Monthly Archives: August 2009
(I am currently recycling notes/blogs from the past. This is one of them.)
Elijah Haddon Prentice is named after Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon is one of my favorite preachers and has been called the “Prince of Preachers” because of the impact of his life in preaching the gospel to millions. Here are a few facts about the man that my second son was named after. There is only one Charles Spurgeon, but perhaps his story will compel you to walk with Christ as Spurgeon’s life amazes you with what God can do through a man who is devoted to Christ. As much as anything I hope his life inspires you to read about dead people (their books), starting with Spurgeon.
All facts and quotes are taken from “Spurgeon; A New Biography” by Arnold Dallimore.
Spurgeon was Born June 19, 1834 in England.
He accepted his 1st pastorate at the age of 17 @ Waterbeach. He was called the “Boy Preacher”.
At the age of 19 he became pastor of New Park Street Baptist Church in London where he would pastor for 38 years.
Married to Miss Susannah Thompson (born 1/15/1832), January 8, 1856
TWIN SONS (not identical) Thomas and Charles Born, September 20, 1856
In 1856 at the age of 22 years he preached at Surrey Gardens Music Hall to 10,000 people with no microphone.
Nearly all of his sermons ended with this – a warning, begging, pleading, urging the sinner to come to Christ.
He took New Park Street Baptist Church from less than 100 active members to 5,000 +.
At the age of 34 he started the pastor’s college.
By the age of 50 there were 66 organizations that he founded and conducted.
He read six books a week, and could remember what he read and where to find it.
He wrote more than 140 books himself.
He often worked 18 hour days.
Spurgeon once preached to 20,000 people with no mic at the Agricultural Hall.
By 1875 – membership at New Park was over 5,000 making it by far the largest baptist church in the world.
His library contained more than 12,000 volumes of which every month he reviewed ten or twelve for his publication the “Sword and the Trowel”.
He penned aroudn 500 letters per week with a pen that had to be dipped in ink.
It is believed that between 200 to 300 million of Spurgeon’s sermons were in print in a half a century.
He proclaimed the gospel to an estimated 20 million hearers.
When he died an estimated 50,000 people viewed his casket. Even the pubs in London closed that day.
Travels to MENTONE France again (for the Last Time), October 26, 1891
— While there, becomes SEVERELY ILL from his long-suffering combination of Rheumatism, Gout and Bright’s disease (Kidney)
He died Sunday, January 31, 1892.
“If by excessive labor, we die before reaching the average age of man, worn out in the Master’s service, then glory to God, we shall have so much less of earth and so much more of heaven.” C H Spurgeon
These are just a few of the things Spurgeon did and his legacy is living on in books and names. May God give us the energy to work ourselves to death for the one who died for us.
This is a brief review I wrote from the book: “John Newton: From Disgrace to Grace” By Jonathan Aitken. Frankly, what I have written doesn’t do Newton’s life justice and there are many other helpful things from his life , I stress many, but perhaps it will intrigue others to look and be helped by what I have seen.
“You get yourself a hero who is dead, because live heroes can let you down; they are not tested long enough yet. Get yourself one or two good dead heroes and obey Hebrews 13:7. It is good and right to have dead heroes that though they are dead they still speak.” – John Piper on the benefit of biography
Truly this book was the most beneficial and encouraging book I have a read in a long while, save the Bible. God has used the life of John Newton as seen in this biography by Jonathan Aitken to renew a passion in me for serving others and bringing glory to God through Christ. I was so intrigued and inspired by Newton’s life in what I read that upon my completion of it I read another biography of Newton, “The Roots of Endurance”, by John Piper. These sentences themselves in part help to show the impact of this old and dead saint on my life in recent days. Newton through the words of Aitken have served me like a shot in the arm, and the simple but profound truth is this, I am most effective in influencing others when I am most inspired and passionate about living for and radiating the glory of God through Jesus Christ. God uses men and sometimes really old dead men, and Newton has renewed and elevated a desire in me to influence all people for things eternal. So because of Newton’s life others may be helped because I have been helped.
Newton of course is most known for the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” However, this hymn only became famous after years of faithful and effective pastoral ministry in Olney and London and eventually after his death. Nevertheless, the theme of “Amazing Grace” in Newton’s own life is one of the most redeeming applications for people of any age. In his teens and early twenties Newton was a self-proclaimed rebellious and bitter blasphemer, fornicator, British Naval deserter and slave trader captain of three ships carrying hundreds of helpless slaves. It took the near sinking of the ship (The Greyhound) that he was on in the Atlantic during a violent storm to awaken him to his need for forgiveness through Christ.
There are two truths that are universally helpful in light of these facts. First, an apparent theme of Newton’s life was that he just could not believe that the God who is holy and perfect would extend grace and mercy through Jesus to someone who was and continued to be so rank and raunchy with sin. This “Amazing Grace” that Newton wrote of energized and enabled his life and ministry. All of us would do well to reflect on the truth that our junk is the backdrop that makes the grace and mercy of God shine so amazingly bright. Late in Newton’s life he said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.” Christ’s saving goodness and our depravity display a helpful balance (lacking all too often today) that all Christians should be able to thankfully marvel at.
Second, even after Newton’s initial conversion experience, he continued to struggle mightily as his relationship with God ebbed and flowed. For example, though he began to devote himself to the Bible and Prayer, he still regularly found himself blaspheming and even forcing himself on women slaves. The later sin is even more shocking when Newton reveals that he was passionately in love with his future wife, Polly Catlett. His early life after conversion was a roller coaster until he began to meet men of influence in his life who discipled him. The application of this is that many people are floundering and need someone to come alongside them and give them direction. Another application is that I ought not to get so easily discouraged with people who struggle. Newton says, “I have been thirty years forming my own views; and , in the course of this time, some of my hills have sunk, and some of my valleys have risen: but, how unreasonable within me to expect all this should take place in another person; and that, in the course of a year or two.” If we bear patiently with people, who knows that we might be helping the next John Newton.
In addition to the previously mentioned illustrations and applications, I have also found Newton helpful in too many ways to mention at length. Briefly though, I have found his life to be a ready illustration for teaching and encouraging others. I have found his example to be personally challenging and inspiring. I have found his quotes, hymns, and writings to be instructional as though he were a personal friend and teacher. As important as anything, I have found Newton to be an example of successful and consistent Christ-centered ministry through life-on-life encounters. His impact on the likes of Charles Simeon, William Wilberforce, William Carey, William Cowper and many other famous and enduring men of Christ have helped me see that person can have a profound influence on people and through people if they will discipline themselves to be made consistently available to others for God and His purposes. I am thankful that I have had the chance to walk with and listen to this dead man that still lives. I hope these highlights of the life of John Newton will encourage you to do the same.
We have launched a new and improved website. View it at www.eagleheights.com But while our website can and has improved, the gospel cannot be improved. There is one gospel and if anyone adds to it or subtracts from it they are cursed. (Galatians 1:8, 9) That is why I wrote what I did for the website on, “How do I become a Christian.” I fear that many people do add works to the gospel, but I also believe that many people don’t tell the whole story of Jesus to the whole person. (Acts 5:20; Acts 20:27) People tend to leave out the issue of sin, not wanting to offend others, or they leave out the important fact that the same Jesus who died for their sins also created them, which is so incredibly important because it gives the true Jesus distinction from the Mormon Jesus or Jehovah Witness Jesus, to name a few.
I’m about to be perhaps controversial, but I would go as far as to say that for this reason the “Roman Road”, while useful for evangelism in its proper context, may not be enough of the story. Yes, people need to know that there is a God who sent His son to die for sinners who could be rescued unto eternal life by repenting and believing, but they need to know the whole story. For example, they need to know that this God also created them and has always been pursing fallen and sinful people for the praise of His glory through Jesus, and one day the Triune God will completely reclaim His creation in every way, whether people are willing and believing or not.
If we rip verses out of the greater context of the Bible, are we really giving people the whole gospel? If we really only needed a few verses in Romans, why didn’t God just give that to us and save the time and effort of giving us 66 inspired books written over a span of thousands of years? How is that we have come to think of the gospel as only a few New Testament verses in the Bible, when we have Paul in Galatians 3:6-9 saying that God preached the gospel to Abraham long before Jesus ever came in the flesh? Perhaps we are massively short-sighted in what our view of the gospel and perhaps the gospel is the whole story of the Bible beginning with Genesis chapter one and the creation account.
It seems pretty important to me that creation, among other truths, gets mentioned since it is mentioned in almost every book of the New Testament. (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-2) And when I read the book of Acts, I find it to be very profound that when Paul is addressing completely pagan cultures like he did in both Lystra (Acts 14:8-18) and Athens (Acts 17:22-31) that he starts with creation. But when he is addressing people who have an understanding or knowledge of the Old Testament, he starts with Abraham, Moses or David. The Triune God of the Bible is the God who created everything and this is a distinguishing mark of the gospel and without it we could be talking about a lot of gods and a lot of anti-christs.
I’m fearful and concerned that in trying to simplify the message to be more “effective” with the gospel we have become more ineffective because we have not told people the whole story. We have marginalized God by shrink-wrapping the gospel. And while God can and does use a lot of mistakes and poor thinking, it doesn’t diminish the fact that we are to be biblically thorough and faithful to all that Jesus has commanded, (Matthew 28:20) not just what we think works or is easy.
So below I have attempted to summarize the gospel in answering the question, “How do I become a Christian.” It is not a perfect summary, but it tries to paint the theme or meta-narrative of the Bible so that the gospel would not be added to or subtracted from. I don’t want to be cursed.
How Do I Become A Christian?
“Christianity is a rescue religion. It declares that God has taken the initiative in Jesus Christ, to deliver us from our sins. This is the main theme of the Bible.” John Stott
The main theme running through the whole of the Bible is that a perfect and holy God is redeeming sinful and imperfect people through Jesus Christ for the praise of His glory. (Ephesians Chapter 1)
In the beginning God created a perfect world, a perfect man and a perfect woman.
But perfection was not enough and the man and woman violated God’s only prohibition (Genesis 2:15-17) and when they did they plunged mankind into sin. (Genesis 3:14-19) From that point on the human race has been infected with sin because of the sin of one man, Adam. Man is born a sinner and is an enemy of God. (Genesis Ch. 1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
But the story does not end there. Despite the fact that we are all sinners and children of wrath, (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-4) God being rich in mercy sent Jesus the Son who is God in flesh, (Hebrews 2:14) to live without sin and fulfill God’s perfect moral standard that we have all violated, to die as sin on our behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13) On the cross, Jesus absorbed the wrath that we deserved for sinning against an infinitely holy God. (Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24-25) Because God is infinitely holy, we deserved infinite wrath and punishment.
“But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Ephesians 2:4-5
So What Do I Do?
There are several ways to say what needs to happen for you to be saved: You acknowledge your sin before a holy creator God and you repent of your sin and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin. (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21)You call upon the name of the Lord. (Romans 10:13) You trust only in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross because you can’t work for or earn your salvation. (Ephesians 2:7-10) You confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus lived and died for your sins and was raised from the dead victorious over sin. (Romans 10:8-11) Becoming a Christian happens by grace through faith alone. Baptism won’t save you. Church attendance won’t save you. Praying won’t save you. Trusting in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sin is the only way to be saved. (John 14:6)
What does this mean? How do I know I am a Christian?
When a person hears the word of God and believes through the work of the Holy Spirit, God puts His Spirit in us. (Ephesians 1:13) We become a new creation. We become something other than what we were. In Christ Jesus we are meant to do good works. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10) We don’t do good works or obey God because we need to earn His approval. Jesus already earned our salvation on the cross if we believe in His finished work, but since we are a new creation, God’s Spirit produces in us the things of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) We know we are saved and in Christ when we want to love God and others. (1 John 3:23-24) We know we are saved when we abide in His word. (2 John 9) Jesus died and paid for our sins so that we might live to righteousness and not to sin. (1 Peter 2:24) You were created for God’s glory, (Isaiah 43:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:31) and a new creation will want to live for God’s glory by obeying His commands. You were saved not by your own good deeds or works but by the blood of Jesus. Trust in it alone and God will produce in your fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:8)
At Eagle Heights we are committed to helping you in this journey. If you have any questions or want to begin your new life with Christ, contact us any time. We would love to talk with you about Jesus, the one who rescues us from our sin.