On 7 May 1963 C.S. Lewis was interviewed by Sherwood E. Wirt of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Wirt: In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into the Faith kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction looking for an escape. You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?
Lewis: I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’ But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk’.
Wirt: That sounds to me as if you came to a very definite point of decision.
Lewis: Well, I would say that the most deeply compelled action is also the freest action. By that I mean, no part of you is outside the action. It is a paradox. I expressed it in Surprised by Joy by saying that I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite.
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What’s at stake here is the whole comparison between Christ and Adam. If we don’t understand “because all sinned” in Romans 5:12 as “because all sinned in Adam,” the entire comparison between Christ and Adam will be distorted and we won’t see the greatness of justification by grace through faith for what it really is.
Let me try to illustrate what’s at stake. If you say, “Through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned individually,” then the comparison with the work of Jesus could be, “So also through one man, Jesus Christ, righteousness and life entered the world and life spread to all because all individually did acts of righteousness.” In other words, justification would not be God’s imputing Christ’s righteousness to us, but our performing individual acts of righteousness with Christ’s help and then being counted righteous on that basis. When Paul saw that as a possible misunderstanding of what he said, he stopped to clarify.
But what does it say about the work of Christ, if we take the words, “because all sinned” to mean “because all sinned in Adam”? Then it would go like this: “Just as through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to them, so also through one man Jesus Christ, righteousness entered the world and life through righteousness, and life spread to all who are in Christ because his righteousness is imputed to them.” That is the glory of justification by grace through faith. The basis of our vindication and acceptance before God is not our righteous deeds, but Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. But this would be all distorted if the words “because all sinned” at the end of verse 12 meant “because all sinned individually,” and not because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to us.
The parallel Paul wants us to see and rejoice in is that
just as Adam’s sin is imputed to us because we were in him,
so Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us because we are in him.
One of the best reasons for thinking this is what Paul meant is to look at verse 18 where he really does complete the comparison he started here. “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” In Adam we all were condemned; in Christ we all are justified. Adam’s transgression was imputed to us; and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (see 1 Corinthians 15:22).
But all that would be lost if at the end of verse 12 the words “because all sinned” referred to individual sins and not to our sinning in Adam. (“Adam, Christ, and Justification: Part II“)
Great comment on why we don’t just sin individually by we sin ‘in Adam’. The fact that Christ’s righteousness is given to us only makes sense when we understand that Adam’s sin was first inherited by us.
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While I was preparing a talk for church a while ago, I was listening to BBC Radio Five Live and they previewed a chat with Jonny Wilkinson. If you don’t know who Johnny Wilkinson is, he’s one of England’s finest Rugby Union Players. While his career has been blighted by injury, his most glorious moment was drop-kicking England to World Cup success in 2003. The interview was all about his life, passions, views etc…
By far the most startling comments he made though were about his philosophy of life, the way he approached his rugby career and life. In many ways he has a very ‘religious’ approach to life. He said:
“The one thing I can’t stand is obtaining something without earning it. Whether that be praise, whether that be fame, whether that be money, whether that be anything. For me life… is as simple as what you put in is what you get out. Anything that comes for free is dangerous. There’s something else behind it. Everything in life has to be earned. I believe that’s the way the world works. You earn your respect, you earn your chances, you earn your opportunities. And if you get something in advance you have to then put the earning work in afterwards. Retrospectively you earn it. For example, the gift I was given I was given at the very start I believe and I’ve been trying to pay that back with the way I attack my rugby career”.
Imagine being Jonny Wilkinson. It seems like the striving and earning never stops. There’s always more to do, more to prove, more to earn. And that’s why I found his comments so interesting. It’s the polar opposite to the approach the Bible takes about life.
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One great twitter feature is the ability to use tools such as twitter search and TweetDeck to keep an eye on tweets containing certain phrases. I thought I’d start a search on Tim Keller and here are the top twitter Tim Keller quotes I found (after trawling through a lot of retweets!). I hope you enjoy them.
- jaredpete When talking about difference btw legalism and gospel: “Jesus didn’t tithe his blood.”
- timmybrister “God’s immanence makes his transcendence comforting; his transcendence makes his immanence amazing. The gospel leads us in both.“
- ronsylvia: “Most use their city to build a great church. Use your church to build a great city”
- jakebelder “A world in which everyone you love becomes fertilizer … is not a world which our hearts can rest in!”
- RedeemerNYC: “the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
- brandonsandifer “Without knowledge of our extreme sin, the payment of the cross seems trivial and does not electrify or transform.”
- daveferguson: “6 things you can give a new church: money, mentoring, model, members, minister & major leaders.”
- Kevinbrbc “The gospel shows us a God far more holy than a legalist can bear and yet more merciful than a humanist can conceive.“
- andrewhsieh “When I focus on Jesus’ Love I will not think too much of myself, too little of myself, I will just think of myself less.”
- jasonsalamun “I’m so flawed that Jesus had to die for me yet I’m so loved & valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.”
- jasonkelliott “mere moral effort without the gospel may restrain the heart but cannot truly change the heart”
- LizaGrimmet “you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently”
- jakebelder “Only people who know they are lost have any hope of ever being found.”
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One of my biggest quests in life is to keep writing new songs about the cross. Every time I release an album I’m keen for it to contain at least one song that centres around that theme. On the latest collection there are actually three songs that do this – You Alone Can Rescue, This is How we Know, and Remembrance (a communion song). I’m really grateful that it turned out this way. As a worship leader I want to make sure that practically every time we sing together, we journey to Calvary. The centrality of the cross is crucial to our faith, and essential in our worship.
This is a great quote by Matt Redman about why he tries to focus on writing worship songs about the cross. Long may it continue!
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I saw this on the internet a while ago. Bono (of U2 fame) has long facinated me. I’ve read a lot of short descriptions of Christianity on the internet but this one caught my eye. Rarely have I read an explanation that puts it better than this and it comes from a rock star!
Is Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2, a Christian? He says he is and writes about Christianity in his lyrics. Yet many people question whether Bono is “really” a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics (though he has been faithfully married for 23 years). But in a new book of interviews, Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, Bono, though using some salty language, makes an explicit confession of faith.
The interviewer, Mr. Assayas, begins by asking Bono, Doesn’t he think “appalling things” happen when people become religious? Bono counters, “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.”
The interviewer asks, What’s that? “At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one,” explains Bono. “And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
The interviewer asks, Like what? “That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge,” says Bono. “It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”
Then the interviewer marvels, “The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.”
“The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death,” replies Bono. “It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.”
The interviewer marvels some more: “That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has His rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?”
Bono comes back, “Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ . . . So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s far fetched.”
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Reflecting on Christian confession, it never ceases to amaze me how confession can be so good for you. By definition confession means letting go of control and admitting deep failure and weakness. And yet, because God is so great, confession is so good. But for confession to truly be good for the soul it has to go deep. it has to go beyond the symptoms and search for the deep seated causes. I found this quote from Tim Keller recently while reading a church planting manual.
Dear Father, my sin is ever before me. I have desired control and that has only produced fear. I have desired power over others and that has only served to alienate them from me. I have desired my own comfort and that has only brought forth anger when my comfort was not achieved. I have sought the approval of others and have meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection. Idolatry plagues my heart! I am consumed with thoughts of self-aggrandizement, self-promotion and self-service.
In my deepest parts, I doubt that you are God and I want to rule myself. I cry out to you, Father. Only you can deliver me. Show me the cross. For without Jesus’ glorious robe of righteousness to cover my nakedness, I’ll die. Show me the love of my beautiful Saviour who gave up his glory and even his life that I might be delivered from idolatry. May the work of Jesus ever stir me towards radical, joyful obedience. May he be my reason for living and my eternal source of joy, hope, faith and love. Amen.
Tim Keller: A prayer life that nourishes your relationship with God.
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I found this great quote from an obscure leaflet written by Sinclair Ferguson – heard in an equally obscure sermon given by Dr. Tim Keller at Gordon Conwell Seminary in the US. The talks can sadly only be bought in CD form and not downloaded. I’ve asked about MP3 versions, but they’re not available. Here’s the quote anyway:
“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is [given] to us. Jesus is the true and better Abel who though innocently slain has blood that cries out for our acquittal not our condemnation. Jesus as the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go into the void not knowing whither he went. Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who is not just offered up by his Father, but actually sacrificed by his Father. Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserve so that we like Jacob only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us. Jesus is the true and better Joseph who at the right hand of the king forgives those who betray him and sold him and uses his new power to save us. Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant. Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses, who struck with the rod of God’s justice now gives us water in the desert. Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends. Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, although they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves. Jesus is the true better Esther who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate heavenly palace and who didn’t just risk his life but gave his life to save his people. Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast into the storm so that we could be brought in. Jesus is the ultimate lamb, the ultimate priest, the ultimate king” (Sinclair Ferguson)
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