Banner Reading Challenge

When fears and doubts overwhelm your soul, where do you go to? When you find yourself in a difficult circumstance, where do you look? Right now, we are living in difficult days. The world is thrown into chaos and everything seems out of control. But is it? No. As Christians, we know that God is the Lord of history. He is seated in the heavens and He is fulfilling his purposes for His glory and the good of the Church. In these days, we need to remind ourselves of the goodness of God. When have you last read a book on the attributes of God? When have you read a book on the goodness of God? Right now, is the time to do so.

To do this, I will be reading A Discourse Upon the Goodness of God by Stephen Charnock. Will you join me? This discourse is found in volume 2 of Charnock’s collected works, published by The Banner of Truth.

Charnock so helpfully lifts our eyes away from self and onto the goodness of our Triune God.

Charnock writes, “God only is infinitely good. A boundless goodness that knows no limits, a goodness as infinite as his essence, not only good, but best; not only good, but goodness itself, the supreme unconceivable goodness” (277).

Again, Charnock writes, “God is the prime and chief goodness … [He is] one infinite ocean of sovereign goodness, whence the streams of created goodness are derived … Nothing can add to him, or make him better than he is, nothing can detract from him to make him worse, nothing can be added to him, nothing can be severed from him” (286).

To find your copy, click here:

https://banneroftruth.org/us/store/collected-workssets/the-works-of-stephen-charnock-2/

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Banner of Truth Coffee Mug

Each morning I enjoy waking up early, having a nice freshly brewed coffee on my desk, and my Bible opened to read. Am I alone? I don’t think so. I find it refreshing to have a nice cup of coffee in the morning. It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, who once said, “Advice to a thirsty soul. Try coffee.”[1] Geoff Thomas recalled a time when Dr. Lloyd-Jones would preach every two years in Aberystwyth, and after one occasion Thomas went to see him for morning coffee.[2] Do we see a pattern here? Spurgeon… Lloyd-Jones… Coffee? Now, I say this all with tongue in cheek. However, if you drink coffee or tea, I have an ideal mug for you!

We all know how important it is to have a proper mug for our hot beverage. We don’t want it to be too big or too small. It is ideal when it fits comfortably into the shape of your hand. What mug could fit these difficult criteria? Behold, the Banner of Truth Coffee Mug.

Here is the product description:
“This premium, etched (not printed), 16 ounce coffee mug is the perfect gift for the Banner book reader. Tea could equally be enjoyed with this mug, although its hearty frame lends itself to a stronger hot beverage.”

The Banner Mug is by far my favourite mug. I use it almost every day. Here is a picture of my morning coffee:

Image

 

If you are a Banner book reader, get this mug! If interested, click here.

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[1] See: https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/blog-entries/10-spurgeon-quotes-for-the-new-school-year

[2] See: https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2007/the-piety-of-dr-martyn-lloyd-jones-submitting-to-the-spirit-of-god/

Ministerial Lessons from M’Cheyne

INTRODUCTION

            If you could learn from one person in church history, who would it be? I would argue that every minister of the gospel must become familiar with Robert Murray M’Cheyne. On March 20th, 1832, after reading part of the Life of Jonathan Edwards, Robert Murray M’Cheyne penned these words: “How feeble my spark of Christianity appears beside such a sun! But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me.”[1] Like Edwards, M’Cheyne was a man who maintained a close fellowship with his Creator and Redeemer. As a result, though he has been with the Lord for some time, his life and ministry still speak today.

Passion About Holiness

            To begin, M’Cheyne makes it clear that every minister must be a man who is passionate about holiness. This concept of personal holiness should not be new to us. Throughout the Bible, we see that our calling as a Christian and pastor is a calling to personal holiness: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Pet. 1:15 – 16).

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was convinced that personal holiness and ministerial success were intimately connected. Are you aware of this connection? Pastor, do you know that your personal holiness influences your ministry? M’Cheyne writes,

But do not forget the culture of the inner man – I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword – his instrument – I trust a chosen vessel unto him to bear his name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.[2]

M’Cheyne shows us that the minister who is greatly used by God is the one who exhibits the greatest likeness to Jesus Christ. The minister who diligently pursues holiness in his life is ready to be used by God. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:21 – “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Pastor, do you know that your calling is a calling to a life of holiness? We need to be daily reminded of this and pursue holiness diligently through the ordinary means of grace that God has given us (the word, sacraments, and prayer).

One of the most outstanding qualities given to Robert Murray M’Cheyne was his personal holiness. Andrew Bonar said, “it was testified of him that not the words he spoke, but the holy manner in which he spoke, was the chief means of arresting souls.”[3] Today, the idea of personal holiness is often neglected in many churches across our land. M’Cheyne does well to remind us that our congregations need our own personal holiness.

Persistent in Prayer

            Secondly, though prayer is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life, it is often the most neglected. M’Cheyne teaches us that ministers must be persistent in prayer. Robert Murray M’Cheyne saw prayer not as a “mere discipline or duty to be fulfilled – it was a delight to be savored… He saw prayer as the end itself, the very heart of a believer’s communion with God on earth.”[4] However, though prayer is a great privilege, it is also a great duty. M’Cheyne believed that “a minister’s duty is not so much public as private… if a minister is to thrive in his own soul, and be successful in his work, he must be the half of his time on his knees.”[5]

The temptation for every minister is to rely on his strength to fulfill his duty. However, this is a grievous error. Our Lord Jesus says, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). M’Cheyne confronts this error and shows us that the minister must be a man who goes forward on their knees. On one occasion, M’Cheyne said to his church, “Who knows how many souls would be saved if you would make serious use of daily weeping and praying before God over your unconverted friends and over the unconverted world.”[6] What would our churches look like if we seriously gave ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word? Like M’Cheyne, every minister must be persistent in the prayer closet.

Persevere in Evangelism

            Thirdly, we learn that a passion for God overflows in a deep love for the lost. Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s love for souls was the sprung from the outflow of his love for God. M’Cheyne wrote the following statement in his journal: “I have never risen a morning without thinking how I could bring more souls to Christ.”[7] Horatius Bonar rightfully notes that “our power in drawing men to Christ springs chiefly from the fullness of our personal joy in Him, and the nearness of our personal communion with him.”[8] When we see the beauty and glory of Christ in the Scriptures, how can we not joyfully tell about him to others?

Therefore, if we desire to persevere in evangelism, we must begin with God himself. The fuel for evangelism is found in beholding the beauty of the Lord. If we long to be more evangelistically minded, then we must have a growing communion with our Triune God. Our perseverance in evangelism springs chiefly from our deep love for Christ and his Word. If we are to grow in our love for the lost, we must first grow in our love for Christ. Most importantly, if we are to speak for eternity, M’Cheyne reminds us that we must cultivate our own spirit. “A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God’s Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.”[9]

CONCLUSION

            To conclude this essay, we have seen that Robert Murray M’Cheyne never ceased from the cultivation of personal holiness, and the most anxious efforts to save souls.[10]As Robert Murray M’Cheyne reflected upon his ministry, he said the following: “I feel persuaded that if I could follow the Lord more fully myself, my ministry would be used to make a deeper impression than it has yet done.”[11] What would it look like if God were to raise-up another generation of men like Robert Murray M’Cheyne in our day? Christian, today you are called to be passionate about holiness, persistent in prayer, and persevere in evangelism.

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These lessons were largely drawn from The Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. To read more about Robert Murray M’Cheyne, please visit Banner of Truth.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Beaty, David P. An All-Surpassing Fellowship. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014.

 

Bonar, Andrew. Robert Murray M’Cheyne. 2012. Reprint. Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2014.

 

Bonar, Andrew. Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. 1966. Reprint. Edinburgh:    Banner of Truth, 1973.

 

Jeffery, Peter. Preachers Who Made a Difference. New York: Evangelical Press, 2004.

 

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching and Preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

M’Cheyne, Robert Murray. From the Preacher’s Heart. Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus,    1995.

 

Murray, Iain. A Scottish Christian Heritage. 2006. Reprint. Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2014.

 

 

 

                        [1] David P., Beaty. An All-Surpassing Fellowship (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014), 12.

                [2] David P., Beaty. An All-Surpassing Fellowship, 65.

                [3] David P., Beaty. An All-Surpassing Fellowship, 127.

                [4] Ibid., 117.

                [5] Ibid, 118.

                [6] Ibid., 120.

                [7] Ibid., 139.

                [8] Ibid.

                [9] Andrew, Bonar. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, 144-145.

                [10] Ibid., 229,

                [11] Ibid., 218.

 

Book Review: The Christian Ministry

The sum of the Christian minister’s whole labour is to honour God and to save men (8). In the book, The Christian Ministry, published by Banner of Truth, Charles Bridges seeks to give a theological and practical overview of the Christian ministry. The contents of this book originated from a letter written to a friend upon the subject of ministerial inefficiency. As one of the leading evangelicals of his day, Charles Bridges sought to answer the questions posed to him. In this book review, I will first briefly summarize the content of this book. Then, I will comment on any outstanding lessons that I have taken away from this reading.

SUMMARY

            To begin, the content of this book can be organized into five different bodies of thought. First, Bridges begins his book with a general overview of the Christian ministry. In this section he speaks on the origin and institution of the Christian ministry, the necessity of it, the trials and difficulties, comforts and encouragement, and qualifications of the Christian ministry. Additionally, Bridges gives the reader certain steps to prepare for the ministry, such as habits of study and prayer. The second section of the book focuses on the general causes of the want of success in the Christian ministry. In this section, Bridges looks at the Scriptural warrant for ministerial success. He notes that it is good to seek for a “real harvest produced by spiritual labours,” but it must be done for the honour and glory of God’s name (75). Bridges also acknowledges that there are also unhealthy and prideful ways of longing for ‘success’ in ministry, and this must be put to death. In many casess it is the longing of the natural heart to elevate self.

In the third section, Bridges identifies personal hinderances to ministerial success, namely the ministers own personal character. Bridges identifies that the causes of ministerial inefficiency can be linked to a minister’s conformity to the world, fear of man, Spirit of covetousness, spiritual pride, etc. Bridges states that the minister must “devote himself entirely to Jesus Christ, and to his Church.” (107). The character of a minister must be stamped with growing holiness and nearness to God. In the fourth section, Bridges begins to speak on the public work of the Christian ministry. This section highlights the importance of peaching, the different types of preaching, (i.e. doctrinal, experimental, practical, applicatory, etc.), and how to prepare for the pulpit. The fifth and final section of the book deals with ministerial work in general, the nature and importance of this work, and how to handle different people in the ministry (i.e. the self-righteous, the young Christian, the backslider, etc.).

CONCLUSION

            To conclude this review, I will comment on two outstanding lessons that I have drawn from reading this book. First, I will discuss the importance of studying and meditating upon the Word. Bridges notes that the “minister’s life must, to the end, be a life of holy meditation and study” (208). The minister must feast upon the Word, both in large and in small portions daily. It is vitally important to maintain the “daily reading of considerable portions of the pure word of God, and so to keep Scriptural truth continually revolving in the mind” (51). Additionally, it is essential that the minister meditates on the Word and feeds his own soul, before ministering to others. Bridges notes that a proper habit of study is the groundwork for ‘success’ (48).

Secondly, Bridges states that “the highest style of a preacher therefore is – that he gives himself to prayer” (216). It is vitally important for the preacher to be a man of prayer. “the most valuable results of meditative study are essentially defective without prayer” (213). The entire life of the preacher should be marked by prayer. “Nothing will give such power to our sermons, as when they are the sermons of many prayers. The best sermons are lost, except they be watered by prayer” (215). Bridges reminds us to continually pray for those to whom we preach. It is simply not enough to just pray before the sermon. We must also pray after. Therefore, the greatest take away from this book is Bridges emphasis on prayer and preaching of the Word.

I highly recommend this book to the student training for the ministry, for the young minister, and those who have been in the ministry for some time now. In this book, each alike will be challenged, exhorted, and encouraged.

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bridges, Charles. The Christian Ministry: An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency. East Peoria, IL: Banner of Truth, 2009.

The Treasury of Jonathan Edwards, Part 1.

How often do you think about heaven? When was the last time you read a book on heaven? According to Jonathan Edwards, heaven will be a world of holy love. In this article, I would like to give you ten meditations on heaven from Edwards.

  1. “Heaven is the palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One, whose name is love, and who is both the cause and source of all holy love” (13).

 

  1. “And this renders heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that ‘God is love’; and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love” (15).

 

  1. “There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love – this eternal Three in One – is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows forever. There this glorious God is manifested, and shines forth, in fully glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love!” (17).

 

  1. “As the saints will love God with an inconceivable ardour of heart, and to the utmost of their capacity so they will know that he has loved them from all eternity, and still loves them, and will continue to love them forever… They shall then be more sensible than now they are, what great love it manifested in Christ that he should lay down his life for them; and then will Christ open to their view the great fountain of live in his heart for them, beyond all that they ever saw before” (42 – 43).

 

  1. “The heart of Christ, the great Head of all the saints, is more full of love than the heart of any saint can be. He loves all the saints far more than any of them love each other… The saints shall know that God loves them, and they shall never doubt the greatness of his love, and they shall have no doubt of the love of all their fellow inhabitants in heaven” (45, 47).

 

  1. “All things in heaven do also remarkably show forth the beauty and loveliness of God and Christ, and have the brightness and sweetness of divine love upon them. The very light that shines in and fills that world, is the light of love, for it is the shining of the glory of the Lamb of God, that most wonderful influence of lamb-like meekness and love that fills the heavenly Jerusalem with light” (61).

 

  1. “Love is always a sweet principle; and especially divine love. This, even on earth, is a spring of sweetness; but in heaven it shall become a stream, a river, an ocean! All shall stand about the God of glory, who is the great fountain of love, opening, as it were, their very souls to be filled with those effusions of love that are poured forth from his fulness, just as the flowers on the earth, in the bight and joyous days of spring, open their bosoms to the sun, to be filled with his light and warmth, and to flourish in beauty and fragrancy under his cheering rays” (73 – 74).

 

  1. “Every soul there, is a note in some concert of delightful music, that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever” (74).

 

  1. “You must, in your meditations and holy exercises, be much engaged in conversing with heavenly persons, and objects, and enjoyments. You cannot constantly be seeking heaven, without having your thoughts much there. Turn, then, the stream of your thoughts and affections towards that world of love and towards the God of love that dwells there” (105).

 

  1. “In all your way let your eye be fixed on Jesus, who has gone to heaven as your forerunner. Look to him. Behold his glory in heaven, that a sight of it may stir you up the more earnestly to desire to be there. Look to him in his example” (108).

These quotations have been taken from “Heaven: a world of love” by Jonathan Edwards published by the Banner of Truth. This book can be found in the Pocket Puritans Series.

A number of other books by or about Jonathan Edwards are available from the Banner of Truth. The links below will take you to the online book catalogue where you can get more information and purchase the books.

Jonathan Edwards book catalogue.

Communion with God – Part 1

This summer, as part of my pastoral internship program, I am reading Communion with God by John Owen. This book is found in volume two of the sixteen-volume Collected Works of John Owen, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. In this volume, Owen shows the Christian that he or she has an intimate fellowship with the Triune God. Night and day, the Christian has free access into the very presence of the God of Glory.

John Owen wrote, ‘Our greatest hindrance in the Christian life is not our lack of effort, but our lack of acquaintedness with our privileges.’ Christian, are you aware of your privileges in Christ? Do you know that you have fellowship with the Triune God? Is not that the greatest gift? We deserve wrath, but we have received grace! Have you pondered the eternal, unfathomable love of God towards you? Christian, do you know that the Triune God has set his eternal love upon you (Jer. 31:3)? Often, we forget these things. For this reason, I would like to share a few quotes with you from John Owen. These quotes encouraged my soul this morning and I pray it will encourage yours as well:

“Every thing of Christ is beautiful, for he is ‘altogether lovely,’ but most glorious is he in his sight and wisdom: he is the wisdom of God’s eternal wisdom itself; his understanding is infinite. What spots and stains are in all our knowledge! When it is made perfect, yet it will still be finite and limited. His is without spot of darkness, without foil of limitedness” (74).

“God is said to smell a sweet savour from the grace and obedience of his servants (Gen. viii. 21), so do the saints smell a sweet savour from his grace laid up in Christ, Cant. i. 3. It is that which they rest in, which they delight in, which they are refreshed with. As the smell of aromatical spices and flowers pleases the natural sense, refreshes the spirits, and delights the person; so do the graces of Christ to his saints. They please their spiritual sense, they refresh their drooping spirits, and give delight to their souls” (75).

“When spices are set in order, any one may know what is for his use, and take and gather it accordingly. Their answering, also, one to another makes them beautiful. So are the graces of Christ; in the gospel they are distinctly and in order set forth, that sinners by faith may view them, and take from him according to their necessity. They are ordered for the use of saints in the promises of the gospel. There is light in him, and life in him, and power in him, and all consolation in him; – a constellation of graces, shining with glory and beauty. Believers take a view of them all, see their glory and excellency… by faith and prayer do they gather these things in this bed of spices. Not any that comes to him goes away unrefreshed” (75-76).

All I can say is amen. I trust that the truths of the gospel have refreshed your soul today. If you are looking to read John Owen for the first time, I highly recommend reading him in the Puritan Paperback series. I promise you, if you take the time and diligence, you will find a rich feast for your soul in Owen.

Here are the following links to follow:
Communion with God (Puritan Paperback)
Volume 2: Communion with God (Hardcover)

A Summer Study in Romans Chapter 6

What book will you be reading this summer? Have you thought about the next book on your reading list? Each summer I like to read a major work that has been widely used by God in the edification of the saints and the salvation of the lost. This summer I will be reading through The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6 by D. Martyn, Lloyd-Jones. Will you join me?

Lloyd-Jones was once asked, “when are you going to begin preaching through Romans?” He replied: “I am going to preach on Romans when I understand Romans chapter 6.” Since then, the Church has been privileged to have Lloyd-Jones’ longest series of expositions in the book of Romans. The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6 finds itself within the 14-volume set of Romans published by The Banner of Truth Trust.

Christian, will you spend your summer with me in the book of Romans, reading one of the greatest expositors of all time? Earl D. Radmacher, in Christianity Today, writes: “This is no average book. Nor will you read it indifferently. It is the kind of book that will grip your mind and heart.” I pray that our time spent in Romans 6 would be a blessing to your soul. It is my prayer that you would continue to grow in the grace, knowledge, and likeness of Christ.

So, what is the plan? How will we go about this? Well, I have made a suggested reading plan for you to follow. The goal is to work through The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6 in the next four months (May – August):

MLJ ROMANS

I highly recommend that you work through this book with a group, rather than reading it alone. Gather one or two of your friends and study this book together. This will allow for dialogue and edification that could not happen if done alone. For this reason, if you cannot find a group to read with, join mine! We will be hosting skype sessions to discuss the book every other week, starting on week 2. If you are interested in this option, feel free to contact me on my ‘contact page.’

If you are still contemplating this endeavour, listen to Sinclair Ferguson’s recommendation.

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 1:17).

A Prayer-Hearing God

It was on March 20th, 1832, after reading part of the Life of Jonathan Edwards, that Robert Murray M’Cheyne penned these words:

How feeble my spark of Christianity appears beside such a sun! But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me.[1]

M’Cheyne knew that the giants of the Christian faith were simple men who had met frequently with God at the throne of grace. These men were not primarily theologians, evangelists, writers, etc. They were men of prayer. Men who had frequent accounts with God. We can learn much from these men! Today, I would like to look at Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on Psalm 65:2 – “The Most High A Prayer-Hearing God.” This sermon can be found within The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, published by The Banner of Truth Trust.

It is my intention in this post to share a few quotes with you. I pray that these quotes would wet your appetite for Edwards and stir your soul.

See the following quotes:

“God in his word manifests himself ready at all times to allow us this privilege [prayer]. He sits on a throne of grace; and there is no veil to hide this throne, and keep us from it. The veil is rent from the top to the bottom; the way is open at all times, and we may go to God as often as we please.”[2]

“God has been pleased to constitute prayer to be antecedent to the bestowment of mercy; and he is pleased to bestow mercy in consequence of prayer, as though he were prevailed on by prayer. When the people of God are stirred up to prayer, it is the effect of his intention to show mercy; therefore he pours out the spirit of grace and supplication.”[3]

“Why is God so ready to hear the prayers of men? – To this I answer, because he is a God of infinite grace and mercy. It is indeed a very wonderful thing, that so great a God should be so ready to hear our prayers, though we are so despicable and unworthy.”[4]

“We have the true God made known to us; a God of infinite grace and mercy; a God full of compassion to the miserable, who is ready to pity us under all our troubles and sorrows, to hear our cries, and to give us all the relief which we need; a God who delights in mercy, and is rich unto all that call upon him!”[5]

“The business of prayer is not to direct God, who is infinitely wise, and needs not any of our directions; who knows what is best for us ten thousand times better than we, and knows what time and what way are best. It is fit that he should answer, and, as an infinitely wise God, in the exercise of his own wisdom, and not ours.”[6]

Concluding thoughts:

Edwards concludes his sermon with the following paragraph. I thought it would be fitting to close this post with it as well:

“Finally, seeing we have such a prayer-hearing God as we have heard, let us be much employed in the duty of prayer: let us pray with all prayer and supplication: let us live prayerful lives, continuing instant in prayer, watching thereunto with all perseverance; praying always, without ceasing, earnestly, and not fainting.”[7]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations:

                [1] David P., Beaty. An All-Surpassing Fellowship (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage), 12.

                [2] Jonathan, Edwards. Psalm 65:2 – The Most High A Prayer-Hearing God. In “The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2” (Carlisle: Banner of Truth), 114.

[3] Ibid., 116.

[4] Ibid., 116.

[5] Ibid., 116.

[6] Ibid., 117.

[7] Ibid., 118.

Grace in Winter – Lessons from Samuel Rutherford

Regarding the life and ministry of Samuel Rutherford, C. H. Spurgeon said the following:

“When we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men.”[1] The question is, what made Rutherford’s ministry so attractive? The attraction to his ministry was not found within himself but in the timeless attraction of Christ. A visiting Englishman said the following about Samuel Rutherford: ‘I heard a little fair man, and he showed me the loveliness of Christ.’ Rutherford was known to continuously tell of the “boundless and unsearchable riches of the saving and sanctifying grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.” What then can we learn from the ministry of Samuel Rutherford? I will draw three lessons from his life and ministry:

1)      The Importance of Union and Communion with Christ:

To begin, Rutherford knew that the heart of Christian experience is in union and communion with Christ. The greatest joy of the Christian is to have a living relationship with the all-majestic, all-glorious God. This relationship, however, comes at a cost. Rutherford was often exiled and imprisoned for his allegiance to the word of God and the God of the word. He suffered greatly in his life, yet his union and communion with Christ sustained him. Rutherford writes:

“O how sweet to be wholly Christ’s, and wholly in Christ; to dwell in Immanuel’s high and blessed land, and live in that sweetest air, where no wind bloweth but the breathings of the Holy Ghost… O for eternity’s leisure, to look on Him, to feast upon a sight of His face! O for the long summer day of endless ages to stand beside Him and enjoy Him! O time, O sin, be removed out of the way! O day! O fairest of days, dawn!”[2]

The union and communion that Rutherford had with the living God was his supreme delight and passion. He found his strength in Christ. Do you? Christian, do you understand the realities that are yours in Christ? Do you understand the privilege that it is to commune daily with the living God? Oh, that we would not take this privilege lightly. May we make it our aim to commune with God before we commune with man.

2)      The Supreme Beauty of Christ:

Secondly, Rutherford saw Christ in all his loveliness. He would often say, he is all-together lovely. Rutherford would later write, “I am sure, that if ye see Him in His beauty and glory, ye shall see Him to be all things, and that incomparable jewel of gold that ye should seek, howbeit ye should sell… I would far rather look but through the hole of Christ’s door, to see but the one half of His fairest and most comely face (for He looketh like heaven!), suppose I should never win in to see His excellency and glory to the full, than enjoy the flower, the bloom, and the chiefest excellency of the glory and riches of ten worlds.”[3]

Rutherford saw that Christ was the Chief among ten-thousands. His beauty and loveliness far surpass everything. For that reason, Samuel Rutherford gave his life to beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He longed to see Christ more. He longed to display this all-together lovely Christ to a dying world. He was captivated by the supreme beauty of Christ. Are you? Can you say, “all that thrills my soul is Jesus”?

3) A Proper Perspective on Suffering:

Most of Rutherford’s letters were written through seasons of tremendous trials. Yet, the Lord in his providence used Rutherford’s suffering for a greater purpose, namely, to minister to others. Rutherford shows the believer that their suffering is not meaningless. Rather, it is a means by which the gracious God grows them into Christ-likeness. Rutherford writes: “I think it is a sweet thing that Christ saith of my cross, ‘Half mine;’ and that He divideth these sufferings with me and taketh the larger share to Himself; nay, that I and my whole cross are wholly Christ’s. Oh, what a portion is Christ! Oh that the saints would dig deeper in the treasures of His wisdom and excellency.”[4]

Again, speaking on suffering, Rutherford writes: “The thorn is one of the most cursed, and angry, and crabbed weeds that the earth yieldeth, and yet out of it springeth the rose, one of the sweetest-smelled flowers, and most delightful to the eye, that the earth hath. Your Lord shall make joy and gladness out of your affiliations; for all His roses have a fragrant smell… But, Madam, come near to the Godhead, and look down to the bottom of the well; there is much in Him, and sweet were that death to drown in such a well.”[5]

In our suffering, Rutherford reminds us to look to Christ. Know that our trials are sovereignly ordained by our Heavenly Father for our good. At times, we must go through the fiery furnace of affliction. However, it is in that process where all of our infirmities and pollutants are scraped off, and in the end, we come out purer. Christian, in your afflictions, look to Christ!

In this post, we have seen three things: (1) The importance of union and communion with Christ, (2) the supreme beauty of Christ, (3) a proper perspective on suffering. I will conclude this post with Rutherford’s words as an exhortation to you:

“If those frothy, fluctuating, and restless hearts of ours would come all about Christ, and look into His love, to bottomless love, to the depth of mercy, to the unsearchable riches of His grace, to inquire after and search into the beauty of God in Christ, they would be swallowed up in the depth and height, length and breadth of His goodness. Oh, if men would draw the curtains, and look into the inner side of the ark, and behold how the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him Bodily! Oh! Who would not say, “Let me die, let me die ten times, to see a sight of Him?”[6]

“But O for his insatiable desires Christward! O for ten such men in Scotland to stand in the gap! – men who all day long find nothing but Christ to rest in, whose very sleep is a pursuing after Christ in dreams, and who intensely desire to ‘awake with His likeness.”[7]

May God by his grace give us such men and women like Rutherford. Amen.

**Note: To purchase a copy of The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, published by Banner of Truth, click here.

 

 

Citations:

[1] The Sword and Trowel, 1891.

[2] Samuel, Rutherford. Letters of Samuel Rutherford. 1984. Reprint, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2012), 13 – 15.

[3] Samuel, Rutherford. Letters of Samuel Rutherford, 378, 446.

[4] Ibid, 480.

[5] Ibid, 71.

[6] Samuel, Rutherford. Letters of Samuel Rutherford, 185.

[7] Ibid, 30.

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