“While we continue to be influenced by our past life, ‘in the flesh,’ it is no longer the dominating influence in our present existence. We are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:9). Christ’s past (if we may so speak) is now dominant. Our past is a past ‘in Adam'; our present existence ‘in Christ,’ in the Spirit. This implies not only that we have fellowship with him in the communion of the Spirit, but that in him our past guilt is dealt with, and our bondage to sin, the law, and death has been brought to an end.”
Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, page 112
I was reading Stephen Cole’s sermon on Ephesians 6:10-12 this morning and he concluded with the following illustration.
“I read about a missionary years ago in the jungles of New Guinea who wrote the following letter to his friends back home:
‘Man, it is great to be in the thick of the fight, to draw the old devil’s heaviest guns, to have him at you with depression and discouragement, slander, disease. He doesn’t waste time on a lukewarm bunch. He hits good and hard when a fellow is hit- ting him. You can always measure the weight of your blow by the one you get back. When you’re on your back with fever and at your last ounce of strength, when some of your con- verts backslide, when you learn that your most promising in- quirers are only fooling, when your mail gets held up, and some don’t bother to answer your letters, is that the time to put on mourning? No sir. That’s the time to pull out the stops and shout Hallelujah! The old fellow’s getting it in the neck and hitting back. Heaven is leaning over the battlements and watching. “Will he stick with it?”’
As they see who is with us, as they see the unlimited reserves, the boundless resources, as they see the impossibility of failure, how disgusted and sad they must be when we run away. Glory to God! We’re not going to run away. We’re going to stand!”
“Jesus’ presence in the Garden of Gethsemane was no accident. Adam’s fall occurred in the Garden of Eden. Satan overcame him there. Adam was led away from the garden in captivity and under the sentence of death. Here Jesus, like Adam, was taken from Gethsemane as a captive headed for death. The great German Reformed preacher F.W. Krummacher (1796-1868), in his profound work The Suffering Savior, noted:
“The voice which resounded through the Garden of Eden cried, ‘Adam, where are you?’ But Adam hid himself trembling, behind the trees of the garden. The same voice, and with a similar intention, is heard in the Garden of Gethsemane. The second Adam, however, does not withdraw from it, but proceeds to meet the High and Lofty One, who summons him before him, resolutely exclaiming, ‘Here am I!’”
Mark Jones, Knowing Christ, page 96
“I counsel you to think highly of Christ, and of free, free grace, more than you did before: for I know that Christ is not known amongst us. I think that I see more of Christ than I ever saw; and yet I see but little of what may be seen. Oh, that he would draw by the curtains, and that the King would come out of his gallery and his palace, that I might see him! Christ’s love is young glory and young heaven; it would soften hell’s pain to be filled with it…Oh, what price can be given for him! Angels cannot weigh him. Oh, his weight, his worth, his sweetness, his over-passing beauty…If ten thousand worlds of angels were created, they might all tire themselves in wondering at his beauty…Oh, that I could (come near) to kiss his feet, to hear his voice, to feel the smell of his ointments! But oh, alas, I have little, little of him! Yet I long for more.”
“If anyone stands firm and right on this point, that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, who died and rose again for us, all the other articles of the Christian faith will fall in place for him and firmly sustain him.
So very true is Paul’s saying that Christ is the Chief Treasure, the Basis, the Foundation, and the Sum Total of all things, in whom and under whom all are gathered together. In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
On the other hand, I have noted that all errors, heresies, idolatries, offenses, abuses, and ungodliness in the church have originally arisen because this article or part of the Christian faith concerning Jesus Christ has been despised or lost. Clearly and rightly considered, all heresies militate against the precious article of Jesus Christ.”
“When we write, perform, or listen to good music, we are being invited into the life of the triune God, who is the supreme harmony of all. When we write poetry or immerse ourselves in a novel or watch a good movie, our heart and mind can be enlarged so that we have greater capacity to worship God and love others. When we tend our gardens, change the oil, study for a math test, discover the characteristics of electrons, serve our customers, or build a new house, we are assisting in the enrichment of God’s world, and we ought to enjoy these activities and their results with clear eyes and full hearts.”
Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth, page 147
“Reconciliation teaches us something remarkable about the character of God. He befriends His enemies. He loves those who hate Him. He offers peace to those who have waged war against Him. Although He is the one who has been wronged, He is the one who makes all things right. He does all this while the battle still rages. ‘When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son.’”
Recently I was reading a book that quoted from CS Lewis’ book Letters to Malcolm quite a lot. This week I’ve been reading it and chapter 17 alone is worth the price of the book! Let me quote from Lewis on the subject of worship and adoration,
“You first taught me the great principle ‘Begin where you are.’ I had thought one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and ‘all the blessings of this life.’ You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said, ‘Why not begin with this?’
And it worked. Apparently you have never guessed how much. That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessings compared with ‘the means of grace and the hope of glory.’ But they were manifest. So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself.
Yet you were not—or so it seemed to me—telling me that ‘Nature,’ or the ‘beauties of Nature,’ manifest the glory. No such abstractions as ‘Nature’ comes into it. It was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility. As it impinges on our will of our understanding, we give it different names—goodness or truth or the like. But it flashes upon our senses and mood is pleasure…
…I have tried, since that moment, to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration…”
(CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, pages 88-89)
As I read that I couldn’t help but think of the enormity of that lesson, “to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.” To find that in every pleasure that, in the words of Lewis, “We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore.” Of course there are pleasures that we snatch by acts of sin, but even in the sin the pleasure itself isn’t wrong…it is the means by which we come to the pleasure that can be wrong.
Lewis compares it to the stealing of an apple. He said, “It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse. There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing.” You can take out the stealing of the apple and replace it with anything. God has given us pleasure as a channel of adoration, but that pleasure is to be enjoyed within the confines of holiness. When we learn to do that we will find channels of adoration in everything from the sunset to butter on a biscuit right out of the oven!