I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be — soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
Without “absolutes” revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice, and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers. We could never know who God is, how He is to be worshiped, or wherein true happiness lies…
Intellects which are willing to drift backwards and forwards on the ebb and flow of the tides of changing theories will, at the end, be driven by the winds of uncertainty into the quicksands of atheism.
- John Owen, Biblical Theology: The History of Theology from Adam to Christ (p. xl)
John Owen, in the book I’m reading right now, says this:
The very title page of this book will demonstrate, without further explanation from me, the intention of the work I have undertaken.
Gee, can you really tell that much from the title page of a book?
Yes. Yes you can.
It’s no secret to those who know me, but I love to read. As a Christian, I enjoy reading “Christian living” and theology, and I was challenged by a question on the humor site Stuff Christians Like, in one of Jon’s more serious posts.
At the end of that post, he asked the questions:
- What are you reading?
- And what is God showing you through it?
Answering the first question is easy, but admittedly, I often neglect thinking through the second question enough. Not that God is not showing me plenty through my reading, but I often don’t bother to think through it thoroughly and reflect up on it.
So, with that in mind, right now I’m reading…
- The Sinfulness of Sin, by Ralph Venning. Through this Puritan Paperback from Banner of Truth, I’m getting a very deep serious sense of God’s absolute and total hatred of sin. While “God hates sin” is a basic foundational idea of Christianity, I think we don’t reflect enough on just how repulsive our sin is to Him. This is important not just as an idea, but because it makes the cross of Jesus Christ that much more powerful – that God poured out His holy wrath upon His Son for our sake, that Christ took on that repulsive sin, and that for that, those who believe shall never suffer for it.
- Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, by Donald S. Whitney. Here God is showing me how to be closer to Him through His Word, through prayer, and through other spiritual disciplines and attitudes.
- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J. I. Packer. I’ve been very convicted of my failure to evangelize lost friends, relatives, and strangers. God continues to convict and through Packer’s classic, I’m getting a very solid, biblical view of evangelism, and what is important (and what’s not) when sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m also gaining confidence to proclaim Christ.
Sinners are ever and anon stumbling at Christ Jesus; they are offended at him, but cannot tell for what. They would complain of something, and find fault with it, if they knew what; but they seek faults where none are to be found. Yet rather than not be offended with Christ, this shall be his crime, that he is guilty of none. The reason why they find so much fault with God is because he finds out their faults, and finds fault with them. Man’s waspishness and touchiness, his being so captious and ready to take offence at God and godliness, are clear manifestations of his darkness. Did they know him, they would never crucify, nor be offended with the Lord of life, light and glory. Blessed is he that is not offended with Christ.
How far from godliness are those who are unspiritual in their worship, who do not do duties from a renewed principle and with the utmost intention of soul, but merely to stop the mouth of conscience! Many people look no further than the bare doing of duties, but neve rheed how they are done. God does not judge our duties by length, but by love.
Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture