On the very first Sunday of 1773, John Newton, the well-known evangelist and hymn writer, presented a sermon to his Olney congregation with the new year in mind. His message was based on the scripture from 1 Chronicles 17:16-17 which highlighted the deep spiritual reflection of King David when he prayed, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?”
To further emphasize this reflection of God’s grace in one’s life, Newton composed a poem set to music titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation” which was to be sung as an accompaniment to his new year’s message. This hymn would later be known as Amazing Grace.
It was no doubt Newton’s hope that his lyrics would focus the congregation’s attention and set their hearts on the blessings of God’s grace in bringing them to Jesus Christ for salvation, both now and forever. Little did he know, however, the impact and popularity it would soon have on audiences through the coming centuries.read more
The most recent comprehensive survey on the makeup of American spirituality should be deeply concerning to our predominately-Christian nation. According to the Daily Mail and other news outlets, the number of U.S. citizens who now identify as witches or other pagans has exploded to 1.5 million souls—which is more than the membership found in some evangelical denominations:
“A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 0.4 per cent of Americans, between 1 and 1.5 million – identify as Wicca or Pagan. That means there are now more witches in the U.S. than there are Presbyterians (PCUSA) who have around 1.4 million adherents.” – Daily Mail, Nov. 19, 2018
And while this shocking news will be sobering to most devout Christians, one could reasonably speculate for the sake of rhetorical effect that C.S. Lewis, the popular Christian philosopher who had the “deepest respect for Pagan myth” (The Problem of Pain, p.71), might be delighted with these statistics if he were alive today.read more
Food For Thought:
“One of the great tragedies in the church in our day is how Revelation has been so narrowly and incorrectly interpreted with an obsessive focus on the future end time, with the result that we have missed the fact that it contains many profound truths and encouragements concerning Christian life and discipleship. The prophetic visions of Revelation can easily disguise the point that it was written as a letter to the churches, and a letter which is pastoral in nature. The goal of Revelation is to bring encouragement to believers of all ages that God is working out His purposes even in the midst of tragedy, suffering, and apparent Satanic domination. It is the Bible’s battle cry of victory of God over all forces of evil. As such, it is an encouragement to God’s people to persevere in the assurance that their final reward is certain and to worship and glorify God despite trials and despite temptations to march to the world’s drumbeat.”
— G.K. Beale, “Revelation, A Shorter Commentary”
Concerning The Gospel And Our Glad Response:
EVANGELION (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy: as when David had killed Goliath the giant, came glad tidings unto the Jews, that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and were delivered out of all danger: for gladness whereof, they sung, danced, and were joyful.
In like manner is the EVANGELION OF GOD (which we call gospel, and the New Testament) joyful tidings; and, as some say, a good hearing published by the apostles throughout all the world, of Christ the right David; how that He hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcame them: whereby all men that were in bondage to sin, wounded with death, overcome of the devil, are, without their own merits or deservings, LOOSED, JUSTIFIED, RESTORED to life and SAVED, brought to LIBERTY and RECONCILED unto the favour of God, and set at one with Him again: which tidings as many believe laud, praise, and thank God; are glad, sing and dance for joy. read more…