Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Review: Messiah

John Newton
Messiah: Fifty Expository Discourses Preached in the Years 1784 and 1785. John Newton. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]

John Newton preached a (relatively) long sermon series inspired by Handel's Messiah. These sermons--in whole or in part perhaps--were then subsequently published. Though inspired by Handel's Messiah, the subject is very much the MESSIAH, the SON OF GOD, the LORD AND SAVIOR. The focus isn't so much on the light and frivolous, but, on the weighty matter of life and death. Each sermon finds a way to clearly, persistently point the way to Jesus Christ as the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. No matter where the sermon starts out--a particular scripture from the Old Testament or New Testament--it ends out with a passionate appeal to the audience to choose life, to respond to God's mercy with repentance and faith.

The first volume is twenty-five sermons. Throughout the summer, I have shared quotes from these twenty-five sermons. The second volume is also twenty-five sermons. I've decided since summer is nearly over not to continue sharing quotes from each sermon. I will share some of my favorite quotes from those twenty-five sermons down below.

Essentially, John Newton used the Scripture references from each song in Handel's Messiah as a starting point to preach the gospel to one and all. His point was never to work up the crowds to go and listen to the Messiah. Rather his point was don't let your love for popular music stand in the way of you taking the MESSIAH HIMSELF seriously. This is a matter of life and death. His sermon series may have been inspired by pop culture, but he never once compromises the gospel message, the weightiness of it.

I only wish that preachers today when "inspired" by pop culture would pay more reverence to God's Holy Word. And perhaps make their messages more about Him and less about us.

Favorite quotes:
However, if there be any doctrine fundamental and necessary to be rightly understood, what the Scripture teaches concerning the person of MESSIAH the Redeemer, must be eminently so. Mistakes upon this point, must necessarily be dangerous. It cannot be a question of mere speculation, whether the Saviour be God, or creature.
The gracious design of God in affording us His holy Scripture, is to make us wise unto salvation (II Timothy 3:15) His manner of teaching is therefore accommodated to our circumstances. He instructs in heavenly things by earthly. And to engage our confidence, to excite our gratitude, to animate us to our duty by the most affecting motives; and that the reverence we owe to His great and glorious Majesty, as our Creator and our Legislator, may be combined with love and cheerful dependence; He is pleased to reveal Himself by those names which express the nearest relation and endearment amongst ourselves.
Our Lord, in His conference with Nicodemus, was pleased to say, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son , etc. (John 3:16) . It was undoubtedly His design, by this expression, to give to Nicodemus, and to us the highest idea possible of the love of God to sinners. He so loved the world beyond description or comparison, that He gave His only begotten Son. Surely, then, the gift spoken of must not be limited to the human nature only. This was not all that He gave. The human nature was the medium of the acts and sufferings of MESSIAH; but He who assumed it was the Word, who was before all, and by whom all things were made. It is true the human nature was given , supernaturally formed by divine power, and born of a virgin. But He who was in the beginning God with God, was given to appear, obey, and suffer in the nature of man, for us and for our salvation. And to Him are ascribed the perfections and attributes of Deity; of which the highest angels are no more capable, than the worms which creep upon the earth.
The God-man, the whole person of Christ, was sent, came forth from the Father. The manhood was the offering, but the Word of God, possessed of the perfections of Deity, was the altar necessary to sanctify the gift, and to give a value and efficacy to the atonement.
If you believe that you shall exist hereafter, do you not desire heaven? But such a heaven as the Word of God describes could not afford you happiness, unless your mind be previously changed and disposed to relish it. Neither the employment nor the company of heaven would be pleasing to you. It is a state where all the inhabitants unite in admiring and adoring Him who died upon the cross. If this subject is displeasing to you here, it would be much more so there. Heaven itself would be a hell to an un-humbled, and unholy soul. Consider this seriously, while there is time to seek His face; and tremble at the thoughts of being cut off by death in your present state, insensible as you are of who He is, and what He has done for sinners. May He enlighten your understanding, and enable you to see things pertaining to your true peace, before they are forever hidden from your eyes.
God formed man originally for Himself, and gave him an answerable capacity, so that no inferior good can satisfy and fill his mind. Man was likewise, by the constitution and will of his Maker, immortal, provided he persevered in obedience. But sin degraded and ruined him, shut the gates of Paradise, and the gates of Heaven against him. Man destroyed himself; but wisdom and mercy interposed for his recovery. A promise was given of the seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent's head, defeat his policy, destroy his power, and repair the mischiefs he had introduced by sin. MESSIAH fulfilled this promise. And when He had finished all that was appointed for Him on earth, as the second Adam, the Head and Representative of His people, He ascended on high, and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. As an illustrious proof to the universe, that God is reconciled: that there is forgiveness with Him for sinners who implore His mercy: one in our nature, and in our behalf, has taken possession of the Kingdom.
Take heed how you hear. If the Gospel is not made to you a savour of life, it will be a savour of death. It will aggravate your guilt and condemnation, and leave you utterly hopeless and inexcusable. If you continue impenitent and obstinate, the hour is coming when you will wish you had never heard the name of Jesus. It had been better for you never to have been born, or to have lived and died among the savage Indians; or to have been an idiot or a lunatic to the end of your days, than to have lived where the doctrine of salvation was published in your hearing, if you finally reject the counsel of God against yourselves!
He visited us in person, for us He lived a Sufferer, and died that we might live.
But do the professed lovers of sacred music in this enlightened age, generally live, as if they really believed that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth? Rather, do not the greater part of them live, as they might do, if they were sure of the contrary? as if they were satisfied to a demonstration, that either there is no God, or that His Providence is not concerned with human affairs? I appeal to conscience; I appeal to fact.
There is no name of MESSIAH more significant, comprehensive, or endearing, than the name REDEEMER . The name Saviour' expresses what He does for sinners. He saves them from guilt and wrath, from sin, from the present evil world, from the powers of darkness, and from all their enemies. He saves them with an everlasting salvation. But the word Redeemer' intimates, likewise, the manner in which He saves them. For it is not merely by the word of His power, as He saved His disciples when in jeopardy upon the lake, by saying to the winds and seas, Peace, be still: and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39) ; but by price, by paying a ransom for them, and pouring out the blood of His heart, as an atonement for their sins.
Alas! I have but very slight perception of the evil of sin, of the deceitfulness of my own heart, of the force and subtlety of my spiritual enemies, of the strictness and spirituality of the holy law, or the awful majesty and holiness of the great God, with whom I have to do. If in the moment, while I am speaking to you, He should be pleased to impress these solemn realities to my mind, with a conviction and evidence, tenfold greater than I have ever known hitherto (which I conceive would still be vastly short of the truth) unless my faith was also strengthened, by a tenfold clearer and more powerful discovery of the grace and glory of the Saviour, you would probably see my countenance change and my speech falter. The Lord, in compassion to our weakness, shows us these things by little and little, as we are able to bear them; and if, as we advance in the knowledge of ourselves, and of our dangers, our knowledge of the unsearchable riches of Christ advances equally, we may rejoice in hope, we may even possess an assured hope. But let not him who has put on his harness, boast as though he had put it off (I Kings 20:11) . We are yet in an enemy's land, and know not what changes we may meet with, before our warfare is finished.
If it be true that without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) , it must likewise be true that without holiness no man can have a Scriptural and well-founded hope of seeing Him.
To love God with all our heart and strength, to depend upon Him, to conform to every intimation of His will, was the duty of man from the first moment of his existence; was the law of his nature, written originally in his heart. The republication of it, as it stands in the Bible, by precepts and prohibitions, would not have been necessary, had he continued in that state of rectitude in which he was created.

The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God: and they who thankfully receive it as His Book, will not trifle with it by substituting bold conjectural alterations, which, though they may deem them to be amendments, may possibly disguise or alter the genuine sense of the passage.
Too many persons, ignorant of their own state as sinners, and of the awful majesty and holiness of the Most High, presume to think of Him, to speak of Him, and, in their way, to speak to Him, without being aware of the necessity of a Mediator.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

SarahElisabeth Jones said...

This sounds a valuable read. Have you seen Newton's Olney Hymns? This is a collection of hymns that Newton wrote and is worth perusing.