January 13, 2016
This Sunday, Erik Thoennes will preach the following passage from 1 Peter 1:3-5:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
These words represent a firehose of blessings, a piling on of grace that leaves us breathless. C. H. Spurgeon (1832-1892) addressed the brilliance of these few verses in a sermon titled “A String of Pearls.”
“I might almost entitle these three verses a ‘New Testament Psalm’; they are stanzas of a majestic song. You have here a delightful hymn. It scarcely needs to be turned into verse; it is in itself essential poetry.
“Now, my Brothers and Sisters, to lead the mind to praise God is one of the surest ways of uplifting it from depression. The wild beasts of anxiety and discontent which surround our bivouac in the wilderness will be driven away by the fire of our gratitude and the song of our praise. When the Psalm recounts with joyous gratitude the Mercies which God has given us, it supplants distress by thankfulness, even as the fir tree and the myrtle take the place of the thorn and the brier where the Gospel works its wonders!
“In these three verses, we have a string of pearls, a necklace of diamonds, a cabinet of jewels – no, the comparisons are poor. We have something far better than all the riches of the earth can ever typify. You have here the heritage of the Chosen of God – your heritage.
“Beloved, this is your own peculiar portion if you belong to Christ this day. We shall conduct you through this mine of treasure and ask you to dwell upon each blessing, that your souls may be comforted and that you, lifting up your hearts in blessing and praising the God of All Grace, may forget your cares and sorrows and find a young Heaven begun below – a Paradise blooming amid the desert!”
May our hearts respond in the kind of worship that’s appropriate as we consider the great mercy of our God this Sunday. To assist us, consider the words of Henry Scougal (1650-1678). During the course of his short life, Scougal wrote a book titled The Life of God in the Soul of Man that greatly influenced John and Charles Wesley. His prayer is a touching response to the God who has done so much to include us in His great plan of salvation.
“Infinite and eternal Majesty! Author and Fountain of being and blessedness! How little do we poor sinful creatures know of Thee or the way to serve and please Thee. We talk of religion and pretend unto it – but, alas! – how few are there that know and consider what it means. How easily do we mistake the affections of our nature and issues of self-love for those divine graces which alone can render us acceptable in Thy sight!
“It may justly grieve me to consider that I should have wandered so long and contented myself so often with vain shadows and false images of piety and religion. Yet, I cannot but acknowledge and adore Thy goodness, who hast been pleased in some measure to open mine eyes, and let me see what it is at which I ought to aim.
“I rejoice to consider what mighty improvements my nature is capable of and what a divine temper of spirit doth shine in those whom Thou art pleased to choose and causest to approach unto Thee.
“Blessed be Thine infinite mercy, who sent Thine own Son to dwell among men and instruct them by His example as well as His laws, giving them a perfect pattern of what they ought to be. O that the holy life of the blessed Jesus may be always in my thoughts and before mine eyes, till I receive a deep sense and impression of those excellent graces that shined so eminently in Him! And let me never cease my endeavours, till that new and divine nature prevail in my soul and Christ be formed within me.”