Those spots which a Christian finds in his own heart can only be washed out in the blood of the Lamb. ‘Oh,’ says such a poor soul, ‘I pray—and yet I sin; I resolve against sin—and yet I sin; I combat against sin—and yet I am carried captive by sin; I have left no outward means unattempted—and yet after all, my sins are too hard for me; after all my sweating, striving, and weeping—I am carried down the stream.’ It is not our strong resolutions or purposes which will be able to overmaster these enemies. There is nothing now but the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ, which will take off this burden from the soul of man. You must make use of your graces to draw virtue from Christ; now faith must touch the hem of Christ’s garment—or you will never be healed. — Thomas Brooks The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (HT: Of First Importance)
Godly Sorrow and Delight in God
From Puritan Richard Baxter, Practical Works (London, 1830), 2:420-21: Penitent sorrow is only a purge to cast out those corruptions which hinder you from relishing your spiritual delights. Use it therefore as physic [medicine], only when there is need; and not for itself, but only to this end; and turn it not into your ordinary food. Delight in God is the health of your souls. … So take up no sorrow against your delight in God, or instead of it, but for it, and so much as promoteth it. (HT: Tony Reinke)
The Puritan John Howe, in a series of 13 sermons on regeneration, said this: “You see by this what a Christian is. And all will agree (no doubt) in the common notion, a Christian is one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ. But you see who are reckoned to believe to this purpose, such as are born thereupon another sort of creatures from what they were, and so continue as long as they live: and such as are heaven born, born of God by immediate divine operation and influence, a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them to centre in God, taking them off from all this world.” “The Spirit that is from God suits us to God and to divine things and makes us savor the things of God and take delight in them. It seasons us more and more, so that God
John Flavel on the Importance of Gospel Delight
From Scotty Smith: John Flavel (English Puritan – 1630-1691), was one of the main influences in Charles Spurgeon’s spiritual formation in the gospel. This quote will let you know why. “Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification. We were not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes for a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God. The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfillment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones. The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savoring the felt comforts of a Savior’s presence. When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go
Evangelistic Preaching = Christ-Centred Preaching
J. I. Packer: The Puritans did not regard evangelistic sermons as a special class of sermons, having their own peculiar style and conventions; the Puritan position was, rather, that, since all Scripture bears witness to Christ, and all sermons should aim to expound and apply what is in the Bible, all proper sermons would of necessity declare Christ and so be to some extent evangelistic. –‘The Puritan Vision of Preaching the Gospel,’ in A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway, 2010; repr.), 165-66 (HT: Dane Ortlund)
“that will do it”
Pilgrim’s Progress and Defeating Sin: Prudence asked further, ‘Do you not still carry some of the baggage from the place you escaped?’ [Christian:] ‘Yes, but against my will. I still have within me some of the carnal thoughts that all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted with. Now all those things cause me to grieve. If I could master my own heart, I would choose never to think of those things again, but when I try only to think about those things that are best, those things that are worst creep back into my mind and behavior.’ ‘Don’t you find that sometimes you can defeat those evil things that at other times seem to defeat you?’ Prudence suggested. Christian answered, ‘Yes, it happens occasionally. They are golden hours that I treasure.’ ‘Can you remember the means by which you’re able occasionally to defeat the evil desires and thoughts that assail you?’ Christian said, ‘Yes. When I think about
The Focus of Puritan Preaching
“Puritan preaching revolved around ‘Christ, and him crucified’ – for this is the hub of the Bible. The preachers’ commission is to declare the whole counsel of God; but the cross is the center of that counsel, and the Puritans knew that the traveler through the Bible landscape misses the way as soon as he loses sight of the hill called Calvary.” – J.I. Packer (HT: Erik Kowalker)
The Glory of Christ – seen by revelation not imagination
CHAPTER VII THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN HIS EXALTATION AFTER THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK OF MEDIATION IN THIS WORLD “This is that glory which our Lord Jesus Christ in a special manner prayed that His disciples might behold. This is that of which we ought to endeavor a prospect by faith; by faith, I say, and not by imagination. Vain and foolish men, having general notions of this glory of Christ, knowing nothing of the real nature of it, have endeavored to represent it in pictures and images, with all that luster and beauty which the art of painting, with the ornaments of gold and jewels, can give to them. This is that representation of the present glory of Christ, which, being made and proposed to the imagination and carnal affections of superstitious persons, carries such a show of devotion and veneration in the Papal Church. But they err, not knowing the Scripture nor the eternal glory of the
read more The Glory of Christ – seen by revelation not imagination
John Owen on The Glory of Christ
An excerpt from Owen’s most excellent, The Glory of Christ, ch.2. My thanks to Recover the Gospel. It is a promise concerning the days of the New Testament that our “eyes shall see the King in his beauty” (Isa. 33:17). We shall behold the glory of Christ in its luster and excellency. What is this beauty of the King of saints? Is it not that God is in Him and He is the great representative of His glory to us? Wherefore, in the contemplation of this glory consists the principal exercise of faith. And who can declare the glory of this privilege that we, who are born in darkness and deserved to be cast out into utter darkness, should be translated into this marvelous “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”? What are all the stained glories, the fading beauties of this world? of all that the Devil showed our Saviour from
Signs of Forgiveness
“Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it, Micah 7:19. Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned.” -Thomas Watson (HT: Reformed Voices)
The Kiss and The Blood
After years of struggling, doubting, and searching, the darkness lifted for John Bunyan. Here is how he states it: “I remember that one day, as I was travelling into the country and musing on the wickedness and blasphemy of my heart, and considering of the enmity that was in me to God, that scripture came into my mind, He hath, ‘made peace through the blood of his cross.’ Col. 1:20. By which I was made to see, both again, and again, and again, that day, that God and my soul were friends by this blood; yea, I saw that the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace and kiss each other through this blood. This was a good day to me; I hope I shall not forget it.” Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, pages 19-20 of volume 1 of Bunyan’s Works. Notice 2 things: -Bunyan was pondering the weight of his wickedness (when is the last
The Enjoyment of God
Jonathan Edwards: The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean. Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives; to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on, anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness? Jonathan Edwards, “The Christian Pilgrim,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2:244 (HT: The Perichoresis)
Quote of the week!
From John Calvin’s Commentary on John: “Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection” ( Vol. 18, p. 84). (HT: Of First Importance)
A New Year’s Prayer
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service to thy glory. Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from thee, but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought, speak every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every mote of faith, and give me a desire to show forth thy praise, testify thy love, advance thy kingdom. I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbor, (with) thee, O Son, at my helm, (with) thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails. Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamp burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free. Give me thy grace to sanctify me, they comforts to cheer me, thy wisdom to teach, they
Storms on Edwards’ Religious Affections
The Resurgence has a great interview (approx. 30 mins.) with Sam Storms on his book, ‘Signs of the Spirit’ – an accessible understanding of ‘The Religious Affections’ by Jonathan Edwards. Storms speaks knowledgeably and passionately about Edwards’ unique discernment concerning the workings of the Spirit. Or true Biblical spirituality. You can listen here.
Owen on more of the Spirit!
“. . . when Owen unpacks the work of the Spirit, he makes a distinction between the Spirit being received in terms of “sanctification” and the Spirit’s work of “consolation.” 15 When he refers to sanctification in this context he means the work whereby the Spirit sets us apart, uniting us to Christ and making us alive. This is “a mere passive reception, as a vessel receives water.” 16 This is the movement from being outside the kingdom of God to becoming a child of the King. When Owen speaks of the Spirit’s work of consolation, he has in mind the comforting activity of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Christians need not be passive in the hope that the Spirit will bring comfort; rather, they should (1) seek his comfort by focusing on the promises of God realized in the Spirit, (2) call out to the Spirit of supplication to bring consolation, and (3) attend “to his
Behold the Glory!
More than anyone else, in the last couple of years, John Owen has helped me contemplate the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Here’s a great quote: “One view of Christ’s glory by faith will scatter all the fears, answer all the objections and disperse all the depressions of the poor, tempted, doubting souls. To all believers it is an anchor which they may cast within the veil, to hold them firm and steadfast in all trials, storms and temptations, both in life and in death.” (HT: Gospel Muse)
Jonathan Edwards: The Proportions of Grace
“The redeemed have all from the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given. The gift was infinitely precious, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him. The benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal, misery, and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method
Communion with the Triune God
Adrian Warnock is blogging through Owen’s Communion with the Triune God. Here are the posts thus far: Introducing John Owen to a Generation That Desperately Needs Him John Owen on the Gospel and Communion With God John Owen on the Vital Place of Knowing God John Owen on the Trinity John Owen and Knowing God Through Jesus (HT: Justin Taylor) I particularly love this last piece: “While Owen’s theological approach is unapologetically Trinitarian, he is not shy about being Christ-centered—Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man who grounds our knowledge and communion in God. To know God, we are called to look to Christ. We are often tempted to formulate views of God without reference to Christ, and in this way we run the risk of constructing a philosophical rather than biblical conception of the divine. In truth, Scripture in general and Christ in particular must govern our notion of God. To Know God, Look to the Son Divine
A suitable mercy!
“Jesus Christ is a suitable mercy, suited in every respect to all our needs and wants. “Ye are complete in him.” (Col. 2: 20) Are we enemies? He is reconciliation. Are we sold to sin and Satan? He is redemption. Are we condemned by the law? He is the Lord our righteousness. Has sin polluted us? He is a fountain opened for sin, and for uncleanness. Are we lost by departing from God? He is the way to the Father. Rest is not so suitable to the weary, nor bread to the hungry, as Christ is to the wants of the sinner.” – John Flavel, The Method of Grace (HT: Of First Importance)