“A Summary of the Gospel”

By Evan D. Burns

In the third letter of “Letters on Systematic Divinity”, Andrew Fuller pondered the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation and what it means for the Word to be made flesh and dwell among us.  He made three observations from 1 John 1:1-3 about the God-Man, Jesus Christ:

What is it that is denominated the great mystery of godliness? Is it not that “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory?” It is this that the apostle John introduces at the beginning of his gospel under the name of “the Word:” “The Word was with God, and was God; by whom all things were made, and who was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” It is this upon which he dwells in the introduction of his First Epistle….  Christ is here described, 1. As to what he was in his pre-incarnate state; namely, as that which was from the beginning, the word of life, and that eternal life which was with the Father. 2. As to what he became by his incarnation: he was so manifested that his disciples could see him, and look on him, and handle him; and thus be qualified to bear witness of him, and to show unto others that eternal life that was with the Father. 3. As having opened a way in which those who believed in him were admitted to fellowship with God, and with him, and were commissioned to invite others to partake with them. I have long considered this passage as a decisive proof of the Divinity of Christ, and as a summary of the gospel.[1]


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 692.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

 

“The nights are wholesome”: Shakespeare on Christmas

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Melito of Sardis and possibly Eusebius of Caesarea in the early Church believed that when Christ was born all wars ceased during his lifetime. This small text from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a variant of that:

Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long: And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad; The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

(Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1, lines 157–163)

Not affirming I believe this—but it does tell you something about the great Bard’s beliefs. At some point I should share the great debt I owe Shakespeare.

____________________ Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”: Spurgeon's Meditations on the Lord's Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon was a master at taking a familiar biblical text and staring at it long and hard until he saw mountains of spiritual treasure emerge.  He read the Bible as a beggar in search for bread, and he never stopped looking even in places he had searched before. Here is a simple example of his active meditation on a familiar text—“The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9).  Let us seek and find the riches of God's Word, even in familiar places.

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.” Matthew 6:9.

This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.”

This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.”  We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end.

Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.[1]


 [1]Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, “October 29.”

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Avoiding the follies of the present by remembering the follies of the past

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Ah, one good reason to read the history of the church is to avoid the follies of the past. With the passage of time, the folly is patent, though at the time when it was committed, it may well have passed for wisdom. One thinks of the defence of slavery by God-fearing men and women in the 18th and 19th centuries and further back, the “learned’ ripostes by Christians to the new science of Copernicus. In the realm of worship, we Baptists can learn a lot from the conflict that ripped apart the London Particular Baptists in the 1690s. So fierce was it, that eventually some of the pastors called a halt to the treatises being written and so attempted to find a pax Baptistica.

I am old enough to remember a wise pastor making the following statement in a public worship setting, and I quote, “There will be no rock music in heaven.” Yet, fifty years after the rock n’roll of the sixties, is it not true that in many of our worship settings, some of the music by which we worship the Lamb could not be envisioned without the rock revolution? Are we to regard this way of combining chords and rhythms as sinful or is it better seen as part and parcel of the creativity that God has packed into the human frame? And is it not true that some of the music that we like in worship or that we don’t like has more to do with personal preference than divine fiat?

____________________ Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

“That He Might Find Access To Their Souls”

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon delivered at the Old Jewry Chapel, London, on December 27, 1797, Andrew Fuller unpacked the implications of soul prosperity from the book of 3 John:  “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2).  Fuller’s sermon demonstrates his uncommon ability to wring out of a simple text every drop of biblical import and implication.  Outlined here are his observations of the prosperous soul:

What then are those marks of a prosperous soul which it behoves us to aspire after?

1)   A prosperous souls is one in whom the truth dwells, and dwells richly.

2)   The prosperous soul is a soul where the doctrinal and the practical parts of religion bear lovely proportion and are united.

3)   The prosperous soul is a soul in which is united a happy mixture of the retired and the active—a happy attention to the duties of retirement mingled with an equal attention to the duties of active life.

4)   The prosperous soul may be known by this, that it is accompanied by a good degree of public spirit, and largeness of heart.

5)   The prosperous soul is dispossessed of an ambitious spirit—it is meek and lowly.

The standard which prosperity of soul affords to our safety in prosperity of other kinds [is]:

1)   That prosperity of soul makes prosperity of other kind safe.

2)   With prosperity of soul, the general good is promoted.[1]

Fuller’s concluding appeal is for his hearers to be prosperous in soul for the sake of being evangelical in action.  He sees mercy ministry as the door that opens the soul to prosper with the balm of the gospel.

To this I may add, that the relieving of men’s bodies to get access to their minds is a primitive and an excellent practice. The Son of God himself—and who can doubt that he had access wherever he pleased?—has set us the example; he went among the poor, the blind, the lame, the diseased. He mingled himself with them, and healed their bodies, that he might find access to their souls. The Almighty God, in human nature, would not overturn the laws of humanity; his desire was to establish and sanctify them. Let us operate by a system he himself has established, and do good to the bodies of men with a view to obtain access to their minds, thus relieving the temporal wants of the afflicted poor, and administering the balm of consolation unto the wounded spirit.[2]


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 405-08.

[2]The Complete Works, 1:409.  

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Announcing The pure flame of devotion: The history of Christian spirituality–Essays in honor of Michael A.G. Haykin

By Dustin Bruce

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Last night (November 18, 2013), friends, colleagues, and family of Dr. Michael Haykin gathered to honor his life and ministry on account of his 60th birthday  (11/24/13). The surprise party, planned to coincide with the annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, was held at the Baltimore Hilton and featured a presentation of both a portrait of Samuel Pearce and a book written in his honor.

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Dr. Tom Nettles presented Haykin with a portrait of Samuel Pearce, an eighteenth-century English Baptist pastor and one of Haykin’s favorite historical figures. The portrait was an original painting by Dr. Nettles’ son, Robert Nettles.

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Then, much to his surprise, a Festschrift entitled The pure flame of devotion was presented to Haykin by Steve Weaver, who edited the volume along with Ian Clary. Over two years in the making, The pure flame of devotion features a foreword by Dr. Russell Moore and 23 essays on the history of Christian spirituality by such leading scholars as David Hogg, Carl Trueman, Joel Beeke, Tom Nettles, and Don Whitney.

Dr. Albert R. Mohler, Jr. offered a word of appreciation for Haykin on behalf of Southern Seminary. According to Mohler, the Festschrift, with its range of contributors and subjects,testifies to the broad impact Haykin’s scholarship has made across the Christian community. Mohler noted, however, that it is in churches ranging from Canada to Kentucky that Haykin will ultimately have the most impact.

Front CoverFinally, Haykin expressed his heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with the event and especially to Steve Weaver and Ian Clary for compiling and editing the volume in his honor. Recounting the Lord’s blessings, Haykin spoke of feeling unworthy, but grateful, for the Festschrift and the friendships it represents.

Copies of The pure flame of devotion may be purchased from Amazon and Joshua Press.

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Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

Dr. Haykin contributes to New Book on the Atonement

By Steve Weaver

Final coverReleasing this month from Crossway is a massive new book on the doctrine of definite atonement titled From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. As the title suggests, this volume will approach the doctrine historically, biblically, theologically, and pastorally.

Edited by David and Jonathan Gibson, the volume assembles a world-class group of scholars to address their "particular" topics. Dr. Haykin drew from his patristic training to write his chapter: “We Trust in the Saving Blood”: Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church.

There is a website dedicated to promoting the book. On the website, you will find a list of the contributors, the table of contents, endorsements, and a free preview (PDF) of the book.

The book is slated to release on November 30, 2013, but is already available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 2 and 14.

“I Dare Not Trifle with My Commission”

By Evan D. Burns

As a writer, Emily C. Judson (1817-1854) sketched some illuminating anecdotes of her marriage to Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) that exhibit his Christ-enamored piety.  She recorded his single-minded devotion to preaching the gospel as a missionary and his refusal to entertain people with stories of his labors, as though he were some kind of Christian celebrity.  Emily recounted Judson speaking about Christ’s gospel at her home church (soon after they were married in 1846), though the people were manifestly disappointed with his lack of sensational stories.  This account illustrates Judson’s humility in seeking to draw attention to Christ and his gospel instead of Judson’s own reputation.  His self-forgetfulness would be a stranger to our self-promoting contemporary culture.

A short time before Dr. Judson left this country, he took considerable pains to visit my native village, and the church with which I first united….  After the usual sermon was over, he spoke for about fifteen minutes, with singular simplicity, and, as I thought, with touching pathos, of the “precious Saviour,” what he has done for us, and what we owe to him….  After the exercises were over, several persons inquired of me, frankly, why Dr. Judson had not talked of something else; why he had not told a story, etc.; while others signified their disappointment by not alluding to his having spoken at all.  On the way home, I mentioned the subject to him.

“Why, what did they want?” he inquired; “I presented the most interesting subject in the world, to the best of my ability.”

“But they wanted something different—a story.”

“Well, I am sure I gave them a story—the most thrilling one that can be conceived of.”

“But they had heard it before.  They wanted something new of a man who had just come from the antipodes.”

“Then I am glad they have it to say, that a man coming from the antipodes had nothing better to tell than the wondrous story of Jesus’ dying love.  My business is to preach the gospel of Christ, and when I can speak at all, I dare not trifle with my commission.  When I looked upon those people today, and remembered where I should next meet them, how could I stand up and furnish food to vain curiosity—tickle their fancies with amusing stories, however decently strung together on a thread of religion?  That is not what Christ meant by preaching the gospel.  And then, how could I hereafter meet the fearful charge, ‘I gave you one opportunity to tell them of me—you spent it in describing your own adventures!’”

He acknowledged that the diffusion of missionary information was a thing of great importance, but said that the good of the cause of missions did not require a lowering of the standard of gospel preaching; and that whatever was done for missions at the expense of spirituality in the American churches, was lost on the world.[1]


[1]Wayland, Memoir, 2:368-370.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

A new book by Dr. Michael Haykin: Ardent Love for Jesus: Learning from the eighteenth-century Baptist revival

By Dustin Bruce

9781850492481Building on years of teaching experience, D.A. Carson is quoted at saying, “students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again.” Michael Haykin’s new book, Ardent Love for Jesus, is this concept translated into book form. Each chapter may be compared to having one’s ear to the door of a classroom, listening intently as Haykin delivers a passionate lecture on a favorite subject: a band of eighteenth-century Baptists whose pursuit of the Risen Lord changed their denomination and the world.

Haykin begins by setting the context of the Baptist revivals, establishing a complicated British history and the rise of hyper-Calvinism as the winds that cooled the piety of Baptist churches in Britain. Yet, with men like John Gill, who fought to preserve the ember of orthodoxy among Baptist ranks, the spark remained for a fresh awakening when the Spirit would blow and ignite Baptist churches once again.

This book is about that fire of revival experienced by eighteenth-century Baptist men and women and what it can teach us today.

Chapters include:

  1. ‘A very dunghill in society’: The Calvinistic Baptists and their need for revival
  2. ‘The Saviour calls’: The ministry and piety of Benjamin Francis and Anne Steele
  3. ‘A little band of brothers’: Friendship and revival in the life of John Ryland Jr.
  4. ‘I wish I had prayed more’: John Sutcliff and the Concert of Prayer for revival
  5. ‘A dull flint’: Andrew Fuller and theological reformation
  6. ‘What a soul’: The revival piety of Samuel Pearce
  7. ‘A wretched, poor and helpless worm’: Revival activism–the legacy of William Carey

Appendix: Eighteenth-century Baptists and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in revival

I encourage you to pick up this helpful volume and have your heart warmed in love for Jesus.

Available at Amazon and The Book Depository.

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Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

The choice of Moses: “the sweetest of all sweets”

By Michael A.G. Haykin

A text that I have long meditated upon and that has been profitable to my soul has been the description of Moses’ treasure in Hebrews 11:24–26. I never noticed until last night when I was perusing J.W. Morris, coll. and arr., Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Religious Subjects, Being the Last Remains of The Rev. Andrew Fuller (London: Wightman and Cramp, 1826) that Andrew Fuller preached a sermon on this very text entitled “The choice of Moses” (Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Religious Subjects, 293–297). Here is choice portion—very Edwardsean with the mention of “sweet”—from the sermon:

“The society of the people of God, though afflicted, reproached, and persecuted, exceeds all the pleasures of sin while they do last. It is delightful to cast in our lot with them; for the bond of their union is holy love, which is the sweetest of all sweets to a holy mind. If we have once tasted of this, every thing else will become comparatively insipid. How sweet a bond of union is the love of Christ!—How sweet is the fellowship of saints! Even when borne down with reproaches and afflictions, how sweet are the tears of sympathy!”

____________________ Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.