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“Enjoy God in everything and enjoy everything in God” by Charles Simeon

“If we have much of this world, we shall have a high enjoyment of it, because we shall make it the means of benefiting our fellow-creatures, and of honouring our God.

If, on the other hand, we have little of this world, we shall still be happy, because, in having God for our portion, we can lack nothing.

There are but two lessons for the Christian to learn: the one is, to enjoy God in everything; the other is, to enjoy everything in God.

The one ennobles the rich; the other elevates the poor: and all who have learned these lessons are, and must be, happy.”

–Charles Simeon, “The Vanity of the Creature; Sermon 827: Ecclesiastes 1:2,” Horae Homileticae, Vol. 7: Proverbs to Isaiah 26 (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 7: 325.

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“The task of the theology” by Herman Bavinck

“Doubt has now become the sickness of our century, bringing with it a string of moral problems and plagues. Nowadays, many people take into account only what they can see; they deify matter, worship Mammon, or glorify power.

The number of those who still utter an undaunted testimony of their faith with joyful enthusiasm and complete certainty is comparatively small.

There is much noise and movement, but little genuine spirit, little genuine enthusiasm issuing from an upright, fervent, sincere faith.

Nowhere is this more true than among theologians. They are the most doubting, vacillating group of all. They have plenty of questions, doubts, and criticism to offer.

But what we expect from them more than from anyone else– unity of outlook, consistency of method, certainty of faith, eagerness to give an account of the hope within them– for these traits we often look in vain.

Theology must lead us to rest in the arms of God.

Theology must prescribe medicine for the ailments of the soul. It must be able to say how and in what way we can be freed from our guilt, reconciled with God, attain to patience and hope amidst life’s tribulations, and find reason to sing praises in the face of death.

A theology that does not concern itself with these things and only dedicates itself to critical and historical studies is not worthy of the name theology.

And a theologian who is acquainted with all the latest issues of his science but who stands speechless at a sickbed and knows no answer to the questions of the lost sinner’s heart isn’t worthy of his title and office.”

—Herman Bavinck, The Certainty of Faith, trans. Harry der Nederlanden (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada: Paideia Press, 1891/1980), 8, 9, 17, 18.

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“A Christian” by Herman Bavinck

“A Christian has found his standpoint in the promises of God’s grace in Christ. The foundations of his hope are fixed, for they lie outside him in God’s Word, which will never be moved. He doesn’t need to constantly examine the genuineness and strength of the foundation on which the building of his salvation has been built.

He is a child of God not on the basis of all kinds of inner experiences but on the basis of the promises of the Lord. Assured of this, he can now freely look around and enjoy all the good gifts and the perfect gift that descends from the Father of lights. Everything is his because he is Christ’s and Christ is God’s. The whole world becomes material for his duty.

Religious life does have its own content and independent value. It remains the center, the heart from which all the Christian’s thoughts and acts proceed, by which they are animated and given the warmth of life. There, in fellowship with God, he is strengthened for his labors and girds himself for the battle.

But that mysterious life of fellowship with God is not the whole of life. The prayer chamber is the inner room, although it is not the whole house in which he lives and functions. Spiritual life does not exclude family and social life, business and politics, art and science. It is distinct from these; it is also of much greater value, but it does not stand irreconcilably opposed to it. Rather it is the power that enables us to faithfully fulfill our earthly calling, stamping all of life as service to God.

The Kingdom of God is, to be sure, like a pearl more precious than the whole world, but it is also like a leaven that leavens the entire dough. Faith isn’t only the way of salvation, it also involves overcoming the world. The Christian, as he is drawn in Scripture and as he speaks in the Heidelberg Catechism, stands and works in this conviction. Reconciled with God, he is also reconciled with all things. Because in the Father of Christ he confesses the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, he cannot be small-hearted and constricted in his affections.

For God Himself so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. And this Son came to earth not to condemn the world but to save it. In His cross heaven and earth are reconciled. Under Him all things shall be gathered together with Him as head.

The history of all things proceeds according to His counsel toward the redemption of the church as the new humanity, toward the liberation of the world in an organic sense, toward the new heaven and the new earth. Even now, by rights, everything in principle belongs to the church, because it is Christ’s and Christ is God’s. As a priest in the temple of the Lord, he who believes this is king over the whole earth.

Because he is a Christian, he is a human in the full, true sense. He loves the flowers that grow at his feet and admires the stars that sparkle overhead. He does not disdain the arts, which are to him a precious gift from God. Nor does he belittle the sciences, for these, too, are a gift from the Father of lights. He believes that everything God has created is good and that, taken in thanksgiving, nothing is condemned.

He labors not for success and doesn’t work for wages, but he does what comes to hand, seeing, by means of God’s commandments, though ignorant of what the future may bring. He does good works without thinking twice and bears fruit before he realizes it. He is like a flower that spreads its fragrance unawares.

He is, in a word, a man of God, perfectly equipped to all good works. And while for him to live is Christ, in the end to die is gain.”

—Herman Bavinck, The Certainty of Faith, trans. Harry der Nederlanden (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada: Paideia Press, 1891/1980), 95-97.

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“Absolutely different” by Timothy Keller

“A gospel is an announcement of something that has happened in history, something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion.

The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, ‘This is what you have to do in order to connect to God forever; this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.’

But the gospel says, ‘This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.’ Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.

How do you feel when you’re given good advice on how to live? Someone says, ‘Here’s the love you ought to have, or the integrity you ought to have,’ and maybe they illustrate high moral standards by telling a story of some great hero.

But when you hear it, how does it make you feel? Inspired, sure. But do you feel the way the listeners who heard those heralds felt when the victory was announced? Do you feel your burdens have fallen off? Do you feel as if something great has been done for you and you’re not a slave anymore?

Of course you don’t. It weighs you down: This is how I have to live. It’s not a gospel. The gospel is that God connects you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you.

And that makes it absolutely different from every other religion or philosophy.”

–Timothy Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (New York: Dutton, 2011), 16-17.

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