Quotes by Gresham Machen
What the Holy Spirit does in the new birth is not to make a man a Christian regardless of the evidence, but on the contrary to clear away the mists from his eyes and enable him to attend to the evidence.
No human law without sanction is complete; a law without a penalty is an altogether worthless and pitiful thing. Are God’s laws of this pitiful kind?>
Christ is…not primarily an example for faith but the object of faith.
Even the Christian must fear God. But it is another kind of fear. It is a fear rather of what might have been than of what is; it is a fear of what would come were we not in Christ. Without such fear there can be no true love; for love of the Saviour is proportioned to one’s horror of that from which man has been saved. And how strong are the lives that are suffused with such a love! They are lives brave, not because the realities of life have been ignored, but because they have first been faced – lives that are founded upon the solid foundation of God’s grace. May such lives be ours!
Men love to be encouraged by false hopes; the world is full of quick remedies for sin.
When the Bible says that Christ is God, it does not ask us to forget a single thing that it has said about the stupendous majesty of God. No, it asks us to remember every one of those things in order that we may apply them all to Jesus Christ.
Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end… It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth.
The Trinity is revealed to us only in the Bible. God has revealed some things to us through nature and through conscience. But the Trinity is not among them. This He has revealed to us by supernatural revelation and by supernatural revelation alone.
The New Testament is just as much opposed as the Old Testament is to the thought that there are more Gods than one. Yet the New Testament with equal clearness teaches that the Father is God and the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God, and that these three are not three aspects of the same person but three persons standing in a truly personal relationship to one another. There we have the great doctrine of the three persons but one God.
[The] doctrine is a mystery. No human mind can fathom it. Yet what a blessed mystery it is! The Christian’s heart melts within him in gratitude and joy when he thinks of the divine love and condescension that has thus lifted the veil and allowed us sinful creatures a look into the very depths of the being of God.
It may help us to the threshold of the truth to say that God inhabits infinite space: but when we look a little deeper we see that space itself belongs to finite things and that the notion of infinite space is without meaning. God created space when He created finite things. He Himself is beyond space. There is no near and no far to Him. Everything to Him is equally near.
Time has no meaning for Him, save in connection with the creatures that He has made. He created time when He created finite creatures. He Himself is beyond time… To God Himself all things are equally present. There is no such thing as “before” or “after” to Him.
The New Testament without the miracles would be far easier to believe. But the trouble is, would it be worth believing?
Assent to certain propositions about God is not all of faith in God, but it is necessary to faith in God; and Christian faith, in particular, though it is more than assent to a creed, is impossible without assent to a creed.
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.
All the ideas of Christianity might be discovered in some other religion, yet there would be in that other religion no Christianity. For Christianity depends, not upon a complex of ideas, but upon the narration of an event. Without that event, the world, in the Christian view, is altogether dark, and humanity is lost under the guilt of sin. There can be no salvation by the discovery of eternal truth, for eternal truth brings naught but despair, because of sin. But a new face has been put upon life by the blessed thing that God did when He offered up His only begotten Son.
“Christ died for all, therefore all died”…is so because Christ was the representative of all when He died. The death that He died on the cross was in itself the death of all. Since Christ was the representative of all, therefore all may have been said to have died there on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem when Christ died.
Justification by faith is an answer to the greatest personal question ever asked by a human soul: “How shall I be right with God? How do I stand in God’s sight? With what favor does he look upon me?” There are those, I admit, who never raise that question. There are those who are concerned with the question of their standing before men but never with the question of their standing before God. There are those who are interested in what “people say” but not in the question of what God says. Such men, however, are not those who move the world. They are apt to go with the current. They are apt to do as others do. They are not the heroes who change the destinies of the race. The beginning of true nobility comes when a man ceases to be interested in the judgment of men and becomes interested in the judgment of God.
I think, my friends, that it depends altogether upon that of which one is afraid. The words of our text (Mt. 10:28), with the solemn inculcation of fear, are also a ringing denunciation of fear: the “Fear Him” is balanced by “Fear not.” The fear of God is here made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the heroic centuries of Christian history have provided abundant testimony to its efficaciousness.
No man is interested in a piece of good news unless he has the consciousness of needing it; no man is interested in an offer of salvation unless he knows that there is something from which he needs to be saved. It is quite useless to ask a man to adopt the Christian view of the gospel unless he first has the Christian view of sin.
The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God — the grace of God which depends not one whit upon anything that is in man, but is absolutely undeserved, resistless and sovereign. The theologians of the Church can be placed in an ascending scale according as they have grasped that one great central doctrine, that doctrine that gives consistency to all the rest; and Christian experience also depends for its depth and for its power upon the way in which that blessed doctrine is cherished in the depths of the heart. The center of the Bible, and the center of Christianity, is found in the grace of God; and the necessary corollary of the grace of God is salvation through faith alone.