Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Saints' Walk by Faith - Chapters 20 and 21

I'm reading Faith by Jeremiah Burroughs and decided to blog the hidden treasures within this book. It is one book that contains two of Burroughs' treatises: (1) Precious Faith and (2) The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven.  Both treatises were first published in 1654. In 2011, they were edited by Dr. Don Kistler and reprinted into one book by Northampton Press.  In his second treatise on The Saints' Walk by Faith, Mr. Burroughs expounds 2 Cor. 5:7.  You can see my summary for Chapters 1 to 4 here, Chapters 5 to 10 here, Chapters 11 to 13 here, Chapters 14 to 16 here, and Chapters 17 to 19 here.

In Chapter 20, Mr. Burroughs outlines the motives to draw the heart to believe in the want of sense:
  1. "[T]he first motive is that there is as great humility and obedience to God in believing as in any other way, and so this will take away the two great hindrances to believing"..."humility and obedience," (p. 206).
  2. "It's the safest way in the want of sense to exercise faith...Yet many of us seek to have our faith be the fruit of our joy rather than to have our joy be the fruit of our faith," (pp. 208-09).
  3. "This is the soonest way to get the sense of God's love," (p. 213).
  4. "Labor to stir up faith and to walk by faith in the want of sense, because, even when sense fails, then is the proper time for faith to act," (p. 215).
  5. "Believing in the want of sense is the most glorious work itself...Faith, if it is strong, acknowledges God," (p. 216).
  6. "As faith is most glorious in itself, so it is that which honors God more than any other grace," (p. 217).
  7. "And it is grace that argues much love for God," (p. 220).
  8. "Consider that faith, wherever it is, is first wrought by an almighty power in the soul," (p. 220).

In Chapter 21, he gives more motives to stir up weak believers to exercise their faith when they want sense:
  1. "Surely the sight and sense that we shall come to have after our believing, when there was not sight, will be so much the sweeter and more comfortable," (p. 222).
  2. "They will be stronger against temptations afterwards if in the want of sense and the sight of God's love they can exercise faith," (p. 222).
  3. "By this means, if we can exercise faith in the want of sense, we shall turn the greatest afflictions into the greatest blessings," (p. 223).
  4. "Last, consider what a tedious thing it must be to the Spirit of God for a saint, upon God's withdrawing Himself and the want of sight presently, to have resentful thoughts of God," (p. 223-24).

***
"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," (Heb. 4:11-12).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Peace of Christ

The Duty of Self-Denial and Ten Other Sermons by Thomas Watson includes a sermon titled "The Peace of Christ" on John 16:33.  In his sermon Mr. Watson expounds the doctrine that the "Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Peacemaker, gives His sweet peace to all His people, " (p. 52).

In this context, the term peace is meant as the immediate fruit of a believer's justification.  This peace is purchased by Christ, conveyed by the Holy Spirit, and maintained by Jesus' daily intercession.

The first use of this peace is that it is the believer's consolation in life and death.  Having peace through the blood of Jesus Christ emboldens the believer to make use of God's promises.  In addition, peace is begun in this life, but it is perfected in heaven.  The wicked, however, have no peace.  They may have the appearance of peace in this life, but it will be bitterness in the end:

"And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven," (Deut. 29:19-20).

The second use of this peace is to search and examine for it.  A believer who has the peace of Christ is one with Christ and is submissive to His rule.  A recipient of Christ's blessed peace also has a meek, quiet, and peaceable disposition.

The third use of the peace of Christ is to be calm during life's afflictions.  Christ gives the believer a glorious peace that will hold out in a storm or tempest; therefore, a believer should not be overly troubled with afflictions and trials that are incidental to this life.  "Peace of soul makes harmony in a Christian," (p. 60).

A peaceful Christian will preserve his peace by taking heed of relapses.  "They are dangerous.  Do not tamper any more with sin.  Dare not to feed sin in a corner.  Sin is the peace-breaker," (p. 61).  A peaceful Christian will also keep a clean account with God every day; "Often reckoning keeps God and conscience friends," (p. 61).  Finally, a peaceful Christian will walk closely with God daily.  "Live as under the continual inspection of God's omniscient eye.  Live holily.  Peace and purity go together.  They way to preserve our peace is to preserve our integrity...Search the Scriptures.  The two testaments are the two lips by which God has spoken.  Love the Word.  Love prayer.  Love the Sabbath," (pp. 61-62).

***
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," (John 16:33).

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Saints' Walk by Faith - Chapters 17 through 19

I'm reading Faith by Jeremiah Burroughs and decided to blog the hidden treasures within this book. It is one book that contains two of Burroughs' treatises: (1) Precious Faith and (2) The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven.  Both treatises were first published in 1654. In 2011, they were edited by Dr. Don Kistler and reprinted into one book by Northampton Press.  In his second treatise on The Saints' Walk by Faith, Mr. Burroughs expounds 2 Cor. 5:7.  You can see my summary for Chapters 1 to 4 here, Chapters 5 to 10 here, Chapters 11 to 13 here, and Chapters 14 to 16 here.

In Chapter 17, Mr. Burroughs exhorts Christians to strengthen their faith.  He states: "If you do not walk by faith you will lose your way quickly; you will lose sight of the end of your faith and that will discourage you, and then you will lose your very way itself, and you will be mightily ensnared and be ready to be drawn out of your way and stumble therein, if you do not exercise faith.  But by faith you will keep in sight the end of your way, and keep your way, and be delivered from stumbling blocks, from snares in your way," (p. 179).

In Chapter 18, he gives eight principles for helping the soul to walk by faith:
  1. "Whatever my case is, yet I have to deal with God, with the infinite and glorious God, who has the compass of all things before Him, who does not only look upon things that are now present, but with one view He sees all the whole frame and latitude of things...The great reason why men do  not believe, and when sense and reason is at a stop and their hearts sink, is because they look no higher than themselves; they do not look at God who has the compass of all things in His view," (pp. 184-85).
  2. "We are more to rely upon a word than upon a work of God.  That is a principle that would be a mighty help to faith...God's Word is more to be rested upon than the works of God, for God puts His Word as an object of our faith, but God never makes any single work of His to be an object of our faith," (pp. 185-86).
  3. "[T]he soul that has union with God, and has their portion in the Almighty, has the quintessence and virtue and efficacy of all creatures in God Himself," (p. 187).
  4. "All creatures that we look upon, those that may afford us any help, all their power depends upon God.  They have neither power to do good or hurt any further than God gives out His power and concurs with them...He has the absolute command of all," (pp. 187-88).
  5. "God delights in working (and especially for His servants) beyond all means of all creatures and contrary to all means, above all means, without means, and contrary unto means," (p. 188).
  6. "God, in His dealings toward His people, seldom does any great matters for them but He puts the sentence of death first upon it before it's done.  He does not usually come to help till just before they are ready to die, until all seems gone; then their extremity is His opportunity...Hope is never elevated higher than when our state in the eyes of all men is at its lowest," (pp. 189-90).
  7. "Whatever promise we have in all the Book of God, to any particular of the people of God, that promise may every godly man apply unto himself, being in the same condition that he was in," (p. 190).
  8. "There is no condition that any of the people of God can be in, no condition so dark and so wanting comfort, as is a sufficient plea for unbelief.  Though your condition is never so dark and dismal in your own eyes, yet, remember, it can never be so dark, so dismal, so void of comfort, of helps, as should give you any ground for your unbelief," (p. 191).  "[T]he Holy Spirit speaks of two things that godly people in their greatest weakness may find: First, the fear of God is upon their hearts...Second, they obey the voice of His servants [the authority of His Word], (p. 192).
In Chapter 19, Mr. Burroughs encourages the soul in walking by faith by giving these encouragements:
  1. "God offers Himself unto those to whom the gospel comes, so as He is willing to deal with them in the way of a covenant of grace and not a covenant of works...I verily believe that this is the main ground that holds many under a spirit of bondage and causes them to walk in a disconsolate and distressed condition, and not walk to by faith, because they look upon God as having to deal with Him in the way of a covenant of works," (pp. 193-94).
  2. "All the good that God does for His creatures, especially in order to eternal life, is for His own name's sake," (p. 195).
  3. "There are no qualifications in the creature that are required by God as a condition of our believing," (p. 195).
  4. "The great glory and design that God has in the world is to glorify Himself in the way of His free grace and faithfulness towards the children of men," (p. 197).
  5. "As it is God's great design to magnify His grace above all His works, so it's as delightful to Christ to enjoy the end of His death as it can be to any of you to have your souls saved," (p. 197).
  6. "God withdraws Himself from His people and brings them into such a condition wherein they are without all kind of sense of His love, and there is nothing but darkness.  The Lord has many good ends why He does this," (p. 198).
  7. "Consider, when you are afraid that God should cast you off because you have no sense of His love, what would God get by if He did cast you off?" (p. 202).

***
"He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities," (Isa. 53:11).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Burroughs' Bible vs. Voskamp's Experience

In my recent post on Ann Voskamp, I looked at the sin of "intimacy with God" promoted in her book One Thousand Gifts.  I'm aware that some people don't agree with my critical assessment, nor do they concur with other negative critiques of her book.  However, let's look at a current statement she made on her blog and Twitter to see how she continues to view the Word of God.

On July 16, 2016, Ann Voskamp will participate in Together2016, an ecumenical gathering of "evangelicals".  I put the term evangelicals in quotes because there will be a large number of Roman Catholics participating in this event.  Historically, evangelicalism is a movement within Protestant Christianity[1], and therefore, does not include Catholics because Protestants separated from Roman Catholics during the Reformation.  Just like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics are not Protestant Christians because they do not hold to orthodox biblical beliefs.  Can there be Christians within these cult denominations?  Yes, but they will come out (2 Cor. 6:17).  Christians are not to have fellowship with unrighteousness or communion with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).  Therefore, those who unequally yoke themselves with unbelievers, like Together2016, are at best not showing biblical discernment, but at worst they are not showing the marks of a true believer.  But I disgress...

On March 14, 2016, Ann Voskamp blogged[2]:  "We believe. Because we know. He knows our grief. We know His goodness. And the truth is – we don’t need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God."  Regarding Together2016, she tweeted a similar statement on May 11, 2016[3]:  "We don't need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God."

As you can see, Ann Voskamp continues to promote the idea that experience with God is paramount to anything else, including God's Word.  Fundamentally, this is what is wrong with One Thousand Gifts.

Let's see what Jeremiah Burroughs, a Puritan preacher, says in his book Faith.  In his treatise "The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven", he looks at 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  From Chapter 18 he lays out the principles for helping the soul to walk by faith.  Principle #2 states that "[w]e are more to rely upon a word than upon a work of God.  That is a principle that would be a mighty help to faith," (p. 185).  Even during the 1600's, Mr. Burroughs anticipates the objection to his principle.  He writes:  "OBJECTION.  You will say, 'When I read the Word, I have some comfort.  Oh, but when I see how things are working, then I am quite taken off,'" (p. 186).  In today's vernacular, a Christian might say, "When I read the Bible, I don't understand it.  Oh, but when I experience God, then I know He loves me," or "We don't need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God.  When I'm intimate with God and can caress Him, then I make every moment love for Him."

But Pastor Burroughs continues:  "ANSWER.  Lay up this as an everlasting principle: God's Word is more to be rested upon than the works of God, for God puts His Word as an object of faith, but God never makes any single work of His to be an object of our faith," (p. 186).

Unlike the popular personalities in today's "Christian" world, Mr. Burroughs does not promote spiritual experience above the Word of God.  He concludes: "Oh, therefore, rest upon the Word of God rather than on any works of His, for we cannot, nor would God have us understand His works many times.  God loves to be in the dark in His works, but His Word is light; the Scripture says that God's ways are in the dark, but His Word is always called light, therefore that's to be rested upon," (p. 186).

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).  If a Christian is not reading and abiding daily in the Bible, then he is not growing in Christ (John 15).  If he is not growing in Christ, then he will be easily misled by mystics[4] like Ann Voskamp.

***
"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," (Psalm 119:103-105).


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism [Warning--There is a Second Commandment violation on this website link.]
[2] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2016/03/when-the-world-everybodys-feeling-a-bit-of-an-unspoken-broken-come-spring-break/ [Warning--There are multiple Second Commandment violations on this website link.]

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Saints' Walk by Faith - Chapters 14 through 16

I'm reading Faith by Jeremiah Burroughs and decided to blog the hidden treasures within this book. It is one book that contains two of Burroughs' treatises: (1) Precious Faith and (2) The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven.  Both treatises were first published in 1654. In 2011, they were edited by Dr. Don Kistler and reprinted into one book by Northampton Press.  In his second treatise on The Saints' Walk by Faith, Mr. Burroughs expounds 2 Cor. 5:7.  You can see my summary for Chapters 1 to 4 here, Chapters 5 to 10 here, and Chapters 11 to 13 here.

In Chapter 14, Mr. Burroughs shows that the saints in all ages have walked by faith as he looks at Hebrews 11.

In Chapter 15, he gives eleven headings showing that a Christian who does not walk by faith will certainly miscarry in his way.  The necessity of walking by faith is because:
  1. "...the great things of the gospel are foolishness to a carnal heart," (p. 160).
  2. "...there may be an agreement between us and God...How can there be an agreement between God and our souls but by faith?...Our peace with God does not come from any obedience to the commandments, but by faith," (p. 161).
  3. "...many things that are to be the rule of our lives depend merely upon the will of God as it is revealed in the Word without any reason given for it," (p. 161).
  4. "...we might come to see the authority of the rule by which God would have us to walk," (p. 162).
  5. "...we might come to see the reality of spiritual things," (p. 163).
  6. "...we may be able to see through the colors and vain shows and pretences that are upon the ways of sin...Sin will appear very fair and specious; the most dangerous and desperate way sof sin will present themselves seemingly desirable to us unless we have a piercing eye of faith to look beyond present things," (p. 163).
  7. "...God seems in His way to go often so contrary to what He speaks in His Word," (p. 164).  For example, God promises to bring Israel into a land flowing with milk and honey, but they were bought into the southern part first, which was barren.
  8. "...of the strong opposition that the saints meet with in their way...There are inward oppositions that come from temptations within, from strong corruptions that are within the soul, and unless faith comes in the soul will soon fade away," (p. 165).  "It is faith that quenches the fiery darts of the devil," (p. 166).
  9. "...it is by faith that we come to please God, and without that it's impossible to please Him," (p. 167).  "You think you walk with God in this duty and the other; you pray continually, you hear the Word, receive sacraments, converse with saints, and do such and such good actions.  These are well to do, but unless faith comes in and mingles, none of them please God," (p. 167).
  10. "...the happiness of a Christ, the last end that a Christian has is supernatural," (p. 168).
  11. "...the efficacy of all means that we use for any good depends upon faith," (p. 168).  "You have prayed against such and such corruptions, but when a temptation has come you have been overcome as before and you wonder at it and think, 'Lord, what shall become of me?  I have prayed against this sin I know not how many times, and thought that Thou hadt [sic] come in sweetly to my soul at such a time.  I had such enlargements, and I went out in the strength of my prayer and thought that verily I should be able to overcome my sin, but I find I am as weak as ever.'  It's because you trusted in the means.  It's true, God appoints such and such means, but did you believe in your prayer and act your faith on Christ, the promise, and the covenant of grace in prayer?  Oh, it is faith that is necessary in the use of all means to make one to have profit and benefit them," (p. 169).

In chapter 16, Mr. Burroughs notes the excellency of faith.
  1. Faith has a great excellence because "a saint who walks by faith has higher apprehension of God and the work of God than others have," (p. 170).
  2. "That soul that walks by faith carries on all actions in a high and supernatural way, and makes his very civil and natural actions to become heavenly and supernatural," (p. 170).  "So the meanest work of your callings, if it is but done by faith, is excellent and honorable before the Lord," (p. 171).
  3. Faith has a great excellence because it "brings in whatever good there is in Christ, in the covenant of grace, and in the promises, and makes it sweet unto the soul," (p. 171).
  4. "Those who walk by faith converse much with God," (p. 172).
  5. "Faith is the grace that in a more eminent way honors God...because it attributes nothing to the creature, but all to God," (p. 172).  "You think if your hearts were more holy than they are, and more heavenly-minded than you are, you would glorify God.  It's true that would help you, but if you could believe more than you do you would glorify God more, and the other things would follow by themselves," (p. 173).
  6. The walk of faith is an excellent walk "because by it the soul is freed exceedingly from fears, from doubts, and from misgiving thoughts in the course of it," (p. 173).  "Temptations would not prevail as they did if the soul could but act out faith more," (p. 174).
  7. "You shall do great things for God in walking by faith," (p. 174).
  8. "[Y]ou will make great progress in the ways of God," (P. 174).
  9. The walk of faith is an excellent walk because "[i]t's that which cause uprightness in the heart," (p. 175).
  10. "By walking by faith we come to have the present enjoyment of the end of our faith...The saints have heaven now in their hearts," (p. 175).
  11. The excellency of faith is that "[i]t is so useful in all estates and conditions we have need of faith," (p. 176).
  12. "It is that which brings a good report too, a good report even by God Himself...And the truth is, though many will speak ill of you, yet go on in a constant way walking by faith and the Lord will clear your names.  Trust God for your names and liberties and comforts and all, and you shall find your names will be cleared by God and kept by God as boxes of precious ointment," (p. 176).
  13. Finally, the excellency of faith is that "[i]t will make one die comfortably...The great reason why people are afraid of death is because they walk by sight so much," (p. 177).


***
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," (Heb. 11:6).