“Where our warfare and tears shall cease forever” by John Newton

“Rejoice, therefore, my dear friends, that you are God’s husbandry.

The early and the latter rain, and the cheerful beams of the Sun of Righteousness, are surely promised to ripen your souls for glory;—but storms and frosts likewise are useful and seasonable in their places, though we perhaps may think we could do better without them.

In our bright and lively frames, we learn what God can do for us; in our dark and dull hours, we feel how little we can do without Him; and both are needful to perfect our experience and to establish our faith.

At one time we are enabled to rejoice in God; at another we are seeking after Him sorrowing: these different seasons are equally good in their turns, though not equally comfortable; and there is nothing we need fear but security, carelessness, and presumption.

To think ourselves rich and increased with goods, or to suppose we are safe a moment longer than while depending upon Jesus would be dangerous.

Let us pray the Lord to keep us from such a mistake; and, as to the rest, we shall do well.

Let us be faithful and diligent in the use of all appointed means, especially in secret exercises, and then leave Him to lead us as He pleaseth.

And, though our path should lie through the fire or through the water, we may trust His power and love to bring us safely through, and at last to fix us in a wealthy place, where our warfare and tears shall cease forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 64-65.

“The glorious assembly” by John Newton

“The day must come when all creature-comforts shall vanish.

And when we view things in the light of eternity, it seems comparatively of small moment whether it is this year or twenty years hence.

If we are interested in the covenant of grace; if Jesus is our beloved, and heaven our home; we may be cast down for a little season, but we cannot be destroyed; nay, we shall not be overpowered.

Our faithful God will surely make our strength equal to our day.

He that has delivered, and does deliver, will deliver to the end; and it will not be long before he will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

Therefore let us not fear: whatever sufferings may be yet appointed for us, they shall work together for our good; and they are but light and momentary in comparison of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which we are drawing nearer every hour.

Well, the day is coming when all the Lord’s people who are scattered abroad, who praise him in different ages and different languages, shall be collected together, and stand with one heart, consent, and voice before the throne.

Oh, the glorious assembly! how white are their robes, how resplendent their crowns, how melodious their harps!

Every hour the chorus is augmented by the accession of fresh voices; and ere long we hope to join them.

Then shall we remember the way by which the Lord led us through this dark wilderness; and shall see that all our afflictions, our heaviest afflictions, were tender mercies, no less than our most pleasing comforts.

What we shall then see, it is now our privilege and duty to believe.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 62-63.

“We are traveling towards a land of light” by John Newton

“You have lately been in the furnace, and are now brought safely out. I hope you have much to say of the grace, care, and skill of the great Refiner, who watched over you; and that you have lost nothing but dross.

Let this experience be treasured up in your hearts for the use of future times.

Other trials will come; but you have found the Lord faithful to His promise, and have good encouragement to trust Him again.

You know your weak side; endeavour to set a double guard of prayer there.

Our earthly comforts would be doubly sweet, if we could but venture them without anxiety in the Lord’s hands.

And where can we lodge them so safely?

Is not the first gift, the continuance, the blessing which makes them pleasing, all from Him?

Was not His design in all this, that we should be happy in them?

How then can we fear that He will threaten them, much less take them away, but with a view to our farther benefit?

Let us suppose the thing we are most afraid of actually to happen. Can it come a moment sooner, or in any other way, than by His appointment?

Is He not gracious and faithful to support us under the stroke?

Is He not rich enough to give us something better than ever He will take away?

Is not the light of His countenance better than life and all its most valued enjoyments?

Is not this our time of trial, and are we not traveling towards a land of light?

I think when we view things in the light of eternity, it is much the same whether the separating stroke arrives at the end of seven or seventy years; since, come when it will, it must and will be felt.

But one draught of the river of pleasure at God’s right hand will make us forget our sorrows forever; or the remembrance, if any, will only serve to heighten our joys.

What is more, what life did He lead whom we call our Master and our Lord?

Was not He a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?

Has He marked out one way to heaven with His painful footsteps, and shall we expect, or even wish, to walk in another?

With such considerations as these, we should endeavour to arm our minds, and pray to the Lord to fix a sense of them in our hearts, and to renew it from time to time; that, when changes are either feared or felt, we may not be like the people of the world, who have no hope, no refuge, no throne of grace, but may be enabled to glorify our God in the fire, and give proof that His grace is sufficient for us in every state.

It is neither comfortable for ourselves, nor honourable to our profession, to startle at every shaking leaf.

If we are sensible of this, mourn over our infirmities before the Lord, and faithfully strive in prayer against the fear that easily besets us, then He can, and He will, strengthen us with strength in our souls, and make us more than conquerors, according to His sure promise.

Oh, that I could improve the present, and cheerfully commit the future to Him who does all things wisely and well, and has promised that all shall work together for good! (Rom. 8:28)”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 59-61.

“His compassions are boundless” by John Newton

“Every year, and indeed every day, affords me new proofs of the evil and deceitfulness of my heart, and of my utter insufficiency to think even a good thought of myself.

But I trust, in the course of various exercises, I have been taught more of the power, grace, and all-sufficiency of Jesus.

I can commend Him to others, not from hearsay, but from my own experience.

His name is precious. His love is wonderful. His compassions are boundless.

I trust I am enabled to choose Him as my all, my Lord, my Strength, my Saviour, my Portion.

I long for more grace to love Him better!

For, alas, I have reason to number myself among the least of saints and the chief of sinners.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 58.

“We miss them” by John Newton

“I am still supported, and in some measure owned, in the pleasing service of preaching the glorious Gospel to my fellow-sinners. And I am still happy in an affectionate, united people.

Many have been removed to a better world, but others have been added to us; so that I believe our numbers have been rather increased than diminished from year to year.

But most of our old experienced believers have finished their course, and entered into their rest.

Some such we had, who were highly exemplary and useful ornaments to their profession, and very helpful to the young of the flock.

We miss them. But the Lord, who has the fullness of the Spirit, is, I hope, bringing others forward to supply their places.

We have to sing of abounding grace, and at the same time to mourn over the aboundings of sin.

For too many in this neighbourhood have resisted convictions so long, that I am afraid the Lord has given them up to hardness of heart.

They are either obstinately determined to hear no more, or sit quietly under the preaching, and seem to be sermon-proof.

Yet I hope and pray for a day of power in favour of some who have hitherto heard in vain.

Blessed be God, we are not without some seasons of refreshment, when a sense of His gracious presence makes the ordinances sweet and precious.

Many miracles He has wrought among us in the twelve years I have been here. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised to spiritual life.

Pray for us, that His arm may be revealed in the midst of us.

As to myself, I have had much experience of the deceitfulness of my heart, much warfare on account of the remaining principle of in-dwelling sin.

Without this experience I should not have known so much of the wisdom, power, grace, and compassion of Jesus.

I have good reason to commend Him to others, as a faithful Shepherd, an infallible Physician, an unchangeable Friend. I have found Him such.

Had He not been with me, and were He not mighty to forgive and deliver, I had long ago been trodden down like mire in the streets.

He has wonderfully preserved me in my outward walk, so that they who have watched for my halting have been disappointed.

But He alone knows the innumerable backslidings, and the great perverseness of my heart.

It is of His grace and mercy that I am what I am: having obtained help of Him, I continue to this day.

And He enables me to believe that He will keep me to the end, and that then I shall be with Him forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 54-55.

“He is our peace, our strength, our righteousness, our all in all” by John Newton

February 14, 1772

Dear Madam,

I find by the date of your last, that I have not been so punctual to the time of answering as formerly. Indeed, business of one kind or another so grows on my hands, that I am in arrears to many.

I hope the Lord, who has mercifully given you children, will enable you to bring them up in His fear, and accompany your endeavours with His blessing; and make them in due time partakers of His grace, that they may know and love the Lord God of their parents.

Your warfare, it seems, still continues; and it will continue while you remain here. But He is faithful who has promised to make us more than conquerors in the last conflict,— then we shall hear the voice of war no more forever.

Whatever we suffer by the way, the end will make amends for all. The repeated experience we have of the deceitfulness of our own hearts, is a means which the Lord employs to make us willing debtors to His free grace, and teach us to live more entirely upon Jesus.

He is our peace, our strength, our righteousness, our all in all. And we learn from day to day, that, though diligence and watchfulness in the use of appointed means is our part, yet we are preserved in life, not by our care, but His.

We have a watchful Shepherd, who neither slumbers nor sleeps; His eyes are always upon His people; His arm underneath them; this is the reason that their enemies cannot prevail against them.

We are conscious to ourselves of many unguarded moments, in which we might be surprised and ruined if we were left without His almighty defence. Yea, we often suffer loss by our folly.

But He restores us when wandering; revives us when fainting; heals us when wounded; and, having obtained help of Him, we continue to this hour; and He will be our Guard and Guide even unto death.

He has delivered, he does deliver; and in Him we trust that He will yet deliver us.

We have had but few alterations, since my last; only that of late the Lord has been pleased to give His word a more convincing power than for some time before. We have had several awakened within these few months, who appear to be truly in earnest.

Upon the whole, though we have many causes of humiliation, I hope it is with us in some measure according to that pleasing description, (Acts 9:31). Help us to praise the Lord for His goodness to us.

As to myself, there is little variation in my path. The law of sin in my members distresses me; but the Gospel yields relief.

It is given me to rest in the finished salvation, and to rejoice in Christ Jesus as my all in all.

My soul is athirst for nearer and fuller communion with Him. Yet He is pleased to keep me short of those sweet consolations in my retired hours which I could desire.

However, I cannot doubt but He is with me, and is pleased to keep up in my heart some sense of the evil of sin, the beauty of holiness, my own weakness, and His glorious all-sufficiency.

His I am, and him I desire to serve. I am, indeed, a poor servant; but He is a gracious Master.

Oh! Who is a God like unto Him, that forgiveth iniquity, and casteth the sins of His people into the depths of the sea?

I shall not always live thus,— the land to which we are going is far different to this wilderness through which He is now leading us. Then we shall see His face, and never, never sin.

If either of you or your’s should come towards London, we shall be glad to see you; but, if not here, we hope to meet in glory. There is but little probability of my seeing you in Yorkshire.

We may meet however at present, I hope we do, at a throne of grace. I entreat a frequent remembrance in your prayers, both of me and mine.

This is the best proof we can give of our love to our friends, to bear them upon our hearts before the Lord. Afford me this, and I will pay you in kind as the Lord shall enable me.

Your’s in the best friendship,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 51-53.

“Beautifully good news” by Dustin Benge

“Paul’s introduction to his letter to the church in Rome makes it quite apparent that the entire epistle’s theme is the good news of “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1).

Bracketing Romans is the apostle’s reminder to his readers that he was called to be “set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) and a”minister of Christ Jesus… in the priestly service of the gospel of God” (Rom. 15:16).

This good news of the gospel is

  • “the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 16:16),
  • “good news… of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12),
  • “good news of peace” (Acts 10:36),
  • “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24),
  • “the gospel of his Son” (Rom. 1:9),
  • “the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13),
  • “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11).

Surrounded by bad news at every turn, the church has been entrusted with good news, the good news of the gospel, which finds its foundation in God himself.

The gospel is not an earthly message but a heavenly message. Paul says that this is the “gospel of God‘ (Rom. 1:1).

The gospel is about God– His holiness, love, grace, wrath, and righteousness. But Paul’s main emphasis here is that the gospel is from God.

He is the single author and architect of the gospel. The gospel doesn’t originate in the church.

The church doesn’t devise the gospel. The church hasn’t crafted the gospel.

The gospel is a message given to the bride of Christ announcing his mediatorial triumph over sin, death, and the world.

The word translated “gospel” is a compound in Greek, euangelion. The prefix eu means “good.” The primary root word angelion means “messenger” or “message.”

When those two words are placed together, the word gospel simply means “good news.”

The gospel is the good news of salvation through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is the message that sinners can be rescued from God’s wrath against sin through the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ upon the cross and his triumphant resurrection from the dead.

This isn’t only good news; it’s beautifully good news. We will never hear anything more surpassingly beautiful than the truth that Jesus Christ is a willing liberator and Savior of sinners.

What specifically is the message of God’s beautiful gospel?

God sent His Son, the second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, to rescue sinners.

He was born of a virgin and lived a sinlessly perfect and obedient life under the law.

He was crucified on a cross as a substitute to pay the penalty of God’s wrath against the sins of all those who would ever believe.

In His body, He bore on that tree the punishment due to sinners, and His perfect righteousness was imputed to them, making them acceptable in the sight of God.

He was buried in a borrowed tomb and on the third day rose from the dead.

He ascended back to the authority and power of the right hand of his Father to intercede for all believers.

Now, everyone who by faith “calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Rom. 10:13).

No church has the freedom to tamper with, tweak, add to, or subtract from the good news of Jesus Christ– we are just to herald it.

For there is nothing more beautiful and lovely in the sight of God than the extricating of sinners from the kingdom of darkness and delivering them to the kingdom of light.”

–Dustin Benge, The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 122-124.

“Having this gift we have God the Father’s boundless love” by J.C. Ryle

If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” (Luke 11:13)

There are few promises in the Bible so broad and unqualified as those contained in this wonderful passage. The last in particular deserves especial notice.

The Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man.

Having this gift, we have all things, life, light, hope and heaven.

Having this gift we have God the Father’s boundless love, God the Son’s atoning blood, and full communion with all three Persons of the blessed Trinity.

Having this gift, we have grace and peace in the world that now is, glory and honor in the world to come.

And yet this mighty gift is held out by our Lord Jesus Christ as a gift to be obtained by prayer!

“Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.”

There are few passages in the Bible which so completely strip the unconverted man of his common excuses as this passage.

He says he is “weak and helpless.” But does he ask to be made strong?

—He says he is “wicked and corrupt.” But does he seek to be made better?

—He says he “can do nothing of himself.” But does he knock at the door of mercy, and pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit?

—These are questions to which many, it may be feared, can make no answer. They are what they are, because they have no real desire to be changed.

They have not, because they ask not. They will not come to Christ, that they may have life; and therefore they remain dead in trespasses and sins.

And now, as we leave the passage, let us ask ourselves whether we know anything of real prayer?

Do we pray at all?

—Do we pray in the name of Jesus, and as needy sinners?

—Do we know what it is to “ask,” and “seek,” and “knock,” and wrestle in prayer, like men who feel that it is a matter of life or death, and that they must have an answer?

—Or are we content with saying over some old form of words, while our thoughts are wandering, and our hearts far away?

Truly we have learned a great lesson when we have learned that “saying prayers” is not praying!

If we do pray, let it be a settled rule with us, never to leave off the habit of praying, and never to shorten our prayers. A man’s state before God may always be measured by his prayers.

Whenever we begin to feel careless about our private prayers, we may depend upon it, there is something very wrong in the condition of our souls.

There are breakers ahead. We are in imminent danger of a shipwreck.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 2: 9-10. Ryle is commenting on Luke 11:5-13.

“No one ever need be friendless while the Lord Jesus Christ lives” by J.C. Ryle

“Does any reader of this paper need a friend? In such a world as this, how many hearts there are which ought to respond to that appeal! How many there are who feel, “I stand alone.”

How many have found one idol broken after another, one staff failing after another, one fountain dried after another, as they have travelled through the wilderness of this world.

If there is one who wants a friend, let that one behold at the right hand of God an unfailing friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let that one repose his aching head and weary heart upon the bosom of that unfailing friend, Jesus Christ the Lord.

There is one living at God’s right hand of matchless tenderness.

There is one who never dies.

There is one who never fails, never disappoints, never forsakes, never changes His mind, never breaks off friendship.

That One, the Lord Jesus, I commend to all who need a friend.

No one in a world like this, a fallen world, a world which we find more and more barren, it may be, every year we live,—no one ever need be friendless while the Lord Jesus Christ lives to intercede at the right hand of God.

Does any reader of this paper need a priest. There can be no true religion without a priest, and no saving Christianity without a confessional.

But who is the true priest? Where is the true confessional? There is only one true priest,—and that is Christ Jesus the Lord.

There is only one real confessional,—and that is the throne of grace where the Lord Jesus waits to receive those who come to Him to unburden their hearts in His presence.

We can find no better priest than Christ. We need no other Priest.

Why need we turn to any priest upon earth, while Jesus is sealed, anointed, appointed, ordained, and commissioned by God the Father, and has an ear ever ready to hear, and a heart ever ready to feel for the poor sinful sons of men?

The priesthood is His lawful prerogative. He has deputed that office to none.

Woe be to any one upon earth who dares to rob Christ of His prerogative!

Woe be to the man who takes upon himself the office which Christ holds in His own hands, and has never transferred to any one born of Adam, upon the face of the globe!

Let us never lose sight of this mighty truth of the Gospel,—the intercession and priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I believe that a firm grasp of this truth is one great safeguard against the errors of the Church of Rome.

I believe that losing sight of this great truth is one principal reason why so many have fallen away from the faith in some quarters, have forsaken the creed of their Protestant forefathers, and have gone back to the darkness of Rome.

Once firmly established upon this mighty truth,—that we have a Priest, an altar, and a Confessor,—that we have an unfailing, never-dying, ever-living Intercessor, who has deputed His office to none,—and we shall see that we need turn aside nowhere else.

We need not hew for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water, when we have in the Lord Jesus Christ a fountain of living waters, ever flowing and free to all.

We need not seek any human priest upon earth, when we have a divine Priest living for us in heaven.

Let us beware of regarding the Lord Jesus Christ only as one that is dead. Here, I believe, many greatly err. They think much of His atoning death, and it is right that they should do so.

But we ought not to stop short there. We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive.

We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood.

Christ lives, and is not dead. He lives as truly as any one of ourselves.

Christ sees us, hears us, knows us, and is acting as a Priest in heaven on behalf of His believing people.

The thought of His life ought to have as great and important a place in our souls, as the thought of His death upon the cross.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Christ’s Power to Save,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 414-415.

“The central fact of the entire history of the world” by Herman Bavinck

“The doctrine of Christ is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics.

Here, too, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity.

Christ, the incarnate Word, is thus the central fact of the entire history of the world.

The incarnation has its presupposition and foundation in the trinitarian being of God.

The Trinity makes possible the existence of a mediator who himself participates both in the divine and human nature and thus unites God and humanity.

The incarnation, however, is the work of the entire Trinity.

Christ was sent by the Father and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Incarnation is also related to creation.

The incarnation was not necessary, but the creation of human beings in God’s image is a supposition and preparation for the incarnation of God.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, vol. 3, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 235.