Notable Quotables: John R. W. Stott – The Gospel

All Christian preachers have to face this issue.  Either we preach that human beings are rebels against God, under his just judgment and (if left to themselves) lost, and that Christ crucified who bore their sin and curse is the only available Saviour.  Or we emphasize human potential and human ability, with Christ brought in only to boost them, and with no necessity for the cross except to exhibit God’s love and so inspire us to greater endeavour.  The former is the way to be faithful, the latter the way to be popular.  It is not possible to be faithful and popular simultaneously.  We need to hear again the warning of Jesus:  ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26).  By contrast, if we preach the cross, we may find that we are ourselves hounded to the cross.”       The Cross of Christ, p. 337-8

 Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.

The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So, the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a Eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival.

The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.

The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.

The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice–and so the pain–of the cross.

Universalism, fashionable as it is today, is incompatible with the teaching of Christ and His apostles, and is a deadly enemy of evangelism. The true universalism of the Bible is the call to universal evangelism in obedience to Christ’s universal commission. It is the conviction that not all men will be saved in the end, but that all men must hear the gospel of salvation before the end.

We must never think of salvation as a kind of transaction between God and us in which He contributes grace and we contribute faith. For we were dead and had to be quickened before we could believe. No, Christ’s apostles clearly teach elsewhere that saving faith too is God’s gracious gift.

What, then, does it mean to worship God? It is to “glory in his holy name”, that is, to revel adoringly in who he is in his revealed character. But before we can glory in God’s name, we must know it. Hence the propriety of the reading and preaching of the Word of God in public worship, and of biblical meditation in private devotion. These things are not an intrusion into worship; they form the necessary foundation of it. God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.                                                                                               The Contemporary Christian,  1992

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