Archive for the ‘Puritan Persuasion’ category

Not by my experience, nor by my resolutions, but by the grace of Jesus

June 4, 2012

I have been especially helped this Monday morning with this prayer and petition. I encourage you to consider it and meditate on it. May our strength not be in our experiences or our resolve, but in the grace of Jesus.

Grant that I may never trust my heart,
depend upon any past experiences,
magnify any present resolutions,
but be strong in the grace of Jesus:
that I may know how to obtain relief
from a guilty conscience
without feeling reconciled to my imperfections.

Sustain me under my trials
and improve them to me;
give me grace to rest in thee,
and assure me of deliverance.

May I always combine thy majesty
with thy mercy,
and connect thy goodness
with thy greatness.
Then shall my heart always rejoice
in praises to thee.

– Taken from “Self-Noughting” in The Valley of Vision

Advertisements

Sappy Assurance from the Spirit

February 2, 2012

I don’t know of any contemporary author who lays open the heart of God to us like the Puritans. I know they get a bad wrap from some circles today, but perhaps no other literature has affected me more outside Scripture than the writings of the Puritans. To give you a taste of what I’m talking about, let me provide you a brief excerpt from the man who succeeded Richard Sibbes at Holy Trinity Church, Thomas Goodwin.

In his book, The Heart of Christ in Heaven Toward Sinners on Earth (first published 1651), Goodwin writes about the heart of Christ being communicated to us through the comforting work of the Spirit indwelling us.  Of the Spirit, Goodwin writes, “he is the greatest token and pledge of Christ’s love that ever was” (18).  Consider the following words from the pen of Goodwin on the heart of Christ opened to us through His Spirit.

“Him I (Jesus) shall send on purpose to be in my room, and to execute my place to you, my bride, spouse, and he shall tell you, if you will listen to him, and not grieve him, nothing but stories of my love.

[ . . .] All his speech in your hearts will be to advance me, and to greaten my worth an love unto you, and it will be his delight to do it.  And he can come from heaven in an instant where he will, and bring you fresh tidings of my mind, and tell you the thoughts I last had of you, even at the very minute when I am thinking of them, what they are at the very time wherein he tells you them.

[. . .] He dwelleth in Christ’s heart, and also ours, and lifts up from one hand to the other what Christ’s thoughts are to us, and what our prayers and faith are to Christ. So that you shall have my heart as surely and as speedily as if I were with you; and he will continually be breaking your hearts, either way with my love to you, or yours to me, or both; and if either, you may be sure of my love thereby.

[ . . .] He will tell you, where I am in heaven, that there is as true conjunction between me and you, and as true a dearness of affection in me towards you, as is between my Father and me, and that it is as impossible to break this knot, and to take off my heart from you, as my Father’s from me, or mine from the Father” (18-20).

I know this sounds a little sappy, but that’s the point. I believe Goodwin knows something of the succor of Christ’s love that I have not tasted, and instead of getting embarrassed by his writings, I should be overwhelmed by Christ’s love and embarrassed of how little I have truly known and experienced it.

Goodwin is right to elaborate on the communicative nature of the Spirit’s comforting work, so as to daily assure us of Christ’s love and our status as no longer orphans but adopted sons and daughters of the greatest lover the world has ever known.  I want to be known as the greatest recipient of the greatest love the world has ever known.  And Goodwin is, especially for that aspiration, a worthy guide.

The Deeps

July 27, 2011

It still amazes me how much a particular prayer from The Valley of Vision resonates with my soul at various seasons or periods in my spiritual journey.  This particular prayer, called “The Deeps”, has been the source of meditation and supplication for me recently, and I thought I’d pass it along.  BTW, if you are looking to pray the prayers from The Valley of Vision, be sure to see Joe Thorn’s excellent guide.

The Deeps

Lord Jesus,
Give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin,
a dread of its approach;
Help me chastely to flee it,
and jealousy to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in thee,
the ground of my rest, the spring of my being.

Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King.

Give me deeper power in private prayer,
more sweetness in thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.

Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly Husbandman,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until thou alone art seen in me,
thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no Master but thee,
no law but thy will,
no delight but thyself,
no wealth but that thou givest,
no good but that thou blessest,
no peace but that thou bestowest.

I am nothing but that thou makest me,
I have nothing but that I receive from thee,
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.

Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

The Greatest Gift – The Incarnation

December 13, 2010

O Source of all good,

What shall I render to You for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mind and I am his.

In him, you have given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

~ “The Gift of Gifts”
taken from The Valley of Vision

Hope Loves Best to Live There Most

December 3, 2010

Thomas Brooks, in his amazingly encouraging book, Heaven on Earth, writes about the nature of the Christian hope.  He explains that the first property of our hope is that it “elevates and raises the heart to live above, where its treasure is.”  He adds:

This hope is from above, and it makes the heart to live above: it is a spark of glory, and it leads the heart to live in glory.  Divine hope carries a man to heaven,
for life to quicken him,
for wisdom to direct him,
for power to uphold him,
for righteousness to justify him,
for holiness to sanctify him,
for mercy to forgive him,
for assurance to rejoice him,
and for happiness to crown him.
Divine hope takes in the pleasures of heaven beforehand; it lives in the joyful expectation of them.  It fancies to itself, as I may say, the pleasures and joys of eternity, and lives in a sweet anticipation of what it possesses by faith. Hope’s richest treasures, choicest friends, chiefest delights, and sweetest contents are in the country above; and therefore hope loves best to live there most.

Meditate on that today and see this divine hope elevate your heart heavenward!

Jeremiah Burroughs: The Sum of the Gospel

November 3, 2010

Ligonier Ministries has posted an excellent excerpt of Gospel Conversation by Jeremiah Burroughs wherein he gives this great summary of the gospel:

The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.

The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

That these souls and bodies shall be raised to that height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live forever enjoying the presence of God and Christ, in the fullness of all good, is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

Resurrection

April 4, 2010

O God of my Exodus,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed
in the dust.

Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives forever.

He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.

Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.

Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live,
in his victory i triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.

Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who was lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to the highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows
wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.

Once, no shame more deep than thine,
no agony more bitter,
no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious,
no advocate more effective.

Thou art in the triumph car leading captive
thine enemies behind thee.

What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life,
Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope,
Thy prayers my comfort.

– “Resurrection” from The Valley of Vision