“True zeal for Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“True zeal will show itself in the abundance of a man’s labours and gifts. Zeal labours for Christ. My brethren, if you want a picture of zeal, take the Apostle Paul.

How he compasses sea and land! Storms cannot stay him, mountains cannot impede his progress. He is beaten with rods, he is stoned, he is cast into prison, but the invincible hero of the cross presses on in the holy war, until he is taken up to receive a crown of glory.

We do little or nothing, the most of us; we fritter away our time. O that we could live while we live; but our existence—that is all we can call it—our existence, what a poor thing it is!

We run like shallow streams: we have not force enough to turn the mill of industry, and have not depth enough to bear the vessel of progress, and have not flood enough to cheer the meads of poverty.

We are dry too often in the summer’s drought, and we are frozen in the winter’s cold. O that we might become broad and deep like the mighty stream that bears a navy and gladdens a nation.

O that we may become inexhaustible and permanent rivers of usefulness, through the abundant springs from whence our supply cometh, even the Spirit of the living God.

The Christian zealot may be known by the anguish which his soul feels when his labours for Christ are not successful—the tears that channel his cheeks when sinners are not saved.

Do not tell me of zeal that only moves the tongue, or the foot, or the hand; we must have a zeal which moves the whole heart.

We cannot advance so far as the Saviour’s bloody sweat, but to something like it the Christian ought to attain when he sees the tremendous clouds of sin and the tempest of God’s gathering wrath.

How can I see souls damned, without emotion? How can I hear Christ’s name blasphemed, without a shudder? How can I think of the multitudes who prefer ruin to salvation, without a pang?

Believe me, brethren and sisters, if you never have sleepless hours, if you never have weeping eyes, if your hearts never swell as if they would burst, you need not anticipate that you will be called zealous.

You do not know the beginning of true zeal, for the foundation of Christian zeal lies in the heart. The heart must be heavy with grief and yet must beat high with holy ardour.

The heart must be vehement in desire, panting continually for God’s glory, or else we shall never attain to anything like the zeal which God would have us know.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Zealots” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 11 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1865), 392–393. Spurgeon preached this sermon from Luke 6:15 on July 16, 1865.

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“He is king forever” by Herman Bavinck

“What a father is for his family, what an educator is for the young, what a commander is for the army, what a king is for his people—all that and much more God is in a totally original way for his creatures.

Not just one but all His attributes come to expression in the world and therefore need to be honored by us.

Now ‘kingship’ for one is a glorious divine institution as well. It not only confers on a people a unity symbolized in a person, but as a hereditary kingship it also assumes the character of originality, loftiness, independence, and constancy.

In all this it is a beautiful—albeit a weak—image of the kingship of God.

All sovereignty on earth is derivative, temporary, and limited, and in the case of abuse, more a curse than a blessing. But God is king in the absolute and true sense.

The government of the universe is not democratic, nor aristocratic, nor republican, nor constitutional, but monarchical. To God belongs the one undivided legislative, judicial, and executive power.

His sovereignty is original, eternal, unlimited, abundant in blessing. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:6). His royal realm is the whole of the universe.

His are the heavens and the earth (Exod. 19:5; Ps. 8:1; 103:19; 148:13). He possesses all the nations (Ps. 22:28; 47:8–9; 96:10; Jer. 10:7; Mal. 1:14) and is supreme in all the earth (Ps. 47:2, 7; 83:18; 97:9).

He is king forever (Ps. 29:10; 1 Tim. 1:17); no opposition stands a chance against Him (Ps. 93:3–4).

His kingdom will surely come (Matt. 6:10; 1 Cor. 15:24; Rev. 12:10); His glory will be revealed and His name feared from the rising of the sun to its going down (Isa. 40:5; 59:19); He will be king over the entire earth (Zech. 14:9).

Also, in this government God deals with each thing according to its kind. God rules over all things conformably to their nature. Consequently, that rule of God is variously represented in Scripture and described with various names.

By his rule He upholds the world and establishes it so that it will not be moved (Ps. 93:1).

He ordains the light and the darkness (Ps. 104:19–20), commands the rain and withholds it (Gen. 7:4; 8:2; Job 26:8; 38:22ff.), gives snow and hoarfrost and ice (Ps. 147:16), rebukes and stills the sea (Nah. 1:4; Ps. 65:7; 107:29), sends curses and destruction (Deut. 28:15ff.).

All things fulfill His command (Ps. 148:8). With equally sovereign power and majesty He rules in the world of rational creatures.

He rules among the Gentiles and possesses all nations (Ps. 22:28; 82:8). He deems the nations as emptiness and less than nothing (Isa. 40:17), deals with the inhabitants of the earth according to His will (Dan. 4:35), and directs the hearts and thoughts of all (Prov. 21:1).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 615–616.

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“The clouds are big with mercy” by Charles Spurgeon

“The hardest blow that our God ever strikes, if it puts us right and separates us from self and sin, and carnal policy, is a coup de grace, a blow of love.

If it ends our life of selfishness, and brings us back into the life of trust, it is a blessed blow. When God blesses His people most it is by terrible things in righteousness.

He smote David to heal him. He fetched him out from the snare of the Philistine fowler, and delivered him from the noisome pestilence of heathen association, by a way that brought the tears into his eyes till he had no more power to weep.

Now the servant of the Lord begins to see the wonderful hand of God, and he shall yet say, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept Thy word.”

I, the preacher of this hour, beg to bear my little witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days, and when God has seemed most cruel to me he has then been most kind.

If there is anything in this world for which I would bless Him more than for anything else it is for pain and affliction. I am sure that in these things the richest, tenderest love has been manifested towards me.

I pray you, dear friends, if you are at this time very low, and greatly distressed, encourage yourselves in the abundant faithfulness of the God who hides Himself.

Our Father’s wagons rumble most heavily when they are bringing us the richest freight of the bullion of His grace. Love letters from heaven are often sent in black-edged envelopes.

The cloud that is black with horror is big with mercy. We may not ask for trouble, but if we were wise we should look upon it as the shadow of an unusually great blessing.

Dread the calm, it is often treacherous, and beneath its wing the pestilence is lurking. Fear not the storm, it brings healing in its wings, and when Jesus is with you in the vessel the tempest only hastens the ship to its desired haven.

Blessed be the Lord, whose way is in the whirlwind, and who makes the clouds to be the dust of His feet.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “David Encouraging Himself in God”, inThe Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 27 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1881), 372–373. Spurgeon preached this sermon on 1 Samuel 30:6-8 on June 26, 1881.

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“The way I finish a sermon” by Charles Spurgeon

“Man! Thou art lost and ruined by the fall, but there is One that is able to save, even to the uttermost, those that come to Him. To come to Christ is to trust Him.

I have preached this Gospel for many years, and I do not think I ever finished a sermon except in one way—by trying to explain what is meant by this simple trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Preventing Grace” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 51 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1905), 105. Spurgeon preached this sermon on 1 Samuel 25:32-33 in 1862.

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“Two keys are committed to us by Christ” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“It should have been remarked ere now, that during all his ministry McCheyne was careful to use not only the direct means appointed for the conversion of souls, but those also that appear more indirect, such as the key of discipline…

Once from the pulpit, at an ordination of elders, he gave the following testimony upon this head:

‘When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach.

I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time, and care, and strength, to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence.

It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether.

But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline.

I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God,—that two keys are committed to us by Christ: the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible; the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith.

Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.'”

–Robert Murray McCheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 79–81.

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“He is great in little things” by John Newton

“I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints; but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will take care of you.

He who raises the dead, can revive your spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to the sea, and says ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further,’ can limit and moderate that gloom which sometimes distresses you.

He knows why He permits you to be thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure they are worthy of His wisdom and love, and that you will hereafter see and say, He has done all things well.

If I was as wise as your philosopher, I might say a great deal about a melancholy complexion; but I love not to puzzle myself with second causes, while the first cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a believer’s experience.

Your constitution, your situation, your temper, your distemper, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot, is of His appointment.

The hairs of your head are all numbered: the same power which produced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the production of a single hair, nor can one of them fall to the ground without His notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits.

In providence, no less than in creation, he is Maximus in minimis, ‘Great in little things.’ Therefore fear not; only believe.

Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port.

I am,

John Newton”

–John Newton, Letter IX – November 27, 1778” in The Works of John Newton, vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 247–248.

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“Smoothing out wrinkles and cleansing spots” by John Calvin

“If we are not willing to admit a church unless it be perfect in every respect, we leave no church at all. True, indeed, is Paul’s statement:

‘Christ … gave himself up for the church that he might sanctify her; he cleansed her by the washing of water in the word of life, that he might present her to himself as his glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle,’  [Eph. 5:25–27].

Yet it also is no less true that the Lord is daily at work in smoothing out wrinkles and cleansing spots. From this it follows that the church’s holiness is not yet complete.

The church is holy, then, in the sense that it is daily advancing and is not yet perfect: it makes progress from day to day but has not yet reached its goal of holiness.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), IV.i.17; p. 1031.

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