Circumstances And Indifferent Until We Say No | The Heidelblog

Circumstances And Indifferent Until We Say No | The Heidelblog.

Here’s a blast of sense from the past. In these days when protesting against modern worship practices is probably considered worse than heresy it was refreshing to read this quote from George Gillespie (1637).

Thanks Dr Clark

Theological Testing of Worship Songs

Came across this interesting piece at Premier Christianity Magazine ‘Theology test your worship songs‘. That is good advice and we ought to that with any song including hymns. I haven’t read it all yet, but others might be interested in checking it out. I particularly like the graphic to show the Industrial Complex that Christian music has become.

I won’t comment on it here now, but I have saved it for future reference.

On Good Friday, we ask, What is Christianity?

I was asked in a recent comment ‘What is Christianity?’ To be more accurate, I was asked; ‘Perhaps you would be able to explain what you take Christianity to be?’ The same person also commented ‘… isn’t the purpose of Christianity, the end goal, to get into heaven? You accomplish this via doing good etc.’ We will see from the Bible verses that follow: we do not become Christians by doing good.

Without being evasive it’s important to preface my reply with this; It isn’t ‘what I take’ Christianity to be that counts. It’s what God says through His Word that counts. What the Bible teaches is quite plain so anyone can check what I’m saying with the Bible text itself. In fact, please don’t take my word for it – check it out and read it for yourself! So ‘what I take Christianity to be’ is what the Bible plainly teaches and says it is. But yes, it is ‘my take’, the same take that has consistently been taught by the Historic Christian Church for the last 2000 years. I’m not saying anything new. To ask ‘What is Christianity’ is to ask What is a Christian? and What is a Church? And further it’s to ask What is the Gospel? These are THE most fundamental questions to ask. I’m not addressing the concept of a ‘Christian’ culture, or some form of social Christianity or of a National consciousness. And for the record, the UK is NOT a Christian nation. Being born in the UK has NEVER made a person a Christian, any more than being born in a bakery will make a person a loaf of bread (choose your own metaphor).

If you are still with me I’m going to quote some verses from the Bible that show plainly and beyond doubt that a person does not become a Christian by being good or doing good things. It depends solely on what someone else has done. Namely, it’s what Jesus Christ has done that counts.

Jesus is speaking in Luke 18:9-14

Luk 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
Luk 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Luk 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Apostle Paul writing to the Romans 3:10-28

Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

And Romans 5:1-12

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Writing to the Galatians 3:1-13

Gal 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Gal 3:11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

To the Ephesians 2:1-10

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And writing to Titus 3:3-7

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Tit 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I’ll leave it at that, but the Bible teaches clearly and plainly that Salvation is not earned, it is a gift. A gift that is received through faith. Not airy fairy faith, but faith in a person – The Lord Jesus Christ. And what that person has done for sinners like me.

What exactly then has Jesus done that we couldn’t do for ourselves? How appropriate the timing of this post. What is Good about ‘Good Friday’ is that Jesus has paid the price of my Redemption in full by dying in place of the sinner. The charge against us as sinners is that we have not kept God’s law perfectly in every part. But Jesus has. We have not loved God with all our hearts & soul, but Jesus has. We need someone who can do it for us – Jesus has done this. And so the command of the Gospel is to Repent & Believe. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). In the light of all this John 3:16 makes perfect sense. Our response should be in the light of what God in Christ has done is to cry ‘Have mercy on me a sinner’.

This will all be quite shocking to anyone that’s never come across this before. But it’s what Christianity is all about. There’s something in us that wants to add something, or do something, to work our way into heaven. The Gospel message is incredibly radical: there’s nothing like it. We are called upon to simply trust in the work of another. And this Jesus didn’t just die, but rose from the dead having paid the price of Redemption in full. ‘It is finished’ Jesus cried from the Cross.to die no more. (John 19:30)

Verses 2 & 3 from the Hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ sum it up beautifully:

2. Not the labours of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

‘Rock of Ages’ Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778

Finally, just because someone by the Grace of God becomes a Christian, a Saint, a believer, that doesn’t make them perfect. But it does make them forgiven, Justified & Righteous because they have been given (not earned or even deserved – Romans 6:23) the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus lived the perfect sinless life required by the law of God (Hebrews 4:15). And historically this is what the Reformation was about and still is about. A sinner is saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, by Christ Alone and to the Glory of God Alone.

Now, dear reader, you may not like this, but it’s what the Bible teaches. There is no hope outside of The Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work Alone to save. And if you are a believer, thank God for His Salvation wrought upon the Cross and now raised from the dead to die no more (Hebrews 7:25).

Repent therefore and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15).

 

My song is love unknown

I was looking through my Hymn Book yesterday evening and happened upon this wonderful Hymn. It’s a shame many of these ‘Traditional’ Hymns are falling into disuse. If you listen to the You Tube video – skip the ad.

1 My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

2 Christ came from heaven’s throne
Salvation to bestow;
But people scorned, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

3 Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the way
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

4 They rise, and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

5 Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman, 1624 – 83

How sad our state by nature is!

Isaac Watts

How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains.

But there’s a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds from the sacred word:
“Ho! ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord.”

My soul obeys th’ almighty call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!

To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From crimes of deepest dye.

Stretch out thine arm, victorious King
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.

Isaac Watts: Ju­ly 17, 1674 – No­vem­ber 25, 1748.

 

Lost History Lecture by Paul Cook

English: Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778)I just started reading Paul Cook’s book Fire From Heaven: Times of Extraordinary Revival (book link) and I recalled a lecture he gave way back in 1980 on Augustus Toplady ‘The Saintly Sinner’. I looked for it on my Website but couldn’t find it. After some searching I realised it was uploaded but the link was missing and it wasn’t even listed. Anyway, it’s now fixed and available for download.

I have great memories of Paul and his ministry. The lecture on Toplady will not disappoint. FYI, Paul Cook is married to the author Faith Cook.

Go here to download. Visit my website for full listing of lectures.

Here’s the first verse of Toplady’s ‘A debtor to mercy alone’

A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing,
Nor fear, with God’s righteousness on,
My person and off’rings to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

 

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Brief Comments on the hymn ‘Trust and Obey’

We sang the following hymn at the service Sunday evening. Though well loved by many, I’ve felt uncomfortable about this hymn for a while so I’d like to briefly explain my problems with it. Let me just emphasise and underline that I have no problem with the command to trust and obey, these are entirely scriptural. It’s the setting of other aspects of the hymn and when it gets used in any Gospel context, any context. Period. It just didn’t sit well within the overall message. It was a good message, but with serious problems that demand another post – more later.

Here’s some of my problems with the hymn.

The overall concept it seems to me is to produce happiness. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being happy and only someone with serious problems would not want to be happy. We all want to be happy. And, it does to some extent depend on how many footnotes you put round the word. To be fair, the song speaks of being ‘happy in Jesus’ which may be an entirely different concept to a worldly description of just being happy per-se. A better word might have been ‘Blessed’ but that wouldn’t fit and is more positional than experiential.

When you look through the song it’s basically about me and my trusting and my obeying. There’s no objective truth about Jesus that might draw out from Christians a desire to Trust and Obey but the end result of happiness. Thinking back to the History lecture about Andrew Fuller, he suffered the terrible loss of his daughter and it completely rocked him. His diary entries stopped. Here’s an extract from the lecture concerning this period of Fuller’s life.

On 30th May 1786, Fuller’s daughter, Sally, died at the age of six and a half years. This was one of several deaths close to the man at the same period, but surely the most painful, and it is a measure of his sensitivity of soul that within a few days his diary entries dry up, only a few torn leaves indicating the heart trouble of the following months. The diary does not open again until 3rd October, 1789:

‘For above a year and a half I have written nothing. It has seemed to me that my life was not worth writing. Two or three years ago my heart began wretchedly to degenerate from God. Soon after my child Sally died, I sunk into a sad state of lukewarmness; and have felt the effects of it ever since. I feel at times a longing after the lost joys of God’s salvation; but cannot recover them. I have backslidden from God; and yet I may rather be said to be habitually dejected on account of it than earnestly to repent of it. I find much hardness of heart, and a spirit of inactivity has laid hold of me. . . . [After recording some sermon preached:] These subjects have tended sometimes to make me long after that joy and peace in believing which I have heretofore found. But joy of heart is a feeling I cannot yet recover.’

Jeremy continues; The climb out of this period of spiritual dullness and desolation was painfully slow and difficult, but the Lord was upholding and helping his servant.

This period of trial in the life of Fuller does not square with this hymn. Surely Fuller was not Trusting and Obeying sufficiently to be ‘Happy in Jesus’. And we should especially note the comment made by Jeremy Walker that the Lord was upholding and helping his servant. The hymn doesn’t tell us this at all. But I’m running a little ahead of myself.

The hymn I believe is damaging and destructive in the following ways. The tune is quite upbeat and almost triumphalistic and to the Christian that believes he is Trusting and Obeying it’s sung with great gusto – this could be a problem. But what about the Christian conscious of his sin or is walking through some fiery trial – this is anything but helpful. What would Andrew Fuller have made of the hymn? Given this biographical entry of Fullers I fail to see how verse 2 can be anything other than discouraging for one going through such a trial. This verse is just cruel to such a one. How Fuller and other suffering Christians need the Balm of Gilead pouring into their souls as they are indeed kept by the power of God and His loving kindness.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

The hymn concentrates on the ability of the Christian to do His good will and to therefore find that ‘He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.’ Is this true? I don’t believe it is. Are we really to believe God only abides with us when we are ‘Happy in Jesus’ and ‘trusting Him still’. The Bible says ‘He will never leave us, nor forsake us.’ It’s to the praise of His marvelous Grace that He ALWAYS abides with us still. Even though the sense of His presence or the reality of the truth is not able to be grasped. Many years ago now at an Aberystwyth Conference Douglas McMillan was preaching through Romans 8. When he recited verse 28 ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ he leaned over the pulpit and said ‘Sin included‘. Now that’s the Grace of God at work. We do not deserve any of it including when we are not trusting and obeying as we ought to be. The hymn is pure law. There’s no Grace in it at all.

I think you get the idea now. In verse 4 we read ‘But we never can prove the delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, … the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey. This is not good news. I only know of one person that has laid all on the altar. We read much of Burnt offerings & sacrifices in Leviticus. And in John 1:29 we read of ‘the lamb that takes away the sin of the world’. That’s laying all on the Altar! Only Jesus has done that, otherwise we wouldn’t need a Saviour! Otherwise we wouldn’t need to repent. This why we need Jesus the only one that has kept perfectly the law of God in every way. In thought, speech, deed, behaviour, inwardly, in every way trusting and obeying the law of God. Now THAT is Good News. Even though we are so dull and wayward in our sin and rebellion God gives the desire and the power to call upon the Saviour.

The Gospel really is THAT radical! We are all self righteous at heart. Surely there’s some little thing I can do? Nope. It’s all been done. All you have to do is come – and as I say He even gives the desire and the power to do that! What a Gospel! What a Saviour! What a Salvation!

I said it would be brief so I’ll leave it at that, though more could be said. The last hymn on Sunday evening was ‘Rock of Ages’. What a contrast!

Full Text of the Hymn :

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Refrain

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Refrain

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Refrain

Show me Thy Face – one transient gleam

I was reminded of this hymn at our home group Bible study & prayer meeting last evening. An interesting observation about this hymn is that God or the name of Jesus is not mentioned even once. And yet, to every true believer, it’s obvious who it is about – Jesus.  2 Cor 4:6. What an effect even a transient gleam of The Lord Jesus will have on the believer.

Show me Thy face! – one transient gleam
Of loveliness divine,
And I shall never think or dream
Of other love save Thine;
All lesser light will darken quite,
All lower glories wane;
The beautiful of earth will scarce
Seem beautiful again.

Show me Thy face! – my faith and love
Shall henceforth fixed be,
And nothing here have power to move
My soul’s serenity;
My life shall seem a trance, a dream
And all I feel and see,
Illusive, visionary – Thou
The one reality!

Show me Thy face! – I shall forget
The weary days of yore;
The fretting ghost of vain regret
Shall haunt my soul no more;
All doubts and fears for future years
In quiet rest subside,
And naught but blessed content and calm
Within my breast abide.

Show me Thy face! – the heaviest cross
Will then seem light to bear;
There will be gain in every loss,
And peace with every care;
With such light feet the years will fleet,
Life seem as brief as blessed,
Till I have laid my burden down,
And enter into rest.

Anonymous; from STOCKWELL GEMS

(Christian Hymns: 619)

I saw a new vision of Jesus

I saw a new vision of Jesus,
A view I’d not seen here before,
Beholding in glory so wondrous
With beauty I had to adore.
I stood on the shores of my weakness,
And gazed at the brink of such fear;
‘Twas then that I saw Him in newness,
Regarding Him fair and so dear.

My Saviour will never forsake me,
Unveiling His merciful face,
His presence and promise almighty,
Redeeming His loved ones by grace.
In shades of the valley’s dark terror,
Where hell and its horror hold sway,
My Jesus will reach out in power,
And save me by His only way.

For yonder a light shines eternal,
Which spreads through the valley of gloom;
Lord Jesus, resplendent and regal,
Drives fear far away from the tomb.
Our God is the end of the journey,
His pleasant and glorious domain;
For there are the children of mercy,
Who praise Him for Calvary’s pain.

William Vernon Higham, 1926-

Tune: Crugybar

Link: Vernon Higham Hymns

The Day of our Death is Unknown

As part of my regular reading plan, this morning I read these words in Genesis 27:2 ‘Then he said, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death“.

This truth was driven home powerfully when we heard last evening of the death of someone we knew and loved. Though not strictly speaking a family member, it nevertheless feels like it. Not an old man like Isaac that still had many years before him – he was in his early middle age. His wife had traveled to see her sick father and heard the tragic news while on the train back home. We are shocked, stunned & devastated by such sudden and tragic news.

Dear reader, the Christian faith is true and stands alone to declare the reality of Judgment & Salvation. Like aging Isaac I / we do not know the day of our death. Know only this ‘…it is appointed for men (and women)  to die once, but after this the judgment’. (Heb 9:27)

Also know this, ‘… the wages of sin is death…’ (Rom 3:23) and apart from Jesus alone, there is not a person that has ever lived who has not sinned and ‘earned’ their wages. Payment will come – either sooner or later – and at a time we will not expect!

But then know this, ‘the gift of God is eternal life, in Christ Jesus our Lord’. (Romans 3:23).

The message is clear then, Repent and believe the Gospel! For “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) Don’t put it off though as Scripture also says ‘…Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation‘. (2 Cor 6:2)

I don’t say these things to scare you. And by the way, if you not have trusted in Christ, you should be scared. But to direct you to Jesus Christ, the ONLY Saviour, upon whom you must call.

1. Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head;
My God, my portion, and my living bread;
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care;
He saves from death, destruction, and despair.

2. He is my refuge in each deep distress;
The Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on,
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known.

3. My every need He richly will supply;
Nor will His mercy ever let me die;
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine,
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine.

4. O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.

William Gadsby, 1773-1844