The Gladness of the Risen God

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click here for audio of this message.

Acts 2:28

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

Three Easter Morning Questions

I begin this morning with three questions for you to answer silently in your own mind.

  • First, do you want to be happy?
  • Second, do you want your happiness to be partial or full?
  • Third, do you want your happiness to stop or to last as long as you last?

The reason I count these questions worthy of Easter Sunday morning is not just because I think every person in this room cares about them, but also because these questions are the rock bottom concerns of the Bible.

Wherever the Bible has had its profoundest effect in people’s lives, it hasn’t been because of the demands of a new duty but because of the power of a new pleasure. Let me illustrate what I mean.

The Effect of the Bible on John and Mary Paton

John G. Paton was born on May 24, 1824, in Dumfries County, Scotland. His father was a weaver and had his stocking frames in a room of the house. And his father was godly. Paton’s biographer says that the churchgoing and Bible stories and Shorter Catechism were „not tasks but pleasures” in the Paton home.

The boy had to quit school when he was 12 to help his father support the family of eleven children, and when he was 17, he had a deep experience of conversion that brought all his parents love for Christ home to his own heart.

The call to Christian service became irresistible and Paton worked for ten years as a city missionary in Glasgow among the poor children of the slums.

At 32 he accepted the call to missionary service in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In March 1858 he married Mary Ann Robson, and on April 16 they sailed together for the cannibal island of Tanna.

In less than a year they had built a little home and Mary had given birth to a son. But on March 3, 1859, one year after their marriage, Mary died of the fever, and in three weeks the infant son died. John Paton buried them alone, and wrote, „But for Jesus . . . I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”

One of the gifts that Jesus had given him to sustain him in those days were the words his wife spoke shortly before here death. And right here is where we see the profoundest effect of biblical Christianity. She did not murmur against God, or resent her husband bringing her there. Rather she spoke these incredible words—and you find them again and again where the Bible has sunk into the heart—”I do not regret leaving home and friends. If I had it to do over, I would do it with more pleasure, yes, with all my heart” (Fifty Missionary Heroes, by Julia Johnston, 1913, p. 153).

The Bible Produces a Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Among those who know the Bible best and who have experienced it most deeply, it has never diverted people from the quest for happiness and pleasure. Instead, it has caused people to get really serious about the quest. It has caused them to ask, „Do I really want to be happy? Do I want the fullest happiness possible? Do I want my happiness to last forever?” In other words, the Bible makes us stop playing games with our happiness. It makes us serious, even desperate, in our pursuit.

It makes a harried and overworked businessman go away for a few days and sit by the lake, and look at the sunset and the stars, and ask: „Have I found it? Is this what I am really after? Does it satisfy? Will it last?”

Jesus Christ never once condemned the quest for happiness. But often he has rebuked us for taking it so lightly.

Now what does all this have to do with Easter Sunday? Back in January when I first conceived of this message, I saw the connection in a new way, and I want to try to show it to you.

The Earliest Days of the Church

In Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that „Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” For forty days he sought to prove to his followers that he really was alive,

  • that his body was new and indestructible,
  • that his death for sinners was validated,
  • that his teaching was true,
  • that his fellowship would be permanent,
  • and that his cause would triumph in the world.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And there he will reign until his ransomed people are gathered in from every people and tongue and tribe and nation. Then the Lord will come a second time in power and great glory and the dead in Christ will be raised to reign with him forever and ever.

The Apostles Pondering the Old Testament

Then the book of Acts goes on to show us that for ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven the apostles and Jesus’ mother and his brothers devoted themselves to prayer in Jerusalem. During these ten days Peter and the others must have combed the Old Testament for predictions and explanations of what was happening in these incredible days, because when the Holy Spirit finally comes upon them with power at the end of those ten days, the apostles are full of Scripture. They explain everything in terms of the fulfillment of Scripture.

One of the psalms that Peter evidently pondered deeply goes like this:

Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, „Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land,
they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out,
or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fullness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16

The reason we know that Peter had given thought to this psalm is that he quotes from it in Acts 2:25–28. It was a psalm of David and Peter’s mind seemed to go something like this when he pondered this psalm.

What Peter Saw in Psalm 16

We know that God gave David a promise (in 2 Samuel 7:12–16) that one of his own posterity would be the everlasting king of Israel—the Son of David, the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6–7). David must have often thought of this wonderful thing—that in his own body, as it were, there was a king whose reign would never end.

And Peter noticed in reading the psalms of David that sometimes, as David expressed his own hope in God, he would be caught up by the Holy Spirit to say things about himself that went far beyond what his own experience would be. It was as though David were sometimes transported into the future of his son the Messiah and would say things that only the Son of David would experience sometime in the future.

How Will David Not Be Shaken?

This is what Peter saw as he meditated on Psalm 16. He read, „The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.” (You can see this in Acts 2:25.) And he asked perhaps, „In what sense will David not be shaken?”

So he reads on for the answer. Acts 2:26—”Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.” And Peter ponders and answers his question: „The sense in which David will not be shaken is that his heart and his flesh are secure in God. He will be protected—soul and body.”

Will David’s Flesh Really Never See Corruption?

Then Peter asks, „How will they be protected? How safe is David really? Will he not die? Did he not die?” Peter reads on (Acts 2:27), „For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Peter looks at this for a long time. He ponders, „Will David’s flesh really never see corruption? Will David really never see the decaying effects of the Pit? Does he really expect this much protection for himself?”

And suddenly (or gradually?) it dawns on Peter that these words go beyond anything that David experienced. David did die! David was buried! David’s flesh did see corruption. So Peter recognizes that David is no longer speaking merely for himself. The Spirit has lifted him up to see the destiny of the second David. And the voice of the Messiah is heard prophetically in the voice of his father David.

This Is What Happened to Jesus!

And then the connection with Jesus hits home. This is what happened to Jesus! Peter makes the connection for us in Acts 2:31—”David foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

God’s Goal for Jesus’ Gladness

Now right here we begin to make the connection with that longing for happiness that I referred to back at the beginning. In Acts 2:28 Peter goes on to quote from the last verse of Psalm 16. But now we know that it is really Jesus, the Son of David, speaking through the voice of the prophet David:

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

And the psalm ends (though Peter doesn’t finish it), „In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

In other words, what we see from this text is that God’s goal for Jesus Christ beyond the grave was that he might fill him with gladness. So he didn’t abandon his soul to Hades or let his flesh see corruption. He raised him from the dead to make him full of happiness forever and ever.

And what is the essence of this happiness?

Verse 28 says, „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.” Which means that we end this 13-week series on the pleasures of God where we began—with God the Son and God the Father delighting in each other’s presence. „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.”

But what does Jesus experience in the presence of God? What are the pleasures in God’s right hand?

The first thing that comes to mind is glory. Jesus had prayed in John 17:5, „Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” Jesus had laid down his glory in order to suffer for us. Now he is eager to take it up again.

And the Father was eager to give it. That’s what Paul means when he says (in Philippians 2:8–11), „God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Gladness and the Gladness of the Risen God

Now what does the gladness of the risen God have to do with us?

Sanctioning the Pursuit of Gladness

Jesus didn’t just happen upon this gladness beyond the grave; he pursued it with all his might. Hebrews 12:2 says, „For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

In other words, Jesus was able to endure the cross because he knew it was leading to the Father’s presence where there is „fullness of joy” and to the Father’s right hand where there are „pleasures for evermore.”

This means that, if you are here this morning with a deep longing for happiness, you will not be told by Jesus Christ that this longing is bad, or that it must be denied or that you should have nobler goals on Easter than happiness. Jesus lived for the joy that was set before him. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. And therefore he sanctioned the thirst of our souls by the thirst of his own.

Is Jesus for Us or for Himself?

But there’s more that has to do with us. If all Jesus wanted was the glory and gladness that he had with his Father before the world was, why did he come into the world in the first place? The Bible says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

But someone might say, I thought you said he was pursuing his own joy. You said he wanted to be glorified by the Father. Which is it? Does he want his own glory and his own gladness or does he want ours? This has been the key question of this whole series on the pleasures of God. Is he for us or for himself?

Listen to his own answer one last time from John 17:24, „Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me . . . before the foundation of the world.”

Yes he is for himself because he longs for the glory and the gladness of his Father’s presence. And yes he is for us, because he wants us with him there.

The Doubly Wonderful Message of Easter

The message of Easter is doubly wonderful.

It is wonderful to see the suffering Son coming home to the Father. What a reunion that must have been when Creator embraced Creator and said, „Well done Son. Welcome home.” What a wonderful thing to see the bloody Passover Lamb of Good Friday crowned with glory and honor, and handed the scepter of the universe!

But it is also wonderful to hear Jesus say, „I want others to be with me, Father. I want others to share my glory. I want my gladness in your glory to overflow like a mountain spring and become the gladness of others. I want my joy in you to be in them and their joy to be full forever and ever.”

On Easter Sunday morning Jesus blew the lock off the prison of death and gloom and returned to the gladness of God. With that he put his sanction on the pursuit of happiness. And he opened the way for sinners to find never-ending satisfaction at the fountain of the glory of his grace.

From the right hand of God he speaks to everyone of us today and invites us to the never-ending banquet: „I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) . . . I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Anunțuri

Josh Williamson back preaching in Scotland, even though he was arrested for preaching on the streets in September

Josh Williamson in Scotland – Photo credit https://gallery.mailchimp.com

The suicide rate among the people of Glasgow is too high. Each day people are drowning in depression. But there is hope!
In this message Rev. Williamson explains the only hope for humanity.
For more information visit: http://www.joshwilliamson.org/ & http://www.operation513.com/

VIDEO Published on Jan 15, 2014 by Josh Williamson

Hope for Glasgow

See the previous stories on street preaching here:

Australian preacher Josh Williamson arrested for preaching on the streets of Perth, in Scotland (VIDEO)

Josh Williamson Photo credit https://gallery.mailchimp.com

Josh Williamson, a street preacher goes to Scotland to preach.  At about the 6-7th minute he is confronted by cops and eventually arrested for ‘breach of peace’.

Here’s are some additional details, according to the UK website http://inquiringminds.cc –

This is now the third arrest of a Christian street preacher since July. Tony Miano was arrested in London in July and Robbie Hughes was arrested in Basildon earlier this month. Photo credit www.tmsporting.com

Rev Josh Williamson, the pastor of Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, regularly takes to the streets to hand out leaflets, talk to passers-by and do open-air preaching.

But yesterday a police officer told him to stop preaching because he was breaking the law.

The officer insisted that he was not allowed to preach and told Josh that he would be arrested if he continued. When Josh said that he would not comply because he was not breaking the law, the officer placed him under arrest for breach of the peace.

„This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15) VIDEO by Josh Williamson

Here are some accounts of the arrest from main stream media:

Mary Slessor – Missionary to 1800’s Nigeria

SEE FILM BELOW + see links to other biographical films at bottom of post.

Mary-slessor-and-adopted-children

Mary Slessor, inspired by the life of Dr. David Livingstone set out for West Africa at the age of 28. Undaunted  by two illnesses, one of them being malaria, which forced her to return to Scotland for a short period, by the witchcraft, and the one case of ritual slaughter practiced by the natives, she learned the native language, lived with and like the natives and moved further and further into unbroken territory- Efik and Okoyong of Calabar, in present day Nigeria. Along the way she established missions and adopted every baby she found due to the ritual killing of twins that is still practiced in some Nigerian villages today. (See here- 40 Abuja Towns Kill Twins! (stharry.wordpress.com) ) Besides being an evangelist, Mary Slessor also concentrated on settling disputes, encouraging trade, establishing social changes and introducing Western education. In 1892 she was made vice-consul in Okoyong, presiding over the native court and in 1905 was named vice-president of Ikot Obong native court. Slessor suffered failing health in her later years but remained in Africa where she died in 1915.

If you think all Victorian women were ladies in lavender crinolines swooning at the sight of a mouse, think again. There were a surprising number who went off into the unknown alone, and the bravest was a Scottish missionary called Mary Slessor. She became a legend in Scotland and in Nigeria, where she is still celebrated today. When she first went to Africa in 1876 the Scottish church had bee established on the Nigerian coast for many years but the interior was largely unexplored. This fascinating two-part documentary explores her life and works, from her early childhood in Aberdeen to the work she carried out improving trading and the living standards of women in Nigeria.

Part 1

Part 2

Mary Slessor was born on December 2, 1848 in Gilcomston, close to Aberdeen, Scotland. She was the second of seven children of Robert and Mary Slessor. Her father, originally from Buchan, was a shoemaker by trade. In 1859 the family moved to Dundee in search of work. Robert Slessor was an alcoholic, and unable to keep up shoemaking, took a job as a labourer in a mill. Her mother, a skilled weaver, also went to work in the mills. At the age of eleven, Mary began work as a „half timer” in the Baxter Brothers’ Mill. She spent half of her day at a school provided by the mill owners, and the other half working for the company. The Slessors lived in the slums of Dundee. Before long, Mary’s father died of pneumonia, and both her brothers died, leaving behind only Mary, her mother, and two sisters. By age fourteen, Mary had become a skilled jute worker, working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with just an hour for breakfast and lunch.

Mary’s mother was a devout Presbyterians who read each issue of the Missionary Record, a monthly magazine published by The United Presbyterian Church (later United Free Church of Scotland) to inform members of missionary activities and needs. Mary developed an interest in religion and, when a mission was instituted in Quarry Pend (close by the Wishart Church), Mary volunteered to become a teacher. Mary was 27 when she heard news that David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer, had died. She wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Missionary

Eventually, Mary applied to the Foreign Mission Board of the United Presbyterian Church. After a of training in Edinburgh, Mary set sail in the S.S. Ethiopia on 5 August 1876, and arrived at her destination in West Africa just over a month later. She was 28 years of age, red haired with bright blue eyes. Mary was sent to the Calabar region, warned that witchcraft and superstition were prevalent. The ritual sacrifice of children, and twins in particular, was customary among the people she would be ministering to, but Mary was undaunted. She worked first in the missions in Old Town and Creek Town. She lived in the missionary compound for 3 years. She wanted to go deeper into Calabar, malaria forced her to go home to Scotland and recover. Mary left Calabar for Dundee in 1879. She was in Scotland for 16 months before heading back to Africa.

On her return, she did not go back to the compound, but 3 miles further into Calabar, to Old Town. As she had to leave a large portion of her salary at home for the support of her mother and sisters, she had to economise and took to subsisting on the native food.

Issues that Mary confronted as a young missionary included widespread human sacrifice at the death of a village elder, who, it was believed, required servants and retainers to accompany him in the next world, and the lack of education or any status for women. The birth of twins was considered an evil curse. The belief was that the father of one of the infants was an evil spirit, and that the mother had been guilty of a great sin; and as they were allowed to live. Twin babies were often abandoned in the bush. In such circumstances as soon as twins missioners sought to obtain possession of them, and gave them the security and care of the Mission House. Some of the Mission compounds were alive with babies.Mary adopted every child that she found abandoned. She once saved a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, but the boy did not survive. Mary was devastated, but took the girl as her daughter and called her Janie.

After only three more years, she went back to Scotland on yet another furlough because she was extremely sick. But she wasn’t alone this time, she had Janie with her. She was home for over 3 years looking after her mother and sister, who had also fallen ill. While she was home, Mary spoke at churches all over and shared stories from Africa.

According to Livingstone, when two deputies went out to inspect the Mission in 1881-82, they were much impressed. They stated, “…[S]he enjoys the unreserved friendship and confidence of the people, and has much influence over them.” This they attributed partly to the singular ease with which she spoke the language.

Mary again returned to Africa, with more determination then ever. She saved hundreds of twins out of the fierce jungle, where they had been left either to starve to death or get eaten by wild animals. She prevented dozens, possibly even hundreds of wars, helped heal the sick and stopped the practice of determining guilt by making the suspects drink poison. She went to other tribes, spreading the word of Jesus Christ wherever and whenever she could. While in Africa, she received news that her mother and sister had died. She was overcome with loneliness. She wrote,”There is no one to write and tell my stories and nonsense to.” She had also found a sense of writing, ”Heaven is now nearer to me than Britain,and no one will worry about me if I go up country.”

In August 1888, she went traveled north to Okoyong, an area where missionaries were previously killed, but Mary was sure that her teachings, and the fact that she was a woman, would be less threatening to unreached tribes than male missionaries had been. For 15 years, she stayed with the Okoyong. She was a peacemaker and a nurse. She died when she was 66.

Among the Efik

Unlike other missionaries, Mary lived as part of the tribe, learned to speak Efik, the native language, and made close personal friendships wherever she went. She adopted abandoned twins and worked tirelessly to protect children and raise the status of women. Mary was known for her pragmatism and humour; this earned her the respect and trust of the people she wanted to serve.

Mary Slessor went to live among the Efik and the Okoyong which lived near the Efiks who live in Calabar, in present day Nigeria. There she successfully fought against the killing of twins at infancy. Mary Slessor was a driving force behind the establishment of the Hope Waddell Training Institute in Calabar, which provided practical vocational training to Africans.

Death

In 1888 she went alone to work among the Okoyong. For the rest of her life Slessor lived a simple life in a traditional house with Africans, concentrating on pioneering. Her insistence on lone stations often led her into conflict with the authorities and gained her a reputation as somewhat eccentric, but she was heralded in Britain as the ‘white queen of Okoyong’. She was not primarily an evangelist but concentrated on settling disputes, encouraging trade, establishing social changes and introducing Western education. Slessor frequently campaigned against injustices against women, took in outcasts and adopted unwanted children. In 1892 she was made vice-consul in Okoyong, presiding over the native court and in 1905 was named vice-president of Ikot Obong native court. In 1913 she was awarded the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Slessor suffered failing health in her later years but remained in Africa where she died in 1915.

Mary Slessor died in 1915 at her remote station near Use Ikot Oku. Her body was transported down the Cross River to Duke Town for the colonial equivalent of a state funeral. Attendees at her funeral included the Provincial Commissioner along with other senior British Officials in full uniform. Her Coffin was wrapped in the Union Jack. Flags at government buildings were flown at half mast and the Governor General of Nigeria, Sir Fredrick Lugard telegraphed his ‘deepest regret’ from Lagos and published a warm tribute in the Government Gazette. WIKIPEDIA link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Slessor

The Gladness of the Risen God on Desiring God

click here for audio of this message.

Acts 2:28

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

Three Easter Morning Questions

I begin this morning with three questions for you to answer silently in your own mind.

  • First, do you want to be happy?
  • Second, do you want your happiness to be partial or full?
  • Third, do you want your happiness to stop or to last as long as you last?

The reason I count these questions worthy of Easter Sunday morning is not just because I think every person in this room cares about them, but also because these questions are the rock bottom concerns of the Bible.

Wherever the Bible has had its profoundest effect in people’s lives, it hasn’t been because of the demands of a new duty but because of the power of a new pleasure. Let me illustrate what I mean.

The Effect of the Bible on John and Mary Paton

John G. Paton was born on May 24, 1824, in Dumfries County, Scotland. His father was a weaver and had his stocking frames in a room of the house. And his father was godly. Paton’s biographer says that the churchgoing and Bible stories and Shorter Catechism were „not tasks but pleasures” in the Paton home.

The boy had to quit school when he was 12 to help his father support the family of eleven children, and when he was 17, he had a deep experience of conversion that brought all his parents love for Christ home to his own heart.

The call to Christian service became irresistible and Paton worked for ten years as a city missionary in Glasgow among the poor children of the slums.

At 32 he accepted the call to missionary service in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In March 1858 he married Mary Ann Robson, and on April 16 they sailed together for the cannibal island of Tanna.

In less than a year they had built a little home and Mary had given birth to a son. But on March 3, 1859, one year after their marriage, Mary died of the fever, and in three weeks the infant son died. John Paton buried them alone, and wrote, „But for Jesus . . . I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”

One of the gifts that Jesus had given him to sustain him in those days were the words his wife spoke shortly before here death. And right here is where we see the profoundest effect of biblical Christianity. She did not murmur against God, or resent her husband bringing her there. Rather she spoke these incredible words—and you find them again and again where the Bible has sunk into the heart—”I do not regret leaving home and friends. If I had it to do over, I would do it with more pleasure, yes, with all my heart” (Fifty Missionary Heroes, by Julia Johnston, 1913, p. 153).

The Bible Produces a Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Among those who know the Bible best and who have experienced it most deeply, it has never diverted people from the quest for happiness and pleasure. Instead, it has caused people to get really serious about the quest. It has caused them to ask, „Do I really want to be happy? Do I want the fullest happiness possible? Do I want my happiness to last forever?” In other words, the Bible makes us stop playing games with our happiness. It makes us serious, even desperate, in our pursuit.

It makes a harried and overworked businessman go away for a few days and sit by the lake, and look at the sunset and the stars, and ask: „Have I found it? Is this what I am really after? Does it satisfy? Will it last?”

Jesus Christ never once condemned the quest for happiness. But often he has rebuked us for taking it so lightly.

Now what does all this have to do with Easter Sunday? Back in January when I first conceived of this message, I saw the connection in a new way, and I want to try to show it to you.

The Earliest Days of the Church

In Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that „Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” For forty days he sought to prove to his followers that he really was alive,

  • that his body was new and indestructible,
  • that his death for sinners was validated,
  • that his teaching was true,
  • that his fellowship would be permanent,
  • and that his cause would triumph in the world.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And there he will reign until his ransomed people are gathered in from every people and tongue and tribe and nation. Then the Lord will come a second time in power and great glory and the dead in Christ will be raised to reign with him forever and ever.

The Apostles Pondering the Old Testament

Then the book of Acts goes on to show us that for ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven the apostles and Jesus’ mother and his brothers devoted themselves to prayer in Jerusalem. During these ten days Peter and the others must have combed the Old Testament for predictions and explanations of what was happening in these incredible days, because when the Holy Spirit finally comes upon them with power at the end of those ten days, the apostles are full of Scripture. They explain everything in terms of the fulfillment of Scripture.

One of the psalms that Peter evidently pondered deeply goes like this:

Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, „Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land,
they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out,
or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fullness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16

The reason we know that Peter had given thought to this psalm is that he quotes from it in Acts 2:25–28. It was a psalm of David and Peter’s mind seemed to go something like this when he pondered this psalm.

What Peter Saw in Psalm 16

We know that God gave David a promise (in 2 Samuel 7:12–16) that one of his own posterity would be the everlasting king of Israel—the Son of David, the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6–7). David must have often thought of this wonderful thing—that in his own body, as it were, there was a king whose reign would never end.

And Peter noticed in reading the psalms of David that sometimes, as David expressed his own hope in God, he would be caught up by the Holy Spirit to say things about himself that went far beyond what his own experience would be. It was as though David were sometimes transported into the future of his son the Messiah and would say things that only the Son of David would experience sometime in the future.

How Will David Not Be Shaken?

This is what Peter saw as he meditated on Psalm 16. He read, „The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.” (You can see this in Acts 2:25.) And he asked perhaps, „In what sense will David not be shaken?”

So he reads on for the answer. Acts 2:26—”Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.” And Peter ponders and answers his question: „The sense in which David will not be shaken is that his heart and his flesh are secure in God. He will be protected—soul and body.”

Will David’s Flesh Really Never See Corruption?

Then Peter asks, „How will they be protected? How safe is David really? Will he not die? Did he not die?” Peter reads on (Acts 2:27), „For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Peter looks at this for a long time. He ponders, „Will David’s flesh really never see corruption? Will David really never see the decaying effects of the Pit? Does he really expect this much protection for himself?”

And suddenly (or gradually?) it dawns on Peter that these words go beyond anything that David experienced. David did die! David was buried! David’s flesh did see corruption. So Peter recognizes that David is no longer speaking merely for himself. The Spirit has lifted him up to see the destiny of the second David. And the voice of the Messiah is heard prophetically in the voice of his father David.

This Is What Happened to Jesus!

And then the connection with Jesus hits home. This is what happened to Jesus! Peter makes the connection for us in Acts 2:31—”David foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

God’s Goal for Jesus’ Gladness

Now right here we begin to make the connection with that longing for happiness that I referred to back at the beginning. In Acts 2:28 Peter goes on to quote from the last verse of Psalm 16. But now we know that it is really Jesus, the Son of David, speaking through the voice of the prophet David:

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

And the psalm ends (though Peter doesn’t finish it), „In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

In other words, what we see from this text is that God’s goal for Jesus Christ beyond the grave was that he might fill him with gladness. So he didn’t abandon his soul to Hades or let his flesh see corruption. He raised him from the dead to make him full of happiness forever and ever.

And what is the essence of this happiness?

Verse 28 says, „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.” Which means that we end this 13-week series on the pleasures of God where we began—with God the Son and God the Father delighting in each other’s presence. „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.”

But what does Jesus experience in the presence of God? What are the pleasures in God’s right hand?

The first thing that comes to mind is glory. Jesus had prayed in John 17:5, „Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” Jesus had laid down his glory in order to suffer for us. Now he is eager to take it up again.

And the Father was eager to give it. That’s what Paul means when he says (in Philippians 2:8–11), „God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Gladness and the Gladness of the Risen God

Now what does the gladness of the risen God have to do with us?

Sanctioning the Pursuit of Gladness

Jesus didn’t just happen upon this gladness beyond the grave; he pursued it with all his might. Hebrews 12:2 says, „For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

In other words, Jesus was able to endure the cross because he knew it was leading to the Father’s presence where there is „fullness of joy” and to the Father’s right hand where there are „pleasures for evermore.”

This means that, if you are here this morning with a deep longing for happiness, you will not be told by Jesus Christ that this longing is bad, or that it must be denied or that you should have nobler goals on Easter than happiness. Jesus lived for the joy that was set before him. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. And therefore he sanctioned the thirst of our souls by the thirst of his own.

Is Jesus for Us or for Himself?

But there’s more that has to do with us. If all Jesus wanted was the glory and gladness that he had with his Father before the world was, why did he come into the world in the first place? The Bible says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

But someone might say, I thought you said he was pursuing his own joy. You said he wanted to be glorified by the Father. Which is it? Does he want his own glory and his own gladness or does he want ours? This has been the key question of this whole series on the pleasures of God. Is he for us or for himself?

Listen to his own answer one last time from John 17:24, „Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me . . . before the foundation of the world.”

Yes he is for himself because he longs for the glory and the gladness of his Father’s presence. And yes he is for us, because he wants us with him there.

The Doubly Wonderful Message of Easter

The message of Easter is doubly wonderful.

It is wonderful to see the suffering Son coming home to the Father. What a reunion that must have been when Creator embraced Creator and said, „Well done Son. Welcome home.” What a wonderful thing to see the bloody Passover Lamb of Good Friday crowned with glory and honor, and handed the scepter of the universe!

But it is also wonderful to hear Jesus say, „I want others to be with me, Father. I want others to share my glory. I want my gladness in your glory to overflow like a mountain spring and become the gladness of others. I want my joy in you to be in them and their joy to be full forever and ever.”

On Easter Sunday morning Jesus blew the lock off the prison of death and gloom and returned to the gladness of God. With that he put his sanction on the pursuit of happiness. And he opened the way for sinners to find never-ending satisfaction at the fountain of the glory of his grace.

From the right hand of God he speaks to everyone of us today and invites us to the never-ending banquet: „I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) . . . I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Legalizing Euthanasia Debate – David Robertson (author of the Dawkins letters & Pastor of the Free Church of Scotland vs. Paul Badham, Prof. of University of Wales

A UK debate for assisted suicide, law that was patterned after Oregon states U.S.A but has not passed in Scotland. This 4 part debate is very instructive in right to life apologetics.

Debate is from 2009 – Two Christians (plus a handful of other officials) debate  in Scotland-  David Robertson who is  Pastor of the  historic St.Peter’s Free Church of Scotland in Dundee and Prof. Paul Badham -Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Director of the Alistair Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre. As of May 17,2011 Scotland politicians are still fighting to pass assisted suicide legislation and are in great admiration of the Swiss for having passed the law already and for allowing foreigners to receive assisted suicide help there, as tourists.

Part1

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYGu0E8C%5D

Part 2

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYGuygMC%5D

Part 3

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYGuzjgC%5D

Part 4

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1st collector for Legalizing Euthanasia Debate – David Robertson …
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Theologians FOR Rev. David Robertson, Minister of St Peter’s Free Church of Dundee and author of The Dawkins Letters: challenging atheist myths AGAINST Professor Paul Badham, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Director of the Alistair Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, patron of Dignity in Dying Chair Professor Martin Pippard, Professor of Haematology & Dean of Dundee Medical School. Background: In 2005, Jeremy Purvis MSP introduced a Private Members’ Bill into the Scottish Parliament, calling for a change in the law to allow Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) for those with a terminal illness. This attracted the support of six other MSPs. In January 2008 he tabled another motion calling for the legalization of PAS but could gain the support of only one other MSP. On 26 March 2008, Margo MacDonald, Independent MSP for Lothian, made an impassioned appeal for a change to the law on assisted dying. Ms MacDonald has Parkinson’s disease and ‘doesn’t want to burden any friend or doctor but wants to be able to end her life in case she has the worst form of Parkinson’s’. As a Christian, I have long been intrigued by how people’s belief frameworks give rise to their stance on a given issue. How do such frameworks hold up under scrutiny? Are they consistent with what the person perceives their framework to be? Are they internally and externally valid and reliable? What are the presuppositions and the logical outworkings? Since beginning my medical training this interest has inclined towards the application of these frameworks to patient care, and accordingly these questions have taken on an increased degree of importance. On this cerebral canvas, the move to legalize PAS in the United Kingdom was unlikely to escape my attention. The idea to do a debate on PAS was provoked following a long discussion with a colleague in February 2008. Our talk really opened my eyes to the immediacy of issue, the myths surrounding it and its implications for me as a Christian. Moreover, the reality that termination of life might become an accepted therapeutic option for people at the end of their life was personally disturbing. Accordingly, the impetus for organising such a large-scale debate was, firstly, that such an important subject which would have long-lasting and far-reaching implications for society deserved to be in the public sphere. Secondly, if PAS was legalized it would profoundly and permanently alter the practice of medicine in the UK. Would it be too much to say it would denature it? Thirdly, the subject deserved to be debated rigorously by experts from more than one discipline, so we had four speakers on each side of the house representing politics, medicine, ethics/law and theology. We sought to recruit the best speakers we could for each discipline. Fortunately, everyone we approached had experience of this issue before, with some even on the frontlines, and was delighted to participate (see above). Imperative to me, with such a sensitive and emotive subject, was to maintain the integrity of the event. I realised early on that I personally would be seen as being biased in my view on PAS, and this was subsequently pointed out to me by several ‘well-meaning’ supporters of PAS on the night of the debate, because I hold to a Christian worldview. But of course the belief that anyone is morally neutral is fallacious. Over 350 people attended and, contrary to what some have implied, they were of varying backgrounds and beliefs. The pre-debate vote showed that the overwhelming majority supported the motion. The post-debate vote was again overwhelmingly supportive of the motion. For a fuller account of the arguments presented readers are encouraged to watch the DVD recordings or are directed to Jack DW. A right to die? Monthly Record Magazine of the Free Church of Scotland; February 2009: pp.6-7. David W. Jack 18 November 2009 Disclaimer „This debate was organised by students from the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) student group at the University of Dundee Medical School. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CMF or the University of Dundee. This debate was funded by: (i) anonymous donations (ii) group fundraising.”

From Church of Dundee – Motion: “This house believes that Physician Assisted Suicide should not be legalised in Scotland” 27 October 2008, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee – Theologians

The Gladness of the Risen God on Desiring God

click here for audio of this message.

Acts 2:28

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

Three Easter Morning Questions

I begin this morning with three questions for you to answer silently in your own mind.

  • First, do you want to be happy?
  • Second, do you want your happiness to be partial or full?
  • Third, do you want your happiness to stop or to last as long as you last?

The reason I count these questions worthy of Easter Sunday morning is not just because I think every person in this room cares about them, but also because these questions are the rock bottom concerns of the Bible.

Wherever the Bible has had its profoundest effect in people’s lives, it hasn’t been because of the demands of a new duty but because of the power of a new pleasure. Let me illustrate what I mean.

The Effect of the Bible on John and Mary Paton

John G. Paton was born on May 24, 1824, in Dumfries County, Scotland. His father was a weaver and had his stocking frames in a room of the house. And his father was godly. Paton’s biographer says that the churchgoing and Bible stories and Shorter Catechism were „not tasks but pleasures” in the Paton home.

The boy had to quit school when he was 12 to help his father support the family of eleven children, and when he was 17, he had a deep experience of conversion that brought all his parents love for Christ home to his own heart.

The call to Christian service became irresistible and Paton worked for ten years as a city missionary in Glasgow among the poor children of the slums.

At 32 he accepted the call to missionary service in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In March 1858 he married Mary Ann Robson, and on April 16 they sailed together for the cannibal island of Tanna.

In less than a year they had built a little home and Mary had given birth to a son. But on March 3, 1859, one year after their marriage, Mary died of the fever, and in three weeks the infant son died. John Paton buried them alone, and wrote, „But for Jesus . . . I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”

One of the gifts that Jesus had given him to sustain him in those days were the words his wife spoke shortly before here death. And right here is where we see the profoundest effect of biblical Christianity. She did not murmur against God, or resent her husband bringing her there. Rather she spoke these incredible words—and you find them again and again where the Bible has sunk into the heart—”I do not regret leaving home and friends. If I had it to do over, I would do it with more pleasure, yes, with all my heart” (Fifty Missionary Heroes, by Julia Johnston, 1913, p. 153).

The Bible Produces a Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Among those who know the Bible best and who have experienced it most deeply, it has never diverted people from the quest for happiness and pleasure. Instead, it has caused people to get really serious about the quest. It has caused them to ask, „Do I really want to be happy? Do I want the fullest happiness possible? Do I want my happiness to last forever?” In other words, the Bible makes us stop playing games with our happiness. It makes us serious, even desperate, in our pursuit.

It makes a harried and overworked businessman go away for a few days and sit by the lake, and look at the sunset and the stars, and ask: „Have I found it? Is this what I am really after? Does it satisfy? Will it last?”

Jesus Christ never once condemned the quest for happiness. But often he has rebuked us for taking it so lightly.

Now what does all this have to do with Easter Sunday? Back in January when I first conceived of this message, I saw the connection in a new way, and I want to try to show it to you.

The Earliest Days of the Church

In Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that „Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” For forty days he sought to prove to his followers that he really was alive,

  • that his body was new and indestructible,
  • that his death for sinners was validated,
  • that his teaching was true,
  • that his fellowship would be permanent,
  • and that his cause would triumph in the world.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And there he will reign until his ransomed people are gathered in from every people and tongue and tribe and nation. Then the Lord will come a second time in power and great glory and the dead in Christ will be raised to reign with him forever and ever.

The Apostles Pondering the Old Testament

Then the book of Acts goes on to show us that for ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven the apostles and Jesus’ mother and his brothers devoted themselves to prayer in Jerusalem. During these ten days Peter and the others must have combed the Old Testament for predictions and explanations of what was happening in these incredible days, because when the Holy Spirit finally comes upon them with power at the end of those ten days, the apostles are full of Scripture. They explain everything in terms of the fulfillment of Scripture.

One of the psalms that Peter evidently pondered deeply goes like this:

Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, „Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land,
they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out,
or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fullness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16

The reason we know that Peter had given thought to this psalm is that he quotes from it in Acts 2:25–28. It was a psalm of David and Peter’s mind seemed to go something like this when he pondered this psalm.

What Peter Saw in Psalm 16

We know that God gave David a promise (in 2 Samuel 7:12–16) that one of his own posterity would be the everlasting king of Israel—the Son of David, the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6–7). David must have often thought of this wonderful thing—that in his own body, as it were, there was a king whose reign would never end.

And Peter noticed in reading the psalms of David that sometimes, as David expressed his own hope in God, he would be caught up by the Holy Spirit to say things about himself that went far beyond what his own experience would be. It was as though David were sometimes transported into the future of his son the Messiah and would say things that only the Son of David would experience sometime in the future.

How Will David Not Be Shaken?

This is what Peter saw as he meditated on Psalm 16. He read, „The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.” (You can see this in Acts 2:25.) And he asked perhaps, „In what sense will David not be shaken?”

So he reads on for the answer. Acts 2:26—”Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.” And Peter ponders and answers his question: „The sense in which David will not be shaken is that his heart and his flesh are secure in God. He will be protected—soul and body.”

Will David’s Flesh Really Never See Corruption?

Then Peter asks, „How will they be protected? How safe is David really? Will he not die? Did he not die?” Peter reads on (Acts 2:27), „For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Peter looks at this for a long time. He ponders, „Will David’s flesh really never see corruption? Will David really never see the decaying effects of the Pit? Does he really expect this much protection for himself?”

And suddenly (or gradually?) it dawns on Peter that these words go beyond anything that David experienced. David did die! David was buried! David’s flesh did see corruption. So Peter recognizes that David is no longer speaking merely for himself. The Spirit has lifted him up to see the destiny of the second David. And the voice of the Messiah is heard prophetically in the voice of his father David.

This Is What Happened to Jesus!

And then the connection with Jesus hits home. This is what happened to Jesus! Peter makes the connection for us in Acts 2:31—”David foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

God’s Goal for Jesus’ Gladness

Now right here we begin to make the connection with that longing for happiness that I referred to back at the beginning. In Acts 2:28 Peter goes on to quote from the last verse of Psalm 16. But now we know that it is really Jesus, the Son of David, speaking through the voice of the prophet David:

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

And the psalm ends (though Peter doesn’t finish it), „In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

In other words, what we see from this text is that God’s goal for Jesus Christ beyond the grave was that he might fill him with gladness. So he didn’t abandon his soul to Hades or let his flesh see corruption. He raised him from the dead to make him full of happiness forever and ever.

And what is the essence of this happiness?

Verse 28 says, „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.” Which means that we end this 13-week series on the pleasures of God where we began—with God the Son and God the Father delighting in each other’s presence. „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.”

But what does Jesus experience in the presence of God? What are the pleasures in God’s right hand?

The first thing that comes to mind is glory. Jesus had prayed in John 17:5, „Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” Jesus had laid down his glory in order to suffer for us. Now he is eager to take it up again.

And the Father was eager to give it. That’s what Paul means when he says (in Philippians 2:8–11), „God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Gladness and the Gladness of the Risen God

Now what does the gladness of the risen God have to do with us?

Sanctioning the Pursuit of Gladness

Jesus didn’t just happen upon this gladness beyond the grave; he pursued it with all his might. Hebrews 12:2 says, „For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

In other words, Jesus was able to endure the cross because he knew it was leading to the Father’s presence where there is „fullness of joy” and to the Father’s right hand where there are „pleasures for evermore.”

This means that, if you are here this morning with a deep longing for happiness, you will not be told by Jesus Christ that this longing is bad, or that it must be denied or that you should have nobler goals on Easter than happiness. Jesus lived for the joy that was set before him. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. And therefore he sanctioned the thirst of our souls by the thirst of his own.

Is Jesus for Us or for Himself?

But there’s more that has to do with us. If all Jesus wanted was the glory and gladness that he had with his Father before the world was, why did he come into the world in the first place? The Bible says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

But someone might say, I thought you said he was pursuing his own joy. You said he wanted to be glorified by the Father. Which is it? Does he want his own glory and his own gladness or does he want ours? This has been the key question of this whole series on the pleasures of God. Is he for us or for himself?

Listen to his own answer one last time from John 17:24, „Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me . . . before the foundation of the world.”

Yes he is for himself because he longs for the glory and the gladness of his Father’s presence. And yes he is for us, because he wants us with him there.

The Doubly Wonderful Message of Easter

The message of Easter is doubly wonderful.

It is wonderful to see the suffering Son coming home to the Father. What a reunion that must have been when Creator embraced Creator and said, „Well done Son. Welcome home.” What a wonderful thing to see the bloody Passover Lamb of Good Friday crowned with glory and honor, and handed the scepter of the universe!

But it is also wonderful to hear Jesus say, „I want others to be with me, Father. I want others to share my glory. I want my gladness in your glory to overflow like a mountain spring and become the gladness of others. I want my joy in you to be in them and their joy to be full forever and ever.”

On Easter Sunday morning Jesus blew the lock off the prison of death and gloom and returned to the gladness of God. With that he put his sanction on the pursuit of happiness. And he opened the way for sinners to find never-ending satisfaction at the fountain of the glory of his grace.

From the right hand of God he speaks to everyone of us today and invites us to the never-ending banquet: „I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) . . . I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

David Robertson on the state of the Church in Scotland and Europe and ‘The Dawkins letters’ a response to Richard Dawkins

David Robertson - Free Church of Scotland

At the bottom of this post, is an article from the Christian post, about a man named Richard Morgan, who became an atheist through the writing of Richard Dawkins and then found his faith in God again after interacting with David Robertson on the Dawkins website where he eventually printed out over fifty pages of Robertson’s posts. Morgan read through all the posts again and found no lies, as the atheists were charging Robertson. What he discovered instead was humility, intelligence, sensitivity, and several references to the Bible. At one moment in his reading of the printout,  Morgan’s instinctive response conjured up to his memory,  the verse, “We love because he first loved us.” And in that instant, Morgan understood the expression “amazing grace.” “I was certain without having any rational explanation that God existed, that he loved me without waiting for me to love him, that he loved me unconditionally without waiting for me to deserve it.”

This is a story of hope for folks struggling with their beliefs or looking for answers, and I highly encourage you to read it.  Find a church that loves God and preaches Christ and by all means, don’t give up! This life is not all there is! This is the only aspect of life that we cannot be wrong on-Our eternal destiny!

But now, back to a little intro: I have been enjoying lectures and sermons by David Robertson for a few years now (online of course).  He is the Pastor of the historic St. Peter’s Free Church of Scotland, in Dundee, which was once pastored by Robert Murray McCheyne, who took charge of it in November 1836 and the church eventually grew to seat 1,100 parishioners. However, the Scotland that was once a hub of the Reformation is in a different state today.

David Robertson on the Church in Scotland –

Scotland was once the most ‘Reformed’ nation of the Reformation. The Scottish Reformation of Knox and his colleagues was through and revolutionary. Much of modern Scotland, the law,

education and the church owe their origins to this time. Sadly the Scottish nation and people have to a large extent neglected and abandoned the heritage of our fathers. Today the Church in Scotland is in a weak state. 90% of Scotland’s population seldom if ever darken any kind of church door.

David Robertson wrote a response to Richard Dawkins book ‘The God delusion‘ in 2007, which Dawkins posted on his personal website, and atheists bombarded Robertson’s own site with comments and diatribes, soon after. Robertson’s responses were subsequently published in a book titled ‘The Dawkins Letters – Challenging atheist myths’.

and here is the new year’s stance (2011) that David Robertson puts forth through a post from his Chairman of his organization Solas (Centre for Public Christianity) – Gordon Wilson:

A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION FOR US ALL – END THE RETREAT!

January 12, 2011
The Lord Jesus Christ never offered us fame or glory or for that matter an easy life if we followed Him and His teachings. Take up my Cross, He said, and follow me. And so it was for the apostles, other disciples and saints in the early life of the Christian church. Through the ages, men and women have suffered for their faith.
It is happening today. In Pakistan, Egypt, Christian churches are being bombed and worshippers killed. In Iraq, the community of Christians there for millennia are being hunted by Al Quaeda. Now these believers are forced to become refugees for their faith. In Khartoum, hundreds of thousands of Christians from the south of Sudan face a pogrom if they are marooned there as a consequence of a move towards independence by South Sudan in the referendum.
All this puts into perspective, the depression that many in Scotland and Europe feel about the closure of Christian churches and the flight of members, under the pressures of a secular society. We have seen 50 years of decline, first gradually and then a torrent as life ebbed away. We have to face the reality that Europe, which so long gave the lead is now in apostasy as a consequence of movements within society and the advance of materialism and individualism, polite words for greed and selfishness.
We forget at our peril that in this World, all changes and little remains the same. Just as the Soviet Union crashed and America begins its long slide from world domination, so already there is change at work. When Christianity failed to be exciting and to keep the teachings of the Lord, it suckled apathy so that members just gave up and the general population was not stirred. Now we are no longer in that world of apathy. Our faith is being harassed by militant, intolerant secularists who wish to destroy all religious faiths – not just ours although we are currently a soft target. The challenge is to use this hostility to make more Christians active and to train them so that they can have confidence in their ability to take on the ‘sneerers’ and doubters. Fighting aggression is much easier than battling apathy. And out there, are many who have spiritual needs but have no knowledge of what Jesus can offer them.
Will we begin to turn the tide in 2011. It must start some time, some place. Why not Scotland this year?

Gordon Wilson Chairman
There is a related story in the Christian post that might be of interest to my readers. Richard Morgan turned atheist through Richard Dawkins and then found faith in God again during the time he interacted with David Robertson through Dawkins’ site:

Former Dawkins Atheist Richard Morgan Continues to Praise God

Three years later and still going strong, one man continues to prove to atheists that his conversion was not a “temporary brain infarction.”

Nominal Christian, Mormon missionary, atheist, and now a born-again Christian, Richard Morgan recently spoke to Apologetics315 about his life-changing, or saving, experience on none other than Richard Dawkins’ infamous website.

Having been through his share of religious inquiry at a young age, Morgan realized that he was constantly in search of something, whether it be spiritual or not.

Embracing answers in whatever shape they took, he found himself a Mormon at one point in his life after meeting two Mormon missionaries. But after becoming a missionary, he began to have some serious doubts about his beliefs, which later caused him to abandon that religion altogether.

Blindly searching still for something to hold on to, Morgan shared in his interview, “I was aware that probably much more than seeking God I was seeking a social context where I would be accepted. I think basically all of us deep down, we’re all looking to be accepted in some way or another.”

Having grown out of the need for that kind of moral support however as he aged, Morgan one day began to read Dawkins’ book, The Blind Watchmaker which revolutionized his life and made sense of everything he had been experiencing.

The book made one thing clear: There was nothing to look for, so stop looking and get on with your life.

“This was a real epiphany experience… to realize of course all those years of searching for something spiritual or God-like were bound to be completely frustrating because God didn’t exist.

“I didn’t feel like I became an atheist, the feeling was more that I realized I always had been,” expressed Morgan. “I had a feeling that I never actually believed in God but I was looking for some unhealthy psychological reason [to believe]… coming out as an atheist was really a hallelujah experience for me.”

Morgan’s interest in evolution increased dramatically after reading the book, redirecting his attention towards understanding the nature of living things around him more than trying to understand things that were above.

More than the religious debate, it was his interest in evolution that led him to follow Richard Dawkins. Upon finding the author’s actual website, Morgan was excited to communicate with scientists and philosophers who could offer more insight into evolution.

But rather than discussing the nature of evolution in the “oasis of clear thinking,” Morgan was horrified to discover in his first forum that more than half of the people devoted their time saying rude things about believers using extremely foul language.

Click here to read the rest of the story from the Christian Post.

And here is a 47 minute video of David Robertson talking about his book to a group of people at a Border’s bookstore in Edinburgh, afterwards he fields some questions.

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