Christian Education and Theology Colleges

“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

-Soren Kierkegaard, “Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard”

The Secret To A Successful Ministry

It was late, Gwen and the children were asleep, and I was sitting in front of the set watching the Late ShowHow much time do I spend in front of that screen each night? I wondered. A couple of hours, at least. What would happen, Lord, if I sold that TV set and spent that time praying? I was the only one in the family who ever watched TV anyway.

What would happen if I spent two hours every single night in prayer? It was an exhilarating idea. Substitute prayer for television, and see what happened…

My life has not be the same since.

David Wilkerson (19th May 1931 – 27th April, 2011) – The Cross and The Switchblade.

Can You Contribute To Your Own Salvation?

Can you do anything to save yourself? Or put more technically, can you do anything to make atonement between you and God? Can you bring yourself closer to him through your works?

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the LORD. Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.’ (Leviticus 23:26-28)

But surely you should do something to contribute to being made right with God?

Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. (v. 29, 30)

So what, we should do nothing at all and atonement shall be made for us?

You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath. (v. 31-32)

The Liberal Threat To Evangelism

Let the words of Roland Allen give you solace when you worry that the liberal church’s lies and misrepresentations of the gospel will threaten the gospel:

Now if with us today the great stumbling-block in the way of our missions is the practical denial of Christianity, the indifference of men of our own blood, who yet call themselves Christians, this violent persecution of St Paul, by the religious teachers of his own nation, must have been a far greater stumbling block.

Missionary Methods, St Paul’s or Ours?

If Paul had such success in mission in spite of the people who claimed to know the Christ the best, and who had all the religious authority and power, then we shouldn’t worry that our evangelism will be hindered by some liberal falsehood about Christ. Not that we should be at ease when someone lies about God; far be it, we should be zealous for God’s name, but will there attack threaten God’s kingdom? No.

The Comfort Of Knowing That Salvation Does Not Depend On ‘Free-Will’

This is my favourite passage outside of the bible. I quote it so often I need to put it here so I can find it quickly.

I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my ‘free-will’ (for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved); but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I Should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt as to whether it pleased God, or whether he required something more. The experience proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my own great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. ‘No one,” He says, ‘Shall pluck them out of my hand, because my Father which gave them me is greater than all’ (John 10:28-29). Thus it is that, if not all, yet some, indeed many, are saved; whereas, by the power of ‘free-will’ none at all could be saved, but every one of us would perish.

Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.

Martin LutherThe Bondage of the Will

The Best Introduction You’ll Ever Read

Luther’s introduction to his masterful work on total depravity is perhaps the most brilliant introduction to a book you’ve ever read. Some background, a man called Erasmus was persuaded by the various powers that were to write a book on free-will and direct it at Martin Luther, trying to undermine Luther’s stance on the gospel. Luther had grown up sympathetic to Erasmus, Erasmus had after all, started the work that led to all modern translations of the Bible from Greek of which Luther’s German translation was one. Erasmus though was not the man of God that perhaps people first thought he was. Here is Piper’s fair description of the difference between the two.

Erasmus does not live or write in this realm of horrible condition and gracious blood-bought salvation. He has the appearance of reform in the Enchiridion, but something is missing. To walk from Erasmus into Tyndale [and also Luther] is to move (to paraphrase Mark Twain) from a lightning bug to a lightning bolt.

Piper then goes on to cite David Daniell’s words in his biography of Tyndale.

Something in the Enchiridion is missing…. It is a masterpiece of humanist piety…. [But] the activity of Christ in the Gospels, his special work of salvation so strongly detailed there and in the epistles of Paul, is largely missing. Christologically, where Luther thunders, Erasmus makes a sweet sound: What to Tyndale was an impregnable stronghold feels in the Enchiridion like a summer pavilion.

Which leads us, finally to Luther’s introduction and the greatest example of “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed” in all of Christendom.

Martin Luther, to the venerable D. Erasmus of Rotterdam, wishing Grace and Peace in Christ.

Nobody expected venerable Erasmus, that I should take so long to answer your Diatribe on ‘Free-will’. For hitherto, I have not only appeared to embrace willingly opportunities of this kind for writing, but even to seek them of my own accord. Some one may, perhaps, wonder at this new and unusual thing, this forbearance or fear, in Luther, who could not be roused up by so many boasting taunts, and letters of adversaries, congratulating Erasmus on his victory and singing to him the song of Triumph — “That Maccabee, that obstinate assertor, then, has at last found an Antagonist a match for him, against whom he dares not open his mouth!”

But so far from accusing them, I myself openly concede that to you, which I never did to any one before: — that you not only by far surpass me in the powers of eloquence, and in genius, (which we all concede to you as your due, and the more so, as I am but a barbarian and do all things barbarously,) but that you have damped my spirit and impetus, and drained my strength before the battle; and that by two means. First, by art: because, that is, you conduct this discussion with a most specious and uniform modesty; by which you have met and prevented me from being incensed against you. And next, because, on so great a subject, you say nothing but what has been said before: therefore, you say less about, and attribute more unto ‘Free-will,’ than the Sophists have hitherto said and attributed: (of which I shall speak more fully hereafter.) So that it seems even superfluous to reply to these your arguments, which have been indeed often refuted by me; but trodden down, and trampled under foot, by the incontrovertible Book of Philip Melancthon “Concerning Theological Questions:” a book, in my judgment, worthy not only of being immortalised, but of being included in the ecclesiastical canon: in comparison of which, your Book is, in my estimation, so mean and vile, that I greatly feel for you for having defiled your most beautiful and ingenious language with such vile trash; and I feel an indignation against the matter also, that such unworthy stuff should be borne about in ornaments of eloquence so rare; which is as if rubbish, or dung, should he carried in vessels of gold and silver. And this you yourself seem to have felt, who were so unwilling to undertake this work of writing; because your conscience told you, that you would of necessity have to try the point with all the powers of eloquence; and that, after all, you would not be able so to blind me by your colouring, but that I should, having torn off the deceptions of language, discover the real dregs beneath. For, although I am rude in speech, yet, by the grace of God, I am not rude in understanding. And, with Paul, I dare arrogate to myself understanding and with confidence derogate it from you; although I willingly, and deservedly, arrogate eloquence and genius to you, and derogate it from myself.

Entertaining Out Of Anxiety

“So much ministry with children and young people is a noble effort to be more interesting than God, but the anxiety to keep the childrens’ attention will only disclose an underlying fear that God perhaps is not so very interesting after all…”

Samuel Wells – Praying for England: Priestly Presence in Contemporary Culture1

1 I’ve only got this quote and have no idea what this book is like. It’s a winning quote though.

On Not Giving Up

“Beware of the greater reaction which will take place after you have acquired the language, and become fatigued and worn out with preaching the gospel to a disobedient and gainsaying people. You will sometimes long for a quiet retreat, where you can find a respite from the tug of toiling at native work—the incessant, intolerable friction of the missionary grindstone. And Satan will sympathize with you in this matter; and he will present some chapel of ease, in which to officiate in your native tongue, some government situation, some professorship or editorship, some literary or scientific pursuit, some supernumerary translation, or, at least some system of schools; anything , in a word, that will help you, without much surrender of character, to slip out of real missionary work. Such a temptation will form the crisis of your disease. If your spiritual constitution can sustain it, you recover; if not, you die.”

Adoniram Judson – Advice to Missionary Candidates

Listen to the Man Who Listens to God

“No man has any right to offer advice who has not first heard God speak. No man has any right to counsel others who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord…

“It is especially important that young people learn whose counsel to trust. Having been in the world for such a short time they have not had much experience and must look to others for advice. And whether they know it or not, they do every day accept the opinions of others and adopt them as their own… They are what they are because of the counsel they have followed.”

A. W. Tozer – The Root of the Righteous

The Holy Spirit Is Proof Of Scripture

One of the things people like to do these days is argue as to why scripture must be from God. They evidence things like the miracles in the bible, the consistency of it across thousands of years, the prophecies that have come to pass and lots of other good things. This is all well and alright, but for the fact it doesn’t achieve anything in the persuasion of unbelievers that God’s word is his word. Human reason cannot prove to someone that scripture is from God. Only the witness of the Holy Spirit can prove that scripture is from God and He is proof enough (this logic is the ultimate truth of all apologetics in the end). Here is John Calvin in Book 1 of the Institutes:

“Still, however, it is preposterous to attempt, by discussion, to rear up a full faith in Scripture. True, were I called to contend with the craftiest despisers of God, I trust, though I am not possessed of the highest ability or eloquence, I should not find it difficult to stop their obstreperous mouths; I could, without muchado, put down the boastings which they mutter in corners, were anything to be gained by refuting their cavils. But although we may maintain the sacred Word of God against gainsayers, it does not follow that we shall forthwith implant the certainty which faith requires in their hearts. Profane men think that religion rests only on opinion, and, therefore, that they may not believe foolishly, or on slight grounds, desire and insist to have it proved by reason that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired. But I answer,that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted. This connection is most aptly expressed by Isaiah in these words, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” (Isa. 59: 21.) Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the Word of God,they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this very reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts.”

Here also are Jesus’ words:

“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-4