Friday, 17 August 2018

A sign of healthy church

A sign of health (of his church) I still notice is when a single, male college student gets up at the beginning of the service to go sit with the elderly widow sitting by herself where she used to sit with her husband. – p115, Biblical Church Revitalization by Brian Croft

Monday, 6 August 2018

We are too big in ourselves when we do well, and too little in Christ in our failings.

Maintain your liberty in Christ by refusing to look any more to the law for justification, and by refusing to fear its words of condemnation. You are to live, in respect of your practice and obedience, as men who can neither be condemned by the law nor justified by it. It is a hard lesson to live above the law, and yet to walk according to the law. But this is the lesson a Christian has to learn, to walk in the law in respect of duty, but to live above it in respect of comfort, neither expecting favour from the law in respect of his obedience nor fearing harsh treatment from the law in respect of his failings. Let the law come in to remind you of sin if you fall into sin, but you are not to suffer it to arrest you and drag you into the court to be tried and judged for your sins. This would be to make void Christ and grace. Indeed Christians too much live as though they were to expect life by works, and not by grace. We are too big in ourselves when we do well, and too little in Christ in our failings. O that we could learn to be nothing in ourselves in our strength, and to be all in Christ in our weakness! In a word, let us learn to walk in the law as a rule of sanctification, and yet to live upon Christ and the promises in respect of justification.
  - pp219–220, Samuel Bolton (1606–1654) in The True Bounds of Christian Freedom (first published 1645, Puritan Paperback edition by Banner of Truth, 1964)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Alas, we are all too apt to follow this line

It is the concurrent opinion of all Reformed Churches that Christians are subject to the rule, the direction, and the authority of the moral law, as says Chamier: ‘Believers are free from the curses, not from the obligations, of the law.’ We preach obedience to the law, but not as the Papists do. They preach obedience as a means to justification; we preach justification as a means to obedience. We cry down works in opposition to grace in justification, and we cry up obedience as the fruits of grace in sanctification. He that does not walk in obedience is a stranger yet to Christ; and he that rests in his obedience does not know Christ. Indeed, many are too much like the Jews still. God set up a law as a rule of walking, and they look for justification by it. These poor men are like oxen in the yoke; they draw and toil and spend their strength (for who do more than those who think to earn merit thereby?), and when they have performed their labour, they are fatted up for slaughter. So it is with these: when they have endeavoured hard after their own righteousness, they perish in their just condemnation. These men Luther fitly calls ‘the devil’s martyrs’: they suffer much, and take much pains to go to hell. The apostle tells them what they are to expect: ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse’ (Gal. 3.10), that is, those who are under the works of the law for justification; and the apostle gives the reason, ‘for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’. These men seek life in death, righteousness in sin. And, alas, we are all too apt to follow this line; it is hard to perform all righteousness and rest in none; hard to be in duties in respect of performance, and out of duties in respect of dependence. We are apt to weave a web of righteousness of our own, to spin a thread of our own by which we may climb up to heaven. [[...]]
    Alas, there are multitudes in the world who make a Christ of their own works, and this is their undoing. They look for righteousness and acceptance more in the precept than in the promise, in the law rather than in the Gospel, more in working than in believing; and so they miscarry. There is something of this spirit in us all; otherwise we should not be up and down so much in respect of our comforts and our faith, as is still so often the case. We become cast down with every weakness in ourselves. But we should be all in Christ in weak performance, and nothing in ourselves in strong performances.
  -- p69–70, Samuel Bolton (1606–1654) in The True Bounds of Christian Freedom (first published 1645, Puritan Paperback edition by Banner of Truth, 1964), italics original

You can get a free electronic copy of this book at Monergism.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Christian Unity

The observable and practical love among true Christians that the world has a right to be able to observe in our day certainly should cut without reservation across such lines as languages, nationalities, national frontiers, younger and older, colors of skin, levels of education and economics, accent, line of birth, the class system in any particular locality, dress, short or long hair among whites and African and non-African hairdos among blacks, the wearing of shoes and the non-wearing of shoes, cultural differentiations and the more traditional and less traditional forms of worship. 
  -- p30, The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer (2nd edition, IVP, 2006)