George Herbert: “The Agony”

28 03 2013

Much to dwell on, particularly this time of year.  The final paragraph is a fine thing to keep in head and heart come Thursday evening.

Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of the seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heav’n, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach, then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.





Douglas Moo: Confessing Christ in our day

20 12 2011

There is much of interest in this tiny excerpt from Douglas Moo’s masterful commentary of Romans (prob the finest out there at the moment).  However, I would draw your attention to Moo’s point about theology and confessing Christ.  To put it briefly, correct theology is essential to confessing Christ in our day (as it is in any age).  If a young Christian were to ask me what he could do for Christ then I would give him a very surprising answer.  Go  read a book.  Go read a book about Christ for Christ.  Equip yourself to proclaim the Gospel with depth rather than a catch phrase.  Equip yourself to see through the unacknowledged presuppositions of culture.  Equip yourself with 2000 years of faithful reflection on the riches of God.  Go read a book for Christ. 

Confessing the gospel in our own day requires that we subscribe to Paul’s exalted view of Jesus; it is failure to do so that spawns many heresies.  But Paul’s attention, as we have also seen, is especially on the activity of this Jesus:  his coming to earth as the Messiah; his exaltation through resurrection to Lord of all; his dispensing power as the Son of God.  It is what Jesus has done, not just who he is, that makes the gospel the “good news” that it is.  But make no mistake: what Jesus has done cannot be severed from who he is.  Ours is an age not too much interested in theology; but correct theology- in this case, the person of Jesus- is vital to salvation and to Christian living.

Douglas Moo The Epistle to the Romans (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids 1996 pg 55)





Spurgeon: the suffering of Christ and the honor of God

20 12 2011

“And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not. ” – Mark 15:23

A golden truth is couched in the fact that the Saviour put the myrrhed wine-cup from His lips. On the heights of heaven the Son of God stood of old, and as He looked down upon our globe He measured the long descent to the utmost depths of human misery; He cast up the total of all the agonies which expiation would require, and abated not a jot. He solemnly determined that to offer a sufficient atoning sacrifice He must go the whole way, from the highest to the lowest, from the throne of highest glory to the cross of deepest woe. This myrrhed cup, with its soporific influence, would have stayed Him within a little of the utmost limit of misery, therefore He refused it. He would not stop short of all He had undertaken to suffer for His people. Ah, how many of us have pined after reliefs to our grief which would have been injurious to us! Reader, did you never pray for a discharge from hard service or suffering with a petulant and wilful eagerness? Providence has taken from you the desire of your eyes with a stroke. Say, Christian, if it had been said, “If you so desire it, that loved one of yours shall live, but God will be dishonoured,” could you have put away the temptation, and said, “Thy will be done”? Oh, it is sweet to be able to say, “My Lord, if for other reasons I need not suffer, yet if I can honour Thee more by suffering, and if the loss of my earthly all will bring Thee glory, then so let it be. I refuse the comfort, if it comes in the way of Thine honour.” O that we thus walked more in the footsteps of our Lord, cheerfully enduring trial for His sake, promptly and willingly putting away the thought of self and comfort when it would interfere with our finishing the work which He has given us to do. Great grace is needed, but great grace is provided.

Spurgeon’s Devotional Aug 18th p.m.





Spurgeon: The Power of the Cross of Christ

20 12 2011

“The crucified Christ has irresistible attractions. When He stoops into the utmost suffering and scorn, even the brutal must relent. A living Savior men may love, but a crucified Savior they must love. If they perceive that He loved them and gave Himself for them, their hearts are stolen away. The city of Mansoul is captured before the siege begins, when the Prince Emmanuel uncovers the beauties of His dying love before the eyes of rebellious ones.”

– Charles Spurgeon, The Power of the Cross of Christ (Lynwood, WA: Emerald Books, 1995), 15.





Spurgeon: The Day of Atonement

19 12 2011

Thus have I led you to consider the person who made the atonement: let us now consider for a moment or two THE MEANS WHEREBY THIS ATONEMENT WAS MADE. You read at the 5th verse, “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.” And at the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses, “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” The first goat I considered to be the great type of Jesus Christ the atonement: such I do not consider the scapegoat to be. The first is a type of the means whereby the atonement was made, and we shall keep to that first.

Notice that this goat, of course, answered all the pre-requisites of every other thing that was sacrificed; it must be a perfect, unblemished goat of the first year. Even so was our Lord a perfect man, in the prime and vigour of his manhood. And further, this goat was an eminent type of Christ from the fact that it was taken of the congregation of the children of Israel, as we are told at the 5th verse. The public treasury furnished the goat. So, beloved, Jesus Christ was, first of all, purchased by the public treasury of the Jewish people before he died. Thirty pieces of silver they had valued him at, a goodly price; and as they had been accustomed to bring the goat, so they brought him to be offered: not, indeed, with the intention that he should be their sacrifice, but unwittingly they fulfilled this when they brought him to Pilate, and cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Oh, beloved! Indeed, Jesus Christ came out from the midst of the people, and the people brought him. Strange that it should be so! “He came unto his own, and his own received him not;” his own led him forth to slaughter; his own dragged him before the mercy seat.
Note, again, that though this goat, like the scapegoat, was brought by the people, God’s decision was in it still. Mark, it is said, “Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” I conceive this mention of lots is to teach that although the Jews brought Jesus Christ of their own will to die, yet, Christ had been appointed to die; and even the very man who sold him was appointed to it—so saith the Scripture. Christ’s death was fore-ordained, and there was not only man’s hand in it, but God’s. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” So it is true that man put Christ to death, but it was of the Lord’s disposal that Jesus Christ was slaughtered, “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.”
Next, behold the goat that destiny has marked out to make the atonement. Come and see it die. The priest stabs it. Mark it in its agonies; behold it struggling for a moment; observe the blood as it gushes forth. Christians, ye have here your Saviour. See his Father’s vengeful sword sheathed in his heart; behold his death agonies; see the clammy sweat upon his brow; mark his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth; hear his sighs and groans upon the cross; hark to his shriek, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” and you have more now to think of than you could have if you only stood to see the death of a goat for your atonement. Mark the blood as from his wounded hands it flows, and from his feet it finds a channel to the earth; from his open side in one great river see it gush. As the blood of the goat made the atonement typically, so, Christian, thy Saviour dying for thee, made the great atonement for thy sins, and thou mayest go free.

read the whole thing here





Martin Luther: Through His Suffering, All of Creation is Radically Altered

19 12 2011

By virtue of the person, this suffering is extremely, indescribably great. For one drop of Christ’s blood is incomparably greater than heaven and earth. There is a great difference between the killing of a king and the killing of a peasant. The greatness of the person makes the wrong committed against him all the greater. But we shall skip this now, and only state that his suffering must be highly esteemed because of its fruit and benefit, namely that through this suffering all creation is radically altered and all things made new, heaven too. This is what the words spoken on the cross make plain, words which every Christian should know by heart.

The first word Jesus spoke on the cross was his prayer for his crucifiers, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” These words are indeed brief but very comforting. The Lord may have spoken other words, but only these are recorded and they are written for our consolation.

Now as our dear Lord Jesus Christ is lifted into the air to hang on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, with nothing any longer on earth to call his own, he is exercising his true, real, priestly office, accomplishing the work he came on earth to do, not only with his suffering, by offering up himself, but also by his intercessions. For both constitute a priest’s work, to sacrifice and to intercede.

The purpose of his suffering and priestly offering is, as he himself states in the Gospel (John 17.19): “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth.” And John 10: 15: “I lay down my life for my sheep.” There is it stated that his suffering is a suffering for us, not for himself personally. Plainly he affirms in those words that he is a faithful shepherd, priest, and bishop of our souls, who accomplishes his priestly work so that the entire world may become new.

But when he offers himself thus for us, what garment or priestly gard does this priest, Jesus Christ, wear and what is his altar? His adornment is not a gold or silk cloak, decked with pearls or jewels, like the pope’s bishops adorn themselves, nor like the Old Testament high priest who had his special priestly resplendent robes. Instead he hangs on the cross bare and naked, covered with wounds, and has, so to speak, not a thread on his body. Instead of a purple robe he is red with blood, his body covered with wounds and welts, badly swollen. Instead of a priestly headdress he wears a bloodied crown of thorns.

Martin Luther, Fourth Sermon of Holy Week, preached at the parish church on Good Friday, April 2, 1534 taken from Luther’s Church Postil, vol V pg 420.





A Prayer by Thomas A’ Kempis

19 12 2011

“Lord Jesus Christ, Author of our salvation and most gracious Dispenser of pardon, and most patient in tolerating man’s wickedness, I bless and thank

you for the great pain, the many stripes, and the bloody wounds inflicted on your tender and noble body. From the soles of your feet to the crown of your head there was no area without its injury or lesion- either swellings or smarting wounds- with warm red blood flowing over your body.

“I praise and glorify you with the greatest reverence of which I am capable and with full interior humility, for the abundant shedding of your precious blood from your five sacred wounds as well as the other wounds, both great and small. In bleeding they give forth the most effective medicine for our sins, more precious than balm.

“Most gentle Jesus, you were so mistreated and manhandled by cruel men that you had no bodily strength left in you. Your veins were opened wide- not even the last drop of blood remained in you, and whatever of that sacred fluid has been in you in life has now in death been poured out for soul’s benefit as the price of our salvation.

“O five precious wounds, supreme signs of incomparable love, abounding with divine sweetness, it is from you that the sinner learns abiding trust- otherwise his guilty conscience would cause him to despair. In these wounds we find the medicine for life, abundant grace, full forgiveness, unstinting mercy, and the gateway to promised glory. Whatever defilement I incur or whatever sins of the flesh I commit, it is in these five fountains that I wash myself clean, am purified, and again made new.

“I praise and honor you, christ, only beloved Spouse of the Holy Church, for your uncommon charity, by which you chose, through this covenant in your blood, to redeem my soul from the effects of Adam’s transgression, to cleanse it of all sin, to enrich and adorn it with the merits of your holiness. Sanctified by your grace, may I be found worthy of being united to you and later of being blessed in your glorious kingdom of light.

Thomas A’ Kempis On the Passion of Christ: according to the four evangelists (Ignatius Press: San Francisco 2004) pg 79-80