Tag Archives: Zeal

“An amazing story about a person you want to be like” by Mark Dever

“Let me tell you an amazing story about a person you want to be like. And please hang in there through some of the details. I can’t tell stories any other way.

John Harper was born in a Christian home in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1872. When he was about fourteen years old, he became a Christian himself, and from that time on, he began to tell others about Christ.

At seventeen years of age, he began to preach, going down the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in passionate pleading for men to be reconciled to God.

After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by the Reverend E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London.

This set Harper free to devote his whole time and energy to the work so dear to his heart—evangelism.

Soon, in September 1896, Harper started his own church. This church, which he began with just twenty-five members, numbered over five hundred by the time he left thirteen years later.

During this time he had been both married and widowed. Before he lost his wife, God blessed Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nana.

Harper’s life was an eventful one. He almost drowned several times. When he was two-and-a-half years of age, he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother.

At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current an]d barely survived. And at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean.

If anything, these brushes with death simply seemed to confirm John Harper in his zeal for evangelism, which marked him out for the rest of the days of his life.

While pastoring his church in London, Harper continued his fervent and faithful evangelism. In fact, he was such a zealous evangelist that the Moody Church in Chicago asked him to come over to America for a series of meetings.

He did, and they went well. A few years later, Moody Church asked him if he would come back again. And so it was that Harper boarded a ship one day with a second-class ticket at Southampton, England, for the voyage to America.

Harper’s wife had died just a few years before, and he had with him his only child, Nana, age six. What happened after this we know mainly from two sources. One is Nana, who died in 1986 at the age of eighty.

She remembered being woken up by her father a few nights into their journey. It was about midnight, and he said that the ship they were on had struck an iceberg.

Harper told Nana that another ship was just about there to rescue them, but, as a precaution, he was going to put her in a lifeboat with an older cousin, who had accompanied them. As for Harper, he would wait until the other ship arrived.

The rest of the story is a tragedy well known. Little Nana and her cousin were saved. But the ship they were on was the Titanic.

The only way we know what happened to John Harper after is because, in a prayer meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, some months later, a young Scotsman stood up in tears and told the extraordinary story of how he was converted.

He explained that he had been on the Titanic the night it struck the iceberg. He had clung to a piece of floating debris in the freezing waters.

“Suddenly,” he said, “a wave brought a man near, John Harper. He, too, was holding a piece of wreckage. “He called out, ‘Man, are you saved?’

“‘No, I am not,’ I replied.

“He shouted back, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ (Acts 16:31)

“The waves bore [Harper] away, but a little later, he was washed back beside me again. ‘Are you saved now?’ he called out.

“‘No,’ I answered. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ (Acts 16:31)

“Then losing his hold on the wood, [Harper] sank. And there, alone in the night with two miles of water under me, I trusted Christ as my savior. I am John Harper’s last convert.”

–Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 13-15. For more on John Harper, see Moody Adams, The Titanic’s Last Hero: Story About John Harper (Columbia, SC: Olive Press, 1997), 24–25.

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“A zealous man lives for one thing” by J.C. Ryle

“A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit.

He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God.

Whether he lives, or whether he dies,—whether he has health, or whether he has sickness,—whether he is rich, or whether he is poor,—whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense,—whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish,—whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise,—whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame,—for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all.

He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God and to advance God’s glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it,—he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him.”

—J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1878/2013), 174-175.

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“We hurl grenades into the enemy’s ranks” by Charles Spurgeon

“This is what you must do with your sermons: make them red-hot. Never mind if men do say you are too enthusiastic, or even too fanatical.

Give them red-hot shot. There is nothing else half as good for the purpose you have in view.

We do not go out snow-balling on Sundays, we go fire-balling. We ought to hurl grenades into the enemy’s ranks.

What earnestness our theme deserves! We have to tell of an earnest Saviour, an earnest heaven, and an earnest hell.

How earnest we ought to be when we remember that in our work we have to deal with souls that are immortal, with sin that is eternal in its effects, with pardon that is infinite, and with terrors and joys that are to last forever and ever!

A man who is not earnest when he has such a theme as this– can he possess a heart at all? Could one be discovered even with a microscope?

If he were dissected, probably all that could be found would be a pebble, a heart of stone, or some other substance equally incapable of emotion.

I trust that, when God gave us hearts of flesh for ourselves, He gave us hearts that could feel for other people also.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1963), 76.

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“Our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion for the glory of God and the good of men” by Charles Spurgeon

“We ought to be all alive, and always alive. A pillar of light and fire should be the preacher’s fit emblem.

Our ministry must be emphatic, or it will never effect these thoughtless times.

And to this end our hearts must be habitually fervent, and our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion for the glory of God and the good of men.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 379.

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“The zeal of Wilberforce” by Charles Spurgeon

“Brethren, we become zealous when we hear the cries and tears of the oppressed.

I think I see a senator standing on the floor of the House of Commons, pleading, in years gone by, the cause of Africa’s down-trodden sons.

I do not wonder at the zeal of Wilberforce, or the marvelous eloquence of Fox. What a cause they had!

They could hear the clanging of the fetters of the slaves, the sighs of prisoners, the shrieks of women, and this made them speak, for they burned with an indignation which carried them away.

Pity pulled up the sluices of their speech, and their souls ran out in mighty torrents of overwhelming eloquence.

Now, think, the Lord this day hears the sighs of the oppressed all over the world. He hears the sighs of the sorrowful.

And beyond that there comes up the daily cries of His elect, who day and night beseech His throne.

Oh! That we were more clamorous! Oh! That we were more intensely importunate! Oh! That we gave Him no rest until He would establish and make Jerusalem a praise on the earth.

For, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘And shall not God avenge His own elect? Though they cry night and day unto Him, I tell you He will avenge them speedily.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Zeal of the Lord,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 60 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1914), 60: 545.

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“True zeal for Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“True zeal will show itself in the abundance of a man’s labours and gifts. Zeal labours for Christ. My brethren, if you want a picture of zeal, take the Apostle Paul.

How he compasses sea and land! Storms cannot stay him, mountains cannot impede his progress. He is beaten with rods, he is stoned, he is cast into prison, but the invincible hero of the cross presses on in the holy war, until he is taken up to receive a crown of glory.

We do little or nothing, the most of us; we fritter away our time. O that we could live while we live; but our existence—that is all we can call it—our existence, what a poor thing it is!

We run like shallow streams: we have not force enough to turn the mill of industry, and have not depth enough to bear the vessel of progress, and have not flood enough to cheer the meads of poverty.

We are dry too often in the summer’s drought, and we are frozen in the winter’s cold. O that we might become broad and deep like the mighty stream that bears a navy and gladdens a nation.

O that we may become inexhaustible and permanent rivers of usefulness, through the abundant springs from whence our supply cometh, even the Spirit of the living God.

The Christian zealot may be known by the anguish which his soul feels when his labours for Christ are not successful—the tears that channel his cheeks when sinners are not saved.

Do not tell me of zeal that only moves the tongue, or the foot, or the hand; we must have a zeal which moves the whole heart.

We cannot advance so far as the Saviour’s bloody sweat, but to something like it the Christian ought to attain when he sees the tremendous clouds of sin and the tempest of God’s gathering wrath.

How can I see souls damned, without emotion? How can I hear Christ’s name blasphemed, without a shudder? How can I think of the multitudes who prefer ruin to salvation, without a pang?

Believe me, brethren and sisters, if you never have sleepless hours, if you never have weeping eyes, if your hearts never swell as if they would burst, you need not anticipate that you will be called zealous.

You do not know the beginning of true zeal, for the foundation of Christian zeal lies in the heart. The heart must be heavy with grief and yet must beat high with holy ardour.

The heart must be vehement in desire, panting continually for God’s glory, or else we shall never attain to anything like the zeal which God would have us know.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Zealots” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 11 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1865), 392–393. Spurgeon preached this sermon from Luke 6:15 on July 16, 1865.

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“A zealous man burns for one thing” by J.C. Ryle

“Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature,—which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted,—but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called ‘zealous’ men.

This desire is so strong, when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice,—to go through any trouble,—to deny himself to any amount,—to suffer, to work, to labour, to toil,—to spend himself and be spent, and even to die,—if only he can please God and honour Christ.

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God.

Whether he lives, or whether he dies,—whether he has health, or whether he has sickness,—whether he is rich, or whether he is poor,—whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence,—whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish,—whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise,—whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame,—for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all.

He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.

If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it,—he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray.

Yes: if he is only a pauper, on a perpetual bed of sickness, he will make the wheels of sin around him drive heavily, by continually interceding against it. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. (Exod. 17:9–13.) If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of ‘zeal’ in religion.”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (London: Charles Murray, 1900), 184-185.

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“A man of one thing” by J. C. Ryle

“I want to strike a blow at the lazy, easy, sleepy Christianity of these latter days, which can see no beauty in zeal, and only uses the word ‘zealot’ as a word of reproach…. Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way.

It is a desire which no man feels by nature,—which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted,—but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called ‘zealous’ men.

This desire is so strong, when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice,—to go through any trouble,—to deny himself to any amount,—to suffer, to work, to labour, to toil,—to spend himself and be spent, and even to die,—if only he can please God and honour Christ.

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God.

Whether he lives, or whether he dies,—whether he has health, or whether he has sickness,—whether he is rich, or whether he is poor,—whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence,—whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish,—whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise,—whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame,—for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all.

He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it,—he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him.

Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray. Yes: if he is only a pauper, on a perpetual bed of sickness, he will make the wheels of sin around him drive heavily, by continually interceding against it.

If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. (Exod. 17:9–13.) If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of ‘zeal’ in religion.”

–J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (London: Charles Murray, 1900), 183-85.

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