C.H. Spurgeon kept Isaiah 48:10 on his bedroom wall, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” He wrote: It is no mean thing to be chosen by God. Better to be the elect of God than the elect of a whole nation. So eminent is this privilege, that whatever may be joined to it we very joyfully accept it even as the Jew ate the bitter herbs for the sake of the Pascal Lamb.
We are chosen as an afflicted people, and not as a prosperous people, chosen not in the palace but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed. If the furnace is heated seven times hotter, we will not dread it, for the glorious Son of God will walk amid the coals.
EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP COMPROMISE
The EFC is an association, purportedly, of evangelical churches to represent their common interests, especially in political circles. It makes representations to Ottawa to try and ensure that anti-Christian policies are defeated. Let it be said that this is a worthwhile work while we do recognize that to forge such an amalgam is often fraught with serious spiritual compromise.
One such case is the recent declaration on “Building Dialogue between Catholics and Evangelicals.” This dialogue, we are told, is “a joint initiative of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the EFC.” It recently released a new study guide “to help build a bridge between these two Christian traditions. It invites Catholics and Evangelicals to form fellowship groups.”
Evangelicals believe in the clear Christian doctrine of justification by faith alone in Jesus. Rome, on the other hand, believes in salvation by works. How these two can cooperate when they are poles apart doctrinally is beyond us. Especially when the Roman Catholic Church is embroiled in the current Residential Schools scandal where thousands of students lie in unmarked graves. Despite many calls for the Pope to formally apologize to the people involved, he steadfastly refuses to do so.
Consider also the recent revelation that since 1950 over 200,000 Roman Catholic priests in France have been engaged in sexual sins, especially with young boys. How can so-called evangelical followers of Jesus Christ associate with such an unholy alliance?
THE COVID PANDEMIC
It has been over a year and a half since the Covid pandemic struck, probably the worst catastrophe since the Genesis flood. There have been many serious plagues in history but they have been limited to some parts, even great areas. But this one is universal.
As of October 4, there have been 235 million cases worldwide. No part of the world has escaped the clutches of this awful disease. What a wave of woe has followed in its track as the death count has grown to a staggering 4.5 million souls. To help us put that figure into perspective think of the Toronto Skydome, or Rogers Center as it is now known. It can hold about 50,000 people; therefore it would take ninety fills of the Skydome to accommodate the world’s Covid dead! What an awful mountain of grief, sorrow, and tears.
As Christians, we must not let up on praying that the end will come soon. As the nations have struggled to contain it, the writer is not aware of any political or medical leader who has called their people to prayer, and the help of God. Thank God we who know Him, are assured that He is with us in every circumstance of life, pleasing or painful.
THE MINISTERS’ WEEK OF PRAYER
This year, because of the Covid situation we had to divide into two. The meetings were held in the Indianapolis church, while the Canadians, and others, attended by zoom.
Each day started with a Bible message, followed by an extended time of prayer. The speakers were the Revs. Ron Barnes (Indianapolis), Myron Mooney (Alabama), John Wagner (Greenville), Jason Boyle (Mexico City), and Derrick Bowman (Winston-Salem). It is marvellous how all the messages, without any collusion, dovetailed to encourage all.
On Tuesday to Thursday afternoons, the men met for the Presbytery sessions covering finances, missionaries, students, seminary and other business.
The Wednesday evening prayer meeting in the Indianapolis church was augmented by the presence of the ministers, missionaries and elders, as well as those who watched on Sermonaudio. The Rev. Armen Thomassian, the minister of Faith FPC in Greenville, brought a challenging and encouraging message.