On the efficacy of preaching, Michael Horton insists “It is effective because God has promised to dispense his saving grace then and there by the Spirit, and it grows organically out of the logic of the message itself because it is an announcement of something that has been accomplished by God, rather than an incentive to get sinners to save themselves by sheer force of will or effort. It is good news, not good advice, good production value, or good ideas.”
Horton elaborates on this good news: “. . . we can always count on God being where he has promised to meet us . . . . The power of the Spirit is linked to a promise; namely, a promise that faith comes by hearing the gospel preached (Rom. 10:8, 17)” (A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, 64-65).
“The secret of Luther’s power lay in the same direction [the endeavor of prevailing with God for men in prayer]. Theodorus [a friend of Luther] said of him: “I overheard him in prayer, but, good God, with what life and spirit did he pray! It was with so much reverence, as if here speaking to God, yet with so much confidence as if he were speaking to his friend.” My brethren, let me beseech you to be men of prayer. Great talents you may never have, but you will do well enough without them if you abound in intercession” (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 45).
“If men have no likeness to the Father in heaven, it is vain to talk of their being His “sons.” If we know nothing of holiness we may flatter ourselves as we please, but we have not got the Holy Spirit dwelling in us: we are dead, and must be brought to life again–we are lost, and must be found. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they,” and they only, “are the sons of God.” (Rom. viii. 14.) We must show by our lives the family we belong to.–We must let men see by our good conversation that we are indeed the children of the Holy One, or our son-ship is but an empty name” (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 42).
“With this expression of spirituality [what the author calls “dominion religion” – a form of spirituality that is derived from application of Genesis 1:28] there is a desire to develop the world for the benefit of others and the glory of God. This development occurs as God’s people are serious about applying His Word to very area of life. It also involves a willingness to make sacrifices to further His kingdom. Although Christians have held this view during much of history, only a minority of Christians seem to be aware of it today. most Christians, at least in America, are of the escapist variety. They see the value of their faith as it applies to their own personal piety, but don’t seem to expect it to have much influence in the world. The kind of change our world needs will only come about with a change in worldview where men do not seek power over one another, but seek power of God to build His kingdom together [CCS: This kingdom building is a liturgical endeavor at its root–involving both worldview and worship.]. There’s only one spiritual option out there today that can bring this about, and it’s the practice of dominion spirituality” (David Bostrom, Get Dominion: You’ve Been Called to Fulfill a Mission, 73).
“So Lord, Teach Us presents the Christian faith not as a set of beliefs but rather as a prayer that you must learn to pray. Along the way, we will discuss doctrines, but Christian doctrines are like prayer, a set of practices. The doctrines are meant to help us pray, “Our Father. . . .” This book is shaped by the Lord’s Prayer because the prayer is a mark of the journey called Christian. The prayer names the danger you will face as well as providing the help–the necessary skills–you will need for negotiating the dangers of the journey. Christianity means conflict. We never forget, as we pray, that the one who taught us to pray in this way was crucified” (William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas, Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life, 15).
Charles Spurgeon on fishing for men: “I sometimes hear of persons getting very angry after a gospel sermon, and I say to myself, “I am not sorry for it.” Sometimes when we are fishing the fish gets the hook into its mouth. He pulls hard at the line; if he were dead, he would not; but he is a live fish, worth the getting; and though he runs away for a while, with the hook in his jaws, he cannot escape. His very wriggling and his anger show that he has got the hook, and the hook has got him. Have the landing-net ready; we shall land him by and by. Give him more line; let him spend his strength, and then we will land him, and he shall belong to Christ forever” (Spurgeon’s Sermon Illustrations, 56).
Reminds me that we all go to Christ kicking and screaming, wriggling and flopping. There is no other way, for we are, after all, saved by grace. At first, we are angry, we don’t like the gospel and we don’t like gospel sermons. But then God regenerates us, he gives us a new heart and new desires. Thus, the gospel becomes sweet to us, gospel sermons become sweet to us. Our anger is changed to joy unspeakable.
“We must direct our prayer, as we direct our speech to the person we have business with. The Bible is a letter God hath sent to us; prayer is a letter we send to him” (Matthew Henry, Directions for Daily Communion with God).
“The Classic American Date: go see a movie together. Our culture is so film-saturated that this invitation is the easiest and most natural one to make” (Grant Horner, Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer, 145).
Ain’t that the truth. My wife and I went on our “first date” on December 12, 2004–we watched Ocean’s Twelve.
“This [Sunset Boulevard] is one of the darkest films ever produced in Hollywood, undoubtedly because Hollywood is the subject, and Hollywood is people. Self-portraits are always the strangest form of art. They always tell the truth even while they lie. The title of the film comes from the famous street winding through the northern Los Angeles hills and down to the Pacific Ocean. The road is curvy, hilly, and very heavily used–in other words, it is dangerous. . . . This story about the film industry and what it can do to the human soul is absolutely blistering, even six decades after its release. It deals with the arts of screenwriting, directing, and acting; shows the costs and temptations of becoming famous and rich; delineates the manipulation by others and self so endemic to the artistic and business world that is Hollywood; brutally snickers at Hollywood wackiness; and calculates the cost of selling the soul for an image. Fame is shown for what it really is: the temporary acclamation of people who eventually turn on you and then laugh at you, pity you–or both. The message is simple: Hollywood kills” (Grant Horner, Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer, 184-185).
“The Word [God’s word of salvation], all-powerful in its effect and salvific in its benefit, creates the faith that receives it” (Thomas J. Davis, This Is My Body: The Presence of Christ in Reformation Thought, 58).