Friday, January 30, 2015

Of Walking With God - Chapter 4

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' "Of Walking With God" found in his book Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapters 1-2 summary here and Chapter 3 summary here.

In Chapter 4 Mr. Burroughs explains what walking with God is:
  1. It causes the soul to eye God by beholding the infinite beauty in God, by recognizing God as the Fountain of good to the soul, and by apprehending God as infinitely worthy of all honor.
  2. It causes a man to carry himself as if he were in God's presence.
  3. It causes a man to make God's will the rule of his will.
  4. It causes the soul to have the same end that God does--that His blessed name may be magnified, that His glory may be set forth.
  5. It causes the soul to be suited to God's administration.
  6. It causes man to have a holy dependence upon God for direction, protection, assistance, and blessing.
  7. It causes a man to be free and ready in the ways of God.
  8. It causes communion with God.  God walks among us when we walk in His ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper).
  9. It causes the soul to follow God more as He reveals Himself more.  The soul gets nearer and nearer to heaven every day; this is to walk with God.
Jeremiah Burroughs is undaunted in his writing: "Men that walk according to the lusts of their own heart, in their wicked, sinful ways, do not have the Lord in all their thoughts, as in Psalm 10."  He continues, "This is to walk in the fear of God, when the soul, upon the apprehension of God's presence, shall labor to compose itself as is appropriate to the presence before whom it is."

Of course, all believers still struggle with a sin nature here on earth (Rom. 7:22-25); and so, Mr. Burroughs gives comfort to the Christian: "It is true that through the violence of some temptation there may be a stray step, or there my be, perhaps, a fall along the way, but still the heart is Godward and still is towards God.  It gets up again and walks again in the way...the constant course of the ways of the saints is the ways of God."

In my next post I will look at the twelve excellences of walking with God from Chapter 5.

"And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him," (Gen. 5:24).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Of Walking With God - Chapter 3

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' "Of Walking With God" found in his book Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapters 1-2 summary here.

In Chapter 3 Mr. Burroughs shows how the soul is brought to walk with God:
  1. Every one by nature goes astray from God.  God works, though, to bring the soul to walk with Him.
  2. The Lord manifests to the soul the way of life, see Isa. 30:21.
  3. The Lord makes peace between himself and a sinner.
  4. God renders Himself lovely to the soul.
  5. God sends His Holy Spirit to guide the soul to Himself and to guide it in walking with Himself.
  6. Christ the Son of God takes the soul and brings it to God the Father as the Spirit leads.  No one who has ever been a sinner can walk with God unless Jesus Christ walks together with him.
In my next post I will look at the nine particulars of walking with God from Chapter 4.

"And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him," (Gen. 5:24).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Of Walking With God - Chapter 1 and 2

Last summer I decided to re-read Earthly-Mindedness by Jeremiah Burroughs and discuss his points chapter-by-chapter.  This book was reprinted in 1991 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications and contains "A Treatise of Earthly-Mindedness" (first published in 1649) and "The Second Treatise on a Heavenly Conversation."  After these two treatises, the book also contains a selection called "Of Walking With God."

You can see my initial post for "A Treatise of Earthly-Mindedness" here and for "The Second Treatise on a Heavenly Conversation" here.  In this series, I will post chapter summaries for the final section "Of Walking with God."  The Scripture verse underlying this section is found in Genesis:  "And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him," (Gen. 5:24).

In Chapter 1 Mr. Burroughs opens the text and looks at Enoch's walk with God.  Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, was a prophet of his time (see Jude 14) and "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God," (Heb. 11:5).  Mr. Burroughs notes that "God lengthens or shortens men's lives according to the work He has to do, according to the use He has for them."  This is a comforting reminder as I age and face not only my own mortality, but also the mortality of my family and close friends.
In Chapter 2 Mr. Burroughs sets forth the doctrine found in Gen. 5:24: It is the excellency of a Christian to walk with God.  He sternly warns the reader that "Many in their external profession seem to be moved one way, but secretly their hearts turn another way.  They do not walk with God all the while...The honor of a man is when God Himself shall acknowledge him."
In my next post I will show how the soul is brought to walk with God from Chapter 3.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Are Christians Suppose to Keep the Sabbath?

On March 24, 2013, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church started a series on the Christian Sabbath.  His first sermon was titled "Are Christians Suppose to Keep the Sabbath?"  In this sermon he listed 5 arguments for keeping the Christian Sabbath or the Lord's Day:
  1. The Sabbath is a Creation ordinance (Gen. 2).
  2. The Sabbath is commanded and observed before the giving of the Ten Commandments (Gen. 16).
  3. The Sabbath is part of the Moral Law (or Ten Commandments) which is binding on all men in all ages (Exod. 20:8-11, Rom. 3:19).
  4. Even in the Old Testament, the Sabbath is presented, not in the context of law, but in the context of God's salvation, righteousness, and joy (Isa. 56:1-8, 58:12-14).
  5. The purpose of the Sabbath is the blessing of man (Mark 2:23-28).  This passage shows that (1) the Sabbath was made (and not commanded) for man, (2) it is for man and not just Israel, and (3) Jesus declares himself Lord of the Sabbath.
"Think not that I [Jesus] am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil," (Matt. 5:17).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Heavenly Conversation - Chapter 22

I'm concluding my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Second Treatise on "A Heavenly Conversation" found in his book Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here, Chapters 2-4 summary here, Chapters 5 & 6 here, Chapters 7 & 8 summary here, Chapters 9-13 summary here, and Chapters 14-21 summary here.

In Chapter 22 Jeremiah Burroughs looks at seven directions on how to get a heavenly conversation:
  1. Be persuaded that it is attainable.
  2. Labor to keep a clear conscience.
  3. Watch for opportunities for heavenly exercises.  Eye them as being where much of your joy and comfort of your life exist.
  4. Rest not in formality.  Don't look at heavenly exercises as tasks to be completed.
  5. Labor to beat down your bodies.  Do not give satisfaction to the flesh and body so as to strengthen any temptation that might draw your heart from spiritual and heavenly things.
  6. Labor to be skillful in the mystery of godliness and to draw strength from Christ in everything you do.
  7. Exercise the grace of faith because it is grace that makes the things of heaven real to the soul.
As Mr. Burroughs concludes his treatise on a heavenly conversation, he focuses our attention on Christ:
"Do not think that when we speak of conversing in heaven we are pleasing our own fancies.  No, we, by faith, look upon heaven as the most real thing in the world, for we expect the Lord Jesus Christ to appear before long in glory bodily...It is only a little while before you shall be with God, for Him to be all in all to your soul enjoying full communion with Him.  Exercise faith, wait for it, look for it every day.  Consider that it is nearer and nearer, your salvation is nearer and than when you first believed.  God has a little work for you here but, as soon as this is done, this shall be your condition: you shall see your Savior, your soul shall immediately be with Him and enjoy full communion with Him in glory, and your body, in a while, shall be raised and shall live forever with Him.  You shall be where He is, and shall enjoy all that He has purchased with His blood.  As much glory as the blood of Christ is worth, that is what you are capable of.  The Scripture says that it shall be a weight of glory...Where should my heart and thoughts, my life and conversation be, but where I expect such things as these to be revealed very soon in the day of Jesus Christ, in His appointed time, which is at hand."
This completes my summary look at the Second Treatise on "A Heavenly Conversation" by Jeremiah Burroughs.  I pray that it has been as helpful to you as it was for me.

"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," (Phil. 3:20).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Heavenly Conversation - Chapters 14 through 21

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Second Treatise on "A Heavenly Conversation" found in his book Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here, Chapters 2-4 summary here, Chapters 5 & 6 summary here, Chapters 7 & 8 summary here,  and Chapters 9-13 summary here.

In the next eight chapters, Jeremiah Burroughs defines a heavenly conversation.

Chapter 14 - A heavenly conversation is a convincing conversation.

Chapter 15 - A heavenly conversation is growing.

Chapter 16 - A heavenly conversation brings much glory to God.

Chapter 17 - A heavenly conversation brings much glory to the saints.

Chapter 18 - A heavenly conversation will make suffering easy.

Chapter 19 - A heavenly conversation brings much joy.

Chapter 20 - A heavenly conversation is very safe.  You will be free from snares and temptations.

Chapter 21 - A heavenly conversation gives abundant entrance into glory.

As Mr. Burroughs completes his heavenly conversation definition, he eloquently displays the comfort and hope that believers have in Christ:
"When the saints come to die, oh, how joyfully will they die!  What abundant entrance will be made into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?  For when they die, they shall just change their place, they shall not change their company...It's said of Christ in the Gospel of John, that He spoke of Himself, but the Son of Man which is in heaven.  So it should be said of every child of God, 'such a one that is in heaven,' not only such a one that shall go to heaven, but that is in heaven right now."
In my final post for this series, I will look at seven directions on how to get a heavenly conversation in Chapter 22.

"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," (Phil. 3:20).

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Ordinary

In his book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Tony Merida states his goal on page 9:  "Throughout this small book, I want to identify some 'ordinary things' that ordinary people like us can do, and if we do them with gospel intentionality (speaking and showing the gospel), then we can make an extraordinary impact."

Good works are part of a Christian's sanctification process, but the ultimate goal of a Christian is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).  The author agrees that good works should be done in conjunction with sharing the Gospel (p.28), but his book leans more toward a Pharisaical how-to guide as he focuses on what Christians should do and never talks about guiding conversations to Jesus Christ and sharing the Gospel as they love their neighbor.  The good works that I do to love my neighbor do not look anything like the list the author laid out in his book; therefore, I did not find it helpful.  However, I was encouraged to examine my Christian walk and inspect how I am loving my neighbor because as a believer I am "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we [believers] should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10).

Mr. Merida explicitly states that salvation is a gift of grace (p. 24), so he is not describing a works-based system of salvation.  I agree with the author that "[s]aving faith is an active faith," (p. 26).  However, where the Bible is silent on how Christians obey the command to love their neighbor, the author has added his own how-to list (emphasis mine):
  • "My point is that we must have an open heart/home toward people that extends beyond what's comfortable, culturally normal, and exclusive," (p. 41).
  • "We need to adopt this same missionary posture [rejoicing when a local non-believer comes to their home for dinner]," (p. 53).
  • "Believers should be asking, 'Why shouldn't I do foster care?'" (p. 56).
  • "You should also consider ways to serve and love veterans, and those with mental and physical needs," (p. 59).
  • "Your local police force is another group that you should consider serving," (p. 59).
  • "Every Christian must do something to care for the orphan," (p. 80).
  • "For all of us, orphan care ought to be expressed through very ordinary means," (p. 80).
  • "Obviously, becoming a foster parent is something every believer should seriously consider," (p. 80).
  • "Sometimes we must do emergency relief; but we must also tend to the matters of restoration and development," (p. 82).
  • "So we must help provide financial aid," (p. 84).
  • "First, churches must strengthen their relationships with orphanages," (p. 85).
  • "Further, we must help our Christian businessmen and women get a vision for orphan care," (p. 85).
In just over 40 pages of Ordinary, Mr. Merida itemizes at least twelve things that Christians must do to love their neighbor.  But the Bible does not include such a list that applies universally to all Christians.  Jesus Christ says that "If ye love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15).  His commandments are summarized in Luke 10:27: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...and thy neighbor as thyself."  The command to love your neighbor is a summary of the second table of the Moral Law, or the Ten Commandments.  Christians are to obey the Moral Law which was further expounded by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5).  These laws are to be kept in spirit and truth.  There is no list of how to keep these laws in the Bible, which is why Mr. Merida's book is Pharisaical in nature because he has added to God's Law just like the Pharisees of Jesus' time.  Christians are to love their neighbors by caring for the poor, the widows, the orphans, etc.  But that looks different for every Christian because God has determined the times and bounds of our habitations (Acts 17:26).  "Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His Holy Word...Their [Christians'] ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ," (1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chap. 16, para. 1, 3).

In contrast to the things that Christians must do, Mr. Merida also mentions sharing the Gospel on page 83 (emphasis mine):  "Let's do what we can to see that these kids are hearing the gospel [sic], being loved, and are receiving the best possible care."  His comment on the Gospel is glaringly weak in light of his bold admonitions on how Christians are to keep the command to love their neighbor.

Even though he did not emphasize this point, the author talks about the need to not only serve, but also to share with those you are serving (p. 28).  He writes about alleviating the present sufferings of the weak and then telling them about "the King, who will usher in a new kingdom of complete shalom, where the lion plays with the lamb," (p. 30).  This is not the Gospel.  This is not what Christians should be sharing with the world.  The Apostle Paul gives a clear summary of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

In describing the salvation process, Mr. Merida states that "He's [Jesus is] going to the cross because no one completely loves God and neighbor the way the Bible demands.  Except one: Jesus Himself!  Jesus lived the life we couldn't live and died the death we should have died.  Luke is showing us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ crucified alone...Jesus Christ can forgive you entirely, and give you His perfect righteousness," (pp. 24-25).  Again, this is an incomplete Gospel presentation because sin and Christ's resurrection are missing.  The biblical truth that conviction of sin leads to repentance and saving faith in Jesus is sorely lacking in this book, and the closest idea to the resurrection is the author's statement regarding the apostles who "were eventually consumed with truth that Jesus vacated a tomb," (p. 9).  This is not biblical language.  It is confusing and even implies that Christ may not have died.  I understand that the author is mainly writing to Christians, but a complete Gospel picture must be given every time; not only for the unbelieving reader, but also as an example for those who go, serve, and share the Gospel.

The only way to turn the world upside down is to share the Gospel because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).  True Christian faith is not passive because faith is shown by good works.  However, the key to good works is not the service provided, it's the focus on God's glory by sharing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I cannot recommend Ordinary by Tony Merida since his book emphasizes what Christians should do and does not adequately describe or prioritize the Gospel.  "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.