These two sermons are some of the best I’ve ever had the blessing to take in.
These two sermons are some of the best I’ve ever had the blessing to take in.
The great Dr. Lloyd-Jones on depression. Lloyd-Jones is one of the greatest preachers of the last 100 years.
You can grab his book on depression here, where one writer says about him’ “Having been one of the greatest medical doctors of his country, and then having pastored among God’s people for many years, Lloyd-Jones was remarkably qualified to address this difficult issue with rare balance and insight.”
One of my favorite preachers of church history is the one and only Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon suffered with depression through his whole ministry, not doubt due in part to the huge burden on his shoulders of all the souls he was shepherding. And it seems that the issue is a common one among pastors. (Perhaps I should prepare myself!)
What did Spurgeon think the cure for depression was? Here’s a snippet of one of his sermons (bolding emphasis is min):
Again, it may be that I am speaking to sad ones who suffer under mental depression. Some of us are by constitution inclined to that condition. I have sometimes envied those good people who are never excited with joy, and consequently seldom or never despond. “Along the cool, sequestered vale of life they hold the even tenor of their way.” Happy people! At the same time, when I rise, as upon eagle’s wings, in joyous rapture, I feel right glad to be capable of the blissful excitement. Yet if you soar to the skies, you are very apt to drop below the sea-level. He that can fly, can faint. Elijah, after he had slain the prophets of Baal, was found fleeing into the wilderness from the face of Jezebel. If you are so constituted that you rise and fall; if you are a creature that can be excited, and that can be depressed; and, worse still, if you happen to have been born on a foggy day, and to have swallowed so much of that fog that you have found it shading your spirit many a time ever since; then you can only be strong by faith. If you are one of those plants which seldom bloom with bunches of bright flowers, but have your blossoms hidden and concealed, be not disquieted. If you are never mirthful, and seldom able to call yourself joyful—the only cure for depression is faith. Settle this in your heart: “Whether I am up or down, the Lord Jesus Christ is the same. Whether I sing, or whether I sigh, the promise is true, and the Promiser is faithful. Whether I stand on Tabor’s summit, or am hidden in the vale of Baca, the covenant standeth fast, and everlasting love abideth.” Be assured, beyond all questioning, that he that believeth in the Lord Jesus is not condemned. Believe in him, though you see no flashes of delight nor sparkles of joy. We are safe, because we are in the City of Refuge, and not because we are, in ourselves, ill or well. If you will stand firm in Christ Jesus, even in your weakness you will be made strong.
Read the whole sermon here. It would be good for your soul. Also, here’s a short video on depression from another one of my favorite preachers, Paul Washer.
Here’s a great Q&A from John MacArthur’s book on Biblical Counseling (emphasis is mine):
Since the Bible is not a textbook on psychology, don’t we need to supplement it with other disciplines to understand and help people with deep psychological needs?
At first glance, this seems like a reasonable question. The scientific disciplines have shown us truth that goes beyond the truth of Scripture. All of us have benefited from medical knowledge that is, after all, extrabiblical. Appendectomies, for example, have saved countless lives in the past hundred years or so. Smallpox vaccinations have virtually wiped out the disease. If we limited ourselves in medicine to the remedies specifically revealed in Scripture, we would be at a tremendous disadvantage in the treatment of diseases.
Certainly, Scripture does not claim to be a thorough textbook on medicine, or physics, or any of the sciences.?3? But psychology differs from these in two important regards. First, psychology is not a true science. It does not deal with objective, measurable data that can be subjected to reliable tests and confirmed by the scientific method. It is a pseudoscience, and most of its cardinal doctrines are mere speculations, not reliable truth.
Second, and most significant, psychology, unlike medicine and physics, deals with matters that are fundamentally spiritual. In fact, the word psychology literally means, “study of the soul.” What are deep psychological needs if they are not the spiritual issues the gospel is concerned with? And Scripture certainly does claim absolute sufficiency in addressing those needs: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17, emphasis added). “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7). Scripture itself promises believers the most comprehensive spiritual resources: “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).
Is the problem depression? Scripture contains the only reliable remedy. Is the problem guilt? What can psychology offer that goes beyond the perfect solution Scripture suggests: ‘’the blood of Christ … [that cleanses] your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14)? Every so-called psychological need that is not traceable to physical causes is, in reality, a spiritual problem, and Scripture does indeed claim to be the only sufficient guide in handling spiritual problems. To attempt to add psychological theory to the unfailing testimony of God’s Word is to adulterate God’s truth with human opinion.
– John F. MacArthur, Jr., MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling, 249-50 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005).
In light of my upcoming class on Pastoral Counseling, and a recent conversation I had with a friend, over the next few days I’ll be posting some of my findings on the Biblical view of depression.
The video below will pull at your heartstrings. It’s a great story of how this book…
helped a faithful, God-honoring marriage.
On a trip to the Shepherd’s conference, I finished reading Iain Murray’s John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock.
I highly recommend it for every Christian! In the first few pages, Murray lists 5 characteristics of an evangelical leader. How do you and your church leaders match up?
1. An evangelical leader is one who leads and guides the lives of others by the Scripture
2. An evangelical leader inspires the affection of followers because they learn Christ through him, and see something of Christ in him
3. An evangelical leader is a man prepared to be unpopular
4. An evangelical leader is one who is awake to the dangers of the times
5. An evangelical leader will not direct attention to himself.
Top 7 Theological/Christian Books I Read in 2011
7. Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image. This was a required book for a seminary class I took on the doctrine of man and sin. Most required reading is somewhat tedious and difficult to wade through, but Hoekema’s was refreshingly easy to read. He does a great job of explaining what it means to be created in the image of God, in His likeness.
6. Leland Ryken, Realms of Gold: The Classics in Christian Perspective. After all the quotes from Ryken’s book in my #1 pick below, I had to buy this one. Ryken encourages Christians to read some of the classic works of literature which include Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens and Tolstoy just to name a few. Sadly, I had not read any of the books Ryken recommends, except Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The good thing is this provides me a good reading list for next year.
5. John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Piper is one of my favorite authors on the topic of theology. Unfortunately, anti-intellectualism is a common thread in modern Christianity, but in Think Piper makes a Biblical argument showing why Christians should think deeply and use our minds to love the Lord our God. Piper’s exposition of the Scripture verses that challenge his argument (2 Cor. 10:4-5; Luke 10:17-24; 1 Cor. 1:20-24) are worth the price of the book.
4. John MacArthur, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. I actually read this book twice in 2011, once on a flight to the Shepherd’s Conference and the other for a Sunday School class this summer. Almost all modern English translations of the Bible have intentionally left out the word “slave”, even though “slave” best fits the context of the Greek word doulos. MacArthur explains why this has occurred and develops the understanding of what it means to be a slave of Christ.
3. Andreas J. Kostenberger and David W. Jones, God, Marriage, and Family (Second Edition): Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation. This book came highly recommended by many pastors and theologians throughout the blogosphere. When the second edition came out in 2010 I had to grab it. I decided to teach through God, Family and Marriage in a Sunday School class for Young Marrieds and it would be an understatement to say it has literally changed marriages for the better. A must have reference book for any Christian.
2. Kris Lundgaard, The Enemy Within: Straight Talk about the Power and Defeat of Sin. Lundgaard gives a step-by-step process to kill sin in a believer’s life. He draws from two of John Owen’s books Indwelling Sin and The Mortification of Sin. This little book, only 150 pages including study questions, is a must read for any Christian. It will help you examine your own sin and give you some excellent tools to defeat it.
1. Tony Renke, Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. Lit is my favorite book of the year, mainly because it is a book on reading books (!) and has helped me to read even more than I realized I could. This book will be required for my homeschooling children in their teenage years. Half of it deals with reading the Bible and a theology of reading books in general. The second half gives some helpful tips on how to prioritize your reading list, how to make more time to read, and writing/making notes in your books. Renke shows how he is able to read so many books in a year, and still retain what he learns from each of them. Chapter 14 on How Parents and Pastors Can Ignite in Others a Love for Book Reading was especially helpful for the practical application of how to get others reading more.
Books Started in December Which Will Likely Make Next Year’s Top 10
1. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
2. Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
3. Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus