Posts Tagged ‘Lord Jesus Christ’
It was a few months ago that one of my sons had an accident. He was playing outside the house and he caught his finger in the gate of one of our neighbours. I was out at the time, but when I got home my wife asked me to take a look at it (I am usually the applier of plasters and anointer with Germolene [a sort of universal palliative, for those who don’t know it] in our household). One glance told me that something was amiss – more accurately, askew. The nail just didn’t look right. The brave little guy, who deals well with pain, was pretty robust, but we decided to head down to the local casualty/walk-in centre. Being a child (barely turned three years old), William was seen quite quickly, and the nurse also took one look at the finger and informed me that he would be seen tomorrow. Being dull of wit, I asked what she meant.
“He will be admitted to hospital tomorrow for an operation to re-attach the nail to the nail bed in the hopes that it will grow properly,” she said.
“Oh,” I said, “thanks.”
So, with Will’s finger well bandaged and a fairly cheerful grin still on his face, we headed home as I tried to explain what would happen. Will is not familiar with hospitals, and the place with the specialist plastic surgery stuff was one that I have rarely visited. We spent a few hours trying to prepare him for what was coming, and tried to take the edge off by making a song and dance of the packing, and making sure he had a good meal (nothing to eat in the morning before the operation).
It was cold but fairly dry in the morning. Will was pretty pale and dopey as we loaded him into the car complete with the books and toys that we had selected to make the whole process as palatable as possible. He looked . . . small. The ride to the hospital went well, and we even discovered that there was no parking charge on Sundays, which was a pleasant bonus. The nurses were great, and the doctors proficient as they checked things over. A couple of hours ticked past as we waited for more urgent surgeries to be completed.
Then it was Will’s turn. He got to ride his bed through the hospital as I walked alongside, holding his hand, turning through corridors first erected to provide shelter for RAF pilots suffering from burns and other wounds inflicted while fighting in the skies over Britain and elsewhere. We were ushered into a fairly clinical room in which the anaesthetic was to be administered, and they inserted a cannula into his small, pale arm. They asked me to hold him, and told him that this might hurt a bit. Like I said, he’s a fairly tough little kid, and barely flinched when the cannula went in. The lower lip of this proud father trembled a bit at his bravery.
Then the anaesthetic. You need to talk to him, they said. Distract him. William wanted me to sing. His favourite CD at the time was a collection of Christmas folk songs, so I sang an ancient version of “Hark! The herald angels sing.” They told me to hold him because once the drug went in he would go very floppy. He sat on my lap and smiled at me. They inserted the syringe in the cannula. “Hold on,” they said. “Hold on, son,” I said. “Cradle his head,” they said, and began to inject.
My vulnerable, pale little boy looked up at me as he lay in my arms, listening to me sing. I was very conscious that there was very little that I could do for him; I was weak and helpless myself, and here he was trusting in me. He flinched as the cold fluid began to pour in – “It’s OK, Will” – glanced over, and then looked back. His gaze barely wavered. They could have been doing anything to him, putting anything into his body. It did not seem to matter to him, because Daddy was holding him. He was in his father’s arms. I felt the effects of the anaesthetic, and there was a horrible moment – a sort of choke – when his breath seemed to catch in his throat, and the song died in mine. He went utterly limp. I don’t know if I will ever forget laying him back on his bed.
I prayed quite a lot over the next hour or so, waiting for the surgery to be completed and to be allowed back to see William, and I could not help but see certain parallels between his experience and mine, lessons which I need to relearn in my life as a son.
They could have done anything to William, but he was content, because he knew I was holding him. With a sort of perfection of childlike trust, he knew that I would not allow anything bad to happen to him. Is this the disposition our Lord commends when he points to the example of children in the Gospels? If my son can be at peace in my weak arms, under my limited gaze, how much more ought we to be able to rest safe in the everlasting arms of our heavenly Father? And do I not have an even better example than William? I know another son. He had more insight than William, more awareness and understanding, and far greater suffering. He was dying, and in the hour of death he wrestled with unfathomable agony of spirit. But he trusted, and when he died, he bowed his head and said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23.46, quoting Psalm 31.5).
And so, there may be great threats about me. There may be dangers of which I am entirely unaware. There may be enemies surrounding me. Sufferings may be my portion. Pains may wrack my body and soul. Death itself may be upon me. But I need to look up with eyes and faith unflinching, and I need to trust. After all, I too am in my Father’s arms.
If you appreciated this, you might also find this hymn profitable.
I remember the first time I read Warfield on what it meant for Christ to redeem his people, to be our Ransomer:
There is no one of the titles of Christ which is more precious to Christian hearts than “Redeemer.” There are others, it is true, which are more often on the lips of Christians. The acknowledgment of our submission to Christ as our Lord, the recognition of what we owe to Him as our Saviour, – these things, naturally, are most frequently expressed in the names we call Him by. “Redeemer,” however, is a title of more intimate revelation than either “Lord” or “Saviour.” It gives expression not merely to our sense that we have received salvation from Him, but also to our appreciation of what it cost Him to procure this salvation for us. It is the name specifically of the Christ of the cross. Whenever we pronounce it, the cross is placarded before our eyes and our hearts are filled with loving remembrance not only that Christ has given us salvation, but that He paid a mighty price for it.
B.B. Warfield, “Redeemer and Redemption” in The Person and Work of Christ (P&R), 325, via The Old Guys.
If your would like to do your soul a little good, read the whole piece.
There is a lady who belongs to the church which I serve. She cannot leave her home at present because of her physical condition, itself substantially the result of a botched operation several years ago. She has been close to death on several occasions. Although she often grieves over her pain, and has often expressed a desire to be free from it, her great complaint and most often-expressed desire are that she might be able to gather with God’s people on the Lord’s day to worship him.
When I go to see her, she often looks pale and drawn. I take her CDs of the sermons, and she listens to them and then sends them on to others so that they can also enjoy the ministry. She tells me that all she really has opportunity to do is to read and to pray. She is not a well-educated woman, and often excuses her lack of learning, but her Bible, she says, is a “Godsend” (I smile when she says this kind of thing, because she has little idea how full and accurate is her speech). She loves her Bible. She particularly loves Romans 8, Proverbs 3, and Isaiah 53. She loves to read the Gospels, and she talks about “that lovely, lovely man” of whom she reads, and how he lived and suffered and died for her, and her eyes fill with tears as she talks about how her eyes fill with tears whenever she thinks of how they hated, and spat at, and slaughtered “that lovely, lovely man.” You see, she knows him. Sometimes I almost think she sees him. She talks to him and walks with him. She loves him absolutely, personally, really. To her, Jesus of Nazareth is not a collection of doctrines, not a list of facts, not a remnant of history, but the God-man who loved her and laid down his life to save her from her sins before rising again from the dead, and who now lives and reigns and cares for her and all his flock.
And, as ever, I read and I pray and I leave, feeling very inadequate to minister to a woman whose personal devotion to the Lord Christ puts mine so much in the shade.
The law of God is good and wise
And sets his will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.
Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts
That we may see our lost estate
And seek deliv’rance ere too late.
To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound
It shows what deeds are his delight
And should be done as good and right.
When men the offered help disdain
And wilfully in sin remain,
Its terror in their ear resounds
And keeps their wickedness in bounds.
The law is good; but since the fall
Its holiness condemns us all;
It dooms us for our sin to die
And has no pow’r to justify.
To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free,
And humbly worship at his throne,
Saved by his grace through faith alone.
via Heavenly Worldliness.
These are fearful words to most of us, and rightly so. To be told that you have heart disease is to be told of a fundamental threat to life. Sometimes the only options are radical surgery and a complete revolution in our lifestyle. Most of us – were we or one of our family members in such a position – would be very quick to do whatever was necessary to put the situation right. After all, our life would be on the line.
But there is a yet more terrible heart disease which we are often all too ready to ignore, but which kills us all. Even as you read, you are suffering from this heart disease, and you need to know the symptoms, diagnosis and cure.
Its symptoms are very evident. Are you self-centred? Are you envious of what others have? Do you lie and cheat? Do you curse and blaspheme? Do you get drunk? Have you ever stolen? Do you want or have you had a sexual relationship with someone who is not your husband or wife? Are you often angry? Do you hate someone? Do you never go to worship God? Do you ignore Sunday, God’s day, and do whatever you like? Do you think nothing of Jesus Christ? Are you disobedient to your parents? If any or all of the above symptoms are present, then you suffer from this heart disease
The diagnosis is equally plain. “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 7, verses 21-23). In other words, you have a sinful heart that is contrary to God and his law, and for which you deserve to be condemned and punished. In one sense, you are already dead: dead in trespasses and sins.
Critically, then, is there a cure? Yes! God has provided a means to be healed from this most terrible disease of sin, but it requires radical surgery and a complete revolution in lifestyle. In Psalm 51, verse 10, we find a man with a sinful heart crying out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Only this can save you from your sins. You need a new, clean heart from God, and you need to depart utterly from all your sinful ways.
Consider what is at stake: with your terrible heart disease of sin, you have only misery and condemnation to come. Get a new heart from God: he is rich in mercy to make men who are dead because of sin alive together with Christ. Come, then, to Jesus Christ, and you shall have everlasting life.
The opening paragraph of a sermon of Spurgeon’s posted today at Pyromaniacs gives a sense of why I love this man of God:
We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. Nevertheless since, the current of men’s thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction. Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of his dear son.
Delightful! “Here is an empty thing, but men are gazing at the emptiness, so let us take the opportunity to fill up that empty space with something good and worth gazing at.” Read it all and gaze on something good and worth gazing at!
J. V. Fesko
Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, 160pp., paperback, $12 / £8.99
We may read the book of Ecclesiastes and be impressed by its beauty and profundity while feeling that the substance remains well beyond us. We confess that it is the Word of God, and that we don’t know what it means. In this book our author deals with Ecclesiastes as a gateway into wisdom literature, exhorting us not to mistake observations for instructions, nor patterns for promises, nor to miss Christ in this portion of the Bible. Working through the book, he gives us an insight into the emptiness of life as observed by the Preacher, and the fullness of Christ, the wisdom of God, in answering that vanity. It is a simple but fruitful technique, helping us to get beyond mere moralising and to grips with life in a fallen world as men and women looking to Jesus.