Tag Archives: Study

“I am not an elephant” by D.A. Carson

“For the last eight years I have spent more time studying the Gospel of John than any other part of the Scripture. This has proved to be a lesson in humility.

John is simple enough for a child to read and complex enough to tax the mental powers of the greatest minds. As one commentator has put it, this book is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim.

I am not an elephant; but I have become aware of the many places where I am beyond my depth.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 9.

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“Beholding glory begs for lingering” by John Piper

“Beholding glory begs for lingering.

The modern, fast-paced world will tempt you to rush and skim. This kind of life will make you shallow. The world does not need more widely read, shallow people. It needs deep people.

I don’t mean complex. I don’t mean highly educated. I don’t mean you know big words. I don’t mean you know historical background.

I mean you have seen glory— the glory of God in his Word. You have pondered it and felt its relation to all the parts of your life. You have been steadied and satisfied by it.

You have come home. You are not frantic anymore. You are at peace in the presence of God. This is what I mean by deep. This is what the world needs.”

–John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 1991/2012), xviii.

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“By indefatigable labor” by Francis Turretin

“We unhesitatingly confess that the Scriptures have their heights and depths which we cannot enter or sound and which God so ordered on purpose to excite the study of believers and increase their diligence, to humble the pride of man and to remove from them the contempt which might arise from too great plainness…

For as in nature so also in the Scriptures, it pleased God to present everywhere and make easy of comprehension all necessary things.

But those less necessary are so closely concealed as to require great exertion to extricate them. Thus besides bread and sustenance, she has her luxuries, gems and gold deep under the surface and obtainable only by indefatigable labor.

And as heaven is sprinkled with greater and lesser stars, so the Scriptures are not everywhere equally resplendent, but are distinguished by clearer and obscurer places, as by stars of a greater or lesser magnitude.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (2.17.4). Ed. James Dennison (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1692/1996), 1:143-144.

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“His whole library was swept away from him” by William Symington

“To a person of these studious habits it may easily be conceived what distress it must have occasioned to have his library swept away from him. In that dreadful misfortune which befell the metropolis in 1666, ever since known as ‘the fire of London,’ the whole of Charnock’s books were destroyed.

The amount of calamity involved in such an occurrence can be estimated aright only by those who know from experience the strength and sacredness of that endearment with which the real student regards those silent but instructive friends which he has drawn around him by slow degrees, with which he has cultivated a long and intimate acquaintance, which are ever at hand with their valuable assistance, counsel and consolation, when these are needed, which, unlike some less judicious companions, never intrude upon him against his will, and with whose very looks and positions, as they repose in their places around him, he has become so familiarized, that it is no difficult thing for him to call up their appearance when absent, or to go directly to them in the dark without the risk of a mistake.

Some may be disposed to smile at this love of books. But where is the scholar who will do so? Where is the man of letters who, for a single moment, would place the stately mansions and large estates of the ‘sons of earth’ in comparison with his own well-loaded shelves?

Where is the student who, on looking round upon the walls of his study, is not conscious of a satisfaction greater and better far than landed proprietor ever felt on surveying his fields and lawns—a satisfaction which almost unconsciously seeks vent in the exclamation, ‘My library! A dukedom large enough!’

Such, and such only, can judge what must have been Charnock’s feelings, when he found that his much cherished volumes had become a heap of smouldering ashes.

The sympathetic regret is only rendered the more intense, when it is thought that, in all probability, much valuable manuscript perished in the conflagration.”

–William Symington, as quoted in Stephen Charnock, “Life and Character of Charnock” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol.1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 14.

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“The proper study of the Christian” by Charles Spurgeon

“It has been said by some one that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God.

The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’

But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’

No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.

He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well nigh unutterable names; he may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus, and all kinds of extinct animals; he may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind.

I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.

Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatary.

Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.

Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.

I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Volume 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 1. Preached this sermon from Malachi 3:6 on January 7, 1855. He was just 20 years old.

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“Study the Gospels” by J.C. Ryle

“It would be well if professing Christians in modern days studied the four Gospels more than they do. No doubt all Scripture is profitable.

It is not wise to exalt one part of the Bible at the expense of another. But I think it would be good for some who are very familiar with the Epistles, if they knew a little more about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Now, why do I say this? I say it because I want professing Christians to know more about Christ. It is well to be acquainted with all the doctrines and principles of Christianity.

It is better to be acquainted with Christ Himself. It is well to be familiar with faith, and grace, and justification, and sanctification. They are all matters ‘pertaining to the King.’

But it is far better to be familiar with Jesus Himself, to see the King’s own face, and to behold His beauty. This is one secret of eminent holiness.

He that would be conformed to Christ’s image, and become a Christ-like man, must be constantly studying Christ Himself.

Now the Gospels were written to make us acquainted with Christ. The Holy Ghost has told us the story of His life and death,—His sayings and His doings, four times over.

Four different inspired hands have drawn the picture of the Saviour. His ways, His manners, His feelings, His wisdom, His grace, His patience, His love, His power, are graciously unfolded to us by four different witnesses.

Ought not the sheep to be familiar with the Shepherd? Ought not the patient to be familiar with the Physician?

Ought not the bride to be familiar with the Bridegroom? Ought not the sinner to be familiar with the Saviour?

Beyond doubt it ought to be so. The Gospels were written to make men familiar with Christ, and therefore I wish men to study the Gospels.

On whom must we build our souls if we would be accepted with God? We must build on the rock, Christ.

From whom must we draw that grace of the Spirit which we daily need in order to be fruitful? We must draw from the vine, Christ.

To whom must we look for sympathy when earthly friends fail us or die? We must look to our elder brother, Christ.

By whom must our prayers be presented, if they are to be heard on high? They must be presented by our advocate, Christ.

With whom do we hope to spend the thousand years of glory, and the after eternity? With the King of kings, Christ.

Surely we cannot know this Christ too well! Surely there is not a word, nor a deed, nor a day, nor a step, nor a thought in the record of His life, which ought not to be precious to us.

We should labour to be familiar with every line that is written about Jesus.”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 278–279.

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“All books are not created equal” by Francis Bacon

“Some books are to be tasted, others to swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

–Francis Bacon, “Of Studies” in The Works of Francis Bacon (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1869), 12: 252-253.

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