Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christ Precious - Book Review (Part III)

The final part of our review, reviewing the final major section of the book: The HI What Respects is Christ Precious to Them That Believe. It's almost needless for me to say that this was as good as the rest, again a mixture of inspiration, challenge and encouragement. In this section, Fawcett discusses over fifteen reasons that the believer finds Christ precious. Indeed, beginning the section, he writes: “He is not only precious to you, but preciousness itself. He is your jewel, tour treasure; and should you be robbed of all besides, you are superlatively and everlastingly rich.” (p 97) Christ is precious above all things, and so Fawcett continues his theme...

First, the history of Christ is precious. A friend of mine heard one of the pastors of one of the megachurches that have decided to close over Christmas speaking about it on the news. The substance of his answer was that it was a message people had heard over and over, and it would be best for people to spend Christmas Day with their families. That amazes me. For Fawcett, the Christmas story, the record of Christ’s ministry, His death and resurrection – they are precious, and bear repeating again and again. To those who believe, there is a wonder in the pages of the four Gospels, reading some of the wonderful reality of the Saviour. The ten pages in which Fawcett outlines the life of Christ are some of the more moving I’ve read, perhaps helped by the slightly more reverent language of a century or two ago…each line forces thought upon his beauty.

The person of Christ is precious. The Gospels are precious because they tell us of the Man, Christ Jesus, a Person infinitely above all others. The knowledge of this Man, writes Fawcett, is “more valuable than any other kind of knowledge whatever.” (104) After several pages detailing the wonders of the Person of Christ, Fawcett comes to a place all who love Christ known well – “I freely own, that I am lost when I meditate on the glory of Immanuel,” humbled and awed by His “incomparable and transcendent excellency.” (p 110)

The names of Christ are precious. Again, apt for the season, Fawcett begins with the passage that first popped into my mind when I saw this section heading: Isaiah 6:9 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” What’s in a name indeed!, and Christ’s name, to those that believe, is truly as ointment poured forth. Just as to hear the name Jesus used as a curse makes me feel sickened, to hear His name used reverently, worshipfully, lovingly, fills us with warmth and joy above almost everything else. As well as the name Jesus, Fawcett writes on other names of Christ: Messiah, Prince of Peace, Lord of Glory, Strength, the Consolation of Israel, and yet so many more names there are, each one beautiful, and each one precious as they speak of the character and person of the Christ we adore.

The offices and characters of Christ are precious (while I am outling very briefly, again I would emphasize just how encouraging and beneficial reading this book has been…to read Fawcett’s discussion of the person, the work and the beauties of the Saviour is inspiring and challenging – the best of both worlds. Even if this review does nothing for you, his pen is far sweeter than mine, and his thoughts of Christ far more exalted – get the book if you can). Fawcett writes of the Christ Who is a Priest after the order of Melchizedek – Who Himself bought our redemption; the King of Zion, who reigns in majesty, with all power in heaven and earth; the Prophet of the church, Who teaches, guides, illuminates, and proclaims the glory of God. But there is far more to Jesus than the fulfillment of the Old Testament offices. He is the Shepherd of His flock, from Whose hand none shall be plucked; the Redeemer of our souls, having paid a perfect sacrifice; the Everlasting Father (that’s always confused me to – read what Fawcett has to say!); The bridegroom, beloved of His bride;, Who loves her unto death.

The blood and the righteousness of Christ are precious – and oh how much so!! Without that perfect life lived to fulfill the law, without that blood shed on Calvary, without that agonizing death, and without that perfect righteousness to clothe us, we are without hope, destined to a life, bath here and thereafter, apart from God.

His love is precious – the love that caused Him to spill His blood for you and me. This, writes Fawcett, “is the most powerful inducement that can be proposed to us, to excite our ardent affections towards the gracious Redeemer” (p. 148) – or as John put it, we love Him because He first loved us. With Fawcett, the one who loves Christ can pray “To thy love I ascribe my full salvation; and through all the ages of blissful eternity, I humbly hope and trust, I shall proclaim the wonders of redeeming love, and tell to listening angels what this love has done for my soul.” (p.152)

His throne is precious. It is before this throne of grace that we bring our prayers, not only of love and adoration, but of petition and pleading prayer that is “not only a duty but an inestimable privilege.” (p.153) (I wish I would remember that more often – as Fawcett rightly continues, not holding anything back, “the condescension of God is wonderful in lending His gracious ear to sinful worms.”)

The doctrine of Christ is precious. In saying this, Fawcett sums up so much of what He has already written, but at this point, we can stop and think, by the measure of what we have read, just how precious is Christ to us? But there is more to come…

The promises of Christ are precious. The one Who loves Christ delights in the promise of the Spirit to empower us for the lives we should lead, and in the promise of His return (crying “even so, come Lord Jesus”)

The commands of Christ are precious. This would sound strange to one who does not know and love Christ – commands precious? And yet it’s true – as Fawcett comments: “the laws of His mouth are better than thousands of gold and silver. To be under divine restraints is sweeter than liberty.” (p. 160)The lover of Christ realizes that it is slavery to sin or to Christ, and the only true freedom is yielding to Him.

Following this, His ways are precious. Pursuing Christ, and walking with Him, is the path to true joy. Fawcett quaintly writes that this supreme love that attaches itself to Christ “governs all the active train of human passions, and leads them, in sweet captivity, to cheerful obedience. And as the inward affections will thus be engaged towards the Redeemer, the outward powers will be employed in corresponding exercises.” (p.162) To those Who love Christ, it is the way without Him that is hard.

His people are precious. I recall when I write my dissertation on Moody and Sankey’s Scottish revival in the 1870s that there was a lot of opposition and in one of the local newspapers at the time (the Glasgow Herald), the comment was made by one cynic: “look at these Christian’s; see how they love one another.” Ouch! By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, Christ said, and how often we fall short as a Church on this one. Sure, we will have genuine differences with brothers and sisters in Christ, but if we find Christ precious, writes Fawcett (and He is only following the Scripture) we will find each other precious. As Fawcett concludes after a few pages discussing this, “How careful we should be to cultivate brotherly love both in ourselves and others!” How indeed.

His interest is precious. I like Fawcett’s opening paragraph here: It is not enough for a man to talk in high strains of melting affection and moving of his affections to the Redeemer, to tell of the inward experiences he has had, at certain periods, of love to Him, how His hearty was drawn out to Him at this time or the other time, when in the general course of his life, he is indifferent to the cause of Christ, and unwilling to lay out Himself for the promoting of His Kingdom among men. We are to make manifest that Christ is precious to us, by constant endeavors to advance His cause and interest in the world.” (p.170) Simply stated, those who love Christ, walk the walk as well as talk the talk. It is their delight to see Him exalted and His kingdom extended.

His day and house are precious. I don’t know why I am thinking about all those megachurches which are closing again. Perhaps Christians of old went over the top in the extremes in which they limited what could be done on the Lord’s day, but we certainly have not improved things with the license we reveal today, and the take it or leave it church attitude even among Christians today is not the sign of those who love Christ. The one who finds Christ precious loves the house of God, to gather with other believers and the day of His rising, and celebrate the person and glory of Christ with other who love Him too.

Hi benefits are precious. The one who loves Christ finds His gifts, not unnaturally, precious – but that means they show thankfulness.

His chastisements are precious. Perhaps not so obvious! But precious are the wounds of a friend, and Christ chastises, not out of some vindictive pleasure, but out of a desire for our good and for His glory, seeking to guide us back to the right path (i.e. the best path).

His example is precious. Again, as we read the Gospels, and see the life of Christ in action, we are thrilled, by his tenderness dealing with the woman caught in adultery, to his righteous anger in dealing with the moneychangers at the temple. In all He did, He attracts the believers admiration and awe. As Fawcett states, “the more I contemplate His amiable character, while He sojourned on earth, the more I am delighted with it.” (p. 185)

I had intended to finish the review by recapping these points and challenging us to reread the points above, and measure our own love of Christ by them. But no need – Fawcett finishes with a dozen or so pages as “An Improvement on the Subject”!, and here he suggests the thoughts with which we should leave this book.

First, we should be convinced the evangelical system is righteous and equitable, and second, we should be convinced of our need for Christ. Beyond this, he gets very challenging. First, from considering what we have read, and from observation of the world, we must conclude the number of those who find Christ precious is small. In light of this, we should examine ourselves, and not take for granted our salvation on light grounds. This is the most important thing we will ever deal with in our lives, as it means the difference between eternal bliss and eternal torment. It should be obvious that we should and must love Christ, and we should forget comfort in this world below, through which we are simply passing, and rather aspire after more knowledge of Christ. Then, having seen just how precious Christ is, we should be ashamed we don’t love Him more (I know I am from my reading of this book). In building our love for Him, we should allow our faith, love and knowledge of Christ to pervade all we do, and in the end, we should realize that the life of the true lover of Christ is a happy lot.

Again, I encourage the purchase of this book (you can get it here). In fact, if you can, get copies for friends!! It’s an investment, for you will read it more than once! But it is a far greater investment in your own spiritual walk with Christ. All in all, if you are serious about your faith, and want to be challenged in your pursuit of Him, John Fawcett’s Christ Precious is a worthy place to begin.


Blogger charlescameron said...

I wonder if you might be interested in my Bible Reading Notes, covering the whole of Scripture www.christinallthescriptures.blogspot.com www.theologyofgcberkouwer.blogspot.com http://chascameron.spaces.live.com
Best Wishes.

4:40 PM  

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