The Private Preparation of a World Changer

Hull, in the 1800's, where Hudson Taylor studied

CH Spurgeon, the great evangelistic pastor of the 19th Century once said, ‘Fervent lovers of souls do not wait till they are trained, they serve their Lord at once.’[i]

Hudson Taylor was no exception to this rule of Christian leadership and immediately began sharing the gospel with those around him.

He had already become convinced that China was the place where he would, at some future point, serve God. He therefore began a process of self-discipline that, frankly, ought to challenge every potential Christian leader today.

Taylor’s own testimony of his late teenage years, is rich with instruction – honouring parents, trusting God, being open to correction, personal integrity, diligent study and a willingness to serve.

The Crucial Role of Parenting in the Global Mission
His parents, also, were parenting in faith. They could have discouraged his desire to leave England. After all, it is possible to serve God in England! They could have discouraged him from a ministerial career. After all, you can serve God and take up a regular profession!

Did the mother that prayed so earnestly for her precious son trust the wisdom of God in taking him so far away? This would require faith, pure and undefiled.

Taylor writes, ‘My beloved parents neither discouraged nor encouraged my desire to engage in missionary work. They advised me to use all the means in my power to develop the resources of body, mind, heart, and soul, and to wait prayerfully upon God, quite willing, should He show me that I was mistaken, to follow His guidance, or to go forward if in due time He should open the way to missionary service.’

‘Take my feather bed away!’
He continues, ‘The importance of this advice I have often since had occasion to prove. I began to take more exercise in the open air to strengthen my physique.

My feather bed I had taken away, and sought to dispense with as many other home comforts as I could, in order to prepare myself for rougher lines of life.’

Giving out tracts, visiting the poor
‘I began also to do what Christian work was in my power, in the way of tract distribution, Sunday-school teaching, and visiting the poor and sick, as opportunity afforded.’

Practical Training
‘After a time of preparatory study at home, I went to Hull for medical and surgical training. There I became assistant to a doctor who was connected with the Hull school of medicine, and was surgeon also to a number of factories, which brought many accident cases to our dispensary, and gave me the opportunity of seeing and practising the minor operations of surgery.’[ii]

But Taylor’s self-imposed preparation for service was not limited to the physical and intellectual arena. He knew he must grow in faith. And he, therefore, began to exercise his faith in the area of giving and trusting God for money.

For the next post in the Hudson Taylor Story click here

For the first part in the Hudson Taylor Story click here

Picture from A Personal History of Hull

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides


[i] Lectures to My Students on the Art of Preaching, Marshall and Pickering, p.36

[ii] From A Retrospect, later published as ‘To China with Love’, Bethany House, p.16-17

The Critical Importance of Reaching the Working Classes

Howard Cook's 'Worker with Harvest, Factory' circa 1929

Brilliant New Song-Writing
In terms of the great hymns of the Christian Faith, the Methodist movement was a source of unparalleled treasures…and also some hidden ones!

And it’s the hidden treasures that we will enjoy together! But first, we’ll look at possible reasons why they’re still hidden.

How can you spot a movement on the wane?

It seems an observable reality that the beginning of the end of a great movement in church history is accompanied by certain features.

One of these – perhaps the most damaging – is a disproportionate desire for respectability. We might suggest a prevalence to preserve or promote Christianity as a respectable middle class religion.

Of course, I’m not advocating that our leaders should be anything less than truly respected in their own communities, nor that they should be deliberately rough.

I am certainly not criticising a hunger to improve in knowledge. We should all should aim to be good learners and students throughout life. It’s vital to gain theological insight. Ignorance is not good.

The true nature of Christian influence
But we must guard against snobbery. The twelve men that Jesus hand-picked to follow Him were not the most sophisticated or best educated. The point is that He took them to be with Him, He trained them and He was the source of their learning and their influence.

Paul, who had some rabbinical education, had to be broken utterly and come to the point of considering all he inherited as ‘rubbish’ for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).

Christianity promotes knowledge
But the Christian Faith uplifts people. It changes us! And essentially because Jesus came teaching and healing, Christians have gone into the world and built universities and medical facilities.

Christian expansion at its best has been marked by educational (and scientific) endeavour and compassionate service to the suffering. It’s because of Jesus.

In a very real way, God takes hold of us and improves us! Therefore, may God protect you from automatically distancing yourself from anyone you consider ‘below’ you, in some way. How vile! How unlike Jesus Christ!

The first generation of leaders should, like William Booth of the Salvation Army, carefully gauge the influence on ordinary people of the leaders who are emerging (Elijah Cadman, a former prize fighter, became Booth’s right hand man).

Don’t overlook ‘unschooled, ordinary men’
We mustn’t overlook those who have been transformed into leaders by ‘grace and grit’, and who like Peter and the other apostles, might be considered ‘unlearned men’, or ‘unschooled, ordinary men’, as the NIV puts it (see Acts 4:13). We might be missing some ‘mighty men’.

We would have to put aside John Bunyan, Howell Harris, William Carey, DL Moody, Elijah Cadman, CH Spurgeon (perhaps the most remarkable example of self-education in a Christian leader), and a host of others – in fact, we might question God as to why He made His Son an apprentice labourer rather than a college lecturer!

Reaching the ‘working class’ is a key to transforming a culture
The point is this – that when Christianity really breaks into a culture, it breaks through to those who, in Europe at least, are usually called ‘working class’.

Christianity’s ability to lastingly change the culture has been when the working people, the ordinary backbone of the population, have embraced the faith as theirs.

This is partly why we’ve spent so long examining the incredible suffering and persecution that took place amongst the 18th century Methodists. Before conversion the ordinary people of Britain rejected the gospel – but the preachers wouldn’t give up, and in the end, the gospel won through.

Songs of the People!

As we will later see with the breathtaking story of the Salvation Army in the 19th Century, when ordinary folk take Christ to themselves, we get some great new songs and sayings. The whole church is enriched and refreshed – not by mere novelty, but by the cultural strengths of every grouping in our culture.

Well now, all of that was really an introduction to some wonderful, informal and hilarious segments from hymns of the Methodists from the 18th and 19th Century. To check out the hymns click here

Picture: Howard Cook, Worker with Harvest, Factory © The Smithsonian American Art Museum

© 2010 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

A Brave Day for England – The Gift of the Evangelist released!

George Whitefield

George Whitefield

‘The Devil in Hell is in you all!’

Resistance to Whitefield’s preaching was growing. One member of the clergy wrote, ‘I believe the devil in hell is in you all. Whitefield has set the town on fire, and now he is gone to kindle a flame in the country.’

The friend who reported these words to Whitefield adds, ‘Shocking language for one who calls himself a minister of the gospel…

‘I am persuaded, it is not a fire of the Devil’s kindling, but a holy fire that has proceeded from the Holy and Blessed Spirit. Oh, that such a fire may be kindled, but blow up into a flame all England, and all the world over!’ (George Whitefield Journals, Banner of Truth edition, p. 213-214)

Churches closed but the people need to hear the gospel

Whitefield, ever willing to serve the people by preaching the good news to them, found himself not only criticised privately but opposed publicly. While not all clergy were hostile, increasing numbers were, and, even where permission to preach in certain Anglican churches was granted, the local vicars were not always willing to let him in.

A coincidental by-product of this hostility was that people would go to him wherever he was. This gradually compelled him to preach in places he never would have before.

Preaching in a Pub

Describing one evening in February 1739, he writes, ‘afterwards [I] was agreeably surprised by several who came uninvited to see me. After a little conversation, I perceived they were desirous to hear the Word of God, and being in a large dining room in the public house, I gave notice I would expound to as many as would come.

‘In a short time I had above a hundred very attentive hearers, to whom I expounded for above an hour…

‘Blessed be God for his opportunity! I hope I shall learn more and more every day, that no place is amiss for preaching the gospel.

‘God forbid that the Word of God should be bound because some, out of a misguided zeal, deny the use of their churches…

‘The more I am bidden to hold my peace, the more earnestly will I lift up my voice like a trumpet.’ (p.208-209)

A growing sense of destiny

Feb 11, 1739 – ‘There are many promises to be fulfilled in me, many souls to be called, many sufferings to be endured, before I go hence.’ (p.211)

Into the fields – the coal workers in Bristol (1st sermon)

Saturday Feb 17, 1739 – ‘About one in the afternoon, I went with my brother Seward and another friend, to Kingswood…[I] have long since yearned [for] the poor colliers, who are very numerous and as sheep having no shepherd.

‘After dinner, therefore, I went upon a mount, and [spoke] to as many people as came unto me. They were upwards of two hundred.

‘Blessed be God that I have now broken the ice! I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields.’ (p.216)

The great C.H Spurgeon, preaching a century after Whitefield, said ‘It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began field preaching.’ (Quoted by Dallimore, George Whitefield, Vol 1, Banner of Truth, p.248)

The work in Bristol proved to be a major turning point in the history of 18th century Christianity. What followed there was truly breathtaking and is very moving to read.

God, in His mercy, was seeking to reach a generation far from Himself. And so He raised up the gift of the Evangelist. We’ll see what the Evangelist did, and what God did through him, next time!

You can purchase George Whitefield resources here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Puritan Priorities – A Passion for Souls

St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, where Joseph Alleine served

St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, where Joseph Alleine served

Inspirational Quotes from Puritan Works
I propose, over the next few posts to quote from those puritan authors who have had an impact on me.  This merely serves as an introduction and is by no means exhaustive.

Spurgeon’s description of the works of Puritan pastor Thomas Watson is in many ways characteristic of much Puritan literature:

‘There is a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom throughout.’ (Introduction, A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson, Banner of Truth)

And the mighty Evangelist of the 18th Century, George Whitefield, wrote in 1767, ‘For these thirty years past I have remarked that the more true and vital religion hath [increased] either at home or abroad, the more the good old Puritanical writings…have been called for.’
(Quoted in J.I Packer, A Quest for Godliness, The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, p.46 )

Joseph Alleine
Alleine (1634-1668) was chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and later served as assistant Pastor in Taunton, Somerset, England. He was also a keen evangelist. As with about a thousand other faithful Puritan pastors, he was fired and turned out of the Church of England in 1662, and was later imprisoned for continuing to preach the gospel. He died aged only 34.

These quotes are taken from his incredible book, ‘An Alarm Call to the Unconverted’ (BOT edition), which has recently been republished as ‘A Sure Guide to Heaven’. You can certainly feel his evangelistic passion in these few quotes, and they also provide a good example of puritan thinking and style.

Man like a choice instrument
‘Unconverted man is like a choice instrument that has every string broken or out of tune.’ (p. 52)

On the futility of religion to appease God
‘You can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you.’ (p. 55)

On continuing in sin
‘If you have a false peace continuing in your sins, it is not of God’s speaking, and therefore you may guess the author.’ (p.56)

‘To save men from the punishment, and not from the power of sin, were to do His work by halves, and be an imperfect Saviour.’ (p.65)

‘You cannot be married to Christ except you be divorced from sin.’ (p.107)

On the spiritual condition of those not yet made alive in Christ
‘In a word, he carries a dead soul in a living body, and his flesh is but the walking coffin of a corrupt mind that is twice dead.’ (p.82)

On preaching about Hell
‘I would not trouble you, nor torment you before the time with the thoughts of your eternal misery, but in order that you may make your escape.’ (P.100)

Read the next post here

You can purchase ‘A Sure Guide to Heaven’ here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Book Review of CH Spurgeon’s ‘The Soul Winner’

chs2

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

‘Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner…’

Click here for the full review:

http://lexloiz.wordpress.com/ch-spurgeon-the-soul-winner/

Calvin and the Doctrine of Election

Because of the reaction it caused, Calvin found himself rigourously defending the Doctrine of Election. He had to expand the section on Election in his Institutes. He was not unwilling to defend his understanding of this teaching because he felt he was defending a pastorally beneficial truth revealed by God.

His understanding was as follows: The Holy Spirit revealed that before the creation of the world, God the Father chose who would be saved through Jesus Christ His Son.

This choice was not generated by any future factors in the person who would receive this mercy, but was purely a result of God’s undeserved love.  He chose us.

Salvation is, therefore, a result of His grace and not the result of any desire for salvation or any work towards salvation on our part.

The recipient of this electing mercy, the sinner, must repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead in order to be saved.

The common experience of believers could be described like this: Having considered the claims of Christ, and having believed and been forgiven, we discover in Scripture that our salvation was God’s pre-ordained plan and not the result of our own choice or decision.This increases our appreciation of God’s particular love towards us and results in an increased desire to worship Him, live for Him and serve His purposes unselfishly.

Jesus Himself said, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.’ (John 15:16 NIV)

Spurgeon on Election
CH Spurgeon, the 19th century British preacher, described his own delight in the Doctrine of Election this way: ‘I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine.’ (From the sermon, A Defence of Calvinism http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm)

Piper on Election
John Piper puts it like this: ‘This is the teaching that God chose, before the foundation of the world, who would believe and so be undeservingly saved in spite of their sin, and who would persist in rebellion and so deservingly perish because of their sin.’ (from his sermon, ‘Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election’)

A pastoral doctrine
The doctrine of election was not the headline teaching in Calvin’s Institutes.

Andrew Johnston writes, ‘It’s position in the Institutes is significant. It was treated in the third book dealing with the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and not, as one might expect, in Book One which dealt with the doctrine of God.

For Calvin, predestination was essentially a pastorally-orientated doctrine. It was a source of assurance to the believer and a means of humbling the proud…Calvin was always careful not to go beyond what the scriptures explicitly stated.

Rather than predestination, the central doctrines of the Institutes were the glory of God and the divinity of Christ.’ (Andrew Johnston, The Protestant Reformation in Europe. Longman. P.58)

This astonishing, unfathomable, beautiful, controversial doctrine is stated in numerous places in Scripture. I record these two purely as evidence that this teaching did not originate with Calvin. There are many other delicious references to this in Scripture, but we must keep on track with the historical story we are following.

2 Thess 2:13 ‘But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.’ (NIV)

Eph 1:3-6 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.’ (ESV)

Next time we’ll take a look at Calvin’s views on a number of different issues. There was no Calvin’s ‘Table Talk’, as there was with Luther, but we can still gain insight into his personal life and thought from various sources.

Read Calvin’s views on Preaching, Grieving and Being Single

Andrew Johnston leads Christ Church, Hailsham, Sussex, UK. Please visit http://www.christchurchhailsham.org/index.html for more details.

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Advice to Preachers from Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his classic, ‘Preachers and Preaching’ (Zondervan), gives refreshing and brilliant advice to preachers on just about every aspect of preaching.

Some might be surprised to learn that he also advises about knowing your own temperament, time management (so you don’t ‘fritter away the morning’), what to read and even comments on the pleasure of enjoying good music.

Of course Lloyd-Jones wasn’t the first great preacher to instruct others about the act of preaching. The greatest of the English speaking preachers, CH Spurgeon had done so at the end of the 19th Century (‘Lectures to my Students on the Art of Preaching’, Christian Focus). And before him, Martin Luther himself had given advice.

Here are a few incisive comments from the great Reformer which will help and challenge every public speaker.

On long Sermons
‘To me a long sermon is an abomination, for the desire of the audience to listen is destroyed, and the preacher only defeats himself.’ (p.188 )

‘Every priest must have his private sacrifices. Therefore Bugenhagen  sacrifices his hearers with his long sermons, for we are his victims. He did it finely today!’ [Bugenhagen was the parish priest of Wittenberg, Luther’s home town] (p.193)

How to be a good preacher

‘A preacher should have the following qualifications:
1. An ability to teach
2. A good mind
3. Eloquence
4. A good voice
5. A good memory
6. Power to leave off!
7. Diligence
8.Whole-souled devotion to his calling
9. A willingness to be bothered by everyone
10. Patience to bear all things.
In ministers nothing is seen more easily or more quickly than their faults. A preacher may have a hundred virtues, yet they may all be obscured by a single defect.’ (p.189-190)

On Sturdiness!
‘Melancthon is lighter than I and therefore more easily moved if things don’t go his way. I am heavier and stupider and am not so much affected by things I cannot remedy.’ (p.200)

On Dieting and Hygiene
‘It is true that good diet is the best medicine for anyone who can stand it, but to live hygienically is to live miserably!’ (p. 235)
Page references refer to Table Talk, Smith and Gallinger edition 1915. Modern paperback edition published 1979 by Keats, USA. The headings have been added.

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here

For the next part of the Martin Luther Story click here

© 2008 Lex Loizides