Shall we not honestly admit that perhaps one of the greatest lacks in our modern Christianity - and here I speak not only of the church in general, but also, if we are to be quite honest, even of many of us who claim to be evangelical - that perhaps the greatest lack in our worship and practice of the Christian faith is the absence of a sense of wonder, sense of adoration and a sense of worship.
I have no doubt at all that this is very largely to be explained by the fact that we are so subjective. We are all too interested in our own moods and states and conditions; we are all too psychological and introspective, and too concerned, therefore, about the benefits that the Christian gospel and salvation have to give to us. And the result of this is that we miss something of these great glories of the gospel as it is unfolded in the New Testament itself. This comes out very clearly if we listen to one another; have you not noticed how there is a tendency to be talking about ourselves. We are always telling people what has happened to us. ‘Testimony’ today generally means what we have experienced, or what has happened to us. How rarely do speak about Him!
Now there is the lack and the need. If you read the lives of the saints who have gone before us in this world, you will find that they spent most of their time in talking together about Jesus Christ. Their testimony was a testimony to Him, and to His praise. Their emphasis was upon Him. They spoke about this wonderful Christ and the glory of His person, whereas we always tend to talk about ourselves, the things we have found, the happiness that we have discovered, or some experience that we have had. And I think if we are honest we will find that the emphasis is always more or less centred upon self.
We have deviated very far indeed from what was so true of the saints of the centuries. Take, too, your hymn books and read the great hymns, especially, perhaps, the hymns that were written before the middle of the last century. [The subjective element seems to have come in just about then.] Start with Isaac Watts and come down the great succession and you will find they have this glorious objectivity. They rejoiced in their experiences, yes, but the note you find outstanding in their hymns is always their praise of the Lord, their glorying in Him. With Isaac Watts they surveyed the ponderous cross on which the Prince of Glory died. That is the predominant thought. They always spent their time in worship and adoration and in the glorification of Him.
It seems to me that this is the note that we must recapture, and that there is no real hope for revival and true awakening until we come back to this. And the way to do that is to study the Scriptures, to spend our time in reading and meditating upon them and then in humbling ourselves in worship and in adoration before such a marvellous truth.
Now I am saying this not merely in a theoretical manner for I am anxious to be extremely practical. No, I advocate this because, apart from anything else, the real cure for most of our subjective ills is ultimately to be so enraptured by the beauty and the glory of Christ that we will forget ourselves and will not have time to think about ourselves at all. Now that is a good bit of psychology. The trouble with our generation, and let us not be too hard on ourselves, is that we are living in a very difficult age. We have had to face problems which mankind has scarcely ever had to face in such an acute form, and such an age always tends to produce morbidity, a concern about oneself. We are living such a ridiculous type of life that our nerves are tired and frayed, and as a result we are all too concerned about self, and the great problem is how to get away from it.
The high road to that is to be so absorbed by someone else, something outside oneself, which is so glorious and wonderful that, without knowing it, we forget all abut ourselves, This can happen as you look at some marvellous scenery, or fall in love and forget yourself; well, multiply that by infinity and look into the face of Jesus Christ and catch something of His glory, and I assure you that most of the ‘mumps and measles of the soul’ will automatically be cured, and you will find yourself in a healthy condition, mentally, spiritually and even psychologically.
But even more important than that is the fact that God has caused these Scriptures to be written in order that we may know something about this great salvation, ‘so great salvation’, as the New Testament describes it in Hebrews 2. I wonder whether we modern Christians realize the greatness of this Christian salvation as we ought, because if we do not, the way to do so is to learn something about the greatness of the glory of the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That is the way to measure the greatness of the salvation, not just by something that happens to us. Let us deliver ourselves from that ! For if we are going to measure our salvation by what has happened to us, I suggest that finally we have no answer at all to give to the Christian Scientists, nor to the psychologists If you make it subjective, you are still in the past. No, the way to measure the greatness of this salvation is to look at the greatness of the person and His glory and to realize something of what He has a done.
Excerpt from Saved In Eternity by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones