Gleanings from Biographies (part two)

Posted · Add Comment

They had an All-Encompassing Commitment to Christ.[1]

This section is the one of the most significant sections. We must remember however, that these men’s complete comment to God was not something they mustered up on their own. God gave even that to them. He showed Himself glorious to them, more glorious than anything else, and then their complete devotion followed.[2] These men invested all, their time and talent, indeed, their heart, soul mind, and strength because they had been granted eyes to see that God and His glory were worth it. Their all-encompassing commitment to Christ flowed out of their understanding of the glory of Christ. Not only did these men see that God was glorious and thus worthy for themselves to entirely comment to but also that He was Lord of all. They understood the language in the New Testament that says that Jesus is our Master/Lord and we are slaves, which clearly implies that we do whatever He says, whenever He says it.[3] 

Benjamin B. Warfield said that Edwards committed himself without reserve to God. His whole spirit panted to be in all its movement subjected to God’s government.[4] Edwards explained his reasoning for his total commitment. He said,

If God be truly loved, he is loved as God; and to love him as God, is to love him as the supreme good. But he that loves God as the supreme good, is ready to make all other good give place to that; or, which is the same thing, he is willing to suffer all for the sake of this good.[5]

Edwards was entirely committed to God because He is “the supreme good.”

Spurgeon commenting on first Kings 18:21 said, “If God be God, serve him, and do it thoroughly; but if the world be God, serve it, and make no profession of religion.” Later he goes on to tell us, “Either keep up your profession, or give it up… Let your conduct be consistent with your opinions.”[6]  What Spurgeon was saying is, if the Bible and the gospel are true we must live as though they are. We must live in line with what we believe. As the scriptures say, “The LORD is God; there is no other… therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in His statutes and keeping His Commandments” (1 Kings 8:60-61).

Spurgeon lived out what he said. People told Spurgeon that he would break down his constitution down with preaching ten times a week among all his other labors. But Spurgeon’s desire, like Paul’s, was to spend and be spent. Spurgeon could say, “If I had fifty constitutions I would rejoice to break them down in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[7] Spurgeon gave his money, time, and self completely to the Lord. God used Spurgeon greatly. He wrote over 140 books, penned around 500 letters a week, spoke to thousands of people each week, started an orphanage, started a pastor’s college, and led countless people to Christ among other things. That was all possible because he gave himself entirely to the Lord. One of Spurgeon’s biographers, Arnold Dallimore said, “Early in life he had lost all consideration of his own self, and his prayer that he might be hidden behind the cross, that Christ alone might be seen, had expressed his heart’s chief purpose.”[8] Dallimore also said, “Spurgeon was characterized by an earnestness that almost defies description.”[9]

Lloyd-Jones, too, saw that “our supreme duty is to submit ourselves unreservedly to Him.”[10] In fact, “Essential Puritanism,” Lloyd-Jones argued, “put its emphasis upon a life of spiritual, personal religion, an intense realization of the presence of God, a devotion of the entire being to Him.”[11] You can see that Lloyd-Jones did exactly that all over the place in his life, he gave himself to God and the work that He had for him. “When God calls us,” Lloyd-Jones said, “He is to be obeyed in spite of all natural feelings.”[12] Lloyd-Jones not only said this but practiced it himself because he was entirely commented to Christ.

God is looking for individuals in this generation who will rise above the status quo of contemporary Christianity and say with Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, and Edwards, “‘I am completely Yours.’”[13] We must resolve, as Edward’s did, to be the jar of clay through which God will display his surpassing power. We must seek for pleasure in God above all things. We must seek to be so heavenly minded that we can be of some earthly good. We must do all this with all the power that God so mightily works in us by His grace. “If one is to impact this world for Jesus Christ, he must live as Edwards did, with extraordinary purpose and firm determination.”[14]

_______________________________________________

[1] See: Deut. 6:5; 1 Kings 8:61; Matt. 8:22; 22:37-38; Mark 12:30 (heart, soul, mind and strength, i.e. total devotion); Luke 10:27; 14:25-33; 16:13; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 7:35 (Paul wants to secure an “undivided devotion to the Lord”); 10:31; 2 Cor. 5:9; 14-15; Phil. 3:7-8; Col. 3:17, 23, and 1 John 2:3-6 for some examples of the all-inclusive nature of the call of Christ. Also in Romans 12:1, we are told to present our bodies as a living sacrifice because that is our reasonable (logical) worship (12:1). “Reasonable” (KJV) or “spiritual” (ESV) depending on your translation is the Greek word logiken. It is from the Greek word logos. It is logiken (logical, rational, or reasonable) for Christians to give themselves as “living sacrifices.” Thomas R. Schreiner similarly says, “Paul used the term with the meaning ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable,’ as was common in the Greek language. His purpose in doing so was to emphasize that yielding one’s whole self to God is eminently reasonable. Since God has been so merciful, failure to dedicate one’s life to him is the height of folly and irrationality” (Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998], 645 [italics mine].). In addition, Schreiner points out that “the word ‘bodies’ here refers to the whole person and stresses that consecration to God involves the whole person… Genuine commitment to God embraces every area of life” (Ibid., 644. Italics mine). Christianity is all-encompassing.

[2] God often shows His glory to us before He calls us to comment ourselves to Him in unreserved obedience. Note, for example, in the Decalogue. God gives the commands but first He adds a relational and redemptive element, namely, “I am the LORD your God [relational], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery [redemptive]” (Deut. 5:6). This same thing is seen throughout Scripture, both OT and NT.

[3] “Edwards would say that actions do reveal something about a man’s will and heart. Professing Christ implies being subject to him in practice, it entails the promise of universal obedience to him” (Iain H. Murray, Jonathon Edwards: A New Biography, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 336). Edwards understood that “none profess to be on Christ’s side, but they who profess to renounce his rivals” (Idem, Jonathon Edwards: A New Biography, 337). Lloyd-Jones clearly saw that one cannot “receive Christ as Saviour without receiving Him as Lord” (Idem, The Fight of Faith, 470).

[4] Murray, Edwards, 98.

[5] Jonathon Edwards, Charity and its Fruits, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), 257.

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, sermon “Elijah’s Appeal to the Undecided” from 1 Kings 18:21 (italics mine).

[7] Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography, 132.

[8] Ibid., 239.

[9] Ibid., 76.

[10] Murray, The Fight of Faith, 181 (italics mine).

[11] Ibid., 460n1 (italics mine).

[12] Ibid., 588.

[13] Lawson, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, 60.

[14] Ibid.