Category Archives: Holiness

the final judgment gives us hope

If we believe that the Resurrection really happened, then Jesus Christ has, as it were, made an opening in the barrier between the ideal and the real. The downtrodden of the world can say, “Now I have got something, I have a hope. I have a hope for the future.” Middle-class people can get excited about philosophy and ethical principles, but not the masses, not the people who are really stuck in the darkness of this world. The Resurrection, not taken as a symbol but believed as a concrete fact, will lift up the downtrodden, and will change the world. Belief in a final judgment gives us enough hope so that we will neither resort to violence to bring in justice nor give in and collaborate with injustice.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 172.

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a fountain of love

Eighteenth-century philosopher and preacher Jonathan Edward wrote a famous sermon titled “Heaven Is a World of Love,” which conveys the Christian hope with power. Edwards understands the ultimate Christian hope not to be in abstractions such as radiance and immortality but in relationship. At the center of heaven is not merely a generic God but the triune Christian God, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “who are united in infinitely dear and incomprehensible mutual love.” There is “an . . . eternal mutual holy energy between the Father and the Son, a pure holy act whereby the Deity becomes nothing but an infinite and unchangeable act of love.” Pouring love into one another in degrees of unimaginable power and joy makes this three-in-one God into a “fountain of love.” In heaven this fountain “is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it,” and so it “overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p 168.


how to be accepted by god

Ordinary moralistic religion operates on this principle: “I live a good and moral life; therefore God accepts me.” Gospel Christianity operates in the opposite way: “God accepts me unconditionally in Jesus Christ; therefore I live a good and moral life.” In the first case you live a good life out of the hope of a reward, with all the insecurity and self-doubts that go with it. Will you ever be good enough for the reward? How will you know if you are, and how will you keep it up even if you are? In the Christian approach the motivation is one not of fear but of grateful joy. You live to please and resemble the one who saved you at infinite cost to himself by going to the cross. You serve him not in order to coerce him to love you but because he already does.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 137.


a christian’s identity is received

And here we see the richness, complexity, and startling distinctiveness of the Christian approach to identity. Paul can say, “God judges me,” not with alarm but with confidence. Why? Because unlike either traditional or secular culture, a Christian’s identity is not achieved but received. When we ask God the Father to accept us, adopt us, unite with us, not on the basis of our performance and moral efforts but because of Christ’s, we receive a relationship with God that is a gift. It is not based on our past, present, or future attainments but on Christ’s spiritual attainments. In the Christian understanding, Jesus did not come primarily to teach or show us how to live (though he did that too) but to actually live the life we should have lived, and die in our place the death – the penalty for our moral failures – we should have died. When we rest in him alone for our salvation, he becomes a substitute and representative for us. On the cross Jesus was treated as we deserved, so that when we believe in him, we are treated as he deserves.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 136


changed my address

Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.

Billy Graham


most romantic places on earth

The two most romantic places on earth are the prayer closet and the pulpit.

Francis Chan, at Mission Connexion Northwest 2018
quoting someone he couldn’t exactly remember.


the matter of vocation

Consider what the realistic outworkings of ‘mission’ are likely to be.

I begin with vocation, by which I mean a Christian’s life-work. We often given the impression that if a young Christian man is really keen for Christ, he will undoubtedly become a foreign missionary, that if he is not quite as keen as that he will stay at home and become a pastor, that if he lacks the dedication to be a pastor, he will no doubt serve as a doctor or teacher, while those who end up in social work or the media or (worst of all) in politics are not far removed from serious backsliding! It seems to me urgent to gain a truer perspective in this matter of vocation. Jesus Christ calls all his disciples to ‘ministry’, that is, to service. He himself is the Servant par excellence, and he calls us to be servants too. This much then is certain: if we are Christians we must spend our lives in the service of God and man. The only difference between us lies in the nature of the service we are called to render. Some are indeed called to be missionaries, evangelists or pastors, and others to the great professions of law, education, medicine and the social sciences. But others are called to commerce, to industry and farming, to accountancy and banking, to local government or parliament, and to the mass media, while there are still many girls who find their vocation in home-making and parenthood without pursuing an independent career as well. In all these spheres, and many others besides, it is possible for Christians to interpret their lifework christianly, and to see it neither as a necessary evil (necessary, that is, for survival), nor even as a useful place in which to evangelize or make money for evangelism, but as their Christian vocation, as the way Christ has called them to spend their lives in his service. Further, a part of their calling will be to seek to maintain Christ’s standards of justice, righteousness, honesty, human dignity and compassion in a society which no longer accepts them.

John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, pp. 31-32.

Note: This book was written in 1975, and some of his language may seem out of step with our current norms. Please consider the intent behind his words, not his choice of words, which were culturally acceptable at the time they were written.


inner man is weak and starved

We take good care of this earthly body that we only have for a short time. We feed it three times a day, and we clothe it, and we dress it, and soon it is going into the grave to rot; but the inner man that is to live on and on forever is weak and starved.

D. L. Moody, How to Study the Bible: Updated Edition, pages 9-10


the word is essential for fruit

I never saw a fruit-bearing Christian who was not a student of the Bible. If a man neglects his Bible, he may pray and ask God to use him in His work, but God cannot use him, for there is not much for the Holy Spirit to work upon. We must have the Word itself, which is sharper than any two-edged sword.

D. L. Moody, How to Study the Bible: Updated Edition, pages 2-3.


few grow because few study

If we feed on the Word of God, it will be easy to speak to others about the Word of God; and not only that, but we will also be growing in grace the entire time, and others will notice the change in our walk and conversation. So few Christians grow, because so few study.

D. L. Moody, How to Study the Bible: Updated Edition, page 4