“His love cost Him dearly” by John Owen

“They know nothing of the life and power of the gospel, nothing of the reality of the grace of God, nor do they believe aright one article of the Christian faith, whose hearts are not sensible of the love of Christ.

The Lord Christ placed His love on us, that love from whence He died for us, when we were sinners and ungodly; that is, everything which might render us unamiable and undeserving.

Though we were as deformed as sin could render us, and more deeply indebted than the whole creation could pay or answer, yet did He fix His love upon us, to free us from that condition, and to render us meet for the most intimate society with Himself.

Never was there love which had such effects— which cost Him so dear in whom it was, and proved so advantageous unto them on whom it was placed.

In the pursuit of it He underwent everything that is evil in His own person, and we receive everything that is good in the favor of God and eternal blessedness.”

–John Owen, “Χριστολογια: A Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ,” The Works of John Owen, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1684/2000), 1: 166-167, 168.

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“The unsearchable riches of our inheritance in Him” by Alexander MacLaren

“You cannot have Christ’s blessing unless you take Christ. And so, dear brethren, ‘abide in Me and I in you.’ (John 15:4)

There is nothing else that will make us blessed; there is nothing else that will meet all the circumference of our necessities; there is nothing else that will quiet our hearts, will sanctify our understandings.

Christ is yours if ‘ye are Christ’s.’ (1 Cor. 3:23) ‘Of His fulness have all we received,’ (John 1:16) for it all became ours when we became His, and Christian growth on earth and heaven is but the unfolding of the folded graces that are contained in Him.

We possess the whole Christ, but eternity is needed to disclose all the unsearchable riches of our inheritance in Him.”

–Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Ephesians, Volume 14 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 14: 17. MacLaren is commenting on Ephesians 1:3.

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“Christ prizeth him more than all the world besides” by John Owen

“All the world is nothing to Him in comparison with believers.

They are His garden; the rest of the world, wilderness. Cant. 4:12, ‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.’

They are His inheritance; the rest, His enemies, of no regard with him. So Isa. 43:3-4, “I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.”

The reason of this dealing of Christ with His church, in parting with all others for them, is, because He loves her. She is precious and honourable in His sight; thence He puts this great esteem upon her.

Indeed, He disposeth of all nations and their interests according as is for the good of believers. Amos 9:9, in all the siftings of the nations, the eye of God is upon the house of Israel; not a grain of them shall perish.

Look to heaven; angels are appointed to minister for them, Heb. 1:14.

Look into the world; the nations in general are either blessed for their sakes, or destroyed on their account,—preserved to try them, or rejected for their cruelty towards them; and will receive from Christ their final doom according to their deportment towards these despised ones.

On this account are the pillars of the earth borne up, and patience is exercised towards the perishing world.

In a word, there is not the meanest, the weakest, the poorest believer on the earth, but Christ prizeth him more than all the world besides.

Were our hearts filled much with thoughts hereof, it would tend much to our consolation.

To answer this, believers also value Jesus Christ; they have an esteem of Him above all the world, and all things in the world.

You have been in part acquainted with this before, in the account that was given of their delight in Him, and inquiry after Him.

They say of Him in their hearts continually, as David, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and none upon earth I desire beside thee.” Ps. 73:25.

Neither heaven nor earth will yield them an object any way comparable to him, that they can delight in.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 136-137.

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“History ends with a wedding” by Herman Bavinck

“All of the phenomena we have discussed prove that the family, despite being despised and opposed, is far from being registered as dead. Its forms may change, but its essence abides.

It is an institution of God, maintained after the entrance of sin not by the will of man but by God’s power. And it will continue to be preserved, as long as the divine purpose with the human race has not yet been attained.

That purpose is familiar to Christians from Scripture. For Christians, the future is portrayed entirely differently than for those without faith in any revelation.

For apart from revelation, the origin, essence, purpose, and destiny of the human race are entirely unknown to us. Because without this knowledge we cannot live and cannot die, cannot think and cannot labor, the Christian faith is replaced by arbitrary guesses and the Christian hope by vain expectations.

People then dream of a future state that will arise automatically through evolution, in which everyone will live happily and contentedly.

But in this case it’s like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating, but when he awakens, his soul is empty; or like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking, but when he awakens, he is still parched and his soul is thirsty.

Christians know about other and better things. They do not look back to the past with homesickness, for even then not everything that glittered was golden.

They do not surrender their hearts to the present, for their eyes see the suffering that belongs inseparably to the present time.

And they do not fantasize about a perfect society, because in this dispensation sin will continue to hold sway and will constantly corrupt all that is good.

But they are assured that God’s purpose with the human race will nevertheless be attained, despite all the conflict involved.

Humanity and the world exist, after all, for the sake of the church, and the church exists for the sake of Christ’s will, and Christ belongs to God.

In the city of God the creation reaches its final goal.

Into that city all the treasures will be brought together that have been acquired by humanity in the course of time through fearsome conflict; all the glory of the nations is gathered there; and in the spiritual association of Christ with his church, marriage will also reach its end.

Marriage was instituted so that the glory of the King would come to light in the multitude of his subjects. Once it has attained this goal, marriage itself will pass away.

The shadow will make way for the substance, the symbol for the reality.

The history of the human race began with a wedding; it also ends with a wedding, the wedding of Christ and his church, of the heavenly Lord with his earthly bride.”

–Herman Bavinck, The Christian Family, ed. Stephen J. Grabill, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian’s Library Press, 2012), 160–161.

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“An inexpressible mercy” by John Owen

“The next general work of the Holy Spirit seems to be that of John 16:14, ‘The Comforter shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.’

The work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. But what shall this Spirit do, that Christ may be glorified? ‘He shall,’ saith He, “take of Mine,”—ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήψεται.

What these things are is declared in the next verse: ‘All things that the Father hath are Mine; therefore I said He shall take of Mine.’

It is not of the essence and essential properties of the Father and Son that our Saviour speaks; but of the grace which is communicated to us by them.

This Christ calls, ‘My things,’ being the fruit of His purchase and mediation: on which account He saith all His Father’s things are His; that is, the things that the Father, in His eternal love, hath provided to be dispensed in the blood of His Son,—all the fruits of election.

‘These,’ said He, ‘the Comforter shall receive; that is, they shall be committed unto Him to dispose for your good and advantage, to the end before proposed.’

So it follows, ἀναγγελεῖ,—’He shall show, or declare and make them known to you.’ Thus, then, is He a comforter.

He reveals to the souls of sinners the good things of the covenant of grace, which the Father hath provided, and the Son purchased.

He shows to us mercy, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptation with God.

He letteth us know that these are the things of Christ, which He hath procured for us.

He shows them to us for our comfort and establishment.

These things, I say, He effectually declares to the souls of believers; and makes them know them for their own good;—know them as originally the things of the Father, prepared from eternity in His love and goodwill; as purchased for them by Christ, and laid up in store in the covenant of grace for their use.

Then is Christ magnified and glorified in their hearts; then they know what a Saviour and Redeemer He is.

A soul doth never glorify or honour Christ upon a discovery or sense of the eternal redemption He hath purchased for him, but it is in him a peculiar effect of the Holy Ghost as our comforter.

‘No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,’ (1 Cor. 12:3).

He ‘sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts,’ (Rom. 5:5). That it is the love of God to us, not our love to God, which is here intended, the context is so clear as nothing can be added thereunto.

Now, the love of God is either of ordination or of acceptation,—the love of His purpose to do us good, or the love of acceptation and approbation with Him.

Both these are called the love of God frequently in Scripture, as I have declared. Now, how can these be shed abroad in our hearts?

Not in themselves, but in a sense of them,—in a spiritual apprehension of them. Ἐκκέχυται, is ‘shed abroad;’ the same word that is used concerning the Comforter being given us, (Titus 3:6).

God sheds Him abundantly, or pours Him on us; so He sheds abroad, or pours out the love of God in our hearts.

Not to insist on the expression, which is metaphorical, the business is, that the Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal.

This is His work, and He doth it effectually.

To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well-pleased with him, and hath thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an inexpressible mercy.

This we have in a peculiar manner by the Holy Ghost; it is His peculiar work.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 239-240.

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“His jewel, His diadem, and His crown” by John Owen

“For their sakes Christ so humbled and emptied Himself, in taking flesh, as to become therein a servant,– in the eyes of the world of no esteem nor account; and a true and real servant unto the Father.

For their sakes He humbled Himself, and became obedient. All that He did and suffered in His life comes under this consideration; all which may be referred to these three heads:

[1.] Fulfilling all righteousness.
[2.] Enduring all manner of persecutions and hardships.
[3.] Doing all manner of good to men.

He took on Him, for their sakes, a life and course pointed to, (Heb. 5:7-8),—a life of prayers, tears, fears, obedience, suffering; and all this with cheerfulness and delight, calling His employment His “meat and drink,” and still professing that the law of this obedience was in His heart,—that He was content to do this will of God.

He that will sorely revenge the least opposition that is or shall be made to Him by others, was content to undergo any thing, all things, for believers.

He stays not here, but (for the consummation of all that went before) for their sakes He becomes obedient to death, the death of the cross. So He professeth to His Father, ‘For their sakes I sanctify myself;’ (John 17:19)—’I dedicate myself as an offering, as a sacrifice, to be killed and slain.’

This was His aim in all the former, that He might die; He was born, and lived, that He might die. He valued them above His life.

And if we might stay to consider a little what was in this death that He underwent for them, we should perceive what a price indeed He put upon them.

The curse of the law was in it, (Gal. 3:13) the wrath of God was in it, the loss of God’s presence was in it (Ps. 22:1). It was a fearful cup that he tasted of, and drank of, that they might never taste of it (Matt. 26:39).

A man would not for ten thousand worlds be willing to undergo that which Christ underwent for us in that one thing of desertion from God, were it attended with no more distress but what a mere creature might possibly emerge from under.

And what thoughts we should have of this Himself tells us, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13)

It is impossible there should be any greater demonstration or evidence of love than this. What can any one do more?

And yet He tells us in another place, that it hath another aggravation and heightening, ‘God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Rom. 5:8)

When He did this for us we were sinners, and enemies, whom He might justly have destroyed. What more can be done?—to die for us when we were sinners! Such a death, in such a manner, with such attendancies of wrath and curse,—a death accompanied with the worst that God had ever threatened to sinners,—argues as high a valuation of us as the heart of Christ Himself was capable of.

For one to part with His glory, His riches, His ease, His life, His love from God, to undergo loss, shame, wrath, curse, death, for another, is an evidence of a dear valuation; and that it was all on this account, we are informed, (Heb. 12:2).

Certainly Christ had a dear esteem of them, that, rather than they should perish,— that they should not be His, and be made partakers of His glory,— He would part with all He had for their sakes, (Eph. 5:25-26).

There would be no end, should I go through all the instances of Christ’s valuation of believers, in all their deliverances, afflictions, in all conditions of sinning and suffering,— what He hath done, what He doth in His intercession, what He delivers them from, what He procures for them; all telling out this one thing,— they are the apple of His eye, His jewel, His diadem, His crown.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 134-136.

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“He is the sanctuary of His people” by Stephen Charnock

“That God is present everywhere, is as much a comfort to a good man as it is a terror to a wicked one. He is everywhere for His people, not only by a necessary perfection of His nature, but an immense diffusion of His goodness.

He is in all creatures as their preserver, in the damned as their terror, in His people as their protector. He fills hell with His severity, heaven with His glory, His people with His grace.

He is with His people as light in darkness, a fountain in a garden, as manna in the ark. God is in the world as a spring of preservation, in the church as His cabinet, a spring of grace and consolation.

The omnipresence of God is a comfort in sharp afflictions. Good men have a comfort in this presence in their nasty prisons, oppressing tribunals; in the overflowing waters or scorching flames, He is still with them, (Isa. 43:2).

And many times, by His presence, He keeps the bush from consuming, when it seems to be all in a flame. In afflictions, God shows Himself most present when friends are most absent: ‘When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord shall take me up,’ (Ps. 27:10).

Then God will stoop and gather me into His protection; Heb. ‘shall gather me,’ alluding to those tribes that were to bring up the rear in the Israelites’ march, to take care that none were left behind, and exposed to famine or wild beasts, by reason of some disease that disenabled them to keep pace with their brethren.

He that is the sanctuary of His people in all calamities is more present with them to support them, than their adversaries can be present with them, to afflict them: ‘A present help in the time of trouble,’ (Ps. 46:2).”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Omnipresence,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 450, 452.

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“He does not find, but makes her, lovely” by C.S. Lewis

“The Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; He does not find, but makes her, lovely.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 105.

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“For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“I trust that your own studies get on well, dear friend.

Learn much of your own heart; and when you have learned all you can, remember you have seen but a few yards into a pit that is unfathomable.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.

He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!

Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams.

Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in His almighty arms.

Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding. Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasure, according to the word in Prov. 2:4.

See that verse 10 (Prov. 2:10) be fulfilled in you.

Let wisdom enter into your hearts, and knowledge be pleasant to thy soul; so you will be delivered from the snares mentioned in the following verses.

Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him.

Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.

I must now commend you all to God and the word of His grace. My dear people are just assembled for worship.

Alas! I cannot preach to them tonight. I can only carry them and you on my heart to the throne of grace. Write me soon.

Ever yours,

Robert Murray M’Cheyne”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 293.

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“The oil of prayer” by William Gurnall

“The Christian’s armour will rust, except it be furbished and scoured with the oil of prayer.”

–William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1662/2002), 2: 289.

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