Some of my favorite passages from Scandalous by DA Carson (Crossway, 2010) – the first book on my summer reading list.
The kings and rulers and presidents of this fallen world order exercise their authority out of a deep sense of self-promotion, out of a deep sense of wanting to be number-one, out of a deep sense of self-preservation, even out of a deep sense of entitlement. By contrast, Jesus exercises his authority in such a way as to seek the good of his subjects, and that takes him finally, to the cross. He did not come to be served, as if that were an end in itself; even in his sovereign mission he comes to serve – to give his life a ransom for many. Those who exercise any authority at any level in the kingdom in which Jesus is king must serve the same way – not with implicit demands of self-promotion, confidence in their right to rule, or a desire to sit at Jesus’ right hand or his left hand, but with a passion to serve. (p. 20)
All people without distinction are both condemned and savable: Jew and Gentile alike, Jews and Arabs alike, blacks and whites alike, Westerners and Easterners alike, Northerners and Southerners alike. Pragmatically, this needs to be worked out. Of course there are some churches that are situated in neighborhoods that draw from only one ethnic group. In that case the way you demonstrate the truth of this passage may be by linking up with churches that are grounded in other ethnicities. Mix and match and saw ministers for a week or two – something to demonstrate that you are not simply American Christians, but that you are Christian Christians. (p. 56-57)
Many of our English translations say “servant of Jesus Christ,” but the word most commonly used is doulos, which always refers to a slave. We are slaves of Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed from slavery to sin. Somebody has paid the price. We sing it: we have been “redeemed by the blood of the lamb.” (p. 59)
Do we have the gift of the Spirit? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Do we enjoy the fellowship of saints? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Does he give us comfort in life and in death? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Does he watch over us faithfully, providentially, graciously, and covenantally? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Do we have hope of a heaven to come? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Do we anticipate resurrection bodies on the last day? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Is there a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness? Secured by Christ on the cross.
Do we enjoy new identities, so that we are no longer to see ourselves as nothing but failures, moral pariahs, disappointments to our parents, – but as deeply loved, blood bought, human beings, redeemed by Christ, declared just by God himself, owing to the fact that God himself presented his Son Jesus as the propitiation for our sins? All this is secured by Christ on the cross and granted to those who have faith in him. (p. 70-71)
How dare you approach the mercy-seat of God on the basis of what kind of day you had, as if that were the basis for our entrance into the presence of the sovereign and holy God. No wonder we cannot beat the devil. This is works theology. It has nothing to do with grace and the exclusive sufficiency of Christ. Nothing. (p. 103)
You cannot see people converted by holding the sword to their throat. You cannot transform society by anything other than the proclamation of the gospel. What we must have is the promulgation and promotion of the gospel. Yet some of us have not shared the gospel with a single person in the last year or even five years. Even pastors fall into this trap as they retreat into a narrow little world where they talk only to other Christians. They have never made friends on the outside. They have no one with whom they can share the gospel completely, honestly, and generously. They do not share the gospel in the barber shop. They are afraid. (p. 105)
We are whole, complicated beings: our physical existence is tied to our spiritual well-being, to our mental outlook, to our relationship with others, including our relationship with God. Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep – not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you to get the sleep your body needs. (p. 147)
Next up on the summer reading list – Forgotten God by Francis Chan