“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.

“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.

“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.

“In the Blessed Saviour we see everything fulfilled which God spoke of old by the prophets” by Charles Spurgeon

“What meant the Saviour, then, by this— ‘It is finished?’ (John 19:30) He meant, first of all, that all the types, promises, and prophecies were now fully accomplished in Him.

Those who are acquainted with the original will find that the words— ‘It is finished,’ occur twice within three verses. In John 19:28, we have the word in the Greek; it is translated in our version ‘accomplished,’ but there it stands— ‘After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.’

And then he afterwards said, ‘It is finished.’ This leads us to see his meaning very clearly, that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, that when He said, ‘It is finished,’ the whole book, from the first to the last, in both the law and the prophets, was finished in Him.

There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi, which was not set in the breast-plate of the true High Priest.

Nay, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle-dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself, which was not fulfilled in Him; and not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan; not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea, which was not now fully wrought out in Christ Jesus.

And, brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises, and prophecies, and types, apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one person!

Take away Christ for one moment, and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living, and say to him:

‘Take this; this is a problem; go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all that which is herein foreshadowed; remember, He must be a prophet like unto Moses, and yet a champion like to Joshua; He must be an Aaron and a Melchisedek; He must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. Nay, He must not only be the lamb that was slain, and the scape-goat that was not slain, the turtle-dove that was dipped in blood, and the priest who slew the bird, but He must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy-seat, and the shewbread.”

Nay, to puzzle this wise man further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contradictory, that one would think they never could meet in one man. Such as these, ‘All kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him;’ (Psalm 72:11) and yet, ‘He is despised and rejected of men.’ (Isaiah 53:3)

He must begin by showing a man born of a virgin mother— ‘A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.’ (Isaiah 7:14)

He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord doth cause to meet the iniquities of us all.

He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground. Now, I say it boldly, if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies, they could not do it.

I see you, ye wise men, ye are poring over these hieroglyphs; one suggests one key, and it opens two or three of the figures, but you cannot proceed, for the next one puts you at a nonplus.

Another learned man suggests another clue, but that fails most where it is most needed, and another, and another, and thus these wondrous hieroglyphs traced of old by Moses in the wilderness, must be left unexplained, till one comes forward and proclaims, ‘The cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate,’ then the whole is clear, so that he that runs may read, and a child may understand.

Blessed Saviour! In Thee we see everything fulfilled, which God spoke of old by the prophets; in Thee we discover everything carried out in substance, which God had set forth us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke.

Glory be unto Thy name! ‘It is finished’ —everything is summed up in Thee.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ’s Dying Word for His Church,” in Majesty In Misery, Vol. 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 218-220. (MTPS, 7: 586–587) The sermon is also available online here.

“The grandest Spectacle ever devised” by Tony Reinke

“Into the spectacle-loving world, with all of its spectacle makers and spectacle-making industries, came the grandest Spectacle ever devised in the mind of God and brought about in world history—the cross of Christ. It is the hinge of history, the point of contact between BC and AD, where all time collides, where all human spectacles meet one unsurpassed, cosmic, divine spectacle.”

–Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 77.

#competingspectacles

“Take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane and walk daily to mount Golgotha” by John Newton

“Did I not tell you formerly, that if you would take care of His business He will take care of yours? I am of the same mind still. He will not suffer them who fear Him and depend upon Him to want anything that is truly good for them.

In the meanwhile, I advise you to take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world.

A view of what is passing within the vail has a marvelous effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things that are daily passing here.

Praise the Lord, who has enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon Him who is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from whom you cannot meet a denial or fear a change. He loved you first, and He will love you forever.

And if He be pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature upon earth, than of the light of a candle on mid-summer noon.

Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends.

Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief.

Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord’s own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light.

Our love to all friends,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 127–129.

“There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief” by Charles Spurgeon

“I do not know of any reflection more consoling than this: that my sorrow is not laid on me by a judge, nor inflicted on me as the result of divine anger. There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief.

Does not that take the bitterness out of affliction and make it sweet? And then the reflection goes further. Since Christ has died for me, I am God’s dear child; and now if I suffer, all my suffering comes from my Father’s hand—nay, more, from my Father’s heart.

He loves me, and therefore makes me suffer; not because He does not love, but because He does love He does thus afflict me. In every stripe I see another token of paternal love. This it is to sweeten Marah’s waters indeed.

Then will come the next reflection—that a Father’s love is joined with infinite wisdom, and that, therefore, every ingredient in the bitter cup is measured out drop by drop, and grain by grain, and there is not one pang too many ever suffered by an heir of heaven.

The cross is not only weighed to the pound but to the ounce, ay, to the lowest conceivable grain. You shall not have one half a drop of grief more than is absolutely needful for your good and God’s glory.

And does not this also sweeten the cross, that it is laid on us by infinite wisdom, and by a Father’s hand.

Ravishing, indeed, is the reflection in the midst of all our grief and suffering, that Jesus Christ suffers with us. In all thine affliction, O member of the body, the Head is still a sharer.

Deep are the sympathies of the Redeemer, acute, certain, quick, infallible; He never forgets His saints.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah; Or, the Bitter Waters Sweetened,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Volume 17 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1871), 17: 236–237.

[HT: Bobby Jamieson]

“Measure the height of His love by the depth of His grief” by Charles Spurgeon

‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ This cry came out of that darkness. Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded Sun of Righteousness.

There is light in it, bright, flashing light; but there is a centre of impenetrable gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.

Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish. This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone.

Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.

This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord.

You shall measure the height of His love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of His grief, if that can ever be known.

See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be!

What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come?

I do not profess that I can dive into this deep. I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘“‘Lama Sabachtani?’’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 153-154. (MPTS: 36: 133-134)

“His mighty affection knows no bottom” by J.C. Ryle

“Mark the depth and width of our Lord’s sympathies and affections. The Saviour on whom we are bid to repose the weight of our sinful souls is one whose love passeth knowledge.

Shallow, skin-deep feelings in others, we all know continually chill and disappoint us on every side in this world.

But there is One whose mighty heart affection knows no bottom. That one is Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 312. Ryle is commenting on John 19:26-27.

“The three crosses on Golgotha” by J.C. Ryle

“Augustine remarks, that three very different persons hung together on the three crosses on Golgotha.

One was the Saviour of sinners.

One was a sinner about to be saved.

One was a sinner about to be damned.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 301. Ryle is commenting on John 19:18.