(Judgment Day, Michelangelo)
When thy bright beams, my Lord, do strike mine eye
Methinks I then could truly chide outright
My hidebound soul that stands so niggardly
That scarce a thought get glorified by’t.
My quaintest metaphors are ragged stuff, 5
Making the sun seem like a mullipuff.
It is my desire thou should’st be glorified:
But when thy glory shines before mine eye,
I pardon crave, lest my desire be pride.
Or bed thy glory in a cloudy sky 10
The sun grows wan; and angels palefac’d shrink,
Before thy shine, which I besmirch with ink.
But shall the bird sing forth thy praise, and shall
The little bee present her thankful hum,
But I who see thy shinning glory fall 15
Before mine eyes, stand blockish, dull, and dumb?
Whether I speak or speechless star, I spy,
I fail thy glory, therefore pardon cry.
But this I find, my rhymes do better suit
Mine own dispraise than tune forth praise to thee. 20
Yet being child, whether consonant or mute
I force my tongue to tattle as you see
That I thy glorious praise may trumpet right
Be thou my song and make Lord me thy pipe.
This shining sky will fly away apace, 25
When thy bright glory splits the same to make
Thy majesty pass, whose fairest face
Too foul a path is for thy feet to take.
What glory then, shall tend thee through the sky
Draining the heaven much of angels dry? 30
What light then flame will in thy judgment seat,
‘Fore which all men and angels shall appear?
How shall thy glorious righteousness them treat,
Rendering to each after his works done here?
Then saints with angels though wilt glorify: 35
And burn lewd men and devils gloriously.
One glimpse, my Lord, of thy bright Judgment Day
And glory piercing through, like fiery darts,
All devils, doth me make for grace to pray.
For filling grace had I ten thousand hearts. 40
I’d through ten hells to see thy Judgment Day
Woulds’t though but guild my soul with thy bright rays.
This poem begins with a familiar complaint in Taylor’s poems on the Ascension: The beauty and glory of the scene have such transcendent wonder that no word of the poet can suffice to match what is seen. In the first stanza, he complains of his ability, My hidebound soul that stands so niggardly/That scarce a thought gets glorified by’t”.
The trouble does not lie with his wish, “It is my desire”. But when he sees the glory of Christ, rather than responding with appropriate praise, repents, “I pardon crave”. This is a point which may easily lost: The glory of Christ is such that the one who sees condemns himself, such as when Peter has an inkling who Jesus is he calls out, “Depart from me, for a I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Luke 5:8.
The glory of Christ is so create that the Creation itself shrinks back at his greater beauty, “The sun grows wan”. Even angels, the most glorious of creature, “palefac’d shrink”. If the most glorious elements of creation (the sun, angels) cannot respond to such glory, then how I how hope to do so: (“bed [set] thy glory in a cloudy sky …./ which I besmirch with ink”).
Having spent two stanzas complaining of his weakness to do this work, he notes that humbler creatures, birds and bees, do their work of praising him: then why should I “who see thy shining glory full” not respond but “stand blockish, dull, and dumb”.
And so there is no escape from the paradox: if he praises or stands quiet, he fails to respond adequately to Christ’s glory:
Whether I speak, or speechless stand, I spy [I see]
I fail thy glory: therefore pardon cry.
He then does something interesting: he comments upon his own ability and states that his best poetical gift lies in his expression of his inadequacy to respond to the glory, rather than to praise the glory:
But this I find: my rhymes to better suit
Mine own dispraise than tune forth praise to thee. [the repetition of “praise” well balances the line]
However, having gone this far, he will force himself to praise, “I will force my tongue to tattle” (here it does not have the force of “telling on someone”). And he invokes the help of Christ to praise Christ: “Be thou my song, and make Lord me thy pipe”. The image alludes to the ancient concept that the Spirit’s inspiration of the Scripture was like one playing upon an instrument.
At this point, he begins to praise Christ, but chooses an interesting subject for praise — and one that might seem out-of-place if one does not know the context (The Carmin Christi of Philippians 2): the day of Judgment: The song begins before the Incarnation. The Divine Son willingly becomes Incarnate to bear the weight of the Curse and then Ascends in glory – the God-man having been received by God [when we combine the Trinity and the Incarnation, it becomes constantly paradoxical].
But the exaltation of the Son will be not just the reception of God but the entire Creation’s proclamation of his lordship:
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9–11 (AV). The bended knee comes about either joyfully or involuntarily as a direct result of Christ’s glory. There is no choice in the matter, the glory of Christ will overwhelm all.
This helps explain Judgment: it is the vindication of Christ. Within Christian theology, it is a sin a to go to Hell and be condemned. Human beings are commanded to repent and be saved. God commands human beings to not go to Hell. Hell was not intended for human beings (it was created for the Devil and his angels). Christ has fully carried the weight of the Curse and will pronounce free grace and forgiveness upon all who will receive it. Thus, it is only continued rebellion against Love which results in damnation.
The great exaltation of Philippians 2 takes place in the vindication of Christ when all Creation (whether joyfully or not) confesses Christ’s lordship.
At this point, Taylor joins the theme of Creation blushing before the glory of Christ and Christ’s return in Judgment. He takes an image from Isaiah concerning the sky rolled upon like a scroll:
Isaiah 34:4 (AV)
4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
This image is repeated in Revelation and is again explicitly tied to Judgment:
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Revelation 6:12–17 (AV)
The sky is rolled up because it cannot stand before Christ’s greater glory. Heaven will be “drained” of angels because the armies of heaven will come with Christ in his return (Revelation 19).
The scene moves from the Descent of Christ to the Judgment Seat:
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:11–12 (AV).
In this last stanza, the glory which overwhelmed Taylor with its beauty, the glory which the Creation could not bear, now becomes an instrument of judgment for those who refused to receive the “Lord of Glory”:
One glimpse, my Lord, of thy bright Judgment Day
And glory piercing through, like fiery darts,
Thus, the glory of Christ is a “fiery dart” which pierces “all devils”. There is a pun here based upon Paul’s characterization of the Devil’s attack upon the Saints as an assault of “fiery darts”
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Ephesians 6:16 (AV).
Taylor ends with a prayer that the glory of Christ will be sufficient to lead him. He would willingly march through Hell to see Christ’s glory on Judgment Day.
Another note on construction: the poem begins and ends with the “bright rays” of Christ. The first rays are seen on the Ascension. The final rays are the prayed for rays of Judgment.
The analysis of the previous stanza made be found here
Upon the wings he of the wind rode in
His bright sedan, through all the silver skies
And made the azure cloud his chariot bring
Him to the mountain of celestial joys.
The Prince of the Air durst not an arrow spend
While through his realm his chariot did ascend.
The entire poem concerns the Ascension of Jesus following the Resurrection. Jesus having been resurrected ascends to heaven as King of All.
The image is of Christ ascending through the air up to heaven in great power. Satan can see the ascent of Christ but cannot attack:
Romans 6:9 (AV)
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Upon the wings:
The allusion here is to metaphorical references to God coming in Judgment or great power.
Psalm 18:9–12 (AV)
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. 10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. 12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
The allusion is also to God unassailed power over all his creation:
Psalm 104:1–5 (AV)
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
The mountain of celestial joys:
The place of God’s peculiar residing is sometimes referred to as “heaven” and sometimes as on a mountain. The allusion here seems in particular to be Psalm 24:
Psalm 24 (AV)
A Psalm of David.
1 The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
This psalm is particular appropriate to Taylor’s poem because it concerns the Ascension of Christ, beginning in verse 7: The King of Glory coming through the everlasting doors.
Then follows the apostrophe: the prophet foresees the ascension of Christ and his saints into the kingdom of heaven. He sees his Lord marching at the head of the redeemed world, and conducting them into regions of honour and joy. Suitably to such a view, and in a most beautiful strain of poetry, he addresses himself to the heavenly portals. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory,” with all the heirs of his grace and righteousness, shall make their triumphant entry; “shall enter in,” and go out no more.—James Hervey.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26, vol. 1 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 382–383.
The Prince of the Air: Satan
Ephesians 2:1–3 (AV)
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
The first line is the most interesting metrically
– ‘ – ‘ ‘ – – ‘ ‘ –
Up on the wings he of the wind rode in
Two observations: the accent on “he” coming after the accented “wings” brings a jolt and lays the attention fully upon the main character in the scene. Second, the unaccented “in” hurries the attention along to “His bright sedan”. The same effect is rendered in the third line which ends with “bring”.
In the fourth line, the rhythm slows. There is a long pause after of “mountain” created by normal mid-line pause followed by two unaccented syllables. The effect is to slow the scene as the King arrives at the mountain — with the emphasis falling last of all upon “joys”.
Satan then comes along in the couplet as an impotent enemy gazing in rage at his loss:
Colossians 2:15 (AV)
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
[This is the mere introduction and outline of a sermon. Notice that a sermon is not a merely commentary upon a text, but is a means of changing how one thinks and desires. The application must flow naturally from the transformation of the heart. A good sermon and biblical counseling must have the same ends and means (Dr. John Street calls it ‘expositional counseling’).]
In Philippi, something had gone wrong. There were two women whose conflict had over-spilled the banks of their relationship and was now flowing through the streams of the church. The bitter water had reached into Paul’s prison, and from that prison he did more than resolve the issue, he set out to rebuild their heart.
Now, we have no idea why these women fought: Paul does not even mention the particulars of their conflict. But it is just that way with fighting: when the war is over we have the scars, but we don’t know why we drew our sword.
Paul loves this church dearly. He thanks God for them in every remember (1:3); he prayers for them with joy (1:4); he is certainly God is working in them and for them to the end that they will be “complete” (1:6, 2:13); he “holds in [his] heart” — which is an endearment he offers to no others; he “yearn[s] for [them] all with the affection of Christ Jesus”; they are his partners in the work of the Gospel (1:5).
Therefore, Paul’s heart must have been torn in two when he heard from Epaphroditus of the conflict. Sorrow upon sorrow had been heaped upon Paul, and now he had his friends in rivalry with one-another.
Now, if we were to seek to work here, we would likely put our effort into the facts of the conflict and the possible solutions. But Paul doesn’t go there (at best he leaves that for later, 4:3). Rather, Paul runs at the root of the conflict: They have lost sight of how the story ends.
Paul is no therapist or life coach. He is an apostle and pastor. Paul’s orientation is toward that Day:
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9–11 (ESV)
In Paul’s understanding, that Day transforms how he thinks about this day. His own imprisonment is redeemed, because it has “served to advance the gospel” (1:12). It is not that he is not under pain and pressure: in fact, his sees death and life in the presence of Christ as the only resolution to his pain. However, he does not shrink from the pain and trial, but rather can still rejoice for the cause of Christ’s glory (1:18).
He then turns to the Philippians and tells them that their suffering is a grace of God:
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29–30 (ESV)
Paul is not merely seeking to resolve their conflict: he is seeking to remove the grounds for their conflict. Think of it this way: Come the “day of Christ” what will this matter?
Suppose a young lady will be married in a few months. It is the common lot of such women to work and sacrifice and plan and worry as she prepares for that day. She will deprive herself of pleasures and rest, and she will do so joyfully because she so anticipates that day.
Paul is preparing his friends, his family for “the day of Christ”. He thus works to recast their present troubles as future blessing. Like a bride preparing for her wedding, he tells that they may suffer troubles joyfully: not because the trouble is no trouble, but because the end is so joyous and certain.
Here are three of the means Paul uses to restructure their hearts, their desires, their thinking and willing and affections: First he tells them that end which they desire is certain. Second, he gives the example of his own life, how he willingly has lost everything in his work to gain such a day. Third, he tells them to pray, meditate and then act as those who are willingly preparing for that day.
First, the end is certain: Philippians 2:4-11
Second, Paul’s own example: Philippians 3
Third, Pray, Meditate, Act with Joy. Philippians 4:4-9
[In each of three sections, note the implied obstacles to believing and acting. E.g., in Phil 3, Paul speaks of his joyful loss of all things. We so treasure our immediate goods that we fear losing them and thus will fight to keep them. Paul counters that line of thought by explaining how he works through such desires. The second point, in particular, should do the work of responding to objections. Now someone here will say, But if I try to reconcile with X, I might lose Y.]
View all ye eyes above, this sight which flings
Seraphic fancies in chill raptures high,
A turf of clay, yet bright Glory’s King
From dust to glory angel-like to fly.
A clod immortalized, behold,
Flies through the skies swifter than an angel could.
In this poem, Taylor meditates upon Philippians 2:9:
Therefore, God has highly exalted him
And bestowed on him the name
That is above every name, (10)
So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow
In heaven and on earth and under the earth
(11) And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the Glory of God the Father.
The lines come at the end of the famous Carmen Christi (Song of Christ) which speaks of the Son of God prior to his incarnation (being God), willing became incarnate, suffered and died, was buried, resurrected and then ascends. Verse 9 begins the account of Christ’s ascension, that is, his ascending to the right hand of majesty on high to be seated as king.
“Eyes above”: all the heavenly realm.
Seraph: an angelic being. Isaiah 6:2:
Above him [the Lord] stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
“A turf of clay”: Jesus Christ was a human being with a rational human soul: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2).
“Yet bright Glory’s king”: Even though a man, Jesus was also God incarnate, and thus the King of Glory:
Psalm 24:7–10 (ESV)
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah
“A clod immoratlized” Jesus having risen from the dead, dies no more:
Romans 6:9 (ESV)
9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
I am creating a new class on ecclesiology for The Masters College online Christian Ministry degree. This is undergraduate course and is intended to introduce students to basic concepts in ecclesiology. Here are some rough draft notes for the introductory lecture on the subject of the church as “the people of God”:
THE PEOPLE OF GOD OVERVIEW
The NT contains a series of images which portray the church as “the people of God”. Sometimes the Scripture expressly calls the church “the people of God”; however, that precise image (“the people of God”) is much more common in the OT than in the NT. Michael Horton explains:
The New Testament typically substitutes ekklesia [church] (from the Hebrew qahal, “assembly” or “gathering”) for “people of God.” Yet this reflects the new thing that God is doing in these last days…In ecclesiological terms, it is a progression from “people of God” (as promise) to ekklesia (as fulfillment). The church is the end-times gathering of the scattered sheep of Israel and the nations under the sovereign care of Yahweh the Good Shepherd. (Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, 719-720)
The image of the Church as “the people of God” emphasizes: (1) God is the one who calls and forms the new people; and (2) the primary relationship of the people in the Church is their relationship to God: the people in their Church are defined by that relationship, “The people of God.”
Paul S. Minear in Images of the Church in the New Testament writes:
A second misconception stems from the habit of applying the term to all men as men. “People are like that!” We do not often use the word in the plural. By contrast, when the New Testament writers want to refer to all men they speak either of Adam, the representative of man, or they speak of “all the peoples.” Humanity is not visualized as a world-wide census of individuals, but as the separate peoples that, taken together, comprise mankind as a whole. Each people retains its own discrete unity. Therefore, to identify a particular society as the people of God is immediately to set it over against all other peoples. This people and it alone has been constituted in a special way by God’s action, by his taking it for his own possession. Henceforth I can be spoken as his own people. To avoid to misconceptions, then, it is well to take the phrase as a whole and to accent the article and the prepositional phrase: the people of God. (68)
The church is what it is because God has done something: God has created a people for himself, for his glory:
1 Peter 2:9–10 (ESV)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Christians were seen as a new thing, a new race of people. There was a letter written sometime during the 2nd century A.D. which discusses the belief and lives of the Christians. The unknown begins his letter as follows:
Since I see most excellent Diognetus, that you are extremely interested in learning about the religion of the Christians and are asking very clear and careful questions about them–Specifically, what God do they believe in and how do they worship him, so that they all disregard the world and despise death, neither recognizing those who are considered to be gods by the Greeks, nor observing the superstition of the Jews; what is the nature of the heartfelt love they have for one another; and why has this new race of men away of life come into the world we live in now and not before? (trans. Michael W. Holmes)
To be a Christian is to belong to a new race of people; an identity which supersedes all other identities and allegiances, for our new status is the people of God . That identity will be one that we keep forever. Our citizenship in various countries, for instance, will only last as long as we live. Yet, our heavenly citizenship, as Paul calls it in Philippians 3:20, will last as long as God lives.
The previous post in this series may be found here
- Read Philippians 4:12: What are the categories of temptation which Paul lists?
- What temptation to discontentment does Burroughs list on page 103?
- Burroughs mentions two types of “trouble” on pages 103-4. What are they?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:10. What sort of trouble does money bring?
- What is the precise “root” – note the language used.
- Look to the second half of 6:10: how does Paul further define the effect of money; what does it produce in a human being?
- Contentment necessarily includes “having enough”. How then does money tempt one to be discontent? Is it possible to desire money and be content?
- Read the definition of contentment on page 40 of the book and compare that to what Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. How does money directly attack contentment?
- Stop and consider when or whether you have been tempted to discontentment desiring money? Has desire for money ever led you to sin? Have you been angry, covetous, envious, et cetera as a result of the desire for money?
- In addition to discontent caused by the desire for money, Burroughs mentions the discontentment caused by the possession of money. He uses the image of a town which deceives one upon entry. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. How does money which you have tempt you to discontentment?
- Read James 1:9-11: How does money possessed tempt one to sin?
- Read Matthew 6:19-21: How does money possessed tempt one to sin?
- Burroughs gives a picture of the effects of money possessed by discussing the behavior of insects around light or honey. He is explaining that money attracts temptations, like light or honey attract pests.
- Now, most of us do not consider ourselves rich –rich people always have more money than us. Yet, the average life of a human in the West is far beyond what most people in the history of the world could imagine for themselves – and far beyond what most people in the world currently experience. Moreover, even small amount of property is sufficient to encourage sin – when Jesus preached, he primarily spoke to poor people. How then have you found yourself tempted to sin by the possession of money? Consider the examples given in 1 Timothy, James & Matthew.
- On pages 105-6, Burroughs expands the weight of prosperity beyond just money. There is a prosperity of position which also brings along certain burdens. Look at the picture of Presidents on the day they were sworn into office and the day they retired. Consider persons who have positions that include a certain degree of respect or responsibility, what is the effect upon them? Or consider single people who think that if they had a spouse and children their life would be better – and then consider the difficulties which come with marriage & parenthood.
- On pages 106-7, Burroughs mentions the particular burdens which come with ministry. This was something Burroughs knew very well: When he was a poor and little known pastor and when he was a well-known pastor he experienced a great deal of trouble. In fact, he wrote The Rare Jewel when he was apparently prospering in ministry because he realized the difficulties and temptations.
- Consider all of the ways in which God has prospered you. Now, consider: What duties does your prosperity and position require of you?
- After you consider you duties, how do you think you will do when it comes time for you to give an account to God as to whether you have fulfilled your duties?
- On page 109, Burroughs states the “most dreadful evil”; what is it?
- How often have you been discontent because God has not given you what you most desire?
- Do you think that you are desiring the “most dreadful evil”?
- How is your heart’s desire the “most dreadful evil”?
- At the bottom of page 109, Burroughs lists the greatest sign of God’s wrath: What is it?
- Middle of page 110, how does God “convey the plague of his curse”?
- Do you believe Burroughs on this point? Are you tempted to think he got it wrong?
- On the bottom of page 110, Burroughs sets out worst sort of judgments. What is the worst form of judgment from God? Why do we tend to think that material prosperity is the greatest sort of good? Romans 1:21-25.
- What is the ninth and last lesson of contentment?
- Question 11 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (which would express Burroughs’ position) reads as follows: “Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.” In short, God is sovereign over everything that happens. You also must know that this does not mean that human beings have no ability to make decisions. We do exactly what we want to do, and it is always what God has determined. That is very confusing, but Burroughs who have believed both to be true.
- On the top of page 112, Burroughs explains the scope of providence. How does knowing the scope of providence affect contentment? If it helps, look back at the definition on page 40?
- If God is completely sovereign and you are discontent, then you must believe what about God?
- In the middle of page 112, Burroughs explains the foolishness of raging against providence: what does he say?
- Page 113, what don’t we understand about providence when we are angry at what God has done?
- An example of providence is included at the end.
- What is the foolishness of discontentment when viewed in light of God’s Providence?
- On page 114, Burroughs identifies a reason that Christians often have difficulty taking comfort in God’s providence: what is it?
- What is the usual way that God deals with His people in this world? Page 115.
- If God doesn’t deal with you in this way, what might it mean? Hebrews 12:8.
- To whom does God give His greatest mercies?
- What is the way of God working? Page 117.
- Take a matter in which you are discontent. Then quickly run over the nine lessons for contentment given by Burroughs. After you examine your discontentment in light of these lessons, explain why you are right in continuing to be discontent.
A recent example of providence:
Crisis of War Turned to Gospel Opportunity in Ukraine
We pass along this recent experience of Dr. Bob Provost, President of SGA and TMS Board Member as told by Bruce Alvord (M.Div.’92, Th.M.’98):
“Traveling through Kiev, Dr. Robert Provost told us what he had seen in another city of Ukraine. There is a people group in Crimea called the Tartars, who are Russian-speaking Muslims and were persecuted by Stalin. As a result of the recent Russian invasion of Crimea, some of these Tartars have fled north to other parts of Ukraine. In the city that Dr. Provost was in, the director of a Baptist bible college asked the students if they would vacate their dorm rooms for the refugee families and sleep on mats on the classroom floors. They did.
Sixty Muslim refugees came – twenty adults (including an Imam – a Muslim mosque leader) and forty children. When the realized they were being taken for refuge to a Christian place, they were afraid. They feared there would be icons on the walls (which they would have to cover, believing them to be evil) and that they would have to hide their women from drunken, adulterous ‘priests.’ However, having no other option, they stayed. To their surprise, they found themselves and their children being treated kindly and sleeping in their hosts’ beds. They were shocked. They told the students, ‘If our places were switched, we would never do this for you. Why are you helping us?!’ After hearing the explanation, the Imam became interested in reading the Bible, but only under two conditions: the Bible couldn’t have a cross on it, and it had to have study notes explaining the text! Dr. Provost said, “Well, we happen to have just such a Bible here.” The Russian translation of the MacArthur Study Bible had been completed and didn’t have a cross on the cover!”
The previous post in this series may be found here
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.8
Christ’s School of Contentment (92-99)
1. What is the “one thing necessary”?
2. Give examples of things which are comfortable but not necessary.
3. What is not necessary?
4. How does Christ teach us the necessity of the “one thing”?
5. What does he mean by “the fear of eternity”?
6. How and why does a proper concern about the “one thing” leave you satisfied?
7. When are our hearts most troubled by every-thing?
8. What sort of persons does Burroughs describe as “most discontented”?
9. He gives an example of a man who is not troubled with the “meaner things” [this which are of less importance]: explain that example.
10. When is the heart most easily troubled?
11. What is the cure for such a heart?
12. Now consider: What takes the attention of your heart? Where is your treasure? If you could have just one thing, what would be it be? What is your true “one thing necessary”? What thing, if you lost it, would trouble you most?
13. What is the 4th thing taught in the school of contentment?
14. Read Genesis 3:22-24: What took place? Where were human beings created to live? Where do we now live?
15. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11: What is the nature the place in which we find ourselves in this life?
16. Read Galatians 1:4: What does Paul call our present age?
17. Read 1 Peter 1:1-2: How does Peter describe Christians?
18. Read Hebrews 11:8-16. How are the faithful believers described? In what do they hope?
19. Burroughs gives the example of hardships which befall a traveler. Things have become much better for travelers of late, so you will have pretend a bit to follow his argument. What sort of insults should a traveler expect? What does the traveler overlook such hardships?
20. How are all human beings travelers?
21. What sort of thinking permits a traveler to overlook troubles?
22. How does that thinking pertain to our daily life when we are living at home?
23. Middle of page 95: What sort of thinking must we have when it comes to seeking contentment?
24. Middle of page 95: When you see another person with desireable piece of property, how ought one to think?
25. Bottom of page 95: What sort of thinking is madness?
26. How does Paul describe the Christian in 2 Timothy 2:3. How does Burroughs describe how such a one should think and live? Do you?
27. Bottom of page 96: What sort of thinking is necessary to be content? Why do you think such thoughts are hard for you? Who tells you that you should expect ease and comfort which the exile, the traveler, the pilgrim, the soldier should not expect? What detracts you from such thinking? What helps you to such thinking?
28. How are we supposed to understand the benefits of the creature (all things which God has created?)
29. Burroughs gives an exmaple of how a carnal heart and a Christian should each differently consider the value of wealth? Compare and contrast.
30. Middle page 98: How does God get glory from his creatures?
31. What do you have? How do you use it to give God glory?
32. Do you think that if you looked upon all that you have as opportunities for giving God glory, that it would affect your contentment?
33. Imagine someone who owned a beautiful car and had a dreadful disease. Would such a person be content with their car if they were trying to use it to cure their disease?
The previous post in this series may be found here
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.7
Christ’s School of Contentment (86-92)
As you consider this first series of questions, ask yourself, (a) why is this a hard lesson; and (b) do you even consider this to be an actual demand upon you [would you actually do this].
1. What is the first lesson?
2. Why does Burroughs write that you must learn this “or you can never be a Christian”?
- How does a self-denying heart respond to the “stroke” of God?
4. What does yielding produce (page 87)?
The previous post in this series may be found here
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment week 6
Study Guide, Chapter 4
- An “outward want” means something which we lack from outside of ourselves. Restatement the following sentence in your own words: “he is able to make up all his outward wants of creature comforts from what he finds in himself.”
- Burroughs writes, “this may seem strange.” What is the paradox and difficulty with Burroughs’ statement?
- Does this mean that a man who has God no longer needs to eat? Matthew 44:1-4; Deuteronomy 8:1-3.