Martyn Lloyd Jones documentary on George Whitefield- England’s open air preacher, friend of Wesley

Fourteen minute documentary, narrated by Martyn Lloyd Jones:

George Whitefield –  (1714-1770), Methodist  Evangelist, among first to ignite Great Awakening in England’s 18th century

George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England. The youngest of seven children, he was born in the Bell Inn where his father, Thomas, was a wine merchant and innkeeper. His father died when George was two and his widowed mother Elizabeth struggled to provide for her family. Because he thought he would never make much use of his education, at about age 15 George persuaded his mother to let him leave school and work in the inn. However, sitting up late at night, George became a diligent student of the Bible. A visit to his Mother by an Oxford student who worked his way through college encouraged George to pursue a university education. He returned to grammar school to finish his preparation to enter Oxford, losing only about one year of school.

In 1732 at age 17, George entered Pembroke College at Oxford. He was

Whitefield preached in open air

gradually drawn into a group called the „Holy Club” where he met John and Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley loaned him the book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. The reading of this book, after a long and painful struggle which even affected him physically, finally resulted in George’s conversion in 1735. He said many years later: „I know the place…. Whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to the spot where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me and gave me the new birth.”

Forced to leave school because of poor health, George returned home for nine months of recuperation. Far from idle, his activity attracted the attention of the bishop of Gloucester, who ordained Whitefield as a deacon, and later as a priest, in the Church of England. Whitefield finished his degree at Oxford and on June 20, 1736, Bishop Benson ordained him. The Bishop, placing his hands upon George’s head, resulted in George’s later declaration that „My heart was melted down and I offered my whole spirit, soul, and body to the service of God’s sanctuary.”

Whitefield was an astounding preacher from the beginning. Though he was slender in build, he stormed in the pulpit as if he were a giant. Within a year it was said that „his voice startled England like a trumpet blast.” At a time when London had a population of less than 700,000, he could hold spellbound 20,000 people at a time at Moorfields and Kennington Common. For thirty-four years his preaching resounded throughout England and America. In his preaching ministry he crossed the Atlantic thirteen times and became known as the ‘apostle of the British empire.’

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He was a firm Calvinist in his theology (but retained a deep friendship with John Wesley, none the less)yet unrivaled as an aggressive evangelist. Though a clergyman of the Church of England, he cooperated with and had a profound impact on people and churches of many traditions, including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists. Whitefield, along with the Wesleys, inspired the movement that became known as the Methodists. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, an average of 500 a year or ten a week. Many of them were given over and over again. Fewer than 90 have survived in any form. (VIA). Click here – If you would like to read more on Whitefield.

George Whitefield’s impact in the U.S.A.

English evangelist, prominent figure in America’s Great Awakening, was born in Gloucester, England to an innkeeper’s family.  The family’s limited means led a family friend to step forward to provide Whitefield enough money to begin his education at Oxford University’s Pembroke College.  There Whitefield came into contact with a small band of pious students lampooned by their fellows as the “Holy Club.”  He was greatly influenced by the group’s leader, John Wesley, and eventually underwent a profound religious awakening that convinced him of his need to reach others with the necessity of the New Birth.  Although he would stay on friendly and supportive terms with Wesley, Whitefield remained a Calvinist on such issues as free will and predestination.

In 1737 he was ordained a preaching deacon in the Church of England and immediately took to the road as an itinerant evangelist.  What was particularly new about his methods was that he opted for preaching outside of ecclesiastical settings in the open air in town and countryside.  Another innovation was his effective use of newspapers, leaflets, and pamphlets to stimulate interest in his arrival.  And, unlike the clergy in the Anglican Church, Whitefield preached without the benefit of notes, believing that extemporaneous discourse made one more open to the Spirit’s promptings and was closer in preaching style to that used by the biblical prophets and apostles.  Observers marveled at his dramatic style and rhetorical flourish: the famous English actor David Garrick is reported to have exclaimed that he “would give a hundred guineas” if he could only “say ‘oh!’ like Mr. Whitefield.”

Whitefield took his first trip to America in 1738 and there founded his famed orphanage, “Bethesda,” just outside Savannah, Georgia–subsequent preaching tours would all raise funds for this enterprise over the years.  Whitefield’s second American preaching tour of 1739-1741 was a smash success, gaining strength as he travelled from the South northwards through Philadelphia.  As he toured the towns and cities of New England in 1740 he reaped the benefits of generations of Puritan preaching and Jonathan Edwards‘ recent revivals.  Crowds estimated at ten, twenty, and more thousand flocked from all over New England to hear him preach.

Over the next thirty years Whitefield made five more trips to America, as well as numerous excursions through the English countryside and into Wales and Scotland.  By the time of his death in 1770 Whitefield could be credited with establishing evangelical Protestantism on both sides of the Atlantic through the thousands of souls who experienced the “New Birth” under his preaching, and the legion of preachers he inspired to follow in his footsteps. (VIA)

see also

Doug Wilson – Religious Freedom and the First Amendment

Doug Wilson is pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, theologian and author of several dozen books, and has also debated Christopher Hitchens throughout the United States. the following are notes from 2 clips and just the 3rd clip by itself from his sermon October 7th, 2012 which was designated Pulpit Sunday throughout the United States:

So what do we say to secularists? What do we say to these men who do not want this risen Jesus to rule over them?

We say: We say that Christ had died. Christ was buried. We say that Christ was risen and we add, „There is nothing whatever that you can do about it now. You can’t undo it. If you didn’t want Him to rise from the dead you should have thought about that before you killed Him. You should have thought about that before you crucified Him.

Paul says, „This was not done in a corner. Hundreds of people saw the resurrection. Jesus was crucified in the public square. If you don’t want Jesus to be the Lord over the public square, you should have thought about that before you crucified Him in the public square. Because, when He went in the ground, He came back from the dead, and He came back from the dead in public.

And then He gathered His disciples who had been discouraged and they were despondent. They were hiding in the upper room. He gathered them all up together and he gathered them up on a mountain and He said, „Go. Tell everybody. Even the Americans… especially the Americans… because they’re gonna get above themselves. They’re gonna think they’ve got this zone of neutrality. They’re gonna think that they’ve got this thing going. They’ve got this secular vibe going. Tell all the nations, every nation, every tribe, every language group, every people group, tell every last one of them that they have been purchased with my blood . They don’t belong to them selves anymore and moreover they cannot belong to themselves anymore. It’s done. Jesus rose and there’s nothing whatever that can be done about it. Glory to God. (SEE VIDEO clip HERE)

Religious Freedom and the First Amendment

Sermon Clip: Religious Freedom and the First Amendment from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

My notes from Religious freedom & the 1st amendment – Doug Wilson: We believe that all kings and all presidents, we believe that all Congresses, all parliaments, every assembly of men have a moral and a true obligation to bow down and kiss the Son, lest He be angry with them. Psalm 2:12 We believe that Jesus told us, our marching orders were to disciple all the nations of men, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. That’s in Matthew 28:18-20. Now, if Jesus says to disciple all the nations, if He says to baptize them, if He says to teach them to obey everything I’ve commanded you- that includes our nation.

Jesus didn’t say this about all the nations, excepts ones that have a first amendment- falsely interpreted. The first amendment does not require Americans to be religiously neutral. If it did, then the Bible would require us to ignore the first amendment…. In a federal system like ours, it doesn’t cause any problems at all if the national bird is the bald eagle and the state bird of Maryland is the Oriole, and different states have different birds. You can have a national flower and a state flower and nobody gets worked up. But, if you have a particular denomination of Christians that’s the established church of Virginia, and another one that’s the established church of Connecticut, and another one that’s the established church of Pennsylvania (let’s say), if you have different established churches and then you create a church of the United States- a national church over the whole shebang, you’re setting the stage for religious conflict.

When the constitution was adopted, 9 of the 13 colonies had established christian churches  at the state level. 9 of the 13 colonies that approved the constitution had established christian churches at the state level. 9 of 13. The constitution did not prohibit the states from acknowledging the fact that Jesus was Lord.  ( of the 13 did acknowledge that Jesus was Lord when the constitution was adopted. They said, in the first amendment: Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion. Congress is the only entity that can violate the first amendment…. And they can violate it by establishing a church of the United States, like there’s a Church of Denmark, and there’s a Church of England. They could violate it by doing that.

They could also violate the first amendment by prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Which they did in 1954, when they passed the Johnson amendment saying: You can’t say this from a christian pulpit.  You can’t say that from a christian pulpit. Somebody’s gonna say, „You’re getting into politics in the pulpit, you’re violating the first amendment.” No, no. Congress is the only entity that can violate the first amendment and Congress has in fact done so repeatedly, over and over again. And, christians, like so many sheep have just followed along and bah. Now, we are sheep and we are supposed to follow along and we are supposed to bah, but, we’re supposed to follow the shepherd, not these people.

Now, this charge that Jesus gave in the great commission to disciple all the nations includes America… We are not secularists with a tiny christian corner in our hearts. We are christians in public, and we are christians in private, with no authorized secular corner in our hearts (that’s compromise)…

…We are christians all the way in… we are christians all the way out. And there are many christians who have compromised themselves by saying, „Caesar can have all the public stuff and I’m gonna keep ‘little devotional cubby’ in the recesses of my heart.” Jesus doesn’t want your devotional cubby, He doesn’t want your little niche, where you go and pray to Jesus, in that little spot. That makes Jesus a sort of limited, finite, household god. He doesn’t wanna be a household god in your heart. He doesn’t wanna be a local Baal. He is the one who rose from the dead and claimed universal dominion over all things.

Who is Being Extreme?

Sermon Clip: Who is Being Extreme? from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

 

Build Your Library – Books on the Puritans

For the beginner wanting to build a Classic library, or for someone who has not yet encountered any Puritanical writings here come some recommendation as to where to start from The Banner of Truth Trust, UK:

When thinking ‘Puritan,’ we will limit ourselves to the period 1600–1688 (alas, no Ryle!). In addition to the evangelical party of the Church of England (‘the Puritans’ proper), we ought also to consider the works of Independents, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. My goal here is to whet your appetite from each of three areas: the praying Puritan, the contented Puritan, and the frowning Puritan. Then I’ll suggest a Puritan companion. Perhaps you’ll want to read more from the Puritans to learn better how to live the pilgrim life in this hostile world, for the alien life wasn’t just the lot of the patriarchs of Genesis or the saints of the New Testament church — it will ever be the life of Christ’s people until he comes. No one has produced better reflections upon the pilgrim life than the Puritans.

1. A wonderful introduction to the Puritan at prayer is the collection edited by AArthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision. Meditate on a prayer each day upon first waking, and allow a great saint to lead you into God’s presence. Get the little leather edition, if you can.

2. The Puritans were pre-eminently preachers of the heart. And they could warm a right stony heart at that. Try this little gem: Thomas Watson, All Things for Good. He preached these messages on Romans 8:28 in 1663, the year after two thousand pulpits were vacated by order of the Crown.

3. The Puritans carried the rod to the pulpit as well. Prepare to be quite stunned upon reading Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven (sometimes entitled Alarm to the Unconverted). Am I really a Christian after all?

4. Lastly, what sort of companion do you want? Frequently chosen over the years have been John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (you can’t go wrong if you get the story of your life from the pen of the tinker, for we are all pilgrims on our way to the heavenly city), William Guthrie’s The Christian’s Great Interest, Samuel Rutherford’s Letters, William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour, Henry Scudder’s The Christian’s Daily Walk, Thomas Brooks’s Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, and John Owen’s The Glory of Christ.

Most of these books have been reprinted by Banner of Truth and are extremely reasonably priced.

 

Who was Richard Sibbes

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)

Image via Wikipedia

Excerpt from Meet the Puritans
by Dr. Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson

(via)Monergism
Richard Sibbes was born in 1577 at Tostock, Suffolk, in the Puritan county of old England. He was baptized in the parish church in Thurston, and went to school there. As a child, he loved books. His father, Paul Sibbes, a hardworking wheelwright and, according to Zachary Catlin, a contemporary biographer of Sibbes, was “a good, sound-hearted Christian,” but became irritated with his son’s interest in books. He tried to cure his son of book-buying by offering him wheelwright tools, but the boy was not dissuaded. With the support of others, Sibbes was admitted to St. John’s College in Cambridge at the age of eighteen. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1599, a fellowship in 1601, and a Master of Arts degree in 1602. In 1603, he was converted under the preaching of Paul Baynes, whom Sibbes called his “father in the gospel.” Baynes, remembered most for his commentary on Ephesians, succeeded William Perkins at the Church of St. Andrews in Cambridge.

Sibbes was ordained to the ministry in the Church of England in Norwich in 1608. He was chosen as one of the college preachers in 1609 and earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1610. From 1611 to 1616, he served as lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. His preaching awakened Cambridge from the spiritual indifference into which it had fallen after the death of Perkins. A gallery had to be built to accommodate visitors in the church. John Cotton and Hugh Peters were converted under Sibbes’s preaching. During his years at Holy Trinity, Sibbes helped turn Thomas Goodwin away from Arminianism and moved John Preston from “witty preaching” to plain, spiritual preaching.

Sibbes came to London in 1617 as a lecturer for Gray’s Inn, the largest of the four great Inns of Court, which still remains one of the most important centers in England for the study and practice of law. In 1626, he also became master of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Under his leadership, the college regained some of its former prestige. It graduated several men who would one day serve prominently at the Westminster Assembly: John Arrowsmith, William Spurstowe, and William Strong. Soon after his appointment, Sibbes received the Doctor of Divinity degree at Cambridge. He became known as “the heavenly Doctor,” due to his godly preaching and heavenly manner of life. Izaac Walton wrote of Sibbes:

Of this blest man, let this just praise be given,
Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven.

In 1633, King Charles I offered Sibbes the charge of Holy Trinity, Cambridge. Sibbes continued to serve as preacher at Gray’s Inn, master of St. Catharine’s Hall, and vicar of Holy Trinity until his death in 1635.

Sibbes never married, but he established an astonishing network of friendships that included godly ministers, noted lawyers, and parliamentary leaders of the early Stuart era. “Godly friends are walking sermons,” he said. He wrote at least thirteen introductions to the writings of his Puritan colleagues.

Sibbes was a gentle man who avoided the controversies of his day as much as possible. “Fractions breed fractions,” he insisted. His battles with Archbishop Laud, Roman Catholics, and Arminians were exceptions. He also remained close friends with many pastors and leaders who wanted more radical reform than he did for the Church of England.

Sibbes was an inspiration to many. He influenced Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Independency, the three dominant parties of the church in England at that time. He was a pastor of pastors, and lived a life of moderation. “Where most holiness is, there is most moderation, where it may be without prejudice of piety to God and the good of others,” he wrote.

The historian Daniel Neal described Sibbes as a celebrated preacher, an educated divine, and a charitable and humble man who repeatedly underestimated his gifts. Yet Puritans everywhere recognized Sibbes as a Christ-centered, experiential preacher. Both learned and unlearned in upper and lower classes profited greatly from Sibbes’s alluring preaching.

Sibbes wrote, “To preach is to woo…. The main scope of all [preaching] is, to allure us to the entertainment of Christ’s mild, safe, wise, victorious government.” He brought truth home, as Robert Burns would say, “to men’s business and bosoms.” Catlin wrote of Sibbes, “No man that ever I was acquainted with got so far into my heart or lay so close therein.” In our day, Maurice Roberts says of Sibbes, “His theology is thoroughly orthodox, of course, but it is like the fuel of some great combustion engine, always passing into flame and so being converted into energy thereby to serve God and, even more, to enjoy and relish God with the soul.”

David Masson, biographer of John Milton, wrote, “No writings in practical theology seem to have been so much read in the mid-seventeenth century among the pious English middle classes as those of Sibbes.” The twentieth-century historian William Haller said Sibbes’s sermons were “the most brilliant and popular of all the utterances of the Puritan church militant.”

Sibbes’s last sermons, preached a week before his death, were on John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you.” When asked in his final days how his soul was faring, Sibbes replied, “I should do God much wrong if I should not say, very well.” Sibbes began his will and testament, dictated on July 4, 1635, the day before his death, with “I commend and bequeath my soul into the hands of my gracious Savior, who hath redeemed it with his most precious blood, and appears now in heaven to receive it.” William Gouge preached Sibbes’s funeral sermon.

Monergism offers several of Sibbes written works here as well as links to his 7 volume set in .pdf form-

Sinclair Ferguson- The Puritans, can they teach us anything today? via Desiring God

you can read this and other articles at the Banner of Truth website here.

On October 20, 2005 at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Dr. Ferguson delivered a lecture titled „The Puritans: Can They Teach Us Anything Today?” Download or listen to the lecture here.

[A lecture given at the Dedication of the Puritan Resource Center Grand Rapids on October 20, 2005]

Because Dr Joel Beeke, the President of the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary is a long-standing friend, propriety and the privilege of years of friendship demanded that I should come and begin to answer this question: „The Puritans: Can They Teach Us Anything Today?”

I suppose the answer to that question depends in some respect on who the „us” refers to. No doubt there are many different people who can learn very different things from the Puritans. If we were, as I take it we are not, a group of educationalists, we would be able to learn a remarkable amount from Puritan education, much of which we badly need to restore to our own educational systems. If we were sociologists or politicians, there is much that we could learn from the social and political vision of the Puritans. If we were historians or theologians, there is much that we could learn about history and theology from the Puritans.

Perhaps one or two among us are educationalists, sociologists, even politicians, historians, or theologians. But most of us here this evening are fundamentally, first and foremost, Christian believers. It is as Christian believers that we want to try to learn whatever we can from those we know as the Puritans.

I want this evening to think about four areas in which the Puritans have something to teach us. It is not my intention to expound the whole of the Puritan vision or deal with every point of theology; rather, I wish to suggest to you that there are a number of general but vital lessons that we can learn today from the struggles, the agonies, the successes, and yes, even the failures of these great Christians who went before us. But before we begin let us ask this question;

Who were these Puritans?

A great Scottish individual with very mixed religious convictions, Thomas Carlyle, once said that the real father of the Puritan movement in England was actually the Scotsman, John Knox. And in many ways there is truth in that statement. John Knox had this burning vision to reform the Church of Jesus Christ so that it no longer had a face that looked as though it had come from Scotland, or from England, or even from Geneva, which he himself said was the most perfect school of Christ since the days of the apostles; but a church that was reformed according to the Scriptures, and understood that it had a place and a time and a location in history. Yet it looked not simply to the status quo or to tradition, but to the Scriptures to discover what the gospel was, what the Christian life was, what the Church was, and what the need of the world was. At great personal cost, Knox sought to reform the church in England, and then later the church in Scotland, in order that the church might be conformed to the New Testament pattern.

In England particularly, where the Reformation had been dominated not by Calvinism and Presbyterianism so much as by Episcopalianism and the government of the church by archbishops and bishops, the Puritan movement took hold: men rising up here and there with a great burden to see what had begun by God’s grace in the later period of Henry VIII, then in the reign of Edward, and then in some measure by individuals in the reign of Elizabeth I in the second half of the sixteenth century. They wanted to see what had come from God make advances, and not be stymied by reaching a level of reformation that contented the Episcopal government but not those who sought a radical, biblical reformation. So towards the end of the sixteenth century, we find individuals arising who, by their very lifestyle and by the summons they gave to the church as a whole to become more like an apostolic church, were described in somewhat demeaning terms as either precisionists or Puritans. Puritans were individuals who wanted to see the church purified according to the teaching of Scripture, and also wanted to see their lives, in great detail, purified by the Word of God. In a way, they took as their motto text the prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17: „Sanctify [or purify] them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

From the late sixteenth century into the middle and latter seventeenth century, a whole wave of individuals were swept into this extraordinary movement-this experiment and gospel transformation that we now look back on these hundreds of years later and speak about as our Puritan forefathers. In many ways their desires were disappointed. In some ways they may have expected too much. Certainly by the close of the seventeenth century, the Puritan movement had run out of energy. For about one hundred years, this swell of piety grew, and then waned once again. And yet, for all the relative failure of their vision, we’re able to look back on them and say, „There are certain principles here, certain emphases here, certain burdens that the church of Jesus Christ in the early twenty-first century needs to recapture all over again.” At root, and at its best, the Puritan movement was a twin-pronged burden to see the reformation of the church according to the teaching of the Scriptures, and the revival and renewing of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit. I want to suggest to you four particular things that seem to me, as I read and study the Puritans, to be things we need to learn.

1] A Sense of Spiritual Brotherhood

The first of them is this: the Puritan movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly but not exclusively of England, underlines for us the significance of spiritual brotherhood in the movements of the Holy Spirit.

In some ways, generally speaking, the early Puritan movement hoped that the church might be reformed and revived through the normal channels of church government. In a rather wonderful way, some of those men who had been touched by God found themselves proceeding through the hierarchy of the Church of England. And yet it has probably always been true that the church of Jesus Christ has never been reformed and revived simply through ordinary channels. Given the fact that the monarch was the governor as well as the protector of the Church of England, the efforts of these early Puritans to revive and reform the church through the normal channels faced obstacles, not least the obstacle of the power of the monarchy.

But these were men with passion. When some of these Puritans saw that they could press their Episcopalian leaders no further, it had at least this salutary effect upon them: they needed to wait upon God and to seek the blessing of God – not so much by the structures of church government, but more directly, by the power of the gospel, the power of prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit. And just at that period something rather striking began to happen. Individuals gained burdens, a little like the burden of the apostle Paul who, whether very deliberately or simply by a sense of spiritual intelligence, always seemed to go to places where the gospel might invade, take hold, and spread to other places and institutions.

In the sixteenth century, some of these Puritans began to realize that the place to start was in one or both of the two great universities in England, and to capture the institutions of learning by and for the gospel-and if that couldn’t be done, then at the very least, capture young men’s hearts and train and tutor them in the gospel.

click photo for podcast-Who are the Puritans?

So, particularly in the days of Elizabeth and her successor, James I, we find a number of these men called into ministry, particularly in the university city of Cambridge. The most significant figure there was, of course, the great William Perkins with his long ministry in Cambridge. There, under the ongoing, regular teaching of the Word of God, young men were converted and called into the ministry. They understood, in a sense, that this was actually the biblical pattern-that the church would not be revived by acts of Parliament, but by schools of the prophets, whether they be in the time of Elijah and Elisha, or whether through the disciple band of our Lord Jesus, or the apostolic band with which we are familiar from the letters of the apostle Paul. One might think here of the famous Cappadocian fathers, a brotherhood concerned to defend the glory of Jesus Christ; or of Augustine and his little group around him, concerned to defend and expound the sovereignty of God’s grace; or of Calvin, Farel, Beza, and others in Geneva-not simply associates together in the government of the church with a formal relationship to one another, but brothers who listened to one another preach, who prayed with one another, who shared one another’s burdens and called upon God to come down and bring sovereign blessings to His church.

It is very interesting as you survey the early period of the Puritan movement that it is almost possible to create a spiritual „family tree” of some of the most notable Puritans of the seventeenth century. One only needs to know a little about their lives to discover how deeply they are interconnected; through one, another would be converted, and by reading his book, another would be converted. The familiar names of the Puritans, like William Gouge, or the Culverwells, or the famous master, John Dodd, or Thomas Hooker, Cotton Mather, Richard Sibbes, John Preston, John Cotton, William Perkins, Thomas Goodwin, William Ames, Paul Baynes, John Owen, or Richard Baxter-as you read their biographies you realize that there is a spiritual progeny here, a spiritual family tree. God was binding them together with a common vision and a common burden, a common prayer life, and therefore a common goal in the ministry of the Word of God.

We badly need that today, don’t we? We need a spiritual brotherhood of brothers in the ministry, spread throughout the nation and the world. Yes, one the spiritual father of another, and another the spiritual brother of another-no hierarchy, no formal supremacy, not seeking to establish their own kingdoms in this world, but bound together by the gospel to establish the kingdom of Jesus Christ in a world that is in such desperate need. I dare say that God ordinarily does great things when ordinary ministers of the gospel are bound together as blood brothers, to live and die together. Then God has in His hands the kind of vessels He is pleased to use as vessels of honor for his glory.

That is something we can learn, especially since we are here with a particular concern for a theological seminary. Beside the excellent teaching and the care that the men who come to the seminary receive from the church, if they are bound together with a common bond of gospel grace to live and die together, then perhaps we may see something on the horizon the size of a man’s hand that will bring to us the showers of God’s blessings. And that leads us to the second thing we can learn from the Puritans, because it is intimately connected with it.

2] Recovering the Pulpit

The Puritan movement teaches us the vital significance of the recovery of the pulpit for the recovery of the church. I said that the Puritans had the vision of capturing the university towns for the gospel because they wanted to capture the pulpits of the land for the gospel. A sociologist today might say what they were doing was seeking to capture the media, and that what we learn from the Puritans is that the true Christian church needs to learn to capture the media. Doubtless that would be true, but it would not quite be the point that the Puritans were making. They did, to a certain extent, capture elements of the seventeenth-century media, but they wanted to capture the pulpits not because they were instruments of the media, but because they were the places where the Word of God could be preached with power. They were dominantly concerned with this.

I suppose one could understand a Christian in the twenty-first century saying, „Well, of course, people came to church; preaching was the great thing in those days.” But that is not true. People often did not come to church. Preaching was impoverished, if it even existed. What was needed was preaching that would break through the common expectations of men and women that preachers say nothing vital to life, in order that the gospel might penetrate into the little societies of rural England as well as the great cities like London, and bring men and women, boys and girls, to the knees of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, seeking salvation.

One of the phrases used with some regularity in the first half of the seventeenth century, when people who knew something spoke about the ministry, was, „What we really need is a godly, resident, educated ministry.” By that they meant a ministry, not that was simply educated in worldly knowledge, but a ministry that was educated so that ministers were actually experts in teaching the gospel.

In my home country of Scotland I dare to say that the Christian ministry is perhaps the most despised profession that exists. Even schoolteachers rate higher than ministers. It is easy to lament, „Oh, for the old days!” But the sad truth of the matter is that if ministers are not experts in teaching the gospel, there is a sense in which we deserve every despite that comes to us, because that is our calling and our profession. The ministry had become a despised profession in the seventeenth century. The pulpits needed to be recaptured by men who understood the gospel line by line and were clearly, powerfully, and spiritually able to articulate that to the people who listened.

Related posts

 

Diary of John Wesley – Introduction and Chapter 1

Excerpts from a fascinating, devoted Christian preacher who founded Methodism, and influenced the modern Pentecostal movement.

John Wesley (28 June  1703 – 2 March 1791) was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield’s Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally.

Wesley’s writing and preachings provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement and the Holiness movement, which encompass numerous denominations across the world. In addition, he refined Arminianism with a strong evangelical emphasis on the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith.

Written by Wesley’s own hand, it gives a tremendous insight to the man.

Below is an Introduction and the 1st Chapter -a couple of the highlights are Wesley’s trip to the United States, and his evangelism of the Indians (interesting conversation with an Indian leader shows that certain  sins know no boundaries in time) .

View this document on Scribd

Albert Mohler on the death of the Church of England as a denomination

You can read entire article from Albert Mohler.

When the Lights Go Out: The Death of a Denomination

When a church forfeits its doctrinal convictions and then embraces ambiguity and tolerates heresy, it undermines its own credibility and embraces its own destruction.

Adrian Hamilton is concerned that the Church of England “will not survive my children’s lifetime and quite possibly not even my own.” Writing in The Independent [London], Hamilton writes of a Church of England that remains established as the national church, but is no longer established in the hearts of the nation.

Interestingly, Hamilton argues that the very fact that the Church of England is an established state church is among the chief causes of its predicament. For most Britons, he argues, the role of the nation’s state church means very little — “some exotic clothes and ritual prayers on state occasions.”

And yet, what Hamilton notes most of all is this: “What is really worrying for the future of the Church, however, is that its leaders themselves seem to have ceased to believe in it.”

Hamilton is not a conservative. He rather smugly dismisses controversies over sexuality and gender. Those debates are not killing the church, he argues. Instead, it is the unspeakable apathy that marks the British people with regard to their state church. “The majority of people are quite happy to profess themselves Christian and Anglican,” he says. “It’s easier to accept than asserting a different faith. But they are not so happy to go to church services or take an active part in its activities.”

Consider this assessment:

The figures are truly dire. While non-Christian faiths have grown stronger and the evangelical Christian churches flourish, the story in the Church of England has been one of almost continuous decline since the war.

Despite a series of initiatives such as Back to Church Sunday and some improvement in the numbers of young people participating in church activities, attendance figures amongst Anglicans have dropped by some 10 per cent over the last decade. Only 1.1m people, some 2 per cent of the population, attend church on a weekly basis, and only 1.7m, or 3 per cent, once a month. This in spite of the fact that around half the population still profess themselves Anglicans.

The decline in paid clergy has been even more rapid. On the Church’s own statistics, the beginning of the new millennium has already seen a fall in over 20 per cent to barely 8,000. On present trends clergy would disappear altogether within half a century.

As valid as the institutional question of establishment may be, the more important factor in this pattern of decline is theological. Churches and denominations decline when they lose or forfeit their passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Bible as the enduring, authoritative, and totally truthful Word of God. If life and death are no longer understood to hang in the balance, there is little reason for the British people to worry about anything related to Christianity. If a church is not passionate about seeing sinners come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if there is no powerful biblical message from its pulpits, then it is destined for decline and eventual disappearance.

When a church forfeits its doctrinal convictions and then embraces ambiguity and tolerates heresy, it undermines its own credibility and embraces its own destruction.

Hamilton is surely right about one thing. It is true that the Church of England’s disastrous controversies over gender and sexuality are not the causes of the church’s decline. They are instead symptoms of a far deeper theological disease.

Hamilton’s closing words bear close scrutiny: “The Church of England was founded as a political act against the wishes of much of the population and is now dying out of political irrelevance and popular unconcern. History, as we know, moves on, taking no prisoners.”

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