Some pollsters and pundits look at the worldliness of the church and conclude that being born again doesn’t make a difference in how people live. We should come to the opposite conclusion; namely, that many churchgoers are not truly born again.
Kevin DeYoung. The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. Crossway, 2012. 18.
Holiness is written on everything in heaven. And nothing unholy can enter into this heaven (Rev. 21:27; Heb. 12:14). Even if you could enter heaven without holiness, what would you do? What joy would you feel there? What holy man or woman of God would you sit down with for fellowship? Their pleasures are not your pleasures. Their character is not your character. What they love, you do not love. If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here.
Kevin DeYoung. The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. Crossway, 2012. 15.
“That sad and yet blissful hour when Abraham was to take leave of all that was dear to him, when yet once more he was to lift up his head, when his countenance would shine like that of the Lord, when he would concentrate his whole soul in a blessing which was potent to make Isaac blessed all his days–this time would not come! For he would indeed take leave of Isaac, but in such a way that he himself would remain behind; death would separate them, but in such a way that Isaac remained its prey. The old man would not be joyful in death as he laid his hands in blessing upon Isaac, but he would be weary of life as he laid violent hands upon Isaac. And it was God who tried him. Yea, woe, woe unto the messenger who had come before Abraham with such tidings! Who would have ventured to be the emissary of this srrow? But it was God who tried Abraham.
Yet Abraham believed, and believed for this life. Yea, if his faith had been only for a future life, he surely would have cast everything away in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham’s faith was not of this sort, if there be such a faith; for really this is not faith but the furthest possibility of faith which has a presentiment of its object at the extremest limit of the horizon, yet is separated from it by a yawning abyss within which despair carries on its game. But Abraham believed precisely for this life, that he was to grow old in the land, honored by the people, blessed in his generation, remembered forever in Isaac, his dearest thing in life, whom he embraced with a love for which it would be a poor expression to say that he loyally fulfilled the father’s duty of loving the son, as indeed is evinced in the words of the summons, “the son whom thou lovest.” Jacob had twelve sons, and one of them he loved; Abraham had only one, the son whom he loved.”
– Søren Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling, 2012. Kindle 180.
Abraham became old, Sarah became a laughingstock in the land, and yet he was God’s elect and inheritor of the promise that in his seed all the races of the world would be blessed.
Søren Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling, 2012. Kindle 140.
The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day or our day, is, “Your God reigns!” God is the king of the universe. God is the king of the universe. He has absolute Creator rights over this world and everyone in it. But there is rebellion and mutiny on all sides, and his authority is scorned by millions. So the Lord sends preachers into the world to cry out that God reigns, that he will not suffer his glory to be scorned indefinitely, that he will vindicate his name in great and terrible wrath, but that for now a full and free amnesty is offered to all the rebel subjects who will turn from their rebellion, call on him for mercy, bow before his throne, and swear allegiance and fealty to him forever. The amnesty is signed in the blood of his Son.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004.26-27.
People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 13.
More than ever I believe in preaching as a part of worship in the gathered church. Preaching is worship, and it belongs in the regular worship life of the church no matter the size of the church. In the small church it does not become conversation or “sharing.” In the megachurch it does not become hype and jingles. Preaching is worshiping over the Word of God—the text of Scripture—with explanation and exultation.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 9.
We desperately need a new generation of expositors, men cut from the same bolt of cloth as Calvin. Pastors marked by compassion, humility, and kindness must once again preach the Word. In short, we need Calvins again to stand in pulpits and boldly proclaim the Word of God.
– Steven Lawson, What’s the Answer to the Modern Day Church?