Friday, January 30, 2015

Have we Forgotten How to Mourn?

Recently we've began a series through the Sermon on the Mount at our church and I've been reading some of Thomas Watson's work on the Beatitudes. I was struck this morning by some of the things he wrote about gospel mourning. In partticular his thought that there are 3 special seasons of extraordinary mourning for the Christian "when it should be as it were high-water in the soul." I will list those seasons according to Watson, and offer some thoughts on why I find it so relevant.

1. When there are tokens of God's wrath breaking forth in the nation -

Mind you, Watson lived in England during the 17th century.  I am not sure what he would say about the United States of the 21st century.  Do we not see tokens of God's wrath breaking forth in our nation? Men and women given over to their own lusts.  Babies being murdered.  Idols of various shapes and sizes worshiped with no shame. The love of money, the love of self, and the love of profane pleasures flaunted about...

This has made us all angry for years.  But when is the last time it broke us? Watson writes "Rain follows thunder. When God thunders in a nation by His judgmeents, now the showers of tears must distill...If the Lord seems to be packing up and carrying away His gospel - it is now high time to mourn." 

2. Before the performing solemn duties of God's Worship - "Christian, are you about to seek God in an extraordinary manner? 'Seek Him sorrowing' (Luke 2:48)."

There is much talk about revival in our day.  There are exhortations for churches and denominations to collectively seek God's face for revival. And for these things I am grateful. However, how are we seeking for this revival? Is it in true Christ wrought gospel mourning? Why do we want revival? Because we want our churches to be filled so we can get a pat on the back and prove to the pagans that we are right? So that we can elect a Republican president? So that we can get the glory? None of us would say those things, but let us examine our hearts.

Beloved, let us mourn.  I don't know a single instance of revival in the bible or in church history were people were not broken.  I place the blame upon myself as well as the rest of the church in this indictment. If we truly want revival, then we are telling God to break our hearts. 

3. After scandalous relapses - "There is no mercy without bitter mourning."

I doubt most churches would know what a Solemn Assembly is.  Have we forgotten the heinousness of sin? The scandal of it? It's repugnant and God-hating nature?

Are we too proud to repent? Are we too proud to mourn? 

We are so busy with our innovations and strategies that we have failed to take time to mourn our grievances against a Holy and righteous God. Again, notice I say 'we'. Can we expect God to bless our efforts for church revitalization, church planting, evangelism, and reformation if we fail to mourn our sin? I am thankful that God in His grace continues to reach people for His own eternal glory despite our shortcomings.  However, shall we not be burdened by the reality that God promises to dwell with those who are of a humble and contrite spirit (Is. 57:15)?

After all, Jesus says "Blessed are those who mourn..." So, if we aren't mourning for the sin in our own lives, the sin in the church, and the sin in society, are we blessed or not?

Will you mourn with me? Jesus promises "...for they shall be comforted."

How foolish this may seem to a worldly mindset! 'Happiness' is what we should seek, not mourning! But it is only those who mourn who find true gospel comfort, peace, and joy.

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