Richard Baxter’s Thoughts on Meditating on Heaven

Richard Baxter’s Thoughts on Meditating on Heaven

Christians do not merely grow from reading through the Bible. Christians grow by meditating on what the Bible says. We should prayerfully seek not to merely comprehend what we’re reading, but to digest it by the help of God’s Spirit.

Thomas Watson wrote: “The promises of God are flowers growing in the paradise of scripture; meditation, like the bee, sucks out the sweetness of them. The promises are of no use or comfort to us, until they be meditated upon.”

He wrote further: “The devil is an enemy to meditation; he cares not how much people read and hear; he knows that meditation is a means to compose the heart, and to bring it into a gracious frame. Satan is content that you should be hearing and praying Christians, just so long as you are not meditating Christians. He can stand your small shot, provided you do not put in this bullet.” – A Treatise Concerning Meditation.

Here’s help to aid us so that we can become Meditating Christians, from the great Richard Baxter from his book ‘Saints’ Everlasting Rest’

1)            Think on God’s love for you in Jesus Christ; think often of how God’s law and love are stunningly united in Jesus Christ. Think of the benefits of union with Jesus (forgiveness of sins, approach to God).

2)            Stir up your desires after Christ’s beauty, love and grace toward you. Jesus died for you, and will never leave you nor forsake you.

3)            Know the hope of becoming like Jesus Christ in heaven, and inheriting all things.

4)            Pray and live courageously and confidently knowing that God in Christ will always be faithful to you, because He is faithful.

5)            Rejoice! Continue to grow in joy knowing that you are an heir with Christ and of His beautiful perfect Kingdom where there will be only bliss, and no sin, death and misery.

-             From Saints’ Everlasting Rest

Augustine’s Conversion- from his ‘Confessions’

Aurelius Augustine’s Testimony of His Conversion to Christianity (from his ‘Confessions’)

Augustine died in AD 430. He is one of the most influential (if not ‘the’ most influential) Christian teacher in the church of the post-apostolic age. It was the teaching of Augustine that instructed John Calvin and the Reformers to return to true and biblical Christianity in the 16th century. Dr. R. C. Sproul once said that if you are a Christian, and yet have never read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Well, I can’t argue with Dr. Sproul, but I would add that if you have never read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ at least once (even twice), you may indeed be ashamed, but you are missing the great blessing of reading and being influenced by a great man of God who pours out his heart in praise to his Great God and Savior.

Augustine:  “I was saying these things [asking God to cleanse him from sin that he realized was in his heart] and weeping in the most bitter contrition in my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl- – I know not which — coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, ‘Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.’ [In Latin this is ‘Tolle, lege; tolle, lege”, a phrase made famous by the ‘Confessions’].

Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon….

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius [his friend] was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence I read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof’ (Rom. 13:13). I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” -Augustine, ‘Confessions’, VIII.12.29.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” -Apostle Paul, Epistle to the Romans, 10.17.

“Cheap Grace” – Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Costly Grace (rather than ‘CHEAP’ Grace)

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be ‘sought’ again and again in Jesus Christ, the gift which must be ‘asked’ for, the door at which a man must ‘knock’.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’, SCM Press, 1959.

Calvin on the Necessity of Prayer, Pt. 1

Calvin on the Necessity of Prayer, Pt. 1

“…We clearly see how destitute and devoid of all good things man is, and how he lacks all aids to salvation. Therefore, if he seeks resources to succor him in his need, he must go outside himself and get them elsewhere….But after we have been instructed by faith to recognize that whatever we need and whatever we lack is in God, and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the Father willed all the fullness of his bounty to abide [cf. Col. 1:19; John 1:16] so that we may all draw from it as from an overflowing spring, it remains for us to seek in him, and in prayers to ask of him, what we have learned to be in him.” Calvin, ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, III.xx.1

De Tocqueville’s Observations on American Culture

Volume I, Issue 2 –  In the early 1840s, Alexis De Tocqueville wrote on his observations of American culture, from politics to religion. In the book ‘Democracy in America’ he claims in the preface that he writes as a “friend” to Americans, from one who has objectively observed the culture as an outsider from France. He claimed that his main purpose in writing the book was to warn Americans of one issue that he believed would be destructive to a democratic country. The issue was INDIVIDUALISM:

“Individualism is a novel expression, to which a novel idea has given birth. Our fathers were only acquainted with egotism. Egotism is a passionate and exaggerated love of self, which leads a man to connect everything with his own person, and to prefer himself to everything in the world.”

“Individualism is a mature and calm feeling, which disposes each member of the community to sever himself from the mass of his fellow-creatures; and to draw apart with his family and his friends; so that, after he has thus formed a little circle of his own, he willingly leaves society at large to itself. Egotism originates in blind instinct: individualism proceeds from erroneous judgment more from depraved feelings; it originates as much in the deficiencies of the mind as in the perversity of the heart.”

“Egotism blights the germ of all virtue; individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but, in the long run, it attacks and destroys all others, and is at length absorbed in downright egotism. Egotism is a vice as old as the world, which does not belong to one form of society more than to another: individualism is of democratic origin, and it threatens to spread in the same ratio as the equality of conditions…”

“…As social conditions become more equal, the number of persons increases who, although they are neither rich enough nor powerful enough to exercise any great influence over their fellow-creatures, have nevertheless acquired or retained sufficient education and fortune to satisfy their own wants. They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands…[Democracy] can throw him back forever upon himself alone, and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.”

Alexis De Tocqueville, ‘Democracy in America’, Vol. II, New York: The Colonial Press, 1900, 104-106.

1 Cor. 12:12: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”

For further reading:

Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations; Robert Bellah, et al, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life.

What Is Man?

Volume I, Issue 1

“What is man that thou are mindful of him?” asked the Psalmist.

In Calvin’s Catechism of 1538, John Calvin writes concerning the Biblical teaching of man:

“Man was first formed to God’s image and likeness, that in his adornments, with which he had been resplendently clothed by God, he might look up to their Author and might worship him with fitting gratitude. But since, relying on the very great excellence of his own nature, and forgetting its origin and ground, he tried to elevate himself beyond the Lord, he had to be deprived of all God’s benefits on which he was stupidly priding himself, so that stripped and bare of all glory, he might recognize God whom he, rich in bounty, had dared despise.”

“Therefore, all we who take our origin from Adam’s seed, when God’s likeness is wiped out, are born flesh from flesh. For although we consist of soul and body, we savor of nothing but flesh. Consequently, whatever way we turn our eyes, we can see nothing but what is impure, profane and abominable to God. For man’s prudence, blind and entangled in limitless errors, ever wars against God’s wisdom. Our depraved will, stuffed with corrupt feelings, hates nothing more than his righteousness. Our strength, weakened for every good work, madly dashes off to wickedness.”

From ‘Calvin’s First Catechism, A Commentary’, by I. John Hesselink, Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1997, pg. 9.

Thank God for God’s grace who did not leave us in an estate of sin and misery but sent Christ as man to redeem us from this estate!