Christian Motivation Quotes from the Retreat

On Feb 14th, the College Ministry invited Dane Ortlund to speak at the winter retreat on the topic of “Christian Motivation.”  We were encouraged to live all of life by grace through faith in the gospel, resting in and being satisfied with what God has done for us and will do for us in Christ.  The quotes below are those that were referred to at one time or another during the evening.  Print them off, read them, think about them, talk about them… and if you only read one (which should not be the case; this is just rhetoric), read C. S. Lewis’ thoughts on “Three Kinds of Men.”  Enjoy!

C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady:

“Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.”[1]

Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace:

“[God’s] mercy should so fill our vision that gratitude fills our hearts with the longing to do his will. If thankfulness does not move us to serve God, then we do not truly understand who our God is and what he has done in our behalf. Without gratitude for Christ’s sacrificial love, our duty will become nothing more than drudgery and our God nothing more than a dissatisfied boss.”[2]

Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God:

“The consciousness of our God-given identity is intended to be an incentive for us to rise to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to imitate, mimic, copy, or model ourselves on the Father. . . . I am a child in the family of God. His will and guidance, his instruction and discipline, are what I daily experience. In that context I learn to say ‘no’ to sin. . . . For I now see sin as utterly alien to the light and joy of the family in which I am being nurtured.”[3]

John Piper, Future Grace:

“When Christ calls us to a new act of obedience that will cost us some temporal pleasure, we call to mind the surpassing value of following him, and by faith in his proven worth we forsake the worldly pleasure. The result? More joy!”[4]

“The pursuit of pleasure is an essential motive for every good deed.”[5]

Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise on Grace:

“The first effect of the power of God in the heart in regeneration, is to give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature. . . . If God, by an immediate act of His, gives the soul a relish of the excellency of His own nature, other things will follow of themselves without any further act of the Divine power. . . . He that is once brought to see, or rather to taste, the superlative loveliness of the Divine Being, will need no more to make him long after the enjoyment of God, to make him rejoice in the happiness of God, and to desire that this supremely excellent Being may be pleased and glorified.”[6]

Matthew Parris, a British atheist, The London Times, Dec 27 2008 (article title: “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”)

“Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”

C. S. Lewis, in a May 1952 letter to a friend:

. . . a terribly familiar pattern: the man of good will, saddled with an abnormal desire which he never chose, fighting hard and time after time defeated. But I question whether in such a life the successful operation of Grace is so tiny as we think. Is not this continued avoidance either of presumption or despair, this ever renewed struggle, itself a great triumph of Grace?[7]

C. S. Lewis, “Three Kinds of Men”:

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a student’s life, into time “on the job” and “off the job”, “in school” and “out of school”. But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort – it is to want Him.[8]

C. S. Lewis, “A Slip of the Tongue”:

Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on.[9]


[1] C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 95.

[2] Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2001), 187.

[3] Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 50, 51–52.

[4] John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (2d ed.; Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah, 1996), 69.

[5] Piper, Desiring God, 97.

[6] Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise on Grace, in Selections from the Unpublished Writings of Jonathan Edwards of America (Ligonier, Pa.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1992; reprint from 1865), 37.

[7] C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy (ed. Walter Hooper; San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2007), 195.

[8] C. S. Lewis, “Three Kinds of Men,” in Present Concerns (London: Fount, 1986), 21-22.

[9] C. S. Lewis, “A Slip of the Tongue,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 140.

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