A 16th Century Post-it Note

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I don’t have the best of memories, but thankfully, I do have Post-it Notes. I have one on my computer at work right now to remind me that there’s an important recording at 1:30 Monday afternoon. Or is it 2:30?

The fact is we all need reminders. And that holds true for spiritual matters as well. These truths from an ancient catechism prompted me to recall some very important truths that serve to warm a Christian’s heart. I’m hopeful that will be your experience.

Question 1.
What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer.
That I with body and soul,
both in life and death,
am not my own,
but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ;
who, with his precious blood,
has fully satisfied for all my sins,
and delivered me from all the power of the devil;
and so preserves me
that without the will of my heavenly Father,
not a hair can fall from my head;
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,
and therefore, by His Holy Spirit,
He also assures me of eternal life,
and makes me sincerely willing and ready,
henceforth, to live unto Him.

~The Heidelberg Catechism, 1563


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8 (ESV).

John Newton | I Believe

 

April 3, 1759 – In a correspondence to a new friend of his, John Newton took time to explain his Christian beliefs. It stirred my heart to “hear” his pen proclaim the wonderful truths that saints down through the ages have held dear. Hopefully, you’ll find encouragement here too.

“I believe that sin is the most hateful thing in the world. I believe that I and all men are by nature in a state of wrath and depravity, utterly unable to sustain the penalty or to fulfill the commands of God’s holy law; and that we have no sufficiency of ourselves to think a good thought.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the chief among ten thousand; that He came into the world to save the chief of sinners, by making a propitiation for sin by His death, by paying a perfect obedience to the law in our behalf; and that He is now exalted on high, to give repentance and remission of sins to all who believe; and that He ever lives to make intercession for us.

I believe that the Holy Spirit (the gift of God through Jesus Christ), is the sure and only guide into all truth, and the common privilege of all believers; and under his influence,

I believe the Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, and to furnish us thoroughly for every good work.

I believe that love to God, and to man for God’s sake, is the essence of true religion, and the fulfilling of the law; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; that those who, by a patient course in well-doing, seek glory, honor, and immortality, shall receive eternal life. And I believe that this reward is not of debt–but of grace, even to the praise and glory of that grace whereby He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Amen.”

You can read all of the letter when you click here.

John Piper highlighted the life of John Newton at his 2001 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors. You can listen to and/or read his presentation here.


Let us praise, and join the chorus

Of the saints enthroned on high;

Here they trusted Him before us,

Now their praises fill the sky:

“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;

Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

~John Newton, 1774

Good Friday

 

If we’re not intentional, Good Friday will come and go without much reflection on what this day is all about. Hopefully, God will use this short excerpt from a Charles Spurgeon sermon to stir a determination to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Can you not see Him as they fling Him on His back, stretch out His hands and feet to the wood—and then drive the cruel nails through their most tender parts?

Can you not see Him as they lift Him high between earth and heaven, and then dash the cross into its place, dislocating all His bones, till He cries out, ‘I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint. You have brought Me into the dust of death?’

Yes, He is accomplishing it all!

Jehovah’s wrath is pouring over Him, wave after wave, and He is meekly bowing His head to it all!

Jehovah’s sword is being driven into His heart, and He is baring His breast to receive it—for your sakes and for mine! Sinner, He does it altogether. He can do it! He is doing it! He has done it, for He bowed His head, saying, ‘It is finished!’ and gave up the ghost!

That which was first a purpose, then a covenant, and then a work initiated, is now a work achieved!

Jesus Christ has redeemed His people with His own most precious blood!’

~Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon Gems


But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” Ephesians 2:13 (ESV).

Mercy’s Door

 

Here’s a short excerpt from a message from 18th century preacher Joseph Bellamy of Cheshire, Connecticut. It’s a passionate plea to the man who is living in rebellion of his Creator. The Christian can look back on a time when he was that rebellious man. Sadly, the lost person is there now.

“Do you know that this is God’s world? That you are God’s creatures and subjects? That He is your Lord and owner? That He has an entire right to you and an absolute authority over you? That you are entirely dependent upon Him, infinitely indebted to Him, and absolutely under His government?

Do you know that the Lord your God is a great God and a great King, infinitely worthy of all love, honor, and obedience? Do you see what a great evil it is to rise in rebellion against the Most High, slight His authority, throw off His government, break His laws, go contrary to Him, and do the abominable thing which His soul hates?

Do you see what contempt this casts upon God and how it tends to grieve His heart for a worm to set up himself against the Almighty, for a creature absolutely dependent to turn his back upon His Creator in whose hands are his life and breath?

Do you see the grievous error of loving sin more than the infinitely glorious God, of delighting in earthly pleasures more than in the Supreme Fountain of all good, of being more concerned to please fellow-rebels and secure their favor than to please the sovereign Lord of the universe and secure His favor?

Look around! See what you are doing! See where you are going! Consider what the end will be! Can your hands be strong or your heart endure, O guilty rebel, when God Almighty shall come forth to deal with you according to your crimes?

Behold, now is the day of grace. God is ready to be reconciled.

A door of mercy is opened by the blood of the Son of God.

Pardon and peace are proclaimed to a rebellious and guilty world. Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.”

I found this message in the book Salvation in Full Color, a collection of Great Awakening sermons. Our church used it in a book study a few years ago.

The God of the Waves

 

When trials come, it’s easy to forget that the trials are only temporary. What we’re going through we are going through. That’s been the experience of God’s children down through the ages.

Take heart that God is seeing us through to a glorious end.

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His … [intervention] deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”

~Amy Carmichael


“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (ESV).

A George Whitefield Christmas

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“When we consider the condescension and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, in submitting to be born of a virgin, a poor sinful creature; and especially as He knew how He was to be treated in this world; that He was to be despised, scoffed at, and at last to die a painful, shameful, and ignominious death; that He should be treated as though He was the off-scouring of all mankind; used, not like the son of man, and, therefore, not at all like the Son of God; the consideration of these things should make us to admire the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was so willing to offer Himself as a ransom for the sins of the people, that when the fullness of time was come, Christ came, made of a woman, made under the law: He came according to the eternal counsel of the Father; He came, not in glory or in splendor, not like Him who brought all salvation with Him: no, He was born in a stable, and laid in a manger; oxen were His companions.

O amazing condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ, to stoop to such low and poor things for our sake.”

~George Whitefield, 1714-1770

Merry Chr-ysostom-istmas!

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The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ is of course the great backdrop to Christmas. Here’s a weighty definition of the gospel that I stumbled across from a saint of old.

“… a release from punishment; a remission of sins; the gift of righteousness; the endowment of sanctification; redemption from every evil; the adoption of sons; the inheritance of heaven; and a most endeared, intimate relation to the infinitely majestic Son of God.

All these divinely precious privileges are preached, presented, bestowed to the foolish, to the disobedient, to enemies.”

~John Chrysostom, 349-407

Much to be thankful for when we take time to reflect on what Christmas represents.

Chrysostom’s quote was paraphrased slightly because of the old language.