Tag Archives: mercy

Jonathan Edwards and Doing Good

26 Mar

Jonathan Edwards helped us move to Africa. 

It sounds funny to say that, given that he lived and died so many years ago now. But, I was doing a lot of thinking at the time about Christians and the financially poor, and I came upon the Jonathan Edwards Center’s website where they had many of his sermons available to study.  

So I studied and read and was challenged to see how much he had to say about it. More importantly, how much the Bible had to say about it. 

Unfortunately, I am not the best at filing. O.k., maybe the worst. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had many of those sermons printed out somewhere now. Somewhere being the key word. 

Recently however I began looking again for some of the sermons I remembered best from several years ago and I thought I might at least share the links here for your benefit. 

To Be Much in Deeds of Charity is the Way to Spiritual Discoveries:  

“If we would seek sp. discoveries in a Right way we must not only abound in the duties of the first Table we must not only spend a Great deal of time in the duty of Prayer Crying Earnestly to G. for the discoveries we need & desire but we must also abound in 2d Table duties & particularly in works of Love in deeds of Charity or works of love. This is the way to be successful.”

Duty of Charity to the Poor:

“Tis the most absolute and indispensable duty of a people of God to give bountifully and willingly for the supply of the wants of the needy.”

Mercy and Not Sacrifice:

“Moral duties towards men are a more important and essential part of religion than external acts of worship of God.”

Longsuffering and Kindness:  (With this particular message, you have to scroll down a bit, to get to the part on kindness in particular.)

“I come now secondly to show that a Christian spirit disposes persons freely to do good to others. In speaking to this point I would, first, briefly open the nature of the duty of doing good to others; second, show how that a Christian spirit will dispose persons to this”.

Degrees of Glory: 

 “{Future degrees of glory will be} in proportion to the good that they do. The good that persons do is twofold, either in directly glorifying God’s name, or doing good to their fellow creatures. They that glorify God here, God will reward them by crowning them with glory hereafter. 1 Samuel 2:30, “They that honor me I will honor.” And they that do good to others shall be rewarded, whether to their souls or bodies. They that do lay out themselves, and are the means of good to others’ souls, shall have indeed the greatest reward. And therefore ’tis said that they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars. But they that do good to others’ outward man shall not lose their reward, especially in ways of charity to the poor. He that gives to the poor lends to the Lord; and that which he gives him, he shall pay him again (Proverbs 19:17). Christ tells us that which is done to one of the least of his brethren, he looks upon as done to him (Matthew 25:40). And his promise that not one cup of cold water given to these little ones, [shall in no wise] lose its reward (Matthew 10:42).”

An Apologetic for Orphan Care part five

19 Feb

You sometimes get the feeling when you begin to talk about adoption with some individuals that they feel like you are talking about a lightweight doctrine.  Not so!  Adoption is one of the highest and most significant privileges the gospel reveals.  In fact, J.I. Packer once said if he were asked to summarize the New Testament message in three words his proposal would be “adoption through propitiation and I do not expect to ever meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.”  If you are able, we would love to have you come and explore why he says that with us on March 1 and 2nd at Together for Adoption South Africa. For now, I thought I could share a couple more biblical proofs caring for orphans is such an important part of worshiping God. 

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Do you want revival?

For a Christian, that’s a strange question.  Of course we want revival.  Desperately.  

A better question might be, is there any way we can prepare ourselves for it?

Our minds immediately run to the importance of prayer.  They should.  But a few years ago I was reading a sermon by Jonathan Edwards in which he notes another way the Bible seems to indicate we can get ourselves ready for revival.  

He makes a surprising connection between deeds of charity and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit..

“If we really want an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we must not only spend a great deal of time in the duty of prayer crying earnestly to God, but we must also abound in deeds of charity and love.”

Now, please understand it’s not that we earn revival. The price is too high to be able to purchase it. Jonathan Edwards understood grace and the sovereignty of God.

But still he noted passages like Isaiah 58.   

Israel comes to God with a problem.  They feel like they are fasting and seeking Him and He’s not showing up and they want to know what’s happening.  

God comes to the people with an answer.  He tells them the kind of fast He wants.  

“Is not this the fast that I choose to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked, to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

God connects deeds of charity with worship and what will be the result of this kind of worship according to God?

“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily. Your righteousness shall go before you. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer. You shall cry and you will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noon day and the Lord will guide you continually.”

In other words, a kind of revival.  

This may be part of why we see such a passion for this in the early church. This is something the early church was passionate about. This concern for the poor, especially widows and orphans, is not only an Old Testament concept.

One of the very first things the early leaders of the church did in Acts six was what?

Establish a way to care for widows. When Paul writes a letter to Timothy explaining how to run a church, he gets very specific about this in First Timothy five, saying, “Honor widows, who are widows indeed.” He lays out a plan for exactly how the church is to go about doing that. A quick survey of the New Testament reveals that someone has written a startling level of commitment to ministries of compassion.

Tabatha was a woman whose chief occupation was helping the poor. Acts nine, Barnabas was a man of some means, who made a mark on the early Christian communities by supplying the needs of the poor out of his own bank account. Acts four, by spearheading efforts and taking up collections for famine stricken Judeans. Titus was a young disciple of Paul, who organized a collection for poor Christians in Jerusalem.

Later, he superintended relief efforts in Corinth. Paul was a man himself who is deeply committed to remembering the poor. I think a fascinating passage of Scripture is Galatians, Chapter two, where Paul describes his meeting with the leaders of the early church. You think, “What must they have talked about in this meeting? Doctrine, and they must have talked about big doctrine.”

We know, in fact, they did talk about big issues. But I picture it Paul is about to leave, he’s about to get up to go and he says, “The only thing they asked me at the end was to remember the poor.” He was about to go. “Paul, remember the poor.” What does Paul say? “That’s the very thing I was eager to do.”

The good Samaritan is the lead character in one of Christ’s best‑loved parables. When all others, who were supposedly righteous, skirted the responsibility of charity, the Samaritan took up its mantle. Christ concluded, “Go and do likewise.”

As someone has written, “These early Christian heroes fully comprehended that religion that our God and father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress. They knew that true repentance evidenced itself in sharing food and sustenance with the hungry.”  

When you trust God, when you trust God, when you are worshiping God, when you believe God is for you, you are not nearly as desperate to be for yourself.  

When you are worshiping an idol, that idol has nothing he can really give you. That idol doesn’t answer your prayers. He has nothing he can do for you, so you have to be about yourself. You can’t think about the vulnerable. You can’t think about the needy, because you have to get what you need to get and you need to fix your life just the way you like it. But when you are worshiping God and when you are coming from God and when you understand the gospel that God, the father, the creator of this universe, is entirely for you, that frees you up to be for people you never would be for normally. Because you know God was for you and you didn’t deserve that.

It’s never about being saved by showing mercy. It’s always about that the person, who has truly received God’s mercy, shows it. 

An Apologetic for Orphan Care part four

18 Feb

It is hard to believe Together for Adoption is less than two weeks away.  We are looking forward to a missions team from the United States coming at the end of this week, then a trip to Lesotho to help build a church facility and bang, the conference is here!  Please be praying that God will use this conference to encourage his people and to help fuel a movement. And oh yeah, if you haven’t registered yet, this is the week!  To motivate you, we have been working our way through James 1:27, trying to understand why James brings up the way we care for orphans a test of the reality of our religion.  Here’s yet another reason the church should be serious about orphan care.

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This is one of the chief ways we worship God, sacrificially giving to the vulnerable.

Visiting orphans in their distress is about worship. Please hear me. This is about worship. It’s about worship.

This is not simply about being Oprah, worshiping yourself. It’s instead about worshiping God.  If we don’t get that and we make this about worshiping self, we ruin it. 

There are different ways we worship God.  One way is internal…faith, love, that’s the most important. Then there’s another way we worship God, going to church and engaging in public acts of worship. Then there is still a third way we worship God, sacrificially giving to those who are in need, private acts of worship, obedient, serving others, because we love God.

Out of those three, obviously the first, faith, is most important. Of the other two, we tend to place a greater priority on public acts of worship, don’t we? But we must not forget that God also places a great emphasis on loving God through sacrificial obedient worship.  God places such a great emphasis on this that when he compares the two (public worship versus sacrificial love) in importance, he often stresses worship through sacrificial love.  I could give you proof after proof of that, but here’s just one Micah 6:6‑8. Mark it down. “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come for him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with 10,000s of rivers of oil? He has told you, oh man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”

This has to do with worship. People who have been shown undeserved grace are compelled to respond, they want to make God look great and so they look for opportunities to show others undeserved grace as well.  It makes sense for James to bring up the way we relate to orphans and widows and vulnerable people, as a test of the reality of our religion, because it’s connected to our attitude towards God. It has to do with worship. The God of love loves to be worshiped by people of love.