I do love myself some Gehard Forde…
God does not come to us because we are free and responsible. He comes all the way to us because we are not and he intends to make us so. He comes to set us free and to give us that destiny which he himself has planned for us as his creatures. He comes to set us free form our bondage, our illusions, dreams, and fictions, our enslavement to our own ideals, to the law. He comes to give us the freedom to live, to bring forth life out of death.”
Gerhard Forde “Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life“
The number of people who have fled the church because it is too patient or compassionate is negligible; the number who have fled because they find it too unforgiving is tragic.
Brennan Manning “Abba’s Child“
“In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things. No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me.
When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, “To you is born this day a Savior” [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all of heaven and earth.
The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me…
If you can say: The Son, who is proclaimed to be a Lord and Savior; and if you can confirm the message of the angel and say yes to it and believe it in your heart, then your heart will be filled with assurance and joy and confidence, and you will not worry much about even the costliest and best that this world has to offer…
If it is true that the child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know and feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart.
Christ’s soteriology [i.e. saving work] is focused and exclusive… It is exclusive to sinners. This is because “those who are well have no need of a physician” (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31). The non-inclusive and non-universal voice is not a slap at other religions, such as Buddhism and Islam. The non-inclusive factor is instead a barrier to the non-needy people, or better, to the needy people who do not realize they are needy.
Paul Zahl “The First Christian”
As I said last week, right now the lectionary is leading us to confront (or be confronted) by some of Jesus’ most confusing, difficult, and I would argue most misunderstood parables. The following is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the Parable of the Talents. It doesn’t get much better than this:
This is THE VERDICT OF GRACE. Blessed is the man who shall acknowledge himself to be an unfaithful servant—and blessed is the man to whom His Lord shall say, “You good and faithful servant…” God first gives us Grace and then rewards us for it! He works in us and then counts the fruit as our work. We work out our own salvation, because “He works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.” If He shall ever say, “Well done” to you and to me it will be because of His own rich Grace and not because of our merits! And, indeed, this is where we must all come and where we must all stay, for the idea that we have any personal merit will soon make us find fault with our Master and His service as being austere and hard.”
Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon on the Parable of the Talents June 6, 1880
This same petition proves that the doctrine of justification is the kind of thing that can never be learned completely. Therefore it is true that those who have persuaded themselves that they know it fully have not even begun to learn.
Because every day new struggles arise from Satan and our flesh or the world or our conscience, prompting us to despair, wrath, lust, and other vices, how is it possible for this weakness of ours not to keep falling or breaking? Then, too, how many concerns arise in this life that gradually make us forget this gladness? Hence it is supremely necessary that we ask God to pour or sprinkle upon us this hearing of joy so that we are not covered with the sadness that the feeling of sin brings on.”