Archive for March, 2010

Mar 9

Miserable Sinners, Exultant Joy

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Gospel,Quote,Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s message on the healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19), I briefly quoted from B.B. Warfield. I’d like to share a slightly longer version of it here. Such strong, happy, grace-glorifying words!

We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace. Though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, we are still in ourselves just “miserable sinners”: “miserable sinners” saved by grace to be sure, but “miserable sinners” still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath. That is the attitude which the Reformers took, and that is the attitude which the Protestant world has learned from the Reformers to take, toward the relation of believers to Christ.

There is emphasized in this attitude the believer’s continued sinfulness in fact and in act; and his continued sense of his sinfulness. And this carries with it recognition of the necessity of unbroken penitence throughout life. The Christian is conceived fundamentally in other words as a penitent sinner. But that is not all that is to be said: it is not even the main thing that must be said. It is therefore gravely inadequate to describe the spirit of “miserable sinner Christianity” as “the spirit of continuous but not unhopeful penitence.” It is not merely that it is too negative a description, and that we must at least say, “the spirit of continuous though hopeful penitence.” It is wholly uncomprehending description, and misplaces the emphasis altogether. The spirit of this Christianity is a spirit of penitent indeed, but overmastering exultation. The attitude of the “miserable sinner” is not only not one of despair; it is not even one of depression; and not even one of hesitation or doubt; hope is too weak a word to apply to it. It is an attitude of exultant joy. Only this joy has its ground not in ourselves but in our Savior. We are sinners and we know ourselves to be sinners, lost and helpless in ourselves. But we are saved sinners; and it is our salvation which gives the tone to our life, a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert; for it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much, and who, loving, rejoices much.

From “Miserable-Sinner Christianity” in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 7, pp. 113-114.

Mar 4

“I Love You…No Matter What”

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Gospel,Quote,Recommended Link

Like a lot of pastors these days, I read a number of blogs. I often find a post here or there to be helpful and/or encouraging, but I don’t think any have so quickly and powerfully caused me to weep as one did today. The Gospel Coalition blog linked to a blog by Greg Lucas in which he shares his reflections on the difficulty of fathering a special needs child.

I thank God for this brother’s suffering, his perseverance, and for him sharing that process with others. It lead me to fresh repentance; it led me to fresh faith in the undying love of our Father. Here’s a sample:

Almost daily I have to physically restrain my son. It is a physical battle to change his diaper and clean his body. Many times while cleaning and changing him I have been kicked in the face, bitten, smacked, clawed, or hit with flying objects. It is not all that uncommon to come away from a cleanup with a bloody lip or a new scratch. …

I must confess that on many mornings I leave Jake’s room dejected, hurt and emotionally drained. And many nights I find myself restraining the violent resistance of a struggling boy by wrapping him in my arms against his will and gently whispering, “I love you. I love you. I love you…no matter what.”

Most children are relational and have the ability to reciprocate affection. But what happens when the child cannot communicate love? … The only possible way to make any sense of this kind of relationship is to experience it through the truly unconditional love of God the Father. As I reflect on my seemingly one sided relationship with my son, I am forced to see how it is sometimes a portrait of my own relationship with God.

In the defiance of my son to be loved, cared for and washed clean, I am shown a portrait of the cross. The one-sided violence of love reveals a blurred vision of my own redemption, as a bloody, beaten, crucified Savior wraps me in His arms, subdues me with His affection and whispers in my ear, “I love you. I love you. I love you…no matter what.”

Other posts are equally as moving and gospel-focused. Read and weep.

Mar 3

Keeping the Gospel in the Center

2010 | by Parker Landis | Category: Gospel,Quote,Recommended Link

Of First Importance is a great blog for you to check out and maybe even read regularly.  This blog is dedicated to putting up a new quote each day to remind you of “what is of first importance,” namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  For example, here’s today’s quote:

“I charge you never to give up the old doctrine of the blood of Christ, the complete satisfaction which that atoning blood made for sin, and the impossibility of being saved except by that blood. Let nothing tempt you to believe that it is enough to look only at the example of Christ, or only to receive the sacrament which Christ commanded to be received,  for which many nowadays worship like an idol.

When you come to your deathbed, you will want something more than an example and a sacrament. Take heed that you are found resting all your weight on Christ’s substitution for you on the cross, and His atoning blood, or it will be better if you had never been born.”

– J.C. Ryle, The Upper Room (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), 108.

Mar 2

J.C. Ryle on the Pharisee Within

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Gospel,Quote,Sermon Follow-Up

Sunday’s message on Luke 17:1-10 argued that “Discipleship is for the Lowly,” not the lofty or strong (audio here). J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) sums this up so well:

We are all naturally proud and self-righteous. We think far more highly of ourselves, our deserts, and our character, than we have any right to do. It is a subtle disease, which manifests itself in a hundred different ways. Most men can see it in other people. Few will allow its presence in themselves. Seldom will a man be found, however wicked, who does not secretly flatter himself that there is somebody else worse than he is. Seldom will a saint be found who is not at seasons tempted to be satisfied and pleased with himself. There is such a thing as a pride which wears the cloak of humility. There is not a heart upon earth which does not contain a piece of the Pharisee’s character.

To give up self-righteousness is absolutely needful to salvation. He that desires to be saved must confess that there is no good thing in him, and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another, even Christ the Lord. Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ” unprofitable servants.” At our best we only do our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it, but by the strength which is given to us from God. Claim upon God we have none. Right to expect anything from God we have none. Worthiness to deserve anything from God we have none. All that we have we have received. All that we are we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace.

What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God, as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart, and the reign of self-righteousness is over. The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots. But the power of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart, and shows the man himself, and God. The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness. He will say with St. Paul, “I am the chief of sinners.”—”God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Tim. i. 15 ; Gal. vi. 14.)

Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (pp. 227-229).