Quotations for December, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
By grace you have been saved! Whatever else we do, praying and singing, is but an answer to this word spoken to us by God himself... The Bible alone contains this sentence. We do not read it in Kant or in Schopenhauer, or in any book of natural or secular history, and certainly not in any novel, but in the Bible alone.
... Karl Barth (1886-1968), Deliverance to the Captives, Harper, 1961, p. 36
(see the book; see also Eph. 2:4-9; Acts 15:11; Rom. 2:3-4; 3:22-24; 5:20-21; 11:5-6; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; more at Bible, Book, Grace, Prayer, Salvation, Song)
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Paul uses the example of differing opinions about food and days among the believers in Rome to teach that Christians should not despise or judge one another. Note that he does not advise them to find a happy medium between the contending opinions or to average the two extremes into a compromise. On the contrary, he admonished that “every one be fully convinced in his own mind.” He declares that God is able to make both stand, since both of them are serving the Lord in obedience to their individual convictions of His will... Each of us has to find personally what is the will of God for his own life, and let all others meet their responsibility to do the same... For God, by giving different commands to many, and putting them together according to His plan, shall accomplish ultimately His complete will.
... Kokichi Kurosaki (1886-1970), One Body in Christ, Kobe, Japan: Eternal Life Press, 1954, ch. 9
(see the book; see also Rom. 14:5-6,21-23; Col. 2:16-17; 1 John 3:19-21; more at Church, Contention, Conviction, Judgment, Obedience, Responsibility, Service, Teach, Will of God)
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
Love is the greatest thing that God can give us, for Himself is love: and it is the greatest thing we can give to God, for it will also give ourselves, and carry with it all that is ours. The apostle calls it the band of perfection; it is the old, and it is the new, and it is the great commandment, and it is all the commandments; for it is the fulfilling of the Law. It does the work of all the graces without any instrument but its own immediate virtue. For as the love to sin makes a man sin against all his own reason, and all the discourses of wisdom, and all the advices of his friends, and without temptation and without opportunity, so does the love of God; it makes a man chaste without the laborious arts of fasting and exterior disciplines, temperate in the midst of feasts, and is active enough to choose it without any intermedial appetites, and reaches at glory through the very heart of grace, without any other aims but those of love. It is a grace that loves God for Himself, and our neighbors for God. The consideration of God’s goodness and bounty, the experience of those profitable and excellent emanations from Him, may be, and most commonly are, the first motive of our love; but when we are once entered, and have tasted the goodness of God, we love the spring for its own excellency, passing from passion to reason, from thanking to adoring, from sense to spirit, from considering ourselves to an union with God: and this is the image and little representation of heaven; it is beatitude in picture, or rather the infancy and beginnings of glory.
... Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), Holy Living , in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D., v. III, London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1847, p. 156
(see the book; see also Ps. 34:8; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Thess. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:5-8; more at Commandment, Fulfillment, Giving, Glory, God, Goodness, Grace, Law, Love, Neighbor, Virtue, Work)
Friday, December 4, 2020
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
Form-criticism... has made an end of the false notion, which for a long time dominated critical scholarship, that it was possible throughout the gospels to distill from them a “Life of Jesus” that would be free from dogmatic presuppositions and not affected by any “retouching” derived from the faith of the Church. In fact, however, faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen did not first appear at some later stage in the tradition, but was the foundation of the tradition, the very soil out of which it grew; and it is in light of that faith alone that the tradition can be understood.This faith in Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Exalted One, explains both the things which the primitive tradition makes known to us, with its manifest concern for the factual truth of the tradition about Jesus, and at the same time the peculiar liberty which the evangelists take in making alterations in the record in points of detail. In relating the acts and words of Jesus, they do not refer back to any sort of “archives” possessed by the community... Jesus Christ is not for them a figure of past history whose proper place is in a library.
... Günther Bornkamm (1905-1990), “The Stilling of the Storm in Matthew”, as quoted in The Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History, Gabriel Hebert, London: SCM Press, 1962, p. 37
(see the book; see also Ps. 16:10; Matt. 8:24-27; Acts 2:22-24; more at Christ, Church, Community, Criticism, Crucifixion, Faith, Historical, Jesus, Resurrection, Tradition, Truth)
Saturday, December 5, 2020
We know so well what the unique quality was that held this great and beautiful pride and exquisite humility together. It lay in the relationship he held with God. We know the familiar idea of Jesus’ oneness with God: only we deal with it too much as a doctrine of the Church, not as an element in Jesus’ own experience. If we never find it in reality, in life, we cannot reveal the true Christ-like character at all—we will always be trying earnestly to be something, but on too superficial and obvious a plane.
... Florence Allshorn (1887-1950), The Notebooks of Florence Allshorn, London: SCM Press, 1957, p. 77-78
(see the book; see also Luke 22:26-27; John 8:28; 10:30; 17:11; more at Beauty, God, Humility, Jesus, Knowing God, Pride, Revelation, Truth)
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
The Church exists, and does not depend for its existence upon our definition of it: it exists wherever God in His sovereign freedom calls it into being by calling his own into the fellowship of His Son.And the Church exists solely by His mercy. God shuts up and will shut up every way except the way of faith which simply accepts His mercy as mercy. To that end, He is free to break off unbelieving branches, to graft in wild slips, and to call “No people” His people. And if, at the end, those who have preserved through all the centuries the visible “marks” of the Church find themselves at the same board with some strange and uncouth late-comers on the ecclesiastical scene, may we not fancy that they will hear Him say—would it not be so like him to say—“It is my will to give unto these last even as unto thee?” Final judgment belongs to God, and we have to beware of judging before the time. I think that if we refuse fellowship in Christ to any body of men and women who accept Jesus as Lord and show the fruits of His Spirit in their corporate life, we do so at our peril. It behooves us, therefore, to receive one another as Christ has received us.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Household of God, London, SCM Press, 1953, New York: Friendship Press, 1954, p. 150
(see the book; see also Matt. 20:1-16; Rom. 11:15-21; 15:7; 1 Pet. 2:10; more at Body of Christ, Call, Church, Existence, Faith, Fellowship, Judgment, Mercy, People, Peril)
Monday, December 7, 2020
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
That peace is truly rich, which passeth all understanding. Peace is rich, modesty is rich, faith is rich, for to the faithful the whole world is a possession. Simplicity is rich, for there are also the riches of simplicity; for she scrutinizes nothing, has no mean, no suspicious, no deceitful thoughts, but pours herself forth with pure affection.Goodness too is rich, and if a man preserve it, he is fed by the riches of the heavenly inheritance.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), letter to Simplician, A.D. 387, The Letters of S. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Oxford, J. Parker, 1881, p. 251
(see the book; see also Prov. 28:10; Matt. 6:19-21; Phil. 4:6-7; more at Affection, Faith, Goodness, Peace, Simplicity, World)
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Being a Christian depends on a certain inner relatedness to the living Christ. Through this relatedness all other relationships of man—to God, to himself, to other people—are transformed.
... Stephen Neill (1900-1984), The Difference in Being a Christian, New York: Association Press, 1955, p. 11
(see the book; see also Matt. 12:46-50; 23:8-12; Luke 8:21; Eph. 2:19-22; more at Christ, God, Life, Man, People)
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
The truth is that the only key to the Christian life is the life of Christ; that the only solution to the many problems that thicken round our lives as we live them is to be found in the study of His life as He lived it; and that we shall never begin to understand what we ourselves are until we have begun to understand what He is.
... R. H. J. Steuart (1874-1948), quoted in The Light of Christ, Evelyn Underhill, New York: Longmans, Green, 1949, p. 100
(see the book; see also Mark 8:27-30; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:5; more at Beginning, Christ, Jesus, Life, Truth)
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968
We must be willing to accept the bitter truth that, in the end, we may have to become a burden to those who love us. But it is necessary that we face this also. The full acceptance of our abjection and uselessness is the virtue that can make us and others rich in the grace of God. It takes heroic charity and humility to let others sustain us when we are absolutely incapable of sustaining ourselves.We cannot suffer well unless we see Christ everywhere—both in suffering and in the charity of those who come to the aid of our affliction.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), No Man is an Island, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955; reprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 93-94
(see the book; see also Luke 17:12-19; Isa. 53:3,4; Mark 1:40-41; 1 Cor. 10:27; 1 John 3:16; more at Affliction, Charity, Grace, Humility, Suffer, Weakness)
Friday, December 11, 2020
In John 13 the point was that, if an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he is not a Christian. Here Jesus is stating something else which is much more cutting, much more profound: We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.
... Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), The Mark of the Christian, Inter-Varsity Press, 1976, p. 15
(see the book; see also John 17:20-21; 1:14; 5:19; 6:44; 13:34-35; 1 Pet. 1:22; more at Belief, Jesus, Judgment, Love, Truth, World)
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Are we to think that God has failed? But the failure of a Christianity that expresses what we have made of revelation does not change at all what God has accomplished. He became incarnate. Jesus Christ, the Son, died (and our sins were pardoned). He is risen (and death, chaos, and the devil are defeated). No matter what may be the mischances of history or the errors and aberrations of the human race, these things endure. What is done is done. Irrespective of what we make of Christianity, God’s work and accomplishment are complete, and they are inscribed in human history.
... Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), The Subversion of Christianity, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986, p. 12
(see the book; see also John 19:30; Rom. 5:12; 16:20; Gal. 4:4-5; more at Achievement, Death, Defeat, Devil, Failure, God, Historical, Incarnation, Jesus, Revelation, Sin)
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784
We took tea, by Boswell’s desire; and I eat one bun, I think, that I might not be seen to fast ostentatiously.When I find that so much of my life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry by retrospection scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try, because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal. I try, in humble hope of the help of God.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Prayers and Meditations, London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, 1806, Good Friday, April 14, 1775, p. 114-115
(see the book; see also Luke 18:7-8; Ps. 121:1-2; 2 Cor. 7:10; more at Fasting, God, Historical, Hope, Humility, Reform, Resolve)
Monday, December 14, 2020
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591
O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything; but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), The Complete Works of Saint John of the Cross, v. III, Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1935, p. 154
(see the book; see also Phil. 1:29-30; 3:10-12; Col. 1:24; Jas. 5:10-11; 1 Pet. 4:13-14; more at Bearing, Consolation, Cross, Goodness, Happiness, Safety, Suffer)
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
There is a state of perfect peace with God to be attained under imperfect obedience.
... John Owen (1616-1683), An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. VIII-X, in Works of John Owen, v. XXIII, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1855, p. 251
(see the book; see also Ps. 85:8; Isa. 53:5; John 13:17; 14:27; Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 3:15; more at God, Obedience, Peace)
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
The hand of Christ is strong enough to uphold the heavens and gentle enough to wipe away our tears.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Revelation of John, v. I, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961, reprint, Saint Andrew Press, 1965, p. 63
(see the book; see also Rev. 21:3-4; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:14-18; 7:17; more at Christ, Gentleness, Heaven, Sadness, Strength, Tear)
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Commemoration of Dorothy Sayers, Teacher and Spiritual Writer, 1957
Commemoration of Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928
I think I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Mary and Martha that did not attempt, somehow, somewhere, to explain away its text. Mary’s, of course, was the better part—the Lord said so, and we must not precisely contradict Him. But we will be careful not to despise Martha. No doubt, He approved of her, too. We could not get on without her, and indeed (having paid lip-service to God’s opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her, for Martha was doing a really feminine job, whereas Mary was just behaving like any other disciple; and that is a hard pill to swallow.
... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), Unpopular Opinions, London: Gollancz, 1946, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947, p. 148
(see the book; see also Luke 10:41-42; more at Bible, Disciple, Jesus, Sermon)
Friday, December 18, 2020
For the Platonic or Aristotelian philosophy it is of no importance whether Plato or Aristotle ever lived. For the mystical practice of an Indian, Persian, Chinese, or Neo-Platonic mystic it is a matter of indifference whether Rama, Buddha, Laotse, or Porphyrius are myths or not. The mystic has no personal relation to them. It is not here a question of somebody telling me the truth which of myself I cannot find, but of my finding an access to the depths of the world in the depths of my soul. And everywhere the tendency is to eliminate personality. Even where religion does not have this mystical character, it has no relation to an historical person, who communicates himself to me. That is the characteristic essence of the Christian faith alone. Even where a prophet plays the role of a mediator-of-divine-truth, as for example in [Islam], the religious act is not directed toward him ... but toward his teaching or message. But the Christian does not believe in the teaching of Jesus—which would not be Christian faith, but general religion—he believes in Christ Himself as being the Word of God.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Word and the World, London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1931, p. 20
(see the book; see also Ps. 22:30-31; Matt. 9:9; John 1:1; 20:31; Col. 1:15; more at Belief, Christ, Mystic, Philosophy, Prophet, Religion)
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Straight through all the apparently tangled course of human history runs the accomplishment of God’s eternal plan.
... J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), The Christian View of Man, The Macmillan Company, 1937, p. 80
(see the book; see also Col. 1:17-23; Ps. 111:9; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:22-26; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; more at Everlasting, God, Historical, Weakness)
Sunday, December 20, 2020
When the old Christianity spoke of the return of the Lord Jesus, they thought of a great day of judgment. Even though this thought may appear to us to be so unlike Christmas, it is original Christianity and to be taken extremely seriously. When we hear Jesus knocking, our conscience first of all pricks us: Are we rightly prepared? Is our heart capable of becoming God’s dwelling place? Thus Advent becomes a time of self-examination.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), A Testament to Freedom: the essential writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, F. Burton Nelson, eds., HarperCollins, 1995, p. 185
(see the book; see also Rev. 3:20; Matt. 5:15-16; Luke 11:33-36; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 3:16-18; 1 Pet. 3:15-22; 1 John 3:21; more at Christmas, Conscience, Day, Jesus, Judgment, Self-examination)
Monday, December 21, 2020
Here is the Truth in a little creed,Enough for all the roads we go:In Love is all the law we need,In Christ is all the God we know.
... Edwin Markham (1852-1940), included in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, James Dalton Morrison, ed., New York: Harper & Bros., 1948, p. 140
(see the book; see also Rom. 13:10; Matt. 7:13-14; 11:27; John 14:9; more at Gospel, Law, Love)
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Love came down at Christmas,Love all lovely, Love Divine;Love was born at Christmas,Star and Angels gave the sign. Worship we the Godhead,Love Incarnate, Love Divine;Worship we our Jesus:But wherewith for sacred sign? Love shall be our token,Love be yours and love be mine,Love to God and all men,Love for plea and gift and sign.
... Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), Christina Rossetti: the complete poems, London: Penguin Classics, 2001, p. 423
(see the book; see also Matt. 1:20-21; 18:11; Luke 2:10-12; John 3:16-17; Eph. 1:3-6; more at Christmas, God, Incarnation, Jesus, Love, Worship)
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
The Christ of God was not then first crucified when the Jews brought Him to the Cross; but Adam and Eve were His first real murderers; for the death which happened to them, in the day that they did eat of the earthly tree was the death of the Christ of God, or the divine life in their souls. For Christ had never come into the world as a second Adam to redeem it, had He not been originally the life and perfection and glory of the first Adam.
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Love [1752-4], in Works of Rev. William Law, v. VIII, London: G. Moreton, 1893, p. 7
(see the book; see also Isa. 53:9-10; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22,45; more at Christ, Cross, Crucifixion, Death, Easter, Eden, Glory, Life, Perfection, Redemption, Tree, World)
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Christ is come to be thy Light,Shining through the darkest night;He will make thy pilgrim wayShine unto the perfect day.Take the message! let it beFull of Christmas joy to thee!
... Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), The Poetical Works of Frances Ridley Havergal, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1888, p. 168
(see the book; see also Isa. 9:1-2; Mic. 7:8; John 1:4-5,9; 8:12; Eph. 5:8-14; more at Christ, Christmas, Darkness, Joy, Light, Night, Pilgrim)
Friday, December 25, 2020
“Little one, who straight hast comeDown the heavenly stair,Tell us all about your home,And the father there.” “He is such a one as I,Like as like can be.Do his will, and, by and by,Home and him you’ll see.”
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, v. 2, London: Chatto & Windus, 1893, p. 190
(see the book; see also Isa. 9:6-7; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:4-7; John 14:1-3; more at Child, Christmas, Father, Heaven, Home)
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr
In the pure soul, although it sing or pray,The Christ is born anew from day to day.The life that knoweth Him shall bide apartAnd keep eternal Christmas in the heart.
... Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911), included in The Marching Morrows, Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, Boston: Merrymount Press, 1901, p. 178
(see the book; see also Luke 1:31-33,37-38; 2:1-40; John 1:14; 1 John 4:10-14; more at Christ, Christmas, Everlasting, Heart, Purity)
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist
It is a singularly unpleasant thought that a book about Holy Communion is more likely to produce disagreement and controversy than one written on almost any other Christian subject. It seems a truly terrible thing that this Sacred Appointment, which was surely meant to unite, in actual practice divides Christians more sharply than any other part of their worship. Christians of various denominations may, and frequently do, work together on social projects, they may study the Scripture together, and they may ... pray together. But the moment attendance at the Lord’s Table is suggested, up go the denominational barriers.... I would make a strong plea that we do not exclude from the Lord’s Table in our Church those who are undoubtedly sincere Christians. I cannot believe that to communicate together with our Lord should be regarded as the consummation, the final pinnacle, of the whole vast work of Reunion. Suppose it is the means and not the end. We might feel far more sharply the sin of our divisions and of our exclusiveness if we came humbly together to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, and in that reception we might find such a quickening of our common devotion to Him that the divisions between us might be found not nearly so insuperable as we supposed.
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Appointment with God, New York, Macmillan, 1954, p. 59,61
(see the book; see also Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 13:26; 22:19,20; John 13:1-4; Acts 2:42,46,47; 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16,17,21,22; 11:20-34 ; more at Body of Christ, Communion, Prayer, Scripture, Sin, Social, Unity, Worship)
Monday, December 28, 2020
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Christ is the Master; the Scriptures are only the servant. The true way to test all the Books is to see whether they work the will of Christ or not. No Book which does not preach Christ can be apostolic, though Peter or Paul were its author. And no Book which does preach Christ can fail to be apostolic, although Judas, Ananias, Pilate, or Herod were its author.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546), quoted in The Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit, Auguste Sabatier, London: Williams & Norgate, 1904, p. 158
(see the book; see also John 1:1-5; 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:3; Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; more at Bible, Book, Christ, Master, Preach)
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
Mass evangelism undoubtedly has its place; parochial missions can make their contribution; a specially gifted evangelist can proclaim his message; the specialist Christian can make his contribution in factory, in politics and in teaching; all these are genuine contributions to the evangelistic activity of the Christian Church: but in the last analysis it is the worshipping community, that part of the Body of Christ that worships, lives and proclaims the Gospel in all its activities in any given neighborhood, which is the real evangelising agent used by the Spirit of God. It is here amidst the people, that the Church must worship and live her life. If she is faithful both to her God and to her Gospel, she will be used to hold forth the Word of light to the conversion of those that see and hear. But if its light is hid, then wherewith shall the neighborhood be lighted? And if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall the district be salted?
... Bryan S. W. Green (1901-1993), The Practice of Evangelism, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951, p. 71
(see the book; see also Matt. 9:37-38; John 10:16; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:19-22; Phil. 2:14-16; more at Conversion, Evangelization, Faith, Gospel, Light, Mission, Neighbor, Preach, Teach, Worship)
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
To worship effectively is to enable men to become free.
... Bruce Reed
(see also Gal. 5:1; more at Freedom, Man, Worship)
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384
For what man it be that Christ converts and saves him in heaven, he is Israel’s son, for he supplants the fiend as Jacob did Esau, and he is made a man that sees God by faith. And Christ is called thus both Jacob and Israel, and other holy fathers that prefigured Christ, and thus men are made by grace to be of the house of Jacob.
... John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), Sermon XLI, in Select English Works of John Wyclif, v. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869, p. 114
(see the book; see also Matt. 15:21-28; Gal. 3:7,16,29; more at Christ, Conversion, Faith, God, Grace, Israel, Salvation, Sight, Son)
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