Category Archives: Quotes

An army or a hospital?

Romans6One of the most fatal things we can ever do in connection with sanctification is to start with ourselves; and yet I suspect that if we examined ourselves, and were honest, most of us would have to admit that we have almost invariably done so. Our chief reason for being interested in holiness and sanctification is that we are having a terrible fight and battle with sin. We tend to fall constantly and to go down. What can I do about this problem of sin and evil that is in me? Where can I find relief? Is that not the way we almost invariably start with this matter? It is utterly and entirely wrong. That is not the way in which the Apostle deals with it here or anywhere else. We are subjective, and, so often, holiness teaching meets us on the grounds of our own subjectivity. Here am I thus struggling and striving, defeated and unhappy… What we need is not a doctor, but a sergeant major.

The main trouble with the Christian Church today is that she is too much like a clinic, too much like a hospital; that is why the great world is going to hell outside! ‘We are all suffering’ – to quote Charles Lamb again – ‘with the mumps and measles of the soul’ and feeling our own pulses and talking about ourselves, and our own moods and subjective states. We have lost the concept of the army of God, and the King of righteousness in this fight against the kingdom of evil…

We persist in thinking of it in terms of ‘my feelings’ and ‘my failure’ or ‘my success.’ But Paul bids us look at it in terms of service! When you fall to that sin, the real trouble is not so much the particular thing you have done, or the badness of the thing. That is important, I agree; but there is something much worse; it is that you, for whom Christ died, have allowed sin to use a faculty that is in you. That is the way to look at it. Holiness is a matter of service, not of feelings and subjective moods and states, not a matter of experiences. We are meant to be serving the living God with the whole of our being; and no part of us is ever meant to be used, and must not be used, in the service of sin. We must not fraternize with the enemy. That is the New Testament was of teaching holiness… The New Testament teaching is altogether different from the sentimentality and subjectivity that have controlled holiness and sanctification teaching for so long, and which tell us it is ‘quite simple.’ But it is not easy. ‘Fight the good fight of faith’ says the New Testament. Play the man. ‘Quit yourselves as men’; ‘Put on the whole armour of God’; ‘stand in the evil day’. Those are all military commands; there is nothing of the clinic about them. We must get rid of that notion of the clinic and the hospital; and we must look at these things more in terms of God and His glory, and the great campaign which He inaugurated through the Son of His love, and which He is going to bring to a triumphant conclusion.

The thought, then, that should be supreme in our minds is that it is the King and His service that matters; and that what I must be concerned about is not so much the condition and state of my soul, as my relationship to Him, and my value to Him, and my value in His Kingdom. Let us get rid of the flabby, sentimental ideas, and this morbid interest in ourselves, and our desire simply for something to help us. Let us get rid of that approach altogether, for it is unscriptural and wrong.

From Exposition of Romans Chapter 6: The New Man, pages 173-175


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Only one Gospel, no matter what age

knowingThere has been a marked tendency in the last years or so to divide up Christian work according to age groups. I have never been very enthusiastic about these divisions into age groups – old age, middle age, youth, children, and so on. By that I mean that we must be careful that we do not modify the gospel to suit various age groups. There is no such thing as a special gospel for the middle-aged, and a special gospel for the aged. There is only one gospel, and we must always be careful not to tamper and tinker with the gospel as a result of recognizing these age distinctions. At the same time, there is a difference in applying this one and only gospel to different age groups; but it is a difference which has reference only to method and procedure.

– The Presentation of the Gospel, pg 2, from Knowing the Times

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The natural intellect cannot receive this…

holyspiritThe greatest natural intellect cannot receive this, he is ‘a natural man’. And you need a spiritual faculty to receive the wonderful truth about the two natures in the one Person; the outstanding doctrine about the Trinity; the whole doctrine of the incarnation and the atonement, and so on. This is spiritual truth and to the natural person it is utter folly, it is foolishness, as Paul says. So when the Holy Spirit does enable us to believe it, it must be something beyond the heightening of our natural faculties. It is not simply that He brings the truth of His great moral suasion to us. No, no. We need some new faculty, some new principle, and that is the very work that He does. He implants within us this new spiritual principle, this principle of spiritual vitality and activity, and it is as the result of this that the general call of the gospel comes to us in an effectual manner.

– From the chapter on Effectual Calling in God the Holy Spirit

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The world’s hatred towards Christians

soldierWe have to start with this realization, that the whole organization of the world is against us as Christians. The newspapers are a perfect representation of the mind of the world. Look at what they say, what they teach, what they insinuate. Look at their representation of life, and look at what they are advocating. The same is true of the other instruments – television, radio, and the rest – all belong to the world. The power controlling them is what the Bible call ‘the world’. They do not urge us to think about the soul and our relationship to God and eternity. They are all earth-bound, all within the temporal, the material, the physical. And the world hates the Bible; it is anti-God. You need not go to Russia to get evidence of it; you can find it in the newspapers – the blatant, open, criticizing and ridiculing of the Bible and its teaching. The world is doing that constantly. Most of the great men of the world today are doing this very thing. Such is ‘the world’!

If we fail to realize these things, we are already defeated. The Christian has to realize that the world is against him, that the devil is using the visible, the seen to defeat God’s people, to bring them into confusion, to entangle them, to ensnare the, and thus to stand between them and the blessings that God is ready to give them. How slow we are to realize this! Our Lord says, ‘If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.’ Do not be surprised, He says. It hated the Lord, and He says, ‘The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have hated me they will hate you’. And God’s people have always been hated. One main point of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is to show how the world treated them. The world was ‘not worthy of them’; it persecuted them, it maligned them, it hated them. And ‘the world’, let us remember, can come into the Church; which explains why Christian people often receive persecution from merely nominal Christians. They have always had it, they are still getting it. The mind of the world says, ‘Religion is all right, but you must not go too far, you must not take it too seriously’. There is always hatred on the part of the world for true Christianity.

…We are surrounded by that which is utterly opposed to us and trying to get us down. I am not thinking of open sin only. Worldliness is not confined to flagrant sinning. There are many highly respectable people who are utterly worldy. To be worldy means that God is shut out, Christ is shut out, the holy life is shut off. Very respectable perhaps, but not Christian; that is the essence of worldliness.

– from The Christian Soldier, pages 261-262

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ML-J on liberal vagueness

I am not exaggerating at all when I say that the chief characteristic of the religious outlook of today is vagueness. And what is still worse is that it is claimed that this very element of vagueness is that quality which is most peculiarly and characteristically Christian…

Vague general hopes and aspirations after a higher and better life are regarded as quite sufficient. There is no clarity of view, no definitions of position – everything is vague, fluid, and constantly changing. And, as I have pointed out, they regard any attempt at definition or clarity as being peculiarly anti-Christian and lacking in charity. Any examination of the roots, any insistence upon certain fundamental principles as being absolutely vital and essential to true faith in God, is regarded as being wholly inconsistent with the gospel. Generalizations and nebulous phrases about truth, beauty, and love are the order of the day; they find a little bit of good and of God in everybody and everything, and therefore, whether you believe in Christ as the only begotten of God or not, really does not matter very much and Gandhi is spoken of with the same reverence as our Lord Himself.

From the sermon The Thoroughness of the Gospel, preached September 20, 1931, found in Evangelistic Sermons at Aberavon.


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Preaching and Preachers

I would lay it down as a basic proposition that the primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy. I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information, she does bring them happiness, she does make them good and better than they were. But my point is that those are not her primary objectives. Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God. This really does need to be emphasised at the present time, because this, it seems to me, is the essence of the modern fallacy. It has come into the Church and it is influencing the thinking of many in the Church—this notion that the business of the Church is to make people happy, or to integrate their lives, or to relieve their circumstances and improve their conditions.

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MLJ on Ephesians 5:5

There are people who will argue, ‘But wait a minute; are you not preaching the law to us? You are to be a minister of grace, and yet you seem to be preaching pure law. You are reminding us of the being and character of God, as expressed in the Ten Commandments and in His moral law; are you not putting us back under the law? Are you not excluding every one of us from the kingdom of God? Surely you are forgetting the gospel! You have been referring to the original kingdom, and the original law that God held before mankind; but now the Lord Jesus Christ has come, and we are confronted by something quite new; we are no longer confronting the law; all we are asked to do as Christians is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We could not be saved under the law, for the law made it impossible, saying, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” But now God has brought in another way which makes it easier for us; we are no longer confronted by the demands of the law and the tremendous holiness of God. It is just a matter of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall be save.’ Now that is their argument, but I am bound to say that it is one of the most subtle, dangerous heresies that can ever be offered to men and women. And yet it characterises a great deal of modern evangelism.

The answer to all this is perfectly clear in the New Testament itself. Christ is God, and He did not come into this world to change God’s law; He Himself says specifically in the Sermon on the Mount that not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away until all be fulfilled. He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. And as the apostle reminds us here, the kingdom of Christ is also the kingdom of God! It is one kingdom. The saints of the Old Testament are in the same kingdom as we are. They were in it before us. We as Gentiles have been brought in; we were strangers from the covenants of promise and outside these things, but we have been brought in, we have been made fellow-heirs with them, this division as between old and new is false; and the argument that the law has got nothing to do with us is a case of the devil appearing as an angel of light. There is but one eternal standard.

In the kingdom of Christ we are brought face to face with GOD! And what is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ? Why did He come? He came to bring us to GOD, says the apostle Peter. He came, says Paul, and gave Himself for us, ‘that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works’; He came to make us holy! We find a perfect statement of the matter in the Epistle to the Romans: ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that [in order that] the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’ (8:3-4). It is the kingdom of Christ and of God, and the standard is not lower in the kingdom of Christ than it is in the kingdom of God. The kingdom is one, and holiness is ever the one and only standard. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come into this world to lower the standard or to make it easier than it was before for us to slip into the kingdom, as though we could enter saying, We believe in Christ, and yet be holding on to our sins. Our Lord said, ‘Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord! … but he that doeth…’! And remember the illustration of the house built on the rock and house built on the sand. It is introduced by these words: ‘Whosever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock’ [Matthew 7:24]; the man that heard Christ’s sayings and did not do them is like the man that built his house upon the sand.

Justification is by faith alone. It was while we were yet enemies that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; it was while we were ungodly, while we were sinners. There is no question about that; it is a cardinal doctrine, a first great principle. But justification is only one step, an initial step, in a process. And the process includes not only justification but regeneration and sanctification and ultimate glorification. Justification and forgiveness of sins are not ends in and of themselves; they are only steps on a way that leads to final perfection. And that is the whole answer to the problem. Some Christians persist in isolating these things, but they are not isolate in the Scriptures. ‘Whom he called, them he also justified and whom he justified, them he also glorified’! ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’! There is the whole process. And the truth is, that if you are in it at all, you are in at every point. We cannot divorce justification and forgiveness from other parts of truth. And the remaining steps are put very clearly before us in the First Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘Such’, says the apostle, having given his terrible list of sins – ‘Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God’ (6:11). It means that God does not justify a man and leave him there. Not at all! If God justifies a man, God has brought that man into the process. If you can say that you are justified, I say about you that you have been washed, that you have been sanctified, that you have been taken out, you have been removed from the old, and you have been put into a new realm, into a new kingdom; you are in this process of God that is leading to your ultimate, entire perfection. And the verse that we are looking at here is saying that if there is no evidence in our lives of this process into which God puts the people whom He justifies, then we have not been justified, but are merely saying, Lord! Lord! And His response will be: ‘I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ For the argument is that when God justifies a man He does bring him into this process, and these things happen to him.

These warning, these threatenings, these alarming statements, are the things that God uses to sanctify us; He applies them to us by the Spirit for this purpose. We can all test ourselves as to whether we are Christians or not. How do you react to my text? Does it concern you? Does it alarm you? Does it make you feel ashamed of yourself and your life? Do you say, It is absolutely right and I am ever in danger of relapsing into Antinomianism. If so, I tell you that you are in the kingdom. God has used this verse through the Holy Spirit in order to promote your sanctification. These words come to awaken the true believer, they do not touch the others. The others are just made to feel uncomfortable. They say, ‘What you tell me is all wrong, I thought I was justified by faith only.’ But they really mean to say, ‘I thought that the gospel said it did not matter if I went on sinning, and that all was right with me if I believed in Christ!’ They make the blood of Christ a cloak to cover their sins, they make merchandise of the cross, they are balancing, putting themselves right. But the man who is really called, the man who is in the kingdom, says, ‘This is right, it must be right.’

…people who cleave to sin obviously cannot have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. There is no contradiction between these statements and the doctrine of free grace and justification by faith only, for the God who justifies goes on with the process. And unless we are giving evidence of being in the process and of being perfected by it, there is but one conclusion to draw – we have never been in the kingdom at all, we must go back to the very beginning, we must repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

You may listen to this sermon in its entirety by visiting and scrolling down the page to the sermon on Ephesians 5:5, The Kingdom of Christ and God.

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