I’m so thankful to our own Patricia who discovered another series of messages from Reeves on the Puritans. In this, Reeves clears up the misunderstanding people have about the Puritans. Even the word “puritanical” is derived from this misunderstanding, picturing them as joyless, as “the frozen chosen,” as “baptized in vinegar.”
And though Reeves says there were some puritans who deserved that reputation, most, and the ones who impacted the world, were the opposite! They were filled, not with vinegar, but with grateful joy, for they had experienced the freedom of resting not in their own goodness, but the goodness of God.
Several of you have commented on a truth brought out by those Puritans: Jesus runs toward the sinner, not away, just as He did on earth (think of Matthew, of Zacchaeus) and watch this clip from The Chosen. You probably know how hated the tax collectors were for cheating everyone, including the poor. Matthew, as a Jew, had betrayed his own people. Jesus calls us, not because we are good, but because we are not!
I knew He ran toward the sinner who didn’t know Him yet, but I didn’t think of Him running toward the believer who was sinning, but rather, backing up. I have quoted Bernard of Clairvoix: “When God sees us in the arms of another lover, He backs up.” So it was sobering for me to hear Reeves take that quote and contrast it with the teaching of Thomas Goodwin and Richard Sibbes. I knew Jesus came to rescue us not just from the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin, so my reasoning didn’t really make sense according to the gospel. He is not going to walk away from us but run toward us, the way a parent will run for a child who is playing with forbidden matches.
This is a short and wonderful message from Reeves to listen to on Monday and Tuesday.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Where are you in your thinking of how Jesus sees you when you are sinning?
Monday: A Varied Bunch, But They Loved The Bible (Leave the last 12 minutes for tomorrow)
Reeves says the word “Puritan” is as diverse as “Evangelical.” But they all loved the Bible and the Puritans who left a lasting legacy were the ones who truly understood the heart of Christ.
3. Why did they not smile and wear black for their portraits?
4. What did you learn about the Puritans that you didn’t know?
5. What trait united all Puritans, according to Reeves?
6. Reeves tells of a sermon by Rogers in which he impersonated God concerning how His people valued the
Bible. Goodwin said the people were overcome with tears and repentance. What do you remember?
Tuesday: Heart Doctors
7. Listen to the last twelve minutes of Reeves and share your notes and comments.
8. How can concentrating on holy living take away your focus from the gospel? Do you see this in your own life or church?
9. John Owen, Richard Sibbes, and Thomas Goodwin spoke into the danger of focusing on striving for our own righteousness instead of being so confident of being wrapped in His righteousness, and so confident of His love, that we draw near to Him, abide in Him and that fruit comes naturally. Share notes from this.
There is more righteousness in Christ than sin in me. (Richard Sibbes)
Wednesday/Thursday: Gentle and Lowly
This week we will read chapters 9 and 10 in Gentle and Lowly. (If you don’t have it, I’ll share highlights.) In chapter 10 we learn of Jonathan Edward’s sermon to children. The main thing Edwards wanted children to know was the depth of Christ’s love for them — that it was even greater than the love of their parents. In a healthy home, children know they are loved by their parents. Recently my 8-year-old grand-daughter Claire had to write an essay on why she mattered. Her main point was that her mommy and daddy would be really really sad if she was gone – and that is why she mattered. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Claire could see that Jesus loved her even more?
Miabelle, Claire’s cousin who is ten, has begun to truly experience the love of God. This last Christmas, we each shared how Jesus has been a light to us in the last year. Shy Miabelle was prepared to share:
Jesus has really been helping me when I get into a funk and I can’t seem to get out of it. I get alone and tell Him I’m sorry and ask Him to help me. Pretty soon those bad feelings are gone. I just don’t feel mad at anyone anymore. I feel happy!
Even though Miabelle is just a child, she has learned the secret as old as time for overcoming darkness and keeping the devil at bay: repentance and faith. She has seen her parents model repentance to God, to one another, and to her siblings, and has begun to practice it too. This is so simple, yet so hard, not only because of our sinful nature but because we have an enemy egging us on, fueling the flames with lies, endeavoring to divide us from one another. Miabelle did what Cain refused to do despite God’s warning. When Cain was in a funk, God told him a secret. If he did what was right, he’d be lifted up and shut the door on the devil. If not, he’d be overpowered by that crouching tiger at the door. Cain dug in his heels, murdered his brother. Yet even though Cain refused to listen, God still showed him grace in the midst of his misery.
Miabelle is learning firsthand, that genuine repentance leads not only to forgiveness, but restores her joy (Psalm 51:12) and surrounds her with “songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7) She is learning, firsthand, the depth of God’s love for her, and how He runs to her, even in the midst of sin. Below is a picture of Miabelle (in front) running across my yard in the summer with her cousin Sadie (Claire’s older sister).
10. What stands out to you from the above and why?
11. In Chapter 9 of Gently and Lowly, Ortlund concentrates on Christ as our advocate, explaining the difference between mediator (bringing two parties together) and advocate (aligning with one party) It speaks of deep solidarity like you would feel if you were to advocate for someone with whom you felt knit.
A. How does 1 John 2:1 explain use the word advocate? What gives Jesus the qualifications to do this for us?
B. Tim Keller uses the example of Stephen and what he saw when he was dying as a picture of Christ’s advocacy. Look at it in Acts 7:54-59 and share what you see.
12. For those of you who have the book, what else stands out to you from chapter 9?
13. In Chapter 10 of Gentle and Lowly, we read of Jonathan Edward’s sermon to children. His main text was Matthew 10:37! What does this say, and how do you imagine he used this for children?
14. If you have the book, what else stands out to you from chapter 10?
15. Is your view of the heart of Christ for you changing? If so, how?
16. Ortland points out we all tend to be “self-advocates” bristling when criticized, justifying ourselves. Have you grown in this area — and if so — how?
17. If the most important thing we can teach our children is the love of Christ, how might we better do this?
18. How have you seen prayer answered for your children or those you love in this regard? (This is to encourage those still in the waiting room!)
19. What is your take-a-way and why?