5 Stars Out Of 5
An Inspiring and Convicting Call to Meditate on God's Word!
March 9, 2015
Gods Battle Plan for the Mind (Reformation Heritage Books, 2015) is a compelling call for believers to return to the lost art of biblical meditation, and to recognize this as the chief means of spiritual growth in each of our lives. In these 145 pages, Pastor David Saxton combs deeply through the writings of the Puritans, showing clearly and persuasively that meditation, though largely neglected among believers in our own day, has historically been regarded as the most important of all the Christian disciplines, as well as one of the chief ways of discerning the spiritual health of a Christian.
In the foreword, Dr. Joel Beeke (the president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) likens a Christian who fails to meditate on Scripture with a person who is presented with a gourmet meal but is unable to have the joy and benefit of tasting even a single bite for themselves. A similar distinction is made throughout the book, reminding us that its not enough to only read or hear Gods Word in a passing manner (though both reading and hearing Scripture are important!), but that we must also be intentional about contemplating that Word for ourselves and applying it directly to our lives.
The author explains that, in many respects, modern Christianity has increasingly become superficial and weak. He adds that we can respond to this growing problem in either one of two ways we can either adapt and concede to the reality of anemic Christianity, or we can return to true biblical spirituality a serious focus on putting Gods Word to practice in ones own experience (1). This latter response which is the only God-honoring response for believers is known as biblical meditation, or, the doctrine of Christian thinking (1-2). With this in mind, Saxton explains The goal of this book is to convince Gods people of the absolute necessity of personal meditation. The book will motivate the believer to begin this work; teach practically how to meditate on divine truth; and guide in right patterns of thinking throughout the day (2).
The book begins by expressing to readers the vital importance of biblical meditation, explaining, in the words of Thomas Watson, that Without meditation the truth of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory slippery, and without meditation all is lost; meditation imprints and fastens a truth in the mind A further plea comes to us from Richard Baxter, that if you would but set yourselves to consider of what you hear or read, one line of a chapter, or one sentence of a sermon, would lay you into tears, or make you groan, or at least do more than is now done (6).
In the Puritan days, biblical meditation was regarded as the nucleus of the Puritan devotional life, the supreme means of grace, and the most important aspect of private Christian devotion (5). However, its even more convicting for us to consider that when the Lord spoke to Joshua before he led Gods people into the Promised Land (and into battle), that his greatest need was to live by meditating upon Gods word (7), and that very likely, David was called a man after Gods own heart because he meditated (11, emphasis added). With such remarkable God-honoring leaders being led by God into a deeper knowledge of his Word, who are we to regard it with less value in our own lives?
Equally convicting counsel comes on every page of this book! Here, we learn that true meditation is challenging work, requiring both time and effort on our part, though the reward makes it more than worth the effort. William Bridge highlights this truth as follows: As it is a soul-satisfying work, so this work of meditation to a gracious soul is a most delightful work. What greater delight than to think on that God in whom he doth most delight?.Though it be hard in regard of its practice, yet it may be sweet and delightful in regard to its profit (13).
We also discover that even those of us whove not been intentional about meditating on Gods Word have nonetheless practiced meditation. The author writes, everyone meditates on something. We either learn to practice and benefit from biblical meditation, or we inevitably allow our minds to wander dangerously through sinful or depressing thoughts (15). More directly, Edmund Calamy chastens his fellow believers for our poorly directed contemplation, first by declaring, Let us mourn before the Lord that we have misplaced our meditation. He then instructs, Now mourn before your God heartily, and go into your closets and bemoan itYou have been meditating all your lives long upon vain things, and have not meditated upon the things of eternity (16).
After considering further what makes for unbiblical meditation, Saxton looks closely at what Gods Word teaches us about genuine, Christ-glorifying meditation and then turns again to the Puritans, whose comments on these biblical truths continue to enrich our study of this important doctrine. Remaining chapters consider the different types of Christian meditation (occasional and deliberate, with both being important, but daily, deliberate meditation being deemed most crucial by the Puritans), specific counsel regarding how to meditate in a biblical way, the specific benefits of Christian meditation and the enemies (such as busy-ness and entertainment) which are most likely to prevent us from meditating as Scripture exhorts us to do.
In every portion of this book, we are lovingly and biblically exhorted to make Gods Word the supreme authority of not only our church lives, but our daily lives as well. We are likewise warned that to neglect to do this makes us (to quote R. Kent Hughes) Christians without Christian minds, Christians who do not think Christianly (134). Personally, I have been deeply challenged by both Saxton and the Puritan authors whose works he quotes to intentionally carve out more time not only for reading Gods Word, but for meditating on it as well and I have no doubt that other readers will be similarly convicted in their hearts. On the back cover of the book, an endorsement from John MacArthur encourages that believers should, get a copy, read it, put its principles into practice, and be transformed by the renewal of your mind.' I whole-heartedly agree.