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The Second Coming of Christ is not a peripheral doctrine

Sep 19, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.  Article IV, The Thirty-Nine Articles

“The return of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a mere doctrine to be discussed, nor a matter for intellectual study alone.  Its prominence in the New Testament shows the great importance of the truth, for it is referred to over three hundred times, and it may almost be said that no other doctrine is mentioned so frequently or emphasized so strongly.

Baptism is mentioned nineteen times in seven Epistles, and in fourteen out of twenty-one is not alluded to.  The Lord’s Supper is only referred to three or four times in the entire New Testament, and in twenty out of twenty-one Epistles there is no mention of it.  The Lord’s Coming is referred to in one verse out of every thirteen in the New Testament, and in the Epistles alone in one verse out of ten.  This proportion is surely of importance, for if frequency of mention is any criterion there is scarcely any other truth of equal interest and value.”

W. H. Griffith-Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles (London, 1963), page 87.

Pastor, when was the last time you preached on the second coming of Christ and the final end of all things?

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My Top Ten Quotes: #1

Sep 18, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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“Give me a man in love; he knows what I mean.  Give me one who yearns; give me one who is hungry; give me one far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal country.  Give me that sort of man; he knows what I mean.  But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about.”

Augustine, quoted in Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley, 1967), page 375.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #2

Sep 17, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.  2 Timothy 2:13

“I tell you, if he were to shut you out, dear soul, whoever you may be, if you go to him, he would deny himself.  He never did deny himself yet.  Whenever a sinner comes to him, he becomes his Savior.  Whenever he meets a sick soul, he acts as his Physician. . . . If you go to him, you will find him at home and on the look-out for you.  He will be more glad to receive you than you will be to be received. . . . I tell you again that he cannot reject you.  That would be to alter his whole character and un-Christ himself.  To spurn a coming sinner would un-Jesus him and make him to be somebody else and not himself any longer.  ‘He cannot deny himself.’  Go and try him; go and try him.”

C. H. Spurgeon, Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), III:862.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #3

Sep 16, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us [nor, I would add today, postmodernism or materialistic consumerism or visceral sensualism or whatever].  All these are dangerous but not the primary threat.  The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit.  The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People (Wheaton, 2003), page 66.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #4

Sep 14, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“It is one thing to love the Lord and His service, and quite something else to have an inexpressible longing for revival that cannot be denied.  It is one thing to wish for revival, and yet it is something in addition to be willing for revival at any cost to come in any way through any means that God may choose.”

V. Raymond Edman, quoted by my dad in a sermon at Lake Avenue Congregational Church, Pasadena, California, 1 February 1976.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #5

Sep 13, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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“May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint!  I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Martin Luther, in Luther’s Works (St. Louis, 1957), XXII:55.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #6

Sep 12, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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“Whenever a change occurs in the religious opinions of a community, it is always preceded by a change in their religious feelings.  The natural expression of the feelings of true piety is the doctrines of the Bible.  As long as these feelings are retained, these doctrines will be retained; but should they be lost, the doctrines are either held for form sake or rejected, according to circumstance; and if the feelings again be called into life, the doctrines return as a matter of course.”

Charles Hodge,  “Address to the Students of the Theological Seminary,” Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review 5 (1829): 92.

Hodge is not asserting that feelings are more important than doctrine.  He is observing that feelings tend to precede doctrine.  If a church’s heart is tender and warm toward the Lord, that church will love the Bible as his Word.  If a church’s heart cools toward the Lord or becomes simply distracted, that church will be doctrinally unstable.  The heart works with such power that it creates inevitability in a church’s theological future, for good or ill.

It’s why we pastors work so hard to help our churches love the Lord, above all else.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #7

Sep 11, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“I had been ‘going at it’ one Sunday evening about living your whole life in Christ and for Christ, and one chap, because he thought that I must live my life on my knees, came to me, wringing his hands, because he was not being as holy as he thought he ought to be.  I said to him, ‘You foolish boy, do you think this means winding yourself up into a kind of robot existence, forever clicking your heels before a ruthless sergeant-major Christ?  You have got it all wrong.  Christ is a world of being, not a set of rules.  You live your life in him, you are naughty in him, alas, as well as good in him.  You have fun there as well as seriousness.  You must learn that Christ is no mere censor, but a Savior who saves us by gaining our trust and confidence more and more, and letting us live our total life in him.  He is much more concerned about where we are going than about how far on we have got.'”

Rev. William Still, The Work of the Pastor (Carlisle, 1996), page 38.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #8

Sep 10, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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“If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise.  But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty.  And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation.  All too often young people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we are called upon to show to a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful.

Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity.  I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously.  In order to exhibit both simultaneously, we must look moment by moment to the work of Christ, to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our moment-by-moment lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church before the Watching World (Downers Grove, 1971), page 63.  Italics added.

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My Top Ten Quotes: #9

Sep 09, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. . . . In their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification. . . . Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.

In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation.  This means that they must be conducted into the light of a full conscious awareness of God’s holiness, the depth of their sin and the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ for their acceptance with God, not just at the outset of their Christian lives but in every succeeding day.”

Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life (Downers Grove, 1979), pages 101-102.  Italics his.

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