Quoting the Ancients - Part 2.
So after those few blog entries of gossip and tittle tattle, I have dragged myself back to the great and glorious subject that I was meant to be writing about. Namely Dr Lloyd-Jones and his use of the Puritans in dealing with the Sealing of the Spirit and the awesome assurance of salvation that it brings us. To begin with, here is a reminder of why Dr L-J thinks quoting the greats is helpful:
"It will be well for us to look at further testimonies to this teaching which are to be found in the writings of prominent children of God in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This is important because many imagine that what I have been saying in exposition of this verse is something new and strange. I want to show therefore that far from being an innovation, it has been taught regularly throughout the centuries; and it chiefly in this present century that it has been dropped into the background and has been neglected and forgotten".
I think we ended the quotes with the glorious Thomas Goodwin yesterday. Dr L-J's next quote was from George Whitfield. This was a brief entry in his journal:
"Was filled with the Holy Ghost. Oh, that all who deny the promise of the Father, might thus receive it themselves! Oh, that all were partakers of my joy!".
The next quote is quite a famous experience of the great Jonathan Edwards. Dr L-J was particularly fond of Jonathan Edwards as he felt that he was more "experimental" than the more academic Puritans of the previous century. Jonathan Edwards had rode to the woods on his horse for his health and had the following experience:
"The Person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception (remembering he was one of the greatest academics of his day!!) which continued as near as I can judge for about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust and full of Christ alone; to love Him with a holy and pure love; to trust Him; to live upon Him and to serve and follow Him".
The next is from Howell Harris (1714-1773) who was used greatly in Wales in the Revival:
"His heart was dancing in the warmth of his first love. After two to three weeks that love burst forth into a flame, a flame that melted his whole nature".
And again a quote from his journal - also brief but so powerful:
"June 18th 1746: London: A day to me memorable. This day eleven years ago I was sealed to the day of redemption".
Dr L-J said that Howell Harris kept referring to it and never forgot it. It was not his conversion - the Doctor was careful to point out - but the first occasion on which he had "expereienced this great effusion of the Spirit".
He then quotes D L Moody:
"Oh! What a day! I cannot describe it! I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand".
This just so blows my mind. When I have ever come CLOSE to having to "ask God to stay His hand"?!!??! It just shows what an amazing thirst-driven spiritual plane these men walked on.
The final quote comes from C H Spurgeon. I do love quoting this, especially as he is being used in an attempt to buttress the cause of cessationism here and there.
"May the Holy Spirit grant that we may not say a word which is not strictly verified by our experience! But I hope we can say we have had converse with the Divine Father. We have not seen Him at any time nor have we beheld His shape. It has not been given to us like Moses to be put in the cleft of the rock and to see His back parts, or the train of the invisible Jehovah, yet we have spoken to Him; we have said to Him; "Abba Father" ... we have had access to Him in such a way that we cannot have been deceived ... we have found Him!".
There are two side issues that just occur to me that are worthy of mention.
That first quote; "May the Holy Spirit grant that we may not say a word which is not strictly verified by our experience" seems to really back up a theme that I have picked up on at the last two Brighton Leaders Conferences that I have been to. Terry mentioned it once also at Stoneleigh 1998. It is this VITALITY of leaders having what Dave Stroud called Power Encounters with God. It has to happen! I think John Piper was the man who said that a leader cannot take his people any further in experience with God than he has been. It's an interesting insight into the wisdom of having an extremely young church pastor isnt it? Yet age aside ... C H Spurgeon was preaching this sort of stuff at 19! The key is - are the leaders of our churches having these power encounters with God??? Are they walking with Him and knowing Him?
The other issue touches on my previous blog entry about worship and SGM's unease with "God is my boyfriend" terminology. C H Spurgeon writes: "We have said to Him; "Abba Father". Any scholar knows that means essentially "Daddy!". You can't get more intimate than that!! I think I know what SGM's concern is - that we do not forget that He is God. But I don't think we are in danger of over-familiarity at the moment, particularly in UK churches. No ... Terry Virgo is right; "This is no age to advocate restraint!". My concern rather is to seize this concept of deep and rich assurance whereby the Spirit cries out with our spirit; "Abba! Father!". Soo .. I WILL sing that beautiful and precious chorus; "Draw me close to You, never let me go" - thanks very much!
Anyway ... they were just asides ...
The final quote from Dr Lloyd-Jones was from Spurgeon's Revival Sermons;
"It is possible for a man to know whether God has called him or not, and he may know it too beyond a doubt. He may know it as surely as if he read it with his own eyes; nay he may know it more surely than that ... the testimony of the Spirit must be true!
There is such a thing on earth as an infalliable assurance of our election. Let a man get once get that, and it will anoint his head with fresh oil, it will clothe him with the white garment of praise and put the song of the angel in his mouth. Happy, happy man! Who is fully assured of his interest in the covenant of grace, in the blood of atonement and in the glories of heaven. Such men there are here this very day".
Dr Lloyd-Jones concludes; "They all bear the same testimony". What an ache that leaves in my heart!! It aches, because I have tasted just barely of what these men write of. But what a longing for more. Call it what you will ... baptism - filling - assurance - sealing. I long for an effusion of power from the Holy Spirit that totally transforms my life!! Nothing else will do!! Nothing else is enough!!