Of all the stars in the sky, the polestar is the most useful to the mariner. This text is a polestar, for it has guided more souls to salvation than any other Scripture. It is among promises what the Great Bear is among constellations.
Several words in it shine with peculiar brilliance. Here we have God’s love with a “so” to it, which marks its measureless greatness. Then we have God’s gift in all its freeness and greatness. This also is God’s Son, that unique and priceless gift of a love which could never fully show itself till heaven’s Only-begotten had been sent to live and die for men. These three points are full of light.
Then there is the simple requirement of believing, which graciously points to a way of salvation suitable for guilty men. This is backed by a wide description—”whosoever believeth in him.” Many have found room in “whosoever” who would have felt themselves shut out by a narrower word. Then comes the great promise, that believers in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life. This is cheering to every man who feels that he is ready to perish and that he cannot save himself. We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we have eternal life.
A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
“If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
–C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
“Why are we not more holy?” asked John Wesley, addressing his preachers. “Chiefly because we are enthusiasts, looking for the end without the means.”
“An unholy church! It is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.”
“In the New Testament church it says they were all amazed – and now in our churches everybody wants to be amused.”
“The men that have been the most heroic for God have had the greatest devotional lives.”
“God’s purpose, then, is to create a holy people in Christ.This he has done in principle, by dealing with sin on the cross and thus already achieving reconciliation. This he is doing in practice, by refashioning their lives according to the pattern of the perfect life, that of Christ (see 3:10). This he will do in the future, when that work is complete and the church enjoys fully that which at present it awaits in hope. The present process, which begins with the patient Christian living and ends with the resurrection itself, will result in Christians being presented without shame or fear before God, as glad subjects before their king.” – N.T. Wright Colossians and Philemon Commentary–page 83″
N T Wright
“Lastly – are not the Church in their present state, a standing, public, perpetual denial of the gospel? Do they not stand out before the world, as a living, unanswerable contradiction of the gospel; and do more to harden sinners and lead them into a spirit of caviling and infidelity, than all the efforts of professed infidels from the beginning of the world to the present day?”
“First we practice sin, then defend it, then boast of it.”
“God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.”
“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Saviour from Hell rather than a Saviour from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”
“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.”
“An idle life and a holy heart is a contradiction.”
“There’s only one proof of the Holy Ghost in your life and that’s a holy life”
“The question isn’t were you challenged. The question is were you changed”
“A servant of God has but one Master”
“If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account.”
“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.”
“It is because of the hasty and superficial conversation with God that the sense of sin is so weak and that no motives have power to help you to hate and flee from sin as you should.”
“Christians don’t tell lies they just go to church and sing them”
“Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin, on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth.”
“It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God’s truth and remain in sin.”
“The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”
A. W. Tozer
“Christian men and women, self-renunciation is the cardinal ethic of the Christian Church.”
Dr. Charles Inwood
“Tell me in the light of the cross, isn’t it a scandal that you and I live today as we do.”
“There is nothing destroyed by sanctification but that which would destroy us.”
“Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Saviour will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”
“We are not to be isolated but insulated, moving in the midst of evil but untouched by it.”
“Jesus Christ has undertaken by His redemption to put in me a heart so pure that God can see nothing to censure.”
“There is no shortcut to holiness; it must be the business of our whole lives.”
“It is not great talents or great learning or great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness.”
E. M. Bounds
“Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.”
“If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in.
If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out.”
“The way to preserve the peace of the church is to preserve its purity.”
“Repentance, to be of any avail, must work a change of heart and conduct.”
Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
“Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit I would desire to die practicing it.”
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish for spiritual things then it is sin for you, however, innocent it may be in itself.”
“Cowards never won heaven. Do not claim that you are begotten of God and have His royal blood running in your veins unless you can prove your lineage by this heroic spirit: to dare to be holy in spite of men and devils.”
“Sin is never an accident. It’s always intentional.”
“Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sins. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”
“God has one destined end for mankind – holiness! His one aim is the production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing- machine for men. He did not come to save men out of pity. He came to save men because He had created them to be holy.”
“No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he should be.”
A. W. Tozer
“You knew one thing about a man who was carrying a cross out of the city… you knew he wasn’t coming back.”
“Don’t presume upon the mercy of God and so encourage yourself in sin.”
“Entertainment is the devils substitute for joy, and when you get satisfaction out of that dumb thing, your joy will diminish.”
“The pure, mere love of God is that alone from which sinners are justly to expect that no sin will pass unpunished, but that His love will visit them with every calamity and distress that can help to break and purify the bestial heart of man and awaken in him true repentance and conversion to God. It is love alone in the holy Deity that will allow no peace to the wicked, nor ever cease its judgments till every sinner is forced to confess that it is good for him that he has been in trouble, and thankfully own that not the wrath but the love of God has plucked out that right eye, cut off that right band, which he ought to have done but would not do for himself and his own salvation.”
William Law (1686-1761)
“Whatever call a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness”. They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”
“Introspection can easily become the tool of Satan, who is called the accuser. One of his chief weapons is discouragement. He knows that if he can make us discouraged and dispirited we will not fight the battle for holiness.”
“The breaking of a man in the hand of God is the making of a man of God”
“Every man is as holy as he really wants to be.”
A. W. Tozer
“Any objection to the carryings on of our present gold-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.”
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, KJV)
Spiritual life is not the result of working; how can the dead work for life? Must they not be quickened [i.e. regenerated] first, and then will they not rather work from life than for life? (emphasis mine) Life is a gift, and its bestowal upon any man must be the act of God. The Gospel preaches life by Jesus Christ.
Sinner, see where you must look! You are wholly dependent upon the quickening Voice of Him Who is the Resurrection and the Life. “This,” says one,” is very discouraging to us.” It is intended so to be. It is kindness to discourage men when they are acting upon wrong principles.
As long as you think that your salvation can be effected by your own efforts, or merits, or anything else that can arise out of yourself, you are on the wrong track, and it is our duty to discourage you. Remember that God’s declaration is that “whosoever believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life.” If, therefore, you are enabled to come and cast yourselves upon the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, you have immediately that eternal life which all your prayers, tears, repentance, church-goings, chapel-goings, and sacraments could never bring to you.
Jesus can give it you freely at this moment, but you cannot work it in yourself. You may imitate it and deceive yourself; you may garnish the corpse and make it seem as though it were alive, and you can galvanize it into spasmodic motion, but life is a divine fire, and you cannot still the flame or kindle it for yourself; it belongs to God alone to make it alive, and therefore I charge you, look alone to God in Christ Jesus.
(At the Master’s Feet, January 22)