Friday, February 23, 2007

Sums of My Thoughts

Since I recognize that there is probably nothing that I say, or will say, that is purely original in thought, I always find it heartening to read of others who are gifted with the eloquence to articulate my convictions. When I come across passages like these, I say to myself, “That’s it! That’s exactly what I have wanted to say! Why didn’t I say this before?!?!” And thus, I submit to you some great quotes from my reading over the last few weeks that have stirred up my spirit and have been a good summation of my thoughts.

On Preaching and Pastoral Ministry…
“Can we speak about the misery of human depravity and the wonder of sovereign grace, without being deeply moved by such tremendous realities? Has the development of our heads so shriveled our hearts as to render us suspicious of genuine emotion? […] But our preaching is a travesty if it lacks an earnest pleading with men to receive an all-sufficient Christ, freely offered to all who come. The truths of Calvinism are not barriers which must be surmounted before the gospel can be preached, but a platform from which to preach more powerfully. It is precisely because grace is sovereign and free that we can urge it passionately – because the redemption purchased by Christ is complete and certain that we can commend it so glowingly – because God has so chosen some out of His mere good pleasure that we can preach confidently. If we are to stand in the line of Biblical, Reformed preachers, we will take note of this element in [Richard] Baxter’s preaching.

“This then is the Richard Baxter of Kidderminster. A preacher who laboured to make plain the truth of God, who spoke from a burning heart as he pleaded with his people to close with Christ. A pastor who knew his sheep by name, who spoke to them personally about the great concerns of their souls.”

Edward Donnelly. Introduction to Dying Thoughts by Richard Baxter. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2004. xiv, xv, xviii-xix

On the Centrality of the Word of God in our Worship…
“Worship is impossible without a knowledge of the truth…[T]he more we come to know Him, the more we shall realize that He is worthy of our devotion. For to worship is to praise God’s name, to glory in Who and What He is in the splendor of His being and works…Since worship is always a response to the truth of God we perceive, it is supremely the Word of God (His self-revelation) which evokes worship in God. Therefore the Bible has an indispensable place in both public and private worship…Only when God speaks through His Word, making Himself known in the greatness of His glory and grace, do the congregation truly bow down and worship.”

John Stott. Understanding the Bible (Expanded Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 1972 (rptd 1999). p211.

On the Faithful Proclamation of the Gospel in Preaching Ministry…
“We are not encouraged [in the Scriptures] to forsake our sin by having our senses amused or our preferences coddled. The Gospel is inherently and irreducibly confrontational. It cuts against our perceived righteousness and self-sufficiency, demanding that we forsake cherished sin and trust in someone else to justify us.”

Mark Dever. The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005. p55.

On the Community of Christ’s Sheep…
“But that night [while in prison] was a good night to me; I have had but few better; I longed for the company of some of God’s people. That I might have imparted unto them what God had showed me. Christ was a precious Christ to my soul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy, and peace, and triumph through Christ.”

John Bunyan. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1666ca (rptd 1948). 107-108.

“Men, on the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases, if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.”

R. Kent Hughes. Disciplines of a Godly Man (10th Anniversary Edition). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001. p175.

On Living the Christian’s Life…
“Who is adequate for living the Christian life? Not one of us. The fact of the matter is we cannot live the Christian Life, and God has never asked us to live it. He has asked that He might live that life through us.”

J. Vernon McGee. I and II Kings. La Verne, CA: El Camino Press, 1976. p30.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

The Apostle Paul, Under the Inspiration of The Holy Spirit. Galatians 2:20 ESV

On Preaching, Ministry, and the Measure of Effectiveness…
“Words and actions are transient things, and being once past, are nothing; but the effects of them on an immortal soul may be endless. All the sermons that I have preached are nothing now; but the grace of God on sanctified souls is the beginning of eternal life […] When I die, the gospel dies not, the church dies not, the praised of God die not, the world dies not, but perhaps it will grow better and those prayers be answered which seemed to be lost; and perhaps some of the seed I have sown will spring up when I am dead.”

Richard Baxter. Dying Thoughts. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1683 (rptd 2004). p11, 55.

This final quote is one that I desire to have read at my funeral. What an epitaph for a life that was lived for the by the grace of God for the sake of His name and the sake of His gospel. Looking forward, I only hope to live up to the measure that I might have always placed Christ as preeminent over all things, that I was faithful to His calling, His gospel, and His people.

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle Paul, Under the Inspiration of The Holy Spirit. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV

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