Monday, February 20, 2012

Three Things that All Jesus' Disciples Do

Jesus' disciples, all of them, Come to Jesus, Listen to Jesus, and Live for Jesus. They depend on Jesus (and Jesus alone) for acceptance with God, they believe what Jesus teaches and they do what he commands. They Come to Christ, Hear Christ and Obey Christ. They come to him for pardon and acceptance, they listen to him for faith and live according to his word for joy.

So, Christians, heed the words of your Savior and (1) Come to Jesus, who is the only way to the Father and only hope of salvation; (2) Listen to Jesus like your life depended on it (because it does); and (3) Live as if Jesus is really your Lord and treasure (especially in the storms of life).

Charles Simeon elaborates this point in his comments on Matthew 7:24.

"In the words before us he describes,the character and condition of the godly— Their character is drawn in simple but comprehensive terms—

“They come to Christ:” this is absolutely necessary to their entrance on the divine life: till they have come to Christ under a sense of their own guilt and helplessness, they have no pretensions to godliness; they are obnoxious to the curse of the law, and the wrath of God.

After they have come to Christ, “they hear his sayings;” they sit at his feet, like Mary,” desiring to be fully instructed in his mind and will. With this view they study the Holy Scriptures, and “meditate in them day and night:” with this view also they attend the ordinances, and “receive the word, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God.”

They do not, however, rest in hearing his sayings; but they go forth to “do them.” They desire to know his will in order that they may do it. They love the most searching discourses, because by them they discover the evil of their own hearts, and are led to aspire after a fuller conformity to the Divine image: nor would they rest, till they feel every “thought and desire captivated to the obedience of Christ.”

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Lesson in Showing Proof of Our Love, from John Paton

As Derek preached from 2 Corinthians 8 this morning, and especially as he exhorted us to "show proof of our love" (2 Cor 8:24) in light of and in response to God's lavish love to us in the giving and sending of his Son, Jesus Christ and in the Son's gracious self-giving (2 Cor 8:9), I thought of the story of Scottish Missionary John Paton, who was deeply motivated in his life and ministry and mission by a loving earthly father who loved the heavenly Father.

I think it was my professor, David B. Calhoun, who first brought this story to my attention. When John Paton was leaving home for Glasgow to study theology and medicine and to work amongst the urban poor, before eventually heading to the New Hebrides to minister among the cannabilistic inhabitants what is now Vanuatu, he recounts this touching story of parting with his dear father on the road from Totherwald to Kilmarnock.

"My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene.

"For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence—my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl’s down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me; and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain!

"We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!”

"Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted.

"I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him—gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I rounded the corner and out of sight in instant.

"But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for time. "Then, rising up cautiously, I climbed the dike to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dike and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face toward home, and began to return—his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me.

"I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as he had given me.

"The appearance of my father when we parted has often through life risen vividly before my mind, and does so now as if it had been but an hour ago. In my earlier years particularly, when exposed to many temptations, his parting form rose before me as that of a guardian Angel. It is no pharisaism, but deep gratitude, which makes me here testify that the memory of that scene not only helped to keep me pure from the prevailing sins, but also stimulated me in all my studies, that I might not fall short of his hopes, and in all my Christian duties, that I might faithfully follow his shining example. (Autobiography, pp. 25-26)

We have an even more wonderful and loving heavenly Father than John Paton's earthly father. Shouldn't we want to show proof of our love to him, because of his great love and grace to us, in giving to the cause of his Son's kingdom (2 Corinthians 8:24)? Isn't that precisely what Paul was saying to the Corinthians?