Tag Archives: Church

“Our need of revival is indeed very great today” by Iain Murray

“Our need of revival is indeed very great today. It may be that a generation of freshly-anointed preachers is already being prepared. Whether that is so or not, when such men are sent forth by Christ we can be sure of certain things.

They will not be identical in all points with the men of the past, but there will be a fundamental resemblance.

They will be hard students of Scripture.

They will prize a great spiritual heritage.

They will see the danger of ‘unsanctified learning’.

While they will not be afraid of controversy, nor of being called hyper-orthodox, they will fear to spend their days in controversy. They will believe with John Rice that ‘the church is not purified by controversy, but by holy love’.

They will not forget that the wise, who will shine ‘as: the stars forever and ever’, are those who ‘turn many to righteousness’ (Dan. 12.3).

They will covet the wisdom which Scripture attributes to the one ‘that winneth souls’ (Prov. 11.30).

But their cheerfulness will have a higher source than their work. To know God Himself will be their supreme concern and Joy.

They will therefore not be strangers to humility.

And their experience will not be without trials and discouragements, not least because they fall so far short of their aspirations.

If they are spared to live as long as John Leland they will be ready to say with him at last: ‘I have been unwearedly trying to preach Jesus, but have not yet risen to that state of holy zeal and evangelical knowledge, that I have been longing after’.

Whether their days be bright or dark they will learn to say with Nettleton that ‘the milk and honey lie beyond this wilderness world’.”

—Iain H. Murray, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1994), 386-387.

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“Without Christ crucified” by J.C. Ryle

“The cross is the foundation of a church’s prosperity. No church will ever be honored in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up.

Nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross. Without it all things may be done decently and in order.

Without it there may be splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor. But without the cross no good will be done.

Dark hearts will not be enlightened.
Proud hearts will not be humbled.
Mourning hearts will not be comforted.
Fainting hearts will not be cheered.

Sermons about the Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and schism,—sermons about fasts and communion,—sermons about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.

They may amuse some. They will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting room and splendid gold plate on the table will never make up to a hungry man for the want of food.

Christ crucified is God’s grand ordinance for doing good to men. Whenever a church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a church ceases to be useful.

Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.”

–J.C. Ryle, Startling Questions (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 295–297.

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“There we shall see” by Thomas Boston

“In the general assembly of the firstborn in heaven, none of all the saints, whoever were or will be on the earth, shall be missing.

They will all be together in one place, all possess one kingdom, and all sit down together to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

There we shall see Adam and Eve in the heavenly paradise freely eating of the tree of life.

There we shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the holy patriarchs, no more wandering from land to land, but come to their everlasting rest.

There we shall see all the prophets feasting their eyes on the glory of Him, of whose coming they prophesied.

There we shall see the twelve apostles of the Lamb, sitting on their twelve thrones.

There we shall see all the holy martyrs in their long white robes, with their crowns on their heads.

There we shall see the godly kings advanced to a kingdom which cannot be moved.

There we shall see those that turn many to righteousness, shining as the stars forever and ever.

There we shall see our godly friends, relations, and acquaintances, pillars in the temple of God, to go no more out from us.

There we shall have society with the Lord Himself in heaven, glorious communion with God in Christ, which is the perfection of happiness.

There we shall not only see, but ‘eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God,’ (Rev. 2:7).

There we shall behold the Mediator’s glory, and be satisfied with His goodness. No flaming sword shall be there, to keep the way of that tree of life; but we shall freely eat of it, and live forever.

We shall ‘drink of the river of pleasures,‘ (Psalm 36:8) the sweetest and purest pleasures which Immanuel’s land affords.

And we shall swim in an ocean of unmixed delight forevermore.

Who can conceive the happiness of the saints in the presence chamber of the great King?

There we shall see Jesus Christ, God and man with our bodily eyes, as He will never lay aside the human nature.

There we shall behold that glorious blessed body, which is personally united to the divine nature, and exalted above principalities and powers, and every name that is named.

There we shall see, with our eyes, that very body which was born of Mary at Bethlehem, and crucified at Jerusalem between two thieves.

There we shall see the blessed head that was crowned with thorns, the face that was spit upon, the hands and feet that were nailed to the cross, all shining with inconceivable glory.

Were each star in the heavens shining as the sun in its meridian brightness, it might possibly be some faint resemblance of the glory of the man Christ.

The wise men fell down, and worshipped Him, when they saw Him ‘a young child, with Mary His mother in the house.’ But O what a ravishing sight will it be to see Him in His kingdom, to see Him on His throne, to see Him at the Father’s right hand!

The Word was made flesh,’ (John 1:14), and the glory of God shall shine through that flesh, and the joys of heaven spring out from it, unto the saints, who shall see and enjoy God in Christ.

There we shall behold Him, who died for us, that we might live forevermore, whose matchless love made Him swim through the Red Sea of God’s wrath, to make a path in the midst of it for us, by which we might pass safely to Canaan’s land.

Then we shall see what a glorious one He was, who suffered all this for us, what entertainment He had in the upper house, what hallelujahs of angels could not hinder Him to hear the groans of a perishing multitude on earth, and to come down for their help, and what glory He laid aside for us.

Then we shall be more ‘able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,’ (Eph. 3:18, 19).

There we shall remember the waters of wrath which He was plunged into, and the wells of salvation from whence we draw all our joy.

There we shall remember we received the cup of salvation in exchange for the cup of wrath His Father gave Him to drink, which His sinless human nature shivered at.

Then shall our hearts leap within us, burn with seraphic love, like coals of juniper, and the arch of heaven ring with our songs of salvation!”

–Thomas Boston, The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: Human Nature in Its Fourfold State and a View of the Covenant of Grace (ed. Samuel M‘Millan; vol. 8; Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1850), 8: 328, 330, 326, 331, 332-333, 333-334.

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“The gospel is the food of faith” by Herman Bavinck

“The new life in Christ, just like all natural life, must be nourished and strengthened. This is possible only in communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit and through the word of Scripture. Enlightened by the Spirit, believers gain a new knowledge of faith.

The gospel is the food of faith and must be known to be nourishment. Salvation that is not known and enjoyed is no salvation. God saves by causing Himself to be known and enjoyed in Christ.

Biblically speaking, faith is trust-filled surrender to God and His word of promise. In the New Testament, this trust involves acceptance of the apostolic witness concerning Christ and personal trust in Christ as Savior and risen, exalted Lord.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Ed. John Bolt and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 96.

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“A minister needs to be a jack of all trades” by John Newton

“Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart.

May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes.

May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth.

In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience.

You know the common expression of a jack of all trades. I am sure a minister had need be such an one: a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse.

But let him not be discouraged. He has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.

I am sincerely yours’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XVIII (August 13, 1773)” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6. Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6:102–103.

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“Solitude produces melancholy” by Martin Luther

“More and graver sins are committed in solitude than in the society of one’s fellow men. The devil deceived Eve in paradise when she was alone.

Murder, robbery, theft, fornication, and adultery are committed in solitude, for solitude provides the devil with occasion and opportunity.

On the other hand, a person who is with others and in the society of his fellow men is either ashamed to commit a crime or does not have the occasion and opportunity to do so.

Christ promised, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’

Christ was alone when the devil tempted Him. David was alone and idle when he slipped into adultery and murder. I too have discovered that I am never so likely to fall into sins as when I am by myself.

God created man for society and not for solitude. This may be supported by the argument that He created two sexes, male and female.

Likewise God founded the Christian Church, the communion of saints, instituted the Sacraments, preaching, and consolations in the Church.

Solitude produces melancholy. When we are alone the worst and saddest things come to mind. We reflect in detail upon all sorts of evils.

And if we have encountered adversity in our lives, we dwell upon it as much as possible, magnify it, think that no one is so unhappy as we are, and imagine the worst possible consequences.

In short, when we are alone, we think of one thing and another, we leap to conclusions, and we interpret everything in the worst light.

On the other hand, we imagine that other people are very happy, and it distresses us that things go well with them and evil with us.”

–Martin Luther, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, Ed. Theodore Tappert (Louisville: Westminster Press, 1955), 95.

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“A deeper lineage than our genes” by Sinclair Ferguson

“What are our privileges? They are truly amazing:

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest… But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering” (Heb. 12:18, 22, ESV).

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers.

Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus. We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.

This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters (cf. Heb. 2:10–13).

Consequently, this is also our family—composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host. This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens (12:23).

It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that can- not be shaken (12:27–28). What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace!

An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers.

We are brothers and sisters together—for Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes. Thus, we have the full rights of family members and citizens in the city of God. No wonder we should be grateful (12:28)!”

–Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2007), 156-157.

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