Tag Archives: Union with Christ

“Christ never for a moment lived for Himself, but always for His church” by Herman Bavinck

“Christ never for a moment lived for Himself (Romans 15:3), but always for His church to leave it an example (Matthew 11:29; John 13:14–16; etc.), to serve it and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), and to communicate to it His grace and truth, His light and His life (John 1:16; 6:33ff.; Colossians 3:4).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Volume 3, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 407.

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“This is my joy and crown of rejoicing: to be able to say that God is mine” by Thomas Brooks

“There is in God an immense fulness, an ocean of goodness, and an overplus of all that graciousness, sweetness, and kindness that is to be found in all other things or creatures.

As Noah had a copy of every kind of creature in that famous library of the ark, out of which all were reprinted to the world, so he that hath God for his portion hath the original copy of all blessings, out of which all may easily be renewed.

All the good-linesses and all the glories of all the creatures are eminently and perfectly to be enjoyed in God. God is an universal excellency.

All the particular excellencies that are scattered up and down among angels, men, and all other creatures, are virtually and transcendently in Him. He hath them all in His own being (Eph. 1:3).

All creatures in heaven and earth have but their particular excellencies, but God hath in Himself the very quintessence of all excellencies.

The creatures have but drops of that sea, that ocean, that is in God. They have but their parts of that power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, loveliness, desirableness, sweetness, graciousness, beauty, and glory that is in God.

One hath this part, and another hath that. One hath this particular excellency, and another hath that. But the whole of all these parts and excellencies are to be found only in God.

There is none but that God that is an universal good, that can truly say, ‘All power, all wisdom, all strength, all knowledge, all goodness, all sweetness, all beauty, all glory, all excellency, dwells in Me.’

He that can truly say this, is a god, and he that cannot is no god. There is no angel in heaven, nor saint on earth, that hath the whole of any one of those excellencies that are in God.

Nay, all the angels in heaven, and all the saints on earth, have not among them the whole of any one of those glorious excellencies and perfections that be in God. All the excellencies that are scattered up and down in the creatures, are united into one excellency in God.

But there is not one excellency in God that is fully scattered up and down among all the creatures. There is a glorious union of all excellencies in God, and only in God.

Now this God, that is such an universal good, and that hath all excellencies dwelling in Himself, He says to the believer, ‘I am thine, and all that I have.’ Our propriety reacheth to all that God is, and to all that God hath (Jer. 32:38-42).

God is not parted, nor divided, nor distributed among His people, as earthly portions are divided among children in the family, so as one believer hath one part of God, and another believer hath another part of God, and a third another part of God.

Oh no! But every believer hath the whole God wholly, he hath all of God for His portion. God is not a believer’s portion in a limited sense, nor in a comparative sense, but in an absolute sense.

God Himself is theirs, and He is wholly theirs, and He is only theirs, and He is always theirs.

As Christ looks upon the Father, and saith, ‘All thine is mine, and mine is thine,’ (1 Cor. 3:23, Joh. 17:10), that may a saint say, looking upon God as His portion.

He may truly say, ‘O Lord, Thou art mine, and all that Thou hast. And I am Thine, and all that I have.’

A saint may look upon God and say, ‘O Lord, not only Thy gifts but Thy graces are mine, to adorn me and enrich me. And not only Thy mercies and Thy good things are mine to comfort me, and encourage me, but also Thou Thyself art mine. And this is my joy and crown of rejoicing.’

To be able to say that God is mine is more than if I were able to say that ten thousand worlds, yea, and as many heavens, are mine. For it is God alone that is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory.

Heaven would be but a low thing without God, saith Augustine.

And Bernard had rather enjoy Christ in a chimney-corner, than to be in heaven without Him.

And Luther had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without Him.

It is God alone that makes heaven to be heaven.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 2, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 24–25.

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“He is the sun of their souls” by John Newton

“The Lord, by His Spirit, manifests and confirms His love to His people. For this purpose He meets them at His throne of grace, and in His ordinances.

There He makes Himself known unto them, as He does not unto the world. There He causes His goodness to pass before them, and opens, applies, and seals to them, His exceeding great and precious promises, and He gives them the Spirit of adoption, whereby, unworthy as they are, they are enabled to cry ‘Abba, Father.’

He causes them to understand that great love wherewith He has loved them, in redeeming them by price and by power, washing them from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, recovering them from the dominion of Satan, and preparing for them an everlasting kingdom, where they shall see His face, and rejoice in His glory.

The knowledge of this, His love to them, produces a return of love from them to Him. They adore Him, and admire Him. They make an unreserved surrender of their hearts to Him. They view Him and delight in Him, as their God, their Saviour, and their portion.

They account His favour better than life. He is the sun of their souls: if He is pleased to shine upon them, all is well, and they are not greatly careful about other things.

But if He hides His face, the smiles of the whole creation can afford them no solid comfort.

They esteem one day or hour spent in the delightful contemplation of His glorious excellencies, and in the expression of their desires towards Him, better than a thousand. And when their love is most fervent, they are ashamed that it is so faint, and chide and bemoan themselves that they can love Him no more.

This often makes them long to depart, willing to leave their dearest earthly comforts, that they may see Him as He is, without a veil or cloud.

For they know that then, and not till then, they shall love Him as they ought.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 1; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 309–310.

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“Those are the ingredients of the cake” by Martin Luther

“Faith brings about that Christ is ours, even as His love brings about that we are His. He loves, and we believe, and those are the ingredients of the cake.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 52: Sermons II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 52; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 17.

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“Just to be with Christ is all the heaven a believer wants” by Charles Spurgeon

“Oh, to think of heaven without Christ! It is the same thing as thinking of hell.

Heaven without Christ! It is day without the sun, existing without life, feasting without food, seeing without light. It involves a contradiction in terms.

Heaven without Christ! Absurd. It is the sea without water, the earth without its fields, the heavens without their stars. There cannot be heaven without Christ.

He is the sum total of bliss, the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ. You shall change the words and make no difference in the sense.

To be where Jesus is is the highest imaginable bliss, and bliss away from Jesus is inconceivable to the child of God. If you were invited to a marriage feast, and you were yourself to be the bride, and yet the bridegroom were not there– do not tell me about feasting.

In vain they ring the bells till the church tower rocks and reels, in vain the dishes smoke and the red wine sparkles, in vain the guests shout and make merry: if the bride looks around her and sees no bridegroom, the dainties mock her sorrow and the merriment insults her misery.

Such would a Christless heaven be to the saints. If you could gather together all conceivable joys, and Christ were absent, there would be no heaven to His beloved ones. Hence it is that heaven is to be where Christ is.

And, beloved, just to be with Christ is heaven– that bare thing. That bare thing, just to be with Christ is all the heaven a believer wants.

The angels may be there or not, as they will, and the golden crowns and harps present or absent as may be, but if I am to be where Jesus is, I will find angels in His eyes, and crowns in every lock of His hair. To me the golden streets shall be my fellowship with Him, and the harpings of the harpers shall be the sound of His voice.

Only to be near Him, to be with Him– this is all we want. The apostle does not say, ‘to be in heaven, which is far better.’ No, but, ‘to be with Christ; which is far better,’ and he adds no description. He leaves the thoughts just as they are, in all their majestic simplicity. ‘To be with Christ; which is far better.’

But what is it to be with Christ, beloved? In some sense we are with Christ now, for He comes to us. We are no strangers to Him. Even while we are in this body we have communion with Jesus.

And yet it must be true that a higher fellowship is to come, for the apostle says, that while we are present in the body we are absent from the Lord.

There is a sense in which, so long as we are here, we are absent from the Lord. And one great saint used to say upon his birthday that he had been so many years in banishment from the Lord: to abide in this lowland country, so far from the ivory palaces, is a banishment at the very best.

All that we can see of Christ here is through a glass darkly. Face to face is true nearness to Him, and that we have not reached as yet.

What will it be, then, to be with Christ? Excuse me if I say it will be, first of all, exactly what it says, namely, to be with Him. I must repeat that word– it is heaven only to be with Him.

It is not merely what comes out of being with Him: His company itself is heaven.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “‘Forever with the Lord,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 19; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1873), 19: 570–572.

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“The great fire of the love of God for us” by Martin Luther

“The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize Him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own.

This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ Himself, with His deeds and suffering, belongs to you. On this you may depend as surely as if you had done it yourself; indeed as if you were Christ Himself.

See, this is what it means to have a proper grasp of the gospel, that is, of the overwhelming goodness of God, which neither prophet, nor apostle, nor angel was ever able fully to express, and which no heart could adequately fathom or marvel at.

This is the great fire of the love of God for us, whereby the heart and conscience become happy, secure, and content. This is what preaching the Christian faith means.

This is why such preaching is called gospel, which in German means a joyful, good, and comforting ‘message’; and this is why the apostles are called the ‘twelve messengers.’

Concerning this Isaiah 9:6 says, ‘To us a child is born, to us a son is given.’ If He is given to us, then He must be ours; and so we must also receive him as belonging to us.

And Romans 8:32, ‘How should God not give us all things with His Son?’ See, when you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian.

Faith redeems you from sin, death, and hell and enables you to overcome all things. O no one can speak enough about this! It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world.

Now when you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows: that you take Him as your example, giving yourself in service to your neighbor just as you see that Christ has given Himself for you.

See, there faith and love move forward, God’s commandment is fulfilled, and a person is happy and fearless to do and to suffer all things. Therefore make note of this, that Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian. But Christ as an example exercises your works.

These do not make you a Christian. Actually they come forth from you because you have already been made a Christian. As widely as a gift differs from an example, so widely does faith differ from works, for faith possesses nothing of its own, only the deeds and life of Christ.

Works have something of your own in them, yet they should not belong to you but to your neighbor. So you see that the gospel is really not a book of laws and commandments which requires deeds of us, but a book of divine promises in which God promises, offers, and gives us all His possessions and benefits in Christ.”

–Martin Luther, “A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels (1521),” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 35 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 119-120.

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“Humility” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“A beggar would invite scorn if he were to boast of an expensive garment which someone had loaned him for one day… The graces, gifts, beauty, strength, riches, and whatever else you may have, God has but granted you on loan. Would you then put these on display as if they were your own?”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 4: Ethics and Eschatology, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 4: 71, 75.

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