Favorite Quotes on Bible Study

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“Body parts make sense only in relation to a whole human; and every Bible text is understood only in relation to the whole Bible.” ~ F.F. Bruce

“The analogy of faith is the rule that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.”  ~ R.C. Sproul

“Isn’t is amazing that almost everyone has an opinion to offer about the Bible, and yet so few have studied it?” ~ R.C. Sproul

“When there’s something in the Word of God that I don’t like, the problem is not with the Word of God, it’s with me.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“One of the great realities of the Bible is the way its story connects with our story at our point of deepest need.” ~ Anonymous

“The shortest road to an understanding of the Bible is the acceptance of the fact that God is speaking in every line.” ~ Donald G. Barnhouse

“We do not worship the Bible, but in the Word of God written, in a sense we have God in a book. In Jesus, we have God in a body. In the Bible, God is on a page. In Jesus God is a person. In the Bible, God is on a leaf; in Jesus, God is in a life. The living and the printed word, then are twin records of God in this world.” ~ John Bisagno

“If you reject the Bible, you will reject Jesus Christ. If you believe the Bible, you will accept Him. He is the subject of it.” ~ James Montgomery Boice

“Don’t say God is silent when your Bible is closed.” ~ Matt Brown

“Rebellion against the Word of God is rebellion against the God whose word it is.” ~ Kevin DeYoung

“If I can twist the Bible to make it say anything I want it to then it is no longer God speaking to me, it’s just me talking to myself.” ~ Joshua Harris

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” ~ Jerome

“The fact that God’s Word is alive can be seen in the life it produces in all who take it up and act on its instructions.” ~ Walter Kaiser

“The Bible tells us foolishness is a proud willfulness that keeps us from learning, form seeing the evidence.” ~ Tim Keller

“Unless you have an authoritative view of the Bible, you’ve got a God you created and you’re going to be lonely.” ~ Tim Keller

“The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus.”  ~ Tim Keller

“If we believe he is who he said he was, then we must accept the entire Bible as God’s word.” ~ Tim Keller

“So Jesus’ authority & the absolute authority of the Bible stand or fall together.” Tim Keller

“If you only obey God’s Word when it seems reasonable or profitable to you – well, that isn’t really obedience at all.” ~ Tim Keller

“When you’re interpreting the Scriptures, the clear parts should inform the murkier parts.” ~ Tim Keller

“We need to remember to rely not only the Word of the Lord, but also on the Lord of the Word.” ~ Tim Keller

“We need to see the Bible as a Story with principles sprinkled throughout, as opposed to a book of doctrines sprinkled with stories.” ~ Tim Keller

“There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: Is it basically about me or basically about Jesus?” ~ Tim Keller

“If Jesus didn’t think he could handle life without knowing the Scripture inside and out, what makes you think you can?” ~ Tim Keller

“It can, and perhaps ought to be, read cover to cover—as you might read any other book. In fact, the Bible can be read, at a speaking speed, in approximately eighty hours. This means it takes no more than thirteen minutes per day to read through the Bible from start to finish in a year; this is less time than is given over to commercials in one hour of television.” ~ Jerry Root , Introduction in the C.S. Lewis Study Bible, p. xxii.

“Ignorance of Scripture is the root of every error in religion, and the source of every heresy.” ~ J.C. Ryle

“Scripture is not man-centered as though salvation were the main theme, but it is God-centered because His glory is the center.” ~ C. Ryrie

“The Bible teaches that salvation is not an end in itself but is rather a means to the end of glorifying God.” ~ C.C. Ryrie

“We come to Scripture each day to discover where we are not listening, not assure ourselves we are right.” ~ Pete Scazzero

“Only a strong view of Scripture can withstand the pressure of relativistic thinking.” ~ Francis Schaeffer

“If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, it’s natural not to want to miss a word of it.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“Take away the Scriptures and you take away Jesus, take away Jesus and you take away life.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“The more I expose myself to the Word of God, the greater my faith will be.” ~ R. C. Sproul

“The word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart, but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“There is an inseparable relationship between your affection for Christ and your affection for the Scriptures.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“The greatest weakness in the church today is no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything but that in which God has placed it—His Word.” ~ R.C. Sproul

“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.”  ~ R.C. Sproul

“The Word of God, whether it is preached and heard or read and memorized, is more than simply true. It is effectual.” ~ Sam Storms

“The Bible isn’t about people trying to discover God, but about God reaching out to find us.” ~ John R.W. Stott

“The Word of God comes to us most effectively in the context of community.” ~ Steve Timmis

“The Bible is a narrative, it tells us everything we need to know about mid-life concerns. The Bible is the great story of redemption that encompasses the stories of every human life. It is the overarching ‘everything’ story. It is comprehensive in scope without being exhaustive in content. It gives us wisdom for everything without directly discussing every particular thing.” (Paul Tripp, Lost In the Middle, Loc. 74)

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thy house, and upon thy gates. — Moses, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9

We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy. — R.C. Sproul

To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches. — John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.— Augustine, A.D. 354-430

Though our covetous clerics are altogether carried away by bribery, heresy, and many other sins, and though they despise and oppose the scripture, as much as they can, yet the common people cry out for the scripture, to know it, and obey it, with great cost and peril to their lives — Prologue to the Wyclif Bible, c. 1395.

Mark the plain and manifest places of the Scriptures, and in doubtful places see thou add no interpretation contrary to them; but (as Paul saith) let all be conformable and agreeing to the faith. — William Tyndale, Preface to the New Testament, 1526.

Our malicious and wily hypocrites … with wresting the scripture unto their own purpose clean contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text … so delude [the laymen] in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay people (when it hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls cannot abide), that though thou feel in thine heart and art sure how that all is false that they say, yet couldest thou not solve their subtle riddles. Which thing only moved me to translate the New Testament. Because I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text. — William Tyndale, Preface to the Pentateuch, 1530.

Again, it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstance, considering what goeth before, and what followeth after. For there be some things which are done and written, to the intent that we should do likewise: as when Abraham believeth God, is obedient unto his word, and defendeth Lot his kinsman from violent wrong. There be some things also which are written, to the intent that we should eschew such like. As when David lieth with Urias’ wife, and causeth him to be slain. Therefore (I say) when thou readest scripture, be wise and circumspect: and when thou commest to such strange manners of speaking and dark sentences, to such parables and similitudes, to such dreams or visions as are hid from thy understanding, commit them unto God or to the gift of his holy spirit in them that are better learned than thou. — Miles Coverdale, Preface to the Bible, 1535.

But still ye will say I can not understand it. What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read, nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest, keep it well in memory; that thou understandest not, read it again, and again. If thou can neither so come by it, counsel with some other that is better learned. Go to thy curate and preacher; show thyself to be desirous to know and learn, and I doubt not but God – seeing thy diligence and readiness (if no man else teach thee) – will himself vouchsafe with his holy spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee. — Thomas Cranmer, Preface to the Great Bible, 1540.

And considering how hard a thing it is to understand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sects, and heresies grow daily for lack of the true knowledge thereof, and how many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot attain to the true and simple meaning of the same, we have also endeavored both by the diligent reading of the best commentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather brief annotations upon all the hard places, as well for the understanding of such words as are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application of the same as may most appertain to God’s glory and the edification of his Church. — Geneva Bible Preface, 1560.

For though, whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope, and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God’s spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness … — King James Version Preface, 1611.

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does any thing appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights. “Lord, is it not thy word, If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God? Thou givest liberally and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, if any be willing to do thy will, he shall know. I am willing to do. Let me know thy will.” I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remain, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: And then, the writings whereby being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach. —John Wesley, Preface to Sermons on Several Occasions, 1746.

In the language of the sacred writings, we may observe the utmost depth, together with the utmost ease. All the elegancies of human composures sink into nothing before it: God speaks not as man, but as God. His thoughts are very deep; and thence his words are of inexhaustible virtue. And the language of his messengers also, is exact in the highest degree: for the words which were given them accurately answered the impression made upon their minds: and hence Luther says, “divinity is nothing but a grammar of the language of the Holy Ghost.” To understand this throughly, we should observe the emphasis which lies on every word; the holy affections expressed thereby, and the tempers shewn by every writer. — John Wesley, Preface to the New Testament, 1754.

THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. — Anonymous

Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet, and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. It comes into the palace to tell the monarch that he is a servant of the Most High, and into the cottage to assure the peasant that he is a son of God. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. It has a word of peace for the time of peril, a word of comfort for the time of calamity, a word of light for the hour of darkness. Its oracles are repeated in the assembly of the people, and its counsels whispered in the ear of the lonely. The wicked and the proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and the penitent it has a mother’s voice. The wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad by it, and the fire on the hearth has lit the reading of its well-worn pages. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, friendship, sympathy and devotion, memory and hope put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech, breathing of frankincense and myrrh. — Henry van Dyke

The Bible is a corridor between two eternities down which walks the Christ of God; His invisible steps echo through the Old Testament, but we meet Him face to face in the throne room of the New; and it is through that Christ alone, crucified for me, that I have found forgiveness for sins and life eternal. The Old Testament is summed up in the word Christ; the New Testament is summed up in the word Jesus; and the summary of the whole Bible is that Jesus is the Christ. — Bishop Pollock

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them … The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. — Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647.

In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. — C.H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries, 1890.

Men must interpret to the best of their ability each particular part of Scripture separately, and then combine all that the Scriptures teach upon every subject into a consistent whole, and then adjust their teachings upon different subjects in mutual consistency as parts of a harmonious system. Every student of the Bible must do this, and all make it obvious that they do it by the terms they use in their prayers and religious discourse, whether they admit or deny the propriety of human creeds and confessions. If they refuse the assistance afforded by the statements of doctrine slowly elaborated and defined by the Church, they must make out their own creed by their own unaided wisdom. The real question is not, as often pretended, between the word of God and the creed of man, but between the tried and proved faith of the collective body of God’s people, and the private judgment and the unassisted wisdom of the repudiator of creeds.— A. A. Hodge, A Short History of Creeds and Confessions, 1869.

Every one who knows what it is to give a lesson or an address occasionaly on Scripture is aware how the verse or paragraph on which he has had to prepare himself to speak stands out in his Bible afterwards from the rest of the text, as if its letters were embossed on the page. Something thus to awaken the mind and concentrate the attention should be devised by every one; because it is not mere reading, but meditation — “meditation all the day,” as the Psalmist says — which extracts the sweetness and the power out of Scripture. — Dr. James Stalker, How to Study the Bible, 1895.

I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light, exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading. Used oftentimes to dwell long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders. — Jonathan Edwards, quoted in Jonathan Edwards and the Bible by Robert E. Brown (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), p.3.

Again, we are taught by this passage [John 5:39-40], that if we wish to obtain the knowledge of Christ, we must seek it from the Scriptures; for they who imagine whatever they choose concerning Christ will ultimately have nothing of him but a shadowy phantom. First, then, we ought to believe that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scriptures; and if it be so, it follows that we ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God? Next, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so he declares in this passage that our labors shall not be fruitless; for the Father testifies in them concerning his Son in such a manner that He will manifest him to us beyond all doubt. But what hinders the greater part of men from profiting is, that they give to the subject nothing more than a superficial and cursory glance. Yet it requires the utmost attention, and, therefore, Christ enjoins us to search diligently for this hidden treasure. Consequently, the deep abhorrence of Christ which is entertained by the Jews, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their indolence. For the lustre of the glory of God shines brightly in Moses, but they choose to have a vail to obscure that lustre. — John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John (1563).

So then, from this we must gather that to profit much in the holy Scripture we must always resort to our Lord Jesus Christ and cast our eyes upon him, without turning away from him at any time. You will see a number of people who labor very hard indeed at reading the holy Scriptures — they do nothing else but turn over the leaves of it, and yet after ten years they have as much knowledge of it as if they had never read a single line. And why? Because they do not have any particular aim in view, they only wander about. And even in worldly learning you will see a great number who take pains enough, and yet all to no purpose, because they kept neither order nor proportion, nor do anything else but gather material from this quarter and from that, by means of which they are always confused and can never bring anything worthwhile. And although they have gathered together a number of sentences of all sorts, yet nothing of value results from them. Even so it is with them that labor in reading the holy Scriptures and do not know which is the point they ought to rest on, namely, the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.— John Calvin, Sermon on Ephesians 2:19-22 (1559).

Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. The heretic simply selects the parts of the Scripture he wants to emphasize and lets the rest go. This is shown by the etymology of the word heresy and by the practice of the heretic. “Beware,” an editorial scribe of the fourteenth century warned his readers in the preface to a book. “Beware thou take not one thing after thy affection and liking, and leave another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take everything with other.” The old scribe knew well how prone we are to take to ourselves those parts of the truth that please us and ignore the other parts. And that is heresy. —A. W. Tozer, We Travel An Appointed Way.

One does not hear God’s word of grace in the Scriptures unless he has decided that this is the word he really needs and wants to hear. He must decide that as he hears he is prepared to submit to the voice of God, to be judged by it and to have it challenge all that he knows and intends. He must understand that what he hears the Bible say can change his very life. Therefore, he cannot come to the New Testament as the disputer, the wise man, the judge over the word of God. He can come only as the child who needs to be made wise by the Wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:18-31). —Glenn W. Barker, The New Testament Speaks (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), p. 18.

It is strange how powerful is the tradition of the pulpit; how often able and thoughtful men will go all their lives taking for granted that an important passage has that meaning which in youth they heard ascribed to it, when the slightest examination would show them that it is far otherwise. —John A. Broadus, A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons

When I Read the Bible Through

by Amos R. Wells

I supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs
Yes, I thought I knew the Word;
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.

Oh, the massive, mighty volume!
Oh, the treasures manifold!
Oh, the beauty of the wisdom
And the grace it proved to hold!
As the story of the Hebrews
Swept in majesty along,
As it leaped in waves prophetic,
As it burst to sacred song,
As it gleamed with Christly omens,
The Old Testament was new,
Strong with cumulative power,
When I read the Bible through.

Ah! Imperial Jeremiah,
With his keen, coruscant mind;
And the blunt old Nehemiah,
And Ezekiel refined!
Newly came the song idyllic,
And the tragedy of Job;
Deuteronomy, the regal,
To a towering mountain grew,
With its comrade peaks around it
When I read the Bible through.

What a radiant procession
As the pages rise and fall,
James the sturdy, John the tender
Oh, the myriad-minded Paul!
Vast apocalyptic glories
Wheel and thunder, flash and flame,
While the church triumphant raises
One incomparable name.
Ah, the story of the Saviour
Never glows supremely true
Till you read it whole and swiftly,
Till you read the Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through.

Tolle lege

A man was looking for some guidance from God so he asked God to make his Bible open at the page He wanted him to read. So the man opened his bible randomly and the first verse that his eyes met was 2 Corinthians 13:12, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” A little discouraged he tried again and this time he found himself at 1 Corinthians 14:39 “Do not forbid the use of tongues.”

He tried again the next day, and the first verse he found was Matthew 27:5, “he went and hanged himself.” The next verse was Luke 10:37, “… go and do likewise!”

4 Reasons Why Situational Ethics Doesn’t Work In The Case of Abortion

Would you consider abortion in any of the following four situations?

1. There’s a preacher and wife who are very, very poor. They already have fourteen children, and now she finds out she’s pregnant with the fifteenth. They’re living in tremendous poverty. Considering their poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending an abortion?

2. The father is sick with a bad cold, the mother has tuberculosis (TB). They have four children. The first is blind, second is dead, third is deaf, fourth has TB. She finds that she’s pregnant again. Given their extreme situation, would you consider recommending an abortion?

3. A white man has raped a thirteen-year-old black girl, and she became pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending an abortion?

4. A teenage girl is pregnant. She’s not married. Her fiancé is not the father of the baby, and he’s concerned. Would you consider recommending an abortion?

If you said yes to the first case, you just killed John Wesley, one of the great evangelists in the nineteenth century. If you said yes to the second case, you killed Ludwig van Beethoven. If you said yes to the third case, you killed Ethel Waters, the great black gospel singer who thrilled audiences for many years at Billy Graham Crusades around the world. And, if you said yes to the fourth case, you killed Jesus Christ.

May 5th in Christian History – Alexander Maclaren, Justinian, and George Whitefield

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

321: Emperor Constantine, unable to subdue the Donatists, gave them grudging tolerance. The Donatists, a North African sect, split from the Catholic Church because they insisted that those who had betrayed Christ and the Scripture could not lightly be readmitted to the Church. Bishops consecrated by former traitors were not in the apostolic succession, they said, and so they set up their own succession.

553: The Council of Constantinople II began. Under Emperor Justinian, who was manipulated by his wife, Theodora, it issued a ruling favorable to the Monophysite heresy (Constantinople image on rightSee article on Justinian below).

1525: Frederick the Wise, benefactor of Martin Luther and Reformation, died.

1910: Alexander Maclaren, a Baptist preacher with a worldwide reputation for his sermons and writings, died on this day. He refused to write out his sermons so that the Holy Spirit would have free play when he spoke. During singing, he sat with the congregation, observing that he wanted to “join the praise, not lead it.” (See article on Alexander Maclaren below)

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 5th.

 “Alexander Maclaren: The Prince of Expositors”

 Alexander Maclaren, born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1826 was one of the greatest preachers of the nineteenth century.

“A man who reads one of Alexander Maclaren’s sermons,” said Sir Robertson Nicoll, “must either take his outline—or take another text.” How did he do it? The answer is simple: Through hard work, disciplined study, and concentration on the one important thing—preaching the Word. He turned down most speaking and social invitations. He stayed home, did his work, and built a great church.

“I began my ministry,” he told a group of young preachers, “with the determination of concentrating all my available strength on the work, the proper work of the Christian ministry, the pulpit … I have tried to make my ministry a ministry of exposition of Scripture.”

To Alexander Maclaren, preparing messages was hard work. He often said he could never prepare sermons while wearing slippers; he always wore his outdoor boots. He was known to devote sixty hours to the preparation of a single sermon.

In 1845 Maclaren was sent to preach at a run-down church in Southampton, where the people were so impressed they called him to be their pastor. The Portland Chapel had suffered greatly under an incompetent pastor who had plunged them into debt and given the church a bad reputation.

“If the worst comes to the worst,” Maclaren wrote home, “I shall at all events not have to reflect that at the funeral of a withered one.” The work at Portland Chapel prospered.

Two years later, he was invited to preach at Union Chapel, Manchester. He accepted their call, and began an amazing forty-five-year term that gave him the name, “Maclaren of Manchester.”

History repeated itself: the church grew and had to move into a new edifice that seated nearly two thousand people. Maclaren had changed his location, but not his disciplines. He refused most invitations, and concentrated on studying the Word and feeding his people. He was not a visiting pastor and he repeatedly challenged the adage that “a home-going pastor makes a church-going people.” He reminded ministerial students that the adage was true only if, when the people came to church, they received something worth coming to hear.

Dr. Alexander Maclaren was one of the clearest Bible Expositors of the age. How he became such a Bible scholar is worthy of note. One who in his early ministry was an assistant to the great Baptist preacher, once asked him what had contributed most of all to his success.

Dr. Maclaren, after deprecating the idea that he had attained “success,” said that he owed all that was in himself and his ministry to the habit, never broken, of spending one hour a day “alone with the Eternal.” The hour, which he took, was from nine to ten in the morning. His assistant says that he was sometimes allowed to be in the room with the pastor, but no word was allowed. In his well-worn armchair he sat, with his big Bible on his knees, sometimes reading its pages, more frequently his hand over his face.

During that hour he did not allow himself to read even the Bible for texts, or as a student. It was read as a child would read a letter from an absent father; as a loving heart would drink in again the message from a loved one far away. Maclaren died on May 5th, 1910.

 “Justinian and Jesus”

The fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries rumbled with prolonged controversy about the nature of Christ, and numerous councils convened to grapple with this issue. The Council of Nicaea in 325 said that Christ was fully divine. Fifty years later, the Council of Constantinople proclaimed Christ fully human. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 formulated the famous creed that Christ is “truly God and truly man … two natures without confusion, without change, without division, or without separation. … ”

On this day in Christian history, May 5, 553, another council was convoked, this one by Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. Justinian, brilliant and tireless, longed to be religious. He spent many nights in prayer and fasting, and endless days in theological study. He built the fabulous cathedral of Hagia Sophia and spoke longingly of a unified church.

But Justinian was also vain, ambitious, ostentatious, and easily influenced. His beautiful wife Theodora, daughter of a bear trainer, was ruthless, and she played him like a marionette. Unable to understand the two natures of Christ, she held the Monophysite view—that Jesus had no human nature but possessed only a divine nature, clothed somehow in human flesh. At the Council of Constantinople, Justinian, manipulated by his wife, issued a decree favorable to the Monophysites.

Pope Vigilius had refused to attend the council due to fear for his safety and because of the preponderance of Eastern bishops. In Rome he received news of the council’s actions with disdain but eventually accepted its decisions as unimportant. Monophysite views, however, continue to this day in Abyssinia, Syria, and in the Coptic church of Egypt.

And Justinian? He eventually became a full-fledged heretic, preaching that the body of Christ, being incorruptible, could not have experienced suffering and death. He died in 565, unrepentant, at age 83, his later years darkened by perpetual disasters.

Healthy Christianity demands both a correct theological knowledge of Christ and a personal knowledge of the Savior through faith and obedience. Justinian grappled with the former, never arrived at the latter, and makes us wonder what the Lord thinks of his title in history—Justinian the Great.

In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word.John 1:1-3a

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day – this article was adapted from the May 5th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 

“Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and the Holy Club”

Charles Wesley and two friends began a small Christian group at Oxford in 1728. John Wesley, who had already graduated from Oxford, returned the following year as a tutor and assumed its leadership. Oxford students made fun of the group, referring to it as the “Holy Club” or “Methodists.” By the time George Whitefield joined the group in 1733, there were eight or nine dedicated members.

The focus of the Holy Club was on religious self-discipline. They woke up early for lengthy devotions, took Communion each Sunday, fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and observed Saturday as the Sabbath in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Exhorting each other to live piously and do good works, they were motivated by the belief that they were working for the salvation of their souls. Yet their self-discipline brought them neither happiness nor salvation (Oxford University Campus pictured on left).

The lifestyle of the Holy Club had a catastrophic effect on the life of William Morgan, one of the founders. He lost his mind and eventually his life in his struggle to achieve self-disciplined perfection.

Whitefield was the first Holy Club member to question their practices. He read a book where, in his words,

God showed me that I must be born again, or be damned! I learned that a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament, and yet not be a Christian. Shall I burn this book? Shall I throw it down? Or shall I search it? I did search it; and, holding the book in my hand, thus addressed the God of heaven and earth: “Lord, if I am not a Christian, or if I am not a real one, for Jesus Christ’s sake, show me what Christianity is that I may not be damned at last!” God soon showed me in reading a few lines further that “true religion is a union of the soul with God, and Christ formed within us,” a ray of Divine light was instantaneously darted in upon my soul, and from that moment, but not till then, did I know that I must become a new creature.

His solution, however, was to try to become a new creature through further extremes of self-denial. During Lent in 1735 he only ate a little coarse bread with tea. By Holy Week he was so weak that he could not study or even walk up a flight of stairs. His grades began to suffer and his tutor wondered if he was going mad. His physician put him in bed, where he remained for seven weeks.

Having hit bottom in his efforts to earn his salvation. Whitefiled described what happened next:

God was pleased to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold f his dear Son by a living faith, and by giving me the Spirit of adoption, to seal me, even to the day of everlasting redemption.

O! With what joy—joy unspeakable—even joy that was full of and big with glory, was my soul filled when the weight of sin went off and an abiding sense of the love of God broke in upon my disconsolate soul! Surely it was a day to be had in everlasting remembrance. My joys were like a spring tide and overflowed the banks.

Later he declared, “I knew the place: it may be superstitious, perhaps, but whenever I go to Oxford I cannot help running to the place where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me, and gave me the new birth”

On May 5, 1735, Whitefield wrote a letter to John Wesley, attempting to share what had happened to him. He wrote, “Into his all gracious arms, I blindly throw myself.” It would be three more years before the Wesley’s found his gracious arms.

Reflection:

 Have you ever found yourself trying to earn your salvation?

Salvation is a gift to be received from God, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Good works do not lead us to Christ—it is out of our relationship with Christ that good works flow.

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you cannot take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. – Ephesians 2:8-9

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 5th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 

May 1st In Christian History – Joseph Addison and John Brown

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1551: The eleventh session of the Council of Trent opened. The council, which began in December 1545, was interrupted so many times as it dealt with deep issues that it took eighteen years to accomplish its work on the Counter-Reformation, finally closing in December 1563.

1873: Missionary-Explorer David Livingstone died in Africa near Lake Bangweolo (now within Zambia).

1939: The popular radio series that has featured Theodore Epp, Warren W. Wiersbe, and currently Woodrow Kroll (pictured on the left) – Back to the Bible began broadcasting from Nebraska.

 “Raised Up to Remake English Morals”

God raised up Mr. Addison and his associates to lash the prevailing vices and ridiculous and profane customs of this country, and to show the excellence of Christ and Christian institutions. – John Wesley

To win such praise from John Wesley, Joseph Addison must have been a good influence indeed.

God “raised up” Addison on May 1st in 1672. He was born in England near Amesbury in Wiltshire, in the heart of Old Wessex, not far from the Avon River. His health at birth did not give much assurance that he would survive long, so he was baptized the same day. Despite his early poor health, he survived and grew into a young man, surrounded by strong moral influences. He was related to clergymen on both sides of his family. Hs mother was sister to the bishop of Bristol, and his father became the dean of Lichfield while Joseph was a youngster. Richard Steele visited the Addison home and considered its air of affectionate peace worthy of writing about in an issue of The Tatler.

Addison became one of the great stylists of the English language. His Latin poetry was also among the best written by an Englishman. But his real fame comes from the periodicals he and Richard Steele produced together: The Tatler, The Spectator and The Guardian.

The papers enjoyed a wide readership. Addison’s stated purpose in The Tatler was “to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.” The papers introduced the middle-class readership to recent developments in philosophy and literature. It is said that Addison and Steele’s works in the three papers were responsible for raising the general cultural level of the English middle class.

One of the most popular sections of the papers was Addison’s tales about a fictional character named Sir Roger de Coverly. Lively anecdotes about him exposed folly and suggested better behavior:

My friend Sir Roger has often told me, with a great deal of mirth, that at his first coming to his estate, he found three parts of his house altogether useless: that the best room in it had the reputation of being haunted, and by that means was locked up; that noises had been heard in his long gallery, so that he could not get a servant to enter it after 8 o’clock at night; that the door of one of his chambers was nailed up, because there went a story in the family that a butler had formerly hanged himself in it; and that his mother, who lived to a great age, had shut up half the rooms in the house, in which either her husband, a son, or daughter had died. The knight, seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass and himself a manner shut our of his own house…ordered all the apartments to be flung open and exorcised by his chaplain, who lay in every room one after another, and by that means dissipated the fears which had so long reigned in the family.

I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous harrows, did not I find them to very much prevail in all parts of the country.

Although he trained to become a priest, Addison never became one. It would have been a difficult path for him, for he was painfully shy. Instead of preaching to the public in a church, the press became his pulpit. In addition to his satires, Addison wrote hymns such as “When All Thy Mercies, O My God”:

When all Thy mercies, O my God,

My rising soul surveys,

Transported with the view, I’m lost

In wonder, love and praise.

(Addison pictured on left)

On his deathbed, Addison was calm and courageous. He urged his nephew to “see how a Christian can die.” The excellence of his writing ensures that his memory will not perish soon, for his essays are often included in anthologies of English literature.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 1st.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

 

John Brown Finds A Wife

The mid-1680s is remembered as the Killing Time in Scotland. Royal regiments martyred Scottish Presbyterians at will. Despite the danger, Presbyterian John Brown fell in love with Isabel Weir. He proposed to her, but warned that he would one day seal his testimony with blood. Isabel replied, “If it be so, I will be your comfort. The Lord has promised me grace.” They were married in a secret glen by the outlawed minister, Alexander Peden. “These witnesses of your vows,” said Peden, beginning the illegal ceremony, “have come at risk of their lives to hear God’s word and his ordinance of marriage.” The vows were spoken, and then Peden drew Isabel aside, saying, “You have got a good husband. Keep linen for a winding-sheet beside you; for in a day when you least expect it, thy master shall be taken.”

The Brown home soon included two children. It was happy, filled with prayer and godly conversation. Fugitive preachers were hidden and cared for there. But on May 1, 1685 John rose at dawn, singing Psalm 27, to find the house surrounded by soldiers. The family filed onto the lawn. The commander, Claverhouse, shouted to John, “Go to your prayers; you shall immediately die.” Kneeling, John prayed earnestly for his wife, pregnant again, and for his children. Then he rose, embraced Isabel, and said, “The day is come of which I told you when I first proposed to you.”

“Indeed, John. If it must be so, I can willingly part with you.”

“This is all I desire,” replied John. “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his children, then Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot. The soldiers hesitated. Snatching a pistol, Claverhouse placed it to John’s head and blew out his brains. “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” he snarled. Isabel, fixing Claverhouse in her gaze, told him she had never been so proud of him. Claverhouse mounted his horse and sped away, troops in tow. Isabel tied John’s head in a napkin and sat on the ground weeping with her children until friends arrived to comfort them.

“Armies may surround me, but I won’t be afraid; War may break out, but I will trust you. I ask only one thing, Lord: Let me live in your house every day of my life to see how wonderful you are and to pray in your temple.”Psalm 27:3,4

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day – this article was adapted from the May 1st entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 

“The Death of John Brown”

 The child on the moss she laid 

And she stretched the cold limbs of the dead,

And drew the eyelid’s shade,

And bound the corpse’s shattered head,

And shrouded the martyr in his plaid;

And where the dead and living slept,

Sat in the wilderness and wept.

This POEM, written by Henry Inglis, tells the story of death of John Brown, Covenater martyr.

The Covenanters were Scottish Presbyterians who resisted the Episcopal system that Charles I, Charles II, and James VI imposed upon Scotland from 1637 to 1690. They opposed the divine right of kings, believing that limitless sovereignty belongs to God alone. When Presbyterianism was outlawed and replaced by episcopacy, the situation became very serious for the Covenanters, who were forced to choose between obedience to God or to the king. During the reign of Charles II they were haunted, jailed, and killed in large numbers.

John Brown was a poor farmer in Priesthill, Scotland, who aspired to be a Covenanter minister, but felt hampered by a problem with stammering. A brilliant man, Brown instead put his intellect and love of the Bible to work at home—teaching theology classes to local youth at his farm. Being a Covenanter meant being willing to give up his life for Christ at any moment, and Brown taught his students not to fear persecution but rather to consider it joy to suffer for Christ. Students came from miles around to be inspired by the gifted teacher (John Brown pictured on left).

In 1682 Covenanter pastor Alexander Peden performed the wedding ceremony for John Brown and Isabel Weir. After the ceremony Peden said to the bride, “Isabel, you have got a good man; but you will not enjoy him long. Prize his company and keep linen by you to he his winding sheet; for you will need it when you are not looking for it, and it will be a bloody one.”

On May 1, 1685, the king’s troops came to Priesthill looking for Peden. They surprised Brown in his field and brought him back to his house and ransacked it. Finding some Covenanter literature, they began to interrogate him. Speaking in a clear, stammer-free voice, Brown’s confident answers made the chief officer ask whether he was a preacher. When told no, the officer replied, “Well, if he has never preached, much has he prayed in his time. Go to your prayers, for you shall immediately die.”

John Brown fell on his knees, asking God to spare a remnant of believers in Scotland. The officer, cut him short, accusing him of preaching rather than praying. The officer later confessed that he could never forget John Brown’s powerful prayer.

Brown then said to his wife, “Now Isabel, the day is come that I told you would come when I spoke to you first of marrying me.”

She said, “Indeed, John, I can willingly part with you.”

He replied, “That is all I desire. I have no more to do but die. I have been ready to meet death for years past.”

As he said his good-byes and kissed his wife and baby, the officer broke in and ordered the troops to shoot him. The soldiers were so moved by the scene that they would not comply. The officer angrily pulled out his pistol, walked over, and shot John Brown in the head.

“What do you think of your fine husband now?” he asked Isabel.

Through her tears she answered, “I ever thought much good of him, and more than ever now.”

As the poem tells, Isabel laid her baby on the ground, bound up her beloved husband’s head, straightened his body, covered him with a plaid blanket, and sat down and wept.

Peden was in a nearby Covenanter home and described seeing a meteor that morning, “a bright, clear, shining light [that] fell from heaven to the earth.” He told his fellow believers, “And indeed there is a clear, shining light fallen this day, the greatest Christian that I ever conversed with.”

 Reflection

John and Isabel Brown’s marriage was filled with love and yet accompanied by the awful reality of the constant threat of death. Can you imagine what it would be like to live with martyrdom as a continual possibility? How would you live differently?

“You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my youthful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s followers.” Revelation 2:13

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 1st entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.