Charles Simeon – Simplicity in Preaching

“…This abiding belief never left Simeon. For fifty-four years, and from a single pulpit in a university town, he tirelessly gave himself to the primacy of preaching. Week by week, year by year, and decade by decade he stood in the pulpit and declared God’s Word with clarity, simplicity, and power. He defined his conviction about biblical exposition this way:

My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I   think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding.

Simeon viewed the preacher as duty-bound to the text. He was committed to staying on the line, never rising above the text of Scripture to say more than it said and never falling beneath the text by lessening its force or fullness…

But it is not only Simeon’s conviction that is worth considering. Simeon’s goals in preaching need to be recovered. He tightly framed his aims for biblical exposition this way:

to humble the sinner;

to exalt the Saviour; 

to promote holiness.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. And these aims should guide us today. Our world, like Simeon’s desperately needs to know how deep humanity has fallen, how high Jesus Christ has ascended, and what God requires of his people. The best and only way to help this world is to speak God’s words in the power of the Spirit.”

-David R. Helm  Expository Preaching – How We Speak God’s Word Today

Christ as the Only True Hope for Lasting Change

“If sin is part of our nature, we will always be dealing not only with our history, but with how sin distorts the way we handle it. Help will only come when we deal with our past and our own sin. This is essential because sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against…
…Sin not only causes me to respond sinfully to suffering, it causes me to respond sinfully to blessing. The ‘smart’ kid teases the ‘dumb’ kid. The athlete makes fun of the kid with two left feet. Something is so wrong inside us that we can’t even handle blessing properly…

This is why Paul writes so pointedly in Colossians 2:8, ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world and not on Christ.” The world’s philosophy is deceptive because it cannot deliver what it promises. It may be well researched and logically presented, but it is not centered on Christ. Because sin (the condition) is what is wrong, true hope and help can only be found in him. Any other answer will prove hollow.”

-Paul David Trip “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands”

 

Ordo Salutis

“At the end of the day we cannot divide faith and repentance chronologically. The true Christian believes penitently, and he repents believingly. For this reason, in the New Testament either term may be used when both dimensions are implied; and the order in which they are used may vary. But in the order of nature , in terms of the inner logic of the gospel and the way its ‘grammar’ functions, repentance can never be said to precede faith. It cannot take place outside of the context of faith.”
-Sinclair Ferguson The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters

Loved from the First of Time

“What conditions were met in us in order for God to send his only Son into the world to die for sinners? None. Indeed there can be none. This is what Boston found valuable in the expression “Christ is dead for you.” For Boston this meant: “I do not offer Christ to you on the grounds that you have repented. Indeed I offer him to men and women who are dead in their trespasses and sins. This gospel offer of Jesus Christ himself is for you, whoever and whatever you are.”

One of the dangers Boston recognized was that conditionalism feeds back into how we view God himself. It introduces a layer of distortion into his character. For it is possible to see that no conditions for grace can be met by us yet still to hold to a subtle conditionality in God’s grace in itself.

This comes to expression when the gospel is preached in these terms:

God loves you because Christ died for you!

How do those words distort the gospel? They imply that the death of Christ is the reason for the love of God for me. By contrast the Scriptures affirm that the love of God for us is the reason for the death of Christ. That is the emphasis of John 3:16. God (i.e., the Father, since here “God” is the antecedent of “his . . . Son”) so loved the world that he gave his Son for us. The Son does not need to do anything to persuade the Father to love us; he already loves us!

The subtle danger here should be obvious: if we speak of the cross of Christ as the cause of the love of the Father, we imply that behind the cross and apart from it he may not actually love us at all. He needs to be “paid” a ransom price in order to love us. But if it has required the death of Christ to persuade him to love us (“Father, if I die, will you begin to love them?”), how can we ever be sure the Father himself loves us—“deep down” with an everlasting love? True, the Father does not love us because we are sinners; but he does love us even though we are sinners. He loved us before Christ died for us. It is because he loves us that Christ died for us!”

-Sinclair Ferguson The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters

Mystery Keeps Men Sane

“Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand.”

-GK Chesterton Orthodoxy

Little Boys and Dragons

“This is also why the new novels die so quickly, and why the old fairy tales endure for ever. The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the centre is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons.”

-GK Chesterton Orthodoxy

What I’m Trying to Accomplish Here

The first line’s always a real kicker right?
How do I begin? Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson do a bang up job of depicting the kind of paralyzing trepidation a writer can experience when first putting the pen to the page in the witty romantic comedy “Alex and Emma” :

Emma: Read me back what we’ve got so far.
Alex: The summer of Adam Shipley’s sabbatical from Andover.
Emma: Maybe if you add a year, you know. The summer of Adam Shipley’s sabbatical from Andover was in… and then any four-digit number gets you a complete sentence.
Alex: Yeah, but not a particularly good one.
Emma: How about…The summer of Adam Shipley’s sabbatical from Andover was         really hot?
Alex: What’s that noise?
Emma: What noise?
Alex: That high-pitched ringing sound.
Emma: Kind of like…
Alex: I think I may be getting a brain tumor because that’s one of the early signs.
Look, you want the first sentence to set the tone, to grab the reader and take him into the story. “Call me Ishmael.” Right? “It was the best of times, it was the worst times.”In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Do you see why I can’t begin? The giants that have gone before me. Does it seem foggy in here? There’s this haze that… I think the tumor could be spreading in my occipital lobe.     

Let’s be clear though. I am in no way putting myself forward as a writer/blogger in the popular sense. My intent is simply to keep a functional repository of great quotes that I glean from time to time in my own personal reading (not to mention a few scattered movies). The hope is that not only will I have easy access to these quotes in the future but that my occasional reader will benefit from them as well, perhaps picking up the book themselves.