July 23

Four and a half centuries ago, in the Dutch city of Nijmegen (Ni-may-hen) lived Jan Block. His family had become wealthy through the linen industry, and Jan lived a life of indolence and sin. One of his friends was Symon van Maren, who had moved to Nijmegen (Ni-may-hen) from Hertogenbosch. In Hertogenbosch was a congregation of Anabaptists, and Symon had come under conviction of sin and the Truth. Even after he settled in Nijmegen (Ni-may-hen) the testimony of the Anabaptists pursued him, and in time he repented before God and trusted in the finished work of Christ. The change in his friend greatly touched Jan, and soon Symon was sharing Christ with him. He, too, was converted, and his life was outwardly changed. As people started asking questions about his clean life-style, Jan began to openly preach salvation by grace. Because of the influence of his family, city officials began to worry about Jan’s new testimony. They placed a bounty on his head, and he fled from town. In time he returned, trying to find work as a common laborer, but the bailiff learned that he had returned and hunted him down. He was imprisoned and ultimately tried for heresy. During the course of his trial, Jan pointed out that while he was living sin and dissipation he was accepted by society, but as soon as he began to live a useful life, he was hunted as an enemy of the state. On this day (July 23) in 1569, Jan Block was led from the prison to the place of his execution. As the executioner tied him to the...

More than just One Man’s Opinion – Isaiah 5:18-21

It is quite popular among editorial writers to say things like: “It is my opinion…” or “As I see it….” Although that writer may put it that way, it doesn’t mean that no one else sees it his way. And when large groups of people have the same opinion some think it must be correct. It just isn’t necessarily so. This morning we looked at a few of the arguments proposed against Christianity. They were some of the criticisms of Pierre Berton in “The Comfortable Pew” written in 1964. I am sure that if I visited the religious section of a few used books stores tomorrow, I could find newer books similar to this one. Which goes to prove that these are not just one man’s opinion. If you have your ear to the ground, listening even half way diligently, you hear these things all around you. It sounds like the brethren found one of the intellectual sons of Pierre Berton this past week up in central British Columbia. But I have no doubt you could find others on the American Columbia as well – the Columbia River. You and I need to be able to give an answer to each of these people. For this reason I’d like to spend another thirty minutes considering some more of Berton’s arguments. Maybe some day you will be speaking to some soul who is seeking the truth about life and eternity. It would be good for you to have some genuine help for his soul. Perhaps this can provide a little of that help. One reason that Pierre Berton left established...

Is Christianity Worth While? – I Peter 3:15-16

For the last year and a half I have been pulling books out of my library and re-reading them. I suppose it started with Verduin’s “The Reformers and their Step-children,” which developed into a series of messages. The other day, I spotted a little paperback, the notations on which indicated that I paid 40¢ back in 1976. It was obviously picked up in Calgary Alberta. Its author is a famous Canadian journalist, named Pierre Berton. I can still remember his face – he was that prominent at the time. I often refer to books I am currently reading. They sometimes are mentioned in messages, but more often they are quoted in our weekly bulletin. Rarely, if ever, do I give you book reports. The one book we need, and the one book the world sadly lacks or ignores, is God’s book, the Bible. The day when my sermon text comes out of a book other than the KJV Bible, you’ll know that either I am trying to make a special point, or I’m out of my mind. If that occurs in three successive messages, then you’ll know I need to be dismissed or locked-up. Today my text is scriptural, but I’ve to used this book to help focus of my attention for both messages. This is not the kind of book I usually read, but a couple of things caught my attention when I saw it in Jaffe’s book store. First was its title, “The Comfortable Pew” – certainly intriguing enough. And it was written by a man unknown to most of you, but who at the time was...

July 16

Prior to the establishment of religious liberty in this country, Baptists were not the only people persecuted for their faith. Several Quakers were put to death in Massachusetts and the colonies of Plymouth and Connecticut also enacted severe laws against them. But other than what the Quakers accomplished in Pennsylvania, it was the Baptists who argued, fought, and died to make sure that liberty was a part of the fabric of this nation. On July 8, 1663, through the efforts of John Clarke, King Charles II granted a charter to Rhode Island which stated “no person within the said colonye at any tyme hereafter shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted or called in question for any difference in opinions in matters of religion which doe not actually disturb the civil peace of our sayd colonye; but that… freely and full ye have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences in matters of religious concernments.” When further questions about liberty brought on the War of Independence, Rhode Island stood firm. On May 4, 1776, the general assembly voted to abrogate its allegiance to the king. On July 4, the colony’s two representatives signed the Declaration of Independence. Then on this day, July 16, 1776, the general assembly began discussing the ramifications of their decision and in what ways liberty should become a national principle. Unlike nearly all the rest of the States, Rhode Island, first as a colony and then as one of the states within the Union, has pledged its support and its citizens’ lives for the sake of...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 3:9-10

This scripture is so clear and simple that I can’t justify keeping you very long. But there might be a few nuances which perhaps you haven’t considered before. And every scripture is worth considering from time to time. As you probably know I am not much of a poet. In school, one or two teachers tried to get me to write poetry, but they weren’t successful – or I wasn’t. I can enjoy some poetry, but usually it has to be of the simple variety. Despite my ignorance, once in a while I can still recognize or appreciate a good poem. And I have been taught a little bit about Hebrew poetry. Parts of the Old Testament are filled with poetry. We might expect to find it in the Psalms, but it’s also in the prophets and here in Proverbs. Many, if not most of the Proverbs are repetitive couplets as I hope you will come to see. But keep in mind that poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme, and it doesn’t have to have obvious rhythm. My Bible denotes verses 5 to 10 as a paragraph, but it might be considered a three-part poem as well. Part one – Trust, lean and acknowledge, and the Lord shall direct thy paths. Part two – Cast down your pride, fear the Lord and depart from evil, and you will be a healthy soul. Then here in verses 9 and 10 – Honour the Lord with your substance and first fruits, and you will be blessed. Each section gives us a godly recommendation followed by a blessed result. Why is it...

Christian Denial – Matthew 16:24-26

The psalmist David – King David – loved the Word of God. In Psalm 19 he sang: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover BY THEM IS THY SERVANT WARNED: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” There may be many reasons to love the Word of God. But as David tells us, one excellent reason is that it reveals what God expects of us. Even though, as Isaiah 55 tells us, God’s ways and thoughts are higher and better than ours, we are not left confused, or in the dark, about what is best for us, both for eternity and for tomorrow. In fact the Lord has left very few major topics for us to figure out ourselves. Listen to David in Psalm 119: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might...

Calvary’s Hell – Romans 3:21-26

The average American is more ignorant of the Bible than he is of modern forensic science. He knows more about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia than he does about Heaven. And he certainly knows more about Justin Bieber than he does about Jesus Christ. Our schools, our media, our advertizing, and our conversations are filled with facts and figures about sports, politics, current events with a touch of science thrown. But to hear –or over-hear – a serious and intelligent conversation about the Bible is rare. To hear about the Lord and the Word, generally you must buy a specific book or visit a specific church. As a result we live in a society of Biblical illiterates. This was not the way things were two hundred years ago. I don’t know that there was a greater number of Christians in the world then, but the world was generally more religious and filled with more Biblical knowledge. Our scripture for this morning could be used as a test of what I just said. How many of our neighbors can define or explain the righteousness of God, redemption, or remission? Not even the average church-goer can accurately explain propitiation or justification. These are some of the grandest truths available to man, but how many educated Americans understand? Few people even have an accurate picture of God in their minds. Many of our neighbors picture Him as a blind sugar-daddy, kindly granting only our important requests. The bulk of the rest visualize God as an ogre ready devour us at a moment’s notice. “Look at the two dozen who died in tornados last week.....

July 9

Brother and Mrs. George Hough felt that the Lord was calling them to minister in His name in India with Adoniram Judson, but, like the Judsons, they ended up in Burma. When they began to tell their friends and relatives about the Lord’s call, some were delighted, but not Mrs. Hough’s family.  They knew that it was likely they’d never see their daughter again.  To answer her mother’s broken heart, Mrs. Hough wrote some lovely and passionate letters.  She explained God’s call and the joy that filled her heart and that of her husband.  She pointed to her mother’s desire for the salvation of her children, reminding her that foreign mother’s should have the same desire.  “Why should not I go to India (Burma) as well as other women, and share with my husband the trials and comforts of a life devoted to the cause of truth?  I hope you and all other Christians will pray for us, that we faint not in the day of trial.”     The trials came and Brother Hough suffered along side Brother Judson.  He too was jailed, while his wife prayed for his safety and delivery.  Both Brother and Mrs. Hough suffered with disease and poverty.  And for a long time they saw little fruit for their service.  Eventually, on this day (July 9) in 1859, the Lord called Missionary Hough home.  His wife was, of course, grieved, but she was not dissatisfied with their choice to leave the pleasures of home and to serve the Lord in Burma.  She continue in Burma, ministering to the women and children of that...

Day People: Attitudes and Attire – I Thessalonians 5:8-10

It is believed by many experts that I Thessalonians is the first of Paul’s many epistles (letters). Some say that it was written less than twenty years after the crucifixion – and before the Gospels. I don’t know if these are true, but assuming they are, it opens up some interesting doors for thought. And one is that this epistle is filled with allusions to the teachings of the Lord Jesus. It is as though Paul took for granted that his readers knew the words of the Saviour. For example there is 4:2 – “For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” Paul doesn’t clearly say, “The Son of God commanded us,” but he implies that they should know these commandments of Christ. Here Paul says, “Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.” And what does the Lord say in Luke 21:34? “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” In Mark 13:36, Jesus said, “Don’t be caught sleeping.” Christ said of Himself that He is the light. He also said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.”...

Once is Enough – Hebrews 10:1-18

I make no apologies for being a creature of habit – and a preacher of repetition. There are things which I do just about every day – for example I almost always eat the same breakfast. And I repeat myself in the course of my sermons, saying the same thing again and again, sometimes in different words, but often in exactly the same words. And then – I also repeat the same theme over and over again in different sermons. I realize that “variety is the spice of life,” but sameness also has its perks. I am in good company when I repeat things. The Bible does the same thing throughout its pages.. For example, try counting, how often “repentance” and God’s coming Kingdom are tied together. Statements like, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” – or words similar to those. Colossians 1:14 speaks of Christ – “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” and those words are almost exactly repeated in Ephesians 1:7. And did you know that the “Christian armor” isn’t really Christian, even though it is mentioned in Ephesians 6 and I Thessalonians 5? I say it isn’t Christian armor because their first mention is in Isaiah 59. So I suppose that it ought to be called “the armor of the Saints.” Why are there four gospels instead of just one? There is a great deal of repetition between those gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and sometimes John. But most of man’s attempts to reduce them to one history of Christ fail, because they are all different....