Thursdays With Spurgeon—Honorable Disagreement

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Honorable Disagreement

     If you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views that were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. … 

     Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines that he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the Twelve, I do not believe that there could be found to men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians and was one of whom the world was not worthy.

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon

Calvinists and Arminians have appeared at odds with each other for centuries. Spurgeon teaches us a valuable truth—

Men can disagree on doctrines without vilifying the men who believe and teach those doctrines. 

Spurgeon (an avowed Calvinist) and Wesley (an outspoken Arminian) strongly believed and forcefully and persuasively taught what they saw to be true in Scripture. Yet they did so without attacking or demonizing each other. They practiced what the Apostle Paul taught—

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) 

Oh, that today we would again follow the counsel of Paul and the example of Spurgeon and Wesley!

12 Quotes For Mother’s Day

“All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln

“The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families. In vain are schools, academies, and universities, instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years. The mothers are the earliest and most important instructors of youth.” —John Adams

“The fundamental truths reported in the four gospels as from the lips of Jesus Christ, and that I first heard from the lips of my mother, are settled and fixed moral precepts with me.” —Abraham Lincoln

“The devil never reckons a man to be lost so long as he has a good mother alive. O woman, great is thy power!” ―Charles Spurgeon

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” ―John Wesley

“Your motherhood is in God’s sight holier and more blessed than you realize.” —Andrew Murray

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.” —Jewish Proverb

“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” —Spanish Proverb

“To be a mother is the greatest vocation in the world. No being has a position of such great power and influence. She holds in her hands the destiny of nations, for to her is necessarily committed the making of the nation’s citizens.” —Hannah Whitall Smith

“Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

Is Christ Real To Me?

John WesleyJohn Wesley was deeply introspective about his faith in Jesus Christ. He once wrote—

“I did go thus far for many years…using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offense; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before Whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do His will in all things; to please Him who had called me to ‘fight the good fight,’ and to ‘lay hold of eternal life.’ Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.”

To help keep himself on the right path, Wesley came up with this list of questions he regularly asked himself. This is a list any Christian would do well to read through regularly—

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
  4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  6. Did the Bible live in me today?
  7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
  8. Am I enjoying prayer?
  9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
  10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  12. Do I disobey God in anything?
  13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  16. How do I spend my spare time?
  17. Am I proud?
  18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
  19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
  20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
  21. Is Christ real to me?

Links & Quotes

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“The Kingdom of God is Good News because it ushers all who receive it into God’s good plan for their lives, a plan which brings them, among other things, pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).” —T.M. Moore

“Remember a little more the intimate connection between the body and the soul. Go to the poor man and tell him of the bread of heaven, but first give him the bread of earth, for how shall he hear you with a starving body?” —Charles Spurgeon

“We must open our Bibles every morning with this prayer—‘Give us this day our daily bread.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord rebukes his people for seeking ‘their own’ pleasure on His holy day [Isaiah 58:3-4]. But what does He mean? He means they are delighting in their business and not in the beauty of their God. He does not rebuke their hedonism. He rebukes the weakness of it. They have settled for secular interests and thus honor them above the Lord. Notice that calling the Sabbath ‘a delight’ is parallel to calling the holy day of the Lord ‘honorable.’ This simply means you honor what you delight in. Or you glorify what you enjoy. The enjoyment and the glorification of God are one. His eternal purpose and our eternal pleasure unite.” —John Piper

“We may conclude that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. He stands supreme at the center of His own affections. For that very reason, He is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace.” —John Piper

David Wilkerson warns, “We think that when we fail to trust God in our daily situations, we only harm ourselves. We think we’re simply missing out on His blessings. But that isn’t the whole story. … Unbelief is the mother of all sins.”

Stan Guthrie writes about the strange spectacle of Christian surrender in cultural ideas. He states, “We need more cultural engagement, not less, particularly in the realm of ideas.”

Max Lucado recalls an amazing story from the life of John Wesley and then asks, “How bold are your prayers?”

 

14 Quotes From “The Printer And The Preacher”

The Printer And The PreacherI loved this book! It’s a great historical story of how Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield’s lives intertwined at such a pivotal time in history. America exists the way it does politically and religiously today because of the influence of these two titans. You can read my full book review here. Below are a few quotes from this remarkable book.

“The Faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world…. But I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it: I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit; not a holiday-keeping, sermon-reading or hearing, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers. … Your great Master thought much less of these outward appearances and professions than many of His modern disciples. He preferred the doers of the Word to the mere hearers…and those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and relief to the sick.” —Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to pastors

There are many who “perhaps fear less the being in Hell, than out of the fashion.” —Benjamin Franklin

“The alteration in the face of religion here is altogether surprising. Never did the people show so great a willingness to attend sermons, nor the preachers greater zeal and diligence in performing the duties of their function. Religion is become the subject of most conversations. No books are in request but those of piety and devotion; and instead of idle songs and ballads, the people are everywhere entertaining themselves with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. All of which, under God, is owing to the successful labors of the Reverend Mr. Whitefield.” —Benjamin Franklin, in a newspaper article

The Body of
B. Franklin
Printer;
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new& more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author. —Benjamin Franklin, the Epitaph he wrote for himself at age 22

“I have seen your Epitaph. Believe on Jesus, and get a feeling possession of God in your heart, and you cannot possibly be disappointed of your expected second edition finally corrected, and infinitely amended.” —George Whitefield 

“You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?” —George Whitefield

Those who hear the gospel “have more need of heat than light. Would to God we had as much warmth in our hearts, as light in our understandings!” —George Whitefield

“If we are truly converted, we shall not only be turned and converted from sinful self, but we shall be converted from righteous self. That is the devil of devils: For righteous self can run and hide itself in its own doings, which is the reason self-righteous people are so angry with gospel preachers.” —George Whitefield

“Let your practice correspond to your profession.”—George Whitefield

“Oh pray, dear Mr. H., that God would always keep me humble, and fully convinced that I am nothing without Him, and that all the good which is done upon earth, God doth it Himself.” —George Whitefield, in a letter to Gabriel Harris, when his popularity was growing

“Will it not in the end destroy brotherly love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? … How glad would the enemies of the Lord be to see us divided? How many would rejoice, should I join and make a party against you? And in one word, how would the cause of our common Master every way suffer by our raging disputes about particular points of doctrines? … I write not this, honored Sir, from heat of spirit, but out of love. At present, I think you are entirely inconsistent with yourself, and therefore do not blame me, if I do not approve of all that you say.” —George Whitefield, in correspondence with John Wesley over doctrinal differences

“I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world. As you have made a pretty considerable progress in the mysteries of electricity, I would now humbly recommend to your diligent unprejudiced pursuit and study the mystery of the new-birth. It is a most important, interesting study, and when mastered, will richly answer and repay you for all your pains. One at Whose bar we are shortly to appear, hath solemnly declared, that without it, ‘we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ You will excuse this freedom. I must have aliquid Christi [something of Christ] in all my letters.” —George Whitefield, in a letter to Benjamin Franklin

“satan is angry. I am now mimicked and burlesqued upon the public stage. All hail such contempt! God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Jesus Christ.” —George Whitefield, in a letter after a play was produced in London making fun of him

“Whitefield and Franklin were not just the two most famous people in America in their time—they were also the most significant. The effects of their lives and their work are still being felt today … If America was born as a Christian nation, it’s because many of its people were genuinely, powerfully Christians. It had less to do with the language in any founding documents and more to do with the fact that George Whitefield had been tromping from town to town, inviting people to hear the call of God. It had even less to do with church membership. God was grabbing lives. People’s hearts were flying open. No one was imposing Christianity on society. The power came from within.” —Randy Peterson

7 Quotes For Preachers

PreachingI love getting counsel from been-there-done-that people, because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve. I was reading these quotes for myself, but I thought my fellow pastors might enjoy them as well.

“A sermon is not like a Chinese firecracker to be fired off for the noise which it makes. It is the hunter’s gun, and at every discharge he should look to see his game fall.” ―Henry Ward Beecher

“That is not the best sermon which makes the hearers go away talking to one another, and praising the speaker, but which makes them go away thoughtful and serious, and hastening to be alone.” ―Gilbert Burnet

“Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher. Good preaching leads to people to praise the Savior.” ―Charles G. Finney

“The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, with the jargon of Plato, or Aristotle, and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.” ―Thomas Jefferson

“The sermon edifies, the example destroys. Practice what you preach.” ―Abbé de Villiers

“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.” ―John Wesley, in his journal

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” ―George Whitefield

Links & Quotes

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In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has one demon giving advice to his young protege demon. This is profound wisdom: “You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” —C.S. Lewis

Two surveys seem to be related: First, “Fifty-four percent of U.S. teens 15-to-17-years-old do not live in a home with their married mother and father.” Read more in this post. (2) Lee Strobel reports on some findings from a Barna Group survey he commissioned: “Two findings emerged in a new national poll that I commissioned on fatherhood and faith: the younger the generation, the more people report having difficult relationships with their fathers. At the same time, the younger generation reports the highest percentage of people who are struggling with belief in God.” You can read Lee’s thoughts on this in Fathers & Faith.

Frank Viola shared this great story—In light of their doctrinal disagreements, someone once asked George Whitefield if he thought he’d see John Wesley in heaven. Whitefield replied, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him.”

“Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. Grace comes to us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We’ve barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another.” Read more in Max Lucado’s post Grace—A Never Ending Supply.

Astronomers are perplexed by the size of a black hole. Apparently it is challenging their views on the origins of the universe. Perhaps there is a better explanation….

Very moving—

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