Forty Good Soldiers for Christ!

clip_image002This article was first published in the April 2007 Christian Report. It describes a tale of 40 Christian martyrs from the 4th Century, as well as a group of more modern warriors for Christ.

Sebaste, Cappadocia (now Sivas in Turkey) – March, 320 A.D.

Roman Emperor Valerius Licinius had already ordered that all Christians in Cappadocia abandon their faith and worship pagan gods, including every member of the famous “Thundering” 12th Legion, whose record in combat was unparalleled in the annals of the Imperial Army! Forty soldiers of the Legion however, refused to recant their faith, declaring before a military tribunal (court-martial) that they would devote their love to God and only God!

Agricolas, Captain of the Legion ad the local pagan governor, would not humor this obstinacy. When imprisonment of the whole stubborn company could not break them, he decided on a novel sort of pressure.

It was a bitterly cold March and the pond outside the city was frozen over. The governor, therefore, ordered that the 40 be herded out to the center of the lake stark naked and allowed to rethink their decision. Meanwhile, he set up on the shore statues of the gods to be worshipped, a nice fire, and a pleasant warm bath. He hoped that the offer of warmth might change the minds of the freezing men and induce them to apostatize. But the prisoners retained their solidarity. Together they prayed, “Lord, we are 40 who are engaged in this conflict; grant that we may not fall short of that sacred number.”

During the three days of their lethal exposure, only one of the group gave up, stumbled towards the shore and sought the comfort of one of the hot baths provided for any who would recant their faith. The same hot bath that rewarded his apostasy also brought about his death. Ironically, the sudden heat was too much after the long chill, and he died of shock.

Although the soldier-victims were saddened by this defection, their prayer was heard. Aglaios, a jailer watching the horrifying spectacle of the freezing soldiers had heard their shouts of “40 soldiers for Christ!” when they first headed out across the frozen lake, and now heard a fainter shout, ‘Thirty-nine soldiers for Christ!”

What happened in the heart of the jailer Aglaios at that moment, only he and God will ever know. He wrenched off his own armor and girdle, and dashed to the edge of the lake. There, after lifting his right hand and crying, “Forty good soldiers for Christ!” he disappeared over the ice and into the darkness.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. . . .

Colorado Springs, CO – 1 March 2007

A small group of soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group gathered at Red Rock Canyon in Colorado Springs for a ‘spiritual fitness’ run and induction of Christian warriors into ‘The Order of the Cappadocian Martyrs,’ led by 10th Group Chaplains Darren Chester and Terry McBride.

It was a cold, windy, and icy morning after a late snowfall from the previous afternoon and evening left a few inches of new snow on the ground and a lot of dangerous ice on streets and roadways. While such conditions sometimes cause outdoor physical fitness training to be cancelled, there would be no change of plans on this morning! The announcement of, and invitation to the event had stated, in part:

“Note: Weather will not affect this run. If you can get there, we will run. Yes, it will be cold. That is the point. The martyrs for whom this order is named froze to death naked on a pond in the course of 3 days. If they can do that for Jesus, surely we can stand an hour or so in the cold.”

The event was scheduled to begin at 0630 sharp. The rendezvous point was a snow-covered public parking lot just off of highway 24, heading west out of the city proper. As soldiers arrived, they remained in their vehicles rather than stand in the biting wind any earlier than necessary. At the appointed time, they gathered around the map of the canyon at the edge of the parking lot for the route briefing given by Chaplain Chester. After the briefing, they headed into the small canyon, along a trail that gradually climbed in altitude for nearly a mile. After winding their way through the canyon for 2-1/2 miles, they gathered at the end of the run at another spot in the canyon, a flat open area near a small frozen pond.

Chaplain Chester spoke to the group, relating the story of the 40 martyrs from Sebaste who died on a frozen lake so long ago, not only refusing to recant their faith, but proclaiming their faith to the cold bitter end! The men were encouraged to stand firm no matter what they faced in this life, especially the persecution that all believers face at times when they live righteously before God and in an unbelieving world.

Each member of the group was given a patch symbolizing the martyrs of the “Thundering” XII Legion, Special Forces warriors of today, and emblazoned with a golden Cross of Christ against the canopy of a deployed parachute, a Green Beret, and the crossed arrows. Each man also received a small card on which was printed the following oath of allegiance:

“I am a Soldier for the Lord Jesus Christ. I am prepared to speak any word, do any deed, and go anywhere As He leads Me. His will is my mission. When the enemy attacks I will Stand firm. When tempted I will persevere. When persecuted I will not forsake my Lord. I will do good to those who hate me, I will bless those who curse me, I will pray for those who mistreat me. Though pressured I am not crushed. Though perplexed I am not in despair. Though persecuted I am not abandoned.. Though struck down I am not destroyed. I will always carry the death of Jesus in my body, that the life of Jesus may be revealed in my body.”

One can only imagine what the response of the mighty host of heaven was when the sound of earthly warriors’ voices joined as one in allegiance to the Lord of Hosts and filled the air of a small canyon on a cold windy morning!

The short ceremony concluded with the men in a circle, arms around each other’s shoulders and heads bowed as Chaplain McBride closed in prayer. Certainly this was an event to be followed by more similar occasions, as more warriors of the 10th Special Forces Group step forward in faith and join this ‘Band of Brothers!’

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This article first appeared in the Christian Military Fellowship June 2021 Christian Report. which can be located and downloaded here.  The Christian Report is one of the many resources available from Christian Military Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to  helping Christians serving in the Armed Forces  grow in their faith and become “Gospel Ambassadors” in uniform.

Are WE Tilting at Windmills?

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If you don’t know, the phrase ‘tilting at windmills’ comes from a 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes titled “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”, or just “Don Quixote”. Don Quixote was a middle-aged Spanish nobleman, who imagined himself a Knight of the Spanish realm who embarked on a number of adventurous crusades against windmills that dotted the landscape of southern Spain that he sincerely believed were enemy giants with huge arms! The “tilting” refers to what we would more commonly call “jousting”. Armed with his lance, clad in an old suit of armor, and accompanied by a neighboring farmer (turned squire) named Sancho, the Man of La Mancha set off in defense of the realm.

During one of their exploits, they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills in their path. No sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

Even though Sancho tried to explain that they were just windmills and the huge “arms” were only sails in the wind, the Don lowered his lance and attacked, with disastrous results when the tip of his lance was caught up by a windmill blade!

To this day, the phrase “tilting at windmills” has been used to describe “confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Another phrase, “chasing windmills” has the same roots and mean pursuing something with an “open heart”, which was certainly true about Don Quixote. He really believed he was engaged in a noble crusade!

So what does all of that have to do with the question “Are WE tilting at windmills?”

Thanks for asking!

Well, a few days ago a simple question popped up on Facebook:

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Hence, thoughts of Don Quixote for us old folks, as well as no small amount of serious consideration. Can a seriously fractured America be restored apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think not, and let me tell you why. If we who profess Christ honestly ask ourselves WHY our nation is so fractured right now, and if we know our Bibles, the answer is simple. SIN is the root cause of all that ails America, as well as every other nation on Earth. What began in Eden with a single act of disobedience has endured until now and will continue until Jesus returns to pass judgment. Consequently, if SIN is the root cause, a solution to the sin problem will bring healing. Throughout the history of mankind, men have tried to deal with all sorts of evil perpetrated by the human beings that inhabit our planet. Good and moral governments have passed legislation to punish evil and wrongdoing for the betterment of civil society. Programs of all kinds have been instituted to reform all sorts of harmful behavior patterns. I’m sure you get the picture. I’m also sure you recognize that nearly all of the human solutions to human problems are external at best. We can only hope that they will take root in our hearts and result in lasting change for our good and the good of our society. And therein lies the problem.

The root cause of society’s ills is SIN, and sin is a problem internal to every human born after the Fall of Adam. Therefore, any lasting solution must also be an internal one. It means we need new hearts, new motives, new natures. As scripture tells us, we need to be reborn (See John, Chapter 3 and Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus).

Do you see where this is going? Internal problems need internal solutions? The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers that internal solution? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY solution? Exactly.

So about those windmills. . .

Every single day we are told what we need to “do” to fight this or that (name the topic) societal ill by getting involved. We need to write our representatives in Congress, sign petitions, donate money, support podcasts, or to just ‘stand up and fight’ those who are wreaking havoc across the land. Let me be clear – I am not saying we should not be engaged with, or support external efforts to right wrongs. God ordained governmental systems to fight and control evil. By all means get involved in supporting external efforts to right the wrongs in our society and in our nation. Pray for leaders at all levels of civil government. Pray that God would change the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1)! However, if we want to see lasting change in our society and culture, the only real solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ invading the hearts of men.

It’s also quite possible that many of the conservatives who are unafraid to do battle against evil in our culture and society know that the core issue is an internal one, but for whatever reason, many of them just stick to much needed external solutions. I am not criticizing them for doing so. It’s just the way it is. To be fair I admit that there are a few who mention the need for God, while stopping short of talking about Christ’s death for our sins. One popular young conservative has even told his college age audiences that the first thing they need to do is “give their hearts to Jesus”! While that sounds great and noble, when we search scripture for that admonition will we find it? (Just a question, not an indictment.)

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In the novel, Don Quixote’s neighbor turned squire, Sancho Panza, tried to explain to our hero that the giants with huge arms were really just windmills and sails and not real enemies, but to no avail. In like manner, trying to correct the ‘windmill chasers’ in our midst might meet with failure.

That’s where we who confess Christ, who know the gospel message, and are willing to be used of God to share the good news with a lost world, enter “stage right”. We can be the standard bearers and ambassadors who can offer the internal remedy to the internal problem that plagues every one of us; our sinful nature. We can be the Paul Harveys who share “the rest of the story”, (Some of you will get that.) And who knows, maybe that’s what God intended for us all along!

“How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? 15 And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” (Romans 10:14-15)

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This article first appeared in the Christian Military Fellowship June 2021 Christian Report. which can be located and downloaded hereThe Christian Report is one of the many resources available from Christian Military Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to  helping Christians serving in the Armed Forces  grow in their faith and become “Gospel Ambassadors” in uniform.

Why you should (and probably already do) believe in limited atonement

By Robin Schumacher, Exclusive Columnist

When it comes to which of the five points of Calvinism that irk non-reformed Christians the most, my money is on limited atonement. The doctrine of limited atonement teaches that Christ’s redeeming work on the cross secured an actual salvation for only the elect of God.

If this causes you to grind your teeth in irritation, stop. I’m going to show you why you probably already believe in limited atonement and then provide what I believe to be the definitive argument that puts the issue to bed once and for all.

Welcome to the club

Unless you’re a universalist, you already believe in limited atonement. That’s right – if not everyone is saved, then the atonement has to be “limited”.

How is it limited? It is limited to believers only: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Technically, this is called limited in extent, meaning limited in who it applies to. Christ’s death saves every person that it meant to save and doesn’t make salvation a mere possibility, which would be limited in effect.

So, as I said, you likely already believe in limited atonement in general without knowing it. Charles Spurgeon puts it like this: “[They] say Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by that. Did Christ die to secure the salvation of all men? They say no, certainly not…Did Christ die to secure the salvation of any one person in particular? They say no, Christ has died that any man may be saved if … and then follow certain conditions of salvation.” 

The knockout punch

John Owen wrote what is perhaps the most definitive work on Christ’s atonement in “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”. In that book, Owen delivers what I believe is the knockout punch to anyone who opposes limited atonement. Let me quote his argument in full and then let’s work through it a little at a time:

“God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved . . . If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’ But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will”.

The Options

“God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men.

Owen says we have three options: either Jesus died on the cross for (1) all the sins of everyone; (2) all the sins of a particular group of people; (3) some of the sins of everyone.  He then proceeds to work through those possibilities.

Option 3 – out

If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved.

Working backwards, Owen quickly jettisons the third option because, if everyone still has some sins that have not been atoned for, no one will spend eternity with God. Impossible to disagree with, wouldn’t you say?

Option 2 – limited atonement

If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world.

The second option Owen presents is limited atonement – that Jesus only died for God’s chosen people and took upon Himself all their sins. Such a position ensures an actual salvation for that group of people because all their sins were placed on Christ at the cross and they have nothing left for which to atone.

The start of option 1 – a good question

If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?

Option 1 is what many Christians believe – that Jesus took upon Himself, at the cross, all the sins of everyone who ever lived or will live. But Owen asks a good question: if that’s the case, then why isn’t everyone saved?

Outside of universalism, no one believes all will be saved and this includes those not upholding the reformed doctrine of limited atonement. And it is these people that Owen addresses next.

Is Unbelief a Sin?

You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’

The ever-famous John 3:16, which I’ve already quoted, limits the atonement to only those who believe – a point that showcases the truth that all Christians really believe in limited atonement in one form or another. But then Owen asks an important follow up question:

But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not?

This inquiry marks the beginning of the end for anyone who attempts to deny the doctrine of limited atonement. The answer, of course, is yes. Paul flatly says, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The writer of Hebrews, describing faithless Israel, also says, “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).

But Owen works through the possibilities, nonetheless.

If not, why should they be punished for it?

If unbelief is not a sin, Owen says then there is no reason for it to bar anyone from God’s presence.

If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not.

If unbelief is a sin (and we have seen that it is), then it was either one of the sins that Christ died for, or it was not. So, either unbelieving people still have something for which to answer to God or they don’t.

If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death?

This logical conclusion is the deathblow for anyone claiming that Christ died for all the sins of everyone, but that unbelief keeps a person from eternal life. Owen says if unbelief is a sin, and if Christ died for ALL the sins of everyone born of human parents, then that sin must be included in the mix and labeled as one for which Christ died. Unbelief, as a sin, could not keep anyone from spending eternal life with God more than any other sin for which Jesus paid.

If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins.

If someone wants to say that Christ did not die for a person’s unbelief, and unbelief is a sin, then Jesus did not die for all his or her sins. Thus, a person cannot make the claim that Jesus died for all the sins of the world (with “world” being defined as every human being ever born).

Let them choose which part they will.

This is polite 17th century language for saying, “Checkmate”.

Owen convincingly shows that options 1 and 3 are untenable, with the only option remaining being the doctrine of limited atonement.

Not fair?

In his book entitled, The Nature of the Atonement, John McLeod Campbell explains how the only alternative becomes one where Christ’s atonement is limited. Recounting the just-covered John Owen’s summary of the case, Campbell concludes, “As addressed to those who agree with him as to the nature of the atonement, while differing with him as to the extent of its reference, this seems unanswerable.”

I agree.

Any scripture plucking[1] or other arguments fall short of undercutting the biblical logic behind limited atonement. Truth be told, most attempts are emotional in nature and boil down to a “not fair” contention.

But here’s the thing: as Christians, we often quote Is. 55:18, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” and we rest in it until it comes to matters like this. Then we expect God’s ways to be our ways.

But Proverbs 50:21 says simply, “You thought that I was just like you”, meaning He’s not just like us. Whatever superficial feelings we have about God’s plan of salvation being not fair are misplaced.   

Dr. James White speaks to the simplicity and beauty of Christ’s atonement when he says, “In its simplest terms the Reformed belief is this: Christ’s death saves sinners. It does not make the salvation of sinners a mere possibility. It does not provide a theoretical atonement … Christ’s death saves every single person that it was intended to save.”

I’m good with that. Are you?

[1] E.g., 1 John 2:2; John 12:32; 2 Pet. 2:1 by themselves and not viewed within the whole of Scripture.  

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master’s in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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Online Source

Christian Military Fellowship May 2021 Newsletter

If you are reading this, you might already know that I have been connected to the Christian Military Fellowship for quite a long time. Below is a link to the CMF Web Page, which is also located on the right side of The Battle Cry  Home Page

CMF has a simple mission, “To Win, To Disciple, To Equip to Win” men and women serving in the  military, so that can become ambassadors for Christ in uniform. If you have served in the military or know someone who has, please share this post.

One of my roles with CMF is as the editor and a writer for our monthly Newsletter, The Christian Report.  A friend (Thanks, Jim!) suggested I post our newsletter to The Battle Cry.

Here is a link to the May 2021 CMF Newsletter. I would have embedded it in this post, however WordPress wants me to upgrade to the WP Business edition.

In His Service,

Dan C.

What to Do with Evil News

by Dan Crabtree,The Cripplegate

The Puritan Thomas Watson said during the morning exercises at the Cripplegate, “John the Baptist’s head on a platter is a common dish nowadays.”

“Nowadays” was the embattled era of the English Civil War, but it could just as well be today or any other day. Church history records more dark years than halcyon days. Persecution, slander, and mistreatment has always been par for the Christian course. Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33), and he meant it. Heads are still on the menu.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you’ve been on your phone or computer scrolling through all kinds of articles and videos. I don’t know your Internet habits, but here we are. So, what did you see while you were scrolling? Mostly good news? Encouragement? Rejoicing in the happy providences of God?

Or did you see another exposé on a disgraced evangelical leader? Or news about another church service turned into a shooting gallery? Or a catalogue of another church that’s left the Bible far behind? (And those were just the Christian sites.)

Brothers and sisters, we are surrounded with bad news about the evil that permeates this world. Given the dominance of Satan’s handiwork in the headlines, it would be so easy to despair. To get angry. To embitter. To whip someone online with a fresh one-liner because you’ve just had enough.

But King David has a better way for us. In his waning years, David penned Psalm 37 to help his people sing even when “the wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him” (Ps 37:12). And his wisdom can teach us how to respond rightly to all kinds of wickedness in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or even on our screens.

  1. Don’t worry about evil news.

David’s psalm begins, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” Meaning, don’t get worked up about the existence of evil on this earth. You know this is part of post-Fall life, so expect it and don’t get wrecked by it. Don’t let it make you angry, don’t let it provoke you, don’t let it cause you to despair, and don’t get consumed by it. David makes this even clearer in verse 8 when he says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” David is saying, “Don’t let evil make you evil!” Instead, “Turn away from evil and do good” (v. 27). Responding to evil in-kind accomplishes nothing of lasting worth, so instead meet fire with a cool glass of water and so “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

As a pastor, it’s heartbreaking to see the sheep under your care drowning in despair from the 6 o’clock news. As a sheep myself, I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by it all, too. But David exhorts us to swim against the current, to keep our heads above water, to not become emotionally engulfed by the actions of evil men and women and the pain they inflict on others. Sinners will sin. That reality must not own us.

Practically, avoiding anxiety about current events may look like ingesting less evil news. You might delete a news app, put the phone away at home, check the news less often, or maybe even take a break from seeking out any digital source of news altogether. Here’s a baseline principle – if it’s causing you to sin more, then don’t do it. Jesus said something about plucking out eyes, right? Our newsfeeds may also need some plucking. Only allow it into your brain if you can respond to it in a godly way. That means don’t worry.

  1. Enjoy Jesus despite evil news.

Most people are familiar with Psalm 37 because of verse 4 which reads, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This is not some magic prosperity formula (sorry Joel Osteen) but a diagnostic about the primary temptation that evil news contains. The worst effect that the sin of other people can have in your life is to steal your joy in Jesus. Seriously. They can kill you, but that’s gain for the Christian (Phil 1:21). They can take your stuff, but that will only make you rely more on God (2 Cor 1:9; Heb 10:34). They could even say horrendous things on the Internet, but not one letter of it can alter your eternal inheritance in Christ!

It might sound like a Christian cop-out to say, “When the world is burning, rejoice in Christ!” but that’s what David says. And Paul says it too: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Why do these godly men Jesus-juke in the face of untold wickedness? Because when we delight ourselves in the Lord, “he will give you the desires of your heart.” That is, when our hearts on set on treasuring Jesus, then we get Jesus. And whatever else we get; we get more of Jesus. This verse doesn’t turn God into a vending machine for material blessing but reminds us that God is the fountain of all good things (James 1:17). When we come to him to be satisfied, he always gives us more of him, and we’re always satisfied in him with whatever he hands us. That’s Paul’s secret to contentment, even in the face of radical, horrific evils (Phil 4:13). And it ought to be ours, too.

For me, this means that the headlines become my prayer line. When I hear about another church bombing or insurgent attack or celebrated sin, I throw my eyes upward, cry out for mercy, and find the ear of the God of all comfort. My sadness turns to worship when I take it to the Lord in prayer. And worship is what my heart most delights in because I was made to praise Jesus.

  1. Trust God with evil news.

You probably saw this one coming. When things are bad, God’s in control, etc. Amen and amen. But David’s logic in this psalm gets more specific than that. The reason that you should trust God with evil news is that God will judge all of it.

God’s just condemnation of evil takes up the bulk of this psalm and makes up David’s main argument. Why shouldn’t you be envious of evildoers? “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (v. 2). Why should you lay every thought and plan at the foot of God’s throne? Because “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday” (v. 6). “Evildoers shall be cut off…” (v. 9), “in just a little while, the wicked will be no more…” (v. 10), and “the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming” (v. 13). Over and over again throughout this psalm, David contrasts the fate of the evil with the righteous. Though “transgressors shall be altogether destroyed” (v. 38), “the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh, he is their stronghold in the time of trouble” (v. 39).

That means I don’t have to settle accounts because God will! I can “leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). My part is not to bring final judgment but to trust the perfect Judge. He’ll deal with all evil either on the cross or in the lake of fire, so I can rest in his righteous accounting.

And fellow believer, do not doubt that God is an exacting accountant. He will bring every wicked act in the nightly news before the bar of his holy wrath and pronounce the sentence it deserves. Evil may carry the day, but it will not carry that day. A time is coming soon when there will be no more evil news but only the good news of the gospel and God’s saving work will remain.

Trust God until then. Darkness may have its hour. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11). But it’s only an hour. “They will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5). Evil news, as David says, will pass away like smoke and then righteousness will reign for eternity. And so will we (Rev 22:5).

So, it may be worthwhile to cut the cable, put down the phone, and replace the dreary headlines with Scripture memory and sermons and fellowship. I know it’s helped me. It certainly will be worthwhile to press on to make Christ your own in prayer and Bible study, as it always will. But whatever evil news you encounter, believer, trust in the invisible hand of Providence behind it, guiding every morning and evening to the dawn of an eternal day. “Trust in him, and he will act” (v. 5).

Source: What to do with evil news | The Cripplegate

William Wirt and the Blind Preacher – Archibald Alexander

The power of religion, in promoting happiness in this life and in disarming death of its terror, has seldom been more beautifully illustrated than in the example of William Wirt, Attorney General of the United States. When a young man, just commencing his professional career, he was distinguished for his genius, his eloquence, his fascinating powers of conversation, and his polished manners. In every circle his society was courted. Fond of pleasure, and the center of attraction of every convivial(1) party, he was living for the joys of this short life, and was in great danger of being ingulfed in that vortex of worldliness and fashion where so many thousands have perished.

While thus living, as he was on one of his professional circuits as a lawyer, he passed a Sabbath where the celebrated blind preacher of Virginia, Rev. James Waddell, was to preach. Mr. Wirt having no other way to pass the Sabbath, entered the humble church with the congregation. He has himself described, in his own forcible language, the scene which ensued. The primitive simplicity of the preacher, the subdued pathos (2) of his tones, his unaffected (3) piety and fervid eloquence, all combined, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, to touch the heart of Wirt. He felt the emptiness of his own joys, and the unprofitableness of his own life. He reflected and wept and prayed. “God be merciful to me a sinner”, which became, for many days and nights, the anxious supplication of his soul. Forsaking his thoughtless companions and his dangerous habits of gayety, he commenced a new life of Christian usefulness. True peace visited his heart, and his benignant (4)countenance proclaimed that he had sought happiness and found it, where alone happiness can be found. He became the advocate of Christian missions, and to every object of philanthropy he consecrated the energies of his noble mind.

Though necessarily called to move in the highest circles of opulence and intellect, and to encounter the temptations with which those circles are ever filled, he humbly, yet fearlessly sustained his character as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and gave his commanding influence, unreservedly and constantly, for the promotion of piety. Revered by the community, and loved almost to devotion by a wide circle of friends, he spent his days in doing good. And when the dying hour came, hope and joy beamed from his eye, brilliant with almost celestial vision, as the glories of his heavenly home were unfolded to his view. His body has long ago mingled with the dust, and his spirit has long dwelt, we trust, with the God who gave it.

Such are the effects of religion. Infidelity can show no such triumphs. Who will not utter the prayer, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his?”

(1) friendly, lively, and enjoyable

(2) evoking pity or sadness

(3) without artificiality or insincerity

(4)kindly and benevolent

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The story you just read is the true account of how God brought William Wirt to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, published in a collection of articles by Presbyterian theologian and Princeton Seminary professor Archibald Alexander (April 1772 – October 1851). The blind preacher, Rev. James Waddel was the first Presbyterian Minister in the Northern neck of Virginia. He was known as the “blind preacher Waddell” because he had periods of blindness.

Footnotes notwithstanding, it’s a wonderful account of one man’s salvation. We are told of Mr. Wirt’s character and life situation leading up to a Sunday when he “happened” to walk into a church and listen to a renowned and talented preacher. While he was attracted to the preaching (he was a lawyer), the Holy Spirit opened his heart to hear and receive the gospel message (the Lydia principle in Acts 16?). He was shaken to the core with the realization of his own sinfulness and prayed the simplest of prayers, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. He found a true peace and happiness he had never before known. As a result, his entire life was changed forever!

Dear reader, what’s your story? How did god save you? What happened on your way to the cross?

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For the Times They are A-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was right in 1964, when he wrote that song, and he’s still right. In fact, the times are always changing, for better or worse. In 2021, we live in an especially ‘interesting’ time of change in our nation. It seems that academia (all levels), modern culture, and institutions are wholeheartedly embracing ideologies and policies contrary to their essential purposes in providing goods, services, and entertainment. Some of these ideologies and policies are contrary to a Christian worldview and blatantly oppose Divine moral law and support that which God terms “abomination”. Those who stand against the tide are losing friends, their reputations, their livelihoods, and much more. We live in what’s called a “cancel culture.” I’m certain, that if it were possible, those who try to “cancel” everything and everyone opposing them would also try and cancel God.

Furthermore, every facet and level of our society is being impacted by the ever-increasing moral decay and lawlessness we see all around us. Legislation, rules, regulations, and policies have been written to ‘engourage’ us to ‘behave’. Unbelievers and nonconformists will be persecuted and/or punished! That includes everyone, no matter what their function in society, their religious persuasion, their age, and anything else you can think of.

How do we, as Christians, respond to our ‘anti-God’ culture? That’s our challenge.

On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. The world’s operating system has always been at odds with Christianity and Christians have always been under pressure to conform to the world’s ungodly standards. Jesus even told his closest followers:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

What appears to be a rather recent development however, is the speed and manner in which we are being brought into submission to what seems like a “new world order”, as evidenced by all of the legislation, regulations, rules (corporate, institutional, and social) being enacted to cause us to conform.

So, how are we to respond? I can think of a few principles that will help us in that regard.

First, remember the source of our strength to combat evil, our battle ‘dress’, and the ‘situation’ on the battlefield:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10 – 12)

As believers, with whom are we to be engaged in battle? Are we to be contesting with men, or with the spiritual forces behind their machinations? What’s the Christian’s end game?

Secondly, remember the purpose of our wearing the whole armor of God, and the ultimate goal of our warfare.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Eph 6:13)

We are to “stand our ground” and live out our Biblical principles in an increasingly hostile environment. We can also lovingly, gently, and with respect, present the Christian worldview to whomever provides us an opportunity, and in whatever format that presents itself.

Finally, remember our primary mission for this life. In a parable at the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jericho, Jesus said:

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’’’ (Luke 19:12 – 13)

The nobleman in the parable gave money to his servants and told them “Do business till I come.” I love that phrase! I don’t know about you, but it excites me! In our case, Jesus is the nobleman in the far country (planet Earth) and we are his servants. So what is the “business” of Jesus?

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

No matter what our main occupation or situation in life might be, we are to be about the business of the gospel, proclaiming it and making disciples. We are to be about ‘investing’ the gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We should be continuously growing in our own knowledge of God and His Son, sitting under sound Biblical teaching, and at the same time pointing the lost around us to the Cross of Christ and helping other believers grow in their faith.

Sharing the Gospel message in a lost and dying world is the greatest privilege God has bestowed upon his children!

Let’s “do business” until He returns, as we pray “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Lessons from a Blind Man

It’s a familiar story found in John, Chapter 9. It was a Sabbath Day in Jerusalem.  Jesus and his disciples were walking the city streets when Jesus noticed a Jewish beggar who had been blind from birth, which set off an interesting chain of events.

Relying on Jewish tradition, the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus told them that no one’s sin caused the blindness and that the poor man was blind so that the works of God could be made manifest.

Jesus healed the man’s blind eyes by anointing them with mud and spit and telling him to go and wash in the nearby Pool of Siloam. The begger went, washed, and returned with his sight completely restored!  Neighbors and others who knew the man were divided as to whether this was the blind beggar, or just someone who looked like him.  When they asked him how he received his sight he simply told him the story of what had happened.

The man was hauled off to the Pharisees in the synagogue (it being the Sabbath and all), where he received the third degree from the religious leaders who were conflicted about the matter.  Some said the man who had healed the blind man had violated the Sabbath while others were puzzled how such an obvious ‘sinner’ could have performed such a miracle!  After all, working on the Sabbath was a sin and therefore, the man who had performed the healing had to be a sinner. They asked the blind man what he thought about the man who healed him and he answered “He is a prophet.” 

The angry and still-confused Pharisees had the man’s parents brought in and asked them if the formerly-blind man was their son. They admitted that he was, but were too scared to admit to a possible miracle and played the “We know nothing, ask him!” card like Sgt Schultz (Hogan’s Heroes).  So the Pharisees questioned him again, reminding him that Jesus was a ‘sinner’ (sinners don’t go around healing people) and asking him how his eyes were really opened. 

Then came the classic response, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know.  One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

That was the last straw, and the man was angrily ejected from the synagogue (excommunicated), the worst thing that can happen to a practicing Jew!  What happened next was the most wonderful and astonishing climax to a long day:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.” (John 9:36 – 38)

What can we learn from the events of that long ago Sabbath Day?  Trust me, there is much we can, and have learned through the years.  But as Alistair Begg commented in a sermon about the events that day, “Not only do we have here an illustration (the blind beggar) of saving faith, and not only do we have here the impact of saving faith in a life in that he worships, we have an example of what we may do endeavoring to lead men and women to faith in Jesus.” (From the sermon “Lord I Believe” & the Sermon Series “A Light in the Darkness” John 9:38 (Aug 27,2006))

In the sermon, Alistair then tips his hat to Charles Spurgeon, who outlined the principles Jesus used in the healing of a blind Jewish beggar (From the sermon “A Pressed Man Yielding to Christ”, delivered October 12th, 1882 at The Metropolitan Tabernacle Evening Service):

1. “If you have a choice as to those to whom you go, seek out the oppressed.”  Yes, we are commanded to go, “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”; but if we are able to pay particular attention to some more than others, “seek out the sick, the sad, the weary, the poor, the broken-down ones, and especially such as have been put out of the synagogue.”  Out of all the busy people in the streets Jesus noticed and singled out the blind beggar, first to bring healing and later to identify himself as the Son of God.  The hurting and disenfranchised are “likely soil for the good seed of the kingdom to grow in, and bring forth fruit. Those whom nobody else wants, and nobody else will have, our blessed Lord and Master delights to receive.”

2. “Next, when you come to close quarters with them as Christ did, ask them questions.”  Jesus asked the blind beggar, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  It was a very pointed and personal question.  As Spurgeon put it, the preacher in the pulpit can “fire the gospel gun, and the shot flies where God directs it;” but the person in the pew (you) who loves the Lord, can, as it were, “hold a pistol close to the sinner’s head.”  You can deal with the lost and hurting on a personal level, one by one, and call them to respond directly to a direct and very personal question.  When the time is right, ask just like Jesus asked, “Do you believe?”  That is the way to win souls, begin with a personal question.

3. “Next, be ready to answer enquiries.”  This is what Jesus did when he revealed himself to this man.  When Jesus asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  the man answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord, I believe.” When you are asked a question tell them everything you know in answer to the question, and if can’t tell them everything they want to know, take them to someone who is more advanced in spiritual matters, so that with prayer, patience and loving instruction,  they can be lead to Christ.

4. “Next, pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal himself to them, for that is the way faith comes.  We cannot speak of Christ as He should be spoken of; but, when He reveals himself, then the sinners see him.”  All of the mere words we speak in leading someone to Christ will be fruitless unless accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit himself working in the heart of the hearer. “All the portraits of a beauty never touch the heart like one glance from her eyes; and all the portraits of Christ, that ever were painted by his most admiring disciples, never make such an impression on the heart of man as when once he says, as he said to this man, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  None but Christ himself can preach Christ to the full. He must reveal himself, or the Spirit must reveal him, or else men do not see him.”

5.  Finally, glorify Christ by your personal testimony.”  Remember Jesus’ high priestly prayer, in which he said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,” meaning the word of his disciples through all the ages of history.  Even though it is the word of Christ we speak, when it comes from deep in our own hearts, from our own experience, it is also our word bringing salvation to the lost and dying.

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The above article was first published in the Christian Military Fellowship April 2021 Newsletter, downloadable here.