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Westminster Pulpit

(7 posts)

Spacious Liberty

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. —1 Corinthians 6:12, cf. 10:23 I thank God for the breadth and the narrowness of Christian liberty, and I pray that we may ever remember that there are limits to the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and that to keep within the limits is to live in spacious liberty. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Limitations of Liberty) (Baker, 2006), 22–23.
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. . . to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. —Colossians 1:27 The word “hope” is most often used when “wish” would be more appropriate. At work, you hope you get a raise or promotion. In a hurry and driving too fast, you hope you don’t get stopped. You hoped the Packers would make the Superbowl . . . biblical hope is nothing like that. Now let us return to the experience resulting, “the hope of glory.” The word “glory” here refers to the great consummation in which God’s purposes are to be perfectly fulfilled; in which Christ, seeing the travail of His soul, is to be satisfied; in which the Church, with one voice of perfect song, will say, “Thou, O Christ, art all I want”; and in which the whole creation, which is still waiting in its groaning for the manifestations of the sons of God, will find its groaning cease, and join the chorus of praise to Him who sits upon the throne. God’s glory consists in the realization of the purpose of His love in all that His hands have made. Christ in you is the hope of His glory. What is hope? I often wish we bore in mind more carefully the real significance of the good old Anglo-Saxon word “hope.” It does not mean foundationless expectation, but rather confidence in something yet to be, with an accompanying endeavor to reach it. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: Christ in You, the Hope of Glory) (Baker, 2006), 29. To truly hope is to know. It is to rest in certainty. Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He might as well have said, “we can hope for nothing but . . .” having said “in this world,” he was nearly correct. But from an eternal perspective, we all can know for certain that death is only the transition from this life to the next. For every disciple of Christ, that is a glorious hope.
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The Chief Reason

The Talmud is, of course, no authority, but its theory of why man was created on the sixth day is, at least, interesting. And it is certainly correct in naming the purpose for which man was created. George Swinnock wrote: A philosopher may get riches, saith Aristotle, but that is not his main business; a Christian may, nay, must follow his particular calling, but that is not his main business, that is not the errand for which he was sent into the world. God made particular callings for men, but he made men for their general callings. It was a discreet answer of Anaxagoras Clazamenius to one that asked him why he came into the world; Ut cælum contempler, That I might contemplate heaven. Heaven is my country, and for that is my chiefest care. May not a Christian upon better reason confess that to be the end of his creation, that he might seek heaven, and be serviceable to the Lord of heaven, and say, as Jerome, I am a miserable sinner, and born only to repent. The Jewish Talmud propounds this question, Why God made man on the Sabbath eve? and gives this answer: That he might presently enter upon the command of sanctifying the Sabbath, and begin his life with the worship of God, which was the chief reason and end why it was given him. —George Swinnock, The Christian Man’s Calling, Works of George Swinnock (Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:49–50.
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Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” —Matthew 16:24 Jesus made serious demands of his disciples, demands that are daunting and discouraging if we approach them from the wrong perspective. If you stand where I stand you are appalled at the tremendous claim of Jesus. How can I ever deny myself and take up my cross? I come from the negative to the positive, and say to you that the only way in which you will ever be able to deny yourself and take up your cross is by fixing your eye upon Him and crowning Him. If I must stretch out my hands to the rugged cross in order to get to Him I can do it in only one way, that is by seeing Him and doing it for His sake. If I do it for my own sake, or for the sake of men, I shall fail, for I am such a coward; but if I may but look at His face as I come to my dying, I can say, “I am crucified with Christ, but nevertheless I live.” From the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Terms of Discipleship) (Baker, 2006), 45.
continue reading How Can I?

The Potter’s Purpose for the Clay

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; —1 Peter 2:9 While Purpose-Driven® may be—we can hope—by now very well be passé, we can still find a purpose by looking to the word of God. The potter [Jeremiah 18:3] has a thought in his mind for the clay, and he alone can transfer that thought to the clay. The clay is necessarily ignorant of the thought in the potter’s mind, but can find that thought, and realize and manifest it by quiet submission to the hand of the potter. My brethren, when I pass from this great principle, which I confess taken alone fills me with fear, to notice that there is a purpose, my heart begins to find comfort. The potter, as the wheel revolves, is not dealing capriciously with the clay; his fingers are not working aimlessly. As I watch him in the beginning of the work I cannot see what he means, but he knows what he means, and as his hands rest upon the clay he is translating into the outward and manifest the thought of beauty and use which is in his own mind and heart. The clay gains in the potter; the potter gains in the clay. The clay is shapeless as clay, but the clay plus the potter becomes a thing of beauty and of use. The potter has in his mind a thought of beauty, which none but himself can see apart from the clay, but the potter plus the clay can express his thought so that others may see it. Here I think we touch one of the deepest mysteries of human life. Man is created that God may have a medium through which He can manifest the things in His own mind. Man is fashioned in His likeness, in His image, that those who cannot see the essential and eternal Spirit may yet see the things of the essential and eternal Spirit in man. How man has missed his mark, and yet by the redemption of Jesus Christ this great purpose is fulfilled. Paul declared: “We are His workmanship.” What Paul really writes is, “We are His poetry,” not that the Apostle meant we are His poetry, but His work of art, that through which He gives others to see the things of beauty resident in His own infinite mind. This same truth is expressed in Peter’s words: “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may shew forth the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God gains in men that through which he can express his thought. But the other side is also true. See what the clay has gained. It was but a shapeless thing, lacking beauty, lacking expression of anything that has refinement in it, lacking utility; but it gains from the hand of the potter form and shape and usefulness. Man alone is as the clay, lacking beauty, lacking true utility, making a shipwreck of his own personality; but let man find God’s throne and yield to it, submit his whole life to the hand of the great Master Potter, and he finds to poor clay of his life made into something fair and beautiful and full of use to God and to man. You came into this house tonight saying, my life is purposeless. Give it to God, and it will be purposeful. You said, These years have gone from me, twenty, thirty, forty, and I have done nothing. Yield to God and the Potter’s hand will be upon you to mold and to make. It may be that the molding and making will not yet be recognized by your fellow men. That matters nothing. It may be that the molding and making will be that of a thing of use rather than beauty. It may be that He will mold you to some service that men count menial. There is no menial service which the King appoints. There must be yielding to the Potter, but then, oh, soul of mine, when thou art so yielded purpose is the story of thy life. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Potter’s Work on the Wheel) (Baker, 2006), 1:51–53.

I Am Unclean

In our conceit, it is easy to consider ourselves good until we meet the one who truly is. Standing in imagination among the multitudes of old, and listening to Him, I am constrained to say, “I have found my King.” . . . Having been brought up in a godly home, and saved thereby from many of the vulgar forms of sin into which others who have lacked my privilege have fallen, I never trembled in the presence of Mount Sinai. I always felt the profoundest sympathy with the young man who looked into the face of Jesus, and said, “All these things have I kept from my youth up.” But while the majestic mountain of the ancient law never filled me with trembling, when I came to the clear shining of the ethic of Jesus, and stood in the presence of the rare and radiant loveliness of his perfect humanity, then I cried, “I am unclean, a sinner before God.” —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Authority of Jesus) (Baker, 2006), 1:78, 83.
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Surprising Grace

In Luke 24, we read of two of Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus, discussing the events of the previous days in which Jesus, whom they “were hoping . . . was going to redeem Israel” (verse 21), was crucified and buried. They were confused and discouraged. Then Jesus joined them. How does Christ deal with these men? . . . If I am surprised, looking back over these centuries, at the attitude of the men, I confess I am far more surprised at Jesus. I am surprised at the wonder of His coming to these men. I know my confession of surprise is a revelation of the fact that I have not perfectly learned the lesson of his love. I know it, and yet I am surprised. If I may turn aside from the main line of my argument I would like to say to you, Be very much afraid of yourself if Jesus Christ is ceasing to surprise you. If you are losing your sense of amazement that startled you in the olden days there is something wrong with your life. He is always surprising us if we will but follow Him simply. He surprises us now by the fact that He comes to these men. Listen to His own estimate of them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe.” That is not my criticism of them. That is His estimate of them, and He knew them. O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe; and yet He comes to them and joins Himself to them, and walks at their side, and deals with their foolishness, and stirs up the slow heart until it burns and flames. That is the grace of God, and I am amazed. It is a radiant revelation of the tenderness of His heart and of the strength of His love for us. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Burning of Heart) (Baker, 2006), 1:90.
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