Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

God is no Respecter of Persons

November 21, 2019

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“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1Timothy 6v7) I have been reflecting on present controversies surrounding powerful and rich individuals in Britain and the U.S.A. Unfortunately there are people in this world who think that they are so rich and powerful that they are immune from prosecution – and indeed such individuals in the past often have evaded the forces of law and order which apply to ordinary people. I say “ordinary people” and yet no man is entitled to special favouritism in the eyes of the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (1Timothy 6v14)
In this incredibly evil world vulnerable young people and children have been abused and exploited by powerful politicians, those in authority and in positions of trust and by the higher echelons of society. More and more stories of abuse have emerged in recent years; probation officers, charity workers, those in the entertainment industry, sports celebrities, politicians, priests, nuns and even judges have been shown to be guilty and this is a worldwide phenomenon and not confined to any one country or society.
Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matthew 18v6&7)
And so, just as we come into this world, we go out of it, in the certain knowledge that we face judgement whatever our life has consisted of. We cannot go to the Lord with our riches and offer Him a bribe and no one can “bail us out” – and we cannot point to all the good deeds we have done, in the hope that these will “tip the scales” in favour of a sure eternal outcome. Favours can be granted in this world and prison sentences can be reduced for the rich and powerful but eventually both the prince and the pauper must face “the Judge of judges” and “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18v25)
“They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever:)” (Psalm 49v6-8)
We are not entitled to a lawyer when we stand before the “Judge of judges” and no excuse is good enough for Him. We stand before Him, devoid of fame, earthly power, fortune, talent, beauty, charm and popularity. But He knows you by name and He loves you. He loved you enough to die for you – and He wants nothing but your heart, and your love for Him, His Word and His will for your life.
His will for you, whoever you are and whatever you have done in this life, is that you would repent of your sins (whether few or many) and commit your life to Him, if you have not already done so. When we stand before Him, the Great Question will be whether we know Him as the Great Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous – or as the Judge who will commit us to unthinkable, eternal suffering. Which will it be? Praise God, there is hope for “the vilest offender” this side of eternity. His will is that you would sing with the redeemed…
“Oh perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God:
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us,
great things he hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son:
But purer and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.”
(F.J. Crosby)

The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland

April 16, 2018

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It is lovely in this era to still get an old-fashioned hand-written letter from someone. I occasionally get correspondence like this from people that I have never even met – people who are a wonderful encouragement to me! There is a retired lady, a widow, who writes to me, sometimes enclosing little tracts. I felt led to share the following true story in tract form which I have just received from her in the post…

William Patton MacKay left his home in Scotland to attend college at the age of 17. His mother gave him a Bible, writing her name, his name, and a verse of Scripture on the fly leaf. He graduated with high honours and became the head of a large hospital. He also became the head of a club of infidels where they practiced everything that was licentious and vile. He was open in his ridicule of God and the Bible. Two of his chief pleasures in life were confronting critical medical cases and drinking.

One day the ambulance brought in a man who had been horribly crushed. On his face, however, was a look of calm and peace so pronounced that it amazed Dr. MacKay, who was accustomed to seeing people suffer. With a smile the patient asked what the verdict was.

“Oh, I guess we will pull you through and fix you up.” replied the doctor.

“No, Doctor, I don’t want any guess,” said the man. “I want to know if it is life or death. Just lay me down easy anywhere, Doctor, I am ready. I am saved and am not afraid to die.” With a radiant face he continued, “I know I am going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6v37), and I have come and accepted Him as my personal Saviour. But I want the truth. Just what is my condition?”

The doctor replied: “You have at the most three hours to live.” The doctor was touched, and thinking there might be relatives to notify asked, “Is there anything you would like to have us do for you?”

Thanking him, the injured man replied: “In one of my pockets is a two weeks’ pay cheque. If you can get it, I wish you would send it at once to my landlady, and ask her to send me the Book.”

“What book?” inquired the doctor. “Oh, just the Book,” the man answered. “She will know.”

Dr. MacKay arranged for the man’s request to be cared for, and then started on his rounds through the hospital. These words kept ringing through his ears: “I am ready, Doctor. Just lay me down easy, anywhere, Doctor, I am ready.”

Dr. MacKay had never been known to inquire about a patient from any personal interest, but for the first time in his life he wanted to know how this one was getting along. He returned to the ward where the man had been placed, and seeing the nurse whom he had assigned to the case, inquired as to his condition.

“He died just a few minutes ago,” the nurse informed him.

“Did the Book get here?” asked the doctor.

“Yes it arrived shortly before he died,” the nurse answered.

“What was it? asked Dr. MacKay, “his bank-book?”

“No, it wasn’t his bank-book,” replied the nurse. “It is still there, though, If you care to look at it. He died with it under his pillow.”

Dr. MacKay went to the bedside, reached under the sheet and drew a Bible from under the pillow. As he did so the Bible opened and the pages turned over to the flyleaf. There in his mother’s handwriting was Dr. Mackay’s name, his mother’s name and a verse of Scripture. It was the very Bible given to him by his mother when he left home to attend college. Long ago in a drunken spree, he had pawned it to obtain more liquor.

Dr. Mackay slipped the Book under his coat and rushed upstairs to his private office. He asked God to have mercy upon him and in repentance accepted Christ as his Saviour. He was heard; “his blind eyes opened on a sweet new world.” The old things had passed away, and he realized he was a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2Corinthians 5v17)

Dr. Mackay, the physician, became Dr. Mackay the preacher; and as a preacher of the Gospel, he turned many to the Lord.

Just as God had His eye on that Bible and on W.P. Mackay and had determined that they should meet again, so he has his eye on you, dear reader. ‘The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ Hebrews 4v12

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I would also like to add that Dr. W.P. MacKay (1839-1885) became a renowned hymn writer. Some of his hymns include “Memories of Earth,” “We take the Guilty Sinner’s Name” and “Worthy is the Lamb!” “Revive us Again” is the one which is best known today. This amazing story gives us such hope, for the same Lord who answered W.P. MacKay’s mother’s prayers for her son is at work in answered prayer to our own situations today!

 

Testimony of a Dying Catholic Girl

March 10, 2014

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“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…

but with the precious blood of Christ.”

(1Peter 1: 18-19)

 The following tract was recently sent to me by a friend and I have felt led to distribute it locally. It would appear to have been written in a much earlier era but is as relevant today as ever.  In reading it, I also thought on these words with regard to the issue of purgatory: “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) Psalm 49v6-8

 “Mother,” said a dying girl, “It is hard to die and leave this life.”

“Yes, my dear, and I would gladly give my life for yours, but you have seen the priest, and you have confessed and received absolution and you need not fear.”

“Tis true,” said the dying girl, “I confessed all the sins I could think of, and the priest gave me absolution. But with all that, I shall soon be in purgatory, and you know, dear mother, that you are so very poor that you cannot have masses said for my soul.”

The unhappy mother felt the truth of her words and said: “Yes, my dear child, I am very poor but I’ll work day and night and earn money to get your soul out of purgatory. Do you think your mother could rest until she knew you were delivered from purgatorial pains?”

“Mother, I so often think of my cousin Catherine. She was so happy before she died and she never confessed to a priest nor received absolution, and she did not believe in purgatory, yet she believed she was going straight to heaven.”

“Catherine was a heretic, my child; she was not in the true church. It is better for you to be troubled than to die in error like she did.”

“I often think of the beautiful words she said when she was dying; they were like this Mother:

“When I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

“Tell me, Mother, what did she mean? I have no rod or staff, and oh! I have nothing that comforts me, and I can only think of the flames that await me in purgatory.”

“My dear child, don’t think about it: disease is weakening your spirit. Leave all that to the priest. Try and rest, and don’t think of your cousin Catherine any more.”

“I will try for your sake dear Mother, not to think about it, but I can’t help thinking how much better it would be if we could go straight to heaven when we die, and not go to purgatory at all.”

“People like us do not go straight to heaven. We must follow the way the priest has taught us.”

“But, Mother that way is so difficult, and it frightens me to think that suppose I were there and they could not get me out.”

“Hush my dear child, for if the priest heard all you say, he would surely ask for so many masses that I could never get money enough to have them all said. But here comes your brother; he will talk to you while I go to my work.”

The brother had come some distance to see the dear sister he so much loved. He perceived there was no hope and sitting beside her, he said, “Sister, what were mother and you saying about Cousin Catherine?”

“I was saying how glad I would be if I was as happy as she was. She had not confessed to the priest or received absolution. She said that it was not necessary and that she had no fear.”

“Dear sister, it was because she loved God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. She had no reason to fear. Jesus Himself spoke to her soul and comforted her by the assurance of His love and of forgiveness of her sins. What need had she of a priest to assure her of all this?”

“What, brother! Are you also a heretic?”

“Sister, do not alarm yourself. I do not deny the truth. I have read the Word of God for myself and I found it so full of love for poor sinners that it has become more precious to me than all the world.”

“Have you then a Bible? How did you procure it? Did you ask the priest for it? Does he know that you have it?”

“No, no! I assure you, I did not ask him for it. I met a Bible reader, and I thought I would like a Bible for myself and I asked for one, and the good man gave it to me and I read it and saw how sinners could be saved. I have found pardon and am happy.”

“Oh! My brother, why did you not come sooner to tell me this? But tell me, brother, quick, is there anything in the Bible about purgatory?”

I have searched from beginning to end of the Book and I could not find one single word about purgatory; the priest knows it is not there, and that is the reason he will not let us read it. I assure you, dear sister, there is but one thing that will make you as happy as Catherine.”

“What is it, brother?” I would give all the world to be sure that my sins are forgiven.”

“It is this,” said the brother as he drew from his pocket the Bible which had been the means of bringing salvation to his soul; and he read:

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And again he read 1Tim 1:15:

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

And Chapter 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”

He also read: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”

“Those are beautiful words,” said the dying girl, but how can I know they are for me?”

“But sister, you do not believe I would deceive you?”

“Oh no, dear brother, you were always kind to me.”

“Then will you not have confidence in Jesus who died for you? Listen to what he says to all who, like you, are burdened with their sins and need pardon: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11v28)

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)

“Could you think for one moment that Jesus would have suffered half the chastisement and leave us to suffer the other half? That is the teaching of the priest, but not the Word of God. To those who believe in Jesus, death has no terror. O, my sister, look to Jesus, the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. When you leave this world, you will go straight to Him.”

The brother ceased speaking, but blessed and happy were the moments spent with the dying sister, who but a few minutes before was the victim of ignorance and superstition. But blessed be God, the Holy Spirit penetrated the soul of the dying girl and helped her to see by faith, Christ, the Lamb of God, who died to save her.

“Oh, brother now I understand it all, I too, am happy. Jesus has forgiven me my sins and given me peace and joy. Glory to His Name.”

And in that blessed assurance, after a few days of suffering, she left this world to be forever with the Lord in Heaven.

 Joyful News Publications

The Bungalow, Foremass, Lisnaskea, BT92 5FH

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The Terrible Legacy of the Magdalene Laundries

February 27, 2013

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In recent years one powerful tidal wave after another has lashed the institution of Roman Catholicism, particularly on the island of Ireland. Just recently I have read and listened to horrific stories of abuse within the Magdalene Laundries, institutions which were run by nuns and where women of all ages were incarcerated and used as slaves to wash linen for hotels and other businesses. Amazingly, the last of these institutions was closed down as recently as 1996. Unfortunately all of this happened with the co-operation of the government, the police and those in authority. A girl who escaped from these circumstances and who was caught by the police would ultimately be sent back to face even worse punishment and the horror that she had attempted to escape from. And it was horror; many of these women were abused, starved, assaulted, their heads shaved, their clothes confiscated and also beaten by those who were supposed to be “looking after them.”

Of course many were not women at all – girls as young as ten were brought to the laundries and others were born into the system. Many babies who were born there were taken from their mothers without their consent and given up for adoption. Also, the laundries were supposedly for unmarried mothers, but many were not in this situation. One woman told of how she was thrown into the laundry simply because of her family’s poverty, while another had been discovered out ‘too late at night’ by a passing priest who insisted that she needed to be ‘corrected’ by being incarcerated in the laundry.

Perhaps what is most sad is the fact that much of this happened with the co-operation of the families of the victims. Listening to their stories, I realised that some of the girls were the victims of abuse and yet they were punished for a crime of which they were the victims. This brings to mind many present day situations in countries where Shariah law is enforced and where young girls are still stoned to death, even though many are the victims in the situation.

All of this came to mind in my recent reading of St. John, chapter 8, where the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman, taken in adultery, unto Jesus. As usual the hierarchy of the church were tempting Him, “that they might accuse Him.” (Verse 6) “But Jesus stooped down, and with his fingers wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” (Verse 6)

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (Verse 7)

All of these woman’s accusers, we learn, “went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (Verse 9)

Jesus asked her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”

She said: “No man, Lord.”

“And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (Verse 11)

Jesus forgave the woman, who was clearly not innocent in this situation – but He also gave her instructions for her future life and ultimate happiness – “Go and sin no more.”

And of course the other person in this adulterous situation was not innocent and her accusers were certainly not innocent, for they went out one by one, having been “convicted by their own conscience.” (Verse 9)

Many situations of cruelty and injustice have come to light in our society in recent years – and no one knows more about it than the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows about every heart that aches and every deep emotional scar and every dear soul who still wakens with nightmares from the events of a past life.

Directly after He spoke those words of forgiveness and instruction to the woman, Jesus again spoke to the Pharisees: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Verse 12)

If those in authority in our society had truly followed the Lord Jesus and not the false teachings of men, they would have been led of His Spirit and by the light of His Word. (“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119v105). There would have been no cruel institutions, no abuse and no lack of love.

My prayer is that the people of Ireland and the people of our troubled world would turn to His Word, read it and seek His salvation. This salvation cannot be achieved by our own works, (Ephesians 2v8&9); by withdrawing from society and forbidding to marry (1Tim.4v1-3); through ordinances of the church or by putting our trust in anything other than the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4v12)

Jesus said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11v28) Rest from sorrow-filled years, love for your fellowman – and eternal rest in His presence now and for evermore.

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Take My Life and Let it be… Ever Only All for Thee

June 7, 2012

At this time of year many primary and secondary school students around Ireland and in other parts of the world are about to sit examinations of one kind or another, while others in third level education have just received, or are about to receive, their degree results.

This week we received the wonderful news of my daughter’s first class honours degree results and also the fact that she came first in a class of nearly 40 students. She was naturally overcome with emotion at the results, as I was too. I remembered, with tears in my eyes all those missed days at school when she suffered from arthritis as a child; the nights of pain and the weary mornings when she could hardly walk and I thank the Lord for her present health and abilities.

In recent days for some reason the tune of the hymn “Take my Life” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) has been going through my head and I began to read some of the background information on this lady. Perhaps I have been thinking about Frances because of her educational abilities as a child: she could read at two, read the Bible at four and started to write poetry at seven. By the age of twenty she had memorised the four Gospels, all the Epistles, Revelation, the Psalms and the Book of Isaiah. But most importantly, Frances gave her heart to the Lord just after her fourteenth birthday. In her own words… “I did trust the Lord Jesus.”

Then in 1873, a year of great spiritual blessing in her life, Frances consecrated that life to the Lord. In her own words… “I was shown that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin… it was made plain to me that He who had cleansed me had power to keep me clean; so I just utterly yielded myself to Him and entirely trusted Him to keep me.”

A good education or a special talent in the sphere of music or the arts is something to be thankful for – but all the education and talents in the world without the guiding force of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives is worse than useless, because education in itself can produce proud people who are full of their own philosophies, making it more difficult for them to hear the Lord’s convicting voice.

Today Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymns live on to inspire and convict thousands of souls across the world, all because she gave every aspect of her life to be used for the glory of her Risen Saviour, in the knowledge that He could keep her clean.

June 3rd last saw the anniversary of Frances Ridley Havergal’s death. In her own words she took…

“The one grand step, beyond the stars to God

Into the splendour, shadowless and broad,

Into the everlasting joy and light.”

 

My prayer is that young people everywhere, whatever their abilities, would find Frances’ loving Saviour who desires to use their lives for His glory, that their moments and their days… would “flow in ceaseless praise!”

Take my life, and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;

Take my moments and my days,

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

 

Take my hands, and let them move

At the impulse of thy love;

Take my feet, and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.

 

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King;

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.

 

Take my silver and my gold –

Not a mite would I withhold;

Take my intellect and use

Ev’ry power as thou shalt choose.

 

Take my will, and make it Thine –

It shall be no longer mine:

Take my heart – it is Thine own;

It shall be Thy royal throne.

 

Take my love; my Lord, I pour

At thy feet its treasure-store;

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only ALL for Thee.

(Frances Ridley Havergal 4th February, 1874)

 

The Adventures of a Bible – A True Story set in Dublin, by the Rev. J.H. Townsend, D.D.

March 31, 2012

This is the title of just one of the tracts which I recently obtained from “Way of Life”, Dungannon, copies of which are also available from “Good News for Ireland,” 5 Rathina, Newcastle-West, Co.Limerick.

Clearly written in a much earlier era, it struck a chord with me. Here is the amazing story of how one worn little Bible brought salvation to the lives it touched over a short space of time. My prayer is that this true story, by Rev. J. H. Townsend, will now touch even more lives…

On a dull January afternoon some years ago – the date of this occurrence is written down in an old notebook of mine – a young widow was sitting in her drawing room looking out of the window.

It was a fine house in a fashionable Dublin square; the room was handsomely furnished, everything indicated comfort, and even wealth, but the possessor looked unhappy.

Mrs. Blake was a Roman Catholic, fervent and conscientious in the practice of her creed, but of late her mind had been burdened with the thought of her sins. Religious practices, penance, and even prayers, brought her no relief; the burden could not be removed.

She had told her sorrows to her confessor, and at his bidding had taken up works of charity; but, although these things were an interest and for a while occupied her mind, the sense of her own sins lay heavy on her soul. Her confessor, a kindly and attractive young priest, gave her full absolution, but his words brought no comfort.

As she sat musing, there was a knock at the hall door, and before she had time to collect her thoughts a visitor was in the room. “What shall I do to rouse you and get that sad look off your face?”

“Ah, Father John, you are kind and you have done your best, but the burden of which I have told you lies heavy on my heart.”

“Listen to me,” said he; “I have made up my mind what you are to do. There’s a man coming to the Rotunda tomorrow who will make your sides ache with laughing, and you shall go to hear him.”

“Oh, Father John.”

“No – not a word! I won’t have any excuse – I enjoin it; go you will, and go you must.”

The young priest explained that a Society entertainer well-known at that period, was to appear before a fashionable audience, and that in his opinion this would be the best thing for her. No protest was of the slightest use; she could not disobey her spiritual advisor, who had even bought her a ticket for the performance, so the following afternoon saw Mrs. Blake at the appointed place, where large placards announced the entertainment which she had been ordered to attend.

The Rotunda, as every Dublin person knows, has more than one public room under its roof; there is the great Round Room, the Pillar Room, and one or two more; there are, moreover, different entrances. Now, as it happened, Mrs. Blake had made a mistake as to the hour of the performance, and instead of the crowd which she would have seen had she come at the right time, she noticed a little string of persons entering the building; following them she found herself in one of the smaller halls and sat down.

It seemed odd that no one had asked her for a ticket, but she concluded that this would be rectified later on. There was no time for much thought, as almost immediately a gentleman came upon the platform and gave out a hymn. Then it flashed on her that she had made some dreadful mistake – she must be in the wrong room, and, worst of all, this must be some Protestant meeting into which she had unfortunately found her way. Mrs. Blake was shy and sensitive; to go out of the place in the sight of all assembled was to her an impossibility. What should she do? She determined to slip out at the close of the hymn, for by doing so her action would be less likely to attract notice.

This she tried to do, but in her anxiety to be quick she knocked down her umbrella violently, and the noise which it made was so great that many turned round to see the cause. Poor Mrs. Blake, terrified at what she had done, sank into a chair and almost wished that she could fall through the floor.

Now there was a deep silence, and then one voice, that of the man on the platform, was heard in prayer. She could not help listening, as she had never heard anything like this before; it was so unlike the “Hail Marys” and other prayers in her books of devotion. The man was so reverent, but he seemed so happy as he prayed! This struck her as most extraordinary.

The prayer ended and the speaker announced that he would read a passage of Scripture on the “Forgiveness of Sin.” The very subject of all others in the world that she longed to hear about! Come what may – let Father John say what he liked or do what he chose – she must listen to this.

The first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews was read, and the speaker in a simple way expounded the teaching until it became as clear as daylight. The One Sacrifice once offered; the free and full forgiveness granted to those who ask for it in His Name; this, illustrated by several other passages in the New Testament, formed the subject of the discourse.

As the thirsty ground drinks in the summer rain, so did this poor soul receive these wonderful truths. She had never heard them before, but now they flowed into her inmost being and she longed to hear more.

The speaker ceased, and after another prayer the meeting broke up.

Mrs Blake felt that this was the opportunity of her life, so, summoning her courage, she went to the edge of the platform and asked the gentleman whose words he had been reading.

Surprised at such a question he came down, and was at once plied with so many enquiries that he offered to write down references for her to study at home. When, however, he learnt that the lady had never possessed a Bible, his interest was keenly aroused. “I will lend you mine,” he said; “read the marked passages in the pages I have turned down, but let me have it back in a few days; it is the most precious thing I have.”

Mrs. Blake thanked him warmly, and hastened home with joy in her heart and a new light in her eye; how different a being from the disconsolate creature who a couple of hours previously had found her way to the Rotunda!

For the next few days everything was forgotten but her new treasure; she read and re-read the marked passages and many others too. The Light shone into her understanding; the burden long weighing upon her conscience rolled away into the Open Grave, and the peace of God filled her heart and mind.

Now the time had come for the Bible to be returned. Once more she was deep in her new study and so engrossed in thought as not to notice a ring at the hall door. Someone entered her sitting room and her confessor stood before her. He noticed two things: an embarrassment in her manner, and at the same time a restful calm in her eyes, to which he was a stranger.

“What has happened to you?” asked the visitor. “I haven’t heard how you liked the entertainment, and as I didn’t see you at Mass last Sunday I thought you might be ill.”

Taken aback by the suddenness of the whole thing, Mrs. Blake lost her self-possession. She had intended to keep the matter a secret for a time at least, but now she was off her guard, and with the simplicity of a child she told the whole story – the mistake of the room, the attempt to go, the words spoken, the book lent, and, last of all, the joy and peace that filled her heart. With downcast eyes she spoke, but when she glanced up, her spirit froze with terror at the look of the man before her.

It was black with rage! Never before had she seen such fury depicted on a face.

“Give me that book!” he said hoarsely.

“It isn’t mine” she cried, vainly attempting to stop him.

“Give it to me,” was the reply, “or your soul will be damned eternally; that heretic has nearly got you into hell, and neither he nor you shall ever read that book again.”

Seizing it as he spoke, he thrust it into his pocket and, giving her a fearful look strode out of the room.

The lady sat as if paralyzed – she heard the hall door shut, and something in her heart seemed to shut also and to leave her alone in terror. That awful look searched her through and through; only those who have been born and brought up in the Church of Rome know the nameless horror which their idea of the power of the priesthood can inspire. Then too she thought of the gentleman who had lent her his Bible; his address was in it, but she could not remember it and knew not where to write. This was very grievous, but oh! that look – it was branded on her memory.

Days passed slowly by, but her visitor, once so welcome, now so dreaded, did not return. Courage began to creep back, and at last, after a fortnight or more had elapsed, Mrs. Blake determined to venture upon a visit to him. She must make one more effort, if not too late, to get the book restored to its rightful owner.

Father John lived at some distance from Mrs. Blake’s residence, and his house adjoined a convent to which he was confessor. The door was opened by a nun, who visibly startled at the sight of Mrs. Blake and, upon being asked if the priest was at home, her eyes seemed to blaze for a moment, but immediately her face became rigid and her manner cold as she said, “Yes, Father John is at home – he is in this room; will you not come in and see him?” As she spoke she half led, half pushed, the lady into the room opening off the hall; but as the visitor entered she uttered a piercing shriek, for oh! – horrors of horrors! – there was an open coffin, and in it the lifeless form of her confessor.

Before she could recover from the shock, the nun glided up to her and hissed into her ear these words: “He died cursing you; you gave him a Bible, and he told me to tell you that he cursed you – cursed you with his last breath; now go!” And before she well knew what had happened, Mrs Blake was in the street with the door shut behind her.

Several weeks elapsed. The breath of spring had passed over the earth, waking leaves and flowers to life and loveliness. One evening Mrs. Blake was sitting alone preparing over the events of the past three or four months. The joy of pardon was in her heart, she had bought a Bible for herself, and had read it daily. The old errors in which she had been brought up had been one by one renounced, but there was a sorrow which could not be effaced. How sad, how ineffably sad, the brief illness and sudden death of the young priest! His last look! His last words! That terrible message!

Why should she have been so blest, brought into the haven of peace, filled with heavenly joy, and he – why should not the same words have brought him a like message? It was too awful, and was one of the mysteries which could never be explained. “Why,” she said to herself, “should a God of love do this?”

At that moment the servant ushered into the room a lady who was closely veiled and who stood for a moment irresolute. Before Mrs. Blake could speak, the other said, “You do not know me in this dress, but you will soon recognise me.” With these words she lifted her veil and revealed the face of the nun who had delivered the message of cursing as they stood by the open coffin.

Mrs. Blake started back, not knowing what might happen next, but her visitor calmed her fears, adding, “May I sit down and tell you something?” Having been invited to do so she went on – “I have two things to tell you, and I must be very brief for I am in great haste. First, please, please forgive me for that awful lie of mine; I have asked God’s forgiveness, but I beg also for yours. Father John died blessing you with all his heart. The day before his death he charged me to tell you that he too had found forgiveness for his sin by that book, and that throughout Eternity he would bless you for having brought him to the knowledge of his Saviour. Now, will you forgive me?”

“I will indeed, from the bottom of my heart,” gasped the astonished lady; “but why did you say what you did?”

“Because I hated you. I loved him, and hated you for having sent him to hell as I believed. Now listen. I felt the strongest desire to read what he had read, and after his funeral I could not resist looking into the book for myself; I was fascinated and read more and more, and I too have found pardon and peace in my Saviour. I have been studying the Bible for weeks, and now here it is” – producing it as she spoke, “I have escaped the convent this evening and will cross to England tonight, but I felt that I must come here and return this Bible, and to tell you that all my life I too shall bless you for having through it taught me how to get forgiveness for my sins. Good-bye! God bless you! We shall meet in heaven.”

A brief farewell and she had passed out of the house and was gone.

Was it, after all, only a dream? A little worn Bible lay on the table before her. It was no dream, but a glorious reality. That little book – without a living voice to expound its teaching in two of these cases – had brought three precious souls out of darkness into light.

Imagine the feelings of the owner when it was restored to him with this wonderful record! And yet what says the One who sent it on its mission?

“My word shall not return unto Me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Reader, what has your Bible done for you?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”  (John 3v16&17)

Have You Broken those New Year Resolutions already?

January 9, 2012

I suppose that most people have made them – and mostly they don’t last! There are so many vices that people may want to cut down on – or give up completely, but somehow they just don’t have the willpower.  “Why don’t New Year resolutions work?” one may ask. Well, the answer is simple – because of the weak nature of our humanity! In Job 5v7 we read: “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Matthew 26v41 proclaims: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Nevertheless, there are the success stories! I know a man who gave up smoking many years ago, but it wasn’t a matter of mere willpower, for with David, the Psalmist he could say: “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121v2) You see, he went to a meeting one night, where he heard that he needed to be right with God in order to spend eternity in heaven and when he asked God to take over his life, all those vices that he knew to be displeasing to Him immediately lost their attraction. To be right with God, we need to change our ways, allowing Him to deal with the sin in our lives, but we cannot do this in our own strength.

Original sin is something that each one of us has inherited from the Garden of Eden… “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5v12). Furthermore, the Bible tells us that no sinner shall inherit eternal life… “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Psalm 1v5) ‘How awful,’ you may think, ‘but since I have inherited my sinful condition, what on earth can I do about it – and how can I have that assurance of sins forgiven, and a home in heaven?’

The answer to these very serious questions is surely found in God’s Word, the Bible, where God has laid out His simple plan of salvation. In Romans 5v8 we read: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And in Romans 6v23 we read… “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Many of us are familiar with the story of how Jesus, a righteous person, died all those years ago. But did you know that if you had been the only one, He would still have died for you? Looking far down the years, He could see your birth – and mine, and that of all the other souls who populate this world of ours… and He loved each one of us enough to die, that we may have life. “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2Peter 3v9), He wants each one of us to be ready for that terrible Day of Judgement, when “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…” (2Peter 3v10)

Are you ready for this awful Day, which may take place sooner than we think? If not, salvation can be found, not in your own self-righteousness, good works, church-going, community work, or in any other seemingly virtuous trait that you may possess – but in the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary – who was not just a righteous person, but the Son of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16) When Jesus died, and rose again, He conquered sin and death forever, and no further sacrifice is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher that the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Hebrews 7v26-28) Remember that only He can forgive sins, because only He was born sinless, and has never sinned. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4v12)

What then, must I do to be saved? Firstly I must acknowledge my sinful state… “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1v8) Secondly, I must acknowledge that I cannot save myself… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) Thirdly I must believe that Jesus has paid the price for my sins once and for all, and that no further sacrifice is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2) “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7v25) Fourthly I must repent of all those sins that I’ve committed, whether big or small, in my previous life. Of course I may not remember everything – but if I have a repentant spirit regarding my past, His blood will cover it all. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9) Finally, having put my trust in Him alone for salvation, I may rejoice in His wonderful promises to those that love and follow Him… “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8) “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5v9)…”But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6v22&23)

Please don’t walk further into the unknown year that lies before you, without considering the most important thing in life – your soul’s salvation. Jesus said… “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10v9) “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2v21) He will not turn away anyone who comes unto Him by faith… “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Why not pray a prayer of faith, in the quietness of your heart today?  Remember – tomorrow may be too late!

“Dear Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, needing your salvation. Thank You for sending Your only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save me. Please forgive me for my sins, and come into my heart at this very moment. Cleanse me, make me a new person – the person You want me to be, so that my life will be used for Your service. Keep me from falling, give me courage to tell others of my changed life, help me to read Your Word, the Bible and to find fellowship with those who share my experience. May your Presence reign in my life, for all of my days, in Jesus Name, Amen.”

Praise God for the Rescue of the Miners in Chile!

October 15, 2010

Their plight struck a chord with me when I first learned of these trapped miners over two months ago. Having a tendency to suffer from claustrophobia, I immediately thought about how I would react in the same situation. But my little one-off experiences of being trapped or ‘locked in’ bear no relation at all to what those Chilean miners have been through. Surviving on minimal nutrition, in darkness, with a lack of sanitary/hygiene facilities… the entire experience doesn’t even bear thinking about. Just yesterday my husband handed me a newspaper which had for its title the cry of one of the miners, as he emerged safely… “I was with God and the devil, and I reached out for God…!”

Surely an experience like this is bound to make men think about what lies beyond their lives on this earth? Their experience led me to other horrific thoughts… what must hell be like? Most people don’t want to think about that at all, let alone think deeply about it; that awful black darkness, the smell of forever burning but above all, no Presence of God, or hope of ever having access to His Presence.

No, I could not even bear to think about being locked forever and ever into such horrific circumstances. For me, to be without the Presence of my Lord and Saviour would in itself be punishment enough but the added punishment of eternal suffering is unthinkable… One mining expert said: “No matter how long miners are trapped underground; the survivors seldom want to return to work there. I’ve seen miners who spent less time underground and rarely, if ever, they go back underground.” This led me to think along these lines… ‘If people could experience even one minute of the horrors of hell, they would do all in their power to escape going there in the next life.’

Hell lies far below all the mines that have been drilled by mankind and sadly there are souls in hell at this moment, even though it was never God’s will that even one of them should go there. Nor is it His will than any soul presently living in this world today should go there (2Peter 3v9).

I now pray that this experience will have touched the lives of those miners in such a way, that not one of them will be eternally lost. It is said that they have “emerged to celebrity status,” with the possibility of starring in movies, but I pray rather that they would know Jesus as Saviour and carry the story of what He achieved in their lives to the world. I also pray that their experience will in turn have touched the lives of friends, family and the rest of the waiting world who rejoiced at their miraculous emergence from the depths of the earth. I thank the Lord for His answer to the prayer of many Christians throughout the world who sought Him for the safety of these men. I thank Him and praise Him for His love and mercy extended to a world of lost sinners. Jesus suffered and died to save us from sin, death… and hell. Today the Lord still says… “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45v22)

Mining brings to mind the land of Wales, also renowned for its great spiritual revivals and vibrant singing voices. I recently found an old photograph (see above) that I took many years ago of Gwennap Pit, a natural amphitheatre where the great evangelist John Wesley (1707-1788) preached to the miners in 18th century Cornwall, an area which lies just below Wales. Another man who lived around that time was the famous hymn writer William Williams (1717-1791) who wrote “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” I love to hear the singing of these words… “Strong deliverer! Strong deliverer! Be Thou still my strength and shield.”

It was the Lord who delivered these miners from the depths of the earth for without Him men would have no expertise to do anything; therefore He must have the glory! And praise God, He can deliver you and I from “Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction” and land us “safe on Canaan’s side” where “Songs of praises” we will “ever give to thee.”

Link to the hymn “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah:” http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/u/guideme.htm

So Many Things To Do Before You Die …?

October 8, 2010

One evening I read the following in a National Newspaper… “In a tragic twist of fate, the energetic, globe trotting author of “100 Things to do Before You Die” has died at the age of 47.”

Sadly, Dave Freeman, the co-author of this best seller had died after falling and hitting his head in his own home – having completed only around half of the exciting things to do in his book. I felt dejected but thoughtful as I put the newspaper down. Here was a comparatively young man taken from this scene of time, very swiftly and very tragically. Given some of the dangerous escapades that he had recommended in his book, how ironic it was that he had died under such mundane circumstances.

After watching the second plane crash into the south tower on September 11th 2001, Dave Freeman was philosophical about the future. “Life is a short journey,” he told his readers, whilst urging them to explore before “you pack your bags for the very last time.”  The theme of the book, according to his father, was… “you should live every day like it would be your last.”

‘Life is a short journey,’ I thought. ‘It seems like only yesterday that my children were starting school… How the time flies!’ Yes, and how the circumstances of our lives vary; there are those who spend their lives in remote regions of the world, overcome by poverty and sorrow, while at the other end of the scale there are those who live in palatial circumstances, with all that money can buy.

Yet, whether you spend most of your days doing mundane things like ironing or unloading the dishwasher – or exciting things like surfing on the crest of the waves, one thing is for sure: some day will be your last day. Life most certainly is so short and in the light eternity it hardly signifies at all; yet there is a decision which we must make in this life which will determine where we spend those endless years of eternity.  

Any decision we make which will affect our lives in this life is certainly very important – but just think how much more important it is to make a decision which will affect both our lives here – and throughout eternity. Most religions in the world would agree on one thing – that our behaviour in this life will determine the circumstances of our future in eternity. However, how many of them can give their followers that assurance in their hearts, that they have a certain home in Heaven? Even the leaders of all the major world religions would admit that they cannot be sure of their own eternal welfare. So, is there anyone in history who was both certain of his own eternal destiny and those of his followers?

Jesus said to the thief who hung beside Him on the cross: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v43)  Here was a leader, who was not only sure of His own eternal destiny – but He was reassuring a dying mortal at His side, who had reached out to Him in faith. Somehow, I believe that the dying thief knew that Jesus was much more than just an innocent man who had been put to death unjustly. Yes, He was an innocent man – but He was also the perfect, sinless Son of God. Every person born into this world, every major religious leader and every cleric under the sun surely falls short of this description – for “all have sinned.” (Rom. 3v23) Therefore, we must conclude that the only Person in whom we can safely put our trust is the Person of the Risen Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ.

As lives go, the Lord Jesus Christ had a very short life on this earth – but that short life was full to the brim with goodness. He healed the sick and cast out demons; He raised the dead and calmed the waves of the sea; and in John 21v25 we read: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”  (John 21v25) 

Then, after all the good, loving and miraculous things that Jesus had done, He was unjustly tried and nailed to a Roman cross. But this death was no ordinary death – for He suffered and died for your sins and for mine, so that some day, like the thief on the cross, we could reach out to Him in faith and live in His strength – and to His glory.  “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  (1Pet. 2v24)

Life is not only a short journey but it is an unpredictable one, and really none of us know (regardless of our age or health) what today holds for us, never mind tomorrow. Have you that assurance in your heart that you are ready to meet God as Judge? What does He see when He looks at your life as it is? But it must also be remembered that even a life full of good works alone cannot get us to Heaven.  Isaiah 64v6 describes such a life: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” We are also reminded in Eph. 2v8&9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The thief on the cross had no opportunity or time to start doing good works for his salvation. No, he reached out; firstly admitting his fear of God and the fact that he was sinful and deserving of punishment to the other criminal who hung with him and secondly he acknowledges Jesus as Lord, while trusting in Him for salvation.  “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  (Luke 23v42)

What simple words of faith! Today that soul is rejoicing in Heaven, all because he put his trust in the only Person who was able to save him. Unlike the thief on the cross you may have many years of life ahead – but who knows? Today Jesus sits with His Father in Heaven as our Advocate. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  (1Tim 2v5)  Oh that you, the reader, would put your trust in the only Advocate between God and mankind. “But what about my own religion/church?” you may ask.  In Acts 4v12 we read… “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Knowing Jesus and being His follower is not about joining a church or being part of an organisation. It is about repentance, having my sins dealt with, a way of life, a relationship, a daily walk with Him and having that peace and assurance in my heart that some day (whether my life is long or short, exciting or mundane) I will go to be with Him. 

Yes, it is good and essential to have Christian fellowship with like-minded Christians – and once we take that step of trusting Him to save us, He will guide us into all truth and that includes the matter of fellowship. I have travelled in my life to many far-away places and how marvellous it is to meet those of all nationalities who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation! Romans 10v12&13 informs us: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Today, in this the Day of Grace, the Lord Jesus Christ still reaches out to you, the reader, whoever you are and whatever circumstances you live under. He wants to save you from sin, to a life of good works which have faith for their foundation (James 2v14-26). He wants what remains of your life to be lived to His glory and He wants to assure you of a home in Heaven. Yet, because of His great love for all of mankind and His desire to see them saved, Jesus spoke much more about Hell than about Heaven.

You may never visit this earth’s most exotic destinations – but your life lived in His service will have a joy that is not satisfied by the things of this world. And some day you are promised… “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Cor. 2v9)

If you do not have this peace in your heart, His desire is that you would pray wherever you are today… “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of my sins. Please forgive me for all the sins that I have committed and come into my life – so that the rest of my life will be lived for you and that I can have that assurance in my heart of a home in heaven.”

May the Lord bless you and lead you into all truth – for the joy that is to be found when we simply repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour is beyond anything that may be experienced in this world!

© Elizabeth Burke

On Millstones, the Sea, Sin – and Amazing Grace!

June 5, 2010

“Millstones…” Isn’t it strange how our train of thought takes an unusual tangent, when we are disturbed by something we hear on the news? The particular item I refer to is that of a recent report on the clerical abuse of children throughout Ireland. This abuse spanned a period of many years we are told – who knows how long? Well actually, God knows. In fact there is nothing He doesn’t know, hence the term that we use to describe His nature – “omniscient.” Every word spoken in secret, every evil and clandestine behaviour on the part of man (or woman) – He knows it all, and some day everything shall be exposed!  (Matt. 12v36; 1Cor. 4v5; Rev. 20v12).

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 18v6. Having had an opportunity to view millstones in an old converted mill, I was impressed by how solid and massively heavy they were. There is no way that they could be lifted by ordinary human hands! Many would be of the opinion that these abusers deserved ‘a millstone necklace, and to be subsequently launched into the sea.’ As a mother, I felt justifiably furious by the idea that people in positions of ‘spiritual’ authority would use those positions to abuse children, given that we can never even begin to estimate the psychological damage sustained by the victims.

Then I thought of those millstones again – and the sea, and someone who had been a sailor. This person had taken advantage of his position to abuse African slaves on board ship, during the vile slave trade of the 18th century.

The seas were often treacherous on his long journeys back to his native England, but it was on one such journey that the Lord spoke to John Newton. On March 9th 1748 he happened to pick up and read a Christian book that he found in his cabin. Already disturbed by the contents of this book, the infamous slave trader became terrified the following day when the ship was caught up in a violent storm. Sadly, one man was swept overboard and the vessel severely damaged by the crashing waves. However the Lord used this terrifying situation to bring John Newton to his knees. He became acutely aware of his sin, to such an extent that he was convinced that he could not be forgiven. For weeks his ship drifted at sea, violently tossed to and fro by the angry waves; furthermore the crew were rapidly running out of rations. But during this time John Newton searched the scriptures, with a desire in his heart to get right with God. Then, miraculously, the winds abated and the ship found a safe haven in Irish waters, anchoring on the shores of the lovely Lough Swilly, County Donegal.

Here the locals helped the crew to repair the damaged ship and John Newton came to see that God’s grace and mercy is extended to the most ‘hopeless’ sinner – even him. Soon others noticed the changed life of this man who “once was blind – but now could see.” How marvellous that one who once blasphemed the Saviour’s name was inspired to write some of the most beautiful poetry and hymns in the English language. Perhaps the best known of these today is “Amazing Grace.” Written in 1772, it lived on to touch hearts over the centuries and continues to be sung even at secular events today. His numerous other hymns include: “How Sweet the name of Jesus Sounds” and “In evil long I took delight.”

Having been a drunken infidel, sunk in the mire of the deepest sins known to mankind, John Newton had put His trust in Jesus who still calls out to all who will hear His voice today: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16v26).

Whether a man wears the robes of a priest or bishop, or the rags of a debauched John Newton, is irrelevant to God, for He can see beyond the outward appearance, to the ‘inward man’ and his spiritual condition. In 1Samuel 16v7, we learn that… “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” What is more, He is willing to forgive the most awful sins of mankind, providing that they repent and put their trust in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary; He wants too, to heal the victims of abuse and crime.

Most of us have probably never sunk to the depths of depravity that John Newton sank to, but every one of us needs a Saviour, and not one of us will get to heaven without taking the humble route that John Newton took! Whether we wear a clerical robe, a salesman’s suit, a police uniform, or a judge’s wig – we must get right with God, if we have not already done so. We need to recognise the truth in those words in Romans 3v23… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Then we must be willing to let God put matters right, by simply repenting of our sins and asking Him to take over our lives.

When we do this, it will be as if “our sins have been cast into the midst of the sea;” we read in many portions of scripture of the great mercy of God in this respect. While men may find it hard to forgive us, God does not remember our sins and hold them against us, when we are truly repentant, turning away from sin in His strength. “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7v19). He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3v9) Not willing that a millstone be hanged around anyone’s neck, but rather that their sins would be cast into the sea! If the Lord can bring about dramatic changes in the life of a man like John Newton, there is no limit to what He can do with your life, whatever it has consisted of in the past! Please trust Him now – for your destination for all eternity depends upon it, and in this life God can use you for His glory, just as He used His servant, John Newton.

© Elizabeth Burke 2008

Link for hymn: “Amazing Grace”: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/m/a/amazing_grace.htm