This past year I made an effort to start reading non-fiction books on a regular basis. Many of these books I chose were religious books, by authors such as Dietrich Bonheoffer, John McArthur, C.S. Lewis, and so on. While I don’t agree with many of their religious beliefs, I also believe they still had many good thoughts that I could learn from. There were several places in these books that made me think as well as encouraged me. I have been writing these quotes down, and I thought I would share them here.
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that has. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be ask for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.” – D. Bonheoffer
I am also currently reading “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. I would strongly encourage you to read this book! Even for a Christian, it is very faith building as you follow along on Lee’s journey as he proves the existence of Christ. His method of writing is very easy to follow and enjoyable. He starts off each chapter with a time when a police or FBI case was solved with the very same method he will be using to figure out Christ’s validity.
“How does love conquer? By asking not how the enemy treats her but only how Jesus treated her. The love for our enemies takes us along the way of the cross and into fellowship with the crucified. The more we are driven along this road, the more certain is the victory of love over the enemy’s hatred. For then it is not the disciple’s own love, but the love of Jesus Christ alone, who for the sake of his enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as he hung there. In the face of the cross the disciples realized that they too were his enemies, and that he had overcome them by his love. It is this that opens the disciple’s eyes, and enables him to see his enemy as his brother. He knows that he owes his very life to One, who though he was his enemy, treated him as a brother and accepted him, who made him his neighbor, and drew him into fellowship with himself. The disciple can now perceive that even his enemy is the object of God’s love, and that he stands like himself beneath the cross of Christ. ” – D. Bonheoffer
“Jesus prays to His Father that the cup may pass from him, and His Father hears his prayer; for the cup of suffering will indeed pass from him – but only by his drinking it. That is the assurance he receives as he kneels for the second time in the garden of Gethsemane that suffering will indeed pass as he accepts it. That is the only path to victory. The cross is his triumph over suffering.” – D. Bonheoffer
“When the world began, God created Adam in his own image, as the climax of his creation. He wanted to have the joy of beholding in Adam the reflection of himself. “And behold it was very good.” God saw himself in Adam. Here, right from the very beginning, is the mysterious paradox of man. He is a creature, and yet he is destined to be like his Creator. Created man is destined to bear the image of uncreated God. Adam is “as God”. His destiny is to bear this mystery in gratitude and obedience towards his Maker. But the false serpent persuaded Adam that he must still do something to become like God; he must achieve that likeness by deciding and acting for himself. Through this choice Adam rejected the grace of God, choosing his own action. He wanted instead to unravel the mystery of his being for himself, to make himself what God had already made him. That was the fall of man, Adam became “as God” in his own way. But now that he had made himself god, he no longer had a God. But God does not neglect his lost creature. He plans to re-create his image in man, to recover his first delight in his handiwork. He is seeking in it his own image so that he may love it. But there is only one way to achieve this purpose and that is for God, out of sheer mercy, to assume the image and form of fallen man. As man can no longer be like the image of God, God must become like the image of man. It is not enough for man simply to recover right ideas about God, or to obey his will in the isolated actions of his life. No, man must be refashioned as a living whole in the image of God. His whole form, body, soul and spirit, must once more bear that image on earth. God’s good pleasure can rest only on his perfected image. An image needs a living object, and a copy can only be formed from a model. Either a man models himself on the god of his own invention, or the true and living God molds the human form into his own image. To be conformed to the image of Christ is not an ideal to be striven after. It is not as though we had to imitate him as well as we could. We cannot transform ourselves into his image; it is rather the form of Christ which seeks to be formed in us (Gal. 4:19) and to be manifested in us. Christ’s work in us is not finished until he has perfected his own form in us. Because he really lives his life in us, and has lived as a man, we too can “walk as he walked” and “do as he has done”, “loved as he has loved”, “forgive as he forgave:, “have this mind, which also is in Christ Jesus”, and therefore we are able to follow the example he has left us and lay down our lives for the brethren as he did. It is only because he became like us that we can become like him. By being transformed into his image, we are enabled to model our lives like his. We pay no attention to our own lives or the new image which we bear, for then we should at once have forfeited it, since it is only to serve as a mirror for the image of Christ on whom our gaze is fixed.” – D. Bonheoffer
“We shall be judged according to our works – this is why we are exhorted to do good works. The Bible assuredly knows nothing of those qualms about good works, by which we only try to excuse ourselves and justify our evil works. The Bible never draws the antithesis between faith and good works so sharply as to maintain that good works undermine faith. No, it is evil works rather than good works which hinder and destroy faith. Grace and active obedience are complementary. There is no faith without good works, and no good works apart from faith. But all our good works are the works of God himself, the works for which he has prepared us beforehand. Good works are then ordained for the sake of salvation, but they are in the end those which God himself works within us. They are his gift, but it is our task to walk in them at every moment of our lives, knowing all the time that any good works of our own could never help us to abide before the judgment of God. We cling to faith to Christ and his works alone. For we have the promise that those who are in Christ Jesus will be enabled to do good works, which will testify for them in the day of judgment. All we can do is to believe in God’s word, rely on his promise, and walk in the good works which he has prepared for us. From this it follows that we can never be conscious of our good works. The moment we begin to feel satisfied that we are making some progress along the road of sanctification, it is all the more necessary to repent and confess that all our righteousness are as filthy rags. Yet the Christian life is not one of gloom, but of ever increasing joy in the Lord. God alone knows our good works, all we know is His good work. We can do no more than hearken to his commandment, carry on and rely on His grace, walk in His commandments. The left hand knows not what the right hand does. But we believe and are well assured “that he which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In that day Christ will show us the good works of which we were unaware. While we knew it not, we gave him food, drink, and clothing and visited him, and while we knew it not we rejected him. Great will be our astonishment in that day, and we shall then realize that it is not our works which remain, but the work which God has wrought through us in His good time. We are simply to look away from ourselves to Him who has himself accomplished all things for us and to follow Him. The believer will be justified, the justified will be sanctified and the sanctified will be saved in the day of judgment. But this does not mean that our faith, our righteousness and our sanctification (in so far as they depend on ourselves) could be anything but sin. No, all this is true only because Jesus Christ has become our ‘righteousness, and sanctification and redemption, so that he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord'” – D. Bonheoffer
“If holiness is so basic to the Christian life, why do we not experience it more in daily living? Why do so many Christians feel constantly defeated in their struggle with sin? Why does the Church of Jesus Christ so often seem to be more conformed to the world around it than God? At the risk of oversimplification, the answers to these questions can be grouped into three basic problem areas. Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned with our own victory over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God. W. S. Plummer said, “We never see sin aright until we see it as against God… All sin is against God in this sense; that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, and His government that is set at naught. Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, ‘I have sinned’; but the returning prodigal said, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee’; and David said, ‘Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned’.” God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we face this attitude and deal with it, we will not consistently walk in holiness. This is not to say God doesn’t want us to experience victory, but rather to emphasize that victory is a byproduct of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we will certainly experience the joy of victory over sin.” – J. McArthur
Also, my new (short) list of books to definitely read this year, some of which I now own, just haven’t made it to them yet. I have a much longer list that is just ideas of ‘someday’.
- Crazy Love ~ Francis Chan
- Muscle and a Shovel ~ Michael Shank
- The Best Yes ~ Lisa TerKeurst
- 12 Ordinary Men ~ John McArthur
- Mere Christianity ~ C. S. Lewis
- Plus any of C. S. Lewis’ works about Christianity
I’m always looking for more books to discover along these same lines, so I’d love any suggestions!