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            Several Christians seem to misunderstand the place of a Christian in government these days.  When an official or a private citizen appeals to the authority of God’s Word over that of another official or judge, that is not an attempt to impose our own opinions on others or to disregard higher authorities but to recognize that all just law and all just government relies on the ultimate authority of God and His Word.  Perhaps no one has articulated this better than did John Calvin in the last section of his Institutes of the Christian Religion.  It deserves a wide reading today, so is cited in its entirety here:

“But in the obedience which we have shown to be due to the authority of governors, it is always necessary to make one exception, and that is entitled to our first attention,–that it do not seduce us from obedience to him, to whose will the desires of all kings ought to be subject, to whose decrees all their commands ought to yield, to whose majesty all their scepters ought to submit.  And, indeed, how preposterous it would be for us, with a view to satisfy men, to incur the displeasure of him on whose account we yield obedience to men!  The Lord, therefore, is the King of kings; who, when he has opened his sacred mouth, is to be heard alone, above all, for all, and before all; in the next place, we are subject to those men who preside over us; but no otherwise than in him.  If they command any thing against him, it ought not to have the least attention; nor, in this case, ought we to pay any regard to all that dignity attached to magistrates; to which no injury is done when it is subjected to the unrivalled and supreme power of God.  On this principle Daniel denied that he had committed any crime against the king in disobeying his impious decree; (Daniel 6:22) because the king had exceeded the limits of his office, and had not only done an injury to men, but, by raising his arm against God, had degraded his own authority.  On the other hand, the Israelites are condemned for having been too submissive to the impious edict of their king.  For when Jeroboam had made his golden calves, in compliance with his will, they deserted the temple of God and revolted to new superstitions.  Their posterity conformed to the decrees of their idolatrous kings with the same facility.  The prophet severely condemns them for having ‘willingly walked after the commandment:’ (Hosea 5:11) so far as any praise from being due to the pretext of humility, with which courtly flatterers excuse themselves and deceive the unwary, when they deny that it is lawful for them to refuse compliance with any command of their kings; as if God had resigned his right to mortal men when he made them rulers of mankind; or as if earthly power were diminished by being subordinated to its author, before whom even the principalities of heaven tremble with awe.  I know what great and present danger awaits this constancy, for kings cannot bear to be disregarded without the greatest indignation; and ‘the wrath of a king,’ says Solomon, ‘is as messengers of death.’ (Proverbs 16:14)  But since this edict has been proclaimed by that celestial herald, Peter, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men,’ (Acts 5:29)—let us console ourselves with this thought, that we truly perform the obedience which God requires of us, when we suffer any thing rather than deviate from piety.  And that our hearts may not fail us, Paul stimulates us with another consideration—that Christ has redeemed us at the immense price which our redemption cost him, that we may not be submissive to the corrupt desires of men, much less be slaves to their impiety. (I Corinthians 7:23)”

– John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter XX, Section XXXII

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. (Philippians 1:29)

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees and diplomas, but for scars.” – From Unveiling the Missionary World (Cincinnati: God’s Bible School Missionary Prayer Band, 1936).

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. — Jesus Christ (John 15:18-20)

“For us who work in India there is no quick martyrdom.  And yet no one who goes out in the battlefield and fights our Lord’s enemies is for long without a wound, the kind of wound that heals slowly and leaves a scar.” – Amy Carmichael, Plowed Under: A Young Girl’s Obedience. God’s Ever-Present Grace

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  (II Timothy 3:12)

 

Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;

I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.

Hast thou no scar?

 

Hast thou no wound?

Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,

Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent

By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.

Hast thou no wound?

 

No wound?  No scar?

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me.

But thine are whole; can he have followed far

Who hast no wound or scar?

— Amy Carmichael, Hast Thou No Scar?

 

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  – Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:11-12)

If Thou, my Christ, today

Should’st speak to me and say:

What battles hast thou fought for Me?

Show me Thy scars; I fain would see

Love’s depth of victory.

 

If Thou should’st speak, my Christ;

My leader and my King;

And bid me lay my wounds in sight,

The scars borne just for Thee in fight,

What love-scars could I bring?

 

Do I a battle fight:

Do I a stainless shield

Bear where I tread, in sacred trust

Trampling sin’s every birth to dust,

Along the battlefield?

— George Klingle, Do I a Battle Fight?

 

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  (II Corinthians 12:9-10)

“Many spirits are abroad in the world and the credentials they display are splendid gifts of mind, eloquence, and logic.  Christians, look carefully, and ask for the print of the nails.” – Justin Martyr

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  (Philippians 3:7-15)

Three Reasons for a Publishing Ministry

Resources — Books and other print materials provide numerous advantages for study.  Nazarene pioneer Phineas F. Bresee thus encouraged ministers: “Get books; get them at any sacrifice.  Be a student.  Be systematic.  The Holy Ghost will take all this equipment and use it to teach and win souls for the kingdom of God.

Roots — Books connect us with our heritage, as Free Methodist founder B. T. Roberts observed, “[Books preserve] the principles which led to the formation of the church.  Preachers and people may backslide; but the literature remains to remind them of what they once were.

Reach — By their portable, yet durable, nature, books can minister where their authors may never travel.  Thus, Martin Wells Knapp, founder of God’s Bible School, explained his own publishing ministry: “With the pen and press we can preach to multitudes far beyond the reach of our personal presence and also for centuries after ‘Our poor lisping stammering tongues lie silent in the grave.’

“It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to   reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. – John Wesley

Copyright © 2014 by Wallace Thornton, Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Faith is the master-spring of a minister.  “Hell is before me, and thousands of souls shut up in everlasting agonies—Jesus Christ stands forth to save men from rushing to this bottomless abyss—He sends me to proclaim his ability and love: I want no fourth idea!—every fourth idea is contemptible!  every fourth idea is a grand impertinence!”

Selected from B. T. Roberts, Editor.  The Earnest Christian and Golden Rule Vol. IX (Rochester, NY: Benjamin T. Roberts, 1865), 114.

THE BIBLE: THE ONLY WAY OUT OF THE DARK

This Book contains—the mind of God, the state of man, the way of Salvation, the doom of Sinners, and the happiness of Believers.  Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.  Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.  It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the [traveler’s] map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.  Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of Hell disclosed.  CHRIST IS ITS GRAND SUBJECT, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.  It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet.  Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.  It is given to you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered for ever.  It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

– Author Unknown

THE ANVIL OF GOD’S WORD

Last eve I paused beside a blacksmith’s door,

And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;

Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,

Old hammers worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,

“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”

“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,

“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”

“And so,” I thought, “the Anvil of God’s Word

For ages skeptic blows have beat upon,

Yet, through the noise of falling blows was heard.

The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers GONE.”

–Author Unknown

His Appointment, His Agenda, and His Anointing

by Wallace Thornton, Jr.

 In this first post I invite you to consider Jesus’ “ministry scripture”—Matthew 4:18-19 (citing Isaiah 61:1-2)—

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Here we find three essential elements of a successful ministry.

First, Jesus reflected on His appointment—he declared that “the Lord … hath sent me.”  His mission originated with the Father.  Likewise, He sends us.  If you are a follower of Christ, you too have a commission just as did the twelve disciples who followed Christ during His earthly sojourn.  “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).  What an appointment—to go to others as Christ has come to us!

Second, Jesus presented His agenda.  He came to heal, to deliver, to enlighten, and to liberate.  This takes place as we are encountered by truth, as Jesus declared in John 8:32—“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Indeed, Jesus is the Truth, as He told Thomas in John 14:6—“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  Now, our responsibility is to bear witness of Him, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Third, Jesus credited His anointing.  “The Spirit of the Lord” truly was upon Him in a unique way, for He is the Son of God.  Yet, He also desires for each saint to be anointed for ministry.  Shortly before His ascension, He assured His disciples: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).  May we likewise wait upon Him for His anointing, and thus realize the promise of Acts 1:8—“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Let us heed His appointment, embrace His agenda, and seek His anointing!

© July 21, 2012 by Wallace Thornton, Jr.  All Rights Reserved.  This material may be used for small group study or church services as long as it is presented free of charge for non-commercial purposes and appropriate acknowledgment is given the source (www.wallacethornton.com).  For further information regarding permissions, click HERE.