Viewing Our Heroes Of The Faith

Charles Spurgeon via John Piper on how we ought to view and read our heroes of the faith.

As usual, Spurgeon nails it out of the park effortlessly.

What shall we make of such a man?

Neither a god nor a goal.

He should not be worshiped or envied.

He is too small for the one and too big for the other.

If we worship such men, we are idolaters.

If we envy them, we are fools.

Mountains are not meant to be envied. They are meant to be marveled at for the sake of their Maker. They are mountains of God. . . .

We are to benefit from them without craving to be like them. When we learn this, we can relax and enjoy them. . . .

Let us be, by the grace of God, all that we can be for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 15:10). In our smallness, let’s not become smaller by envy, but rather larger by humble admiration and gratitude for the gifts of others.

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The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 11)

Well ladies and gentlemen, you did it. You made it through your very first book written by the late Rev. Octavius Winslow D.D. How does it feel?

I hope that those of you who are new to Winslow and have followed along with us have fallen in love with his Christ centered and gospel focused writing. At the end of this post, I would really appreciate it if you would please comment on your overall experience from this series and what you think of Winslow now that you have tasted in his literary goodness.

It’s been my pleasure and humble honor to have tried to lead you through Help Heavenward and it is my hope that you not only have been taken by this book but will now go on to read more of his works.

It has been my primary mission here to expose believers to him and his works and I hope I have somewhat accomplished that in this meager little series.

Now, sadly, for our final chapter.

Our adorable Lord came down to earth to allure us up to heaven. In all His delineations of that happy, holy place, He sought to present it to the believing eye clad in its richest beauty, and invested with its sweetest and most winning attractions. Its hope was to sanctify us, its prospect was to animate us, and its foretastes were to comfort us.

Sufficient, however, of the vail was uplifted to reveal the fact of its existence, to awaken the desire and to inspire the hope of its possession. We cite, as illustrating this, the words at the head of this chapter. They are few, but how expressive! Heaven is portrayed as our FATHER’S HOUSE. What a precious, endearing, attractive view does this give us of our future and final rest—our eternal abode!

He tells us it is a house—a Father’s dwelling and that within its walls there are many mansions, one of which awaits each of us; and then, He bids us not to be troubled in heart by reason of the sorrow and privation of our present exile, since ere long He would come and take us home.

While reading this chapter, I began to think of the fact that countless scores of believers that have gone on before us have distilled holy scripture of all of its illustrations and images of our future happy land that they might store them upon their minds and hearts that they might never forget that as their last breath would exit their bodies, they would finally be in that golden land with their Lord. They would suckle upon these minute images as honey to draw from them soul nourishment to ease their uncomfortable pilgrimage and ever wishful eye. That they would be in great trial, tribulation, suffering, pain, torment, and persecution and have only these brief words to grasp their souls arms upon to keep from losing heart and to bolster their ever weakening faith. They, as we, have a destination. It is our Father’s house!

The FATHERHOOD of God is the first truth our Lord propounds in connexion with this picture of heaven. It was a natural and befitting introduction to His attractive theme. In speaking of the Father’s house, He would first reveal to us the parental relation of God. We could never have given to this truth the grasp of faith it demands had not Christ revealed and explained it. It was He who first taught our lips to say, “Our Father!” In asserting His own relation as an Elder Brother, He flung around the entire brotherhood the filial bond that linked both Himself and them to the same God and Father.

Next, Winslow goes into a bit of proof texting to further shore up our heavenly confidence in the precious doctrine of our Adoption. What sweeter discover can be made by the feeble believer than to know and fully understand that he is now God’s son or daughter! No longer are we cast outside of the family home of the King of that great land but we have been searched out in the streets and byways of the outer city of His kingdom and have been brough nigh inside the castle gates, we have been washed clean, our infirmities are all gone, and we are now clothed in the sweet smelling raiment prepared for us by the King Himself! And no one can ever take that from us!

He states the examples below:

Let us cite a few examples. Speak we of prayer? Hear Him cry, “O righteous FATHER, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee. I know, FATHER, that thou hearest me alway.” Speak we of duty? Hear Him exclaim, “Wist ye not that I must be about my FATHER’S business?” Speak we of reverence! Hear Him say, “Even so FATHER, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Speak we of submisson? Listen to His words, “Not my will, O my FATHER, but thine, be done.” Approach we the solemn scene of His death? Hear Him exclaim, amidst the maddening tortures of the cross, the thunders of God’s anger, the lightning of God’s justice rolling and flashing above and around Him, “FATHER, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Do we track His footsteps to the mount from the summit of which He went back to glory? Hear His parting words, “I ascend unto my FATHER, and unto your FATHER.” And as we return from these hallowed scenes, we ask ourselves, Is it any marvel that He, the Elder Brother, who could so embosom Himself in the Fatherhood of God, should teach our faltering lips, when we prostrate ourselves before the Divine Majesty of heaven and earth, to breathe the prayer, “Our FATHER, which art in heaven?” O beloved, allow your heart no repose, and the Holy Spirit no rest, until He seal ABBA, FATHER, upon your heart!

Next he turns his attention to our Father’s HOUSE:

We have alluded to the hallowed attractions and the sunny memories which cluster around the paternal home. Transfer your thoughts, my reader, from the earthly to the heavenly,— take the purest, the fondest, the most poetic conception you can form of the one, and blend it with the other,—and still you have but the faintest analogy of heaven! And yet you have made some approximation to the idea. You have entwined around your heart the image and hope of heaven as your HOME. Earth has some foreshadowings of this truth. If “now are we the children of God,” then ours is not a state of dreary orphanage—we are not fatherless and homeless.

If, then, we are not fatherless, there is a sense in which we are not homeless: but that the lower rooms, the outer courts, the vestibules of the heavenly Home, are found on earth, in which we meet and hold communion with our heavenly Father. What is the sanctuary, filled with His glory,—the closet, hallowed with His presence,—the chamber of sickness, soothed with His love,—the hill-side, where at even-tide we go to meditate, sanctified with His fellowship, but our Father’s Home coming down out of heaven to dwell a while with His children on earth? Where my Father is, there is my Father’s house.

Winslow picks up on some very clever thoughts regarding the concept of our HOME here on earth. Frankly, I have never considered it this way, but have come to conclude he is indeed correct. We have here on earth but shadows and whispers of our future glorious home in such graces such as worship, prayer, meditation, and fellowship. It is as if a little bit of heaven has come down from on high and has done us a tremendous mercy in relieving our heart’s yearning pangs in these blessed events! Oh that He thinks so dearly of us in His beloved Son!

“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Guided by these words, the first view which it presents to the mind is its appointed and prepared state. We go to no uncertain home. It is the family mansion, eternally ordained and prepared for the dwelling of the saints. The everlasting love which chose us to salvation, the predestination which appointed us to be sons, provided the home we were eternally to occupy.

The apostle, too, reminds us that it is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED in heaven for you.” And did not our blessed Lord declare the same truth when He said, “I go to PREPARE a place for you.” We go, then, to a home all appointed and prepared, all garnished and made ready for our coming.

Personally speaking, I have some medical problems with my legs. I have a condition that will not allow the blood in the lower parts of my legs to be pumped back up to my heart. Therefore, the blood pools below my knees and causes me tremendous pain throughout the day. There is not one portion of my daily life that I am not in some degree of pain. What often will bring me great comfort is to lie in bed as still as I can and close my eyes and begin to think that there is a heavenly city and a heavenly home being prepared for me this very instant and that when I finally come to its doorway, my pain will be no more. My sleepless nights and pain filled days will be long forgotten and I will finally enter into my Kings celestial home. A home for me. A home for you.

Next, Winslow begins to explore the rooms of the mansion a bit:

The solemn hour of death once passed, the spirit, upborne by angels, finds itself at once ushered into the RECEPTION-ROOM of heaven, the first of the “many mansions.” There we shall see Jesus, not seated, but standing,—as when He rose to receive His first martyr,—to welcome us home, encircled by the general assembly and church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, and an innumerable company of angels, waiting to greet our arrival. In advance, and more eager than all the rest of that blessed throng, will be the loved ones from whom we parted on the margin of the river across which they passed to the Celestial City. Oh, what a reception! what greetings! what joy-wishings then!

What a joyous notion! Finally, as we close our eyes in mortal death and open them in infinite life we will see our Lord standing before us to welcome us home and embrace us as His own. Believing loved ones who have died in the Lord before us will be there to welcome us home along with the shouts of countless angels. Blessed thought!

The Heavenly Repast, which succeeds the reception, will introduce us into the BANQUET-HALL of heaven, another mansion of the Father’s house. We have remarked that there are bright gleams of heaven falling upon earth’s shadows. Among the most resplendent of these are the foretastes of the banquet which awaits us on high.

It is thus described by the evangelical Isaiah: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a FEAST of fat things, a FEAST of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” How full and rich is the gospel of Christ! How divine the provision—how ample the supply—how free the invitation! The forgiveness of all and every sin,—your reconciliation with the offended Majesty of heaven,—peace in your soul so divine, so great, that it “passeth all understanding,”—life and immortality, the consummation and crown of its blessings! Oh, pray for and cherish a spiritual zest for this banquet!

There Christ will nourish you with the finest of the wheat; with honey from the rock will He satisfy you. Never forget that such is the fulness of the gospel of Christ, such its variety of blessings, such the sufficiency of its supply, and such the freeness of its bestowment, that it meets every case, every trial, every phase, and every want of our humanity! What a banquet, too, is the Lord’s Supper, where, perhaps, the brightest gleams of glory fall, since that, of all other institutions of Christ, the most closely unites and blends the atoning death and the millennial glory of Christ.

Oh to finally sit down among the myriads and myriads of saints to feast finally at our Lord’s banquet table! The countless Sunday Lord’s Table provisions while on earth were only shadowing this final moment when finally He will sit among us and drink the wine He said he would not until we had joined Him. What must this meal be like? Imagine the pains and trials of the previous life only making that moment all the more delicious to our senses. Can you imagine it? I cannot!

The Father’s house has also its MUSIC-MANSION. Adoration and praise would seem to constitute the principal employment of the redeemed in heaven. The visions of glory which floated before the eye of John were all associated with music. To his sea-girt isle were wafted the strains of the song sung by the hundred and forty and four thousand who stood on Mount Zion.

And who and what are the subjects of their song?—Jesus and His Redemption? “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Blended with the song of Redemption will be the song of PROVIDENCE. Retracing all the way thy God led thee through the wilderness, thou shalt gather material from each mercy and from each trial, from each joy and from each sorrow, for an eternal hymn of praise to His great and glorious name. Beloved, you are learning these songs now in the house of your pilgrimage. As you cross the desert sands, or break your lone footsteps through the depth of the wilderness, or stand within the sacred shadow of the cross, God is preparing you for the Music-mansion of glory. All His dealings with you in providence and in grace are but to train and attune the powers, affections, and sympathies of your soul to the sweet harmony of the spheres.

Oh to be in this room! What must these sounds be like? Those saints whose trials have tuned their voices to sing with utmost of praise must bellow throughout the halls corridors. Imagine the throng singing praises to their King! Countless upon countless souls lifting up with one voice the Lamb who was slain. All honor and all glory is He due!

The THRONE-ROOM of heaven is not one of the least appropriate and gorgeous mansions of the Father’s house. The saints of God are a kingdom of priests—a royal priesthood—the heirs of a kingdom. And no character in their glorified state will be more visible and distinct than their regal one.

A public and glorious enthronement and coronation awaits you. A royal priest, you will ere long be made like Christ, a “priest upon His THRONE.” Emerging from your present incognito—the ignorance of the world and the cold neglect of the Church—you will be ushered into the THRONE-ROOM of glory, saints and angels will escort you to your seat, and, amidst the halleujah chorus of countless myriads, Christ will CROWN you a KING and a PRIEST unto God, and you shall REIGN with Jesus for ever and ever. Oh, whatever obscurity may now vail your relation as belonging to the seed-royal, let your demeanor be such as to stamp you with the character once ascribed to Gideon’s brethren, of whom it was said, that “each one resembled the CHILDREN of a KING!”

Next Winslow draws us inside the glorious throne room where we shall sit beside our Lord forever and ever. To be in His presence as He rules over the universe as a glorious redemptive King. We will be there dressed in robes of resplendent glory that mortal eyes might melt if they were to view them. We will be with Him and shall never again depart!

We are trespassing not upon the region of Imagination when, in depicting the spiritual architecture and appointments of the Father’s house, we refer to the PICTURE-GALLERY as constituting one of its most appropriate and attractive mansions. It is not materializing heaven to transfer to its spiritual descriptions the expressive imagery of the material. In so doing we but imitate the Holy Ghost, who, in all His spiritual delineations of glory, hesitates not to dip His divine pencil in the bright, gorgeous colors with which God has tinted and enamelled this beautiful world.

Upon the walls of that magnificent gallery, depicted in color of living light, will be seen all the marvellous events of God’s moral and providential government in the history of the universe, separately, visibly, and eternally traced. Nor this only. What will be our astonishment and marvel, when we gaze upon the walls of that gallery, to behold our individual history, from our entrance into this world of woe, to our entrance into the world of glory,—each event, each epoch, each step delineated with a life-like truthfulness, a depth of tint, and a transparency of color which shall reveal all the past with startling vividness, overpowering the mind with wonder, and expanding the heart with praise! Incidents which we had failed to note, events which we had totally forgotten, providences which we had blindly seen, and circumstances which we had strangely misunderstood, will then form a series of pictures, presenting a complete and perfect history of our individual life, illustrating the infinite wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, and love of our Father throughout the whole.

Now this is a room I am most interested to walk in. To see, painted on the walls, every trial and joy given to us on our earthly pilgrimage by the hand of our Father and the reason why it was given. To see, finally, why the Lord allowed such and such incident to occur in our lives and how it had a profound affect on drawing our souls heavenward. Who of us does not say, from time to time, “why is the Lord allowing this to happen to me”? We will then finally know why!

Among the many mansions there will not be wanting one which will especially recognize heaven as a place of study. What a LIBRARY of knowledge, therefore, awaits us in our Father’s house! Heaven is a place of thought, of expanded intellect, of matured and ever-enlarging and enriching mind. Our minds are but in the infancy of their being; and the themes of reflection and subjects of research which they grasp are necessarily graduated to our present infantine and limited powers.

And will THE BOOK have no place in that library? Verily, I believe that it will. I do not think that in the archives of heaven, the Sacred Scroll of God’s Revealed Truth will be missing. That most marvellous of all wonderful books, the BIBLE,—the parent, and source, and foundation of all that was accurate in history, true in philosophy, profound in science, rich in poetry, sound in ethics, and real in religion,—will then unclasp its lids and unfold its leaves; and in a light that will explain every truth, elucidate every mystery, harmonize every discrepance, we shall read the Bible as we never studied its wondrous contents before. Not a truth will be lost.

The Library of Knowledge! What a thought! To be able to open the volumes of the wealth of God’s knowledge, or at least what He will allow us to know, to be able to comprehend and understand so much! I can;t even begin to wrap my mind around it. And the, probably in the center of this library, may lie the Best of Books. We will then be able to read its pages and understand so much more than our fallen minds could while on earth! I want to understand what was going through Eve’s mind!

Conclusion

Well, that’s it folks. We’re all done! What did you think? What say you of this 19th century Victorian pastor and writer now? What has this book helped you to see or understand?

By all means, please take some time and write your reflections below in the comment section. I am so excited to hear from you.

Thanks for reading along with me!

Fin

March 2: How To Read The Scriptures

“Open you mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Psalm 119:18

To the question often earnestly propounded- “What is the best method of reading, so as to understand the Scriptures?” I would reply- Read them with the one desire and end of learning more of Christ, and with earnest prayer for the teaching of the Spirit, that Christ may be unfolded in the Word. With this simple method persevered in, you shall not fail to comprehend the mind of the Holy Spirit, in portions which previously may have been unintelligible and obscure.

Restrict not yourself to fixed rules, or to human helps. Rely less upon dictionaries, and maps, and annotations. With singleness of aim, with a specific object of research, and with fervent prayer for the Holy Spirit’s teaching, “you need not that any man teach you;” but collating Scripture with Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” you may fearlessly enter upon the investigation of the greatest mysteries contained in the sacred volume, assured that the Savior, for whose glories and riches you search, will reveal Himself to your eye, “full of grace and truth.”

Precious Bible! so full of a precious Jesus! How do all its clouds and darkness melt into light and beauty, as He, the Sun of righteousness, rises in noontide glory upon its page! Search it, my reader, with a view of seeing and knowing more of your Redeemer, compared with whom nothing else is worth knowing or making known. Love your Bible, because it testifies of Jesus; because it unfolds a great Savior, an almighty Redeemer; because it reveals the glory of a sin-pardoning God, in the person of Jesus Christ. Aim to unravel Jesus in the types, to grasp Him amid the shadows, to trace Him through the predictions of the prophet, the records of the evangelist, and the letters of the apostles. All speak of, and all lead to, Jesus. “They are they which testify of me.”

 

Reading Winslow Together

I had the notion to ask the readers of the blog wether or not they might be interested in doing what Tim Challies has done with his Reading the Classics Together and doing that here with a Winslow book.

If enough of you would be interested in joining with me to read a chapter a week followed by some brief discussion time here on the blog, I’ll make it happen. I have a number in my head as to how many it would take to make this happen, so if you are interested, please leave a comment below.

I was considering reading through Help Heavenward as our first book if enough folks would like to do so. It can be purchased here, read online for free here, or downloaded for free in your favorite e-reader format here.

This book is the one book I always recommend to people who are just discovering Winslow and want to get a good taste of his writings.

So if you might be interested, drop me a comment and we’ll see what happens!

August 6

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Spiritual-mindedness is life. We fearlessly challenge every believer- What has been the effect in your soul of a low state of grace? What has been the effect of carnal indulgence of allowed sin- of needless communion with the world- of conformity to its policy and its pleasures- of unruly temper- of a volatile disposition, yes, of any species of carnality whatever: has it not been “death”? When a process of spiritual relapse has been allowed to proceed stealthily and unchecked- when the world, and sin, and self have gained an ascendancy, what has been the consequence? “Death!”

The habit of prayer may not have been totally neglected, but there has been no communion with God- and so there has been death upon prayer. The Bible has not been entirely unread, but no light has beamed upon the sacred page- and so there has been death upon the Bible. The means of grace have not been utterly forsaken, but no grace has distilled from these channels- and so there has been death upon the means of grace. Thus a spiritual deathliness has crept over the soul, the effect and fruit of indulged and growing carnality.

But “life” is the blessed effect of heavenly-mindedness. It is life springing from life, or rather, the inner life in its outer actings. What spiritual mightiness, almost omnipotent, does he possess, whose mind and heart and faculties are deeply immersed in the Spirit of Christ, closely allied to the Divine and heavenly! As sin is weakness, so holiness is strength. As carnality impairs, so spirituality invigorates. The one deadens, the other vivifies. Close dealing with Essential Life increases the life of spirituality. Much communion with Jesus draws forth “life more abundantly.”

It is impossible to live a life of faith in the Son of God, constantly taking to His blood every sin, to His heart every care, to His sympathy every sorrow, to His grace every corruption, to His arm every burden, without being conscious of new life, of augmented power, of increased heavenliness. Inquire of the man of prayer what is the effect in his soul of close filial communion with God? Ask the reflective mind what is the effect upon his spirit of holy meditation? Ask the conscience much beneath the cross what is the result of the constant sprinkling of the atoning blood? And, as with one voice, and with one utterance, each believer will answer, “Life!” Oh, there is an energizing influence in spirituality, a quickening of the spiritual life in heavenly-mindedness, which he only can understand whose converse is much with things heavenly, much with God.

There is life in prayer, life in the word, life in ordinances, life in the enjoyment of vital religion, which transmits the thrill of its deep pulsations through the whole soul. Nor life alone in these. But when the storm of adversity blows- when sore affliction comes- when the “noise of the water-spout” is heard, and the tossing waves and the foaming billows roll over the soul- when the shadow of death is settling upon all creature-good; then, even then, the spiritual mind panting after life exclaims, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me.” “This is my comfort in my affliction; for Your word has quickened me.” And what is all this but the pledge and the prelude of the glorious consummation and crown of all- the life that is to come, even life everlasting?