“Christ is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays” by Herman Bavinck

“Finally the designation ‘word of God’ is used for Christ Himself. He is the Logos in an utterly unique sense: Revealer and revelation at the same time.

All the revelations and words of God, in nature and history, in creation and re-creation, both in the Old and the New Testament, have their ground, unity, and center in Him.

He is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays.

The word of God in nature, in Israel, in the NT, in Scripture may never even for a moment be separated and abstracted from him. God’s revelation exists only because He is the Logos.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 1: 402.

[HT: Nick Gardner]

“The babyhood of the Son of God” by J.I. Packer

“The supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, lies not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation.

The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man– that the second person of the Godhead became the ‘second man’ (1 Corinthians 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that He took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as He was human.

Here are two mysteries for the price of one—the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus.

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie.

‘The Word became flesh’ (John 1:14); God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child.

And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 45-46.

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity” by J.I. Packer

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity— hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory— because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.

We talk glibly of the ‘Christmas spirit,’ rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning.

It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of Him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians— I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians— go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side.

That is not the Christmas spirit.

Nor is it the spirit of those Christians— alas, they are many— whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob.

For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor— spending and being spent— to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others— and not just their own friends— in whatever way there seems need.

There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things He will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit.

‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9).

‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5).

‘I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart’ (Psalm 119:32 KJV).”

–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 55-56.

“It is the word of God the King” by J.I. Packer

“The claim of the word of God upon us is absolute: the word is to be received, trusted and obeyed, because it is the word of God the King.

The essence of impiety is the proud willfulness of ‘these wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words’ (Jeremiah 13:10).

The mark of true humility and godliness, on the other hand, is that a person ‘trembles at My word’ (Isaiah 66:2).”

–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 101-102.

“All of the work to which the church is called” by Herman Bavinck

“The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the foundation of prophets and apostles on which all Christian churches, in fellowship with each other, take their stand or claim to take their stand.

In their official confessions, all churches have acknowledged the Divine authority of those Scriptures and have appropriated them as a reliable rule of faith and life. There has never been a difference or conflict about this point of dogma in the Christian churches.

Formerly the attack on Scripture as the Word of God came from the outside, from such pagan philosophers as Celsus and Porphyrus in the second century; inside Christendom such an attack does not appear until the eighteenth century.

Now the church has not received this Scripture from God in order simply to rest on it, and still less in order to bury this treasure in earth.

On the contrary, the church is called to preserve this Word of God, to explain it, to preach it, apply it, translate it, spread it abroad, recommend it, and defend it—in a word, to cause the thoughts of God laid down in Scripture to triumph everywhere and at all times over the thoughts of man.

All of the work to which the church is called is the effort at, and the ministration, of the Word of God. It is a service of this Word of God when it is preached in the assembly of believers, is interpreted, and applied, when it is shared in the signs of the covenant and is maintained in discipline.

And in a larger sense much more is part and parcel of this service of the Word: this, for example, that in our own hearts and lives, in our profession and business, in house and field and office, in science and art, in state and community, in works of mercy and missions, and in all spheres and ways of life, this Word be applied, worked out, and made to rule.

The church must be the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15): that is to say a pedestal and foundation bearing up the truth and maintaining and establishing it over against the world.

When the church neglects and forgets this, the church is remiss in its duty and undermines its own existence.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 101-102.

“It is an eternal Word” by Martin Luther

“And this is the sum of the matter: Let everything be done so that the Word may have free course instead of the prattling and rattling that has been the rule up to now.

We can spare everything except the Word. Again, we profit by nothing as much as by the Word.

For the whole Scripture shows that the Word should have free course among Christians. And in Luke 10:42, Christ Himself says, ‘One thing is needful,’ i.e., that Mary sit at the feet of Christ and hear His word daily.

This is the best part to choose and it shall not be taken away forever. It is an eternal Word.

Everything else must pass away, no matter how much care and trouble it may give Martha. God help us achieve this. Amen.”

–Martin Luther, “Concerning the Order for Public Worship,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 53: Liturgy and Hymns (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 53; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 53: 14.

“The Word did everything” by Martin Luther

“The Word created heaven and earth and all things [Ps. 33:6]; the Word must do this thing, and not we poor sinners.

In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example.

I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.

And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26–29], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philips and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it.

I did nothing; the Word did everything.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 51: Sermons I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 51; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 77.

“As if he thought every one was going to heaven” by J.C. Ryle

“The clergyman who ascends his pulpit every Sunday, and addresses his congregation as if he thought every one was going to heaven, is surely not doing his duty to God or man. His preaching is flatly contradictory to the parable of the sower.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 254. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.

“Beware of the cares of this world” by J.C. Ryle

“The third caution contained in the parable of the sower is to beware of the cares of this world. Our Lord tells us that the hearts of many hearers of the word are like thorny ground. The seed of the word, when sown upon them, is choked by the multitude of other things, by which their affections are occupied.

They have no objection to the doctrines and requirements of the Gospel. They even wish to believe and obey them. But they allow the things of earth to get such hold upon their minds, that they leave no room for the word of God to do its work.

And hence it follows that however many sermons they hear, they seem nothing bettered by them. A weekly process of truth-stifling goes on within. They bring no fruit to perfection.

The things of this life form one of the greatest dangers which beset a Christian’s path. The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world, are so many traps to catch souls.

Thousands of things, which in themselves are innocent, become, when followed to excess, little better than soul-poisons, and helps to hell. Open sin is not the only thing that ruins souls.

In the midst of our families, and in the pursuit of our lawful callings, we have need to be on our guard. Except we watch and pray, these temporal things may rob us of heaven, and smother every sermon we hear. We may live and die thorny-ground hearers.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (vol. 1; New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 252–253. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.

“Religious affections” by J.C. Ryle

“The second caution that we learn from the parable of the sower, is to beware of resting on mere temporary impressions when we have heard the word. Our Lord tells us that the hearts of some hearers are like rocky ground.

The seed of the word springs up immediately, as soon as they hear it, and bears a crop of joyful impressions, and pleasurable emotions. But these impressions, unhappily, are only on the surface. There is no deep and abiding work done in their souls.

And hence, so soon as the scorching heat of temptation or persecution begins to be felt, the little bit of religion which they seemed to have attained, withers and vanishes away.

Feelings, no doubt, fill a most important office in our personal Christianity. Without them there can be no saving religion. Hope, and joy, and peace, and confidence, and resignation, and love, and fear, are things which must be felt, if they really exist.

But it must never be forgotten that there are religious affections, which are spurious and false, and spring from nothing better than animal excitement. It is quite possible to feel great pleasure, or deep alarm, under the preaching of the Gospel, and yet to be utterly destitute of the grace of God.

The tears of some hearers of sermons, and the extravagant delight of others, are no certain marks of conversion. We may be warm admirers of favorite preachers, and yet remain nothing better than stony-ground hearers.

Nothing should content us but a deep, humbling, self-mortifying work of the Holy Ghost, and a heart-union with Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (vol. 1; New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 251–252.