“Christian practice in matters of spiritual formation goes badly astray when it attempts to construct or organize ways of spirituality apart from the ordinariness of life. And there is nothing more ordinary than a meal. Abstract principles — the mainstay of so much of what is provided for us in contemporary church culture — do not originate in the biblical revelation…Breakfast and supper. Fish and bread. Their home in Emmaus and the beach in Galilee. These provide the conditions and materials for formation-by-resurrection.” – Eugene Peterson, Living the Resurrection (72)
“Just as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, as carbon is converted into diamond, as the grain of wheat upon dying in the ground produces other grains of wheat, as all of nature revives in the spring and dresses up in celebrative clothing, as the believing community is formed out of Adam’s fallen race, as the resurrection body is raised from the body that is dead and buried in the earth, so too, by the re-creating power of Christ, the new heaven and new earth will one day emerge from the fire-purged elements of this world, radiant in enduring glory and forever set free from the ‘bondage to decay’. More glorious than this beautiful earth, more glorious than the earthly Jerusalem, more glorious even than paradise will be the glory of the new Jerusalem, whose architect and builder is God himself.” – Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol 4, 720.
“For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”― Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
During this Christmas season, I love to be reminded that we are “outlandish creatures” who are all longing for home. The reality though can only be found in the One in whom we’ve been made, and in whom we also “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Home, in other words, is found in Jesus Christ alone. That is the meaning of Christmas – God making His home with us, so we can find our way back home again with Him.
“Of all the customs surrounding Christmas, it occurs to me the most singular, the most distinctive, is the custom of giving one another gifts. You realize how unique that is. There are other special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Father’s Days, Mother’s Days, and so on, in which somebody is given gifts. You bring your gifts to somebody, but the real question is … How many holidays do we have in which all of us give gifts to all of us? The answer is only one, and it’s right that we do it at Christmas because it highlights, it makes real, the central event, in some ways, the central truth of Christmas…Jesus Christ came at Christmas, but he didn’t just come. He was given. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given …’
Jesus didn’t just come. He was a gift. That’s the central event of Christmas, and all the gift giving, in a sense, makes that real. Jesus was given. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …’ Jesus did not just come. He was a gift.
There’s one place in which Paul is so overwhelmed by the thought of it that he breaks into praise, and he says, ‘Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift,’ an unspeakable gift, an inexpressible gift. It’s beyond description. It’s beyond comprehension. Whenever Paul thinks about it, even for a while, his imagination and his heart explode.”
– Tim Keller, December 23, 1990
sermon, “His Name Shall Be Called”
“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”—William Gurnall
“And in the Incarnation the whole human race recovers the dignity of the image of God.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“A Child in a foul stable, Where the beasts feed and foam; Only where He was homeless Are you and I at home;”—G.K. Chesterton, The House of Christmas
“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the incarnation.”—Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” ~J.I. Packer
“God is not a prisoner of our faith, but of his own perfection. Faith obligates God to act not because it is a magical incantation that can be used to control God but because faith in God’s promises calls attention to God’s own faithfulness. The assurance upon which faith is based is the glory of God’s character, not the power of our believing.”
— Scott J. Hafemann
The God of Promise and the Life of Faith
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 93
Recently came across this quote I had saved and found it helpful and pertinent to our small group discussion tonight on, “Can someone lose their salvation?”