Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A Great Big Compilation of Charles Spurgeon Quotes

I’ve been reading a fair amount of Spurgeon’s sermons lately, and recording them for a new YouTube channel, Historic Homilies. If you would like to listen to audio readings of Spurgeon sermons, check out the channel!

Anyway, as I’m reading the sermons, I’m always highlighting stuff that I like, or even things that simply strike me as mildly interesting. This will be a place for me to compile all of those snippets, in no particular order. It will be an ever-growing list.

Sermon: Prayer, The Cure For Care

  • “God has never yet failed to honor believing prayer. He may keep you waiting for a while, but delays are not denials, and He has often answered a prayer that asked for silver by giving gold.”

  • “If you were to worry as long as you wished, you could not make yourself an inch taller, or grow another hair on your head, or make one hair white or black. So the Savior tells us and He asks, if care fails in such little things, what can care do in the higher matters of providence? It cannot do anything.”

  • “You may pray about the smallest thing and about the greatest thing, you may not only pray for the Holy Spirit, but you may pray for a new pair of boots. . . . Say not that they are too little for Him to notice—everything is little in comparison with Him.”

  • “Do not imagine that God needs any fine language. . . . Pray for what you want just as if you were telling your mother or your dearest friend what your need is. Go to God in that fashion, for that is real prayer, and that is the kind of prayer that will drive away your care.”

Sermon: A Most Needful Prayer Concerning the Holy Spirit

  • “The Lord’s presence is our strength. God with us is our banner of victory. When He is not with us we are weaker than water, but in His might we are omnipotent.”

  • “The Holy Ghost is not to us a luxury, but a necessity. We must have the Spirit of God or we live not at all in a spiritual sense.”

  • “Souls are not saved by systems, but by the Spirit. Organizations without the Holy Ghost are windmills without wind. Methods and arrangements without grace are pipes from a dry conduit, lamps without oil. Even the most scriptural forms of church-government and effort, are null and void without the ‘power from on high.’”

Sermon: A Prayer For Revival

  • “A church cannot be revived unless God revives it. Not a soul is saved, not a saint is quickened and made to grow except by the work of God.”

  • “A child of God should rise above circumstances and rejoice in God. There is more in God to cheer you than in your circumstances to depress you.”

Sermon: God’s Thoughts of Peace, and Our Expected End

“No, beloved, His thoughts are not of evil. Though the Lord hates your sin, He does not hate you. Though He is the enemy of your follies, He is your own firm friend; yes, He is all the truer friend, because He fights against your faults.”

“I have never yet visited a member of this church who has expressed the least fear in their dying moments ... They pass away as if they were going to a wedding rather than to a tomb — as if it were the most joyful thing that ever happened to them to have reached their expected end. Doubts are all driven away when you see how believers die.”

“The Lord never forgets His own, for He has engraved them upon the palms of His hands. Never at any moment does Jehovah turn His thoughts from His beloved, even though He has the whole universe to rule. He says of His church, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.’”

“Welcome clouds, if showers of mercy are to come of them. God forbid we should always have sunshine, for that would mean drought. Let the clouds come if they bring a blessed rain.”

“Our troubles drive us to our knees. If it had not been for Esau, Jacob had never wrestled at Jabbok. I hope we usually go to our closets of our own accord, but often we are whipped there. Many of the most earnest prayers that ever rise to heaven come from us when we are in bondage under grief.”

“There are several subjects now upon the public mind, concerning which it is wise to say little or
nothing, because it is not easy to decide about them. Upon a certain matter one asks you this question,
and another asks you another question, and it is possible that you have so carefully weighed and measured the arguments both pro and con that you cannot come to a conclusion either way. Your thoughts differ from day to day, and therefore you do not yet know them. You need not be ashamed of this; it shows that you have a just sense of your own imperfect knowledge. A fool soon makes up his mind, because there is so very little of it, but a wise man waits and considers. The case is far otherwise with the only wise God. The Lord is not a man that He should need to hesitate, His infinite mind is made up, and He knows His thoughts. With the Lord there is neither question nor debate, ‘He is in one mind, and none can turn Him.’ His purpose is settled, and He adheres to it. He is resolved to reward them that diligently seek Him, and to honor those that trust in Him. He is resolved to remember His covenant forever, and to keep His promises to those who believe Him. His thought is that the people whom He has formed for Himself shall show forth His praise. The Lord knows them that are His; He knows whom He gave to His Son, and He knows that these shall be His jewels forever and ever. Beloved, when you do not know your own mind, God knows His mind.”

Sermon: God With Us

“Oh, man Christ, how could You bear the Deity within You! We know not how it was, but God knows. Let us adore this hiding of the Almighty in human weakness, this comprehending of the Incomprehensible, this revealing of the Invisible, this localization of the Omnipresent. Alas, I do but babble! What are words when we deal with such an unutterable truth?”

“Do not say, ‘We can do nothing.’ Who are you that can do nothing? God is with you. Do not say, ‘The church is feeble and fallen upon evil times’—no, ‘God is with us.’ We need the courage of those ancient soldiers who were desirous to regard difficulties only as whetstones upon which to sharpen their swords.”

“Whatever is possible or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us. Do you not see that the word, ‘God with us,’ puts impossibility out of all existence? Hearts that could never be broken will be broken if God is with us.”

Sermon: A Christmas Question

“As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God.”

“So there be many spiritual sleepwalkers in our midst, who think that they are awake. But they are somnambulists, not awake, but men who walk and talk in their sleep.”

“The proof of the Christian is in the living.”

“Man grows from childhood up to manhood naturally; in grace, men grow from manhood down to childhood, and the nearer we come to true childhood, the nearer we come to the image of Christ. For was not Christ called “a child,” even after He had ascended up to heaven? ‘Thy holy child Jesus.’”

“Suppose you should see in tomorrow’s newspaper (although, by the way, if you believed anything you saw there you would probably be mistaken) . . .”

“See the maidens as they dance, and the young men as they make merry. And why is this mirth? Because they are storing the precious fruits of the earth, they are gathering together unto their barns wheat which will soon be consumed. And what, brothers and sisters, have we the bread which endures to eternal life and are we unhappy? Does the worldling rejoice when his corn is increased, and do we not rejoice when, “Unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given’?”

“What matters your poverty? ‘Unto you a child is born.’ What matters your sickness? ‘Unto you a Son is given.’ What matters your sin? For this child shall take the sin away, and this Son shall wash and make you fit for heaven.”

“How is it that we give so little to Christ who gave Himself for us? How is it that we serve Him so sadly who served us so perfectly? He consecrated Himself wholly, how is it that our consecration is marred and partial? Why are we continually sacrificing to self and not to Him?”

Miscellaneous

“As I hurried forward, with an awful speed, I began to doubt my very existence; I doubted if there were a world, I doubted if there were such a thing as myself. . . . But here the devil foiled himself: for the very extravagance of the doubt, proved its absurdity.”

“You are not Bible readers. You say you have the Bible in your houses; do I think you are such heathens as not to have a Bible? But when did you read it last? How do you know that your spectacles, which you have lost, have not been there for the last three years?”

“When a promise is general, you may take it in its widest possible meaning. Particulars restrain and restrict, but where there are no particulars, then you have unlimited range. ‘I will give you rest’—rest about everything, rest at all times, rest in every part of your nature.”

“Some have fallen into such a condition that they believe nothing, unless, indeed, it should not happen to be in the Bible—and then they will believe it. But if it is in God’s Word, then, of course, they feel it necessary to doubt it.”

“I believe that living in communion with God is the only sure cure for doubt.”

“But remember that the Christ, who invites the erring sinner before conversion, invites the erring believer after conversion.”

“This is the kind of rest that the Lord Jesus Christ gives—rest of the deepest, truest kind—rest which the world cannot give and which the world cannot possibly take away.”

“Now look here, beloved—there is none too much joy in the world. Do not you go about killing any whenever you see it. Rather try to encourage it, and if you see a young Christian happy in believing, and you do not happen to be as cheerful as he is, do not try and take his joy from him. . . . Warn the young believer of all the sin against which he should be on his guard, but do not hold up before him a gloomy view of the Christian life.”

“A hundred years ago, a man went to the Lord Jesus with this promise, ‘I will give you rest,’ and the Lord Jesus gave him rest. Fifty years ago, another man went with this promise, and he said ‘Lord, there it is! You said, “I will give you rest,”’ and the Lord gave him rest. Now tonight take that promise to yourselves; it is just as good as if it had never been fulfilled. I give my neighbor a check; he goes with it to the bank, and gets the cash for it. Now suppose the banker returns that check to me, and I go with it to the bank, and try to cash it again. ‘No,’ they say, ‘we have cashed that check once, and that is done with.’ But you may take God’s check, and go to the Bank of Heaven every day, and every hour in the day, and the check is just as good as if it had never been cashed before. ‘I will give you rest.’ You tried that when you were twenty-one; try it now that you are seventy. When you were forty, in the day of your trouble, you said, ‘Lord, give me rest;’ now that you are eighty, the promise still stands just as good as ever. God’s promises are not like a bundle of old checks that are done with, and sent back to the drawer—they are ever fresh and ever new.”

“Oh, the perfect repose, the unutterable bliss, that will be yours and mine before long. I say, ‘before long,’ for in this great congregation I do not doubt that there are several brothers and sisters who will see the King in His beauty before many weeks are gone. I could wish that it were my lot to go first among you, but if it may not be, will, you shall go on a little ahead, my brothers and my sisters, and we will follow in our turn.”

“I must, however, just remind you that, when Jesus says, ‘I will give you rest,’ He does not mean that He will make you lazy. Lazy people cannot rest—they never know what rest means. There must be labor to give us rest.”

“And he who begins to learn the faith in one way, and then tries to learn it in another way, and then attempts to learn it in yet another way, is more likely to be a skeptic than to be a saint.”

“Whenever the salt is put on the table, let us see in it a lesson to us to season our conversation with thanks, of which salt we cannot use too much.”

“Beloved, our crusty tempers and sour faces will never be evangelists. They may become messengers of Satan, but they will never become helpers of the gospel.”

“We should say of the Lord, ‘Let Him do what seems good to Him, if He will give us health, we will thank Him, if He will send us sickness, we will thank Him. If He indulges us with prosperity or if He tries us with affliction, if the Holy Spirit will but enable us, we will never cease to praise the Lord as long as we live.’”

“To the fullest performance of this duty there must be a subordination of ourselves to the will of God. We must not desire to have our own way; we must be content to say, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ I cannot give thanks to God always for all things till my old self is put down. While self rules, the hungry horseleech is in the heart, and that is fatal to gratitude. Self and discontent are mother and child.”

“If a man is rich, and God has given him a thankful spirit, he cannot be too rich. If he will give thanks to God, he may be worth millions, and they will never hurt him. On the other hand, if a man has learned to give thanks to God, and he becomes poor, he cannot be too poor; he will be able to bear up under the severest poverty. The rich man should learn to find God in all things; the poor man should learn to find all things in God.”

“We ought also to thank God for the mercies which we do not see, as well as for those which are evident. We receive, perhaps, ten times as many mercies which escape our notice as those which we observe—mercies which fly by night on soft wings and bless us while we sleep.”

“It is not in the power of the enemy to injure the men of God when once self is dethroned, and the heart has learned to be resigned to the will of God. O, you are great, you are strong, you are rich, and you are mighty when you have bowed yourselves to the will of the Most High! Stoop that you may conquer! Bow that you may triumph! Yield that you may get the mastery. It is when we are nothing that we are everything—when we are weak that we are strong, it is when we have utterly become annihilated as to self, and God is all in all, it is then that we are filled with all the fullness of God. May the Holy Spirit conduct us into this spirit of perpetual thankfulness.”

“To have the feet taken out of the miry clay, and to feel them set on the rock of ages is a subject for eternal gratitude. But you have not received one spiritual mercy only, beloved brethren—nor two, nor twenty—you have had them strewn along your path in richest profusion. The stars above are not more numerous nor are the sands beneath more innumerable. Every hour, yes, every moment has brought a favor upon its wings. Look downward and give thanks, for you are saved from hell. Look on the right hand and give thanks, for you are enriched with gracious gifts. Look on the left hand and give thanks, for you are shielded from deadly ills. Look above you and give thanks, for heaven awaits you.”

“Nor is it alone for great and eternal benefits, but even for minor and temporary benefits we ought to give thanks. There ought not to be brought into the house a loaf of bread without thanksgiving. Nor should we cast a coal upon the fire without gratitude. We eat like dogs if we sit down to our meals without devoutly blessing God. We live like serpents if we never rise to devout recognition of the Lord’s kindness. We ought not to put on our garments without adoring God, or take them off to rest in our beds without praising Him. Each breath of air should inspire us with thanks, and the blood in our veins should circulate gratitude throughout our system.”

“You have heard, perhaps, of a Puritan who met his son, each one of them traveling some 10 or 12 miles to meet the other. And the son said to his father, ‘Father, I am thankful to God for a very remarkable providence which I have had on my journey here. My horse has stumbled three times with me, and yet I am unhurt.’ The Puritan replied, ‘My dear Son, I have to thank God for an equally remarkable providence on my way to you. For my horse did not once stumble all the way.’ If we happen to be in an accident by railway, we feel so grateful that our limbs are not broken, but should we not be thankful when there is no accident? Is not that the better thing of the two? If you were to fall into poverty, and someone was to restore you to your former position in trade, you would be very grateful. Should you not be grateful that you have not fallen into poverty? Bless God for His unknown benefits. Extol Him for favors which you do not see, always giving thanks to God for all things.”




Friday, July 8, 2022

The Power of Suggestion

A few years ago, I came across the results of The State of Theology doctrinal survey, put out by Ligonier, which had apparently found that an alarming percentage of professing evangelicals actually believe Jesus was a created being. When I looked at the survey itself, I found that this statistic was based on a question that went like this: “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God. True or false?” A whopping 70% of participants either agreed with the statement or were unsure.

First off, it could very well be the case, and even seems pretty likely to me, that many evangelicals are fuzzy on their doctrine of Christ. I’m not disputing that. And the survey responses to this question in particular demonstrate that a lot of evangelicals don’t know what sort of errors to be on guard against.

Yet it also seems to me that the question is essentially a trick, or at least demonstrates the power of suggestion. The notion of Jesus being created sneaks in at the end of the sentence, making it feel secondary to what the question is primarily asking, and thus rendering it likely that many will overlook it and instead focus on Jesus being the “first and greatest being,” which of course sounds like something that should be affirmed.

It reminds me of the old joke I heard as a kid: “How many of each animal did Moses take on the ark?” Of course I confidently answered, “Two!” To which the other kid triumphantly declared, “It was Noah, not Moses!” This joke is effective at tricking people because the primary question being asked has to do with the number of animals taken on the ark. The person who took them on the ark is not being asked about, but assumed, which is what makes it easy to replace Noah with Moses without people realizing it.

Another example comes to mind. A teenager once asked me if Rome was still a country, by which I understood him to essentially be asking if Rome still existed today. So I answered yes. Someone else spoke up and said, “No, Rome’s a city!” Honest to goodness, I did know that Rome was a city and not a country. But the teen’s misidentification of Rome as a country simply fell out of my mind, as it wasn’t pertinent to the heart of his question as I understood it.

Similarly, in the theology survey’s true/false question, the primary concern of the question appears to be Jesus’s supremacy and greatness, not his status as a created or uncreated being. The notion of Jesus being created is assumed at the end of the sentence, and so people are naturally inclined to gloss over those last few words in the same way many gloss over Moses replacing Noah in the old joke.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Is the book of Jonah a literary masterpiece?

The ESV Study Bible states, “The book of Jonah is a literary masterpiece.” Is it really? Are we really culturally close enough, or linguistically steeped in Hebrew enough, to judge a book like Jonah as a literary masterpiece? What’s the basis for claims like this? By what standard can we judge an ancient Hebrew text to be a literary masterpiece? (The same questions could be asked of New Testament texts also—gospels, epistles, etc.)

My theory is that claims like these come from a starting point of revering the text as God’s word, which perhaps makes people feel compelled to laud the text from a literary standpoint as well. That’s just a theory—I don’t presume to know how people’s minds operate. And to be clear, I’m not trying to denigrate the text or make the counter-claim that Jonah’s actually bad literature. But would I be confident to say that it’s good literature? Not really. I’m happy to be agnostic on that. (In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure how to judge any literature as objectively good or bad, although I would at least feel significantly more comfortable doing so with literature of my own native tongue.)

Even though I’m not willing to say whether Jonah is good or bad literature, I would argue that neither assessment is inappropriate or problematic. I don’t mind saying, the book is exceedingly odd from a modern literary standpoint. Its pacing is unusual and it ends very abruptly, without any kind of conclusion one would expect by today’s standards. And this at least makes me less likely to think “literary masterpiece” when I read it. But again, who am I to say?

It seems possible to me that some bookish people put such a premium on literary quality that they couldn’t bring themselves to revere a text that was not “good” literature? But maybe there’s actually an important theological truth on display in the fact that the Bible may sometimes contain “bad” literature. The power of Scripture is not tied to literary eloquence or beauty. It’s the simple fact that it’s the word of the living God, even if it’s sometimes literarily warty from our perspective. Paul himself said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:1).

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Believer’s Baptism: A Short Explanation

If someone were to ask me why our church practices believer’s baptism instead of infant baptism, this is a short explanation I would give them.

1. There is no clear example in the Bible of anyone being baptized as an infant. The consistent pattern seen in the New Testament is the baptism of believers.

2. Beyond that, there are multiple statements in the New Testament which strongly imply that baptism should only be undergone by a believer in Christ. I’ll just talk about one of them here.

“Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21).

This is an intriguing verse in some ways, but one simple conclusion we can draw from it is that baptism pertains to salvation. Peter actually says “baptism saves you.” That’s obviously a pretty strong statement, and if we’re honest it probably makes a lot of us uncomfortable. As evangelical Christians, we’re far more likely to emphasize that baptism doesn’t save you, and yet here’s Peter apparently telling us that it does.

But I’m convinced Peter’s not against us here, and we’re not against him. He does say “baptism saves you,” but the way he follows up that statement is very important: “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.” So he immediately clarifies that he’s not speaking in reference to the watery baptismal act itself. That is not what saves you. Instead, he’s speaking in reference to the appeal that is made in baptism, which is an appeal for a “good conscience.”

I believe this is basically another way of expressing the act of calling on the name of the Lord: “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). A person’s conscience is burdened by the weight of sin, and thus they recognize their need for a Savior and ask God for forgiveness based on the work of Christ. That is the “appeal” for a good conscience that Peter speaks of, and it’s essential to what baptism is all about. Peter can say “baptism saves you” because he’s speaking of baptism as a representation of this appeal that someone is making to God.

So in summary, baptism closely pertains to salvation and also represents our appeal to God for a good conscience. I don’t believe anyone can reasonably expect an infant to experience a burdened conscience due to sin, much less to then make an appeal to God for forgiveness based on the work of Christ. And for those reasons, infant baptism would seem to be out of place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Devotion: Jesus Is Better (Hebrews 1:1-2)

The letter to the Hebrews has a very memorable introduction. The writer begins the letter in this way: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

So the writer is making a contrast the past with the present. He says at various times in the past, and in all different kinds of ways, God spoke to his people through the prophets. The first person to be called a prophet in the Bible was actually Abraham. God spoke to Abraham through visions, and even in the form of a physical person in one instance, which is pretty intriguing. Moses was also a prophet. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, and Moses in turn spoke on behalf of God to the Egyptians and to the Israelites.

Similar things could be said about Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and all of the minor prophets. This was God’s pattern in the Old Testament, to make his will known to his people through the mouths of prophets. And this is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in verse 1.

But then in verse 2, he makes a very important contrast. He says, “but in these last days, [God] has spoken to us by his Son.” This is being presented to us as something that far surpasses any kind of communication or revelation that God had given in the past. Because the writer is then quick to point out that God’s Son is the “heir of all things,” and it was through him that the world itself was created. As great as the prophets of old were, these are things that simply could never be said about them. God didn’t send us just another prophet; he sent his own Son.

And right here at the beginning of Hebrews, we’re seeing what is arguably the most important theme of the entire book, and it’s the simple truth that Jesus is better. He’s better than the Old Testament prophets. Later on in this same chapter, he’s better than the angels. In chapter 8, his New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. In chapter 9, his perfect atoning sacrifice is better than all animal sacrifice. Repeatedly throughout Hebrews, the writer is telling us that Jesus is better, and also warning us against putting our hope and our trust in anything else.

Hebrews was originally written to Jewish converts to Christianity. And their big temptation was to go back to the old religious rituals and ceremonies that were so familiar to them in the Old Covenant. That’s why they needed to hear the truth that Jesus is better. But the reality is, you and I need to hear this truth too. Our temptation may take a different form, but we’re all prone to look to other things besides Christ to give us peace or fulfillment or value, whether it be a relationship, or a career, or a social status. So we need to hear the truth that Jesus is better.

More than anything, we need a heart like the apostle Paul displayed, in Philippians chapter 3, where even in light of all of Paul’s achievements, he would still say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Sometimes we might be tempted to think that the time period of the Old Testament was when God was really moving. Because obviously, it’s in the Old Testament that we read about spectacular events like the flood, or the parting of the Red Sea, or Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. And if we’re honest we might even admit that sometimes we wish we had lived in those days. But the writer of Hebrews helps us to recognize that, as Christians, we actually live in a greater era of the history of redemption. When we consider the revelation that God has now given his people through the person and work of Jesus, alongside of the outpouring of his Holy Spirit who indwells us as believers, it should actually make us thrilled and thankful to live in this era of redemption.

Because Jesus is better.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Podcast: Musings Under the Sun 003 | Providence, Part 1: Introduction

Today on Musings Under the Sun, I begin a series of thoughts and reflections on John Piper’s new book Providence.

Links:

John Piper, Providence (free PDF of the book) - https://bit.ly/3sgZIH0

John Piper, “Boasting Only in the Cross” (sermon from Passion 2000) - https://youtu.be/XajXpH908Yg

Subscribe to the podcast via Apple, SpotifyGoogle, or YouTube.



Thursday, March 11, 2021

"The Bible Recap" Podcast Links | The Gospel of John

March 14th, John 1


March 15th-17th, John 2-4

March 18th, John 5

March 19th, John 6

March 20th-21st, John 7-8

March 22nd-23rd, John 9-10

March 24th, John 11

March 25th, John 12

March 26th, John 13

March 27th-30th, John 14-17

March 31st-April 1st, John 18-19

April 2nd-3rd, John 20-21

April 4th, Resurrection Day