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Praying might make things worse — at first

Oct 01, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

Jacob

“It is very apparent from the Word of God that he is wont often to try the faith and patience of his people, when they are crying to him for some great and important mercy, by withholding the mercy sought for a season; and not only so, but at first to cause an increase of dark appearances.  And yet he without fail at last succeeds those who continue instant in prayer with all perseverance and ‘will not let him go except he blesses’ (Genesis 32:26).”

In other words:

An obvious pattern in the Bible is that God tests the faith and stamina of his people as they cry out in prayer for some significant mercy.  He tests them by withholding the mercy they are asking for.  Not only that, but first he makes things worse, sending them discouraging setbacks.  But count on it – he will eventually prosper those who push through in urgent prayer without quitting and will not take no for an answer.

Jonathan Edwards, “A Call to United Extraordinary Prayer,” in Works (Edinburgh, 1979), II:312.

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No longer pause

Sep 30, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

rembrandt-prodigal-returns

“Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies.  God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there.  This is to be known to us in conscious experience.  It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.”

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (London, 1967), pages 36-37.

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What to do when downcast

Sep 29, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

luther

“I often suffer from severe trials and sorrows.  At such times I seek the fellowship of men, for the humblest maid has often comforted me.  A man doesn’t have control of himself when he is downcast and alone, even if he is well equipped with a knowledge of the Scriptures.  It is not for nothing that Christ gathers his church around the Word and the sacraments and is unwilling to let these be hidden in a corner.  Away with monks and hermits!  These are inventions of Satan because they exist apart from all the godly ordinances and arrangements of God. . . . Accordingly, a solitary life should be avoided as much as possible.”

Martin Luther, quoted in Luther’s Works: Table Talk, edited by Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia, 1967), page 268.

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There is a reason

Sep 28, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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No blogging today

Sep 27, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

hunter

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The Bible: guidebook to a bygone era or breakthrough to a new world?

Sep 26, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

lovelace

“Kierkegaard described accurately the sense of disorientation which a tamed modern religion produces in those who read the Bible:

‘The New Testament therefore, regarded as a guide for Christians, becomes, under the assumption we have made, a historical curiosity, pretty much like a guidebook to a particular country when everything in that country has been totally changed.  Such a guidebook serves no longer the serious purpose of being useful to travelers in that country, but at the most it is worth reading for amusement.  While one is making the journey easily by railway, one reads in the guidebook, “Here it is a band of robbers has its stronghold, from which it issues to assault the travelers and maltreat them.”‘

Such a domesticated view of spiritual reality may be superficially comfortable for a while, but eventually it is simply not credible.  We will have less anxiety ourselves and more of a hearing from the world if we will believe in and preach the awesome, dangerous, but solid realities taught in Scripture.”

Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downers Grove, 1979), page 144.

In my opinion, the [definite article] challenge of ministry is for us to re-enter the surprising world of the New Testament while remaining in the known world of today.

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Beveridge on Original Sin

Sep 25, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“I cannot pray but I sin.  I cannot hear or preach a sermon but I sin.  I cannot give an alms or receive the sacrament but I sin.  Nay, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my very confessions are still aggravations of them.  My repentance needs to be repented of, my tears need washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer.”

William Beveridge, Private Thoughts (London, 1720), page 52.

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Lament

Sep 24, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

Futuristic_Abandoned_City

Weep, weep for those
who do the work of the Lord
with a high look
and a proud heart.
Their voice is lifted up
in the streets, and their cry is heard.
The bruised reed they break
by their great strength, and the smoking flax
they trample.

Weep not for the quenched
(for their God will hear their cry
and the Lord will come to save them)
but weep, weep for the quenchers.

For when the Day of the Lord
is come, and the vales sing
and the hills clap their hands
and the light shines
then their eyes will be opened
on a waste place,
smouldering,
the smoke of the flax bitter
in their nostrils,
their feet pierced
by broken reed-stems . . .
Wood, hay and stubble,
and no grass springing,
and all the birds flown.

Weep, weep for those
who have made a desert
in the name of the Lord.

Evangeline Paterson, “Lament,” in Francis A. Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian (Downers Grove, 1970), pages 37-38.

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What Jesus shouted, what Edwards described

Sep 23, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

Edwards

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  John 7:37-39

“He who has divine love in him has a wellspring of true happiness that he carries about in his own breast, a fountain of sweetness, a spring of the water of life.  There is a pleasant calmness and serenity and brightness in the soul that accompanies the exercises of this holy affection.”

Jonathan Edwards, quoted in Dane C. Ortlund, Edwards on the Christian Life (Wheaton, 2014), page 33.

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The Second Coming of Christ is not a peripheral doctrine

Sep 19, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

dore

Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.  Article IV, The Thirty-Nine Articles

“The return of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a mere doctrine to be discussed, nor a matter for intellectual study alone.  Its prominence in the New Testament shows the great importance of the truth, for it is referred to over three hundred times, and it may almost be said that no other doctrine is mentioned so frequently or emphasized so strongly.

Baptism is mentioned nineteen times in seven Epistles, and in fourteen out of twenty-one is not alluded to.  The Lord’s Supper is only referred to three or four times in the entire New Testament, and in twenty out of twenty-one Epistles there is no mention of it.  The Lord’s Coming is referred to in one verse out of every thirteen in the New Testament, and in the Epistles alone in one verse out of ten.  This proportion is surely of importance, for if frequency of mention is any criterion there is scarcely any other truth of equal interest and value.”

W. H. Griffith-Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles (London, 1963), page 87.

Pastor, when was the last time you preached on the second coming of Christ and the final end of all things?

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