A Ministry of Ignorance

ignoranceIn this last week’s reading from Gurnall (Week 7), he had quite a lot of good stuff to say from Eph 6:12b about how we fight “against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” In fact, he had 28 pages just discussing that phrase!

One particular part that stood out to me came during his second doctrinal point, which was that Ignorance above other sins enslaves a soul to Satan. He made many great points during this section concerning the role that our ignorance plays in opening the door wider and wider for Satan to enslave the soul of a sinner. After discussing the doctrinal portion of it, he moved  to the “Uses” or Application. And it is his second application that I want to focus on, where he speaks to the ministers of the Gospel. Speaking to ministers, he says: “But woe to those that are accessory to their people’s ignorance” (167).

He then goes on to give 4 ways that a minister may be an accessory to the ignorance of his people.

1. By His Own Ignorance

Knowledge is so fundamental for the Christian minister that he cannot afford to be without it. Sadly, there has been a trend in American Evangelicalism for quite some time now that downplays the need and necessity for the pastor to be adequately trained. As long as you have a heart for the people and a love for Jesus, some say, you are ready for the pastorate. I think that this is far from the truth, and Gurnall would agree:

“The want of knowledge in a minister is such a defect, as cannot be supplied by anything else. Be he never so meek, patient, bountiful, unblamable, if he hath not skill to divide the word aright, he is not cut out for a minister. Everything is good, as it is good for the end it is appointed to. A knife, though it had a haft of diamonds, yet if it will not cut, it is not a knife. A bell, if not sound, is no bell. The great work of a minister is to teach others, his lips are to preserve knowledge, he should be as conversant in the things of God as others in their particular trades” (167).

That last phrase is convicting to me. But it is oh so true! The minister should have a certain level of knowledge in order to first be considered a minister, but he should never stop learning and growing in his knowledge throughout his whole life!

2. By His Negligence

It does the people of God no good if their minister is, in fact, in possession of such knowledge, but does not dispense it to them. The minister is not only to posses the necessary knowledge, but work intentionally and diligently at teaching this knowledge to his people so that they would not fall into the ignorance that binds men to Satan.

“There is a woe to the idle shepherd (Zec 11:17); such as have mouths, but speak not; lips, but not to feed the people with knowledge. It shall be the people’s sin, if they feed not when bread is before them, but woe to us if we give them not meat in due season. O sirs, what shall we say to our Lord that trusts us, if those abilities which he hath given us as market-money to buy bread for our people, be found wrapped up in a napkin of sloth? If that time wherein we should have been teaching and instructing them, shall appear to be wasted in our pleasures, or employed about our carnal profits?” (168).

3. By His Unedifying Preaching

Oh how sad it is to think about how much of this unedifying preaching we have in our churches today! He gives several examples, such as men that preach unsound doctrine, men whose preaching is “frothy and flashy,” men whose “discourses are high flown,” and men who preach “only truths that are for the higher form of professors” (168). It is sad that I have seen multiple examples of each of these. It only takes a quick glance around popular “Evangelical” preaching today to see preaching filled with false doctrine or done in a “flashy” manner. On the flip side, one of the pitfalls I have seen many seminary students fall into is the latter type of preaching that Gurnall speaks of, preaching whose truths are only for the “higher form of professors.” This is that high, academic style of preaching that is only edifying to maybe one or two of the 100 person congregation. Gurnall comments on this type of preaching:

“To preach truths and notions above the hearer’s capacity, is like a nurse that should go to feed the child with a spoon to big to go into its mouth” (168).

It is of the utmost importance that ministers deeply know their congregations and the different types of people that they are preaching to, and preach in such a way that is understandable and edifying to the whole group. Gurnall has some wise advice when he says:

“He, sure, is an unwise builder that makes a scaffold as high as Paul’s steeple, when his work is at the bottom, and he is to lay the foundation, whereas the scaffold should rise as the building goes up … Let the wise have their portion, but let them be patient to see the weaker in the family served also” (168).

4. When Through The Scandal Of His Life He Prejudiceth His Doctrine 

Paul tells Timothy to keep a close watch, not only on his doctrine, but also on his life (1 Tim 4:16). The minister must be very careful to keep a close watch on his life, so that by an immoral life he is not giving discredit to the correct doctrine that he may be preaching. Gurnall says that this would be like a cook with nasty, foul fingers cooking a delicious looking meal. It does not matter how good the food looks to us; we will not eat it if we see such nasty hands preparing it. Gurnall gives another illustration to end this point:

“He that will do any good in the minister’s calling, must be as careful as the fisher, that he doth nothing to scare souls away from him, but all to allure and invite, that they may be [drawn] within the compass of his net” (168).

Conclusion

With so much good stuff in our reading from this last week, you very well may see some additional posts this week with some more quotes and such.

How about you? Is there anything in particular that stands out that you’d like to share? If so, comment below.

Who Is Your Prince?

crownOur reading for week 6 last week from Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour was all focused on the second half of Ephesians 4:12, where our enemy, Satan and his whole pack of devils, is described by their government (“principalities”), their strength (“powers”), their kingdom (“rulers of the darkness of this world”), their nature in substance (“spiritual wickedness”), and the ground of the war (“in heavenly places”). In last week’s reading, Gurnall covered the first 2 aspects listed, and began on the third. Almost all of this week’s reading will be spent finishing the third aspect (their kingdom), and then the next week’s will move into the fourth and fifth aspect.

As he starts his discussion of the term “principalities,” he states the doctrine we find from this, which is that “Satan is a great prince” (131). He discusses how Satan came to be such a great prince, and then how we may know whether Satan is our prince or not.

But the section I want to focus on is a short little section at the beginning of the week’s reading, where Gurnall asks how we may know if Christ is our prince. In order to answer that question, he says that we need to answer 4 “interrogatories,” or questions:

Question 1: How came he [Christ] into the throne?

Gurnall rightly explains that we all, as humans, are born under the dominion of sin and Satan, with Satan as our prince on the throne. So, if we say that a shift in princes, a shift in governmental authority in our own heart, has taken place, how did that happen? Gurnall says: “Satan, surely, would not of his own accord resign his crown and sceptre to Christ; and for thyself, thou wert neither willing to renounce, nor able to resist his power. This then must only be the fruit of Christ’s victorious arms, whom God hath exalted” (134). The point, here, is that if a change in powers has taken place, there will be significant evidence. That is not something that “just happens” with no notice whatsoever.

“The regenerating Spirit is compared to the wind. His first attempts on the soul may be so secret that the creature knows not whence they come, or whither they tend; but, before he hath done, the sound will be heard throughout the soul, so as it cannot but see a great change in itself, and say, ‘I that was blind, now see; I that was as hard as ice, now relent for sin; now my heart gives; I can melt and mourn for it'” (134).

Question 2: Whose law dost thou freely subject thyself unto?

The laws of Christ and Satan are as utterly opposed as their natures … one a law of sin and death, the other a law of grace and life. Which law does your soul subject itself to? Do you freely give yourself over to the law of sin, to every temptation that comes your way? Does temptation easily overtake you, because you, in fact, give yourself over more easily and freely to that law? As Gurnall says of the one who freely gives himself over to the law of sin: “If Christ should come to take thee from thy lusts, thou wouldst whine after them, as Micah after his gods” (135). If you claim to believe in Christ, but in fact continue to love your sin and easily give yourself over to that sin, you may question as to who is the prince on your throne. If, however, you genuinely hate sin, resist temptation, and mourn over the times when you give into sin, pleading with God to deliver you from future temptation, you can have confidence that Christ, is indeed, thy prince.

Question 3: To whom goest thou for protection?

Princes expect that their subjects would trust in them for their safety. When troubles comes, when hardships arise, to whom do you turn for protection? Do you turn to Christ, trusting in him as your prince? Or do you turn to yourself, which Satan wants you to do, deceiving you to think that you can deliver yourself rather than trusting in Christ as your deliverer. What about when you are disciplined by God for disobedience? How do you respond? The one with Christ as his prince understands, and willingly accepts that correction. Not so with the one who has Satan as his prince:

“And when God comes to afflict him for any disloyal carriage, instead of accepting punishment for his sin, his heart is filled with rage against God, and instead of waiting quietly and humbly, like a good subject, till God upon his repentance receives him into his favour, his wretched heart, presenting God as an enemy to him, will not suffer any such gracious and amiable thoughts of God to dwell in his bosom, but bids him look for no good at his hand” (136).

Question 4: Whom dost thou sympathize with?

What is the attitude of your soul when God “hedgeth up thy way, and keeps thee from that sin which Satan hath been soliciting for?” If Christ is your prince, you will rejoice that God has delivered you out of a temptation. But if Satan be your prince, “thou wilt harbour a secret grudge against the word which stood in thy way, and be discontented, thy design took not” (136). What about the “achievements of Christ” in the world? What is your heart’s response to the advancement of the Gospel and the things of Christ in the world — not the response you say you have, but your true heart’s response?

“When thou hearest that the gospel thrives, the blind see, the lame walk, the poor gosepllized, doth thy spirit rejoice in that hour? If a saint, thou wilt, as God is thy Father, rejoice that thou hast more brethren born; as he is thy prince, that the multitude of his subjects increase” (136).

Conclusion

So … who is your prince? I hope that these 4 questions that Gurnall gives us to help think through that question help you as it has helped me, whether in thinking of your own soul, or in your counseling of another soul who may seek your counsel on such matters.

What about you? What stood out to you from this week’s reading? Comment below. Time to start on week 7!

An Invaluable Benefit

Highlighted Section of BookI love the following counsel of William Gurnall on why the Christian should call for the help of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ if the attacks of Satan continue. Satan wants us to keep it to ourself, and think that we can fight on our on. However, one of the invaluable benefits of being in a Church, in a community of believers, is the opportunity to share one another’s burdens. Listen to Gurnall as he talks about this:

“If yet Satan dogs thee, call in help, and keep not the devil’s counsel. The very strength of some temptations lies in the concealing of them, and the very revealing of them to some faithful friend, like the opening and pricking of an imposthume, gives the soul present ease. Satan knows this too well; and therefore, as some thieves, when they come to rob an house, either gag them in it, or hold a pistol to their breast, frighting them with death, if they cry or speak; thus Satan, that he may more freely rifle the soul of its peace and comfort, overawes it so, that it dares not disclose his temptation. O, saith Satan, if thy brethren or friends know such a thing by thee, they will cast thee off; others will hoot at thee. Thus many a poor soul hath been kept long in its pangs by biting them in. Thou losest, Christian, a double help by keeping the devil’s secret — the counsel and prayers of thy fellow-brethren. And what an invaluable loss is this!” (William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armour, 100).

The Resurrection In Your Life

resurrection in your lifeJesus rose in history, is reigning right now, and through his resurrection and ascension, believers receive the promised Holy Spirit.

That is what Mike McKinley’s new book, The Resurrection In Your Life, is all about. As the sequel to his previous book, Passion, this book is birthed out of a series of sermons McKinley preached at Sterling Park Baptist Church in Virginia from the last 2 chapters of Luke (Luke 23-24) and the first 2 chapters of Acts (Acts 1-2). In these sermons, and in this book, McKinley walks through the resurrection, ascension, and subsequent outpouring of the Spirit events that Luke records in his books.

Why is the resurrection important to the world? To the believer? What does the resurrection mean for the Christian? What would happen if the resurrection didn’t happen? Why is it important that Jesus ascended bodily to the right of the Father and will return again? Why is it good for us that Jesus ascended? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does He do?

All of these are questions that McKinley addresses in this short, introductory, easy-to-read book. If you are looking for a dense theological work on the resurrection, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a pure apologetic defense of the resurrection accounts, this isn’t it either? This book is a good little introductory look at the importance of the resurrection for the whole world, and especially in the life of the believer. If you are a new believer, this would be a good book for you. Or if you are discipling a new believer, you may want to check it out. Or if you are a mature believer that is just looking for a devotional, easy-to-read reminder of the truth of and importance of the resurrection, this would be a good book for you as well.

I’d encourage you to pick up a copy and give it a quick read. It won’t take you long, but it will certainly remind you of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection for your life and lift your heart to worship our great, living, reigning Savior, Jesus Christ!

In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank The Good Book Company and Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Satan’s Strategies

Building a StrategyAs I said in my post about last week’s reading, there was too much good stuff to fit in one post. So here’s another great section from last week’s reading, where Gurnall discusses some of the strategies that Satan uses to tempt us to sin.

“Strategy” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” The “particular goal” of Satan’s that we are discussing — that he wants to achieve over a long period of time — is to lure the saint into sin, thus leading him away from Christ and His holiness.

So what are some of those strategies? Here’s 4 helpful ones that Gurnall give us…

4 Strategies of Satan

(1) He hangs out false colours, and comes up to the Christian in the disguise of a friend

The point here is that Satan often disguises himself in his attacks to tempt us, lest we recognize him for who/what he is and resist him. He disguises himself by making himself look like a friend.

“O what need have we to study the Scriptures, our hearts, and Satan’s wiles, that we may not bid this enemy welcome, and all the while think it is Christ that is our guest!” (75).

(2) He gets intelligence of the saint’s affairs

He has spies in all places to eye the saint, understand his movements, his weaknesses, and learn when the most opportune time is to attack. Gurnall says:

“Satan is the greatest intelligencer in the world; he makes it his business to inquire into the inclinations, thoughts, affections, purposes of the creature, that finding which humour abounds, he may apply himself accordingly — finding which way the stream goes, that he may open the passage of temptation, and cut the channel to the fall of the creature’s affections, and not force it against the torrent of nature” (75-76).

(3) He gradually approaches the soul

“When he comes to tempt, he is modest, and asks but a little; he knows he may get that at many times, which he should be denied if he asked all at once” (76). When I read that quote, I was reminded of the song by Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade.” It is so true that Satan does not throw it all at us at once, because he knows we would much more readily resist him. Rather than tempting us to walk 5 steps away from Christ at once, he asks us to walk 1 step away 5 times, and before we know it, we are 5 steps away because of his gradual tempting and luring us from holiness. Gurnall puts it wonderfully, using a great word picture, when he says:

“Many have yielded to go a mile with Satan, that never intended to go two; but when once on the way, they have been allured farther and farther, till at last they know not how to leave his company. Thus Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going” (77).

(4) He manages his temptations in his reserves (back-ups)

What he’s saying here is that when Satan fails in tempting us with one thing, he’s got another one in line waiting, and many more behind them. He’s got plenty of reserves in his temptations.

“When one temptation is beat back, he soon hath another to fill up the gap, and make good the line” (77).

Conclusion

I hope that understanding the strategies that Satan uses to lure you to temptation will help you in your fight against sin and your fight for holiness. Only by first understanding how the enemy will attack can you prepare yourself for your defense. This is what we are doing here. It isn’t a question of IF Satan will tempt you, but when and how. The better you prepare yourself now to recognize your vulnerabilities and his strategies, the more likely you will stand and not fall in the hour of temptation.

6 of the Most Advantageous Seasons for Satan’s Tempting

seasonsWell, I’m a day late this week posting about last week’s reading, but it’s okay. This sure was a great week of reading from Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour. The section that we’re in now is on the reason why the Christian must be armed, which comes from the second half of Ephesians 1:11 – “That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

The first “branch” that Gurnall deals with is the danger to the person if unarmed, and the “doctrine” that he puts forth is that The devil is a very subtle enemy. And how is he a subtle enemy? What are his main designs in his “wiles” or “schemes” against us? Gurnall gives 2, which consume the entire week’s reading (and some of last week’s):

  1. To draw us into sin
  2. To accuse, vex, and trouble the saint for sin

Honestly, there is way too much great stuff in these 20+ pages for me to share it all, so I’ve chosen to focus on one passage that was especially beneficial to me (though it actually comes from the end of last week’s reading)

Satan Seeks To Draw Us Into Sin

Under the section of Satan’s scheme to draw us into sin, Gurnall has a great discussion of Satan choosing the most advantageous seasons for tempting. Satan is the king of deception, and a master at his craft, especially his craft of drawing us into sin. As Gurnal says,

“Satan knows when to make his approaches, when (if at any time) he is most likely to be entertained … Satan shows his black art, and hellish skill, in speaking words of seduction and temptation in season” (72).

So what are these special sessions? Gurnall gives 6 of them.

(1) When the Christian is newly converted.

When the Christian is newly converted, having just escaped from the snares of sin and death, he is very susceptible to the temptation from Satan. And Satan knows that. Gurnall says: “No sooner is this child of grace, the new creature, born, but this dragon pours a flood of temptations after it” (72). And As I thought back to my conversion, this was certainly true. Though I saw immediate and radical changes in my life, and a distaste for past grievous sins, within just a very short time I was faced with strong temptations that I had never even dealt with.

(2) When the Christian is beset with some great affliction

We have all experienced times of great temptation when some great affliction comes into our life. Maybe it’s a sudden illness, maybe an unexpected death in the family, maybe the loss of a job, bad news, etc. When these times of affliction and times of trouble come into our life, they are opportune times for Satan to attack us, special seasons where he knows that we are weak and vulnerable. In these times of trouble, Satan tempts us by making some sin seem to be the way of relief for whatever we are facing.

(3) When the Christian is about some notable enterprise for God’s glory

When the Christian is making great strides in his work for God’s glory, Satan sees that as an opportune time to attack him with temptation. Gurnall makes the great point that there were two remarkable periods in Christ’s life where he fiercely encountered the devil: his entrance in his public ministry at his baptism and his finishing it at his passion. Both of these events were a “notable enterprise for God’s glory,” and in both events we see Jesus attacked the fiercest by Satan.

“The more public thy place, Christian, and the more eminent thy service for God, the more thou must look that the devil will have some more dangerous design or other against thee; and therefore if every private soldier needs armour against Satan’s bullets of temptation, then the commanders and officers, who stand in the front of the battle, much more” (73).

(4) When he hath the presence of some object to enforce his temptation

This was one of the most important to me as I read this section. Far too often I have seen Christian men and women, boys and girls, who say that they want to seek holiness and avoid sin, but time and time again, they put themselves in perfect opportunities and before perfect objects so that they are certainly going to fall into sin. Gurnall’s point here is that this is exactly what Satan wants … When you put yourself before some object of temptation, you are falling right into his trap and giving him one of his most advantageous seasons for tempting you.

“If the Christian can let the object come so near, Satan will promise himself that his suit may in time by granted. Therefore, it should be our care, if we would not yield to the sin, not to walk by, or sit at, the door of the occasion. Look not on that beauty with a wandering eye, by which thou wouldst not be taken prisoner. Parley not with that in thy thoughts, which thou meanest not to let into thy heart. Conversation begets affection: some by this have been brought to marry those, whom at first they thought they could not have liked” (74).

(5) After great manifestations of God’s love

While we all have ups and downs in our Christian life, at times more in step with the Spirit and closer to God, and at others, feeling further away, Satan knows that as we are on those “ups” in our Christian life, it is much easier for us to let our guard down. And it is at that very time that he strikes. Gurnall puts it well by saying: “So ambitious is Satan then chiefly to throw the saint into the mire of sin, when his coat is cleanest” (74).

(6) At the hour of death, when the saint is down and prostrate in his bodily strength

This is Satan’s last chance … his last-ditch effort to tempt the Christian to sin, to tempt the Christian to despair, to question God. Now or never. This is it. This is the final “special season” of temptation that Gurnall identifies.

Conclusion

I hope that identifying these 6 “special seasons” where Satan views us as the most susceptible to his temptations will help you guard yourself more against his schemes. He is seeking to kill and destroy you. Nothing less.

What stood out to you? I know I only shared a span of 3 pages (and pages from last week, at that). What stood out to you? Comment below. I’d love to hear.

Exercise The Armor You Have

exerciseThis third week’s reading of Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour focused on the last 2 phrases of the first part of Eph 6:11 – (1) The Christian is to use the whole armor of God, and (2) The Christian is to put on the armor of God. The last bit of the week’s reading also got into why the Christian must be armed, but we will save that discussion for next week.

Put On Your Armor

This week I want to focus on the section dealing with the Christian putting on the armor of God. Gurnall makes the great point that the Christian must “exercise what they have,” that is, the armor that they have. He says: “It is one thing to have armour in the house, and another thing to have it buckled on” (63).

The main point that he makes in this section, or the “Doctrine” (as he labels it) is this: It is not enough to have grace, but this grace must be kept in exercise. Oh how many of us need this reminder! I know that I do. The grace that the Christian has, specifically in regards to the armor that we have, must be used, must be kept in exercise, not simply stored in the shed for “one day when we think we’ll need it.”

The Reasons

Gurnall wonderfully explains the need of exercising this grace, and gives a few reasons why.

(1) Christ commands us to have our armour on, our grace in exercise. This is simple enough. Christ commands it!

(2) Satan’s advantage is great when grace is not in exercise.

“Satan knows what orders thou keepest in thy house and closet, and though he hath not a key to thy heart, yet he can stand in the next room to it, and lightly hear what is whispered there” (64-65).

(3) Because it is so awky (being odd or out of order) a business, and hard a work, to recover the activity of grace once lost, and to revive a duty in disuse. To illustrate this point, Gurnall offers this helpful analogy …

“You know what a confusion there is in a town at some sudden alarm in the dead of the night, the enemy at the gates, and they asleep within. O what a cry is there heard! One wants his clothes, another his sword, a third knows not what to do for powder. Thus in a fright they run up and down, which would not be if the enemy did find them upon their guard, orderly waiting for his approach. Such a hubbub there is in a soul that keeps not his armour on; this piece and that will be to seek when he should use it” (65).

(4) We must keep grace in exercise in respect of others our fellow soldiers. Just as in battle, one soldier is ready not only for his own sake, but for the sake of his group, so in the Christian life we are to be ready and to exercise our grace, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our brothers and sisters as well.

An Objection

After giving the reasons for why the Christian is to exercise the armor that he has, Gurnall anticipates an objection … in essence, this objection is: “This is hard work! Who can and/or wants to exercise like this?” His first response?

“Thou speakest like one of the foolish world, and showest thyself a mere stranger to the Christian’s life that speakest thus … Dost thou complain that the heaven-way is rugged? Be the oftener walking in it, and that will make it smooth” (66).

Conclusion

To conclude, I want to comment on Gurnall’s last application of this truth. He says:

“Be exhorted, O ye saints of God, to walk in the exercise of grace … there is a sleep disease we are subject to in this life; Christ though he had roused up his disciples twice, yet takes them napping the third time. Either exercise thy grace, or Satan will act thy corruption” (69).

That is such a good and needed reminder for all of us. No matter where you are right now in your walk with Christ, we all need to hear that timely reminder: “Either exercise thy grace, or Satan will act thy corruption.”

How about you? What stood out to you this week? Comment below … I’d love to hear. Otherwise, enjoy your reading for this week!

The Armor OF GOD, Not of man

armor of godIn this second week of reading Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour, we finish his exposition of the first verse of the passage (Eph 6:10) and move on to the first part of verse 11. Before moving on to verse 11, this week’s reading included two additional “uses” or applications of verse 10, as well as two responses to an objection that Gurnall anticipates could be raised against what he has said.

But the majority of this week’s reading was spent in the first two “branches” of verse 11. The “first branch” is the “furniture” that we are told to put on … that is, the armorAnd the “second branch” is the kind or quality of this armor … it is the armor of God.

The Armor

First, what is this armor that the Christian is to put on? It is both Christ himself, and the graces of Christ, such as the Word of God, righteousness, etc. Gurnall first observes that the Christless soul is a soul without armor, and is thus “naked and destitute of all armour to defend him against sin and Satan” (45). This observation was an eye-opening one for me, as I guess I had just never thought of unregenerate man in this way — as naked of all armor and completely unable to defend himself against Satan. But it is absolutely true. And it makes sense of why it seems to us, many times, that Satan has such “great conquests” in this world … why it looks, sometimes, like “hell is stronger than heaven.” And Gurnall gives this great answer:

“Consider but this one thing, and you will wonder that Christ hath any to follow him, rather than that he hath so few. Satan finds the world unarmed; when the prince of the world comes, he finds nothing to oppose; the whole soul is in a disposition to yield at first summons” (48).

The fact that unregenerate man is naked and has no armor, Gurnall says, also gives us reason why the devil has such a great spite against the Gospel. He says, “As gospel-light ascends, so Satan’s shady kingdom of darkness vanisheth” (49).

However, though we are all in this state by birth, by the grace of God, He has rescued some from this darkness, from this nakedness and destitution, and given us Christ, and thus given us the armor of Christ. What a wonderful truth he captures in this quote:

“Naked he [that is, Satan] finds us, and slaves he makes us, till God by his effectual call delivers us from the power of Satan into the kingdom of his dear Son” (46).

The Armor OF GOD

The “second branch” that he deals with is the kind or quality of this armor … that is, it is the armor OF GOD. And he says that it must be “of God” in two ways: (1) In its institution and appointment and (2) In its constitution.

So first, this armor must be “of God” in its institution and appointment … that is, it must be of divine origin. Gurnall says: “It is not left to every one’s fancy to bring what weapons he please; this will breed confusion” (50). However, there certainly are those that do choose to bring and use “other armor” than what God has given.

“And those who do more, or use other, than God commands, though with some seeming successes against sin, shall surely by called to account for this boldness…God is very precise in this point; he will say to such as invent ways to worship him of their own, coin means to mortify corruption, obtain comfort in their own mint: ‘Who hath required this at your hands?'” (50).

I like the word that he uses there — boldness. Because that’s precisely what it is … sinful boldness, deciding that you know better than God! And what is an example of this sort of boldness? One such example he gives is “the Papist,” that is, the Roman Catholic. He says,

“Their masses, matins, vigils, pilgrimages, Lent-fasts, whippings, vows of chastity, poverty, with a world of such trash! — where is a word of God for these? Who hath required these things at their hands? A thousand woes will one day fall upon those imposters, who have stripped the people of the true armour of God, and put these reeds and brushes in their hands” (51).

Secondly, he says that this armor must be “of God” in its constitution … that is, not only must God be the appointer of the means of armor, but he must also be the one that makes them efficient.

Prayer is an appointment of God, yet this is not armour of proof, except it be a prayer of God, flowing from his Spirit [Jude 20]. Hope, that is the helmet the saint by command is to wear, but this hope must be God’s creature; ‘who hath begotten us to a lively hope,’ [1 Peter 1:3]. Faith, that is another principal piece in the Christian’s furniture, but it must be the faith of God’s elect [Titus 1:1] … Thus you see it is not armour as armour, but as armour of God, that makes the soul impregnable” (54).

There is so much more that could be shared from the riches of these 20+ pages of reading this week, but we’ll stop there for now. One thing that I have to mention, though, is how amazing it is (especially from a preacher’s point of view) that Gurnall is able to say so much, without rambling, but able to point out so many important truths (15 pages worth) about just 4 words: THE ARMOUR OF GOD!

Next Week

It was a great week of reading, and the Lord really used it in my life to teach me more about this verse and the importance of putting on the armor that God has directed us to put on. Next week we will finish the verse by looking at the “entireness of the armour” (it is the whole armor of God) as well as the “use of the armour” (we are to put on the armor).

I hope you are looking forward to this next week’s reading as much as I am.

As usual, I’d love to hear any thoughts or insights that you have about this past week’s reading. Just comment below!

God is All-Mighty

Almighty GodLast week was our first week reading through the 1-year reading plan of William Gurnall’s Christian In Complete Armour. And let me tell you … i sure did enjoy it. It took me a little bit to get back into the mindset of being able to read a Puritan book (everything from the Old English to the complicated and lengthy logical outlines that the author uses). However, after getting myself back into that mindset, it was a very rich and rewarding week of reading.

First things first, let me just say that I miss a good old-fashioned Puritan title. They are so long and descriptive that you almost understand what the entire book is about by just reading the title. Listen to the full title of this book:

The Christian In Complete Armour; A Treatise Of the Saints’ War against the Devil: Wherein a Discovery is made of that grand Enemy of God and his People, in his Policies, Power, Seat of his Empire, Wickedness, and chief design he hath against the Saints. A Magazine Opened, From whence the Christian is furnished with Spiritual Arms for the Battle, helped on with his Armour, and taught the use of his Weapon: together with the happy issue of the whole War.

Whew … that was a mouthful!

This Week’s Reading

As for the reading, Gurnall introduces the passage that he will be exegeting throughout the whole book (Ephesians 6:10-20), and then begins in on verse 10. In his introduction, he lays out how he will be outlining the passage: v.10, he says, is a “short but sweet and powerful encouragement,” and v.11-20 “is spent in several directions for their [the Christian] managing this war the more successfully, with some motives here and there sprinkled among them” (11).

So, this week’s reading was focused on Ephesians 6:10 - “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” And over and over again, as I read these twenty-something pages, I was reminded afresh of the mighty power of God, and how His almighty power is at work for the good of His children, and how as His child, my faith will be strengthened and I will remain steadfast in accordance to the degree that I am growing in my trust in the almighty power and sovereignty of God!

Some Quotes

Let me share a few quotes with you that stood out to me this week (honestly, there are too many to share, but here are a few):

In the introduction, Gurnall introduces the subject with this great imagery:

“The subject of the treatise is solemn, A War between the Saint and Satan, and that so bloody a one, that the cruelest which ever was fought by men, will be found but sport and child’s play to this” (3).

This next quote comes in the section where Gurnall is talking about the believer’s call to persevere in his Christian course to the end of his life.

“We have known many who have gone into the field, and liked the work of a soldier for a battle or two, but soon have had enough, and come running home again, but few can bear it as a constant trade” (15).

And a few sentences later he continues on the theme of perseverance…

“O, this persevering is a hard word! This taking up the cross daily, this praying always, this watching night and day, and never laying aside our clothes and armor, I mean indulging ourselves, to remit and unbend in our holy waiting on God, and walking with God. This sends many sorrowful away from Christ, yet this is the saint’s duty, to make religion his every-day work, without any vacation from one end of the year to the other” (15).

This quote was an encouraging one on the joy in heaven of God’s children not yielding to sin and temptation

“In a word, Christians, God and angels are spectators, observing how you quit yourselves like children of the Most High; every exploit your faith doth against sin and Satan causeth a shout in heaven … Your dear Saviour, who stands by with a reserve for your relief at a pinch, his very heart leaps within him for joy to see the proof of your love to him and zeal for him in all your combats” (17).

And finally, I loved this imagery about God’s sovereignty in our salvation, and His opening our eyes to see His beauty and might

“That light which finds out a Deity will evince, if followed close, this God to be almighty; yet in a carnal heart, it is like a rusty sword, hardly drawn out of the scabbard, and so of little or no use. Such truths are so imprisoned in natural conscience, that they seldom get a fair hearing in the sinner’s bosom, till God gives them a jail-delivery, and brings them out of their house of bondage, where they are shut up in unrighteousness with a high hand of his convincing Spirit. Then, and not till then, the soul will believe that God is holy, merciful, almighty” (26).

Your Turn…

I’m looking forward to starting our second week of reading today!

How about you? What stood out to you this week? What truth did God remind you of through your reading this week? If you have anything to share, feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

Here We Go …

christian in complete armourWell, today’s the day! Today is the day that we will start the reading plan for William Gurnall’s massive book: The Christian In Complete Armour. I am beyond excited to start my reading today, and I hope you are too!

So, if you’ve already got the book and plan to read along, make sure you begin today (if you haven’t already gotten a head-start). And, be sure to check back here each Monday as I plan (Lord willing) to write a short post and share a few quotes from the previous week’s reading.

And … If you have no clue what I’m talking about, check out this post where you can read about what we’re doing and download the reading plan.

I am praying that the Lord blesses all of us as we read through this great work of the Christian faith together in 2015!