Christians should read biographies, especially of other Christians. John Piper shares in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals that “Christian biography is the means by which the body life of the church cuts across the centuries… Biographies have served as much as any other human force in my life to resist the inertia of mediocrity” (90).
Sadly, I don’t read enough of them. But when I do have one in my hands, I find that I am re-energized and re-invigorated to face the challenges in my life. I am also reminded that I am not in this alone. Many have journeyed a much more difficult path than I have ever traveled, and they have navigated it with far greater wisdom. And such a man was George Whitefield.
In my last post I shared an excerpt from George Whitefield’s Diary that was included in the book The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield by Dr. Steven J. Lawson. The great evangelist had written down fifteen maxims to keep himself locked in to living a spiritually disciplined life.
This time I’d like to share a collection of quotes from Whitefield. These gems are found through this same book’s pages, giving even greater evidence to the value of reading it.
A man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the Sacrament, and yet… not be a Christian… Lord, if I am not a Christian, if I am not a real one, for Jesus Christ’s sake, show me what Christianity is, that I may not be damned at last. (7)
…I would be so overpowered with a sense of God’s infinite Majesty that I would be constrained to throw myself on the ground, and offer my soul as a blank in His hands, to write on it what He pleased. (10)
I was honored with having a few stones, dirt, rotten eggs and pieces of dead cats thrown at me. (20)
We are immortal until our work on earth is done. (21)
If we once get above our Bibles and cease making the written Word of God our sole rule both as to faith and practice, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. (33)
Be much in secret prayer. Converse less with man, and more with God. (34)
Live near Christ… hunger and thirst after the righteousness of Christ. (39)
Let the name of George Whitefield perish so long as Christ is exalted. (43)
I embrace the Calvinistic scheme, not because of Calvin, but Jesus Christ has taught it to me. (50)
I cannot see how true humbleness of mind can be attained without a knowledge of it [election]; and though I will not say, that every one who denies election is a bad man, yet I will say… it is a very bad sign… for, if we deny election, we must, partly at least, glory in ourselves. (58)
May I die preaching… I hope yet to die in the pulpit, or soon after I come out of it. (98)
I shall return home with a heavy heart, unless some of you arise and come to my Jesus; I desire to preach Him and not myself; rest not in hearing and following me. (109)
I wept under a deep sense of my own vileness, and the sovereignty and greatness of God’s everlasting love. (126)
There’s a story behind each and every one of these quotes—as if Whitefield has come back to life before our very eyes. Be sure to pick up a Christian biography, and may I recommend that you make this your first one of 2016.
Lawson closes his book with these words, “May the Lord grant to preachers and Christians alike the mind, heart, and passion of George Whitefield—a mind for the truth, a heart for the world, and a passion for the glory of God. Truly, we want again Whitefields!” (132).