This semester I am taking a Christian Missions class. The instructor for this class is Dr. Greenham. He is from South Africa and seems to be absolutely infatuated with the Gospel. As you sit in his class, you begin to realize the great zeal he has for the glory of God and for the exaltation of the name of Jesus. This, in turn, also makes him yearn for the salvation of people because the salvation of people glorifies God and exalts Jesus!
I have not posted on this blog since last week, but it has been for certain reasons. My wife and I had some friends come out for a few nights. When I say friends, I mean we had seven people fit into a 575 square foot apartment for three days and four nights. That was quite interesting. After they all left I began attending my first classes at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This has kept me busy as well.
I introduced you all to Isaac Watts, the famous hymn singer, last week. This week I want to tell you a little more about Isaac.
Isaac Watts began writing hymns in a day and time when all that was really sung in English churches were the Psalms of David. This does not seem like a big deal, but in reality this was a much bigger deal than changing the carpet color in a modern day church sanctuary. This was radical! Nonetheless, Isaac Watts had a conviction that the Scriptures commanded the singing of hymns so he began writing them and the church began singing them when Isaac was at the age of nineteen years old.
The church loved the hymns that were being written and wanted Isaac to write a new one every week. By Isaac’s early twenties he had written most of the six hundred plus hymn’s that he would write in his life. Almost all of these are timeless and have and will be sung for many years to come. Among the most famous Isaac Watts’ hymns is “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. This hymn shows the passion and zeal that Watts had for Christ. Worship while you read this.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, That I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood,
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Inspired by Isaac
I am in no way Isaac Watts. I clearly stated this last week. I do, however, want to continue in writing some poems. This is what Isaac Watts was doing when he was seven and it is what I am aiming to do at the age of twenty three.
The name of Christ is so sweet
Just to ponder it will bless thee
Lamb of God for sin was slain
Honor and praise are due His name
Up, He came forth, from the dead
Over the church, He is the Head.
Meditate upon the work of Christ today. He is altogether glorious and He reigns forever more.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
A Word of Wisdom From an Old Saint
I have recently finished reading “The Radical Disciple” by John Stott. The material within the main chapters of the book were beneficial, but it was what Stott wrote in the postscript that resonated with me the most because it is often on my mind these days. John Stott writes:
“For there is something unique about books. Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author’s feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace.”
How beautiful is this? John Stott was 88 years old when he wrote this to his readers. John Stott has since gone on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, but since he labored to write to the glory of God for the benefit of his readers he is still instructing us to do that which will strengthen our faith mightily. This reminds me of Charles Spurgeon when he said, “As long as there is breath in our bodies, let us serve Christ; as long as we can think, as long as we can speak, as long as we can work, let us serve Him, let us even serve Him with our last gasp; and, if it be possible, let us try to set some work going that will glorify Him when we are dead and gone. Let us scatter some seed that may spring up when we are sleeping beneath the hillock in the cemetery.” It is hard to bear fruit when you are dead unless you have written about Christ and people are reading about Christ. This is what Stott has done.
Stott speaks of books in a way that may seem odd to many of us. He speaks of having a living and affectionate relationship with them. He says that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection. This is not strange though, not to a reader. Stott realized that books were a gift given by God to his people in order to strengthen their faith. That is what a “means of grace” is. So Stott viewed books as a means of grace therefore he cherished, loved, adored, and handled them as such. He knew that reading a good book helped conform him into the image of Jesus Christ.
I have seen this in my own life. I was not a guy that enjoyed reading five years ago. I was a baseball player that wanted to keep my GPA high enough to play baseball. This all changed when God delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). I began reading the Scriptures and searching them to find out more about this Almighty God that seeks His own glory in the salvation of wretched sinners so that He might display the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). As I read, I began coming across passages of Scripture that I could not understand or that I thought I understood only to come to find out that I did not have the correct context of the Scripture so I also had an incorrect view of the Scripture. Then I realized that God gave His people teachers in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful scheme” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Then I realized that a lot of these teachers wrote books. I realized that these books, when read in prayer with discernment, helped me to look more like Jesus. They fed my soul the truth of God’s Word. They were a means of grace to me. Ever since I discovered this I have fell in love with reading. I can read what John Stott wrote about almost having a living and affectionate relationship with books and not think that it is strange. Praise be to God for changing the desires of my heart from such menial things (cable, television, gaming, social media, etc.) and placing within me a desire to read.
What About You?
So, with all of that being said, I now want to ask you a few questions. How do you view books? How do you view reading? These two questions do not seem important but in reality they are. Reading is a means of grace given by God in order to strengthen the faith of His people. Do you see it as such?
Kahlie and I departed this past Friday to make the long drive to North Carolina where we moved into our dorm at SEBTS. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and the weather was perfect. The beauty did not stop when we arrived because the seminary is breathtaking as well.
In All Seriousness
Here is a question and answer from Justin Taylor to David Dorsey on a essay he had written titled What was the purpose and design of the Law Of Moses?
R.C. Sproul lays out 7 Truths We Have Forgotten and, in my opinion, he is spot on.
Here is a Short Documentary on Louis Zamperini which I am sure is highly entertaining and informative on one of the most remarkable men of our time.
In this blog, Nathan Schneider list out his five favorite reads of 2014. Go add some of these books to your 2015 reading list.
Quote of the Day
“Why believe the devil instead of believing God? Rise up and realize the truth about yourself – that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ, and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. O let us remember that it is sin to doubt God’s Word. It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.”
Martyn Lloyd Jones
Preaching & Preachers by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones
“The blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The doctrines which we preach to you are doctrines that have been baptized in blood.”