Archive for June 2004
Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987.
These are a series of lectures Lloyd-Jones delivered at the Puritan Studies and Westminster Conferences. This was my first encounter with Lloyd-Jones, and I enjoyed it very much.
The burdens of Lloyd-Jones that stand out in my memory are:
- The stark difference between revival and revivalism, and a need to appeal to God to bring true revival.
- The need to avoid dead academic intellectualism in our study of the Puritans and our pursuit of God.
- The importance of full-bodied faith as opposed to mere intellectual assent to propositions.
- The role of the Holy Spirit in empowering, encouraging, and assuring believers, and the need to earnestly desire that.
- The need to break down barriers between Christians that are over unimportant matters (while upholding and defending those matters that are of vital importance).
- The need for continued fresh analysis and application of God’s word, rather than unthinking adherence to tradition and habit.
- The importance of ”application” in preaching.
The devil has driven the pendulum far beyond its proper point of rest; and when he has carried it to the utmost length that he can, and it begins by its own weight to swing back, he probably will set in, and drive it with the utmost fury the other way; and so give us no rest; and if possible prevent our settling in a proper medium. What a poor, blind, weak and miserable creature is man, at his best estate! We are like poor helpless sheep; the devil is too subtle for us. What is our strength! What is our wisdom! How ready are we to go astray! How easily are we drawn aside into innumerable snares, while in the mean time we are bold and confident, and doubt not but we are right and safe! We are foolish sheep in the midst of subtle serpents and cruel wolves, and do not know it. Oh how unfit are we to be left to ourselves! And how much do we stand in need of the wisdom, the power, the condescension, patience, forgiveness, and gentleness of our good Shepherd!
— Jonathan Edwards, as quoted in Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, p.246
Discussion questions on Hosea. This material owes much to Phil Sasser, Mark Dever, and John Piper.
- Hosea and Gomer as a type for God and Israel. Israel’s odious sin, God’s judgment, and God’s loving restoration.
- God’s restraining love shown in pleading for Israel’s repentance, and prophesying and bringing judgment.
- God’s redeeming love shown in his promise to buy Israel back for himself.
- God’s restoring love shown in his promise to bring healing to Israel.
- Phil talked about how the imagery of adultery reminds us how shocking sin is. Does this come as a surprise? Do you easily forget how personally our sins are taken by God?
- Phil. 3:13-14 cautions us to “[forget] what lies behind”. When we contemplate our sin we should not let ourselves become burdened by condemnation; Romans 8:1 comforts the Christian that there is no condemnation thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice.
At the same time, Eph. 2:11-13 calls us to “remember that [we] were separate from Christ” so that we may rejoice at having been brought near. And Paul recalls that he is “the worst of sinners” for the purpose of exulting in the grace and mercy he found in Christ (1 Tim. 1:12-17); he is moved by this consideration to proclaim that “to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
- What good can we gain from considering our sin?
- A right notion of our humble position before God, “evangelical humiliation.”
- A right notion of our position relative to others (we have no advantage or merit, and cause only for compassion and not pride).
- A better understanding of the greatness of God’s love and mercy to us.
- What should a right understanding of the weight of our sin provoke in us?
- Contrition and repentance.
- Dever reminds us that Christians must be always confessing sin and repenting of it. Not that God’s mercy is unsure — but our hearts are wandering and need continuous examining.
- Phil reminds us to bring words of repentance, as in Hos. 14:2-3. Do you urgently confess to God your need for his mercy?
- Gratitude and joy.
- Are there any practical ways that you find helpful in cultivating a heart of humility and contrition before God?
God’s mercy and holy love
- God’s holy displeasure with sin is on display in Hosea, but so is his great redeeming love. What great hope and comfort can we take from Hosea?
- God’s love is jealous and holy; he desires to restrain his people from sin.
- We stand in the shadow of the cross; we have received this great promised redemption.
- What of the “healing” promised in 14:4? Sanctification; God has delivered us from bondage to sin! Phil reminded us that sin is no longer our master.
- We have no hope apart from God. But he is a sure hope.
- What should an understanding of God’s great mercy and love provoke in us?
- Phil reminded us that our love and devotion toward God must be pure and not mixed or half-hearted.
- The great price at which we were bought (1 Peter 1:17-19) should inspire much gratefulness and affection.
- We ought to be provoked to a similar self-giving love (1 John 4:10).
Possibly close with a quotation from Charles Simeon biography, on humility and enjoyment of God’s glory and love. Simeon says:
With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually.
the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.
For the Christian, contemplation of our sin brings not condemnation but tearful joy at the greatness of the mercy shown to us, and the awesome greatness of the holy giver of mercy!