Monthly Archives: August 2012
I saw this from David Murray and thought I would pass it on!
If you had the choice between private Bible reading and prayer, or going to church, which would you choose?
The Puritans would choose church.
Surprising isn’t it. We all know the Puritans’ welcome emphasis on private devotion and personal godliness. But they actually rated public worship even higher. For example, David Clarkson, colleague and successor to John Owen, preached a sermon on Psalm 87v2 entitled Public worship to be preferred before private, and gave 12 reasons why:
1. The Lord is more glorified by public worship than private. God is glorified by us when we acknowledge that He is glorious, and He is most glorified when this acknowledgement is most public.
2. There is more of the Lord’s presence in public worship than in private. He is present with his people in the use of public worship in a special way: more effectually, constantly, and intimately.
3. God manifests himself more clearly in public worship than in private. For example, in Revelation, Christ is manifested “in the midst of the churches.”
4. There is more spiritual advantage in the use of public worship. Whatever spiritual benefit is to be found in private duties, that, and much more may be expected from public worship when rightly used.
5. Public worship is more edifying than private. In private you provide for your own good, but in public you do good both to yourselves and others.
6. Public worship is a better security against apostasy than private. He who lacks or reject public worship, whatever private means he enjoy, is in danger of apostasy.
7. The Lord works his greatest works in public worship. Conversion, regeneration, etc., are usually accomplished through public means.
8. Public worship is the nearest resemblance of heaven. In the Bible’s depictions of heaven, there is nothing done in private, nothing in secret; all the worship of that glorious company is public.
9. The most renowned servants of God have preferred public worship before private. The Lord did not withdraw from public ordinances, though they were corrupt. Public worship was more precious to the apostles than their safety, liberty, and lives
10. Public worship is the best means for procuring the greatest mercies, and preventing and removing the greatest judgments.
11. The precious blood of Christ is most interested in public worship. Private worship was required of, and performed by Adam and his posterity, even in a sinless state, but the public preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments have a necessary dependence on the death of Christ.
12. The promises of God are given more to public worship than to private. There are more promises to public than to private worship, and even the promises that seem to be made to private duties are applicable and more powerful for public worship.
You might want to print this out and put it beside your alarm clock for next Sunday morning.
I’m reminded of this rich (and convicting) quotation from Mr. Spurgeon as well:
Now, I know there are some who say “Well, I hope I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to any church. “Now, why not?” “Because I can be a Christian without it.” Now, are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient? Well, suppose everybody else did the same, suppose all Christians in the world said, “I shall not join the Church.” Why there would be no visible Church, there would be no ordinances. That would be a very bad thing, and yet, one doing it—-what is right for one is right for all—-why should not all of us do it? Then you believe that if you were to do an act which has a tendency to destroy the visible Church of God, you would be as good a Christian as if you did your best to build up that Church? I do not believe it, sir! nor do you either. You have not any such a belief; it is only a trumpery excuse for something else. There is a brick—-a very good one. What is the brick made for? To help to build a house with. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick; until it is built into the wall, it is no good. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose; you are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do.–from sermon no. 3411 “Joining the Church”
Galatians 6:9 exhorts us not to grow weary while doing good. We are promised that we will reap in due season as long as we do not give up or ‘faint’. Albert Barnes comments on the need for perseverance:
It is implied here, that unless a man perseveres in doing good to the end of life, he can hope for no reward. He who becomes disheartened, and who gives over his efforts; he that is appalled by obstacles, and that faints on account of the embarrassments thrown in his way; he that pines for ease, and withdraws from the field of benevolence, shows that he has no true attachment to the cause, and that his heart has never been truly in the work of religion. He who becomes a true Christian, becomes such FOR ETERNITY. He has enlisted, never to withdraw. He becomes pledged to do good and to serve God always. No obstacles are to deter, no embarrassments are to drive him from the field. With the vigor of his youth, and the wisdom and influence of his riper years; with his remaining powers when enfeebled by age; with the last pulsation of life here, and with his immortal energies in a higher world, he is to do good. For that he is to live. In that he is to die; and when he awakes in the resurrection with renovated powers, he is to awake to an everlasting service of doing good, as far as he may have opportunity, in the kingdom of God.
Thomas Fuller (chaplain to Oliver Cromwell)
Lord, I find the genealogy of my Savior strangely checkered with four remarkable changes in four immediate generations. (1) Rehoboam begat Abijah; that is, a bad father begat a bad son. (2) Abijah begat Asa; that is, a bad father begat a good son. (3) Asa begat Jehoshaphat; that is, a good father a good son. (4) Jehoshaphat begat Joram; that is, a good father a bad son. I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed; that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son.
I recently read (and I can’t for the life of me remember where or who said it) something to this effect: For every person there is an ‘it’ that divides their lives. We think of who we were before ‘it’ and after ‘it’.
‘It’ comes then to define us. ‘It’ may be meeting your spouse or divorcing your spouse, it may be the birth of a child or the loss of a child, it may be something joyous or something traumatic, but it becomes the lens through which we see ourselves and our lives.
We speak of those who go through life with ‘rose colored glasses’. That is, they have a cheery disposition or outlook no matter what is coming their way. There are those who go through life with the opposite perspective. They possess ‘dark colored glasses’. Someone hurt me, someone used me, something happened that disappointed me and changed the way I view life. I don’t trust people anymore. How can I enjoy life when this thing happened to me?
So, what is the ‘it’, what is the ‘something’ that has divided your life? To ask it another way, as you think back on all the days of your life what is the most significant event of your life? If you are a Christian I know what it ought to be. In fact, I know what ‘it’ is. The most significant event in your life is that God came into this world and took on human flesh for you. The most significant thing in all the world is that He died for you and rose for you and ascended into heaven for you and intercedes for you and one day will return to take you unto Himself forever. No joy or trauma can compete with those simple facts. When that event becomes, in a felt sense, ‘the event’ of life, we live with the eternal perspective that changes everything. When Paul spoke of the trials of this life being essentially ‘nothing’ (not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us, momentary and light), he was not saying that they were not significant or that they did not hurt. He is saying simply in comparison they have no weight. A person may be fast but in comparison to a supersonic jet they have no speed at all. What are 200 lashes in comparison to the glory to be revealed in us? What is shipwreck, and stoning, and robbery in comparison to the Son of God loving me and giving Himself for me? What is human disappointment in comparison to divine faithfulness?
As you look through your life is there something that dampens all your joys or is that there something that sooths all your sorrows? What is ‘it’ for you?