“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.

“These words will support thee” by John Bunyan

“Is the love of God and of Christ so great? Let us then labour to improve it to the utmost for our advantage, against all the hindrances of faith. To what purpose else is it revealed, made mention of, and commended to us?

We are environed with many enemies, and faith in the love of God and of Christ, is our only succour and shelter. Wherefore our duty and wisdom and privilege is, to improve this love for our own advantage.

Improve it against daily infirmities, improve it against the wiles of the devil. Improve it against the threats, rage, death, and destruction, that the men of this world continually with their terror set before you.

But how must that be done? Why, set this love and the safety that is in it, before thine eyes; and behold it while these things make their assaults upon thee. These words, the faith of this, ‘God loves me,’ will support thee in the midst of what dangers may assault thee.

And this is that which is meant, when we are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord (Phil 3:1), to make our boast in the Lord (Psa 44:8); to triumph in Christ (2 Cor 2:14); and to set the Lord always before our face (Psa 16:8). For he that can do this thing steadfastly, cannot be overcome.

For in God there is more than can be in the world, either to help or hinder; wherefore if God be my helper, if God loves me, if Christ be my redeemer, and has bestowed His love that passeth knowledge upon me, who can be against me? (Heb 13:6, Rom 8:31)

And if they be against me, what disadvantage reap I thereby; since even all this also, worketh for my good? This is improving the love of God and of Christ for my advantage.”

–John Bunyan, All Love’s Excelling: The Saint’s Knowledge of Christ’s Love(Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1998), 119-120.

“At the cost of His life” by Martin Luther

“By the fact that Christ is Priest He turns God into our Father, and Himself into our Lord. If I regard Him as Priest, then I know that He does nothing but sit in heaven above as our Mercy Seat and there intercedes for us before the Father without ceasing, pleads on our behalf, and says the best for us.

This is the greatest comfort that can come to a human being, and no sweeter sermon can be preached to the human heart. This He has proved in the Gospel by everything He says and does. For He does nothing but serve and help people and offer Himself to everybody.

In addition, in order to atone for us, He burdens Himself at the cost of His life and blood with all the wrath which we have deserved. Is it possible to preach anything more comforting than this to troubled consciences?”

–Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, comp. Ewald M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), entry no. 552, pp. 190-191. Luther was commenting on Gen. 14:17-24.

“He sent Him into our misery” by Martin Luther

“God so loved us as to be willing to pay the price of His only, dearest Child. Him He sent into our misery, hell, and death, and let Him drain these to the dregs. This is the way to be saved.”

–Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, comp. Ewald M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), entry no. 550, p. 189. Luther was commenting on John 3:16.

“Knowing God as our Father” by Michael Reeves

“Knowing God as our Father not only wonderfully gladdens our view of Him; it also gives the deepest comfort and joy. The honor of it is stupefying. To be the child of some rich king would be nice; but to be the beloved of the emperor of the universe is beyond words.

Clearly the salvation of this God is better even than forgiveness, and certainly more secure. Other gods might offer forgiveness, but this God welcomes and embraces us as His children, never to send us away.

He does not offer some kind of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ relationship whereby I have to try and keep myself in His favor by behaving impeccably. No, ‘to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God’ (Jn 1:12)– and so with security to enjoy His love forever.

Think of just who the Son is: He is the one eternally and utterly loved by His Father; the Father would not ever moderate or renounce His love for His Son– and the Son comes to share that, as the Father wanted. Because Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb 2:11), His Father is not ashamed to be known as ours (Heb 11:16).

Nothing could give greater confidence and delight in approaching the heavenly throne of grace. ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (1 Jn 3:1).”

–Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 76-77.

“The task of all Christian scholarship” by John Piper

“The task of all Christian scholarship– not just biblical studies– is to study reality as a manifestation of God’s glory, to speak and write about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it, and to make it serve the good of man.It is an abdication of scholarship when Christians do academic work with little reference to God.

If all the universe and everything in it exist by the design of an infinite, personal God, to make His manifold glory known and loved, then to treat any subject without reference to God’s glory is not scholarship but insurrection.”

–John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 21.

“Don’t abandon thinking” by John Piper

“If we were to succeed in raising a generation of people who give up serious, faithful, coherent thinking, we will have raised a generation incapable of reading the Bible. Reading is thinking. Either we do it carefully and accurately or we do it carelessly and inaccurately.

The problem with those who debunk the gift of thinking as a way of knowing God is that they do not spell out clearly what the alternative is. The reason is that there isn’t one. If we abandon thinking, we abandon the Bible, and if we abandon the Bible we abandon God.

The Holy Spirit has not promised a shortcut to the knowledge of God. He inspired the prophets and apostles to write in a book what He showed them and told them. In more than one place, He even said explicitly that reading the book is the God-appointed way of knowing the mysteries of God (cf. Ephesians 3:3-4).

Reading is the way we are able to think the thoughts of Paul and thus know the mystery of God. It is therefore futile counsel to tell the church that thinking is worthless. There is no reading without thinking. And there is no reading carefully and faithfully and coherently without thinking carefully and faithfully and coherently.

The remedy for barren intellectualism is not anti-intellectualism, but humble, faithful, prayerful, Spirit-dependent, rigorous thinking.”

–John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 123.

“The Father’s love” by John Owen

“Assure yourself, there is nothing more acceptable unto the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.

This will be exceeding effectual to endear your soul unto God, to cause you to delight in Him, and to make your abode with Him.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God—that there is still an unwillingness of spirit unto close walking with Him. What is at the bottom of this distemper?

Is it not their unskillfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him.

But if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto Him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with Him.

If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in Him.

I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams.

You who have run from Him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.”

–John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, Eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1657/2007), 127-128.

“The most staggering thing in the universe” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Test your view of the Cross. Where does this statement about ‘declaring’ His righteousness and so on come into your thinking? Is it something that you just skip over and say: ‘Well, I don’t know what that means. All I know is, that God is love and that He forgives.’ But you should know the meaning of this. This is an essential part of the glorious Gospel. On Calvary God was making a way of salvation so that you and I might be forgiven.

But He had to do so in a way that will leave His character inviolate, that will leave His eternal consistency still absolute and unbroken. Once you begin to look at it like that, you see that this is the most tremendous, the most glorious, the most staggering thing in the universe and in the whole of history. God is there declaring what He has done for us. He is declaring at the same time His own eternal greatness and glory… God was declaring publicly once and forever His eternal justice AND His eternal love. Never separate them, for they belong together in the character of God.”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross: The Vindication of God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976/1999), 19-20.