This is the second week of our new segment of seven quotes from books and around the web that will help you understand the gospel and believe that it is true for you. Here goes! Less pictures and longer quotes this week, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s all just so good though, we couldn’t help it.
1. How the impossible Law makes our Hearts Glad
For when the heart hears that Christ fulfills the law for us and takes our sin upon himself, it no longer cares that impossible things are demanded by the Law, that we must despair of rendering them, and must give up our good works. Yea, it is an excellent thing, and delectable, that the Law is so deep and high, so holy and righteous and good, and demands things so great; and it is loved and lauded for making so many and such great demands. This is because the heart now has in Christ all that the Law demands, and it would be sorry indeed if it demanded less. Behold, thus the Law is delightful now and easy which before was disagreeable, difficult and impossible; for it lives in the heart by the Spirit. Water no longer is in the pots, it has turned to wine, it is passed to the guest, it is consumed, and has made the heart glad.
-Martin Luther, The Sacred and Precious Writings, Vol. XI
2. I Don’t Believe that You Love Me
When I hear the word I love you, I always doubt that it is true. I think it is being spoken not to me, but the “me” that people see, the “me” that I ampretending to be. But Jesus’ words from the cross, spoken to those who just drove nails through his hands and feet, the word “Father forgive them” is a word that knows the people, it knows what they have done. The answer to the question “Who put Jesus on the cross?” is “I did.” . . . With his dying breath, Jesus said “Father forgive them,” and in that word “forgive them” Jesus knows me and heknows you, and he loves me, and he loves you.
-Jono Linebaugh, Words from the Cross [link to Video]
3. How to Love Righteousness
Only under radical, scandalous, real grace, with the ready availability of forgiveness and acceptance when we need it, are we able to be truly virtuous because we love it. Only under grace can we truly regret our sin — a regret that occurs not through fear of punishment but through a realization of all that we have missed, such as the party and the joy that could have happened under the Spirit’s guidance and leading. We come to truly regret sin and love righteousness when we actually like righteousness better.
Jim McNeely, The Romance of Grace [Amazon link]
4. Spiritual Disciplines, meet Grace. Grace, this is Spiritual Disciplines.
It was my whole-hearted engagement in the discipline of fasting that put me on a collision course with the revelation of my weakness and God’s grace. How can you fail if you don’t try? And how can you know God loves you unconditionally if you don’t fail?
-Erik Guzman, The Best Article Jake Read All Last Week (This title was slightly modified.) [Read this.]
5. The Hardest Thing about Preaching the Gospel
The challenge is speaking a gospel which actually puts an end to the law and brings about gospel living. When people are constantly confronted with talk about how they must become holy, how they must have the Spirit to become so, how they must show their sanctification now that they have been justified — it is no wonder that peculiar things begin to happen! The law never really ends. No matter how correct the talk of sanctification may be theologically, the gospel has been eclipsed and people fall under the law once again.
Gerhard Forde, Christian Spirituality: Five Views on Sanctification [Amazon link]
6. Relaxing(!) and Free-Will
Can you talk yourself out of fretting? Can someone else? People sometimes tell me to relax, especially when they feel a little uneasy with my unceasing activity. On the one hand, they are speaking out of their own discomfort, perhaps thinking, “If he’s so busy, maybe I’m at fault for not being like him.” More important for me, however, is the attach that the command “Relax!” conveys. If I were able to relax, don’t you think I would? I can’t relax! The more the other person tells me to relax, the more jumpy I become. If I had “free will,” I would be able to switch from high-intensity to easygoing in a heartbeat. But I cannot. I cannot.
Paul Zahl, Grace in Practice [Amazon link]
7. Don’t Forget the Application
When we stop narcissistically focusing on our need to get better, that is what it means to get better! When we stop obsessing over our need to improve, that is what it means to improve! Jesus has done it all, he has paid it all, he has forever set things right so that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” None. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Here are my instructions, the application, Christ has applied everything that you need to you. The application section of the sermon is: “It is finished.”
Tullian Tchividjian, Romans Part 10 [link to sermon video]