10/23/96

Posted, July 11, 1998
 

Christian Contentment

 

PHILIPPIANS 4:11

As with last week, I realize that we have taught this Book, but here is a point I feel that I need to emphasize.

About 18 years ago, I came across a bookstore on Newport Pk. which ran between Elkton Md, and Willmington Del. The man who owned the bookstore back then would publish books himself. He would either write them or reprint them. When he would get his idea for a book, he would have an advanced sale of the books. The price of the books would be a fraction of the published price. This is the way he raised the money to publish them. As the publishing date drew nearer, the price of the books would go up. I got some extremely good deals on these pre-publishing sales. When we came here, I was still on his mailing and he had moved to Laf. Ind.

About 5 or so years ago, he presented the idea for a whole set of books that he called THE FIFTY GREATEST CHRISTIAN CLASSICS. He offered the 12 Volume set, which would retail for over 200$ when published, for something like 30$ at a prepublished price. That was over a year before the first of the volumes came out, then they would be released about twice a year.

I got my 4th volume a couple of weeks ago, which contains 7 slightly revised classic books on the Christian life.

This is Mr. Green's comments on one of these classic books that he included in the 7. [Publishers Preface, p vii-viii.]

"The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremy Burroughs (1599-1646) is the second classic. This is a precious book which will bear reading many times in one's lifetime. For Christian contentment is rare indeed, and it ebbs and flows depending on the degree of reliance one puts on God's word. Burroughs describes this rare grace, and also shows what opposes the quiet contentment which should permeate the Christian life. After this eye-opening, heart-challenging preface, the mystery of contentment is opened up. In three chapters this mystery is revealed and unfolded. There is the mystery to the natural mind regarding addition and subtraction. By nature we think of contentment as coming from gaining things which we desire, but do not have. But Christian contentment comes solely from subtracting from our desires until we have only Christ and His desires left. It is a wonderful message in Christian mathematics, of inestimable worth to every sincere soul. From these foundational truths Burroughs proceeds to show us how Christ teaches sincere contentment. No one can be a Christian scholar unless he first learns his ABC's. And these are the basic lessons given, to which the seeker after contentment must affirm: (1) I am nothing; (2) I deserve nothing; (3) I can do nothing; (4) I am vile; (5) I can make use of nothing; (6) I am worse than nothing; (7) If I perish there will be no loss. "Now put these seven things together and then Christ has taught you self-denial...A man who is little in his own eyes will account every affliction as little, and every mercy as great."

As you know, I do not normally give such lengthy quotes on Sunday morning, but we have a reason. These 7 points are so contrary to what is taught today and what is believed by the vast majority of professed Christians, that I wanted you to know that they were not original with me.

The human heart is utterly repelled by these 7 points. And since Mr. Burroughs presented these 7 in the first half of the 1600's (350 years ago), human nature has not improved.

I know that even as I read them, I was struck by the seeming harshness of these seven points.