Christ’s Preciousness (to the believer) – O.Winslow

Part of my Sunday-before-worship reading was in the Spring 2012 issue of The Free Grace Broadcaster produced by Chapel Library. I have referenced this free publication before. Chapel Library promotes the gospel of sovereign grace by reprinting many Puritan and Calvinist works of the past. Their quarterly magazine does the same, but around a single theme (this issue was on “The Person of Christ”). The last article in this issue contains a wonderful piece by 19th century English (non-Conformist) pastor Octavius Winslow (1808-1878), titled “Christ is Precious”. This in turn is taken from a larger work of his called The Precious Things of God, which has been reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria (you may find this work at this site). In this section of this work I came across this wonderful quote:

The believer, too, beholds a suitability in Christ, sees Him to be just the Savior adapted to the necessities of his soul; and this renders Him peculiarly precious. ‘I see Him,’ exclaims the believer, ‘to be exactly the Christ I need: His fullness meets my emptiness, His blood cleanses my guilt, His grace subdues my sin, His patience bears with my infirmities, His gentleness succors my weakness, His love quickens my obedience, His sympathy soothes my sorrows, His beauty charms my eye. He is just the Savior, just the Christ I need, and no words can describe His preciousness to my soul’. …The believer can say, ‘Christ is mine, and I have all things in one, even in Christ, Who is my all and in all.’ This simple, trembling faith sublime in its simplicity, mighty in its tremblings, sweeps all the treasures of the everlasting covenant of grace and all the fullness of the Surety of the covenant into its lap, and exclaims, ‘All is mine because Christ is mine, and I am Christ’s’. …If you have fled to Jesus as a poor empty, believing sinner, there is not a throb of love in His loving heart, not a drop of blood in His flowing veins, nor a particle of grace in His mediatorial fullness, nor a thought of peace in His divine mind that is not yours, all yours, inalienably yours, as much yours as if you were its sole possessor. And in proportion as you thus deal with Christ, individually travelling to Him, living upon Him, living out of Him, dealing as personally with Him as He deals with you, He will insinuate Himself (i.e., introduce gradually) in your regard, and will become growingly precious to your soul….

Preach the Gospel, and Since It’s Necessary, Use Words – Ed Stetzer

Preach the Gospel, and Since It’s Necessary, Use Words by Ed Stetzer | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

The above is the third in the series of articles on this month’sTabletalk theme, “The Theology of Evangelism”. And it is another good one. I do not know the author very well, though I have seen and read other of his articles in various publications. But I was pleasantly impressed with what Stetzer had to say about the necessity of preaching the gospel as God’s chief means of evangelizing the lost. While we in the Reformed camp have always believed and expressed this, it is good to hear others state it with conviction too. I believe you will profit from Stetzer’s article and so have linked it above. Here is a portion of it to get you started:

There’s a popular saying often repeated by Christians. It has found new life on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have even uttered these words, commonly at tributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.” I think we can appreciate what many are getting at when they say something like this. As Christians, we should live in such a way that our lives point to the person and work of Jesus. However, good intentions cannot overcome two basic problems with this quote and its supposed origin. One, Francis never said it, and two, the quote is not biblical.

…The idea may not have resonated with Francis, but for many today, wordless ministry is a compelling approach. “Words are cheap,” we like to say, and “Actions speak louder than words.” Galli explains that the sentiment complements our culture rather well:

Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets, Jesus, and Paul put on preaching. Of course, we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns.

And this is the real problem — not from whom the quote originally came, but just how it can give us an incomplete understanding of the gospel and how God saves sinners. Christians are quick to encourage each other to “live out the gospel,” to “be the gospel” to our neighbors, and to even “gospel each other.” The missional impulse here is helpful, yet the gospel isn’t anything the Christian can live out, practice, or become.

The Apostle Paul summarized the gospel as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through whom sin is atoned for, sinners are reconciled to God, and the hope of the resurrection awaits all who believe . The gospel is not habit, but history. The gospel is the declaration of something that actually happened. And since the gospel is the saving work of Jesus, it isn’t something we can do, but it is something we must announce. We do live out its implications, but if we are to make the gospel known, we will do so through words.

It appears that the emphasis on proclamation is waning even in many churches that identify themselves as evangelical. Yet proclamation is the central task of the church. No, it is not the only task God has given us, but it is central. While the process of making disciples involves more than verbal communication, and obviously the life of a disciple is proved counterfeit when it amounts to words alone, the most critical work God has given the church is to “proclaim the excellencies” of our Savior.

Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research. He is also visiting professor at both Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as serves on the Church Services Team at the International Mission Board (SBC).