Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ

 

Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ. New on Kindle!
Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ. New on Kindle!

Take a Closer Look is an easy to use resource to help explain who Jesus is, why He came and how someone can begin following Him.

Included are many faith-inspiring verses from the Gospel of John, helpful questions, and a chapter which seeks to help the person envision what life may look like for them were they to become a follower of Christ.

It’s designed to be used one-on-one but is ideal for individual use.
Many have come to a lasting faith in Jesus through this study.

‘Take a Closer Look’ http://amzn.to/1ufMzys (US store)
‘Take a Closer Look’ http://amzn.to/1yzbjlk (UK store)

Dirk Jongkind
Dirk Jongkind

‘When John wrote his book about Jesus more than 1900 years ago, he wanted people to understand who this Jesus really was and why he deserves our trust and commitment. Lex Loizides takes the modern reader by the hand with exactly the same purpose as John had and explains who Jesus is using the words that John wrote down so long ago. If you want to know about Jesus then ‘Take a Closer Look’ is an excellent guide – it is faithful to the original sources.’
Dr. Dirk Jongkind, Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language, St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge

Terry Virgo
Terry Virgo

‘When your curiosity is aroused and the light seems to be beckoning you out of darkness, how superb to have an outstanding aid like this which can, as it were, take you by the hand and lead you to the truth you’re beginning to long for.’
Terry Virgo, Founder of Newfrontiers

‘Take a Closer Look’ introduces you to Jesus. Reading the book is like meeting him for the first time. We hear him speak and our pre-conceived ideas are quickly adjusted to the real Jesus.
Gert Hijkoop, Pastor, Wijnstokgemeente, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands

Ian Galloway
Ian Galloway

Speaking as a busy pastor I totally recommend ‘Take a Closer Look’. I really enjoying doing them. I just love sitting down with people and seeing them start to engage personally with Jesus. The simplicity of the study, the focus on Jesus, and the ease with which it can be arranged make it a brilliant resource. Everyone should use this!
Ian Galloway, Pastor, City Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Samir Deokuliar
Samir Deokuliar

‘Take a Closer Look’ is a clear and crisp description of why one should consider Jesus. I have used this book (in Hindi) over the years to facilitate discussions in small groups. The claims and questions posed in the book are thought provoking and have helped healthy discussions. Highly recommended.
Samir Deokuliar, TV Presenter and Pastor, Dwaar, Delhi, India

Stephen van Rhyn
Stephen van Rhyn

I have found ‘Take a Closer Look’ to be a fantastic tool for introducing seekers to Christ and helping them cross the line of faith and follow Him. If you are looking for a relevant, Biblical and accessible study on Christ for seekers look no further.
Steve van Rhyn, Advance Network of Churches, Pastor, Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa

Take a closer look is a great resource, that we have used in our church for a number of years, with success. It is particularly useful when you have an individual who is unclear on their faith, and you feel that what they need is a one-to-one short course over coffee. It is non-threatening, focusing on the gospel of John, and very accessible for young and old.
Matthew Clifton-Brown, Pastor, Kings Church Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the most important months of my life was going through ‘Take a Closer Look’ in the early 1990s. I knew nothing about Christianity, so understanding the basics was vital to making an informed decision. 20 years later I still have very fond memories of that life-defining time! I’d recommend ‘Take A Closer Look’ to anyone that wants to make their own choice about whether to accept Jesus’ claims.
Martin Cooper, Worship Leader, Songwriter, Teacher, British & Irish Modern Music Institute, UK

As a non-believing teenager unsure of what to make of Christianity, ‘Take a Closer Look’ (which I couldn’t put down and read in one sitting) gave me what I needed to make an informed decision. It is a clear explanation of what Jesus said about himself and his work, and what this means for our individual lives. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand what Jesus taught.
Vincent van Bever Donker, Oxford English Centre, Oxford 

I have used these lessons for people from different religious, educational and social backgrounds for over 15 years and found it very effective to lead them to Jesus Christ. I have found it a great one-on-one tool for a person interested in knowing Jesus. We have used it as a wonderful tool to help people open up as they seek to become Christians.
Joy-Anne Philip, Cochi, Kerala, India

Scriptural, practical, fruitful and flexible way of sharing Jesus with 1-10+ people at a time. Many lives have been transformed by this helpful tool.
Mike Sprenger, Evangelist, UK

‘Take a Closer Look’ is an excellent tool from the heart of an evangelist which will be a help and a blessing to all those who have a heart for the unsaved. Simple but profound.
Don Smith, veteran church planter, UK

‘Take a Closer Look’ is a helpful resource that helps me walk someone from objections to the faith to coming to faith in Christ.  It is short, accessible and yet proclaims the truth about Jesus powerfully. I trust that this new digital version will help equip believers to reach out to many more of their friends.
Gareth Bowley, Pastor, Oasis Church, Amazimtoti, South Africa

©2015 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

CS Lewis and the Puritans

CS Lewis at his desk
CS Lewis at his desk

What did CS Lewis think of the Puritans?
It is sometimes implied that Lewis leant equally towards Catholic as Protestant doctrine. Some may assume that his thoughts on hell and the afterlife imply he was unimpressed with the theological emphasis of the works of the English puritans.

But in his academic masterpiece of literary criticism, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (excluding drama), he demonstrates a thorough, personally informed view of the major theological influences on that century and those that followed.

His discussion of puritan and reformed thinking is not only easy to grasp but thoroughly enjoyable. Typical Lewis.

Here are a few gems to whet your appetite…

A correct understanding of the goal of puritanism
‘The puritans were so called because they claimed to be purists or purifiers in ecclesiastical polity: not because they laid more emphasis than other Christians on ‘purity’ in the sense of chastity.’

A correct understanding of the nature of ‘puritan’ experience
‘We want, above all, to know what it felt like to be an early Protestant.

One thing is certain. It felt very unlike being a ‘puritan’ such as we meet in nineteenth-century fiction. Dickens’s Mrs. Clennam, trying to expiate her early sin by a long life of voluntary gloom, was doing exactly what the first Protestants would have forbidden her to do. They would have thought her whole conception of expiation papistical. On the Protestant view one could not, and by God’s mercy, need not, expiate one’s sins.’

Luther understood Paul correctly, according to CS Lewis
Luther understood Paul correctly, according to CS Lewis

Tyndale and Luther properly understood Paul’s doctrine of Justification by Faith and not by works
‘In the mind of a Tyndale or Luther, as in the mind of St. Paul himself, this theology was by no means an intellectual construction made in the interests of speculative thought. It springs directly out of a highly specialized religious experience; and all its affirmations, when separated from that context, become meaningless or else mean the opposite of what was intended…’

‘Catastrophic Conversion’ essential to an experience of joy (or bliss)
‘The experience is that of catastrophic conversion.

The man who has passed through it feels like one who has waked from a nightmare into ecstasy.

Like an accepted lover, he feels that he has done nothing, and never could have done anything, to deserve such astonishing happiness. Never again can he ‘crow from the dunghill of desert’.

All the initiative has been on God’s side; all has been free, unbounded grace. And all will continue to be free, unbounded grace.

His own puny and ridiculous efforts would be as helpless to retain the joy as they would have been to achieve it in the first place.

Fortunately they need not. Bliss is not for sale, cannot be earned.

‘Works’ have no ‘merit’, though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once.

He is not saved because he does works of love: he does works of love because he is saved.

It is faith alone that has saved him: faith bestowed by sheer gift. From this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratchings, all the Protestant doctrines originally sprang.’

To read the next post (CS Lewis on Predestination) click here

To read a review of AN Wilson’s biography on Lewis click here

© 2013 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

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 Power of Prayer in the Conversion of Souls

James Hudson Taylor in 1865

A Heritage of Faith
James Hudson Taylor was born in 1832 and died when the Welsh Revival of 1904 was one year old.

His story is one of prayer, or perseverance, of faith and of suffering. His story is one of radical obedience to Christ’s Commission to take the gospel to the world.

Hudson Taylor was a Yorkshireman, born in Barnsley. He was the son of evangelical Methodists and his family enjoyed the privilege of having hosted John Wesley, the great Methodist Evangelist, in 1786.

The story of his great grandparents looking after Wesley and then hearing him preach to a great congregation had been told and retold many times.

HT’s father was fascinated with China. He was a highly respected Chemist who also treated patients in a consulting room behind the store. But the passion he instilled into his children was centred on China. He had actually prayed, ‘Lord, if you give us a son, grant that he may work for You in China!’

His prayer was answered spectacularly.

A teenager’s apathy and a mother’s love
As a ‘teenager’ HT began to question the faith of his family. He wasn’t so sure that the daily Bible readings which his father led, were so necessary. He began to be sceptical.

But his mother began to pray, fervently and passionately.

One day in June 1849, the bored 17yr old began looking around for something to read. He casually looked through his father’s bookshelves when a tract caught his eye.

He knew what it was, and decided that he’d read the story part (which he assumed would be at the beginning of the tract) and skim read over the ‘moral of the story’ and probably a mini sermon at the end.

What he didn’t know was that his mother had also found herself at a loose end while she was in another town, and began praying fervently for his conversion. She began to get a conviction in prayer that she should pray on until she knew she had the answer from God.

In Praise of Tracts!
‘Let me tell you how God answered the prayers of my dear mother for my conversion!’ Hudson wrote in his book ‘Retrospect’

‘In the afternoon I looked through my father’s library to find some book with which to while away the unoccupied hours. Nothing attracting me, I turned over a little basket of pamphlets and selected from among them a Gospel tract which looked interesting, saying to myself, ‘There will be a story at the beginning , and a sermon or moral at the close: I will take the former and leave the latter for those who like it.’

I sat down to read the little book in an utterly unconcerned state of mind, believing indeed that I there were any salvation it was not for me…’

Little did I know at the same time what was going on in the heart of my dear mother, seventy or eighty miles away.

The Power of Prayer
She [had] an intense yearning for the conversion of her boy…She went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until her prayers were answered.

Hour after hour did that dear mother plead for me, until at length she could pray no longer, but was constrained to praise God for that which His Spirit taught her had already been accomplished – the conversion of her only son.

I, in the meantime, while reading the tract, was struck with the sentence ‘the finished work of Christ.’

Why does the author use this expression? Why not say ‘the atoning work of Christ’?

Immediately the words, ‘It is finished!’ suggested themselves to my mind [these were words spoken by Jesus when he was on the cross – John 19:30]. What was finished?

And I at once replied: ‘A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin: the debt was paid…Christ died for our sins!’

Then came the thought, ‘If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?’

The finished work of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit
And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him forever more!

Thus while my dear mother was praising God on her knees in her chamber, I was praising Him in the old warehouse to which I had gone alone to read this little book at my leisure.

When our dear mother came home a fortnight later, I was the first to meet her at the door, and to tell her I had such glad news to give.

I can almost feel that dear mother’s arms around my neck, as she pressed me to her bosom and said, ‘I know, my boy; I have been rejoicing for a fortnight in the glad tidings you have to tell me!’

My mother assured me that it was not from any human source that she had learned the tidings…

You will agree with me that it would be strange indeed if I were not a believer in the power of prayer.’[i]

To read the first part of the Hudson Taylor Story click here

To read the next part of the Hudson Taylor Story, the first steps towards the mission in China, click here

Personal Tracts

Tracts can still be incredibly powerful – and you don’t have to purchase an old fashioned one with dull graphics. You can easily write your own. Click here for more details.

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides


[i] From To China with Love, Hudson Taylor, Bethany House, p.10-13

Introducing Hudson Taylor…

The young Hudson Taylor

It was said of him:

‘No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematised plan of evangelising a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.’[i]

Hudson Taylor’s story is one of the most exciting and challenging in church history.

Oh not another rule breaker!
At first he was frowned upon by his fellow Europeans because when he arrived in China he was neither an ordained minister nor even a qualified doctor. He was looked down upon by the qualified missionaries as an upstart, almost an imposter – relying merely upon a supposed call from God.

He made it worse! When he adopted Chinese clothing and insisted on his fellow workers doing the same he became the laughing stock of the Shanghai missionary community.

But he persevered and soon, by faithful prayer and faithful preaching, he won converts and ‘mission stations’ (prototype church plant communities) were gradually established across China.

Wisdom (+faith+perseverance) vindicated
Before too long, Hudson Taylor’s organization, ‘The China inland Mission’, was the single most productive movement for evangelisation in Chinese history.

We are going to spend a little time examining certain aspects of Taylor’s life and ministry. Much has been written about him and his work and I trust we will be inspired to ‘imitate his faith’ in our own contexts.

To read the next part of the Hudson Taylor Story click here

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides


[i] Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Zondervan p.173

Message of the Month Vishal Mangalwadi

Message of the Month – Vishal Mangalwadi

Vishal Mangalwadi

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a kind of love affair with India for most of my adult life.

Nevertheless my admiration for Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi is anything but sentimental. I am genuinely impacted every time I hear him speak. It’s the same kind of impact I felt when I first read the works of Francis Schaeffer.

Somewhat guided by his notes (!), but also peppered with stunning digressions and off-the-cuff insights, his teaching energises me every single time.

Vishal's book about the role of the Bible in creating the West

He is currently working on a book about the central influence of the Bible in the development of the Western World, which, coming from an Eastern perspective, is intriguing.

This message is part of his material for that book. To be honest, I could have chosen any one of these messages but I thought the title alone might grab your interest.

The Message – Vishal Mangalwadi: ‘Why are some so rich while other are so poor?’

For more on Vishal Mangalwadi click here

Vishal’s stunning book ‘India – the Grand Experiment’

Other books for sale by Vishal

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel

I have enjoyed hearing messages by Lee Strobel for many years now. His blend of journalistic enquiry and evangelistic awareness make him one of the better communicators of the gospel in our generation.

In recent years Lee has become something of an apologist. He humbly presents himself as an investigator and then presents the evidence he’s found.

This message serves as a basic introduction to the argument that science points toward, rather than away from, the God of the Bible, and is drawn from his book The Case for a Creator.

He is humourous, well informed, and is able to make information that is sometimes difficult to grasp easy to understand. That’s a real gift – both to those attempting to learn and to those attempting to teach.

Enjoy!

The message is 40 minutes long followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

It was delivered at Cherry Hills Community Church in Colorado, USA

Click here to listen

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

A Breathtaking Legacy – William Carey, Father of Modern Missions

William Carey

It is not accurate to merely mention William Carey as an inspiration for global mission.

His legacy, and the breadth of his involvement and influence in Indian life, does not allow us to pass by him quickly.

Here was an ordinary man, a shoemaker by trade, converted to Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, and set on a life of service to those who don’t know Christ.

He grasped, as we should, that the Christian Gospel impacts the whole of life – not only how one prays in private, important though that is.

He saw the gospel as a powerful manifestation of grace that reconciles us to the Holy God, and enhances our intellectual, moral and social life.

What did Carey do?
As a result, we’ve seen how his career as a missionary in India places him in a unique position as a helper to India’s freedom.

He believed Scripture has greater authority than tradition
He urged others to take the ‘Great Commission’ seriously
He believed God specifically called him to go to India
He knew that the Bible was the key to human freedom and human development
He taught that Karma trapped people but Grace releases them
He preserved and enhanced indigenous languages through Bible translation
He was the first to publish on Science and Natural History in India
He introduced the steam engine to India and gave local engineers the design so they could reproduce it
He also developed locally produced paper so that locals would not have to purchase imported paper at higher prices
He introduced the idea of a savings bank to India to protect the poor from loan sharks
He was the first person to lead a campaign for the humane treatment of leprosy patients
He was the father of print technology in India
He established the first ever newspaper printed in an Oriental language – and sought to establish a ‘free press’
He was the first to translate the Indian religious classics into English
He wrote worship songs in Bengali
He established dozens of schools in India, for both sexes – disregarding colonial fears and prejudice
He founded the Agri-horticultural Society in India before the Royal Agricultural Society was formed in England
He was concerned for the environment in India and wrote essays on forestry
He established Indian lending libraries
He fought for Women’s Rights in India – successfully working for legislation that would outlaw widow burning

What should we do?
In the light of such achievements and areas of involvement we would do well to ask ourselves how far reaching our influence could be?

And, once again, as I have said several times, such a study of Carey should challenge, if not obliterate, the oft-repeated slander that the missionaries sent from Europe were primarily self-serving or Empire-serving lackeys. Rubbish!

That Carey’s life-long devotion to the liberation of India was costly will be examined next time as we consider the impact it made on his family, and more specifically, on his wife, Dorothy.

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – the Dignity of Women (Part 2)

Sati - a practice that turned Carey into a campaigner for Indian women's rights

For part one click here

In 1799 William Carey, missionary to India, witnessed the funeral of a Hindu man. The dead body was prepared and ready. The funeral pyre on which the man’s body was to be burned was ready. Nearby, the man’s living wife awaited the moment that she was expected to throw herself into the fire…

A ‘great act of holiness’
Carey pleaded with the family members of the deceased, until he blurted out that what they were doing, ‘was a shocking murder!’

‘They told me it was a great act of holiness, and added in a very surly manner, that if I did not like to see it I might go farther off, and desired me to go.

‘I told them that I would not go, that I was determined to stay and see the murder, and I should certainly bear witness of it at the tribunal of God.

‘I exhorted the woman not to throw away her life; to fear nothing, for no evil would follow her refusal to burn…

‘No sooner was the fire kindled than all the people set up a great shout – ‘Hurree-Bol, Hurree- Bol’…

‘It was impossible to have heard the woman had she groaned or even cried aloud, on account of the mad noise of the people, and it was impossible for her to stir or struggle on account of the bamboos which were held down on her like the levers of a press.

‘We made much objection to their using these bamboos, and insisted that it was using force to prevent the woman from getting up when the fire burned her.

‘But they declared that it was only done to keep the pile from falling down.

‘We could not bear to see more, but left them, exclaiming loudly against the murder, and full of horror at what we had seen.’ (From a letter to John Ryland, quoted by Timothy George, Faithful Witness, p.151, IVP)

Research, Raising Public Awareness and Legislation
Carey vigourously investigated incidents of Sati, widow-burning, and publicised them both in India and England.

Indian scholar, Vishal Mangalwadi writes, ‘Carey began to conduct systematic sociological and scriptural research…He influenced a whole generation of civil servants, his students at Fort William College, to resist these evils…

‘When widows converted to Christianity, he arranged marriages for them. It was Carey’s persistent battle against sati for twenty-five years which finally led to Lord Bentinck’s famous Edict in 1829, banning one of the most abominable of all religious practices in the world: widow burning.’ (Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussouri, India)

Carey’s wasn’t the only voice raised against the injustices against women in India at the time but both Indian historians and Indian religious leaders acknowledge his central role and influence.

More next time…

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Audio Message of the Month! Michael Green

‘Confidence in the Gospel’ by Michael Green

Michael Green

From time to time you hear a fantastic message. Something that is so inspiring and uplifting, challenging and energising! Something that you wish everyone could hear.

I’m going to introduce a new feature to The Church History Blog which, while not necessarily relating to history, will inspire you to make a difference in your world today.

I’m starting with a message delivered by Evangelist Michael Green at the 2010 European Leadership Forum, called ‘Confidence in the Gospel’.

It is a superb overview of answers to various objections to the Christian Faith which will not only equip you to know how to answer others but will also strengthen your own trust in our wonderful gospel!

If you’re anything like me, one of the immediate outcomes will be worship!

Enjoy! LISTEN HERE

 

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Christianity and Karma

William Carey and the Passion to Reform India

‘Carey’s mission to India inaugurated a new era in the history of the Christian church.’ So says biographer Timothy George.

He then outlines how Carey’s example impacted others who later followed in his steps (see George, Faithful Witness, IVP, 135-152)

Carey’s ideological impact on India
Certainly his impact on the Western church was great. But author and Indologist, Vishal Mangalwadi focuses on Carey’s impact on India itself. This makes for fascinating and challenging reading!

Mangalwadi sees Carey not only as an Evangelist but as a Reformer, and a man of courage and faith.

The courage to say that there’s a problem
He writes, ‘The primary presupposition of any reform…is that before we can improve a society, we have to admit that it is degenerate. The second presupposition is that a fundamental change is, in fact, possible – even if the majority is against the change.’

Comprehensive opposition
‘The opposition to Carey was phenomenal. It came from the British Parliament, from the Company, from the Military, from the Oriental scholars, from his own mission board, and also from the very people he was seeking to serve – the Indians themselves.’ (Mangalwadi, Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, 76)

Part of the resistance to reform, Mangalwadi argues, was the traditional doctrine of karma, which teaches that the earth is the place where souls are living out the deserved consequences of the sins of former lives. Therefore to reform, to alleviate suffering, to initiate an escape from that suffering was to violate this process.

‘What then, should a man born ‘untouchable’ do? Or a widow? Or a leper? The Hindu/Buddhist answer is that each has to live with their karma and dharma, as best they can, without seeking to change fate in any fundamental way.’

‘This was not all; if karma, stars, and demons did leave some freedom for a person, it was severely limited by the Hindu scriptures, written, often, from Brahmanical self-interest.

‘[Hence] the scriptural mandates behind India’s social and intellectual evils worked powerfully against reforms…Is reform possible when religion defends evil and the State is committed not to interfere with religion?

The faith to believe that the problems can be overcome
‘Carey’s faith in a transcendant Ruler, the God of History who was above human rulers, sustained him against all odds.

‘One result of his success has been that since his day, most Indians (including even those who believe in karma, reincarnation, astrology, Brahmanical scriptures etc) now tend to agree that reform is possible. They are forced to reject the fatalistic idea that reform is not possible.

Carey’s imprint of faith is still bearing fruit today
‘That premise had ruled Indian civilisation and ruined India for two thousand years. Carey’s belief that human suffering can be and should be resisted has dominated the last two hundred years of Indian history.’ (Mangalwadi, 76-77)

That’s a pretty impressive perspective from an expert on Indian thought and history.

But Carey was a practical Reformer, and not primarily a philosopher. His efforts launched a vast number of practical projects and initiatives in Indian society.

We’ll continue to pick up the story of Carey’s reform programme next time…

For more on the William Carey story begin here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

William Carey and the Modernisation of India

William Carey in India

William Carey is known among evangelicals because of his missionary initiative – and his subsequent impact on 19th century missions to all parts of the globe.

His actual work in India has received less attention. This may be, in part, because it took Carey and his workers a full seven years before they saw their first Indian profess faith in Christ. That doesn’t fit too well into a modern exhortation leave all and go into the world with the gospel!

William Carey and the Regeneration of India
But Indian author and speaker Vishal Mangalwadi has done us a great service by publishing on Carey. Vishal himself deserves a wide audience and his books deserve careful consideration. As an Indian observing the West his insights are piercing.

In the book, ‘William Carey and the Regeneration of India’ Vishal and his wife Ruth outline for us the incredible impact Carey had on the modernisation and freedom of modern India.

British Greed
The British view of India during Carey’s time was not particularly benevolent. Historian Lord Macaulay described the British East India Company as ‘a gang of public robbers’.

Mangalwadi says that even British humanitarians visiting India tended to romanticise ‘the customs and wisdom of the natives’ rather than rebuke the greed of the Company.

Their desire to establish an Indian elite seemed an attempt to replicate class distinctions rather than benefit the people.

Changes did eventually come, when Wilberforce, Charles Grant and others were able to form an ‘evangelical’ core within the governors of the Company.

But before that time Carey stands out as a true servant of India and her people.

Serving India with the Bible
The first impulse in Carey’s understanding was, of course, that men and women should repent of their sin and come to Christ for forgiveness and personal transformation. Only then could families and society be impacted by the gospel.

In order to advance this cause Carey set about translating the Bible into local languages.

Mangalwadi writes, ‘Carey spent enormous energy in translating and promoting the Bible, because, as a modern man, he believed that God’s revelation alone could remove superstition and inculcate a confidence in human rationality – a prerequisite for the modernisation of India.’ (Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Nivedit Good Books, Mussouri, p. 67)

Influencing the Culture
But Bible translation, for which Carey is famous, was by no means his only work. He became involved in a vast array of technological improvements and innovations that would be impressive were we dealing with a whole denomination of men and women, and not just one man.

Read the next installment of this story, Christianity and Karma

To read the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God

 

William Carey's Enquiry - an exhortation to world mission

 

In 1790 William Carey, agitated by the church’s lack of concern for global evangelisation, proposed the formation of a society for world mission.

Merely praying for the success of the gospel wasn’t enough – something further must be done: ‘means’ as they called them, must be used to bring the gospel to the world.

In 1792 Carey published his ‘Enquiry’ in pamphlet form, the full title being, ‘An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.’

‘If the prophecies concerning the increase of Christ’s kingdom be true, and if what has been advanced, concerning the commission given by him to his disciples being obligatory on us, be just, it must be inferred that all Christians ought heartily to concur with God in promoting his glorious designs, for he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.’ (Carey in his ‘Enquiry’)

One biographer suggests it is ‘the first and still greatest missionary treatise in the English language.’ (George Smith, ‘The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker and Missionary’ writing in 1887)

You can read Carey’s Enquiry in full here

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God

The publication was followed by an historic sermon at a gathering of Baptist ministers in Nottingham in 1792.

Carey preached from Isaiah 54, ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent…Spare not, lenthen thy cords…for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and they seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not.’

The sermon was not written or published, but we are told that Carey predicted the restoration of the church and the dawn of a new era of missions. The church is, therefore, urged to go to the work of mission full of faith.

‘Expect great things! Attempt great things!’ cried Carey

The impact of a good sermon!

Earlier attempts by Carey to influence his Baptist colleagues had been unsuccessful ‘Sit down young man!’ he was told,  ‘You are an enthusiast!’

But this message, and the publication of the Enquiry, which outlined the need for missions and the responsibility of the churches, marked a new beginning.

It was agreed that a meeting would take place in Kettering to discuss the formation of a Missionary Society for the evangelisation of the world.

For the next part of the William Carey story click here

To read the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

William Carey Believes and is Baptised

A child of the Church of England
Carey was a child of the Church of England, having been christened as a baby and assuming, as almost everyone did in 18th Century England, that any other kind of church was bogus, not a real church at all.

But one of the other apprentices, John Warr, was not a member of the Church of England. And, rather than his being strange or artificial, Warr had a definite and clear faith in Christ.

Biographer, Timothy George writes, ‘As parish clerk, Edmund Carey (William’s father) had required his children to attend church where they listened to the Psalms and lessons from the Book of Common Prayer.

‘Although Carey never disparaged this religious training, it left him, as he put it, ‘wholly unacquainted with the scheme of salvation by Christ.’ Indeed, he confessed, ‘Of real experimental [experiential] religion, I scarcely heard anything until I was fourteen years of age.’ (Quoted in Faithful Wtiness, Timothy George, IVP, p.6)

Convinced by Scripture

Eventually, he did indeed put his trust in Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. He was converted and immediately began to zealously tell everyone of Christ’s love.

Being convinced by Scripture, which the so-called ‘Dissenters’ preached, William broke with family and church tradition and was baptised as a believer in 1783.

The Baptist Pastor, John Ryland, who oversaw his baptism, later wrote,

‘On October 5, 1783, I baptised in the Nene, just beyond Doddridge’s meeting- house, a poor journeyman-shoemaker, little thinking that before nine years elapsed he would prove the first instrument of forming a Society for sending missionaries from England to the heathen world, and much less that later would become professor of languages in an Oriental College, and the translator of the Scriptures into eleven different tongues.’ (ibid. p.12)

To read the first part of the William Carey Story click here

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

William Carey, Father of Modern Missions

 

Romanticised view of William Carey's childhood home (http://www.wmcarey.edu)

Small towns can play a huge role in Global history
Kettering is a small town just 80 or so miles northwest of London, England, and which dates back to Roman times. Chances are that nowadays you would just drive past it on your way to somewhere else.

But it was here, in this humble, quiet town that an event took place the ramifications of which have truly changed the world.

It was here in Kettering that the evangelical churches finally caught up with the Moravians and a new century of Christian missions would begin when William Carey and a few like minded friends raised thirteen pounds, two shillings and sixpence to reach the whole wide world with the gospel.

If the powerful activity of the Spirit in the 18th century had served to awaken the English speaking world to the claims of Christ then His continued outpouring in the 19th century propelled the gospel to many other nations.

Instead of being weakened by the growing tide of rationalism and unbelief amongst scholars and academics the church radically invested in mission.

The Father of Modern Missions
William Carey was born in 1761, right in the thick of the Great Awakening led by George Whitefield and John Wesley.

He was born, not too far from Kettering, in a village called Paulerspury in Northamptonshire.

His father was a poor schoolmaster who apprenticed him to a local shoemaker aged only 14. And so, William Carey became a shoemaker by trade.

Like so many other heroes in the unfolding story of the Christian Church, Carey received no tertiary education and did not go to University.

We’ll continue Carey’s story next time…

To read the first part of the William Carey Story click here

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

The Nineteenth Century Missionary Movement

Plaque outside the house in Kettering, England where Carey formed the Baptist Missionary Society

A culture-changing progression is observable:

In the 16th Century – the Reformation in Europe, with the rediscovery of the authority of the Bible as the basis for faith and practice. ‘You are justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law!’

In the 17th Century – the attempt by the Puritans to apply this rediscovery to all of life, and to restore the European church and society. ‘Do all to the glory of God!’

In the 18th Century – the evangelistic proclamation of this rediscovery to those outside the normal influence of the church. ‘You must be born again!’

In the 19th Century – the explosion of the message to nations beyond Europe, with thousands leaving Europe to take the gospel to those who have never heard it. ‘Go into all the world!’

In other words there was a rediscovery of the Bible as the authoritative guide for a relationship to God and each other, a thorough attempt to apply it pastorally, and then a Spirit empowered evangelistic proclamation of the gospel, first in Europe and America and then to the ends of the earth.

This progression gives us a general but helpful guide to place movements and leaders in their historical context. Of course, if you read previous posts, you’ll know that all of these various emphases have been happening all through church history, and with mighty demonstrations of the Spirit’s power, but it is not altogether inaccurate when considering Christianity in the 19th Century to speak of ‘the missionary movement’ or even ‘the missionary century’ as some do.

Nor is it altogether inaccurate to refer to one particular pioneer as ‘the father of modern missions’ as we turn our consideration to one of the most inspiring figures in church history, William Carey.

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

JC Ryle on the Truths that Changed a Nation

JC Ryle - Christian Leaders of the 18th Century

We’ve been enjoying JC Ryle’s insights into the preaching that shook England in the 18th century, and which led to many thousands coming to Christ.

In this post we’ll look at the content of the messages that were given. In outlining these for us, Ryle is obviously suggesting that there was a need, in his own day, for a revival of such preaching.

It may be that in quaint 19th century England the ministers and evangelists had softened their message, taken the edges off, in order not to offend those outside the churches.

If we really believe that the message should stay the same, even though we should package it appropriate to the context, then it is surely helpful to hear good old Bishop Ryle’s warnings and exhortations.

Ryle gives seven essential truths that the Methodist preachers all agreed on and asserted to their hearers. We’ll look at the first three in this post.

1. The Authority of the Bible
Ryle says that they ‘taught constantly the sufficiency and supremacy of Holy Scripture.’

‘They knew nothing of any part of Scripture being uninspired.

‘They never flinched from asserting that there can be no error in the Word of God.

‘To that one book they were content to pin their faith, and by it to stand or fall. This was one grand characteristic of their preaching.’ (p.26)

2. The Sinfulness of Man

‘They taught constantly the total corruption of human nature.

‘They never flattered men and women…They told them plainly that they were dead, and must be made alive again…

‘Strange and paradoxical as it may seem to some, their first step towards making men good was to show them that they were utterly bad; and their primary argument in persuading men to do something for their souls was to convince them that they could do nothing at all.’ (p.26-27)

3. The Necessity of Christ’s Death
Ryle says that the Methodist preachers of the 18th century ‘taught constantly that Christ’s death upon the cross was the only satisfaction for man’s sin; and that, when Christ died, he died as our substitute – ‘the just for the unjust’.

‘This, in fact, was the cardinal point in almost all their sermons.

‘They never taught the modern doctrine that Christ’s death was only a great example of self-sacrifice.

‘They saw in it the payment of man’s mighty debt to God.

‘They loved Christ’s person they rejoiced in Christ’s promises; they urged men to walk after Christ’s example. But the one subject above all others, concerning Christ, which they delighted to dwell on, was the atoning blood which Christ shed for us on the cross.’ (p.27)

It would probably be a good exercise for every preacher who is attempting to present the Christian message to their culture to review these points (and the three to follow) and see if any adjustment ought to be made in the content, if not the style, of their messages.

For Ryle’s next four points click here

All quotes are from JC Ryle, Christian Leaders of the 18th Century, Banner of Truth edition.

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Piercing Thoughts on the 18th Century Awakening p.1

JC Ryle on the 18th Century Awakening

JC Ryle

I am reluctant to pull away from the 18th century! Much more can be said and I need to get on to William Carey and the explosion of missionary activity in the 19th century.

So perhaps you will forgive me for rounding up a few thoughts and insights from British Pastor and popular 19th century author, JC Ryle. These insights can speak to us today and stir us to pray and work for the good of those around us.

All quotes are from Ryle’s excellent book, Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century, originally published as ‘The Christian Leaders of the Last Century, or England a Hundred Years Ago’ (references are to the Banner of Truth edition of 1978).

1. The Christian Faith was not influential
‘Christianity seemed to lie as on dead…There was darkness in high places and darkness in low places…a gross, thick, religious and moral darkness – a darkness that might be felt.’ (p.14)

2. The Church was ineffective
Describing both the Anglican Churches and the Free Churches he writes, ‘They existed, but they could hardly be said to have lived. They did nothing; they were sound asleep.’

‘Cold morality, or barren orthodoxy, formed the staple teaching both in church and chapel. Sermons everywhere were little better than miserable moral essays, utterly devoid of anything likely to awaken, convert or save souls.’ (p.14)

3. Church Leaders were distracted
Speaking of the Anglican clergy, Ryle doesn’t hold back: ‘The vast majority of them were sunk in worldliness, and neither knew nor cared anything about their profession…They hunted, they shot, they farmed, they swore, they drank, they gambled. They seemed determined to know everything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’

‘And when they did preach, their sermons were so unspeakable and indescribably bad, that it is comforting to reflect they were generally preached to empty benches.’ (p.17)

4. The People were sceptical of true Christian faith

‘The land was deluged with infidelity and scepticism. The prince of this world made good use of his opportunity.’ (p.15)

‘It may suffice it to say that duelling, adultery, fornication, gambling, swearing, Sabbath-breaking and drunkenness were hardly regarded as vices at all. They were the fashionable practices of people in the highest ranks of society, and no one was thought the worse of for indulging them.’ (p.18)

Told you he didn’t hold back! Next time we’ll hear Ryle on how things got turned around.

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

John Wesley and William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce

Fighting Slavery
While George Whitefield was seeking to improve the treatment of slaves in America, and to bring them to Christ, John Wesley could, from the relative comfort of England, see far more objectively: Slavery must not merely be adjusted or improved – it must be abolished altogether!

Wesley had not come to this conclusion all at once. Like Whitefield, he was appalled at the treatment of the slaves he had seen in America, but he had not then thought it a crime.

He later met John Newton, a former slave trader who had been converted and had quit the trade. But apparently neither of the two Johns had yet seen the need to oppose slavery.

The value of reading widely

Anthony Benezet’s Historical Account of Slavery

The change came when he read an account of slavery written by American Quaker, Anthony Benezet, which described in detail the reality of slavery.

Wesley was horrified by the brutality and shamed by the heartlessness of such wickedness and became determined to go to print.

Thoughts on Slavery by John Wesley

In 1774 he published ‘Thoughts on Slavery’ in which he wrote,

‘If therefore you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing of mercy, nor of the revealed law of GOD) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature.

‘Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary choice. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! Be gentle towards men. And see that you invariably do unto every one, as you would he should do unto you.’ (‘Thoughts on Slavery’ by John Wesley)

It was primarily through reading the words of Wesley in this short publication that John Newton came to see that slavery was indeed a crime. [i]

The value of writing letters
John Wesley influenced many of the major players in the fight against slavery in 18th Century Britain and America.

In fact, his very last letter was sent to a young politician named William Wilberforce, who would spend much of his political life fighting for the abolition of the slave trade.

Wesley’s last letter
To Wilberforce he wrote,

‘DEAR SIR,

Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra mundum, [an ‘Athanasius against the world.’] I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.

‘Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils.

‘But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing.

‘Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

‘Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance, that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a law in all our Colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this!
‘That He who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant,

John Wesley’ (from the WCO)

Wesley’s passion and encouragement, and his last letter, helped the young Wilberforce to fight successfully until the British parliament finally signed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

More next time…

[i] John Pollock, John Wesley (London:Hodder, 1989) p.235

© 2010 Lex Loizides

Come see a Christian triumphing over death!

Newgate Prison, London

We saw earlier how John Lancaster, a prisoner condemned to death in Newgate prison, had come to faith in Christ.

Now we see him at his last moment and at his most triumphant. The year was 1748 and John Wesley recorded the events for future generations in his journals.

As Lancaster was led out of his cell, his confession was “Blessed be the day I came into this place! O what a glorious work hath the Lord carried on in my soul since I came hither!”

“O that I could tell the thousandth part of the joys I feel!”
Wesley adds, ‘Then he said to those near him, “O my dear friends, join in praise with me a sinner! O for a tongue to praise Him as I ought! My heart is like fire…I am ready to burst…O that I could tell the thousandth part of the joys I feel!”

‘One saying, “I am sorry to see you in that condition.” He answered, “I would not change it for ten thousands worlds.”

‘From the press-yard he was removed into a large room where he exhorted all the officers to repentance.

Thomas Atkins was brought in, whom he immediately asked, “How is it between God and your soul?” He answered, “Blessed be God, I am ready.”

Newgate Prison, London by George Shepherd

“By one o’clock I will be in Paradise!”
An officer asked what time it was and Lancaster happily replied, “By one I shall be in Paradise, safely resting in Abraham’s bosom…I see [Jesus] by faith, standing at the right hand of God, with open arms to receive our souls.”

Another asked, “Which is Lancaster?” and he answered, “Here I am. Come see a Christian triumphing over death.”

‘A bystander said, “Be steadfast to the end.” He answered, “I am, by the grace of God, as steadfast as the rock I am built upon, and that rock is Christ.”

Why no-one should despair
‘Then he said to the people, “Cry to the Lord for mercy, and you will surely find it. I have found it; therefore none should despair. When I came first to this place, my heart was as hard as my cell walls, and as black as hell. But now I am washed, now I am made clean by the blood of Christ.”’

Speaking of the prayer time he had with other prisoners the night before he said, “I was as it were in heaven. O, if a foretaste be so sweet, what must the full enjoyment be?”

Wesley continues, ‘The people round, the mean time, were in tears; and the officers stood like men affrighted.’

Praying for the Nations and the Local Church
‘Then Lancaster exhorted one in doubt, never to rest till he had found rest in Christ. After this he broke out into strong prayer…that the true Gospel of Christ might spread to every corner of the habitable earth; that the [Methodist] congregation at the Foundery might abound more and more in the knowledge and love of God…’

‘When the officers told them it was time to go, [the converted prisoners] rose with inexpressible joy, and embraced each other…’

“I am going to Paradise today!”
‘Coming into the press yard, he saw Sarah Peters. He stepped to her, kissed her, and earnestly said, “I am going to Paradise today; and you will follow me soon.”

‘The crowd being great, they could not readily get through. So he had another opportunity of declaring the goodness of God [saying] “Rely on Him for mercy and you will surely find it.”

‘Turning to the spectators he said, “It is but a short time and we shall be where all sorrow and sighing flee away. Turn from the evil of your ways; and you also shall stand with the innumerable company on Mount Zion…See that you love Christ; and then you will come there too!”

‘All the people who saw them seemed to be amazed; but much more when they came to the place of execution. A solemn awe overwhelmed the whole multitude.

‘As soon as the executioner had done his part with Lancaster, and the two that were with him, he called for a hymn book, and gave out a hymn with a clear, strong voice.

‘Even,’ John Wesley adds, ‘a little circumstance that followed seems worth observing. His body was carried away by a company hired by the surgeons. But a crew of sailors pursued them, took it from them by force, and delivered it to his mother…

‘He died on Friday October 28 and was buried on Sunday the 30th.’
(All quotes from John Wesley’s Journal, Vol 2, p.123-125, Baker Edition)

© 2010 Lex Loizides

Noisy Meetings!

The Problem of Praiseless Praise and Joyless Joy!
Most Christians are used to passion in their gathered church meetings. It would be strange, in a perfectly logical sense, to encounter strict formality, dull routine and lacklustre praise (how can you praise someone blandly, with praiseless praise, joyless joy?)

The Bible repeatedly exhorts us to praise God with joy filled hearts and even with shouts of joy!

The Sound Psalmists
David says, ‘I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart’ (Ps 9:1) and the sons of Korah cry repeatedly, ‘Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.’ (Ps 47:6)

You have to admit, you don’t need to go far in the Book of Psalms to realise these guys are exhorting the gathered community of God’s people to exuberant expressions of joy!

Again, Psalm 66:17 says ‘I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.’ And there’s even a Biblical exhortation to clap our hands and shout – during a time of worship!! (see Psalm 47:1)

Anyhow, for the great Evangelistic preachers of the 18th Century, the noise didn’t usually come from meetings of believers.

Noise, sometimes overriding everything else, came from the mobs and crowds that were hired to disrupt their meetings, and who blew trumpets, banged on drums and threw copious amounts of dirt and stones.

The meetings were also disturbed by the loud cries and shrieks of those who were suddenly aware of their desperate need of God’s forgiveness, or who were being delivered from some form of bondage.

Non-Christians behaving, Christians raving!
However, when Wesley visited Gwennap in Cornwall (England) in 1747 he was surprised by a welcome reversal.

A very large crowd gathered to listen attentively to his preaching. Wesley writes, ‘About half an hour after five I began at Gwennap. I was afraid my voice would not suffice for such an immense multitude.

‘But my fear was groundless; as the evening was quite calm, and the people all attention.

‘It was more difficult to be heard in meeting the society, amidst the cries of those, on the one hand, who were pierced through as with a sword, and of those, on the other, who were filled with joy unspeakable.’
(from John Wesley’s Journal, Vol 2, p.62, Baker Edition)

May God give us such ‘revival’ scenes once more, with multitudes gathering to hear the good news of the grace of God in Christ, and church meetings filled with foretastes of heavenly glory.

More next time…

© 2010 Lex Loizides

John Wesley Speaks to a Violent Mob

See the first part of this story here

John Wesley, making an entry in his journal for 20th June 1743, wrote,

‘Before five the mob surrounded the house again, in greater numbers than ever. The cry of one and all was, “Bring out the Minister! We will have the Minister!”

‘I desired one to take their captain by the hand and bring him into the house.

The ring leaders calm down once they meet John Wesley personally
‘After a few sentences interchanged between us the lion was become a lamb.

‘I desired him to go and bring one or two more of the most angry of his companions.

‘He brought in two, who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he.

Wesley decides to go out and address the angry crowd
‘I then bade them make way that I might go out among the people.

‘As soon as I was in the midst of them I called for a chair; and, standing up, asked, “What do any of you want with me?” Some said, “We want you to go with us to the Justice.”

‘I replied, “That I will, with all my heart.”

Wesley senses an evangelistic opportunity!
‘I then spoke a few words, which God applied; so that they cried out with might and main, “This gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defence.”

‘I asked, “Shall we go to the Justice tonight or in the morning?”

‘Most of them cried, “Tonight, tonight!”

A crowd of more than 200 people decide to walk Wesley to the Magistrate’s house!
‘[Hearing this] I went before [them] and two or three hundred followed, the rest returning whence they came.’

Wesley’s most frightening night was only just beginning. Although he thought he had steered the situation to a peaceful outcome, the decision to search for a Magistrate would prove to be a decision that Wesley and most of the crowd were later to regret.

What happened next is probably not what you think…

(All quotes from John Wesley’s Journal, Vol 1, p.436-7, Baker Edition)

For more on Wesley and Whitefield click here
For the next installment of this story click here

© 2010 Lex Loizides

Don’t Become Weary of Doing Good

The Market Cross in old Epworth

God gives us encouragements in the midst of difficulties. And each encouragement is deeply appreciated. Your leadership challenge may be tough for reasons that are entirely outside yourself.

It’s great to hear news of numerical breakthroughs and blessing in other places. We’re often helpfully stirred to pray and believe for greater breakthrough in our own towns.

But faithfulness to God’s call, with a heart toward God and a helping hand toward man, can sow spiritual seed that will produce fruit not only in our generation but also in the one to come.

After preaching each day for a week in his home-town of Epworth (Lincolnshire, England), John Wesley describes the huge crowd who heard him and reflects on the faithful labours of his father, Samuel Wesley, who was a minister in that town.

Wesley preaches to ‘a vast multitude’
He writes, ‘At six I preached for the last time in Epworth church-yard [he had been preaching on his father’s grave stone, after being denied the use of the church pulpit] to a vast multitude gathered together from all parts…

‘I continued among them for near three hours; and yet we scarce knew how to part.

‘O let none think his labour of love is lost because the fruit does not immediately appear!

‘Near forty years did my father labour here; but he saw little fruit of all his labour…but now the fruit appeared.

‘There were scarce any in the town on whom either my father or I had taken any pains formerly, but the seed, sown so long since, now sprung up, bringing forth repentance and remission of sins.’
(John Wesley’s Journals, Vol 1, Baker edition, p.379-380)

Galatians 6:9 says, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

1 Corinthians 15:58 says, ‘Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’

Be encouraged as you seek to share the gospel of grace in your community – and remember Epworth and how years of sowing did eventually produce a massive harvest!

More next time…

© 2010 Lex Loizides

Angry Wife Leads to Evangelists’ Acquittal (because she’s no longer angry)

Ever met someone who could give such a tongue lashing that you were nervous of even saying hello?

Well, one poor husband who endured such rebukes for many years found himself in a tight spot – in court. His wife had suddenly stopped her verbal attacks and became considerate and mild – but the husband still wasn’t happy. What was the cause and what would the Judge say?

John Wesley, writing in his journal in 1742 tells the story:

Wednesday, 9 June: ‘I rode over to a neighbouring town, to wait upon a Justice of Peace, a man of candour and understanding; before whom (I was informed) their angry neighbours had carried a whole wagon-load of these new heretics.’ [ie, new Christian converts along with some of those who had been sharing the gospel with them]

‘But when asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgot.

‘At length one said, “Why, they pretend to be better than other people…and besides, they prayed from morning to night.”

‘Mr. S asked, “But have they done nothing besides?”

“Yes Sir!”, said an old man, “An’t please your worship, they have convarted my wife. Till she went among them she had such a tongue! And now she is as quiet as a lamb!”

“Carry them back, carry them back,” replied the Justice, “and let them convert all the scolds in the town!”
(From John Wesley’s Journal, Vol 1, Baker edition, p.378)

Gal 5:22-23 says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’

More next time…

© 2010 Lex Loizides

John Wesley Preaching on his Father’s Grave

John Wesley Preaches from his Father's Grave

On Sunday June 6th 1742 John Wesley, the English Evangelist re-visited his home town, Epworth in Lincolnshire.

This was the town of his birth and his father had been the Pastor of the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church there. The Wesley children had been raised there.

Prior to the Sunday service beginning Wesley offered to assist the Curate with the service, either by preaching or ‘reading prayers’ (from the Book of Common Prayer, then used by Anglicans).

The curate wasn’t keen, and we pick up the story from Wesley’s Journal:

‘He did not care to accept my assistance. The church was exceeding full in the afternoon, a rumour being spread that I was to preach.

‘But the sermon on ‘Quench not the Spirit’ was not suitable to the expectation of many of the hearers. Mr. Romney told them one of the most dangerous ways of quenching the Spirit was by enthusiasm; and enlarged on the character of an enthusiast…’

It’s quite likely that John Wesley, his friends and many of the people could clearly understand that the dodgy ‘character’ being described was Wesley himself!

‘Mr. Wesley will preach in the graveyard!’
Wesley continues, ‘After sermon, John Taylor stood in the church-yard, and gave notice, as the people were coming out, ‘Mr. Wesley, not being permitted to preach in the church, designs to preach here at six o’clock.’

‘Accordingly at six I came, and found such a congregation as I believe Epworth never saw before.

‘I stood near the east end of the church, upon my father’s tomb stone and cried, ‘The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’

We might expect that many left the Church of England because of the combination of the Curate’s and Wesley’s behaviour. And they did. But Wesley remained a loyal Anglican to the very end, urging new converts to attend the very churches that were teaching against the evangelical movement and preaching specifically against him and Whitefield.

In fact, because some who had left what they considered an unbelieving church were urging others to leave, Wesley, the very same day he had defied the Curate, decided to stay in Epworth and plead with several to remain within the Church of England.

It was a religious loyalty and tension that he struggled with all through his life.

While he was in Epworth he preached every evening of that week from his father’s grave to great crowds who continued to hear him. (all quotes from John Wesley’s Journal, Baker edition, Vol 1, p.377)

It was only near the end that he finally faced the inevitable and laid hands on the first apostolic delegate to America, Thomas Coke. Coke, in turn, had authority to appoint other leaders over the Methodist work in America.

So the Methodist movement, finally freed from its traditional English roots, became established in its own right and for many years became a mighty mouthpiece for evangelical Christianity around the world.

More next time…

© 2009 Lex Loizides