Thursday, August 18, 2011
The Vision (8/18/11): Richard Baxter: No more preaching in heaven
My sermon last Sunday stressed the centrality and importance of preaching as a means of grace in this gospel age. This same week I ran into a passage in Richard Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest in which Baxter reminds us that no matter how valuable these ordinary means, in heaven they will no more be needed. As he puts it, “When we have obtained the haven, we have done sailing.” In heaven, even “Preaching is done.”
Book Note: I am reading a copy of The Saints’ Everlasting Rest that was abridged by Benjamin Fawcett and was reprinted by the American Tract Society. I picked up my undated copy amid a pile of old books in a local used book store. The prefaces by Thomas Erskine and Fawcett note the usefulness of this book through the years. Baxter wrote the draft for this work at a time when he was gravely ill and away from home, with only his Bible to read. His thoughts at this dire time naturally turned to heaven. He recovered from the illness and used his notes to preach a sermon series on this topic. The book was first published in 1650. The preaching series and book were used of God in the conversion of at least two other Puritan ministers (Thomas Doolittle and John Janeway).
Anyhow, here is the Baxter quote on the cessation of ordinary means (including even preaching) in heaven:
"One thing contained in heavenly rest, is, the ceasing of the means of grace. When we have obtained the haven, we have done sailing. When the workman receives his wages, it is implied he has done his work. When we are at our journey’s end, we have done with the way. Whether prophecies, they shall fail; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it also, so far as it had the nature of means, shall vanish away. There shall be no more prayer, because no more necessity, but the full enjoyment of what we prayed for; neither shall we need to fast, and weep, and watch anymore, being out of the reach of sin and temptations. Preaching is done; the ministry of man ceaseth; ordinances become useless; the laborers are called in, because the harvest is gathered, the tares burned, and the work finished; the unregenerate past hope, and the saints past fear, for ever."
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle