The Last Words of John Bunyan – August 31, 1688

“His last words, while struggling with death, were, ‘Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will, no doubt, through the mediation of his blessed Son, receive me, though a sinner; where I hope we ere long shall meet, to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world without end. Amen.’ He felt the ground solid under his feet in passing the black river which has no bridge, and followed his pilgrim into the celestial city in August 1688, in the sixtieth year of his age. The circumstances of his peaceful decease are well compared by Dr Cheever to the experience of Mr Standfast, when he was called to pass the river: the great calm—the firm footing—the address to by-standers—until his countenance changed, his strong man bowed under him, and his last words were, ‘Take me, for I come to thee.’ Then the joy among the angels while they welcomed the hero of such spiritual fights, and conducted his wandering soul to the New Jerusalem, which he had so beautifully described as ‘the holy city;’ and then his wonder and amazement to find how infinitely short his description came to the blissful reality.” ( Banner of Truth Magazine Issue 299-300, Aug-Sept. 1998)

Bunyan finished his course well; a trophy of God’s grace to His glory. If you have not read the following books I would strongly recommend them:

  • Grace Abounding – Bunyan’s autobiography
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress – The most published book apart from the Bible. “Is regarded as one of the most significant works of English Literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.” [Wikipedia]
  • The Holy War – “As much as he [C.H. Spurgeon] loved Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, he felt for the mature Christian Bunyan’s The Holy War proved more helpful. He contended the former was best for a babe in Christ, but the latter best after growing in grace.”  (Drummond 1992, 346)

Each of these is a must-have in the believer’s library and of tremendous value in their journey from the Land of Destruction to the Celestial City.

One of Christ’s Kisses

I just read this from Samuel Rutherford:

“Believe me, I am most gladly content that Christ breaketh all my idols in pieces. It hath put a new edge upon my blunted love to Christ; I see that He is jealous of my love, and will have all to Himself. . . Christ’s love hath pained me: for howbeit His presence hath shamed me, and drowned me in debt, yet He often goeth away when my love to Him is burning. He seemeth to look like a proud wooer, who will not look upon a poor match that is dying of love. I will not say He is lordly. But I know He is wise in hiding Himself from a child and a fool, who maketh an idol and a god of one of Christ’s kisses, which is idolatry. I fear that I adore His comforts more than Himself, and that I love the apples of life better than the tree of life.” (p. 225)

After leaving my eldest daughter at college for the first time I retained my composure very well, for me anyhow, until reminded of the good-night kisses that would no longer be mine. This thought was a heavy one, and laid my spirit low. Today, God providentially led me to read this portion of Rutherford’s writings. I am thankful for a daughter that is loving and obedient, but she is but one of “Christ’s kisses,” an “apple of life.”  Rutherford’s letter rightly assess my situation–“a child and a fool.” God used it to open my eyes to my sin and bring necessary chastening. I pray that I might honor Him and refocus my heart upon the Giver of every good gift–the Father of lights (James 1:26-18).

Comfort book buying

Everyone has their vices. When emotionally taxed people do different things for comfort; some people eat, some listen to music–I buy books. Two great deals at the Maranatha Baptist Bible College Bookstore:

  • D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude (marked down from $18.95 to $9)
  • David Larsen, The Anatomy of Preaching (marked down from $14.99 to $3.50)

Both of these books were in my “wanted” list so it wasn’t completely impulse buying. The little table beside my chair is getting piled pretty high, and now I have college bills to pay so the flow needs to dwindle to a trickle. However, keeping my list up to date doesn’t cost anything. Right?

How Great the Father’s Love for Us

Today is both an exciting and sad time in the Burgess home. We will be leaving tonight to bring Kara to Maranatha Baptist Bible college to begin her freshman year. This new phase in our lives has caused me to reflect on how great the Father’s love for us really is. Lori and I both will be heart broken when we drive away leaving our eldest daughter at the curve. Yet, we are assured that the Father understands. God sent His sent His Only Begotten Son (I have three other children), His Son was perfect, righteous, holy, and loved Him perfectly (Kara is a sinner saved by grace), He loved His Son perfectly (Lori and I are sinners saved by grace),  His Son came to earth, took upon Himself the form of a servant …and became obedient unto death (Kara begins an exciting new phase of her life for Him).  Tears will unquestionably be shed, but through them we each have come to know the Father’s love just a little bit better. We praise God for his grace in our lives. Pray for us.

Uncomprehending and ill-prepared

Of Mark 6:7b-30

Uncomprehending and ill-prepared disciples nevertheless typify believers in every age and place who are sent out by the Lord of the harvest. No matter how much exegesis, theology, and counseling one has studied, one is never  “prepared for ministry.” A genuine call to ministry always calls us to that for which we are not adequately prepared. It is only in awareness of such that the Christian experiences the presence and promise of Jesus Christ, and learns to depend not on human capabilities but on the one who calls and in the power of the proclamation to authenticate itself.  James Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 183.

Yearning After Christ

I just read this from Samuel Rutherford and it resounded with me. A good consideration to prepare one for the Lord’s Day.

“I am in as sweet communion with Christ as a poor sinner can be; and am only pained that He hath much beauty and fairness, and I little love; He great power and mercy, and I little faith; He much light, and I bleared eyes. Oh, that I saw Him in the sweettness of His love, and i His marriage-clothes, and were over head and ears in love with that princely one, Christ Jesus my Lord! Alas, my riven dish and the running-out vessel can hold little of Christ Jesus!”

Rutherford, The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, 197.

A final day to preach

Yesterday was a very special day during which Pastor Fran Leero preached his final message before New Testament Baptist Church. It was a special time of commemoration and appreciation for the 20-plus years of service that he has humbly performed for his Lord. I find the timing of this event amazing as I consider the historical events that transpired on this day, August 17, in the year 1662. That Lord’s Day marked the day on which over 2000 non-conformist ministers in England preached their final sermon. John MacArthur recounts:

“One of the most tragic days in the history of England was August 17, 1662. A tragic day because it was the last day for certain pastors to be able to preach to their congregations before they were exiled. Some of them lost their lives, some of them were exiled out of England to other countries. What precipitated this was something called the Act of Conformity. Through the years there had been developing in England a group of preachers and a group of churches that were called Non-conformists because they did not subscribe to all of the ritual and ceremony of the Church of England, nor did they confine their worship to the Book of Common Prayer. They were more concerned about Biblical Christianity; they were more concerned about teaching proper doctrine; they were more concerned about worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth and so they were known as Non-conformists. Many of you would know them as Puritans.

They did not conform to the strictures of the Church of England, which of course had neglected the Word of God and the gospel for the most part, and so a law was passed making them illegal. Twenty-five hundred of their ministers were exiled–forbidden to preach. Three-thousand non-conformists were killed and 60,000 families were disrupted. It all came to focus on August 17, 1662 because that was the last Sunday when these Non-conformist preachers could preach in their churches. For the last two weeks I have been reading a book called “Farewell Sermons.” It is a compilation of 24 of the sermons preached on that day. Sermons from a pastor who would never see his people again: some of them died in exile; some of them later came back. But this was the end of their ministry and this  terrible, terrible thing was being done, this terrible act of persecution and they were being dispossessed. The churches were losing them as their pastors; there was going to be none to replace them and they were being shipped off to exile.”

Though the events that brought about the Great Ejection, and the departure of Pastor Leero were infinitely different, the impact on the congregations were likely much the same. The office of pastor is a sacred position and the men who faithfully serve in it (as Pastor Leero has, and undoubtedly will continue to) are worthy of honor. I am thankful for the godly men that God has sovereignly ordained to shepherd me and each member of His flock through the past 2000 years. Truly, a faithful expositor of God’s Word who tenderly and compassionately tends to the congregation is a manifestation of the grace of God. How thankful we should be for doctrinally sound, faithful, loving, wise guides that are willing to contend for the faith and that bring glory to God!