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Thoughts and Meditations

April 2007 Archive

Personal comments made by David F. Reagan unless otherwise stated

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April 30, 2007

Danger of Artificial Happiness – Ronald W. Dworkin, in his book Artificial Happiness (p.17-18), warns us of the danger of the new drugs that produce an artificial state of happiness. “With so many people resorting to Artificial Happiness, society as a whole is inevitably affected. The most important things in life begin in a person’s mind. Since the mind sets limits on behavior, small changes in the mind may have serious social consequences. When a man silences his misery through Artificial Happiness, he also silences his conscience. Actually, he must silence his conscience, since a bad conscience often causes his unhappiness… 

“A reckless act sometimes follows when a person silences his conscience with alcohol, since that part of his mind that appraises his activity is turned off. A murderer takes a shot of whiskey before finishing the job. A prostitute takes a stiff drink to numb her mind before work. Soldiers get drunk before sacking a city. Society is able to contain such reckless behavior because intoxicated people are relatively few in number. In addition, alcohol wears off quickly; even murderers and prostitutes come back to reason after which they sometimes feel remorse for their behavior. 

“But imagine an entire class of people who stupefy themselves regularly and constantly, who remain stupefied throughout the day, and who live not on society’s fringes but in the mainstream. Suddenly the problem grows more serious—millions of regular people stifling their consciences to live happier lives, thinking, and therefore behaving, in ways they would not otherwise do. Through sheer numbers these people pose a greater threat to the social fabric than murderers, prostitutes, and thieves.” Read Ephesians 4:19; 1Timothy 4:2; 2Timothy 3:1-4. 

Topics: Drugs, Happiness, Conscience 

Finding the Light Burden – “We have worn ourselves out serving the One who said, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ [Matthew 11:30] The Christian life is not that complicated. Let us find the balance and then get on with it. Peter’s statement in Luke 5 is classic. ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing’ (Luke 5:5). We should know by now that anything that begins with ‘we’ will end with ‘nothing.’” –from The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan (p.116). 

Topics: Sanctification, Balance, Surrender


April 28, 2007

Every Word of God Important – “Concerning Paul’s word as to his books and parchments (2Timothy 4:13), there is an interesting incident that shows the value of every word of Scripture. One asked J. N. Darby what loss there would be if that remark had not been preserved. He replied that he at least would have been the loser, because in his ascetic days as a clergyman he had thought to get rid of his library, but it was the care of Paul for his books that had restrained him. When the vast benefit to the church at large that resulted later from Darby’s use of his extensive and valuable library is considered, there is a remarkable example of the value of each word of God’s book.” –from From Eternity to Eternity by Erich Sauer (p.121). Read Psalm 119:128; Proverbs 30:5. 

Topics: Inspiration, Preservation of Scripture, Books, Library 

Afflictions Work to Cleanse of Corruption – “Afflictions work for good to the godly, as they are destructive to sin. Sin is the mother, affliction is the daughter; the daughter helps to destroy the mother. Sin is like the tree that breeds the worm, and affliction is like the worm that eats the tree. There is much corruption in the best heart; affliction does by degrees work it out, as the fire works out the dross from the gold, ‘this is all the fruit to take away his sin’ (Isaiah 27:9). What if we have more of the rough file, if we have less rust! If a physician should say to a patient, ‘Your body is distempered, and full of bad humors, which must be cleared out, or you die; but I will prescribe physic which, though it may make you sick, yet it will carry away the dregs of your disease, and save your life’; would not this be for the good of the patient? Afflictions are the medicine which God uses to carry off our spiritual diseases; they cure the tympany [tumor] of pride, the fever of lust, the dropsy of covetousness.” –from All Things For Good by Thomas Watson (p.29). Read Romans 5:3-4. 

Topics: Affliction, Corruption, Sin, Cleansing


April 27, 2007

Hatred Against Baptists – “Cotton Mather, the leading Puritan minister in New England at the end of the seventeenth century, illustrates in his diary the low opinion the Puritans had of Baptists in general and Baptist preachers in particular. He tells of a preacher named May who arrived from England in 1699 and began preaching publicly. Mather called him ‘a wondrous Lump of Ignorance and Arrogance’ and bemoaned the fact that many people were drawn to him. ‘Multitudes of the giddy People are as much bewitched with him, as if he were another Simon Magus. There is evidently a Satanic Energy on the People in this Town; and Satan is attempting, tho’ by a very little Tool, a great Shock to our churches.’ 

“Whether the man was a Baptist or not is never proven; Mather just assumes as much. The irrational and illogical attempts to defame the Baptists resulted in frequent outbursts from the Puritan establishment. Some of their accusations were proven to be completely fabricated, such as a pamphlet circulated in 1673 that claimed that an orthodox New England minister named Baxter was barbarously skinned alive by angry Baptists… Many were ready to believe this incredible story, but it was soon proven that there was no such minister by the name of Baxter in all of New England.” –from The Forgotten Heritage by Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr. (p.115-116). Read John 15:18-19; Acts 5:40-41. 

Topics: Baptists, Persecution, Cotton Mather, False Accusations 

Preaching With Effect – Duke Kimbrough (1762-1849) served as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dandridge, Tennessee, for fifty years. “A peculiarity of Elder Kimbrough’s preaching was a sudden and unexpected pause in his discourse. The use of this surprise power, like the sudden stopping of a train of cars, was sometimes very effective. On one occasion, however, the surprise came the other way. The preacher was urging upon his members the importance of looking after their religion—‘fencing it up’—and with the exclamatory statement that ‘circumstances alter cases,’ came to a sudden pause. ‘Yes,’ broke in one of the sisters, ‘that’s what I told John! I told him if he planted the corn before he built the fence the hogs would root it up—and they did.’” –from Sketches of Tennessee’s Pioneer Baptist Preachers by J. J. Burnett (p.291). Read Proverbs 24:27; Isaiah 5:2. 

Topics: Preaching, Faithfulness


April 26, 2007

Lady in a Tempest – The Baptist missionary, Mrs. M. B. Ingalls, served with her husband in Burma. When he died in 1856, she refused to go home and continued for the next 46 years working in Burma alone. “While she was in charge of a lonely station, Mrs. Ingalls was holding an evening class in her bungalow when one of the nationals rushed in with great fear to report that the chief of a hostile tribe and his warriors were approaching her home. There was no time for escape, and in a few moments she heard the tramp of marching feet. 

“‘The door was opened, and a swarm of wild men, with flashing eyes, poured into the room. She alone was calm and self-possessed, receiving them kindly as if they were friends. They seemed for a moment subdued by her manner; and, as if by inspiration, she seized the opportunity to divert their attention by stories about America, telling them among other things of Colt’s revolver, laying her hand as she spoke, upon the pistol her lamented husband had presented her. The chief listened with scorn and incredulity pictured upon his face. Then, suddenly picking up a piece of paper, he stuck it upon the wall, and cried, “Shoot.” For a second her heart trembled; she did not know that the pistol was loaded, nor how to use it, for she had never fired one in her life. But again, sending to heaven a swift petition for help, she took aim and fired. The ball pierced the centre of the target. Instantly, as if shot, or perhaps expecting that ball would follow ball, the wild natives rushed from the place, and the missionary widow and her frightened flock fell on their knees to render thanks to their Divine Protector.’” –from This Day in Baptist History by E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins (p.283). Read Psalm 64:1; 79:11; 97:10. 

Topics: Missions, Burma, God’s Protection


April 25, 2007

Grace in Rough Treatment – “As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster. The more the diamond is cut the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, there God has no end in view but to perfect his people. –by the Scottish preacher Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873). Read Malachi 3:17; Hebrews 12:10-11; 1Peter 1:6-7. 

Topics: Trials, Christian Growth 

Man’s Liberty to Act – The Puritan author, Stephen Charnock, in The Existence and Attributes of God (p.145-146), makes a case for man’s freedom to action alongside God’s absolute foreknowledge of all things: “If God’s prescience takes away the liberty of the creature, there is no such thing as a free action in the world (for there is nothing done but is foreknown by God, else we render God of a limited understanding), nor ever was, no, not by God himself, ad extra; for whatsoever he hath done in creation, whatsoever he hath done since the creation, was foreknown by him: he resolved to do it, and, therefore, foreknew that he would do it. Did God do it, therefore, necessarily, as necessity is opposed to liberty? As he freely decrees what he will do, so he effects what he freely decreed. 

“Foreknowledge is so far from intrenching upon the liberty of the will, that predeterminism, which in the notion of it speaks something more, doth not dissolve it; God did not only foreknow, but determine the suffering of Christ (Acts 4:27-28). It was necessary, therefore, that Christ should suffer, that God might not be mistaken in his foreknowledge, or come short of his determinate decree; but did this take away the liberty of Christ in suffering? (Ephesians 5:2): who “hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God;’ that is, by a voluntary act, as well as designed to do it by a determinate counsel. It did infallibly secure the event, but did not annihilate the liberty of the action, either in Christ’s willingness to suffer, or the crime of the Jews that made him suffer.” Read Romans 8:29-30. 

Topics: Free Will, Liberty, Foreknowledge, Crucifixion


April 24, 2007

King James Bible English – In God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (p.211), Adam Nicolson describes the special kind of English that was used in the translation of the King James Bible: “It speaks in its master’s voice and is not the English you would have heard on the street, then or ever. It took up its life in a new and distinct dimension of linguistic space, somewhere between English and Greek (or, for the Old Testament, between English and Hebrew). These scholars were not pulling the language of the scriptures into the English they knew and used at home. The words of the King James Bible are just as much English pushed towards the condition of a foreign language as a foreign language translated into English. It was, in other words, more important to make English godly than to make the words of God into the sort of prose that any Englishmen would have written.” Read John 10:2-4; 1Thessalonians 2:13. 

Topics: King James Bible, Biblical English, Translation 

Wanted: Godly Men Who Will Dare For God – “Where are our dreamers? Where are the men who can get alone with God for two hours and come out with three pages of creative ideas? Where are the ‘thus saith the Lord’ men today? America is dying for lack of purpose. If the church does not fill this need, we had better admit defeat now. Hell and all its demons know exactly where they are going with this world, and God is look for men who dare to match their intensity in purpose.” –from The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan (p.126). Read Jeremiah 5:1; Ezekiel 22:30. 

Topics: Challenge, Purpose, Leadership


April 23, 2007

Not Only Men of College Learning – Baptist preachers have often been accused of ignorance because of their lack of higher education. Though the lack of learning in Baptists was not universal, it was indeed often the case. But Baptists never felt that God was limited to using men with a college education. “John Russel, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Boston in 1680, stated that Baptists both esteemed and honored learning and would gladly call educated men as pastoral leaders. ‘But,’ he went on to say, ‘we do not think that the Spirit of God is locked up within the narrow limits of Colledge-Learning… we cannot find that the Lord (by Divine Institution) hath tyed the work of the Ministry unto men of such Learning only, but whom he will, he fits and qualifies for that work.’” –from The Forgotten Heritage by Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr. (p.117). Read 1Thessalonians 5:24; 1Timothy 1:12. 

Topics: Education, Qualifications of a Pastor, Learning 

Gospel Witness of Genealogies – “A heathen Chinaman asked a missionary for a Gospel. The latter had at hand only a Gospel by Matthew. He regretted this: he would rather have given him the Gospel by John. For Matthew begins with its long genealogical table, which is so extended but contains, as it seems, so little that is interesting. Might not the reader after a few lines lose pleasure in the book and cease to read?—But what happened? Next day the Chinaman returned and expressed his very great joy, because the beginning of the book had been so interesting. As we know, the Chinese have a great regard for honouring their ancestors, and that must indeed be a special man, who had an ancestral tree of such importance and covering so many centuries! This had at once awakened his special interest in the history of such a man. The beginning had therefore inclined him to continue reading with double interest.” –from From Eternity to Eternity by Erich Sauer (p.121). Read Psalm 119:128; Proverbs 30:5. 

Topics: Word of God, Matthew, Genealogies, China, Missions


April 20, 2007

Do You Seek to Know the Glory of Christ? – “And may we not a little examine ourselves by these things? Do we esteem this pressing towards the perfect view of the glory of Christ to be our duty; and do we abide in the performance of it? If it be otherwise with any of us, it is a signal evidence that our profession is hypocritical. If Christ be in us, he is the hope of glory in us; and where that hope is, it will be active in desires of the things hoped for. Many love the world too well, and have their minds too much filled with the things of it, to entertain desires of speeding through it unto a state wherein they may behold the glory of Christ. They are at home, and are unwilling to be absent from the body, though to be present with the Lord. They hope it may be that such a season will come at one time or another, and then it will be the best they can look for when they can be here no more. 

“But they have but a little sight of the glory of Christ in this world by faith, if any at all, who so little, so faintly desire to have the immediate sight of it above. I cannot understand how any man can walk with God as he ought, or hath that love for Jesus Christ which true faith will produce, or doth place his refreshments and joy in spiritual things, in things above, that doth not, on all just occasions, so meditate on the glory of Christ in heaven, as to long for an admittance into the immediate sight of it.” –from The Glory of Christ by John Owen (p.188). Read Colossians 1:27; 1Peter 1:7, 11; 5:10.

Topics: Heaven, Glory of Christ, Heavenly Desires 

Persecuted by the Protestants – “The sad instances of persecution practiced against the Baptists by the Protestants in King Edward VI’s reign are in the Latin version of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs but were left out of his English edition in order to protect the reputation of some of the martyrs of Queen Mary’s day who had persecuted the Baptists during Edward’s reign. John Rogers, one of Foxe’s friends, called for the death of those who opposed the baptism of infants. It is reported that Rogers declared, ‘That burning alive was no cruel death, but easy enough.’ It is believed it was Foxe who responded, ‘Well perhaps, it may so happen, that you yourselves shall have your hands full of this mild burning.’ And so it came to pass, and Rogers was the first man who was burned in Queen Mary’s time.” –from This Day in Baptist History by David L Cummins (p.285-286). Read Matthew 7:2; 2Thessalonians 1:6; James 2:13. 

Topics: Baptist History, Persecution, King Edward VI, Queen Mary, Protestants


April 19, 2007

Adolf Hitler and Evangelical Christians – G. C. Berkouwer, in The Providence of God (p.162-163), uses the Christians in Germany at the time of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 as an example of the danger of giving praise to political movements as the supporters of God and His agenda. “The ‘German Christians’ spoke of the ‘Lord of history’ who was at that moment in Germany’s history speaking in a clear voice. It led a group of theologians at Wurtemburg to come out in 1934 with this statement: ‘We are full of thanks to God that He, as Lord of history, has given us Adolf Hitler, our leader and savior from our difficult lot. We acknowledge that we, with body and soul, are bound and dedicated to the German state and to its Fuhrer. This bondage and duty contains for us, as evangelical Christians, its deepest and most holy significance in its obedience to the command of God.’ 

“Another declaration, in 1933, said, ‘To this turn of history (i.e. Hitler’s taking power) we say a thankful Yes. God has given him to us. To Him be the glory. As bound to God’s Word, we recognize in the great events of our day a new commission of God to His Church.’” Read Matthew 24:24; 2Corinthians 11:13-15. 

Topics: Deceit, Politics, Providence, Adolf Hitler

Spirit and the Word – “The Spirit of God has not only inbreathed the written word and given it, but has continued with it. He accompanies it and makes it operative. He makes the bare record to be a bridge with heaven. God comes to us now through His word, and the Word that is centuries old remains fresh and eternally young. It is as if it had been written but yesterday, ‘as if the ink was not yet dry,’ never growing old, superior to time, ever present. And it is often quite insignificant remarks, which the reader may have read in passing hundreds of times, that suddenly shine with light, and become a message from God to influence his life, and indeed can change it fundamentally.” –from From Eternity to Eternity by Erich Sauer (p.134). Read Jeremiah 15:16; 1Corinthians 2:12-13. 

Topics: Holy Spirit, Word of God, Illumination, Bible Reading


April 17, 2007

Revival Hymns – “Revival hymnody has long had as an objective the deepening and renewal of personal Christian experience. Typically, this involves taking the metaphors of Scripture and applying them to one’s own personal experience. The Great Revival that began in Kentucky around 1800 was the series of watershed events in the United States that led to widespread use of hymns and gospel songs to indoctrinate hearers with evangelical theology. The revival meetings often began with lively singing. In the Kehukee Baptist Association of North Carolina, singing was described as ‘a great blessing.’ 

“Simple verses, refrains, and choruses reduced doctrine to memorized portions. As historians have shown, the officiating minister often would read one line at a time, the congregation would repeat it, after which all would sing a refrain. In pedagogical fashion, preachers would punctuate the verses with exhortative phrases like ‘Do you know what you just said?’ or “How many people really believe what they just sang?’ 

“As singing became prevalent and the itinerant revivalists required easily available texts, sales of pocket-sized hymnals increased. These became printed theological texts, with categories like ‘Awakening,’ ‘Providence,’ ‘Penitential,’ and the “Holy Spirit.’ A variety of composers and lyricists was used, including the Wesleys, Doddridge, and Isaac Watts, as was the proverbial ‘Author Unknown’ that likely referred to the presenting evangelist himself. Given the paucity of lay understanding of musical scores and the scarcity of printed music, emphasis was given to printed poetic texts in the earliest popularly used hymnbooks.” –from A Genetic History of Baptist Thought by William H. Brackney (p.93). Read Acts 16:25; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13. 

Topics: Hymns, Revivals, Second Great Awakening, Singing


April 16, 2007

Disconnect Between Missionaries and the People at Home – “Some overseas cross-cultural ministers work their standard four-year term hearing little or nothing from the churches that send them checks and little else. A care package, to them, is something college students, not missionaries, receive. When they return to the States at the end of their term (to raise more money), they are amazed at the opulence. They are largely unknown in the churches they visit, but it’s easy to spot them: they are usually the ones whose clothing, and values, are just slightly out of date. 

“Those church people who do make an effort [to] talk to missionaries usually want to update them on the latest in fashion, in politics, in sports on this side of the ocean. Few ask intelligent, probing questions about issues missionaries face. Mirroring the superficiality in network news coverage of international events, few have an interest in what goes on in other parts of the world. Indeed, one church layman who is active in evangelizing his neighbors, business contacts, and co-workers is typical in his admission, ‘I just don’t care what happens in other countries.’” –from Missions in the Third Millennium by Stan Guthrie (p.24). Read Proverbs 25:25; Romans 10:14-15. 

Topics: Missions, International Events, News 

Wheels of Providence – Clarence Macartney in The Parables of the Old Testament (p.75-76) makes an application of Ezekiel’s wheel in a wheel: “In his great vision this same prophet saw the four living creatures, attended by the four wheels, moving forward, backward, laterally, at once, because it was a wheel within a wheel [Ezekiel 1:15-21; 10:8-19]. At first glance, the history of the world seems to be just a rush and roar and clash of wheels within wheels, getting nowhere, guided by no intelligence, accomplishing no end. But if we look at history in the light of our faith in God, we shall have little difficulty in discovering that the spirit of the living creature is in the wheel, that the wheels are full of the eyes of purpose and intelligence, and that the general movement of the chariot of Providence is straight on. 

“The whole course of history seems to have been the voluntary effort of man, the ambitions of this world empire or that empire, the evil designs of this king or that adventurer, the pressure of economic forces, the conflict of race antipathies, the collusion of plans of dominion. But just as God used the king of Babylon and the king of Egypt to carry out His purposes in Israel, so all the movements of history are not without His permission, and do not fail to register His will.” Read Psalm 76:10. 

Topics: Ezekiel’s chariot, Providence, History


April 13, 2007

Critical Assumptions of the Atheist – Although I cannot recommend the writings of Cornelius Val Til per se, he wrote a fascinating pamphlet in 1948 called Why I Believe in God. He wrote this pamphlet as if he were in a conversation with one who denied God and the Bible. However, instead of simply giving proofs for the existence of God and the validity of the Bible, Van Til pointed out that the denier of God bases his beliefs on underlying assumptions just as much as a Christian does. Atheists continually accuse Christians of believing what they do because of foundational assumptions of faith while the atheist claims he bases his view of the universe on scientific fact. Van Till reveals the underlying beliefs (called presuppositions) of the atheist to be as much an act of faith as the faith of the Christian. It is still a matter of choosing which God we will serve (Joshua 24:15; 1Kings 18:21). The assumptions themselves need to be examined. Here are a couple of excerpts from the pamphlet: 

“The point is this. Not believing in God, we have seen, you do not think yourself to be God’s creature. And not believing in God you do not think the universe has been created by God. That is to say, you think of yourself and the world as just being there. Now if you actually are God’s creature, then your present attitude is very unfair to Him. In that case it is even an insult to Him. And having insulted God, His displeasure rests upon you. God and you are not on ‘speaking terms.’ And you have very good reasons for trying to prove that He does not exist. If He does exist, He will punish you for your disregard of Him. You are therefore wearing colored glasses. And this determines everything you say about the facts and reasons for not believing in Him. You have as it were entered upon God’s estate and have had your picnics and hunting parties there without asking permission. You have taken the grapes of God’s vineyard without paying Him any rent and you have insulted His representatives who asked you for it… 

“Now in presenting all your facts and reasons to me, you have assumed that such a God does not exist. You have taken for granted that you need no emplacement of any sort outside of yourself. You have assumed the autonomy of your own experience. Consequently you are unable—that is, unwilling—to accept as fact any fact that would challenge your self-sufficiency. And you are bound to call that contradictory which does not fit into the reach of your intellectual powers… I am asking you to be critical of this your own most basic assumption. Will you not go onto the basement of your own experience to see what has been gathering there while you were busy here and there with the surface inspection of life? You may be greatly surprised at what you find there. –quoted from Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis by Greg L. Bansen (p.132-133). 

Topics: Cornelius Van Til, Apologetics, Atheism, Presuppositionalism, Witnessing to Atheists


April 12, 2007

Ministry of Clarence Larkin – “Clarence Larkin, who became well known for his ministry of writing, was born on October 28, 1850 in Chester, Pennsylvania. We know little concerning his early life, but when he was nineteen, we was converted and became a member of an Episcopal church. Knowing that his sins were forgiven, he immediately desired to preach, but the opportunity to attend college was not available. He secured employment in a bank, and in a few years he was able to leave the bank and enter college. He possessed a methodical mind, and graduated as a mechanical engineer. He served as a professional draftsman, before becoming a teacher of the blind… 

“In 1882, when he was thirty-two, he embraced Baptist convictions, was immersed and united with a Baptist church. Two years later he was ordained. He went from the business world to the labor of ministry as he accepted a call to pastor the Baptist church in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. His second pastorate was at Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, where he pastored for twenty years. At the time of his ordination, Clarence Larkin was not a premillennialist, but as he studied the Bible and interpreted the Scriptures literally, he was forced to reconsider his position concerning prophecy… 

“After adopting the Premillennial understanding of the Scriptures, Reverend Larkin, with draftsmen skills, began making large wall charts, which he entitled, ‘Prophetic Truth.’ He used these charts in teaching from the pulpit. This means of presenting prophetic truths became very popular. Area believers soon heard of this unique way of presenting God’s Word. In time Reverend Larkin was invited to teach in two Bible institutes. Soon the man of God began publishing his charts. They were circulated widely even before World War I. 

“Prior to that war, the battle between Fundamentalism and Liberalism was just heating up. Prophetic preaching was gaining great interest, and Reverend Larkin was invited to bring addresses on the war in light of prophecy. It was at this time that he began the work of preparing his book on Dispensational Truth (or God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages) which contained a number of charts depicting a graphic portrait of Biblical truths. The volume was first published in 1918 and went through several editions. This was the crowning work of Reverend Larkin’s literary efforts, though he also wrote The Book of Daniel, Spirit World, and the Second Coming of Christ… His Lord saw fit to take his servant home on January 24, 1924. –from This Day in Baptist History III by David L. Cummins (p.49-50). Read 1Chronicles 12:32; 2Timothy 2:15; 3:16. 

Topics: Dispensationalism, Premillennialism, Clarence Larkin


April 11, 2007

Music Induced Drug Trips – “How drugs and music merge is unclear, but there are alarming stories of the result. Jean Alison told Reader’s Digest the story of her son’s LSD trips being set off again by ‘one of the tunes he had been singing.’ Even more alarming, the British youth magazine Young Life reported that a young man, converted to Christ ten years previously and miraculously healed of hard drug addiction, went to the Greenbelt Christian music festival in 1981 and as soon as he got there started hallucinating for the first time since he became a Christian!” –from Can We Rock the Gospel? (p.126) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. Read 1Thessalonians 5:22. 

Topics: Music, Rock Music, Drugs 

Perfect Words from the Perfect Man – Of the words of Jesus Christ, Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “Christ never said anything accidentally. He had all the letters of the alphabet at his command.” –quoted in The Sacred Anointing by Tony Sargent (p.156). 

Topics: Words of Jesus, Word of God, Jesus Christ

Cup of Bitterness “It is a great thing, when the cup of bitterness is pressed to our lips, to feel that it is not fate or necessity, but divine love working upon us for good ends.” –by E. H. Chapin (1814-1880). Read Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28. 

Topics: Bitterness, Providence


April 10, 2007

Doctrine-Free Entertainment Evangelism – Another problem for entertainment evangelism is “that doctrines such as the holiness and sovereignty of God, the depravity of man, the substitutionary death of Christ, the need for genuine repentance and the call to holiness of life, all cut and hurt and offend the natural man. He hates these things. How then can they possibly be conveyed to him in a worldly and tainted entertainment idiom, which is designed to be pleasurable to his senses? 

“This same question must be asked of worship. Can we truly touch people’s hearts by tickling their ears? The Australian-born preacher J. Sidlow Baxter made this comment in his book Rethinking our Priorities: ‘Pop style, lilty, swingy airs or strummings simply do not fit the rich, deep, urgent, serious truths of the Bible and the gospel.’ In other words, the music does not fit the message. The music may be popular, but as the English composer and musicologist Erik Routley says, ‘If any music is composed or performed with an eye simply to attracting the unconverted, it is likely to fall into the same error we find in the parson who, in order to make users of bed language feel at home, uses bad language himself.’” –from Can We Rock the Gospel? (p.163-164) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. Read Galatians 1:10; James 4:4. 

Topics: Music, Rock Music, Entertainment 

Staying Close to the Model – In An Autobiography (p.111), Gipsy Smith tells of his early days of ministry when he had to learn to read. “I soon came to the end of my own native mental store, and I had to seek replenishment for my mind in study and thinking. And one cannot well study unless one knows how to read. I taught myself writing from a copybook, and like everybody else who has pursued this method of self-instruction, I found the first line I wrote under the copy was always the best. As I got further away from the model, the worse my writing grew. The thoughtful reader will see a lesson here for himself. The nearer we keep to our model, Christ, the more like will our life be to His. Should not this be our daily prayer:

            A heart in every thought renewed

              And full of love divine,

            Perfect and right and pure and good,

              A copy, Lord, of thine.”


April 9, 2007

Proclaiming Peace – In his Recollections of a Long Life (p.79-80), the nineteenth century Virginia Baptist preacher and pastor, Jeremiah Jeter, tells of an incident that occurred during his youth. At the close of the War of 1812 with the British (about 1814) when young Jeremiah was about twelve years old, he gives this report: “I resided about seven miles from the town of Liberty. In that place there was a small cannon, by which the patriotic citizens usually announced the victories of the American arms. One afternoon there was an unusual amount of firing. I was sent for by my grandfather, who resided near my home, and dispatched on a fleet horse to Liberty to learn of the news. I performed the service with no little pleasure. 

“On reaching the town I found the inhabitants frantic with delight at the intelligence that a peace had been established between the belligerent powers. I lost no time in returning to bear the tidings of peace, and had the honor to be the first to proclaim it along the road to my home. Wherever I saw a person in a house, on the road, or in a field, white or colored, I cried: ‘Peace! peace! peace!’ On approaching my grandfather’s, where many were on the tiptoe of expectation to hear the news, I quickened my horse into full speed, crying at the top of my voice: “Peace! peace! peace!’ I have made many trips, but never so joyful a one as that. Tears of gladness and loud huzzas attended me all along my route. I had the privilege of proclaiming a sudden and unexpected deliverance from a great national calamity, of which the community around me was enduring its full share. 

“This event furnishes an illustration of the words of Paul, quoted from Isaiah: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’ (Romans 10:15). The glory of the message is somewhat transferred to the messenger. When I bore the glad tidings of peace, my garments might have been soiled or rent, and my face and feet covered with dust; but who cared for my appearance? It was overlooked in the joy of the message, or rather it derived a beauty from the good news which I brought. Just so it is with those who proclaim the gospel. To persons duly awake to the evil of sin, the value of the soul, and the preciousness of salvation, there is something attractive in the preacher of the gospel. His very feet, covered with perspiration and dust, seem beautiful to those who receive from his lips the glad news of redeeming mercy.” 

Topics: Salvation, Witnessing, Peace


April 6, 2007

Preaching Replaced with Music – “As Paul Bassett rightly notes, ‘We sing of Christ, recite Christ, dramatize Christ, but less and less do we preach Christ.’ Straightforward preaching is slowly being sidelined and straightforward preachers are becoming an endangered species! It would not be an exaggeration to say that music has become an obsession for many of those involved in evangelism today, especially among young people. In one major event after another the band or group is the main attraction. In a very real sense, the medium has become the message. 

“Surely it is time to turn the tide? We believe that those in positions of responsibility need to do some serious, honest, biblical rethinking in this area. The Bible tells us that when Christ ascended into heaven he made full provision for the ongoing work of the kingdom of God by bestowing various gifts on the church: ‘some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). It is surely significant that there are no musicians in the list!” –from Can We Rock the Gospel? (p.241-242) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. 

Topics: Music, Preaching

Finding Each Other at the Altar – In An Autobiography (p.120-121), Gipsy Smith tells of a couple who came to know the Lord. “A man and woman who had lived together for many years unmarried came one night into our meeting at Newcastle. They did not know of each other’s presence there. Neither knew what was passing in the mind and heart of the other. At the end, in response to my invitation, they both came forward among the penitents and I dealt with them. Even while they knelt there before God, confessing their sins and seeking His salvation and strength, each was ignorant that the other was among that little company. 

“But presently, of course, the situation was revealed to them, and the look of surprise and joy on their faces was a sight that will never be forgotten by me as long as I live. They told me their story, and I asked what they meant to do. They said, ‘We cannot go home together tonight; that is certain.’ I asked them if they knew of any reason why they should not be married. They said there was none; and they ate wedding-breakfast at our house. After this both led beautiful lives, adorning the grace that had wrought this miracle in them.” 

Topics: Salvation, Living Together, Marriage


April 5, 2007

Meaning of Rock and Roll – “What does ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ mean? What has it got to do with a particular musical style? Where did the name come from? How did it come to be used to describe the music? 

“The phrase itself seems to have been born in the American black ghetto communities at the end of the Second World War, where it was a slang phrase for fornication. As such, it soon found its way into the very earthy rhythm-and-blues songs of the times. In 1951 Alan Freed, a disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio, was looking for a phrase to describe the growing spill-over of rhythm-and-blues music, which he was beginning to play on his white radio station, a phrase that would capture the spirit of the music and mirror the growing excitement it was generating among young people. The phrase he chose was ‘rock ‘n’ roll.’ 

“It has been said that Freed chose the phrase to make the music more acceptable to white listeners. That may well be the case, but that is not why it was originally coined and his choice may have been more significant than he realized. One thing is certain; the sexual connotation remained and the fear of many is that it fits the music too well to be merely coincidental.” –from Can We Rock the Gospel? (p.116-117) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. Read 1Thessalonians 5:22; Philippians 4:8. 

Topics: Music, Rock Music, Rock and Roll


Last Man Executed in England for the Faith – “The last man who was put to death in England for religion was a Baptist. His name was Edward Wightman… Mr. Wightman was of the town of Burton upon Trent, he was convicted of divers heresies before the bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, and being delivered over to the secular power, was burnt at Litchfield, April 11th, 1612… 

“From the death of William Sawtre, who was burnt in London, to the time that Edward Wightman perished in the flames at Litchfield, was a period of two hundred and twelve years. We have very good grounds for believing that Sawtre was a Baptist, we are sure that Wightman was, and thus it appears that the Baptists have had the honor of leading the van, and bringing up the rear, of that part of the noble army of English martyrs, who have laid down their lives at the stake.” –from A General History of the Baptist Denomination: Volume I (p.196) by David Benedict. Read 1Thessalonians 3:3-4; 2Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:37-38. 

Topics: Edward Wightman, Persecution, Baptists, Martyrs


April 3, 2007

Going Deaf by Rock Music – Exposure “to loud rock music has had serious effects on the hearing of the listeners. An ear, nose and throat specialist in the United States estimates that about 40% of students entering university have hearing defects caused by listening to rock music; in pre-rock days, the figure was 1%. In a study carried out on 505 British students in higher education, Hanson and Fearn discovered that ‘statistically significant hearing losses were found in the group that admitted frequent attendance at pop music entertainment.’ 

“Other studies by Ronald Fearn in the course of his work at Leeds Polytechnic in England during the nineteen-seventies suggested that up to one million young people in Britain suffered some degree of hearing loss caused by listening to loud music and that many have hearing problems normally associated with sixty-five to seventy-year-olds. It is no wonder that Hanson and Fearn conclude their paper by calling overloud amplified music ‘a widespread hazard.’” –from Can We Rock the Gospel (p.60) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. Read Numbers 32:23. 

Topics: Music, Rock Music, Deafness, Hearing Loss 

Servants to Men; Free Men in Christ – In Baptists on the American Frontier (p.220), John Taylor tells of the working of God among the Afro-Americans in a Kentucky community in 1823: “A great many blacks attended the baptizing on Sunday. They, in a manner, took possession of the shore. And of the thirteen that were baptized only one was a white person who had been received a month before. The exulting joy among some of the blacks on that day went a little beyond moderation. For my own part, I do not recollect that I ever enjoyed such a heavenly feast among the black people before. For the sake of convenience I took two or three of them into the water at once. And when I would return them to the hundreds of their black friends on the shore, with tears of joy their friendly hands and arms would grasp them to their bosom. The air would ring with their thanksgiving and praises to God for His wonderful works of grace on the hearts of poor sinners. 

“When I brought out the last of them and got fairly on land among them, I partook with the utmost pleasure their manifestations of good will and Christian love, while I felt thankful that our God was no respecter of persons. I now remember a prophecy of David in Psalm 68:31: ‘Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.’ 

“One of these poor, black men by the name of Essex, soon as his head was raised above water, began to praise God aloud and enquired for his dear master, who was then weeping on the shore. He wanted to give him his hand, which he soon did. Here master and servant meets on perfect equality. James said, ‘Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low’ (James 1:9-10). Jack and Harry or Essex has a master in the shop or on the farm but not so in the church of Christ. There they all have a Master, and only one Master—Jesus Christ. And there they are all Christ’s free men and are on perfect equality with each other. There as in the grave the servant is free from his master, and the oppressor’s voice not to be heard. There they call no man master or father on earth. There conscience is free.” 

Topics: Black Baptists, Black baptisms, Black evangelism


April 2, 2007

Danger of Professional Music – “Strange as it may seem, it is also possible for music to be too good to use in Christian worship, because it draws attention from the words instead of to them. In his book Worship in the Melting Pot, Peter Masters tells us that is why Charles Spurgeon did not even allow an organ in the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Whatever we may think of that decision, we must ensure that our music must always be the servant of the Word of God, never its master.” –from Can We Rock the Gospel? (p.222) by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. Read 1Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16. 

Topics: Music, Worship 

Baptist Sentiments of John Wycliffe – John Wycliffe is well-known as an English pre-Reformation reformer in the fourteenth century. What is not as well known is his leanings toward Baptist doctrine. David Benedict in A General History of the Baptist Denomination, Volume I (p.192-193) gives this report: “There can be no dispute that Wickliff taught Anabaptistical errors, that many who built in his principles rejected infant baptism; and indeed the evidence is very strong that he himself became a Baptist. 

“Dr. Hurd in his History of all Religions says, ‘It is pretty clear from the writings of many learned men, that Dr. John Wickliff, the first English reformer, either considered infant baptism unlawful or at best unnecessary.’ The author of a History of Religion, published in London in 1764, in four volumes octavo, says, ‘it is clear from many authors that Wickliff rejected infant baptism, and that on this doctrine his followers agreed with the modern Baptists.’ Thomas Walden and Joseph Vicecomes, who had access to his writings, have charged him with denying pedobaptism [infant baptism], and they brought their charge at a time when it might have been easily contradicted, if it had not been true. 

“Walden before mentioned calls Wickliff ‘one of the seven heads that came out of the bottomless pit, for denying infant baptism, that heresy of the Lollards, of whom he was a great ring-leader.’” Read Acts 8:36-37. 

Topics: John Wycliffe, Baptists, Baptism, Infant Baptism




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