An anthology of quotations concerning faith in Christ (Horatius Bonar, Words Old and New).
That man who, daily, in the sense of his sinfulness and poverty, fleeth unto Jesus Christ, that he may be justified by His righteousness, and endeavoureth, by faith in Him, to bring forth the fruits of new obedience, and doth not put confidence in his works, when he hath done them, but rejoiceth in Jesus Christ, the Fountain of holiness and blessedness, -- that man is a new creature (David Dickson, p. 142)
This is the misery of most Christians, that they mislay their justification. They lay it partly upon their faith, and partly upon their holiness. And this is the reason that, when a poor soul is tempted to some sin, he loseth his faith, his assurance, and his peace of conscience; because he grounds his saintship and justification upon his holiness (Walter Cradock, p. 166).
Christ will be a perfect Redeemer and Mediator, and thou must be an undone sinner, or Christ and thou will never agree. It is the hardest thing in the world to take Christ alone for righteousness; that is to acknowledge Him Christ (Thomas Wilcox, p. 201).
Nature would do anything to be saved, rather than go to Christ, or close with Christ, and owe all to Him (ibid. p. 202).
They only do account it an easy thing to believe in Christ, who never were acquainted with themselves (Thomas Shepherd, p. 253).
Every man has something that he rests on for obtaining justification and happiness. Faith is putting Christ instead of that; his so coming to Christ, and to rest upon Him, as to abandon it(John Love, p. 307).
Key quotations from T. Austin Sparks, The Prophetic Ministry
So the final appeal is that everything must be adjusted and brought in line with the vision (the vision is that God is never satisfied with anything less than the fullness of His Son as represented by His Church – Sparks, p. 22), and the one question for us is this: Are people seeing the Lord? It is not a matter of whether they are hearing what we have to talk about – our preaching, doctrine, interpretation – but: Are they seeing the Lord, are they feeling the Lord, are they meeting the Lord? (ibid. p. 65).
We cannot have the knowledge of the Lord – the most important thing in the mind of God for us – except on the ground of the continuous application of the cross . . . Do not imagine that there will come a day when you have done with the cross, when the principle of the cross will no longer be necessary and when you have graduated from the school where the cross is the instrument of the Lord (p. 74, 75).
[C]hristianity has become very largely a system which has reverted to the level of the old dispensation. That is, so many Christians have their lives based upon addresses and sermons and going to meetings and being told [things] by other people. How many Christians do you find today who are really living in the good of a throbbing, personal revelation of Jesus Christ? . . . The great need of our day is for the people of God to be re-established on the basis upon which the Church was founded in the beginning, a Holy Ghost basis; at the very beginning of that basis is this – not to have a lot of information given to Christians, but that the Christians should have the capacity for seeing . . . ‘My eyes are open; I am seeing God’s eternal purpose, I am seeing the significance of Christ, I am seeing more and more [of] the Lord Jesus (p. 130).
Key quotations from A. A. Bonar, The Person of Christ
Our purpose, then, is to enter into details whereby we may show that the Person of Christ is, and always has been, the essence of the Gospel. . . . [T]he warrants for believing the Gospel are in reality testimonies, the drift of which is mainly this – to fix our eye upon that Person’s self, and assure us of the capabilities of His heart and arm (p. 7).
The seeking sinner finds that his perplexities are cleared away, when he is dealing, not with abstract truth, nor with cold statements, but with a Person, and that Person full of grace and truth (p. 8).
We are wrong, in our day, when we speak more of the work of Christ than of His Person – directing more attention to the shadow afforded by the great Rock than to the Rock itself (pp. 27, 28).
[S]eparate from Him, doctrines “have no living power, but are as waters separated from the fountain; they dry up, or become a noisome puddle, or as a beam interrupted from it continuity with the sun is immediately deprived of light” (John Owen on the Person of Christ quoted by Bonar, p. 73).
Not content with representing them as ever gazing on this object (the Ark of the covenant), the Lord set forth their union to Himself who is the mercy-seat – union to Him in His glorified state sharing in all the fruits of His finished work and begun glory.
Union to Christ’s Person is a fact in the case of every believer, and ought therefore to be a constant subject of meditation to every believer. Now, this union realized, leads to a realizing of the Person (p. 75).
Now while all believers do in some measure deal with a personal Christ, yet all do not seek to extend their experience of it; although the more this is done, the more fervent, and mild, and calm will all holiness be in their souls; for then they will take it fresh from the spring, and that spring is the calm, deep soul of Jesus . . . Conformity to the image of their Lord [is] in proportion as their eye rests more or less frequently on His Person (p. 78).
Many saints seem to be little aware how much of grace there is in the knowledge of the Person of Jesus. It would singularly benefit some of these, who have lived so much on what they know about Jesus, to try for a week the more blessed and fruitful way of dealing directly with Himself. There are treasures in the Person of Him whose doctrines they believe, if only they could use them (pp. 78, 79).
“Those divines who in their Catechetical Systems have made the formal object of Faith to be the Promise, rather than the Person of Christ, have failed in their expressions, if not their intentions” (Spurstow on Rom 6:1 quoted by Bonar, p. 118).
“Many continue little children and weak in faith, because they do not presently attain a solid acquaintance with The Person of Christ” (Romaine, The Life of Faith, p. 159 – quoted by Bonar, p. 120).
John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians
(Regarding a lack of knowledge gained by years of reading the Scriptures – the knowledge of Christ must be the aim of our Bible study) Even so it is with them that labor in reading the Holy Scriptures and do not know which is the point they ought to rest on, namely, the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (p. 217).
But yet we shall never understand how Jesus Christ is our only foundation, unless we know for what purpose He was sent, according to the text . . . He was given to us to be our wisdom (1 Cor 1:24). . . He was given to be our righteousness, our redemption, and our holiness. . . Jesus Christ is our wisdom to whom we must wholly keep ourselves (p. 220).
Eli Ashdown, The Saving Health of the Gospel
Dear friends, one hour’s felt sense of this righteousness imputed is worth all your seeking; God help you to thirst (Forward, p. ii).
The apostles in their doctrine, being eyewitnesses of the God-man Christ, keep close to His Person, close to His sufferings, close to His resurrection, close to His mercy, close to His grace; and all teaching as well as all practice outside this is outside the wall of the city; for in the foundations are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (p. 21).
There are many in the Church who live on things short of Christ, and are quiet and satisfied all the year round. The foolish virgins were just like that, and had no thought or discernment of any lack, till the Bridegroom came (p. 35).
[When] the ever-blessed Spirit takes up residence in the heart as the Spirit of light, of power, and of a sound mind; and as soon as He does, the man cannot live on the externals of religion. He will feel, “Lord in thy house I read there is room, and venturing hard, behold I come; but can there, tell me, can there be, among thy children room for me?” (p. 36).
One glimpse of Christ does more good than all moral walking. I would keep that in its place; but never let it jostle out a precious Christ and His merits and atonement (p. 46).
Time is very short, and to be tantalized by a legal spirit, a proud heart, to rest on things that are not saving, I say it is a waste of time, of life, and all. . . We need the Holy Spirit that we may flee to the blood of Christ, and let nothing quiet us but the atonement (p. 53).
How many here are feeling their need of the righteousness and atonement of Christ? That is the sinner that is partaker of the Holy Ghost; it is His rising beam in your heart; you will never be lost. See how close He is to you to move your heart after Himself. How sweet salvation is to a needy sinner (p. 57).
Isaac Ambrose, Looking unto Jesus
Such a one, as deals immediately with Christ, will do more in a day, than another in a year! And therefore I call it a choice. . . a high Gospel ordinance – now what this ordinance? The text tells you; It is looking unto Jesus (Heb 12:2) (p. 28).
Consider that a thorough sight of Christ will increase your outward joy in Christ. . . A right sight of Christ will make a right-sighted Christian glad at heart (p. 40).
Horatius Bonar, Words to Winners of Souls
You cannot minister Christ unless you know Christ, walk with Christ, experience Christ, are controlled by Christ, and are endued with the power of Christ. In other words, Christ is first ministered to your own heart so that you can minister Him to the hearts of others.
The goal of your preaching, praying, shepherding, and labors is union with Christ. The Apostle Paul suffered much for the sake of the sheep. He loved God’s people and was dedicated to their spiritual advancement. But what was Paul’s ultimate motivation? Was it that they might know more of Christ? No! His goal was that they might know Christ. Paul was a man who yearned for the saints to possess a deep heart knowledge of Christ. He labored to present every man perfect in Christ (Col 1:28).
When we can tell our people, “We beheld His glory, and therefore we speak of it; it is not from report we speak, but we have seen the King in His beauty” – how lofty the position we occupy! Our power in drawing men to Christ springs chiefly from the fullness of our personal joy in Him, and the nearness of our personal communion with Him.
Where there is no revelation of Christ’s majesty and glory reigning in the hearts of God’s people, lawlessness and anarchy result.
Only when our hearts are fully focused upon a revelation of Him and His splendor can we receive by Him a vision of the work He would have us do for Him. As we are captivated by Him we will not become overly infatuated with our work for Him.
Protocol, titles, and professionalism lose their appeal as the glory of Christ’s splendor and beauty captivate our hearts and minds.
We must realize that the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ and speak of His majesty. The only delight and joy that the Holy Spirit has is the privilege of magnifying the Person and finished work of the blessed Son of God. For all eternity this will be the sublime ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Adolph Saphir, Christ and the Scriptures
We cannot speak, think, and feel too highly of Scripture in its vital connection with Christ and the Spirit; but there may be a way of viewing Scripture by itself apart from Christ and the Holy Ghost, and transferring to this dead book our faith, reverence, and affection; and this surely would come under the category of idolatry, -- substituting something, however good and great in itself, or rather in its relation to God, in the place of the living God (p. 125).
By bibliolatry I understand the tendency of separating, in the first place, the Book from the Person of Jesus Christ, and in the second, from the Holy Ghost, and of thus substituting the Book for Him who alone is the light and guide of the Church (p. 125).
The apostles spoke of Christ, and confirmed and illustrated their testimony by the prophecies of Scripture. They looked to the Man in the first place, and secondarily to the portrait given of Him in the Book (p. 130).
When the Word of the Lord comes to the soul, it brings authority, power, and attraction with it, and the response of the heart is, not “What is this Book?” but, “Who art thou Lord?” (p. 134).
The Bible is profitable, but only when we read as disciples whose object is to “learn Christ.” The children of God thus read Scripture, not with the purpose of exhausting its fullness, but of receiving from it what they need for the present . . .
In this error (receiving the testimony of Scripture without receiving Jesus who is the sum and substance of Scripture) we Christians have encouraged the unbelievers, even by our false way of separating the Book from the Lord, and substituting intellectual sight for that beholding of heart, which is faith. Receive Jesus, and thou receivest not merely the testimony, thou thyself art an additional witness and seal to the truth of God (p. 150).
Highlights from David Wells, God in the Wasteland
Why has the 20th Century seen the “triumph” of Arminianism? ANSWER: In the “theology” of democracy, experience and testimony are authoritative. If theology is not translated into technique, people lose interest – legitimacy is only given to ideas that “work” (pp. 66-67).
Pragmatism equals success in the marketplace. In Scripture, pragmatism is not equivalent to truth and virtue. The Church has prostituted itself to methods and techniques; it has become results oriented, not theology oriented (p. 68).
Barna demonstrates that he is naïve about sin. The old Pelagianism is served up; human depravity is down-played. “Small sins” require but a market strategy in order to meet the real need. Wells’ response: Christ cannot be marketed. Consumers fed on the “new sovereignty” of personal needs have no interest in the cross-centered life.
God’s purpose is to have us see our needs in terms of sin having broken our relationship with Him. To repent of sin is to repent of self-centeredness. The Barna view is the reverse; it is inverted -- personal needs are sovereign (pp. 81, 82).
The culture of modernity is characterized by pride and self-absorption. People are so self occupied they refuse to hear anything that would disturb their intuition that they are correct about what is true and right. By contrast, the Bible declares that there is no redemption where self is in tyranny. The sovereignty of self destroys both church and worship. There is no recovery but by biblical doctrine (pp. 112, 113).
Modernity embraces a god who can be used. Psychologized culture has an affinity for the relational, but a “dis-ease” for the moral. The modern church wants the love of God, but not the holiness of God (p. 114).
There is trauma in retaining the Scriptural, theocentric God of grandeur. The radical reconstruction of self by God’s revealed doctrine is needed or the knowledge of the Holy One will not sink in. The cost of retaining the knowledge of God is ongoing repentance (p. 115).
The only way to be God-centered is to be Christ-centered. Pluralism dislikes the exclusivity of Christ-centeredness. (The glorified Christ of eschatology who returns as Lord of history to judge the earth and consummate all things is assiduously avoided by modernity.) Disinterest in God’s holiness always results in a lack of interest in the pursuit of godliness and little interest in the reception of holiness from God (pp. 132, 134).
Victimhood is not interested in dwelling upon the holiness of God. God’s Word affirms that all God is and does is holiness. God’s holiness carries with it the demand of exclusive loyalty to Him. The experimental knowledge of God’s holiness should move us to awe, obedience, fervent prayer, ongoing repentance, and submission to His moral authority (pp. 135-138).
The God of holiness is a “lover” with deep passion; He tolerates no rivals. Worldliness is unfaithfulness; it constitutes spiritual adultery. His holiness is high and lofty; it cannot be correlated with earthly existence (p. 139).
Burning purity and tenderness are joined in covenant. His holiness reveals sin. His holiness necessitates the work of Christ. God’s holiness and majesty belong together and interpret one another. His holiness is synonymous with His majesty in many passages (i.e. Ex 15:11) (pp. 140, 141).
There must be an echo of holiness in those who approach God. That echo manifests itself in separation and consecration unto God. God’s holiness is intrusive to the inner man. To approach God’s holiness is to have the life of the inner man invaded by light that exposes everything (pp. 142, 143).
If holiness slips from a central position, then the centrality of Christ is lost. One cannot enter the knowledge of the Holy as a consumer, ONLY as a sinner. Sin, grace, and faith are emptied of meaning apart from the holiness of God (pp. 143, 144).
Seminary students are increasingly attracted to immanence and not transcendence. Here are the consequences of immanence without transcendence: Fulfillment is achieved through the process of looking within. The disconformity in the world is internalized into privatized meaning. There is an increasing civility toward other religions (the exclusivity of the Gospel is minimized). The whole human nature is corrupt, but self is not. Self is innocent – self provides an accurate vantage point from which to interpret the world (pp. 209-211).
With an ever increasing number of seminary students, contemporary assumptions have more control over the inner life and over world view than the Word of God (p. 212).