What the Puritans Can Teach Us about Counselling

Justin Taylor: Nearly 25 years ago, Tim Keller argued that the works of the Puritans are a rich resource for biblical counseling for the following six reasons: The Puritans were committed to the functional authority of the Scripture. For them it was the comprehensive manual for dealing with all problems of the heart. The Puritans developed a sophisticated and sensitive system of diagnosis for personal problems, distinguishing a variety of physical, spiritual, tempermental and demonic causes. The Puritans developed a remarkable balance in their treatment because they were not invested in any one ‘personality theory’ other than biblical teaching about the heart. The Puritans were realistic about difficulties of the Christian life, especially conflicts with remaining, indwelling sin. The Puritans looked not just at behavior but at underlying root motives and desires. Man is a worshipper; all problems grow out of ‘sinful imagination’ or idol manufacturing. The Puritans considered the essential spiritual remedy to be belief in the gospel, used

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Why Do You Have to Be So Precise?

J.I. Packer: Richard Rogers, the Puritan pastor of Wethersfield, Essex, at the turn of the sixteenth century, was riding one day with the local lord of the manor, who, after twitting him for some time about his “precisian” ways, asked him what it was that made him so precise. “O sir,” replied Rogers, “I serve a precise God.” If there were such a thing as a Puritan crest, this would be its proper motto. A precise God–a God, that is, who has made precise disclosure of His mind and will in Scripture, and who expects from His servants a corresponding preciseness of belief and behavior–it was this view of God that created and controlled the historic Puritan outlook. The Bible itself led them to it. And we who share the Puritan estimate of Holy Scripture cannot excuse ourselves if we fail to show a diligence and conscientiousness equal to theirs in ordering our going according to God’s written Word. (Puritan

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Godlier, Manlier

Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigor, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks. This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not. The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians. –J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, 215 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Gladness in the Gospel

“Truth will readily be exchanged for error when no more sweetness and joy is to be found in it than is to be found in error. When we find any of the good truths of the gospel coming home to our souls with power, giving us gladness of heart and transforming us into the image and likeness of it, the Holy Spirit is then at his work. He is pouring out his oil.” – John Owen, Communion with God, abridged by R.J.K. Law (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 189. (HT: Of First Importance)

Why Reformed?

Here’s an interesting piece from Nathan Pitchford. I would certainly agree that the greatest influences on me have been 3 and 4. “Lately, there seems to be growing interest in the resurgence of Calvinism and Reformed Theology among the younger generation of Evangelicals. Persons from within Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism, as well as outsiders, are taking note, and wondering what could be fueling the phenomenon. I was recently approached by someone asking for possible reasons or motivations underlying this resurgence among younger evangelicals, and after a little deliberation I came up with five motivations that I see at work, as listed below. I am sure there are others, but these seem highly instrumental to me. What do the rest of you think?” 1. Dissatisfaction with the theology and religious environment of our parents. The milieu in which we grew up was characterized on the one hand by a high-stress, high-guilt, man-powered striving after sanctification, evangelism, etc., that left a great deal of burned-out

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Faith Lives In A Broken Heart!

“Faith lives in a broken heart. ‘He cried out with tears, Lord, I believe.’ True faith is always in a heart bruised for sin. They, therefore, whose hearts were never touched for sin, have no faith. If a physician should tell us there was a herb that would help us against all infections, but it always grows in a watery place; if we should see a herb like it in colour, leaf, smell, blossom, but growing upon a rock, we should conclude that it was the wrong herb. So saving faith always grows in a heart humbled for sin, in a weeping eye and a tearful conscience.” – Thomas Watson (HT: Symphony of Scripture)

How The Puritans Interpreted Scripture

Quoting JI Packer . . . To the Puritans, no discipline was so exacting, and no labor so rewarding as the interpretation of the scriptures. The soundness of their method is unquestionable; we shall do well to follow in their footsteps. That will mean asking six questions of each passage or text that we seek to expound: 1. What do these words actually mean? 2. What light do other scriptures throw on this text? Where and how does it fit into the total biblical revelation? 3. What truths does it teach about God, and man in relation to God? 4. How are these truths related to the saving work of Christ, and what light does the gospel of Christ throw upon them? 5. What experiences do these truths delineate, or explain, or seek to create or cure? For what principal purpose do they stand in scripture? 6. How do they apply to myself or others in our actual situation? To

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The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church!

 Quoting Jeremiah Burroughs . . . The power of God is glorious, not only in preserving His church, in raising the spirits of His servants in their greatest affliction, but in increasing His church by them. If it is a wonder to be upheld in them, it is much more a wonder to be increased by them. “The more we are cut down, the more we persist“, says Tertullian. The church never grew so fast as when it was under the most affliction. Sulpitius says of the Christians in primative times, that they were greedy of martyrdom, as in his time men were greedy of bishopric. The blood of martyrs was the seed of the church. Pliny reports of the lily, that it is increased by it’s own juice that drops from it, and so is the church, which is the lily that grows among the thorns; the very blood that drops from it, multiplies it; the sufferings of one

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Owen & Goodwin – Union with Christ & Justification

The forensic (i.e. justification) and the transformative (i.e. sanctification) are a manifestation of our relation to Christ.  Both justification and sanctification are aspects of our union with Christ; that is to say Christ ‘in us’ is Christ ‘for us’.  Christ’s significance to the believer is forensic and transforming.  Consider what Owen and Goodwin have to say on this issue: “Union with Christ”, says Owen, “is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments and expectations” (21:146) . And hence is our justification: for … being united unto Christ, we are interested in that acquitment from the condemning sentence of the law which was granted unto himself when he satisfied it to the utmost …. Our union with him is the ground of the actual imputation of his righteousness unto us; for he covers only the members of his own body … (21:150). What did Goodwin have to say? All of God’s justifying acts toward us “depend upon union with Christ,

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