BOOK REVIEW | An All-Surpassing Fellowship: Learning from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Communion with God

My first book of 2023 was David Beaty’s An All-Surpassing Fellowship: Learning from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Communion with God. This was a remarkable way to kick off the year. It was so interesting to learn more about Robert Murray M’Cheyne. For the last several years, I have used the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan for my personal study of Scripture and so enjoyed learning more about his walk with the Lord and his ministry. I hadn’t realized that he died at such an early age (30 years old). 200 years later, his life still ripples for all of eternity because he spent his life proclaiming the gospel.

I highlighted several things while reading and posted those notes below…

  • “A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man.” —ROBERT MURRAY Location: 950
  • In his notes for a lecture on the ten virgins (Matt. 25:10–13), he wrote: “The greatest joy of a believer in this world is to enjoy the presence of Christ—not seen, not felt, not heard, but still real—the real presence of the unseen Saviour.”Location: 957
  • M‘Cheyne knew that the source of his strength for ministry was his communion with God. He made it his first and most valued work—“I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment, and is not to be thrust into any corner.” Location: 990
  • M‘Cheyne’s Bible reading plan actually guides a reader through the New Testament and the Psalms twice, and the rest of the Bible once in each year. Presented in calendar form, it provides readings for both family and “secret,” or personal, devotional times each day. M‘Cheyne had several reasons for encouraging his church to follow this plan. First, his members would read the entire Bible in an orderly manner each year. Further, both he and the elders would know what parts of Scripture their members were reading each day, which could help facilitate ministry to them in house-to-house visitation. M‘Cheyne also believed that love and unity would be strengthened in his church as members read the same passages of Scripture each day, writing, “We shall oftener be led to agree on earth, touching something we shall ask of God. We shall pray over the same promises, mourn over the same confessions, praise God in the same songs, and be nourished by the same words of eternal life.” Location: 1,028
  • “Seek to be made holier every day. Pray, strive, wrestle for the Spirit to make you like God. Be as much as you can with God.” —ROBERT MURRAY M‘CHEYNE, Pastoral Letters Location: 1,299
  • One of M‘Cheyne’s most often cited remarks is, “The greatest need of my people is my own holiness.”30 It is clear that he understood the call from God’s Word to be “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). By his communion with God, M‘Cheyne became such a vessel. Location: 1,417
  • Live near to God, and so all things will appear to you little in comparison with eternal realities. —ROBERT MURRAY M‘CHEYNE, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M‘Cheyne Location: 1,475
  • M‘Cheyne’s humility and desire that God alone receive glory is especially seen in his letters to other ministers. To Rev. Dan Edwards, he wrote, It is our truest happiness to live entirely for the glory of Christ,—to separate between “I” and “the glory of Christ.” We are always saying, “What have I done?—Was it my preaching—my sermon—my influence?” whereas we should be asking, “What hath God wrought?” Strange mixed beings we are! How sweet it will be to drop our old man, and be pure as Christ is pure! Location: 1,721
  • In a message on the Laodicean church based on Revelation 3:14–22, M‘Cheyne warned that a person could have a wealth of right doctrine, yet have “an unbroken unsanctified heart.” He warned, “Unsanctified knowledge will be like a millstone to sink your soul.” Location: 1,912
  • Revival is for the purpose of magnifying God’s holiness and love as the One who is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Knowing Him as our Justifier, we can say with M‘Cheyne: When this passing world is done, When has sunk yon glaring sun, When we stand with Christ in glory, Looking o’er life’s finished story, Then, Lord, shall I fully know— Not till then—how much I owe. Location: 2,625

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