Learning to listen to God’s Word
Dr. J. Stephen Yuille (Vice President of Academics and Academic Dean of College at Heritage College & Seminary) believes there’s much to learn from those who’ve gone before us. By way of example he points to the English puritan and pastor Thomas Manton (1620-1677). “He was a towering figure during a particularly turbulent time in English history,” says Dr. Yuille. “More importantly, he was a faithful pastor who fulfilled his charge with unwavering devotion to God’s Word and God’s people. His published sermons (22 volumes) are a treasure trove of biblical wisdom, theological insight, and pastoral counsel.”
Dr. Yuille introduces us to Thomas Manton in his most recent book, Great Spoil: Thomas Manton’s Spirituality of the Word. The main purpose of the book is to demonstrate the centrality of God’s Word to Manton’s approach to the Christian life. Dr. Yuille believes Manton’s example is timely, given the tendency of many evangelicals to adopt a subtle form of mysticism – the belief that we are able to sense the Holy Spirit working directly within us, producing impulses as a means of communicating God’s will to us. “I think this kind of approach to spirituality is potentially dangerous because it ultimately severs the Spirit of God from the Word of God, thereby divorcing Him from the only infallible and sufficient revelation that He has given us – the Bible,” warns Dr. Yuille. “Thomas Manton puts us back on solid ground by reminding us that God’s Spirit always speaks through God’s Word.”
Great Spoil also emphasizes Manton’s conviction that the Holy Spirit renews and revives our hearts by means of God’s Word. Throughout his sermons, Manton insists that the heart is “a chaos of desires, seeking to be filled with something from without.” For Dr. Yuille, this message is crucial when it comes to the Christian life. “Without constant care, the heart will seek satisfaction in the wrong things. This is one of the reasons why the Word of God is so important. It’s the means by which the Holy Spirit constantly orients our hearts heavenward.”
Manton’s biblical piety also highlights the need for Christians to engage in the practice of spiritual duties and disciplines. These are the means through which the Holy Spirit works in us, cultivating greater love for God. “Manton believes that the spiritual life is maintained through faith and that faith is cultivated by God’s Word. It’s the means by which God sends His life-giving Spirit,” says Dr. Yuille. “We must, therefore, be diligent in the use of the means of grace,” whereby we receive “further measures and degrees” of the Holy Spirit. These are “the great fuel of faith” – the means by which faith is “begotten” and “increased.”
All told, Manton’s spirituality of the Word is a much-needed reminder that the Bible is God’s voice – that which “goes out” from God’s “mouth” (Isa. 55:11). For this reason, we must listen to it as if we heard God speaking to us from heaven, rejoicing like those who find “great spoil” (Ps. 119:162).
To learn more about Great Spoil, or to purchase the book, see the following link: http://bit.ly/GreatSpoil