From the Pastor's study
July 24, 2020
While they were not perfect, and understanding that there are some differences between conditions then and now (such as that political office or involvement then entailed idolatries the vast majority of the time), what might Christians today learn from the example of Christians living under the Roman Empire and Emperor in the early centuries of Christianity (from the birth of Christ to about 313 A.D. or so) regarding how they related to the State (Imperial Rome, which at that time, was not in favor of Christianity)?
Here’s a quote to ponder from Philipp Schaff’s Book, The History of the Christian Church. (In this time of uprisings, note especially the last three sentences about how Christians, who knew a whole lot about persecution and unjust oppression from the state, responded.)
“But in general the Christians of those days, with their lively sense of foreignness to this world, and their longing for the heavenly home, or the millennial reign of Christ, were averse to high office in a heathen state. Tertullian expressly says, that nothing was more alien to them than politics. Their conscience required them to abstain scrupulously from all idolatrous usages, sacrifices, libations, and flatteries connected with public offices; and this requisition must have come into frequent collision with their duties to the state, so long as the state remained heathen. They honored the emperor as appointed to earthly government by God, and as standing nearest of all men to Him in power; and they paid their taxes, as Justin Martyr expressly states, with exemplary faithfulness. But their obedience ceased whenever the emperor, as he frequently did, demanded of them idolatrous acts…
The comparative indifference and partial aversion of the Christians to the affairs of the state, to civil legislation and administration exposed them to the frequent reproach and contempt of the heathens. Their want of patriotism was partly the result of their superior devotion to the church as their country, partly of their situation in a hostile world. It must not be attributed to an “indolent or criminal disregard for the public welfare” (as Gibbon intimates), but chiefly to their just abhorrence of the innumerable idolatrous rites connected with the public and private life of the heathens. While they refused to incur the guilt of idolatry, they fervently and regularly prayed for the emperor and the state, their enemies and persecutors. They were the most peaceful subjects, and during this long period of almost constant provocation, abuse, and persecutions, they never took part in those frequent insurrections and rebellions which weakened and undermined the empire. They renovated society from within, by revealing in their lives as well as in their doctrine a higher order of private and public virtue, and thus proved themselves patriots in the best sense of the word.”
– Philipp Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, Chapter 8, Section 96
June 1, 2020
“Violence shall no more be heard in thy land,
wasting nor destruction within thy borders;
but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day;
neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:
but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light,
and thy God thy glory.
20 Thy sun shall no more go down;
neither shall thy moon withdraw itself:
for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light,
and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
21 Thy people also shall be all righteous:
they shall inherit the land for ever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I may be glorified.”
April 22, 2020
April 1, 2020
A Sight of Sin and a Sight of Jesus:
“We can only properly deal with sin as, at the same moment, we personally and closely deal with Jesus. A spiritual sight of the one object, apart from a believing sight of the other, will plunge the soul into the deepest despair. A sight of atoning blood must accompany the sight of our guilt. Seen and dealt with alone, dissociated from the Savior, it is the darkest and most appalling object that can engage human study. But God has graciously and marvelously met the case. The instrument that exhibits sin in its greatest blackness at the same moment exhibits it in its fullest pardon…To have a sight of sin and a sight of Jesus at the same moment constitutes one of the holiest and richest pages in the history of a child of God. There are many of the Lord’s people who see sin, but who do not see Jesus at the same moment who do not look at their sins through the medium of the cross. To look at sin through the divine holiness, as reflected in the divine law, is to look and despair, to look and die! But to look at sin through Christ- to see it in the blood that cleanses it, in the righteousness that covers it, in the love that pardons it fully, freely, and forever; oh, this is to look and hope, to look and live! One eye upon sin, and one eye upon sin’s atonement, will enable the soul to walk humbly and filially with God. One eye looking at self and one eye looking at Christ will so regulate the experience of the soul, so accurately adjust its moral compass, as to preserve the balance between presumption and despair; leading to a humble, holy, watchful walk as it regards sin on the one hand, and to an assured, happy, hopeful sense of pardon, acceptance, and glory on the other. No fact in Christian experience is more certain than this, that sin is never properly seen until Christ is known; and that Christ is never fully known, until sin is seen in its existence, guilt, and power. It is a sense of our vileness, guiltiness, and condemnation that takes us to Christ; and when we see Christ, and accept Christ, and enter into believing rest in Christ, we then have the deepest conviction of the greatness, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and at the same moment the most assured conviction of our full and eternal deliverance from its guilt, tyranny, and condemnation. This harmony of tint- the blending of light and shades in and Christ- forms one of the loveliest and most impressive pictures of the many which illustrate the history of the Christian’s life.”
~From A Sight of Sin and a Sight of Jesus, by Octavius Winslow, 1808-1878, English Preacher and Minister
March 15th, 2020
“Matter for praise and adoration can never be wanting to creatures redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and who have such continual scenes of His infinite goodness presented to their view, that were their souls duly affected with a sense of His universal love, they could not but be continually calling on heaven and earth, men and angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that “high and lofty One, Who inhabiteth eternity, Who maketh His sun to rise on evil and on the good,” and daily pours down His blessings on the whole race of mankind.”
~George Whitefield, 1714-1770, English Preacher and Itinerant Evangelist, from his Sermon, Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty
March 8th, 2020
“They that see God cannot but praise Him. He is a Being of such glory and excellency that the sight of this excellency of His will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise Him. Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise. Such a sight enlarges their soul, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit…When they behold the glorious power of God, they cannot but praise that power. When they see God’s wisdom, they cannot but continually praise that wisdom. When they view the infinitely pure and lovely holiness of God, whereby the heavens themselves are not pure in comparison with Him, how can they avoid with an exalted heart to praise that beauty of the divine nature! When they see the infinite grace of God, and see what a boundless ocean of mercy and love He is, how can they but celebrate that grace with the highest praise!”
~Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758, New England Pastor and Preacher from his sermon “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven”.
March 1st, 2020
“They who come to Christ, do not only come to a resting-place after they have been wandering in a wilderness, but they come to a banqueting-house where they may rest, and where they may feast. They may cease from their former troubles and toils, and they may enter upon a course of delights and spiritual joys.
Christ not only delivers from fears of Hell and of wrath, but He gives hopes of heaven, and the enjoyment of God’s love. He delivers from inward tumults and inward pain from that guilt of conscience which is as a worm gnawing within, and He gives delight and inward glory. He brings us out of a wilderness of pits, and drought, and fiery flying spirits; and He brings us into a pleasant land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He delivers us out of prison, and lifts us off from the dunghill, and He sets us among princes, and causes us to inherit the throne of glory. Wherefore, if any one is weary, if any is in prison, if any one is in captivity, if any one is in the wilderness, let him come to the blessed Jesus, who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Delay not, arise and come away.”
~Jonathan Edwards, (1703-1758), From his sermon “Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ”