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 against 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).

Pursuing Christ

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Scottish pastor Samuel Rutherford penned this letter while in exile in 1637. It was written to Lady Cardoness. Perhaps the Lord has preserved it down through the centuries so that believers would read it and become a bit jealous of Rutherford’s nearness to Christ. That’s the impact the letter had on me.

“Walk in the Truth, and follow the despised but most lovely Son of God.

I cannot but recommend Him to you as your Husband, your Well-beloved, your Portion, your Comfort and your Joy.

I say this of the Lovely One, because considering what He has done for me, I can say nothing else. He has watered with His sweet comforts an oppressed prisoners. He was always kind to my soul; but never so kind as now in my great extremities.

I dine and sup with Christ.”

You can read the entire letter here.

Beginning, Center, and End

christ-is-all

Octavius Winslow was a 19th century pastor and writer in America.

I’m thankful for the simplicity of what he wrote. He places these wonderful truths down where I can easily reach them.

“We cannot keep our eye too exclusively or too intently fixed on Jesus.

All salvation is in Him. All salvation proceeds from Him. All salvation leads to Him.

And for the assurance and comfort of our salvation we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him.

Christ must be all!

Christ the beginning; Christ the center; and Christ the end.

Oh sweet truth to you who are sensible of your poverty, vileness, and insufficiency, and of the ten thousand flaws and failures of which, perhaps, no one is cognizant but God and your own soul!

Oh, to turn and rest in Christ; a loving Christ; a tender Christ, whose heart’s love never chills, from whose eye darts no reproof, from whose lips breathes no sentence of condemnation!

Christ must be all!”

You can read more about Pastor Winslow here. More of his writings can be found at Grace Gems.


“Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11 (ESV)

Mail from John Newton

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“I think the Lord has seen fit to visit you with much … [illness] of late; I say He has seen fit, for all our trials are under His immediate direction, and we are never in heaviness without a need-be.” 

Hymn writer and pastor John Newton shared that consolation in a letter to an ailing friend in 1768.

One of the things that encourages me most about John Newton’s letters is his confidence that the Lord is the one who orchestrates life’s events – even illness. I find great comfort in that.

The man who brought us Amazing Grace and Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken went on to write:

“How happy is the state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and in the meantime a sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection!

I trust He does and will give you strength equal to your day, and sweeten what would be otherwise bitter with the essence of His precious love. I hope soon to hear that you are restored to health, and that you have found cause to praise Him for the rod.

How … [comforting] is it, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our prayers.

Under the conduct of such a Shepherd we need not fear: though we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us, and will shew Himself mighty on our behalf.”

You can read the entire letter here.