The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘hope

“My day is drawing to an end”

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Written after spending time talking with a saint who is nearly home.

UPDATE: I wrote this after making my visit on Tuesday 30 June 2020. It reflects some of what we spoke about, but I never read these words to her. The lady with whom I spoke went to be with Christ on the evening of Wednesday 01 July 2020. It makes these truths all the sweeter. She knows most of this now by experience, and is awaiting the dawn.

Belmont  C.M.

My day is drawing to an end,
The light of life grows dim;
My thoughts to Christ all sweetly tend,
For soon I’ll be with him.

I must put off this feeble tent,
But death itself defy;
My soul released, I’ll make ascent
To be with Christ on high.

The sufferings of this present time
Soon swallowed up in love;
Out of this pain and darkness climb—
Glory to come above!

My soul with him in perfect joy
Will wait the coming morn;
I know that nothing can destroy
The hope of that new dawn.

In Christ most happy and most blessed,
A body new I’ll take;
And all be peace, delight and rest
When in his form I wake.

And much that I have known below
Shall quickly fade away,
But life in Christ I’ll ever know,
In God’s eternal day.

©JRW

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 30 June 2020 at 13:18

A breath and a blessing

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dandelion blowing 3On the morning of Tuesday 24th March 2015, 150 people – passengers and crew – boarded Germanwings flight 4U9525. They were travelling from Barcelona in Spain to Düsseldorf in Germany. The flight took off at 9.01am. The final contact with air traffic control was at 9.30am. At 9.30am the autopilot was switched on. By 9.31am the aircraft was in a controlled descent over the Alps. There was no response at 9.35am when air traffic control attempted to make further contact, but the flight recorders picked up the sound of some kind of pounding on the cabin door. The last radar contact was made at 9.40am, with the aircraft about 2000 feet above the mountains; screaming can be heard on the recordings. Within moments the aircraft struck the ground at 430 miles an hour. All 150 people on board were killed almost instantly.

How do you respond to these events? Perhaps with shock, grief, anger or fear? As we survey these things, we have seen courage and dignity, pride and vindictiveness, pain and sorrow, anguish and bewilderment. We are reminded that we do not know what is in the heart of man, and we may never know all that took place in the aeroplane.

But what should you make of it? What lessons can we learn from such a tragedy? In the Bible, a king called David was writing about some of the triumphs that he had enjoyed and the mercies he had obtained. And then he strikes a thoughtful, sober note: “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:3–4).

In these words, mankind is seen to scale in a fallen world full of sin and sorrow. It puts my life and yours in perspective. These words remind us that life is a breath and a blessing.

Life is a breath

Why does the God of heaven have regard for mankind? These words suggest a comparison while they make a declaration. Breath is mere vapour, a puff of air, something that is empty. A passing shadow has no strength or substance – it is a shade that slips away. This is a picture of human life in a fallen world.

It speaks of frailty. Even a child knows that bubbles do not last and balloons do not endure. The life of a shadow depends on the passing clouds! When the aircraft struck the ground, humanly speaking, there was no chance of survival. The strongest, wisest, cleverest, fittest, richest, most gifted and talented people died just as suddenly as any others. King David enthroned in triumph acknowledges that his life is a breath. Assaults, accidents, diseases – all bring men and women to a quick end.

The language also communicates brevity, the shortness of life. Bubbles burst, breaths are exhaled. The longest lifespan of a shadow is a single day, and it leaves no trace behind. A man who lived to be 130 years old said, “few and evil have been the days of the years of my life” (Genesis 47:9). There was a seven month old baby who died. Sixteen school children were killed. And yet the longest life on that plane was a relatively short one.

Then we learn of the uncertainty of life. Perhaps no-one boarded that plane – perhaps one person did – thinking that they were in the last hour of their life. Those school children sent texts of eager anticipation at being home. We have heard reports of the expectations and ambitions, the dreams and the schemes of some of those who died. Those grand plans and efforts have now come to nothing. You and I do not know when or how our life on earth will end. The Word of God warns us, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). So many people are ushered unprepared into eternity, imagining a longer life and making no preparation for death and judgment.

Have you considered these painful realities of human life in a fallen world? Such events – especially such tragedies – force us to face the frailty, brevity and uncertainty of life, and the fact that afterward there is a judgement. The Lord Jesus himself reminded people, in the face of various sudden deaths, that the people who suffered them were no worse sinners than any others. He used the occasion to warn us that “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke’s Gospel 13:1–5).

These are painful lessons to us who remain. We are too often arrogant bubbles and proud shadows, quick to boast of our strength and to forget the fearful reality.

Life is a blessing

So what is our hope? If our lives are so frail, brief and uncertain, is there any prospect for us? Remember the words of King David: “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:3–4).

Here is an astounding fact: the Lord God Almighty takes notice of mankind. It does not mean that God is aware of our existence and sends a passing glance in our direction. It means that he plans and purposes with mankind in mind, he designs and determines to take account of sinful creatures like you and me. God is mindful of mankind with regard to both our weakness and our wickedness.

With regard to our weakness, life is given and sustained. Perhaps we presume our entitlement to life. We ought to be grateful for the gift. God is described in the Bible as the one who “gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts17:25). The tragedy is that we often live like another king from history who lived as he pleased and worshipped what he wanted, but “the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified” (Daniel 5:23). God ought to be glorified by you and all his creatures, “for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Romans 11:36). The gift of life is not to be used to pursue your sinful pleasures but to seek the glory of God who made you. Do you have any thought of God? Do you live with any regard for him? Do you serve him with your life or waste your hours on vanities? Our opportunities are so short, and our life is so unstable, and yet we live with no regard for God.

Furthermore, that life given is sustained. Though life in itself is frail, brief and uncertain, yet you are still alive to read these words! How many times have you been spared death? How many times has your life been preserved? Perhaps you can remember assaults, accidents or sicknesses when you almost lost your life. Perhaps there were risks and dangers about which you still have no idea. You owe to a merciful God not only the life you have but the fact that you still have it. That is true on the largest scale: God sustains this world and everything in it, all its reliability and stability in terms of days and seasons (Genesis 8-9). “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew’s Gospel 5:45). We all benefit from his kindnesses. It is true on the smallest scale, for our individual lives are all known to him. We can say that “in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:16). A Christian can say with confidence that not even the smallest bird “falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew’s Gospel 10:29–30).

But God is mindful not only of our weakness but also our wickedness. You see, the problem is not merely that we are creatures, but we are sinful creatures. Though we have been given life, breath and all things by a mighty and merciful God, we live as if we were gods, as if we called all the shots in our life. And yet God is still mindful of mankind. In the face of our rebellions and sins, life is offered and assured.

Not only has God given us what we might call common mercies, he also holds out saving mercies. He offers us eternal life in his kingdom, so that one writer can say that “even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our peace, to make it and to proclaim it to sinners like us. He “remembered us in our lowly state … and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:23–24). Those enemies include sin and death – the only way to be prepared for our entrance into eternity is through Jesus Christ, whom God sent in love so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John’s Gospel 3:16). This is God taking knowledge of sinners so as to hold out salvation to us. The Son of God became a man and died on the cross so that sinners like us might have everlasting love (Philippians 2:5–8). This is God’s mercy to and pity for sinners, offering life to us though we are lost and helpless in ourselves. He has thought upon us and held out life in Christ.

And this life is assured. When a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ they obtain a life which death itself cannot end, and are given “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5). Our present body can be likened to “our earthly house, this tent,” but if it is destroyed, a Christian can say that “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). There is nothing frail, brief or uncertain about that life! Your hope in life and in death hinges upon the saving mercies of God in Christ, grasped by faith. In the Old Testament, a prophet called Isaiah contrasted the person who trusts in empty things with the one who believes in God: “When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry them all away, a breath will take them. But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain” (Isaiah 57:13). So those who trust in Jesus, according to the promise of God, “look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

Have you considered the frailty, brevity and uncertainty of your life? Let the dreadful events of recent days press these things home to your soul. And remember, in the face of all your weakness, and despite all your sin and your sinning, God has given and sustained the gift of natural life. Furthermore, in the face of all your wickedness, God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, that you might have life in his name, and might have it more abundantly (John’s Gospel 10:10) – life everlasting!

The God of heaven and earth is marvellously, mercifully, mindful of mankind. This is your only hope in this world and for the next. The only answer to your frail, brief, uncertain life is the divine mercy and sufficiency.

I plead with you to think about the mercies you have already received in the face of your weakness and your wickedness. Your life is a gracious gift, and though it may hang by a thread, you still possess it. What thought – what gratitude, worship and service – have you given to the God who gives and sustains your life?

But think, too, of the mercies you are now offered in the face of your weakness and wickedness. Life is passing, but God has been mindful of you. Without Christ, you will die and go into judgement, and face the horrors of hell. But God has sent Christ as a Saviour, and has put this leaflet in your hand to warn you of eternal death and awful damnation and to hold out everlasting life in Christ. Christ says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3).

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 3 April 2015 at 14:31

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With the Lord

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I doubt that many readers of this blog would know a brother by the name of Johnny Farese. Johnny was born with spinal muscular atrophy. By the time I had the privilege of meeting him in person, he had been unable to sit up for about ten years. He was paralysed in both arms and legs, his body twisted and passive. But, for a man who the doctors prophesied would not live beyond his eighth birthday, Johnny led a remarkably productive life. The quote which adorned almost all his emails was this: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

With these words understood in the light of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus, Johnny set out to serve as he was able. He learned to code and for years maintained a mailing list for and a directory of Reformed Baptist churches, generating much mutual interest and fellowship. All this he did using an intricate arrangement of technology operated through a small tube.

I met Johnny when preaching at a conference in Florida. He listened to pretty much everything he could online, and – the day after the first sermon, when I went to see him – he gave me a lovely illustrated copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, to which I had referred in passing, which evidently coloured my preaching in Johnny’s eyes, and which he had immediately ordered as an expression of kind appreciation. We spoke about some of his labours, his hopes and his fears, the struggles and the joys of his condition. I spoke to his brother, Paul, and his wife and children, with whom Johnny lived, and whose selfless care of him brought its own challenges and burdens.

Johnny’s brief written testimony is here, and a few years ago he was featured in a television programme:

Johnny fell asleep in Christ last Lord’s day afternoon. He went to be with Christ, which is far better. His soul has left that battered and twisted body in which he sought to serve his Lord so faithfully and fruitfully. He is present with the Lord, his soul made perfect, his joy entire. He is now looking forward to the day when Christ returns, when his soul shall be reunited with his body, but not as it goes into the ground.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Cor 15.42-54)

On that Lord’s day morning, I was preaching to the church which I serve on Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8.14-15). This woman was saved (and there are parallels with our deliverance from the fiery fever of sin); having been delivered, she served. Johnny knew what it was to have his soul delivered from sin, and he knew what it was to serve. The next time you are tempted to excuse yourself from duties, shirk present responsibilities, and let opportunities pass you by, you should remind yourself of a man who could move only his mouth and his eyes, and offered them readily and constantly to the Lord.

Johnny is still serving his Saviour. He will serve him forever, soon with a restored body to match his striving soul – full of strength and vigour, every capacity and faculty thoroughly enlivened and invigorated, knowing no hindrance or obstacle – in the new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells, and where sickness, sorrow, pain and trouble are long past.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 11 March 2014 at 16:52

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Obeying in hope

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. . . Abraham didn’t just obey God.  He obeyed with hopefulness. He obeyed with a Godly optimism.  And that is the only way we can obey God in the midst of unthinkable trials.  And it is the only way we can obey God over the long term.  Our obedience must flow from our belief that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28).

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 29 May 2012 at 17:44

Posted in While wandering . . .

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Resurrection hope in a tsunami world

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My friend Alan Dunn has penned a brief piece trying to make Biblical sense of the tsunami. Does the Bible have anything to say about such disasters? Is there any hope in a world wracked by such tragedies? Alan’s answer, drawn from the Bible, is a resounding “Yes.” For a longer and more developed argument, you can download Catastrophes. I am grateful to Alan for his permission to make these available.

Existentialists have a word for the feeling of disconnection, the free-fall into the void of subjective meaninglessness, the disorienting bewilderment of detachment from everyone, everything and even from self. The word is “anomie:” without law, without order; chaos and confusion caused by a disconnection from everything secure, and familiar. All points of reference are gone and existence is intrinsically strange. The pictures coming from Japan depict anomie as people meander through once familiar neighborhoods now strange and severed from any point of connection. Anomie is the feeling of death, the severance of the unities that God created to constitute the fabric of life.

Does Scripture have anything to say to men when an earthquake and a tsunami so alter the landscape of life that one no longer has points of connection to the very earth upon which we walk? What do we say to people whose very relationship to the ground itself is severed?

First, we need to understand that God established a relationship between our bodies and the earth. God created man from the dust of the ground and named him “Adam,” meaning “red earth” (Gen 2:7-9,20). This “very good” creation is one in which Adam is essentially united to the earth. He is made of the same material. He lives in a symbiotic reciprocal relationship of mutual interdependence with the  earth. By his labor, Man would cultivate and keep the earth (Gen 2:15) and the earth would respond, yielding sustenance for man’s life. Man is not man apart from his union with the earth. For man to be man there must be a cosmos, a physical world over which he has dominion. God relates to the earth through the headship of the Man and as goes Adam‟s relationship with God, so goes earth’s relationship to God. But realize is that man is not man apart from the earth. He is red earth, animated dirt, made of the dust of the ground: he is Adam.

Second, we must understand the impact of the Fall on man’s relationship to the earth. When Adam sinned, he brought the earth under the sentence of the curse (Gen 3:17-19). In grace, God salvaged the original created order, but the dynamic of death now conditions man’s relationship to the earth. Man still exercises dominion, but the life-union between him and the ground is broken. The earth was subjected to futility (Rom 8:20,21) and although by his labor Man still obtains his food, he also harvests thorns and thistles, and experiences physical dissolution as his relationship to the earth disintegrates and he returns back to dust. The earth likewise is in slavery to corruption – not to moral corruption, but to decomposition, entropy, decay, rot. It will wear out like a garment (Isa 51:6). The ground has been judged through Adam with the sentence of death. Therefore from one perspective, earthquakes and tsunamis are evidence of the Fall: a world broken, convulsing in the throes of death; a world bound to the destiny of its Adam – for as it goes with Adam, so it goes with earth. Adam and his planet live or die together.

Thirdly, we hasten to bring to bear the grace of God, for this fallen earth is yet the stage upon which God’s redemptive love and saving purposes are being worked out. Immediately after the Fall, the planet was salvaged from total death. God intervened and sustained the original order of creation and announced that He would send the promised Seed who would crush the head of the Serpent and deliver the fallen cosmos from the curse (Gen 3:15). That Seed has come. He is Jesus Christ: the incarnate God/Man. His incarnation is crucial to the salvation that He has wrought for this tsunami world. Jesus taught us to see earthquakes and tsunamis not only as visitations of judgment, or as precursors to the great earthquake which characterizes Final Judgment (cf. Rev 6:12; 8:5; 11:13,19: 16:18). Jesus also spoke of earthquakes using a hopeful metaphor, albeit a painful one: the metaphor of a woman writhing in birth pangs. Earthquakes are part of those things which are the beginning of birth pangs (Mat 24:8; Mk 13:8; cf. Jn 16:20-21; 1 Thes 5:3). With the coming of Jesus, this present order of creation has been impregnated with the life of the age to come and is in the agonizing process of giving birth to what Jesus calls the regeneration (Mat 19:28; cf. Acts 3:21): the renovation of this fallen creation into the new physics of the age to come. Throughout this age earthquakes, like labor contractions, will erupt and relax in limited ways and progressively intensify until the climatic contraction which will grip the whole world in a final hour of testing (Lk 21:34-36; Rv 3:10). That hour will entail the purging fire of judgment (2 Pt 3:3-7) during which the present order of things will be destroyed (2 Pt 3:10): loosed, untied, unhinged – when the unities of creation are finally severed in a cosmic death brought on by death-cursed Adam.

But there is hope for this tsunami world: resurrection hope, glorious hope!

In 1 Cor 15:44,45 Paul calls the resurrected Jesus, the last Adam. In resurrection victory, He has obtained a new order of human existence: life-giving Spirit – resurrected human life, a body alive with the vitality of God‟s Spirit as its animating principle. This is in contrast with Adam, the first man’s natural body. Paul not only contrasts our resurrection body with our post-Fall, sin-riddled, perishable, dishonored, weak body. He also contrasts Jesus’ resurrection body with Adam’s natural body which became a living soul (citing Gen 2:7 concerning Adam’s pre-Fall body). Jesus‟ resurrection body is more glorious than Adam’s original created body! The point is this: by His resurrection, Jesus has become the last Adam. Now remember, Adam is not “Adam” without the earth, the dirt, the planet which must be bound to him. Without the ground, Adam is not man. For man to be man, he must have earth. Therefore Jesus, the resurrected last Adam, must have a resurrected earth! This tsunami world has hope because Jesus was resurrected and His resurrected body is the guarantee of the resurrected earth. Originally the earth was created then Adam was taken from it and placed upon it. In the new creation, the last Adam is resurrected and the recreated cosmos of necessity follows in His train. Jesus’ physicality is this planet’s only hope. Jesus is the incarnate enfleshed Son of God. He was physically conceived in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Spirit. He physically lived in sinless obedience to God and succeeded where Adam failed. He physically died on the cross bearing the punishment of death that Adam incurred. He was physically buried in the tomb. He physically rose from the grave. He physically ascended to the throne of God. He will physically return at the end of this age to transform our bodies and all things into conformity with His resurrection glory (Phil 3:20-21). Ours is a flesh and blood salvation, a water and mud salvation, a space and time salvation. All who are in Christ inherit His Kingdom of unimaginable glory: a recreated cosmos depicted in the final chapters of Revelation as a pristine Edenic garden in which a resurrected humanity begins again, only now remade in union with the last Adam, gloriously conformed to the first born among many brethren (Rom 8:29).

God made the earth and then He made Adam from the earth and then Adam went through death back into the dust. Jesus, incarnate sinless Man, went through death into the dust and conquered death as He bodily rose again, and as the last Adam, He pulls the dirt which is this planet with Him out of its grave into resurrection glory. Death into resurrection. It is the paradigm of redemption, a redemption for which this planet eagerly longs: the redemption of the bodies of the sons of God (Rom 8:18-23) and the cosmic regeneration. The way to that glorious regeneration is the way of the cross. It is the way Jesus went. It is the way we who will populate the new heavens and new earth must go, and with us, at Christ’s return, so too it is the way our planet will go. But as the earth undergoes its own sentence of death, it will convulse and give us anomie. At times it won’t look familiar to us, and we’ll feel separated from it, as though it has turned against us. Yes, we’re being judged. But we who are in Christ have no condemnation and we’re being saved! We see the earth’s convulsions as eschatological contractions which will result in the birth of a new and glorious cosmos of resurrection life. This world has been impregnated with the life of the age to come. The Spirit of the risen Christ has been given to His spiritually resurrected people, and the world writhes in labor pains, awaiting the birthing of our resurrected bodies so that with us, it too will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:21).

If we would experience that glory, we must get into Jesus. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, the last Adam, is our only physical connection to the world to come. This world and its works will be burned up, but all who are in Jesus, as those who were in Noah’s ark, will be saved to populate this same but revitalized cosmos where we will live and labor for eternity, making the entire universe the temple of our covenant keeping God.

So next time you sense anomie, that bewildering sense of disconnection from this world and this life, exercise faith in your risen Lord. The Spirit in you will give you a sense of being securely connected to the resurrected Jesus and assure you that your connection to Him is more solid than the ground beneath your feet. Lift up your head and know that your redemption is drawing nigh. And begin singing: “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 17 March 2011 at 13:21

“How merciful are the dispensations of God!”

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William Carvosso, chronicler of the Cornish revivals of the early 19th century, records a conversion and death with a godly grandfather’s perspective.  How honouring to God when grandfathers, fathers and (grand)sons can acquiesce in the Lord’s merciful dispensations!

My dear grandson, William Rundle, so recently brought to God, and so hopeful in the church, has been snatched away from us by the hand of death.  He was ill only a very short time; but glory be to God, he died in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection to eternal life.  How merciful are the dispensations of God!  His conversion took place about six weeks before his removal from hence.  He did not long groan under the burden of guilt, and his evidence of pardon and adoption was very clear.  At a prayer-meeting two or three weeks before his death, he received an overwhelming manifestation of the Spirit, in which every doubt and fear was utterly put to flight.  He attended his class a few days before his death, and seemed to be filled with unspeakable joy: ‘My soul,’ he said, ‘is like a ship in full sail, on the boundless ocean of redeeming love.’  His death was occasioned by the rupture of a blood vessel.  In all the conflict, he was perfectly tranquil and serene; fear was not permitted to come near him.  This was the more striking, because, in every little indisposition before, he was much alarmed and distressed at the thought of death.  But now he seemed at once ready-winged for the flight.  To his father, who had fondly hoped that he would be the help and comfort of his advancing years, he said, ‘Father, you can do very well without me; and I would rather die than live.’  The Lord whom he had so heartily chosen for his portion in the vigour of health, was now his abundant support in the struggle of pain and death.  Just before he expired, he said to me, ‘I used to be struck with terror at the thought of dying, but now I can meet death with a smile.’  He died in his nineteenth year.

Quoted by Paul Cook, Fire From Heaven (91)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 20 April 2010 at 20:22

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“When earthly passions wax and wane”

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Pentecost  L.M.

When earthly passions wax and wane,
When earthly pleasures rise and fall,
To God above I still can call,
To where my hope and love remain.

When in the stormy seas of life
I stand beset on every side,
I – naked, cold, and stripped of pride –
Come to my God who calms my strife.

When winds of doctrine toss me round
And understanding’s eye is dim,
In humble prayer I fly to him,
To him in whom my hopes abound.

When in confusion I despair,
When human hopes and plans have failed,
In Christ’s bright glory, even veiled,
I find my joy and solace there.

When things against me all conspire,
I know that I need have no fear,
For in such times my God is near,
He will refine me in his fire.

So praise the Lord, rest in his hand,
The fear, the pain, the hurt shall pass,
And he shall guide you safe at last,
For in all things your good is planned.

©JRW

See all hymns and psalms.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 11 December 2009 at 20:30

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A dying man’s questions

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This is both poignant and painful.  I remember Pastor Ted Donnelly:

Unconverted people may call us glomy.  They may consider our meetings old-fashioned and dull, without the sparkle of the polished ecclesiastical comedians.  That cannot be helped.  But when they are in trouble, in a real crisis, will they turn to the clowns?  Will they look for someone to tell them little stories and make them laugh?  Time and again we find that people in need are drawn instinctively to those who are serious, in earnest, in touch with real life.  They sense a sterling character, an ability to help on a profound level.  In the long run, the jester has less impact than the man or woman with tears of compassion.  Those who once mocked us may come to discover that ‘it is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools’ (Eccles. 7:5).[1]

HT: Extreme Theology.

PS There are several videos like this that have been proved clever but not genuine.  I have no reason to doubt this one, but – should you know otherwise – please let me know and I will remove it immediately.


[1] Ted Donnelly, Heaven and Hell (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2001), 54-55.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 9 April 2009 at 13:38

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Trusting in Christ – past, present, future

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Yesterday morning I completed the current segment of our studies in the Christian family by wrapping up some issues of training our children with regard to their social and cultural development.  Beginning with Luke 7.36-50 we noted that our Lord criticizes Simon (a comparative criticism, contrasting him with “the woman of ill repute”) for being rude – he was a poor host, running contrary to God’s will, and so sinned.  The lack of social grace is an indicator of a much more substantial absence of grace.  While we recognise a difference between Scriptural absolutes and cultural standards (the holy kiss will not get you very far in the typical British congregation), there is an application of the absolutes taking into account the culture in which we live.

We therefore looked at some of the issues that social and cultural development must address, both in terms of our relationships to other people and our ability to contribute to the society and culture in which God puts us.  It was a very cursory glance, but an attempt to at least sketch out some of the issues.

I closed by urging parents not to miss the mark: we do not aim at our own reputation as ‘good parents’ with ‘good children’; not social acceptability by eradicating the worst excesses and expressions of sin; not good citizenship in terms of civic responsibility and awareness and contribution; not even good churchmanship, as if we should teach behaviours that get children under the radar of even thoughtful churches; but genuine conversion.  This is about Jesus, about pointing our children – even by means of these things – to the Saviour of sinners and model for righteousness.

In the morning service, we continued to look at the marks of a true Christian.  Having exposed some inconclusive indications of a genuine work of grace last Lord’s day, I dealt with the first two indispensable indicators of a genuine conversion – those things which, according to the apostle John, must be present for a man to know himself saved, even if they are not perfect.

The first is a humble and wholehearted embrace of the divine diagnosis of and remedy for sin.  A Christian man has an accurate view of himself as a sinning sinner.  He acknowledges God’s just judgments; Spirit-wrought conviction leads to genuine repentance; with repentance is joined faith in Jesus as presented in the gospel.

The second is a humble reverence for and joyful devotion to God and his glory.  A radical reversal of priority has occurred: the idol Self is toppled and God reigns in the heart.  Gratitude for grace received and delight in God himself issues in joyful service of the Lord of glory.  The testimony of such a man’s heart is “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73.25-26).  He believes it, knows it, pursues it, and repents afresh because he does not know and feel and prove it more.

Two more will follow, God willing.

In the evening, I sought to use our celebration of the Lord’s supper to point forward to Christ’s return, in accordance with Christ’s command and promise.  From 1 Peter 1.13 we considered Hoping in Christ’s revelation.

What should a Christian be expecting? Grace, as the complement and completion of grace already received: the crowning glories of God’s undeserved and unmerited goodness – the incorruptible inheritance received, perfected salvation enjoyed, total vindication granted, and incomparable glory bestowed.

When shall we receive it? Grace is not a distinct commodity, but is bound up in Jesus, and this grace is being brought to us at Christ Jesus’ revelation.  Our expectation is connected with the coming of Christ in glory.  All the grace we anticipate is in and with him, and our blessings are entirely tied up in the person of Jesus.

What should be out attitude? A settled and vigorous frame of spirit that rests entirely in God’s promised grace in the risen, reigning, returning Christ the Lord.  The command to rest our hope fully in this grace being brought to us at Christ’s unveiling is a call to a fixed perspective, a complete dependence, a certain assurance, a joyful expectation, a constant encouragement, and should issue in a childlike obedience.  Christ is coming, and we should live in the light of it.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 6 April 2009 at 09:25

“I believe in evolution”

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It is half-term this week.  My wife reminded me that some of the lads from Maidenbower might be out and about.  Yesterday I had another opportunity to speak with some of them.  I went over to the park and played football for about half-an-hour in the pouring rain.  We were dripping wet, and they were about to head home.  I asked when I would see them at church, and gave them some encouragements and reasons to come.   I told them that the truth about Jesus was the most important thing that sinners like us can ever know about, and they would probably not hear that truth from anyone else, but that God in his mercy had sent preachers like me to explain to them why they need a Saviour.

They shut down: clearly I was getting “serious.”  I asked them why they were so negative.  They trotted out the prepared response, the “lines to take” that society provides for them.  Among the answers – “I am an agnostic,” “I am an atheist” – was one particularly noteworthy riposte: “I believe in evolution.”

Many evolutionists can get quite narked when you start setting your ‘worldview’ against theirs as if they were men and women of faith.  You are superstitious, they are scientific.  You are subjective, they are objective.  You are emotional, they are intellectual.  You are muddled, they are clear.  You have to do with faith, they have to do with reason.

Yet you speak to ordinary folks, and it becomes clear that to them, evolution is very much a defence.  It is an alternative and antagonistic belief system, a structure of presuppositions and notions that demands faith, and which can be opposed to the Christian faith.

Evolution, certainly as commonly understood (and, I would argue, on every level), is a matter of faith.  As such, it is groundless: inconsistent, incoherent, incredible, and inconclusive.  It claims to offer progress, and yet leaves men trapped by their own sin and in their own misery.

“I believe in evolution.”

How tragic.  Thank God that there is an alternative to the idols.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 20 February 2009 at 09:01

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“Apostasy, Destruction and Hope: 2 Kings Simply Explained”

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apostasy-destruction-and-hopeApostasy, Destruction and Hope: 2 Kings Simply Explained (Welwyn Commentary series) by Roger Ellsworth

Evangelical Press, 272pp, pbk

This contribution to the Welwyn Commentary Series traces the idolatrous declines of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to captivity, but also brings to light the messages of hope that are woven into the historical record, and the note of hope on which the Second Book of the Kings ends.

Roger Ellsworth posits two ‘readerships’ that the original author had in mind: God’s people in captivity, and the schools of the prophets.  He then follows these two readerships through the book, giving both author and reader a focus: the author uses this as a thread on which to hang his thoughts and applications, and the reader gets a better sense of the internal consistency of 2 Kings.  Mr Ellsworth deals clearly with the text, explaining, summarising and applying, usually considering what the original author of this history wanted to teach his original readers, before stepping back to consider what we, as the readers of 2 Kings today, should take away.

The author does not dodge the difficult issues that the Biblical history sometimes raises, but seeks to deal with them honestly and clearly.  He labours to keep Christ before the eyes of his readers, pointing forward where appropriate to the life and work of the Saviour, and taking opportunities to press home the claims of Christ upon his readers.  Otherwise, he is skilled at finding illuminating pictures of spiritual realities in the events of 2 Kings, although some may wonder if there are points at which spiritual lessons are drawn out from or read into the text without sufficient justification.  Nevertheless, Mr Ellsworth’s applications are always warm and direct, and offer much both to comfort and to challenge the reader.  The parallels between the wickedness of Israel and Judah and the wickedness of our own nations are revealed plainly and pointedly, but the hope that the gospel offers is always brought to bear.  Mr Ellsworth takes care that these things are driven home individually: they are not allowed to remain general truths floating at a distance, but are shown to be specific truths relating to his readers.

Pastoral and practical, some might find this commentary helpful as an aid to private devotion or family worship.  If it leaves others wanting to know more and pierce a little deeper, stimulating where it is not satisfying, that will be no bad thing in itself.  The need for true faith and obedience that the original author sought to communicate is earnestly highlighted, and we would do well to heed the lessons identified here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 12 December 2008 at 09:38

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