 
― David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or, What­ev­er Hap­pened to Evan­gel­i­cal Theology

Lower the Law and you dim the light

Charles Spurgeon
“Low­er the Law and you dim the light by which man per­ceives his guilt. This is a very seri­ous loss to the sin­ner rather than a gain, for it lessens the like­li­hood of his con­vic­tion and con­ver­sion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest aux­il­iary [most pow­er­ful weapon] when you have tak­en away the school­mas­ter that is to bring men to Christ. They will nev­er accept grace until they trem­ble before a just and holy Law. There­fore the Law serves most nec­es­sary and blessed pur­pose and must not be moved from its place.” 
— Charles Had­don Spurgeon

YOU have no ene­mies, you say?

Charles Mackay (1812-1889)
YOU have no ene­mies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor; 

He who has min­gled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure, 

Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done. 

You’ve hit no trai­tor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from per­jured lip, 

You’ve nev­er turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a cow­ard in the fight.

Charles Mack­ay, (Eng­lish Chartist poet, 1814–1889)

The Cry for Jus­tice: An Anthol­o­gy of the Lit­er­a­ture of Social Protest, 1915 The Writ­ings of Philoso­phers, Poets, Nov­el­ists, Social Reform­ers, and Oth­ers Who Have Voiced the Strug­gle Against Social Injus­tice, Select­ed from Twen­ty-Five Lan­guages, Cov­er­ing a Peri­od of Five Thou­sand Years, Upton Sin­clair, ed. (1878–1968)

Divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil

SurprisedByJoy1“If the North­er­ness seemed then a big­ger thing than my reli­gion, that may part­ly have been because my atti­tude toward it con­tained ele­ments which my reli­gion ought to have con­tained and did not. It was not itself a new reli­gion for it con­tained no trace of belief and imposed no duties. Yet unless I am great­ly mis­tak­en, there was in it some­thing very like ado­ra­tion; some kind of quite dis­in­ter­est­ed self-aban­don­ment to an object which secure­ly claimed this by sim­ply being the object it was. We are taught in the Prayer Book to ‘give thanks to God for His great glo­ry’ as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He nec­es­sar­i­ly is than for any par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fit he con­fers upon us; and so indeed we do, and to know God is to know this, but I had been far from any such expe­ri­ence. I came far near­er to feel­ing this about the Norse gods whom I dis­be­lieved in than I had ever done about the true God while I believed. Some­times I can almost think that I was sent back to the false gods, there to acquire some capac­i­ty for wor­ship against the day when the true God should recall me to Him­self. Not that I might not have learned this soon­er and more safe­ly in ways I shall now nev­er know with­out apos­ta­sy, but that divine pun­ish­ments are also mer­cies and par­tic­u­lar good is worked out of par­tic­u­lar evil and the penal blind­ness made san­i­tive. ” ~ C. S. Lewis, Sur­prised by Joy

Relational Relationship

Matthew HenryEve was not tak­en out of Adam’s head to top him, nei­ther out of his feet to be tram­pled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be pro­tect­ed by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” — Matthew Henry

Sto­ries tell of a 17 year old Abra­ham Lin­coln singing a poet­i­cised (Cre­at­ed by him­self?) ver­sion of this put to music for a sis­ter’s wedding.

Jesus Loved the Broken

Rich MullinsJesus said what­ev­er you do to the least of these my broth­ers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to iden­ti­fy ful­ly with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Sav­ior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to iden­ti­fy with the poor. This I know will go against the teach­ings of all the pop­u­lar evan­gel­i­cal preach­ers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Chris­tian­i­ty is not about build­ing an absolute­ly secure lit­tle niche in the world where you can live with your per­fect lit­tle wife and your per­fect lit­tle chil­dren in a beau­ti­ful lit­tle house where you have no gays or minor­i­ty groups any­where near you. Chris­tian­i­ty is about learn­ing to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the bro­ken.…” — Rich Mullins

Ran across some unre­lat­ed quotes that I don’t want to lose track of:

“I think that’s where the church is dou­bly damned; when they use Jesus as a vehi­cle for achiev­ing all of that [wor­ship­ing, plea­sure, leisure and afflu­ence]. Like, if you give a tithe, He ll make you rich. Why? … If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten per­cent of the root of all evil. You should be giv­ing nine­ty per­cent, ‘cause God can han­dle mon­ey bet­ter than we can.” — Rich Mullins

The secret of rock music: “If you can’t be good, be loud.” — Rich Mullins

The cur­rent trends in wor­ship: “Shal­low, mind­less, stu­pid, and per­fect­ly harm­less, at best.” — Rich Mullins

I don’t want to be tol­er­at­ed. Argue with me, and I will respect you. — Rich Mullins

It nev­er fails. God will put peo­ple in your path that irri­tate you, espe­cial­ly if you’re prone to be irri­tat­ed.” — Rich Mullins

I hope I would leave a lega­cy of joy ‑a lega­cy of real com­pas­sion,” — Rich Mullins 

The Hound of Heaven

Francis ThompsonI fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
  I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
  I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
        Up vistaed hopes, I sped;
        And shot, precipitated,
  Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
    From those strong Feet that followed,
          followed after.
        But with unhurrying chase,
        And unperturbed pace,
      Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
        They beat--and a Voice beat
        More instant than the Feet--
      "All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

        I pleaded, out law-wise,
  By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
    Trellised with intertwining charities
  (For, though I knew His love Who followed,
        Yet was I sore adread
  Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside);
  But, if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of His approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
  Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
        Fretted to dulcet jars
  And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
  I said to dawn: Be sudden; to eve: Be soon--
    With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over
        From this tremendous Lover!
  Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
    I tempted all His servitors, but to find
  My own betrayal in their constancy,
  In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
  To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
        But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
      The long savannahs of the blue;
          Or whether, Thunder-driven,
      They clanged His chariot 'thwart a heaven
  Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:--
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
          Still with unhurrying chase,
          And unperturbed pace,
  Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
          Came on the following Feet,
          And a Voice above their beat--
  "Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."

I sought no more that after which I strayed
      In face of man or maid;
      But still within the little children's eyes
    Seems something, something that replies,
  _They_ at least are for me, surely for me!
  I turned me to them very wistfully;
  But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
      With dawning answers there,
  Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

  Come then, ye other children,
    With me" (said I) "your delicate fellowship;
    Let me greet you lip to lip,
    Let me twine with you caresses,
    With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
    With her in her wind-walled palace,
    Underneath her azured dais,
    Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
        From a chalice
  Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring."
        So it was done;
  _I_ in their delicate fellowship was one--
  Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
        _I_ knew all the swift importings
        On the wilful face of skies;
        I knew how the clouds arise,
        Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
          All that's born or dies
      Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
  Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine--
        With them joyed and was bereaven.
        I was heavy with the even,
    When she lit her glimmering tapers
      Round the day's dead sanctities.
      I laughed in the morning's eyes.
  I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
      Heaven and I wept together,
  And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
  Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
          I laid my own to beat,
          And share commingling heat;
  But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
  In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
  For ah! we know not what each other says,
        These things and I; in sound _I_ speak--
  _Their_ sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
  Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake by drouth;
        Let her, if she would owe me,
  Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
        The breasts o' her tenderness:
  Never did any milk of hers once bless
          My thirsting mouth.
        Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
          With unperturbed pace,
        Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
          And past those noised Feet
          A Voice comes yet more fleet--
        "Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."
 Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
  My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
          And smitten me to my knee;
          I am defenceless utterly.
          I slept, methinks, and woke,
  And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
  In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
          I shook the pillaring hours
  And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
  I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years--
  My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
  My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
  Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
      Yea, faileth now even dream
  The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
  Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
  I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
  Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
  For earth, with heavy griefs so overplussed.
        Ah! is Thy love indeed
  A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
  Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
          Ah! must--
          Designer infinite!--
  Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
  My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
  And now my heart is as a broken fount,
  Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
          From the dank thoughts that shiver
  Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
          Such is; what is to be?
  The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
  I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
  Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
  From the hid battlements of Eternity:
  Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
  Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again;
          But not ere Him who summoneth
          I first have seen, enwound
  And now my heart is as a broken fount,
  Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
  From the dank thoughts that shiver
  With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
  His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
  Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
          Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
          Be dunged with rotten death?

 Now of that long pursuit
  Comes on at hand the bruit;
  That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
          "And is thy earth so marred,
          Shattered in shard on shard?
    Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
        Strange, piteous, futile thing,
  Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
  Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said),
  "And human love needs human meriting:
        How hast thou merited--
  Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
        Alack, thou knowest not
  How little worthy of any love thou art!
  Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
        Save Me, save only Me?
  All which I took from thee I did but take,
        Not for thy harms,
  But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
        All which thy child's mistake
  Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
        Rise, clasp My hand, and come."
          Halts by me that footfall:
          Is my gloom, after all,
    Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
          "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
          I am He Whom thou seekest!
  Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."

Fran­cis Thomp­son (16 Decem­ber 1859 – 13 Novem­ber 1907) was an Eng­lish poet and ascetic. After attend­ing col­lege, he moved to Lon­don to become a writer, but in menial work, became addict­ed to opi­um, and was a street vagrant for years. A mar­ried cou­ple read his poet­ry and res­cued him, pub­lish­ing his first book Poems in 1893. Thomp­son lived as an unbal­anced invalid in Wales and at Stor­ring­ton, but wrote three books of poet­ry, with oth­er works and essays, before dying of tuber­cu­lo­sis in 1907. 

Awesome God

Rich Mullins - here in americaThe leg­endary song “Awe­some God” was not craft­ed in a com­fy-cozy song­writ­ing room, with fresh legal pads and fla­vored cof­fee. It was picked up some­where between Ten­nessee and Mis­souri, in the cab of a sweaty lit­tle pick­up truck, on the way to a con­cert. Rich told me that while he was dri­ving, he envi­sioned an imag­i­nary “hell­fire and brim­stone” preach­er, wav­ing his fin­ger in the air, mak­ing procla­ma­tions about God to his con­gre­ga­tion. Line by line the man shout­ed out the phras­es of “Awe­some God.” Rich com­mit­ted those lines to mem­o­ry until he got to the venue and found a piano to fig­ure out what key to play it in. After he’d played it for me, Rich said in a small voice “I think it’s going to be big.” Rich then asked me if I would sing the vers­es and he assem­bled a small choir for the cho­rus­es. We rehearsed and per­formed “Awe­some God” for the first time that night. It amazes me how good Rich’s intu­ition was about that song, as it con­tin­ues to impact so many people.

— Steve Cudworth

…the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second.

OswaldChambersThere are cer­tain things we must not pray about – moods, for instance. Moods nev­er go by pray­ing, moods go by kick­ing. A mood near­ly always has its seat in the phys­i­cal con­di­tion, not in the moral. It is a con­tin­u­al effort not to lis­ten to the moods which arise from a phys­i­cal con­di­tion, nev­er sub­mit to them for a sec­ond. We have to take our­selves by the scruff of the neck and shake our­selves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won’t. The Chris­t­ian life is one of incar­nate spir­i­tu­al pluck.”

— Oswald Cham­bers (24 July 1874 – 15 Novem­ber 1917)

My Utmost for His Highest

Different Incantation

TheLionWitchWardrobe(1stEd)CroppedIt means that though the Witch knew the Deep Mag­ic, there is a mag­ic deep­er still which she did not know. Her knowl­edge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a lit­tle fur­ther back, into the still­ness and the dark­ness before Time dawned, she would have read there a dif­fer­ent incan­ta­tion. She would have known that when a will­ing vic­tim who had com­mit­ted no treach­ery was killed in a trai­tor­’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start work­ing backwards.”

― Aslan, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chap­ter 15), Clive Sta­ples Lewis, 1950


Deliberate Atheism?

Aldous Huxley 1894-1963

I had motive for not want­i­ng the world to have a mean­ing; con­se­quent­ly I assumed that it had none, and was able with­out any dif­fi­cul­ty to find sat­is­fy­ing rea­sons for this assump­tion. The philoso­pher who finds no mean­ing in the world is not con­cerned exclu­sive­ly with a prob­lem in pure meta­physics, he is also con­cerned to prove that there is no valid rea­son why he per­son­al­ly should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize polit­i­cal pow­er and gov­ern in the way that they find most advan­ta­geous to them­selves … For myself, the phi­los­o­phy of mean­ing­less­ness was essen­tial­ly an instru­ment of lib­er­a­tion, sex­u­al and political.”

— Aldous Hux­ley 1894–1963

[ Locat­ed this con­tent here. My thanks. ]

This quote was one of many by not­ed athe­ists (who were quite forth­right in all but stat­ing that a large causal fac­tor in their athe­ism is a desire to not have the moral­i­ty of a deity imposed upon their lifestyles) in an arti­cle I recent­ly ran across.

The Sword of Solomon

F.W.Boreham-SittingReadingABookThere is a sense in which two and two are four, the plane of ledgers and cash­books – on which these propo­si­tions are approx­i­mate­ly sound. But if you rise from that plane to a lofti­er one, you will find at once that they are unten­able … it is obvi­ous­ly untrue that half-a-baby and half-a-baby make a baby. Let the sword do its dead­ly work… The two halves of a baby make no baby at all. On this high­er plane of human sen­ti­ment and expe­ri­ence, the laws of math­e­mat­ics col­lapse completely.

When a man dis­trib­utes his wealth among his chil­dren, he gives to each a part. But when a woman dis­trib­utes her love among her chil­dren, she gives it all to each … No man who has once fall­en in love will ever be per­suad­ed that one and one are only two. He looks at her, and feels that one plus one would be a mil­lion … No hap­py cou­ple into the sweet shel­ter of whose home a lit­tle child has come will ever be con­vinced that two and one are only three. Life has been enriched a thou­sand­fold by the addi­tion of that one lit­tle life to theirs. And I am cer­tain that no pair from whose cling­ing and pro­tect­ing arms their trea­sure has been snatched will find com­fort in the assur­ance that one from three leaves two. In the great crises of life one’s faith in fig­ures breaks down hopelessly.”

— F.W. Bore­ham, excerpt of “The Sword of Solomon”

Heard quot­ed by Ravi Zacharias.

The new rebel…

GKChestertonThe new rebel is a Skep­tic, and will not entire­ly trust any­thing. He has no loy­al­ty; there­fore he can nev­er be real­ly a rev­o­lu­tion­ist. And the fact that he doubts every­thing real­ly gets in his way when he wants to denounce any­thing. For all denun­ci­a­tion implies a moral doc­trine of some kind; and the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist doubts not only the insti­tu­tion he denounces, but the doc­trine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book com­plain­ing that impe­r­i­al impres­sion insults the puri­ty of women, and then he writes anoth­er book (about the sex prob­lem) in which he insults it him­self. He curs­es the Sul­tan because Chris­t­ian girls lose their vir­gin­i­ty, and then curs­es Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politi­cian, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philoso­pher that all life is a waste of time. A Russ­ian pes­simist will denounce a police man for killing a peas­ant, and then prove by the high­est philo­soph­i­cal prin­ci­ples that the peas­ant ought to have killed him­self. A man denounces mar­riage as a lie, and then denounces aris­to­crat­ic prof­li­gates for treat­ing it as a lie. He calls the flag a bauble, and then blames the oppres­sors of Poland or Ire­land because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to the polit­i­cal meet­ing, where he com­plains that sav­ages are treat­ed as if they were beast; then he takes his hat and umbrel­la and goes on to a sci­en­tif­ic meet­ing, where he proves they prac­ti­cal­ly are beast. In short, the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist, being an infi­nite skep­tic, is always engaged in under­min­ing his own mines. In his book on pol­i­tics he attacks men for tram­pling on moral­i­ty; in his book on ethics he attacks moral­i­ty for tram­pling on men. There­fore, the mod­ern man in revolt has become prac­ti­cal­ly use­less for all pur­pos­es of revolt. By rebelling against every­thing he has lost his right to rebel against any­thing.” — G.K. Chester­ton: Ortho­doxy, III. “The Sui­cide of Thought.”

Quot­ed recent­ly by Ravi Zacharias. Found at GKC­Dai­ly

The Gospel is More than Sufficient

Charles SpurgeonA great many learned men are defend­ing the gospel; no doubt it is a very prop­er and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached. Sup­pose a num­ber of per­sons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the sol­diers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should sug­gest to them, if they would not object, and feel that it was hum­bling to them, that they should kind­ly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out!

I believe that would be the best way of defend­ing him, for he would take care of him­self; and the best “apol­o­gy” for the gospel is to let the gospel out.

— Charles Had­don Spurgeon

Or to put it anoth­er way:

Peo­ple aren’t con­fused by the gospel
They’re con­fused by us
Jesus is the only way to God
But we are not the only way to Jesus

This world does­n’t need my tie, my hoodie
My denom­i­na­tion or my trans­la­tion of the Bible
They just need Jesus
We can be pas­sion­ate about what we believe

But we can’t strap our­selves to the gospel
‘Cause we’re slow­ing it down
Jesus is going to save the world
But maybe the best thing we can do
Is just get out of the way

— Cast­ing Crowns, What this World Needs

Vis­it many good books, but live in the Bible.”
― C.H. Spurgeon

The Weight of Glory — A few meaningful quotes

2 Corinthi­ans 4:16–18 NIV
There­fore we do not lose heart. Though out­ward­ly we are wast­ing away, yet inward­ly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momen­tary trou­bles are achiev­ing for us an eter­nal glo­ry that far out­weighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is tem­po­rary, but what is unseen is eternal

This does not mean that we are to be per­pet­u­al­ly solemn. We must play. But our mer­ri­ment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the mer­ri­est kind) which exists between peo­ple who have, from the out­set, tak­en each oth­er seriously—no flip­pan­cy, no supe­ri­or­i­ty, no pre­sump­tion. And our char­i­ty must be a real and cost­ly love, with deep feel­ing for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tol­er­ance or indul­gence which par­o­dies love as flip­pan­cy par­o­dies mer­ri­ment.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942

If you asked twen­ty good men to-day what they thought the high­est of the virtues, nine­teen of them would reply, Unselfish­ness. But if you asked almost any of the great Chris­tians of old he would have replied, Love- You see what has hap­pened? A neg­a­tive term has been sub­sti­tut­ed for a pos­i­tive, and this is of more than philo­log­i­cal impor­tance. The neg­a­tive ide­al of Unselfish­ness car­ries with it the sug­ges­tion not pri­mar­i­ly of secur­ing good things for oth­ers, but of going with­out them our­selves, as if our absti­nence and not their hap­pi­ness was the impor­tant point. I do not think this is the Chris­t­ian virtue of Love. The New Tes­ta­ment has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny our­selves and to take up our cross­es in order that we may fol­low Christ; and near­ly every descrip­tion of what we shall ulti­mate­ly find if we do so con­tains an appeal to desire. 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 no part of the Chris­t­ian faith. Indeed, if we con­sid­er the unblush­ing promis­es of reward and the stag­ger­ing nature of the 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.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942

I find that when I think I am ask­ing God to for­give me I am often in reality…asking Him not to for­give me but to excuse me. But there is all the dif­fer­ence in the world between for­giv­ing and excus­ing. For­give­ness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apol­o­gy…’ But excus­ing says ‘I see that you could­n’t help it or did­n’t mean it; you weren’t real­ly to blame.’ …And if we for­get this, we shall go away imag­in­ing that we have repent­ed and been for­giv­en when all that has real­ly hap­pened is that we have sat­is­fied our­selves with our own excus­es. They may be very bad excus­es; we are all too eas­i­ly sat­is­fied about our­selves.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942

The Gospel of Satan

A. W. Pink

The gospel of Satan is not a sys­tem of rev­o­lu­tion­ary prin­ci­ples, nor yet a pro­gram of anar­chy. It does not pro­mote strife and war, but aims at peace and uni­ty. It seeks not to set the moth­er against her daugh­ter nor the father against his son, but fos­ters the fra­ter­nal, spir­it where­by the human race is regard­ed as one great &#8220brotherhood”. It does not seek to drag down the nat­ur­al man, but to improve and uplift him. It advo­cates edu­ca­tion and cul­ti­va­tion and appeals to “the best that is with­in us”. It aims to make this world such a con­ge­nial and com­fort­able habi­tat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be need­ed. It endeav­ors to occu­py man so much with this world that he has no time or incli­na­tion to think of the world to come. It prop­a­gates the prin­ci­ples of self-sac­ri­fice, char­i­ty and benev­o­lence, and teach­es us to live for the good of oth­ers, and to be kind to all. It appeals strong­ly to the car­nal mind and is pop­u­lar with the mass­es, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fall­en crea­ture, alien­at­ed from the life of God, and dead in tres­pass­es and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.” — A. W. Pink

The full essay is 11 para­graphs in length. Below is the full text:

Satan is the arch-coun­ter­feit­er. As we have seen, the Dev­il is now busy at work in the same field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seek­ing to pre­vent the growth of the wheat by anoth­er plant, the tares, which close­ly resem­bles the wheat in appear­ance. In a word, by a process of imi­ta­tion he is aim­ing to neu­tral­ize the Word of Christ. There­fore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan has a gospel too; the lat­ter being a clever coun­ter­feit of the for­mer. So close­ly does the gospel of Satan resem­ble that which it parades, mul­ti­tudes of the unsaved are deceived by it.

It is to this gospel of Satan the apos­tle refers when he says to the Gala­tians “I mar­vel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto anoth­er gospel: which is not anoth­er, but there be some that trou­ble you, and would per­vert the Gospel of Christ” (1:6,7). This false gospel was being her­ald­ed even in the days of the apos­tle, and a most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The apos­tle con­tin­ues, “But though we, or an angel from heav­en preach any oth­er gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” By the help of God we shall now endeav­or to expound, or rather, expose, false gospel.

The gospel of Satan is not a sys­tem of rev­o­lu­tion­ary prin­ci­ples, nor yet a pro­gram of anar­chy. It does not pro­mote strife and war, but aims at peace and uni­ty. It seeks not to set the moth­er against her daugh­ter nor the father against his son, but fos­ters the fra­ter­nal, spir­it where­by the human race is regard­ed as one great “broth­er­hood”. It does not seek to drag down the nat­ur­al man, but to improve and uplift him. It advo­cates edu­ca­tion and cul­ti­va­tion and appeals to “the best that is with­in us”. It aims to make this world such a con­ge­nial and com­fort­able habi­tat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be need­ed. It endeav­ors to occu­py man so much with this world that he has no time or incli­na­tion to think of the world to come. It prop­a­gates the prin­ci­ples of self-sac­ri­fice, char­i­ty and benev­o­lence, and teach­es us to live for the good of oth­ers, and to be kind to all. It appeals strong­ly to the car­nal mind and is pop­u­lar with the mass­es, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fall­en crea­ture, alien­at­ed from the life of God, and dead in tres­pass­es and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

In con­tradis­tinc­tion to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teach­es sal­va­tion by works. It incul­cates jus­ti­fi­ca­tion before God on the ground of human mer­its. Its sacra­men­tal phrase is “Be good and do good”; but it fails to rec­og­nize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces sal­va­tion by char­ac­ter, which revers­es the order of God’s Word—character by, as the fruit of, sal­va­tion. Its var­i­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions and orga­ni­za­tions are man­i­fold. Tem­per­ance, Reform move­ments, “Chris­t­ian Social­ist Leagues”, eth­i­cal cul­ture soci­eties, “Peace Con­gress­es” are all employed (per­haps uncon­scious­ly) in pro­claim­ing this gospel of Satan—salvation by works. The pledge-card is sub­sti­tut­ed for Christ; social puri­ty for indi­vid­ual regen­er­a­tion, and pol­i­tics and phi­los­o­phy for doc­trine and god­li­ness. The cul­ti­va­tion of the old man is con­sid­ered more prac­ti­cal” than the cre­ation of a new man in Christ Jesus; whilst uni­ver­sal peace is looked for apart from the inter­po­si­tion and return of the Prince of Peace.

The apos­tles of Satan are not saloon-keep­ers and white slave traf­fick­ers, but are or the most part ordained min­is­ters. Thou­sands of those who occu­py our mod­ern pul­pits are no longer engaged in pre­sent­ing the fun­da­men­tals of the Chris­t­ian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth and have giv­en heed unto fables. Instead of mag­ni­fy­ing the enor­mi­ty of sin and set­ting forth its eter­nal con­se­quences, they min­i­mize it by declar­ing that sin is mere­ly igno­rance or the absence of good. Instead of warn­ing their hear­ers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declar­ing that He is too lov­ing and mer­ci­ful to send any of His own crea­tures to eter­nal torment.

Instead of declar­ing that “with­out shed­ding of blood is no remis­sion”, they mere­ly hold up Christ as the great Exam­plar and exhort their fol­low­ers to “fol­low in His step”. Of them it must be said, “For they being igno­rant of God’s right­eous­ness and going about to estab­lish their own right­eous­ness, have not sub­mit­ted them­selves unto the right­eous­ness of God” (Rom. 10:3). Their mes­sage may sound very plau­si­ble and their appear very praise­wor­thy, yet we read of them, “for such are false apos­tles, deceit­ful work­ers, trans­form­ing them­selves (imi­tat­ing) into the apos­tles of Christ. And no mar­vel; for Satan him­self is trans­formed into an angel of light. There­fore it is no great thing (not to be won­dered at) if his min­is­ters also be trans­formed as the min­is­ters of right­eous­ness, whose end shall be accord­ing to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13–15).

In addi­tion to the fact that today hun­dreds of church­es are with­out a leader who faith­ful­ly declares the whole coun­sel of God and presents His way of sal­va­tion, we also have to face the addi­tion­al fact that the major­i­ty of peo­ple in these church­es are very unlike­ly to learn the Truth for them­selves. The fam­i­ly altar, where a por­tion of God’s Word was wont to be read dai­ly is now, even in the homes of nom­i­nal Chris­tians, large­ly a thing of the past. The Bible is not expound­ed in the pul­pit and it is not read in the pew. The demands of this rush­ing age are so numer­ous that the mul­ti­tudes have lit­tle time and still less incli­na­tion to make prepa­ra­tion for their meet­ing with God. Hence the major­i­ty who are too indo­lent to search for them­selves are left at the mer­cy of those whom they pay to search for them; many of which betray their trust by study­ing and expound­ing eco­nom­ic and social prob­lems rather than the Ora­cles of God .…

And now, my read­er, where do you stand? Are you in the way which “seemeth right”, but which ends in death? Or are you in the Nar­row Way which lead­eth unto life? Have you tru­ly for­sak­en the Broad Road that lead­eth to death? Has the love of Christ cre­at­ed in your heart a hatred and hor­ror of all that is dis­pleas­ing to Him? Are, you desirous that He should “reign over” (Luke 19:14) you? Are you rely­ing whol­ly on His right­eous­ness and blood for your accep­tance with God? .…

A yet more spe­cious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preach­ers to present the aton­ing sac­ri­fice of Christ and then tell their hear­ers that all God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. There­by thou­sands of impen­i­tent souls are delud­ed into think­ing that they have been saved. But Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all like­wise per­ish” (Luke 13:3). To “repent” is to hate sin, to sor­row over, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirit’s mak­ing the heart con­trite before God. None except a bro­ken heart can sav­ing­ly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again; thou­sands are deceived into sup­pos­ing that they have “accept­ed Christ” as their “per­son­al Sav­iour”, who have not first received Him as their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save peo­ple in their sins, but “from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignor­ing and despis­ing the author­i­ty of God, it is to aban­don the course of self-will and self-pleas­ing, it is to “for­sake our way” (Isa. 55:7). It is to sur­ren­der to God’s author­i­ty, to yield to His domin­ion, to give our­selves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has nev­er tak­en Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not tru­ly and dili­gent­ly seek­ing to please Him in all the details of his life, and yet sup­pos­es that he is “rest­ing on the Fin­ished Work of Christ” is delud­ed by the Devil.

In the sev­enth chap­ter of Matthew there are two scrip­tures which give us approx­i­mate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s coun­ter­feit. First, in vers­es 13 and 14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate. For, wide is the gate and broad is the way, that lead­eth to destruc­tion and many there be which go in there­at. Because strait is the gate and nar­row is the way which lead­eth unto life and few there be that find it.” Sec­ond, in vers­es 22 and 23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not proph­e­sized (preached) in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name have done many won­der­ful works? And then will I pro­fess unto them, I nev­er knew you, depart from Me, ye that work iniq­ui­ty.” Yes, my read­er, it is pos­si­ble to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in His name, and though the world knows us, and the Church knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How nec­es­sary it is then to find out where we real­ly are; to exam­ine our­selves to see whether we be in the faith; to mea­sure our­selves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our sub­tle Ene­my; to find out whether we are build­ing our house upon the sand, or whether it is erect­ed on the Rock which is Christ Jesus. May the Holy Spir­it search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmi­ty against God, work in us a deep and true repen­tance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.