Horatius Bonar: I am what I am because of…what?

17 01 2012

The following is a hymn written by Horatius Bonar, the 19th century Scottish Puritan.  I like the hymn because it so succinctly, poetically, and properly attributes to God what belongs to God and to me what belongs to me.  A good meditation for some “closet time” (Matt 6.6).  

A Spiritual Song based on 1 Cor XV.10

All that I was, my sin, my guilt,

My death, was all my own:

All that I am I owe to Thee,

My gracious God alone.

 

The evil of my former state

Was mine, and only mine;

The good in which I now rejoice

Is Thine, and only Thine

 

The darkness of my former state,

The bondage,- all was mine;

The light of life in which I walk,

The liberty is Thine,

 

The grace first made me feel my sin,

And taught me to believe;

Then, in believing, peace I found,

And now I live, I live.

 

All that I am, e’en here on earth,

All that I hope to be,

When Jesus comes and glory dawns,

I owe it, Lord, to Thee

 





J.C. Ryle on the importance of song in the Christian’s life

17 01 2012

The following is taken from the Preface of J.C. Ryle’s little known Hymns for the Church on Earth, a collection of some 300 hymns selected by Ryle for their potential for spiritual edification.  In Ryle’s words he hopes this collection of hymns “shall do good to the weakest lamb in Christ’s flock.”  I have linked through to the book at the bottom so that you could enjoy Ryle’s selection, which is largely meant for private edification rather than public worship.

Of the value of the hymns, it is needless to say anything.  The children of the world may regard psalm-singing, or hymn-writing, with indifference, or ill-disguised contempt.  But the true-hearted servants of that Saviour, who “sung a hymn” before He went out to the Mount of Olives, have ever loved, in every age, to “teach and admonish one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.”  (Coloss. iii. 19).  The Bible, on which they love to feed daily, abounds in hymns of praise.  The heaven, which they hope to inhabit one day, will be the abode of eternal praise.  A thankful, hymn-singing spirit has always marked the days of a Church’s spiritual property.  It is a pleasant thought, that, however much Christians may disagree in pulpits, on platforms, and in prose writing, they are generally of one heart, and one mind, in praise and power.

Click here to access Ryle’s book





In Praise of the Savior’s Grace: And can it be!

12 01 2012

This song ran across my playlist this morning while doing some sermon prep and I just had to share it.  The video below has a wonderful quote from John Newton before a brief introduction to this famous Wesley hymn.  I’ve posted the lyrics in full directly below the hymn.  It would do your soul well to meditate upon the words.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.





John Calvin: A comfort to wandering Christians

11 01 2012

Commenting on John 1.43-51 Calvin writes:

“We ought also to gather from this passage a useful doctrine, that when we are not thinking of Christ, we are observed by him; and it is necessary that it should be so, so that he may bring us back, when we have wandered from the right path.”

John Calvin, Commentary on John’s Gospel





John Starke on Defending the Faith to the Mind AND the Heart

11 01 2012

A fine little article from the Gospel Coalition

Christians know that the satisfaction of the gospel surpasses the relief of a consistent syllogism, yet many fail to preach like it. Those who have been transferred from darkness to light are not only guided by reason, but also by “taste.” Their “eyes of the heart” have been given a sense of the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Yet not enough preachers aim at the sniffer to give them the aroma of life.

In the Upper West Side of Manhattan, our church is surrounded by “Bobos” (David Brooks’s famous coinage for the bourgeoisie and bohemians) who are bursting with spiritual aspirations and longing for transcendence. As Brooks says, “They don’t want to forsake pleasures that seem harmless just because some religious authority says so, but they do want to bring out the spiritual implications of everyday life.” Struggles arise inside them between “autonomy and submission, materialism and spirituality.” But—surprise—you don’t only find these folks in New York City. You can find them wherever Trader Joe’s has set up shop.

Giving the same old “evidence that demands a verdict” doesn’t quite cut to the heart when preaching to these skeptics. This isn’t a new observation. Tim Keller and others have long advocated for worldview apologetics—something you can find in The Reason for GodBut can our preaching to skeptics also appeal to their senses—a kind of “sense of the heart” apologetics? It can—indeed, it must. Skeptics who show up in church today are not so much looking for preachers to make sense of the brute facts of life but of their desires and hopes. If you dismiss their questions as juvenile angst, then they will likely feel dismissed and, in turn, will dismiss you.

We shouldn’t feel like we need to invent the wheel, though. This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon—pastors and apologists have recognized this need for centuries. Jonathan Edwards in his preaching and C. S. Lewis in his writing both effectively employed “sense of the heart” apologetics.

read the whole thing here