Apostles’ Creed

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father, almighty creator of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.

Suffered under Pontius Pilate;

Was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell;

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost.

I believe in the holy catholic* church,

The communion of saints,

The forgiveness of sins,

The resurrection of the body,

And the life everlasting.

Amen.

*In this instance, catholic is not referring to the Roman Catholic Church, but, rather to the universal (all-inclusive) Church made up of the body of Christ.

The Apostles’ Creed is, in its original form, believed to have originated as early as AD 140.

Universal Holiness And Heavenly Wisdom

Universal Holiness And Heavenly Wisdom

“This, and this alone, is Christianity, a universal holiness in every part of life, a heavenly wisdom in all our actions, not conforming to the spirit and temper of the world but turning all worldly enjoyments into means of piety and devotion to God.”–William Law

William Law was born in 1686 at King’s Cliffe, Northamptonshire, England to a wealthy businessman. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he was on his way to a promising scholastic career or member of the clergy. In 1711, elected fellow of Emmanuel College, received ordination. His bright future ended in 1714 when Georg Ludwig of the House of Hanover became England’s King George I. William was a Jacobite—that is, his family supported the exiled king James II and his descendants. Because of this, and possibly the rumored lifestyle of the new king, William was unable to swear allegiance to George I.

In 1727, William moved to Putney to serve as tutor to the son of Edward Gibbon, also named Edward. (Young Edward eventually fathered a son also called Edward, who grew to become a historian.) Even after his student grew up and moved away, William remained in Putney, serving as religious guide to Gibbons and others in the community. Among those who paid him visits were the Wesley Brothers, John and Charles.

Moving back to King’s Cliffe in 1740, William lived in a house he inherited from his father. He was joined by two women who remained with him until his death on April 9, 1761. The first was a Mrs. Hutcheson. Her husband, on his death-bed, recommended she place herself under William’s spiritual guidance. The second woman was Miss Hester Gibbon, his former student’s sister. Together, these three believers devoted the next twenty-one years study, charity, and devotion.

William believed in commitment to the will of God, the value of time, the truth of Scripture, and humility. He had a distrust of the world, a strong sense of self-examination, and, finally, a strong prayer life. He truly was a man after God’s own heart.

Ideal Found Difficult And Untried

Ideal Found Difficult And Untried

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”– Gilbert K. Chesterton

Gilbert K. Chesterton was born in London, England on May 29, 1874. To say he was one of the most prolific 20th century writers is the most accurate description you can give. During his lifetime, his body of work was staggering. His writings include poetry, biographies, essays, crime fiction, histories…the list goes on. He was a man of firm opinions and never afraid to defend them.

Chesterton’s books were of such caliber they were able to have far-reaching effects on the world around him. His book, The Everlasting Man, was one of the key elements in leading a young man named C.S. Lewis to embrace Christianity. His novel, The Napoleon Of Notting Hill, stirred the heart of a young Irishman named Michael Collins. Collins began pushing for Irish independence. It was an article by Chesterton in the Illustrated London News that inspired Mahatma Ghandi to seek India’s independence. He was also considered by many of his fellow writers to be the best of the best.

Gilbert was a man not so easily forgotten by those who met him. At 6’4” and roughly 300 lbs., Chesterton seemed almost a fictitious character himself. His unruly hair poked out from beneath a crumpled hat that seemed one size too small. A cape hung across his sloped shoulders. His laughter filled the air in response to a joke he told for no one’s amusement save his own. These were the memorable qualities that made him great friends with the likes of H.G. Wells and Clarence Darrow. Despite the numerous debates with these and other great thinkers, they all held him in high regard.

This staunch defender of Christianity passed away on June 14, 1936.

Risen Sun Like Christianity

Risen Sun Like Christianity

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”–C. S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He lost his mother to cancer in 1908, just three months before his 10th birthday. Her death was enough to make young Clive question God’s cruelty and, by 1912, caused him to embrace atheism. He entered Oxford University in 1917, pausing in his studies long enough to serve in the trenches during WWI. After losing a friend during the war, he moved in with the young man’s mother, fulfilling a promise he had made to his friend.

An avid reader, C.S. Eventually discovered the works of Christian author George MacDonald. One book, Phantastes, made him begin to rethink his atheistic beliefs. G.K. Chesterton’s book, The Everlasting Man, also began to make him question his beliefs. While his mind was trying to reason out what these men had written, a close friend, Owen Barfield, began to question his atheism in person. It seemed as if God was surrounding him with Christians. Nevill Goghill, Hugo Dyson, and J.R.R. Tolkien began to share their Christian beliefs with him. Within a two year period, he had moved from atheism to Christianity.

While C.S. Lewis spent nearly 30 years writing books, he is probably best know today as the author of The Chronicles Of Narnia. In all, he wrote 25 Christian books, two of which brought him to the attention of the woman he would eventually marry. Joy Davidman Gresham was led to Christ while reading The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.

Clive Staples Lewis passed away on November 22, 1963. His death went largely unnoticed since that was also the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Rest Time Is Not Waste Time

Rest Time Is Not Waste Time

“The bow cannot be always bent without fear of breaking. Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body. Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength.”–Charles Spurgeon

Born on June 19, 1834 at Kelvedon, Essex, United Kingdom, Charles would become one the most beloved Victorian preachers. Both his father and grandfather were Nonconformist ministers, but at 15, Charles chose to become a Baptist. Many of his theological ideas were clearly Calvinist, yet he considered himself a “mere Christian” and his creed, “Jesus Christ”.

He began preaching in Cambrideshire while still in his teens. Blessed with an excellent memory, harmonious voice, and a maturity in his preaching, he soon gained a reputation. This reputation brought him to London’s New Park Street Chapel and a congregation of 232 souls. The congregation began to grow until, in 1861, it moved to the Metropolitan Tabernacle which seated 5,600.

Spurgeon’s preaching style, however, did not impress everyone. Being over-dramatic in the pulpit was the source of much criticism. In addition to pacing back and forth, he would also act out the Bible stories. Criticism also surrounded his convictions. He was firm in his preaching and unbending when it came to things like modernism. At a time when Darwinism was making people rethink their beliefs, Charles believed they were betraying their faith.

Throughout his life, he established alms houses as well as an orphanage. He also established The Pastors College (now Spurgeon’s College) in 1855. Due to deteriorating health issues, he preached his final sermon in June 1891. He found eternal rest on January 31, 1892. Approximately 60,000 people paid their respects during the three days he lay in state; 100,000 lined the funeral route. London mourned its most extraordinary preacher.

Calm Souls In The Arms Of God

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“If there be anything that can render a soul calm, dissipate its scruples and dispel its fears, sweeten its sufferings by the anointing of love, impart strength to all its actions, and spread abroad the joy of the Holy Spirit in its countenance and words, it is the simple and childlike repose in the arms of God.”–S.D. Gordon

Born in Philadelphia on August 12, 1859, Samuel Dickey Gordon was a man devoted to God. Despite having no education beyond the public school system, he became a much sought after speaker. In addition to speaking, S.D, wrote over 25 devotional books—his first book, Quiet Talks On Power, sold half a million copies in 40 years.

From 1884 to 1886 he served as the assistant secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association in Philadelphia. Thanks to his work ethic and efficiency, he became the YMCA’s state secretary for the state of Ohio. He held this position from 1886 to 1895. After the YMCA, Samuel spent four years on various speaking missions throughout Europe and the Orient. Unlike many of his fire and brimstone preaching contemporaries, his style was one of quiet devotion.

Samuel Dickey Gordon died in June of 1936.

Weary In Well-Doing By Christina Rossetti

Weary In Well-Doing By Christina Rossetti

I would have gone; God bade me stay:
I would have worked; God bade me rest.
He broke my will from day to day,
He read my yearnings unexpressed,
And said them nay.

Now I would stay; God bids me go:
Now I would rest; God bids me work.
He breaks my heart tossed to and fro,
My soul is wrung with doubts that lurk
And vex it so.

I go, Lord, where Thou sendest me;
Day after day I plod and moil:
But, Christ my God, when will it be
That I may let alone my toil
And rest with Thee?

 

London, England on December 5, 1830 is the place and also the date of Christina Georgina Rossetti’s birth. This woman, a future contender for the position of Poet Laureate, was part of a creative family. Her father, Gabriel Rossetti, was an Italian poet and scholar who fled to England as a political refugee. Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti—better known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti—was her brother and a painter-poet of even greater renown. Her mother, Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti was the daughter of Gaetano Polidori, a scholar and also a poet in his own right. Frances was also the sister to John William Polidori; the physician to Lord Byron and the author to The Vampyre,the very first English language vampire story.

Christina was close to marriage twice but chose to remain single due to differences in beliefs. After the death of her father, she remained her mother’s devoted companion. She focused on her writing as well as her religion. In 1871, Christina experienced a major health issue; she was afflicted with Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder. Trusting in God, though weary, she accepted her disease and remained courageous and resigned to continue writing. In 1891, Christina found out she had cancer. She passed away on December 29, 1894.

Meditation, Prayer, And Reading

Meditation, Prayer, And Reading

“When you cease from labour, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hands are labouring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts.”–David Brainerd

David Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut on April 20, 1718. After experiencing God’s glory in 1739, David entered Yale College and began studying to become a minister. While there, George Whitefield paid the college a visit to hold a revival, followed a few months later by Gilbert Tennent. David criticized a tutor and the rector who opposed the revivals; it ended his educational ambitions.

In 1742, David felt a strong desire to enter the mission field. “Here I am, Lord, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in thy service, and to promote they kingdom.”. He received his license to preach on July 29, 1742. His first assignment was to serve as a missionary to the Mahican Indians near Kaunaumeek in western Massachusetts. After a year, he went to Pennsylvania at the Forks of the Delaware. Despite the lack of success, Brainerd couldn’t help but hope God would one day do something glorious among them.

Brainerd moved to New Jersey in 1745 to preach to the Delaware Indians near Freehold. This mission trip went so much better. Within a year, he saw the baptism of seventy-seven people. In May of 1746, the Delaware moved to Cranberry, New Jersey. The following year saw David begin his final mission trip, a trip to the Susquehanna that was interrupted by illness. Returning to his home in Cranberry, he had doubts of recovery.

On May 28, 1747, David arrived in Northampton, Massachusetts at the home of Jonathan Edwards. While there, Edwards daughter, Jerusha, took care of him . The two cared very much for each other for his last words to her were this. “We shall spend a happy eternity together.” David died on October 9, 1747 at the age of twenty-nine. Jerusha died on February 14, 1748; she rests next to her beloved David. She was seventeen years old.

 

Minister And Witness: The Callings Of Martin Luther

Minister And Witness: The Callings Of Martin Luther

“But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to your for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things you have seen and of the things which I will reveal to you.”–Acts 26:16

This October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the Wittenberg Castle church door. Some might respond with, “Oh, okay,” or some other equally disinterested comment. Others might say, “Martin Luther? Oh, the guy who gave the “I Have A Dream” speech.” Not quite. Martin Luther is one the most important figures in Christian history in the last 550 years. And his Ninety-five Theses? This document ranks up there with the Magna Carta, the American Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution in importance. It is a document that, once shared, changed the world.

The Man

Eisleben, Saxony, in what is now southwestern Germany, in a simple two-story house, Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483. His parents, Hans and Margarette Luther, had him baptized at the nearby Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Hans was a miner and an ore smelter, but his desire was for his son to become something better. He set his son on the educational course to become a lawyer. In 1501, at the age of 17, Martin entered the University of Erfurt. Despite the bright future of promise, the young man could find no peace within. Romans 3:17 tells us, “And the way of peace have they not known.”

The Conversion

In 1505, Martin was caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Like so many, the young man, fearing for his life, called out for help. Calling out to St. Anne, the patron saint of miners, he begged to survive the night. If he were to live, he vowed to God he would leave the practice of law and become a monk. The storm subsided and, although his father was disappointed, Martin fulfilled the promise he made. Despite entering into service for the Lord, however, Martin was still unable to find the peace he sought.

Time and again, he returned to Romans 1:17. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith”.” His focus was not on the word “faith”, but upon the word “righteousness”. Believing that only the righteous could live by faith, he sought to make himself righteous. He spent hours at a time in confession until a mentor told him to forget everything else and focus on Christ. It was during lectures on the book of Psalms and studying the book of Romans that he finally had a breakthrough.

“At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I…began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and entered into paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.” By turning his focus to Christ, Martin began to see many things in a new light. It was these new revelations that brought his conscience into conflict with the Catholic Church.

The Writings

In 1517, Pope Leo X was seeking funds to help build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. As a way to raise money, he began to issue indulgences—basically “Get out of Hell” pardons—for a small donation. Many of these were sold throughout Germany by a man named Johann Tetzel. His sales pitch was simple and effective. “Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs!” Who could resist the urge to buy a loved one into heaven? Martin Luther made his opinion of these indulgences—as well as many other church practices—known on the eve of All Saints’ Day.

When Martin nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church door, his intent was not to start a world-changing movement. All the man wanted was to start a debate as is evident by his opening words. “Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter. In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

It didn’t take long, however, before Martin’s fame—or infamy, depending upon who you asked—spread throughout Germany. By 1519, the man who challenged Rome was living under the threat of excommunication, meaning he would no longer be a part of the church community. Rather than cower in fear, he returned to his writing desk and produced three treaties.

The first, The Address to Christian Nobility, called upon the princes of the German states to help reform the Church. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, examined the sacraments and compared them to what the Bible said. In this work, Martin also referred to the pope as the Antichrist. On the Freedom of a Christian, Luther’s third treatise, spoke of free will. If Christians were the forgiven children of God, they should serve Him freely and willingly, not be compelled to do so.

The Trial

Initially called to go to Rome, Martin, instead, ended up standing before the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V at Worms, Germany. Thinking he was partaking in another debate, he was surprised to find himself being called upon to recant his writings. Requesting time to think about he was being required to do, the emperor granted him a day to reflect. Martin did just that.

When called to stand before Charles the following day, Martin Luther spoke these words. “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they contradict each other, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

Thanks to a letter of safe conduct, he was permitted to return home rather than be arrested. After leaving Worms, he was declared an outlaw and a heretic by the emperor, and anyone who found him had the right to kill him without fear of punishment. Suspecting something like this, one of Luther’s supporters, Frederick the Wise had him kidnapped on his way home. Martin’s destination was Wartburg Castle and he remained there for 10 months. It was during this time of seclusion that Martin translated the New Testament into German.

The End

From 1522 until his death in 1546, Martin Luther found himself in more debates and even a scandal or three. In 1524, he supported the princes when the peasants revolted. Katharina von Bora, a former nun, became his bride in 1525. In 1543, he wrote the highly anti-Semitic treatise, On the Jews and Their Lies. He was plagued by stomach disorders and kidney stones, as well as the effects of malnutrition from his days at the monastery. Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 in Eisleben, the town of his birth.

The Example

Despite the controversial actions of his latter years, we need to look at the example of Martin Luther’s life as a whole. At a time when the Catholic Church controlled nearly every aspect of daily life, Martin reminded the people—and the world—that only God could forgive sin. Acts 4:12 tells us this. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Martin is also an example of what it means to stand steadfast in the faith. Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 10:33. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven”. When faced with the possibility of excommunication, the accusation of heresy, and the threat of death, Martin stood firm. “I cannot and I will not recant…” Throughout the world, Christians are being called to recant their belief in God, to deny Him, or face death. I pray we can follow Martin’s example and stand. Ephesians 6:13 prepares us for such a day. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Martin Luther was just one man who stood in the face of adversity. Through it all, he continued to minister to the people.His faith helped change the world. In his fear, he found purpose. When God calls, don’t be afraid to step out; sometimes, He just needs one person to make a change.