Category Archives: Quotes

No One Accidentally Becomes Godly

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God, Vol. 2:

People do not – will not – drift towards holiness apart from grace-driven effort. People do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer and obedience to scripture, faith and delight in the Lord.

Instead we drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;
we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;
we drift toward superstition and call it faith;
we drift toward indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;
we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we’ve escaped legalism;
we slag toward godlessness and convince ourselves that we have been liberated.

Larry Flynt Gets Spirituality Right

Yes, you read that headline right. Porn king Larry Flynt, interviewed on Shatner’s Raw Nerve, said this about spirituality:

“Spirituality” is, I think, just a resolve for people who don’t want to admit that they have serious questions about religion. So I feel the same way about agnoistics.  Those are just cowards. They’re afraid to admit they’re atheist.

He’s right, at least in that assessment of today’s “spirituality.” Everywhere I turn I see people describe themselves as “spiritual,” yet can articulate almost nothing in terms of beliefs. They’re firmly committed to they-don’t-know-what, but you better not question them on it. But Flynt is right, those claiming themselves as “spiritual” and “agnostic” really are just hiding their doubts and questions behind a vapid but lofty-sounding title for their true spiritual condition.

Huston Smith on Religious Artifacts

Noted author and religious studies professor Huston Smith (from his book Why Religion Matters) on the prevalence of religious artifacts and the importance of religion throughout human history:

Wherever people live, whenever they live, they find themselves faced with three inescapable problems:

  1. How to win food and shelter from their natural environment (the problem nature poses),
  2. How to get along with one another (the social problem), and
  3. How to relate themselves to the total scheme of things (the religious problem).

If this third issue seems less important than the other two, we should remind ourselves that religious artifacts are the oldest that archeologists have discovered.

Don Carson on Remarriage of the Guilty Party

Asked about “freedom to remarry” for the “guilty” or “innocent” party after a divorce for sexual sin, Dr. Don Carson responds:

“There are some people that say that only the innocent party does have the right to remarry. I find it difficult to think of a Biblical text that sanctions that. That is to say, when the sexual union is broken, the sexual union is broken. And history that’s been a pretty centrist position, too. John Murray, for example, insists on that. So you still want to make sure there’s repentance, that there’s genuine conversion and all, yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand all that. But at the same time I don’t think that remarriage after ‘pornea‘ is a concessive option only for the so-called ‘non-guilty’ party. I don’t think that correct.”

Don Carson, Divorce & Remarriage Q&A, 2007 Gospel Coalition Conference (at min. 14:58 of the mp3)

Chandler on the heart of Christian obedience

Matt Chandler, Sermon: “Sabbath” sermon, November 22, 2009… four days before Thanksgiving when he collapsed at home with a seizure that ultimately lead to the discovery of advanced brain cancer:

“[Non-believers] think that we obey the moral laws that we obey because we believe that if we do not obey those laws God is going to damn us to Hell, give us cancer, or send some fire out of the sky to blow up our city. They do! They think that our devotion to the Scriptures and to our God is fear-based. Now the reason they believe this is because for some us that’s true. Because we grew up where the pastor at our church utilized fear to get earthly numbers at the expense of heavenly ones. So I’ll say this to you: Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell, it’s a place for those who love God.” (mins 6:56 to 7:54)

“And so we obey the law because the law is good, not because we’re afraid of lightning bolts, pestilence, cancer. God did not make His rules and the grab man and throw him into his rules and say, good luck! ‘Jesus, Holy Spirit, watch!’  […] now I’m not saying that God at times will not crush you.  But for the believer in Christ, the believer cries out like they did in Scripture, ‘May the bones that you crush rejoice.‘ Sometimes God will crush your fingers to get your hands off of what will harm you. And that’s been true in every book of the Bible, in every year in the history of man.  J. I. Packer’s got my favorite quote: ‘And still He seeks the fellowship of His people and will send them both joy and sorrow to detach their hands from the things of this world and attach them to Himself’.”

Keller & Temple: Your religion is what you do with your solitude

Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Sermon: Discipline of Desire Pt. 2 (mins. 17:35 to 20:01)…

There’s a quote by [Archbishop William Temple] that I’ve used for years. I remember in one of my earliest Gospel sermons I used to use this quote because it was so helpful. [Temple] said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” I had to think about that for about three years before I figured it out.

What does he mean? He says, “When you don’t have to think of anything, when your mind isn’t being taken to think by the environment…” (in other words you’re not at work, there’s nothing that’s taking hold of your mind… when you’re standing on a street corner waiting for someone or you’re in a place where you don’t have anything to think about) “…where does your mind go? What does your mind habitually go to? What do you most like to think about? What do you most enjoy daydreaming about? What gives you the most comfort to fantasize about?” And he says, “That’s your God. Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” It’s a profound statement.

And you see in some of your cases you’re thinking about a person. Maybe a romantic figure; somebody that you’re in love with, or would like to be in love with, or you’d like that person to be in love with you. Maybe you think about your career; what you’re going to do when you’re done with this job, what you’re hoping to get there. Maybe you’re thinking about the house; the dream house you’ve always wanted to build and you’re saving up and hoping you can get… You see what those things are, according to William Temple, those things are God substitutes.

In the most functional way—I know you’ve heard me talk about idolatry—but I’m saying in this case, maybe a little less fundamental than that, there are certain things that are kind of like the sweets. They’re the sugar cookies. They’re the things that when we get “down” we think about to comfort ourselves. And that’s a form of adoration. It’s form of worship. And they are appetite suppressants and if you want to experience God you’ve got to find those pieces of candy you’re popping between meals so that when you sit down with your quiet time you’re just not hungry.

You’ve been comforted thought of this or that success.
You’ve been comforted by the thought of someone saying, “Will you marry me?”
You’re getting comforted by the idea of a peer group finally saying, “You’re really good at this.”
You’re getting comforted by something.

Watch out for those things. What out for the things that are destroying your appetite.

Keller: A sense of God’s absence is a sense of God’s presence

Tim Keller, expositing the opening words of Psalm 63:1 (emphasis mine):

The Bible never says that finding God is the result of seeking for Him. The Bible always says that seeking God is the result of having found Him. You don’t start seeking God until He has actually met you.

The Bible says that although people have a spiritual hunger in general, people are actually trying in our natural heart… people in our natural habit… are trying to escape the true God in particular. Did you hear that? The Bible says, “Of course people are religious!” In Acts 17 Paul goes to Athens and he stands up in the Areopagus — great moment in Biblical history — and he says, “Men of Athens I see that you are very religious.” And he says, “I even saw this monument to the unknown god. I would like to tell who this unknown god is who you seek.”

Now you see at that point Paul is saying people in general want God, and the Bible says that of in general we need God. We’re contingent beings and there is a spiritual hunger. It’s going to show itself in your life somewhere, some place. So the Bible says everybody is spiritually hungry. But what the Bible is saying also is because of sin, though we want God in general, want spirituality in general, we want experience in general, in particular we don’t want the real God. To seek the real God as He reveals Himself in the Bible is not something we’re capable of.

And notice therefore that the first phrase is, “Oh God, you are MY god.” Now this means David is in a covenant relationship with God. To call God “my” god… how many people in life can you call “my”? Now you may not know me at all. You may know anything about me. But if you overhear me talking with somebody else and you hear me refer to “my Kathy,” “my David,” “my Michael,” or “my Jonathan,” you figure these have got to be this person’s wife or sister or sons or daughter or something like that. You don’t use the word “my” unless you have a relationship is very close and you have tremendous confidence in the relationship. And so you see David is starting off by saying, “I’m in a personal relationship with you. Oh God, you are my God” — and it’s understood, it’s implied — “Earnestly will I seek you.”

What’s the cause? What’s the effect? It doesn’t say, “Because I’ve sought you, you are my God.” He says, “because you are my God, I seek you.” The way you know you’ve met the real God is that you are hungry and thirsty. And the way you know you’ve really met the real God is that you’re really hungry and really thirsty. And the way you know you’ve sort of met the real God is that you’re sort of hungry and thirsty. They stand and fall together; there’s a passion, a hunger.

I’ll put it another way, and this is very important to know: The sense of His absence, the dissatisfaction with His absence, is an evidence that He has touched you.

In other words, a sense of His absence — a longing that that absence be gone — a sense of His absence is a sense of His presence. If He’s not present, if He’s not working in your life, you might know intellectually that He’s absent, but you don’t long for Him.

Tim Keller, Discipline of Desire (mins. 11:40 to 15:02)

Risk-Taking God vs. The True Risk of Open Theism

“To abandon belief in the omnipotence of God may ‘solve’ the problem of evil, but the cost is enormous: the resulting God is incapable of helping us. He may be able to give us quite a bit of sympathy, and even groan along with us; but He clearly cannot help us — not now, not in the future. There is no point praying to such a God and asking for help. He is already doing the best He can, poor chap, but He has reached the end of His resources.” – Dr. Don Caron, How Long O Lord, p. 31

The strength of one’s faith vs. faith in the strength of the One

“It isn’t the intensity of faith, at least not in Christianity. It’s not the intensity of faith that saves.  It’s the greatness of the One on whom it links itself, or, on whom it takes as its object. That is my faith is weak and awful, but it grasps a mighty Christ, a saving Christ, a one-sidely saving Christ. The emphasis is on the object grasped not on the strength of my hand.” – Rod Rosenbladt, Professor of Theology at Concordia University