The first service of Toronto Free Presbyterian Church was held on Sunday, July 4, 1976. It so happens that the 45th. Anniversary occurs on Sunday, July 4, 2021. We shall recollect (DV) some of those exciting days in the next two issues. We have much for which to praise the Lord.
COURAGE TO LIVE
A young soldier was home on leave before being sent to the battlefront. He spent some time visiting his grandfather, who was crippled with a painful disease. As they were both Christians, they spent much time in conversation about spiritual things. As he was about to leave, the young man asked his grandfather to pray for him that he might have the courage to die if he were required to do so. The old man looked up with eyes that revealed the terrible pain he was suffering and said, “I will, my boy, and please pray for me that I will have the courage to live.”
No one would deny it takes strength and courage to die, but often it takes greater courage to live and face the difficult circumstances and problems that confront us daily.
Some of the greatest of God’s saints in the Bible wanted to die rather than live because they were so crushed by the situations they were facing. Think of Moses, who was so overwhelmed by the burdens and problems of the nation of Israel that he prayed to the Lord to kill him [Numbers 11:14-15]. Elijah also prayed that God would take his life [1 Kings 19:4], and of course, Jonah can be added to the list.
We learn from the experience of these men of God that the problems and pressures of life are real, and that often it takes more grace and spirituality to face these situations in the strength of the Lord than it does to face death.
The Lord does not promise us an easy road to heaven, but He does guarantee, [2 Corinthians 12:9] “My strength is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” [Dr. Stanley Barnes in Eagles’ Wings]
Very few Christians, attempting to witness for Christ, or denounce the apostasy of the age, have not met the person who, self-righteously, tells them “Judge not” [Matthew 7:1]. The import of his argument is that he feels that the Christian has made a judgment regarding his lifestyle or his church. In order to deflect the heat, he appeals to one of the few Bible verses he knows that tells the believer, “Judge not.”
That thrust can usually be rebuffed by asking him to quote the rest of the verse. Invariably, he is unable to remember it also says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.”
The Christian makes his judgment based not on his own intellectual opinion but on the Word of God. He is likewise judged by the very same word.
However, the fact that Jesus issued this command in the sermon on the mount teaches us there is an improper judgment as well as a correct one. Christians need to know the difference.
WHAT GOD SAYS
“They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments.” [Ezekiel 44:23 & 24].
THE WHOLE TRUTH
Ephesus was a place of exciting memories for the apostle Paul, a city where much Gospel fruit was gathered, with many Ephesians coming to Christ. It was also a place where he encountered much opposition, especially when the idolatrous silversmiths saw their profits endangered. It was therefore understandable that Paul wanted to meet the elders from Ephesus, however briefly, when returning to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey. It was a short joyful reunion, but a sad parting when he said farewell to them for the last time [Acts 20]. He reminded them he preached to them “All the counsel of God.”
In our Bible reading we, too, must pay heed to “all the counsel of God.” Some Christians will return to their favourite portions of Scripture to the exclusion of the rest. That is one reason it is good to read the Bible from beginning to end, including the difficult and the easier.
The whole Bible is like a great orchestra, where all the instruments produce a beautiful, balanced harmony. To play just a few to the exclusion of the rest is likely to lead to an unbalanced disharmony. To focus on just a few favourite passages is likely to produce an unbalanced Christian life. Read, meditate upon, and obey, “All the counsel of God.”