This exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown on February 21, 2021.
As I’m sure you know, last week was Ash Wednesday and the start of the season of Lent. And so very briefly I want to look at the Reformed tradition regarding the church calendar, our practice here at Christ Church, and how to go about differences in these matters.
This is an excerpt from John Owen’s sermon, The Advantange of the Kingdom of Christin the Shaking of the Kingdoms of the World, preached to the Commons assembled in Parliament in 1651 (Works, Vol. 8, 334).
That God in his appointed time will bring forth the kingdom of the Lord Christ unto more glory and power than in former days, I presume you are persuaded. Whatever will be more, these six things are clearly promised:
1. Fullness of peace unto the gospel and professors thereof.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox (Isa. 11:6–7).
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children (Isa. 54:13).
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby (Isa. 33:20–21).
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof (Rev. 21:15).
This year I read a lot less than usual with only about 30~ books read. Between it being the busiest and most exciting year of my life (our first son was born), and also having completed all of my assigned reading for Greyfriars Hall the previous year, I didn’t read as much as I had hoped. Here’s to reading more in 2021. I’d like to read some Homer this coming year for the first time.
“Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, the son of David” (Mt. 22:42).
Christmas is a season which almost all Christians observe in one way or another. Some keep it as a religious season. Some keep it as a holiday. But all over the world, wherever there are Christians, in one way or another Christmas is kept.
Perhaps there is no country in which Christmas is so much observed as it is in England. Christmas holidays, Christmas parties, Christmas family-gatherings, Christmas services in churches, Christmas hymns and carols, Christmas holly and mistletoe,—who has not heard of these things? They are as familiar to English people as anything in their lives. They are among the first things we remember when we were children. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were used to them long before we were born. They have been going on in England for many hundred years. They seem likely to go on as long as the world stands.
But, reader, how many of those who keep Christmas ever consider why Christmas is kept? How many, in their Christmas plans and arrangements, give a thought to Him, without whom there would have been no Christmas at all? How many ever remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of Christmas ? How many ever reflect that the first intention of Christmas was to remind Christians of Christ’s birth and coming into the world? Reader, how is it with you? What do you think of at Christmas?
Bear with me a few minutes, while I try to press upon you the question which heads this tract. I do not want to make your Christmas merriment less. I do not wish to spoil your Christmas cheer. I only wish to put things in their right places. I want Christ Himself to be remembered at Christmas! Give me your attention while I unfold the question—”What think ye of Christ?”
This exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown on September 6, 2020.
“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”
This morning I want to ask you: Does your God sing over you?
I don’t know about you, but I was astonished to realize that it’s 2020 and we still have Father’s Day on our calendars. Father’s Day, the one day a year in our culture to honor the patriarchy it otherwise has smashed, hasn’t been cancelled.
Having recently finished J. C. Ryle’s autobiography published by Banner of Truth, I wanted to share one of the small things that I enjoyed throughout: his mention of dogs. As a dog person myself, it was fun to find that this 19th-century Englishman clearly enjoyed them as well.
A sincere, decided, and yet moderate Christian, preaching the gospel with great purity and love, this man of thirty seemed destined to become one of the most influential reformers of England. Nothing could have prevented his playing the foremost part, if he had had Luther’s enthusiastic energy or Calvin’s indomitable will. There were less strong, but perhaps more amiable features in his character; he taught with gentleness those who were opposed to the truth, and while many, as Foxe says, ‘take the bellows in hand to blow the fire, but few there are that will seek to quench it’, Fryth sought after peace. Controversies between Protestants distressed him.‘The opinions for which men go to war’, he said, ‘do not deserve those great tragedies of which they make us spectators. Let there be no longer any question among us of Zwinglians or Lutherans, for neither Zwingli nor Luther died for us, and we must be one in Christ Jesus.’ This servant of Christ, meek and lowly of heart like his Master, never disputed even with papists, unless obliged to do so.
A true catholicism which embraced all Christians was Fryth’s distinctive feature as a reformer. He was not one of those who imagine that a national church ought to think only of its own nation; but of those who believe that if a church is the depositary of the truth, she is so for all the earth; and that a religion is not good, if it has no longing to extend itself to all the races of mankind… No one is the sixteenth century represented this truly catholic element better than Fryth. ‘I understand the church of God in a wide sense’, he said. ‘It contains all those whom we regard as members of Christ. It is a net thrown into the sea.’ This principle, sown at that time as a seed in the English reformation, was one day to cover the world in missionaries.
J.H. Merle D’Aubigne, The Reformation in England Vol. II, 131–132.