f The Wittenberg Door: May 2012

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Notable Quote: J. Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937) on being a truthful witness through sound doctrine . . .

. . . the Epistles of Paul and all the sources make it abundantly plain that the testimony was primarily not to inner spiritual facts but to what Jesus had done once for all in His death and resurrection.

Christianity is based, then, upon an account of something that happened, and the Christian worker is primarily a witness. But if so, it is rather important that the Christian worker should tell the truth. When a man takes his seat upon the witness stand, it makes little difference what the cut of his coat is, or whether his sentences are nicely turned. The important thing is that he tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we are to be truly Christians, then, it does make a vast difference what our teachings are . . .

Christianity & Liberalism, pg. 53


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Notable Quote: J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) on preparing for your funeral . . .

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words, and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, “I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day; and he seemed so please with a chapter in the Bible on another occasion; and he liked such a person, who is a good man.” Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith, and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state.

Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion to God, without repentance, and without faith–your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul; you had better never have been born.

Holiness, 228-229

HT: Kevin DeYoung

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Notable Quote: J. Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937) on the “historical Jesus” . . .

. . . If the saving work of Christ were confined to what He does now for every Christian, there would be no such thing as a Christian gospel − an account of an event which put a new face on life. What we should have left would be simply mysticism, and mysticism is quite different from Christianity. It is the connection of the present experience of the believer with an actual historic appearance of Jesus in the world which prevents our religion from being mysticism and causes it to be Christianity.

It must certainly be admitted, then, that Christianity does depend upon something that happened; our religion must be abandoned altogether unless at a definite point in history Jesus died as a propitiation for the sins of men. Christianity is certainly dependent upon history.

Christianity & Liberalism, pg. 120–121


Monday, May 14, 2012

Notable Quote: John Webster

John Webster, professor of Systematic Theology at University of Aberdeen, on the indicative and imperative nature of holiness:

Evangelical sanctification is not only the holiness the gospel declares but also the holiness that the gospel commands, to which the creaturely counterpart is action. Holiness is indicative; but it is also imperative; indeed, it is imperative because it is the indicative holiness of the triune God whose work of sanctification is directed towards the renewal of the creature’s active life of fellowship with him.

Indicative holiness is no mere inert state in which we find ourselves placed and which requires nothing of us beyond passive acquiescence. Indicative holiness is the revelation of the inescapable conclusion under which our lives have been set—namely, that as those elected, justified, and sanctified by the mercy of God, we are equally those who are determined for the active life of holiness. Because grace is ‘double grace’, it is election to activity.

Double grace is always, of course, wholly grace; the active life of holiness is never apart from faith’s assent to God’s sheer creativity. But in a Christian theology of the holy life, grace is duplex, extending into the generation, evocation and preservation of action. ‘Grace’—which is, of course, nothing other than a shorthand term for the great history of God’s mercy, at whose centre is the passion and resurrection of Christ and his sending of the Spirit—is the gift of life, and life is active holiness in company with the holy God.

Holiness, 87

HT: Kevin DeYoung

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Notable Quote: Brian Schwertley

Reverend Brian Schwertley implications of Arminianism upon the gospel . . .

People need to be made aware that Arminianism is a deadly perversion of the gospel of Christ. It implicitly denies the sovereignty of God, it perverts the doctrine of original sin, it turns the doctrine of election up-side down and makes the new birth dependent upon man’s will.

In the Arminian scheme men are not saved through faith which is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), but rather because of faith. Furthermore, Christ’s atoning death is not viewed as securing any person’s salvation but merely making salvation possible between God and sinful man.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Notable Quote: A.W. Pink

A.W. Pink (1886–1952) on the “Queen of the Christian graces,” love:

We must be careful not to confuse human sentimentality, carnal pleasantries, human amiability and affability with true spiritual love. The love God commands, first to Himself and then to others, is not human love. It is not the indulgent, self-seeking love which is in us by nature. If we indulgently allow our children to grow up with little or, no Scriptural discipline, Proverbs plainly says we do not love them, regardless of the human sentimentality and affection we may feel for them. Love is not a sentimental pampering of one another with a loose indifference as to our walk and obedience before the Lord. Glossing over one another's faults to ingratiate ourselves in their esteem is not spiritual love.

The true nature of Christian love is a righteous principle which seeks the highest good of others. It is a powerful desire to promote their welfare. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God. We must love in the truth. Love among the brethren is far more than an agreeable society where views are the same. It is loving them for what we see of Christ in them, loving them for Christ's sake.

The Lord Jesus Himself is our example. He was not only thoughtful, gentle, self-sacrificing and patient, but He also corrected His mother, used a whip in the Temple, Severely scolded His doubting disciples, and denounced hypocrites. True spiritual love is above all faithful to God and uncompromising towards all that is evil. We cannot declare, 'Peace and Safety' when in reality there is spiritual decay and ruin!