15 Martin Luther Quotes That Still Ring True | RELEVANT Magazine#H5k6bZFBOc1E5KCQ.99
It was Isaac Newton who famously penned the sentence, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In saying this, he meant to communicate his respect for and dependence on the great minds that had come before him. Whatever advances he was able to make, he recognized that he stood upon the work of those who had come before him, giving him greater views of the heights he was to ascend.
We’re very familiar with that principle in the Christian life. And if we’re not, we should be. I am able to make greater progress in my pursuit of Christ in my day-to-day life by reading the insights of those who have come before in this race, and who have long since reached the glorious finish line after a lifetime of faithfulness.
Today I wanted to gather a bunch of quotes that I’ve come across lately. I discovered some as I enjoyed some leisure reading over the Christmas holiday. Others I found as I work on a research project for seminary. And others I came across on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, as friends shared them with me. It’s by reading the thoughts of spiritual giants like these — by standing on their shoulders — that I am helped along in my worship of Christ. And so I wanted to share some of them with you. Read them slowly. Take them in. I hope it makes for an encouraging Friday.
- Thomas Brooks: “It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strong Christian.”
- John Owen: “The glory and excellency that lies in the spiritual communion of the soul with God, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, in that heavenly intercourse which is between God and his saints in their worship, causes all the beauty of the world to fade and become as nothing, and brings all the outward pomp of ceremonious worship into contempt.”
- Thomas Manton: “The favor of God is the life of our souls, and His displeasure is our death. . . . All the world without this cannot make a man happy. What will it profit us if the whole world smile upon us, and God frown and be angry with us? All the candles in the world cannot make it day; nay, all the stars shining together cannot dispel the darkness of the night nor make it day, unless the sun shines; so whatever comforts we have of a higher or lower nature, they cannot make it day with a gracious heart, unless God’s face shine upon us; for He can blast all in an instant.”
- Wilhelmus a Brakel: “Such is our God, who not only is all-sufficient Himself but who with His all-sufficiency can fill and saturate the soul to such an overflowing measure that it has need of nothing else but to have God as its portion. The soul so favored is filled with such light, love, and happiness, that it desires nothing but this. ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee’ (Psa. 73:25).”
- Jonathan Edwards: “This pleasure of seeing God is so great and strong that it takes the full possession of the heart, it fills it perfectly full, so that there shall be no room for any sorrow, no room in any corner for anything of an adverse nature from joy. There is no darkness that can bear such powerful light. It is impossible that they who see God face to face, who behold his glory and love so immediately as they do in heaven, should have any such thing as grief or pain in their hearts.”
- John Owen: “O to behold the glory of Christ! . . . Herein would I live; herein would I die; herein would I dwell in my thoughts and affections . . . until all things below become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way suitable for affectionate embraces.”
- John Owen: “That soul which can be satisfied without [beholding Christ’s glory], and that cannot be eternally satisfied with it, is not a partaker of the efficacy of His intercession.”
- Richard Sibbes: “Better to be in trouble with Christ, than in peace without him.”
- John Owen: “In this gust and relish lies the sweetness and satisfaction of spiritual life. Speculative notions about spiritual things, when they are alone, are dry, sapless, and barren. In this gust we taste by experience that God is gracious, and that the love of Christ is better than wine, or whatever else hath the most grateful relish unto a sensual appetite. This is the proper foundation of that ‘joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.’”
- Jonathan Edwards: “Then will come the time, when Christ will sweetly invite his spouse to enter in with him into the palace of his glory, which he had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall as it were take her by the hand, and lead her in with him: and this glorious bridegroom and bride shall with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven; the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them: and this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father; when Christ shall say, ‘Here am I, and the children which thou hast given me’: and they both shall in that relation and union, together receive the Father’s blessing; and shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love of the Father.”
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Which of these quotes resonated with you? What thoughts do the thoughts of these great men bring to your mind? How do they help you to worship Christ today?
“The only true conqueror who shall be crowned in the end is he who continues until war’s trumpet is blown no more…. Christian, wear your shield close to your armor and cry earnestly to God, that by His Spirit you may endure to the end.” – Alistair Begg
(The following is by C. H. Spurgeon)
“All that the Father gives me shall come to me.” – John 6:37
This declaration involves the doctrine of election–there are some whom the Father gave to Christ.
It involves the doctrine of effectual calling–these who are given must and shall come; however stoutly they may set themselves against it, yet they shall be brought out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.
It teaches us the indispensable necessity of faith–for even those who are given to Christ are not saved except they come to Jesus.
Even they must come, for there is no other way to heaven but by the door, Christ Jesus. All that the Father gives to our Redeemer must come to him, therefore none can come to heaven except they come to Christ.
Oh! the power and majesty which rest in the words “shall come.” He does not say they have power to come, nor they may come if they will, but they “shall come.”
The Lord Jesus does by his messengers, his word, and his Spirit, sweetly and graciously compel men to come in that they may eat of his marriage supper. And this he does, not by any violation of the free agency of man, but by the power of his grace.
Jehovah Jesus knows how, by irresistible arguments addressed to the understanding, by mighty reasons appealing to the affections, and by the mysterious influence of his Holy Spirit operating upon all the powers and passions of the soul, so to subdue the whole man, that whereas he was once rebellious, he yields cheerfully to his government, subdued by sovereign love!
But how shall those be known whom God has chosen? By this result– that they do willingly and joyfully accept Christ, and come to him with simple and sincere faith, resting upon him as all their salvation and all their desire.
Reader, have you thus come to Jesus?
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. – C. S. LEWIS
"What is needed to-day is a Scriptural setting forth of the character of God – His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His Inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man – his total depravity, his spiritual insensibility, his inveterate hostility to God, the fact that he is "condemned already" and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him – the alarming danger in which sinners are – the indescribably awful doom which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their present course they shall most certainly suffer the due reward of their iniquities – a setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost – the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the un-endurableness of it, the endlessness of it. It is because of these convictions that, by pen as well as by voice, we are seeking to raise the alarm." – A.W. PINK
"If the Lord should bring a wicked man to heaven, heaven would be hell to him; for he who loves not grace upon earth will never love it in heaven." – CHRISTOPHER LOVE
"It is an undoubted truth that every doctrine that comes from God, leads to God; and that which doth not tend to promote holiness is not of God." – GEORGE WHITEFIELD
This is the doctrine which of all others is the mightiest engine for pulling down the kingdom of Satan. Men may preach salvation by the sacraments, exalt the Church above Christ, and keep back the doctrine of the atonement, and the devil cares little: his goods are at peace. But preach a full Christ and a free pardon, and then Satan will have great wrath, for he knows he has but a short time. This is the only doctrine which will ever bring peace to an uneasy conscience, and rest to a troubled soul. A man may get on pretty well without it, so long as he is asleep about his spiritual condition; but once let him awake from his slumber, and nothing will ever calm him but the blood of atonement, and the peace of Christ. – J. C. RYLE
"If ever there should come a wretched day when all our pulpits be full of modern thought, and the old doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice shall be exploded, then there will remain no word of comfort for the guilty or hope for the despairing." – C. H. SPURGEON
Some of you have truly been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growth in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ. No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh, what low, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer – look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Jesus. Oh, believer, consider Jesus. Meditate on these things. Look and look again, until your peace flows like a river. – ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE
The following is a quote from Dr. J. I. Packer, from his Introduction to John Owen’s “The Death of death in the death of Christ”:
There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realising it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why?
We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centred in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be “helpful” to man—to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction—and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was “helpful,” too—more so, indeed, than is the new—but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of Divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its centre of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the centre of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.
From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of “helpfulness.” Accordingly, the themes of man’s natural inability to believe, of God’s free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for His sheep, are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not “helpful”; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered; it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be (and we shall say more about it later), the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth. Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of His redeeming work as if He had done no more by dying than make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God’s love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence “at the door of our hearts” for us to let them in. It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:19 (KJV)
“Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of His courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.
“His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the raging flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
This still is all my strength and stay.”
If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul; then, my soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so (2 Sam 6:21). Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.”
“Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The Bible is not a collection of vignettes and tidbits from which to derive mottos, motivational sayings, and nice stories that help us feel good about ourselves. The Bible is the story of God’s creative plan and the redemption of His people. To remove bits and pieces of scripture from the context of God’s plan of creation and redemption is to do violence to the text and a great disservice to the risen King of Kings and Lord of Lords. – Anonymous
“Christ’s love compels us!” 2 Corinthians 5:14
Love to Christ made Paul labor more than all the other apostles. A man will only strive for that which he loves. Why are men so eager in their pursuit after gold—but because they love it? Love causes delight, and delight causes diligence. Love is like oil to the wheels. Get love for Christ and piety—and you will never be weary; you will count those the best hours which are spent with God. When a man has warmed himself by this fire, he is fittest for holy work.
He who digs in a gold mine sweats—yet love for the gold makes his labor delightful.