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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Can Be for Hymns Too

Well it has only been three weeks now since I began posting one hymn a week on Tuesday, however I forgot to post the hymn on Tuesday this weel. So two days past due, I post the hymn of the week. The selection for this week is In the Secret of His Presence. This hymn was written by a woman named Ellen Lakshmi Goreh (1853-1937) from India. Her father was a convert to Christianity, but gave her up for adoption, when his wife died when Ellen was two months old. She was raised by a Rev. Stores in England, but later returned to India to live and minister. Dr. Hudson Taylor reported that this hymn was the favorite among his missionaries in China.

For more info on the song, look up the song at Cyberhymnal.

In the Secret of His Presence

In the secret of His presence, how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus' side!
Earthly cares forever vex me, all my trials lay me low;
But when Satan comes to tempt me, to that secret place I go,
To that secret place I go.

When my soul is faint and thirsty, 'neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter what he says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.

Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently he listens! And my sorrowed soul he cheers:
Do you think He ne'er reproves me? What a false friend He would be,
If he never, never told me of the sin which He must see,
Of the sin which He must see.

Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath his shadow: This shall then be your reward;
And whene'er you leave the silence of that happy place,
You will surely bear the image of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Church, Remember the Exodus and Wilderness: A Sermon from 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1

Sunday Morning Gathering
May 25, 2008
1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1


As we have progressed through the letter called 1 Corinthians, we have seen how the Apostle and the Church at Corinth are having a back and forth. We find the church asking specific questions to Paul on how to live in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

--What should the church do in response to the sexually immorality of a church member?

--How should Christians settle grievances that they have with one another?

--How do Christians avoid sexual immorality?

--What should Christians think about marriage in light of the gospel mission?

--Should we marry if we are single?

--Should we divorce if we are married?

--Should we stay betrothed?

We are now in our fourth and final sermon based on Paul answer to the question, “Should we eat food sacrificed to idols in the temples of pagan gods?”

Cause No Brother or Sister to Stumble

Paul’s first teaching that arises from this particular teaching is concern for the weak. Although Paul conceded that idols and pagan gods were not real, he warned the Corinthians that some who are weak among them may fall back into idolatry by participating in these pagan celebrations. So Paul’s first teaching is that we should have concern for others and do nothing to cause another brother and sister to stumble as he or she pursues Jesus Christ in discipleship.

Forsake Your Freedoms for the Gospel

Paul’s second teaching arising from this question of eating meat addresses Christian freedom. The Apostle’s argument is simply: Do everything for the sake of the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ even if it means we sacrifice personal rights. In other words, the freedom that God has given us through Christ is to be used for the sake of the Gospel and introducing sinners to this gospel. Paul then proceeds to lift himself up as an example to the Corinthians as one who has forsaken many rights to see the gospel proclaimed.

Idolatry Kills

Finally, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10 that flirtation with and participation in idolatry kills.

He takes us back to the event of the Exodus. God brings great judgment upon Egypt and the Pharaoh in order to display his glory and to free the Israelites. God freed the Israelites who had become slaves. He brought them salvation. Then he began to lead them to the Promised Land of Canaan. God brought them through the waters of the Sea and used the Sea to slay the Egyptian armies. By day he would lead them by a great pillar of smoke and by night he would lead them by a great pillar of fire. When they were hungry, he feed them. When they were thirsty, he gave them water.

But guess what happened to the adult generation of Israelites who were saved out of Egypt? They all perished except Caleb and Joshua outside the Promised Land. Paul says in verse 5, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”

Why does Paul remind us of the events of the Exodus and the deaths of the people of God in the wilderness? He says in verse 6 that they are examples for us that we should not desire evil as they did. What happened that caused God to destroy the very people he rescued? Answer: They committed idolatry. They were sexual immoral. They tested Christ? They grumbled against God?

You probably can recount their idolatry. Moses was up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights and the people decided that Moses was not going to return so they asked Aaron to make an idol. Then the Israelites worshiped and made sacrifices to the idol and the text says “they rose up to play”, which many interpreters interpret to mean sexual immorality was committed in the worship of the idol by the Israelites (See Exodus 32). Twenty-three thousand Israelites were slain in one day for this idolatry.

What is Paul’s point? His answer is in verse 12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” In other words, the same experience of the Israelites could be our own fate if we do not cling to God and flee from idolatry. Paul’s ultimate pronouncement concerning eating this meat sacrificed to idols is a participation in the demonic. While he concedes that idols are nothing, there is a true reality behind them, and he describes it as demonic.

Read 1 Corinthians 10:19-20

1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 are filled with the Apostle’s application on how to live with regards to this question.

For example…

v24, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” – Do not cause others to stumble

vv25-26 – Do not worry about meat put into the marketplace regardless of its origin.

vv27-30 – eating food at a neighbor’s is fine so long as the neighbor does not indicate that it has been dedicated to pagan gods.

v31 – Do everything for the glory of God; focus on the gospel

vv32-33 – Do not make anyone stumble but put before many the gospel.

However, I believe the most important application for our church is the admonition to stay away from idolatry for we do not have to worry if the meat we buy at Publix or Walmart was sacrificed to Satan. However for too long in efforts to attract people, increase membership and attendance, and appear successful in the eyes of other churches, we have given false assurances to people concerning their salvation. And we need to let the Exodus and Wilderness example be a great and terrible warning who find salvific assurances in other places outside of daily repentance of sin and daily faith in Jesus Christ.

Observations from the Exodus and Wilderness of Israel

1. Just because I receive some of the benefits of God’s salvation does not mean that I myself have been saved.

All of Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt, but not all made it to the Promised Land. I warn especially those here who have been raised up in the church culture. Kids raised in the church are often the recipients of so many of God’s blessings, but being a child of a Christian father and mother does not mean you are reconciled with God. Are you trusting in God today? Is Jesus Christ your Lord? Are you looking to him for your joy?

There have been a great many walk the isles of local churches not because they had experienced the new birth, but because their momma wanted them to or because their friends walked the isle.

2. Just because you have been baptized, does not mean you will inherit the new heavens and the new earth.

Israel experienced a baptism as they went through the parted waters of the Sea, but few reached the Promised Land.

I have seen too many times decisions for Christ be merely decisions that later became decisions to depart from Christ.

3. Just because God is working in your life and his presence is in your very midst does not mean you are assured of eternal life with God.

The pillar of fire and smoke, which was the presence of God protected and guided the people of Israel on their way, but all but two of those over the age of 20 save Joshua and Caleb perished in the wilderness and did not enter into God’s rest.

The presence of God was all around Israel and yet they still perished. Just ask Judas about this. Just ask the Pharisees. Just ask the rich young ruler?

4. Just because you eat of the bread and drink of the cup at communion does not mean that you are abiding in Jesus Christ.

The Israelites eat manna from heaven and drank water from Christ himself, yet they also drank of the cup of idolatry, drank from the well sexual immorality, tested the Lord himself, and grumbled against God and they forfeited the Promised Land.

Those who drink both from the cup of Christ and Demons will provoke the Lord to jealousy (v22).

5. Just because you sing to the Lord does not ensure that he is your heart’s desire.

When God destroyed the Egyptians by closing the sea upon them, the Israelites sang a song expressing great truths about him like:

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?”

“Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

“The Lord will reign forever and forever.”

Yet their songs would soon be turned to other idols.

6. A good beginning does not ensure a good ending.

Israel was obedient to spread the blood over their doorposts and the Angel of Death came over Egypt killing the firstborn. It is said of Israel after the waters crushed the armies of Pharaoh, “Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses (Exodus 14:31).”

But their faith was not enduring as they would soon trade it for a golden calf and sexual immorality.

Brothers, sisters, friends the salvation of God has two dimensions: the already and the not yet. God did a work in the Old Testament bringing deliverance to Israel. But many Israelites did not find the consummation of that salvation because they gave themselves to idols. God has done a great work of salvation in the New Testament. Christ has made atonement for sinners on the Cross. It has already happened. Yet our final salvation is in the future when our bodies will be glorified and we will live with God in the new heavens and in the new earth, but it is only for those who endure to the end, Jesus says. Do not walk away from Jesus Christ.

The Israelites experienced deliverance from Egypt, but so many failed to see the Promised Land. So “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Friends, did you start out years ago with your heart surrendered to the Lord only to find your heart today surrendered to sexual immorality, idolatry, and grumblings against God. Then it is not too late to genuinely receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Repent of all your idols, the things you value more than Jesus and put your faith in Jesus. Pray that God grant you repentance. Pray that God help your unbelief.

There is a great danger in growing up in the south where for generations there were present very strong Christian roots because we can assume that if we do the church thing, then we know God. But I want to ask each of you this morning…

Where is your treasure?

How do you find your joy?

What do live for?

Where is your purpose in living found?

Whom do you love and serve?

There is coming a day children when you will leave the home of your parents or guardians. This will be the great test for you whether or not you will continue to live for Jesus. This will be a day when your obedience will be more clearly evaluated as obedience to parents or obedience to God.

There is coming day when we will all find ourselves before God giving account. And you will not be able to look at your father, your mother, your husband, your wife; you will not be able to look to your water baptism, your participation at communion, the songs you sung, but only to Jesus Christ whose blood can make you clean.

As we turn in our small hymnal to page 30 to close by singing What a Day that Will Be, when we sing the words “There is coming a day…what a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace; when he takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be,” what will your heart reveal about Jesus. Will you sing with a soul full of joy because Jesus is your Savior or will you merely mouth the words because everyone else is?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Review: Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

Wright, Christopher J. W. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992. 256 pp, $16.00.

One of my favorite teachers I had the honor of sitting under during my years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was Dr. Daniel Block. It was under his teaching that my appreciation for and knowledge of the Old Testament grew in leaps and bounds. It was under Block’s teaching from the three courses I sat under him that I began for the first time to really see the Scriptures as a grand narrative of God’s salvific actions to redeem his creation.

It was also through his recommendation that I became acquainted with the book Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. Dr. Block highly advised all his students to read this selection in order to understand Jesus in light of the Old Testament. I recently purchased and finally read this book which he so highly recommended and it did not disappoint.

Wright starts his book out in the Gospel of Matthew and notes how for many Christians, the beginning of understanding Jesus starts at Matthew 1:18. Yet what is missed in the previous verses of Matthew 1:1-17 is the Old Testament roots of Jesus. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the same Abraham through whom God promised to bring blessing to all peoples and nations. It is in Jesus that the Old Testament promises find their fulfillment. Or as Wright says, “The Old Testament tells the story which Jesus completes (p 2).

Jesus is also a new beginning. As Wright notes, Matthew’s gospel begins literally, ‘An account of the genesis of Jesus the Messiah…’ For any Jew, this would have caused them to recall the words of Genesis 2:4 and 5:1 (p 7). Just as we find a new work in the Book of Genesis, we find a new work of God in the Book of Matthew.

Wright says that Matthew 1:1-17 really tells us through a genealogy the long history of God and his people, Israel. The names point us to the call of Abraham, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the covenant made at Mt. Sinai, the inheritance of the Promised Land, the kingship of David, the splitting of the kingdoms, the unrest of Israel through evil kings, the destruction of Jerusalem and exile of God’s people into captivity, the restoration of Israel, and up to the time to the birth of Jesus.

In chapter 2, Wright details how five events in the life of Jesus as a baby and child reveal fulfillments of Old Testament promises:

1. The son conceived in Mary was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, where a virgin shall conceive a child.

2. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem fulfilled Micah 5:2, where a ruler is prophesied to be born for Israel.

3. Jesus’ escape to and then return from Egypt fulfilled Hosea 11:1, where it is said, “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.”

4. The murder by Herod of the young boys in Bethlehem fulfills Jeremiah 31:15.

5. The fifth fulfillment is a bit more difficult to detail as Wright acknowledges, but he points to Jesus settlement in Nazareth as a fulfillment of the prophets.

The particular stories that are detailed about Jesus’ early life are given to us with the purpose of helping us understand how the Old Testament was preparing and leading to the birth and mission of this man named Jesus.

Additionally much of the chapter is spent on commenting on the nature of God’s promises and covenants, and their implications. For example, when Wright talks about the implications of being in Christ as it relates to the promise made to Abraham he writes:

To be ‘in Christ’ was to be ‘in Abraham’, and therefore to share in the inheritance of God’s people. And that inheritance now far transcended the national territory, and included rather all the blessings and responsibilities of the fellowship of God’s people. He was the Passover lamb protecting God’s people from his wrath. His death and resurrection had achieved a new exodus. He was the mediator of a new covenant. His sacrificial death and risen life fulfilled and surpassed all that were signified in the tabernacle, the sacrifices and the priesthood. He was the temple not made with hands, indeed he was Mount Zion itself, as the focus of the name and presence of God. He was the son of David, but his Messianic kingship was concealed behind the basin and towel of servanthood and the necessity of obedience unto death (pp 74-75).

Chapter three focuses on the identity of Jesus in light of the Old Testament. Wright argues that Jesus partly understand his own mission as the Son of God from three Old Testament “son” texts, Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1, and Genesis 22:2.

1. From Psalm 2, Jesus is identified as the Son of David and as King is the authoritative spokesman for all Israel.

2. From Isaiah 42:1, Jesus understands himself as a servant son. This Davidic, Kingly Son would serve his people even unto death as the Servant Songs of Isaiah teach us. The servant would suffer so that we his people might be healed.

3. From Genesis 22:2, Jesus sees himself as the beloved only son of God like Isaac unto Abraham. Yet in stark contrast, Isaac was spared, Jesus will not be.

Wright additionally launches into a major section on viewing the New Testament fulfillments of Old Testaments texts through typology. Here he makes 6 points about typology (pp 110-16). This discussion will definitely help many in the church who have a difficult time understanding in what sense many NT events are fulfillments of OT events, as we typically think of fulfillment as being only fulfillments of specific predictions.

Chapter four is largely spent surveying the mission of Jesus as the Messiah. Wright covers common Jewish expectations. But the large portion of this section is spent surveying the Servant Songs in Isaiah. In the songs, Wright says we find the Messiah’s mission to Israel, but also to the Gentiles. For example the Lord says in Isaiah 49:5-6,

And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and My God is My strength), he says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

Wright concludes this chapter by addressing what implications Jesus’ own mission has for understanding our own present mission as God’s people. Wright concludes, “Mission lies at the very heart of all God’s historical action in the Bible. Mission to his fallen, suffering, sinful human creation, and indeed ultimately to his whole creation as well. That is why he called Abraham, sent Jesus, and commissioned his apostles. For there is one servant people, one Servant King, one servant mission (p 175).”

In the closing chapter, Wright looks at the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness by Satan. Wright notes that Jesus’ rebuttals to Satan all come from the early parts of Deuteronomy, so Wright looks to Deuteronomy 4-11 as an instructive paradigm for living before God as his people. This leads into a proper understanding of the place of the law in the life of God’s people. Wright’s major point here is that law is always a response to salvation and then he lists four major reasons or motivations for Godliness.

This last chapter is filled with helpful teaching on how to grasp the way in which we are called to live as the people of God, where to place our priorities in light of the way Jesus prioritized his values. Perhaps one of the most helpful summarizations Wright leaves us with in closing about living for Jesus comes on pages 247-8 and this is where the review will end as well. Wrights says:

To enter the Kingdom of God means to submit oneself to the rule of God and that means a fundamental reorientation of one’s ethical commitments and values into line with the priorities and character of the God revealed in the scriptures. The point of being Israel and living as the people of Yahweh was to make the universal reign of God local and visible in their whole structure of religious, social, economic and political life. They were to manifest in practical reality what it meant to live as well as sing, ‘the LORD reigns’.

Can there be any doubt that this statement should also be true of the church of God which has been grafted into Israel through Jesus Christ? Should not our goal be also to be the visible and local manifestation of God’s reign here on earth?

I would recommend this book to both pastors and church members. Wright’s style is easy to take in. He thoroughly explains larger theological terms. The book does not have footnotes that distract the common reader. I would use this book as the answer to someone’s desire to learn about how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament and more importantly, to Jesus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday is for Hymns

This week's devotion is the hymn titled most often as Majestic Sweetness Sits Entroned, but also found as To Christ the Lord Let Every Tongue. The hymn was written by Dr. Samuel Stennett, who also wrote On Jordan's Stormy Banks. The version found below has been slightly altered by Laura Taylor.

Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned

To Christ the Lord let every tongue, its noblest tribute bring
When He's the subject of the song, who can refuse to sing?
Survey the beauties of His face, and on His glories dwell
Think of the wonder of His grace, and all his triumphs tell.

Majestic sweetness sits enthroned, upon His awful brow
His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o'erflow
No mortal can with Him compare, among the sons of men
And fairer He than all the fair, that fills the Heavenly train.

He saw me plunged in deep distress, He fled to my relief
For me He bore the shameful cross, and carried all my grief
His hand a thousand blessings pours, upon my guilty head
His presence guilds my darkest hours, and guards my sleeping head.

To Him I owe my life and breath, and all the joys I have
He makes me triumph over death, and saves me from the grave
To heav'n the place of His abode, He brings my weary feet
Shows me the glories of my God, and makes my joy complete.

Since from his beauty I receive, such proofs of love divine
Had I a thousand hearts to give, Lord they should all be Thine
A thousand men could not compose, a worthy song to bring
Yet Your love is a melody, our hearts can't help but sing.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Red Mountain Music

Back in December, I made a post about Indelible Grace, a group of Christian artists who collaborate together to set new music to older hymns in a effort to make them more accessible to the younger generations. I also want to introduce you to another group of musicians who are doing the same thing. They hail from Birmingham, Alabama and many of them belong to the same church there called Red Mountain Church. You can find their music and information about them at

They currently have produced five albums: This Breaks My Heart of Stone, Help My Unbelief, The Gadsby Project, Heaven, and Depth of Mercy.

There will be some hymns of which you will be familiar like Pass Me Not, O Gentile Savior, There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, My Jesus, I Love Thee (all on Depth of Mercy album), but the great majority of hymns found on these albums will be unfamiliar. However, do not let this be an obstacle to purchasing the albums. These unfamiliar hymns will soon become some of your favorites.

You can preview and purchase the hymns online. Currently you can purchase the three most recent albums for $30. You can also find guitar chords and sheet music for their hymns here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Hymns as Devotionals

I have found that some of the best devotional books are hymnals. Starting this Tuesday, I will each week post a hymn each Tuesday that has particularly moved my soul. I probably will add no commentary as the words of the hymn will be sufficiently more enriching than anything I could possibly say. This week's hymn is titled Friend of Sinners, written by Augustus Toplady.

Friend of Sinners

Redeemer! Whither should I flee, or how escape the wrath to come?
The weary sinner flies to thee for shelter from impending doom;
Smile on me, gracious Lord, and show thyself the Friend of sinners now.

Beneath the shadow of thy cross the heavy laden soul finds rest;
I would esteem the world but dross, so I might be of Christ possessed.
I'd seek my every joy in thee, be thou both life and light to me.

Close to the highly shameful tree, Jesus, my humbled soul would cleave;
Despised and crucified with thee, with thee resolved to die and live;
This prayer and this ambition mine, living and dying to be thine.

There fastened to the rugged wood by holy love's resistless chain,
And life deriving from thy blood, never to wander wide again.
There may I bow my suppliant knee, and own no other Lord but thee.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Book Review: The Gospel & Personal Evangelism

Book Review: Dever, Mark. The Gospel & Personal Evangelism. Wheaton: Crossway, 2007. 124 pp, $9.99.

Mark Dever’s plan for biblical evangelism is summarized as “A God-given commission and method, a God-centered message, and a God-centered motive. We should all evangelize. Evangelism isn’t all those other things we considered; it is telling the good news about Jesus, and doing it with honesty, urgency, and joy, using the Bible, living a life that backs it up, and praying, and doing it all for the glory of God (p 107).

In seven chapters, Dever asks and answers seven crucial issues concerning the issue of evangelism:

Chapter 1 Why Don’t We Evangelize?
Chapter 2 What Is the Gospel?
Chapter 3 Who Should Evangelize?
Chapter 4 How Should We Evangelize?
Chapter 5 What Isn’t Evangelism?
Chapter 6 What Should We Do After We Evangelize?
Chapter 7 Why Should We Evangelize?

The most important chapter in the book is “What is the Gospel?” No issue rises above getting the gospel right for the Christian because the gospel is what makes us Christian. It is the message that God uses to forgive, reconcile, and redeem sinners. If the Gospel message itself is confused, evangelism will not take place and God will not be honored.

Dever tackles common modern misconceptions about the gospel. The gospel is not God saying we are okay (pp 32-35). The gospel is not a message that “God is love (pp 36-37).” The Gospel is not simply “Jesus wants to be our friend (pp 37-39).” The Gospel is not a message about right living (40-43). Dever writes, “One of the early stages of becoming a Christian is, I think, realizing that our problems aren’t fundamentally that we have messed up our own lives, or have simply failed to reach our full potential, but that we have sinned against God (p 35).”

Dever closes the chapter by presenting the gospel. “The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.”

Chapter 5, “What Isn’t Evangelism” complements nicely with chapter 2 because here Dever gives examples of how well-intentioned Christians fall short of evangelism. One of the most common ways I have seen this personally is in the giving of personal testimonies. Personal testimonies are often full with ways God has blessed, but far too often the gospel itself is never spoken. Jesus is often completely left out.

An additional confusion when it comes to evangelism is the lumping in of decisions made or not made after the presentation to a sinner. Many believe evangelism occurs when someone hears the gospel and embraces it. However, evangelism is simply sharing the gospel. Dever writes, “We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn’t converting people; it’s telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.”

A great strength of this book is its practicality. Chapters 1 and 4 are filled with helpful suggestions for how a Christian can evangelize more frequently and more faithfully. Particularly helpful was the author’s teaching on balancing honesty, urgency, and joy in presenting the gospel (pp 55-60). First, be honest about the cost of following Jesus Christ. Those who follow Jesus will live a cross-bearing life. Sins will need to be repented of and forsaken. Second, be urgent in your presentation of the gospel. No one knows the day or hour when Christ shall return therefore we should not harden our hearts to God’s gospel. We do not become coercive in our urgency, but we should plead with men for Christ’s sake. Third, we should infuse the joy of salvation into our gospel presentations. Talk much of the love of God. Talk about the joys of eternal life. Talk about the joys of being reconciled to our Creator God.

The book alone is worth the price for the great stories concerning evangelism. The opener about John Harper is truly remarkable. But perhaps the most encouraging is found on page 81 in the context of trusting in God for conversion.

“It took a long time for the conversion of Mr. Short. He was a New England farmer who lived to be one hundred years old. Sometime in the middle of the 1700’s he was sitting in his fields reflecting on his long life. As he did, “he recalled a sermon he had heard in Darmouth [England] as a boy before he sailed to America. The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ—eighty five years after hearing John Flavel preach.”

We thank Mark Dever for this helpful contribution concerning the oft neglected duty and privilege to evangelize sinners. Let us glorify God by being more faithful and diligent to tell others the greatest news ever.

"Jesus Christ is Precious"

The following story is taken from Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, by Kenneth W. Osbeck:

The story is told of this converted slave ship captain preaching one of his final sermons before his home-going at the age of 82. His eyesight was nearly gone and his memory had become faulty. It was necessary for an assistant to stand in the pulpit to help him with his sermon. One Sunday Newton had twice read the words, "Jesus Christ is Precious." "You have already said that twice," whispered his helper; "go on." "I said that twice, and I am going to say it again," replied Newton. Then the rafters rang as the old preacher shouted, "JESUS CHRIST IS PRECIOUS!"

Taken from the excerpt devoted to the Hymn, How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds, which Newton wrote (p 278).