Tag: Jesus

Why Didn’t the Awakenings Bring About an End to Slavery?

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

It seems like a harmless enough question, although I should know by now that there is no such thing when discussing reconciliation and American History. When Pastor Bryan Lorritts asked it I felt myself rouse for a fight. After all, I am a historian of that time period and though I have spent the better part of Seminary studying 19th Century Eucharistic Reformed theology (Mercersburg) I have read everything we have in print by Jonathan Edwards and wrote a major paper on the debate between Edwards and Charles Chauncy over the First Great Awakening and traced out how that particular controversy began a series of controversies, divisions and fights that culminated in the Fundamentalist / Modernist controversy of the early 20th century. I am currently preparing to write my thesis on the controversy between Mercersburg and Princeton, the sectarians and the Revivalist in the 1840’s. So, when Pastor Bryan asked the question: “Were the Great Awakenings real revivals because they did not bring about an end to slavery?” I was more than ready to answer yes and bring the full authority of my historical knowledge with me, but then I thought about it and though my answer is still yes, it is a yes with a caveat.

Before I go on I have to establish some historical guidelines before talking about this subject. There is a tendency in the modern study of history to commit the fallacy of Present ism; present ism is reading our own cultural attitudes and actions back into history while making no effort to understand how the people of that time period thought or acted. The famous musical Hamilton would be a case of present ism, though because it is a creative art and not a major history paper I have no problem with their presentation. The other thing I want to do is acknowledge my bias, In school I learned a white-washed history of this time period, as I did in college and for years I brought that bias to my study of historical figures. The result was a one-sided view of historical figures, it was not until I read George Marsden’s book on Jonathan Edwards that I knew he owned slaves. So this question and seeking to answer it requires me to do what I claimed to do when I first presented my theory of method for studying Church History, examining every angle of a topic to answer the question.

Because the fact remains, Jonathan Edwards owned slaves, by every account he treated them well: “As part of the family”[1] as one historian puts it, but that does not and will never justify owning another human being, that is indefensible. Inconsistently though, had his family and the powers that were in the Massachusetts colony had listened to Edwards when he insisted on treating the Indians with respect and dignity we likely would have avoided the escalation of fighting in the French and Indian War. His contemporary and fellow Awakening Preaching George Whitefield also had a troubled history with slavery. He had preached and written an anti-slavery pamphlet in Virginia but was told that no one would come to hear him preach if he published it. Shortly after that he worked to convince the governor of Georgia to adopt slavery so he could build his orphanage, a task that he was successful at.

Anyone who is familiar with the story of the Hymn Amazing Grace knows that John Henry Newman was a slave trader who later repented and was the wise council behind the young parliamentarian William Wilberforce who fought for and succeeded at passing the abolition of the English slave trade. In the states the revivalist Charles G. Finney fought for abolition twenty years before the Civil War though he speaks in the same bigoted language of many of his 19th century contemporaries (the only place I have not found it is in the Mercersburg Theologians, one of whom was a German who had theological issues with slavery, the same kind we wish others would have formed).

 

The Awakenings were incredible things, especially if you read Edwards accounts of them or the accounts of the revivals led by Finney or the later tent revivals led by D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. In all three Awakenings men and women and children came to faith in droves, and those in first would sit for upwards of 3 hours to learn what they were getting themselves into. But even after slavery was abolished, during the Civil Rights years and the Graham Crusades left the late Billy Graham lamenting that he wished he had done more to advance the cause of Civil Rights.

The church during the Awakenings and Civil War grew divided on this issue, especially as the Abolitionists grew stronger and won the abolition of slavery in the North. As Lincoln moved forward to prevent the spread of Slavery into new territory succession began and the divide between the churches grew. On January 4th, 1861 Henry Ward Beecher stood in his pulpit in Plymouth New York and called Slavery: “The most alarming and most fertile cause of national sin.” Meanwhile, in the south James Henley Thornwell, a preacher in South Carolina asserted that slavery was a: “Good and merciful way of organizing labor which providence has given us.”

A revival may be defined as: A move of the Spirit of God, directed by God, working towards the outward and inward transformation of the individual or group through drawing them to God or through their own personal decision. Because this outward change is lost in the third Awakening (it was an awakening focused on the inward change) many, myself included, do not consider it a legitimate awakening. But since the other two still did not abolish slavery, was it a legitimate awakening?

As I said earlier, I do believe it was, in fact, I agree with Edwards that an Awakening is an Awakening if it produces outward fruit and in the case of the First and Second Awakenings it is hard to deny that there was some form of outward fruit. Even Charles Chauncey, who was hostile to the New Lights admitted in Seasonable Thoughts on the Sate of Religion in New England that fruits were evident in some who had been “so affected.” In Religious Affections Edwards asserts that the only true mark of an inward work of the Spirit was “the fruit of such a work.” As C.S. Lewis would say two hundred years later in his lectures on Christianity, the evidence was not that nice men became nicer, but that “new men become new.” One had to show they were truly transformed and redeemed. One of the issues that John Williamson Nevin would raise in the 19th century with Finney’s “Anxious Bench” is that it forced “disingenuous conversions.” Though Finney would be the flagbearer for revivalists for a century even to the point of a redaction of his social theology.

The trouble was that there was a concerted and conscious effort to oust any social theology that upset the “Status quo” or was “Outside Accepted Christian Doctrine.” That meant that those who redacted Finney’s works removed any mention of the abolition of Slavery. Thankfully Garth Rosel has restored these manuscripts for us and we can learn more about Finney’s social theology than ever before. At the time though, the accepted thought patterns of the day in America were bigoted and maintained an order of Racism. It would take something catastrophic to dismantle that system of thought.

I do however, think that God was working against the evil of slavery, working to dismantle that system and that is why we had two Awakenings and then a Civil War. The spirit was working to change the lives, inward and outward, of the people and that should have naturally brought about a hatred of and contempt for the institution of slavery. The issue is that those systems of thought were so ingrained that even when the Spirit turned Finney against Slavery, his bigotry remained.

David French made an interesting point in a national review article recently when he said that: “of all the worlds history of slavery, the west was the only part of the world to look at this institutional and call it the evil it was.” Even so, as the Spirit of God tried to move us in that direction through two Awakenings and then the terrors of the Civil War, instead of letting Him complete the work and bring reconciliation, which Grant and Lee wanted not just between North and South but between Whites and Blacks, the church, especially in the south, upheld and supported Jim Crow and segregation, some of whom were my own distance relatives. There are still those who call themselves Christians who continue to espouse bigoted thought and support racist systems. Men like Jerry Falwell Jr. fail to realize that the Church, the people in the pews on Sunday are, according to sociologist Peter Beinart is “Less likely to be racist, bigoted or misogynistic their unchurched counterparts.  The Church today is also integrating racially and socio-economically, the latter of which is not happening in communities that are racially integrating. But this is three-hundred years after Edwards wrote “On Revivals” and almost 200 years since the Civil War and is an extremely new development in Church History as we look to be entering an ecumenical age of the Church.

I think the Revivals were legitimate, I think they were genuine awakenings. The people living in their time largely considered them to be and it would be dishonest for us to tell them they were wrong because we have the perspective of three hundred plus years. However, I think they were incomplete and that the spirit was working against slavery but because people of that time were so enculturated to think in the terms of their time. The entire system of thought was corrupted and needed to be completely torn down. I think one of the reasons we ended in Civil War is because the Spirit was doing that work against Slavery and a war was the only thing that might tear down that system…and even that did not. In the church we are moving towards a total rejection of that system of thought, towards what I would consider a more biblical view with a definition of humanity rooted in the Imago Dei and a call to treat all with deference and love.

Part of the reason for this is that the institutional church, as a whole, has lost the position of power it enjoyed during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries respectively in America (and since Constantine in Rome). Secularization has made it possible for people in some parts of the country to be ignorant of the location of church buildings. Church Leaders recently released a poll that found that 95% of unchurch people polled had never met a Christian. On top of that, the narrative pre and post-election of the current president has been extremely unfavorable to Christians as well as painted an extremely inaccurate picture of American Christianity. The lack of Churches added to the diversifying of neighborhoods and small towns means we are worshiping with brothers and sisters from many ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, though, if you ask the spokes people chosen by the Media to represent Christianity, or who serve on the president’s advisory board, they are unaware of the current trends in the Church. If they would talk to their people, they would find a very different Church then the one they think they are representing.

The problem has been that each event that has meant to be catalytic has only shaken the foundations of the system of thought. It has taken the election of our current president for many of us to realize just how divided we have become and had been. I know, I know, research tells us that people are more comfortable in homogenous groups. But we are moving well beyond a time when homogeneity will be the expected norm and likely will become the exception as communities and churches integrate. Therefore, we must be willing to listen and respond with compassion and, if need be, repentance, in the hopes of healing broken relationships between ethnic groups. After reconciling us to God, as I said in last week’s article, God works to reconcile us to one another, and we have been stubborn and even indignant in allowing God to do that.

I think the Spirit has been working at this reconciling work for a long time. First working to get rid of the institution of Slavery, then working to change the hearts and minds of the people during the Civil Rights Era and now through drawing us together in our communities and churches. I also think this has taken so long because man is despairingly depraved and has fought against such a change on nearly every front. Now, secular culture, though aimlessly so, is fighting for reconciliation, though it is an incomplete one without Christ. We should have been and can be, leading in this area and leading by example.

Maybe that’s what the spirit intends?

I hope we’re open to it…

I Am.

 

 

[1] This may have just been an attempt to paint Edwards in a favorable light, though Marsden makes this same point and even acknowledges that Edwards freed the first slave he bought and had many free men in his congregation at Northampton.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

Teaching Apologetics: The Importance

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Last week I read a viral post about why we need to get back to teaching Apologetics and Catechism. Needless to say I agree, adding to that, teaching the theology behind the Liturgy as well as adopting a strong Sacramental Theology that has largely lacked in Protestanism since the Puritan writer of the 18th century (but more on that later). The article was in response to a Pew Study on the reasons young people were leaving the church. Both articles are very good and I recommend following the links below.

For my own personal experience I have a good brother in Christ who is against the teaching of Apologetics because he sees it as man reaching for God instead of God reaching for man. I took Apologetics in undergrad and consider myself a Cumulative Case Apologist because I have the ability to call on multiple sources. I tend to agree with Dr. Gordon Fee and William Laine Craig. The word of God testifies and proves its own claims of truth (Presupposition or Classical Apologetics) but why not draw on all the other sources available (Cumulative Case).

For my part I have also been surprised about how little those who do leave the church actually know (in-spite of boisterous claims to the contrary). Whether it is those who simply subscribe to Deism or become Militant Atheists and those in the church who practice Liberal Theology who espouse the “Religion is divisive dogma.” None of them truly know enough about Scripture to even make the charges they are making against God or against His Covenant People as described in the Old Testament.

I suppose it is no surprise that most who turn away from the faith so militantly came out of Fundamentalist, Dispensational Churches which teach that we can know the things of God and go farther than any Puritan would dream in cheapening Sacrificial Theology. But who lean heavily on presupposition and a literal interpretation. Not that Presupposing Scripture is true is a bad thing, indeed every apologist must presuppose that what he is teaching is true, but reading everything in scripture literally leads to crazy things like the Creation Museum in Cincinnati.

Without understanding the historical situation, I have heard people say “God wants us to kill off 1/3 of the planet.” Without understanding the purposes of certain laws people have accused God of things such as Misogyny and Murder. The arguments are all completely illogical and based in complete emotion. From people who spend most of their time posting hateful memes aimed at a God they do not believe in.

Had they been taught Apologetics, especially Cumulative Case, which relies on Historical Data & Philosophy working with Scripture. If you understand that the land Israel was inheriting was full of people who for three generations (Abraham, Isaac & Jacob) had seen God’s blessing on those He’d set apart and not repented of things like Child Sacrifice, Misogyny, blood-letting rituals and many other practices that had little regard for the sanctity of life. A culture that made even the Romans (who practiced Pedophia) blush with shame. In fact, the Romans destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C, finally putting an end to the Canaanite Culture that Israel was supposed to put an end to long before.

Failing also to consider that woman in Canaanite culture were little more than property and could be treated and disposed of however the men liked to. A woman who was raped in Canaan was now considered worthless and would be tossed out into the street (Judges 19 gives us an example of Israel adopting Canaanite attitudes towards women). So when God instructs in the law that a rapist should pay the father a bride price and take her as his bride God is assigning value to the woman and forcing the man to take responsibility for his actions. Making it an act of mercy and extremely countercultural to a world that would kill the woman for being impure because of the man’s actions. Woman have value and are protected under the law and under the New Covenant, holding a special place in God’s Heart and Jesus Ministry. Hence, within Christian Faith: “There is no Jew or Greek, Male or Female” (Gal. 3:28) and Husbands are commanded to: “love your wives, and do not deal harshly with them” (Col 3:19) and “Love your wives as Christ loves the Church” (Eph 5:23).

Another problem with those who espouse these beliefs is that they try to say; “If you really believe the things in the law you should practice them today.” Let’s be honest, there are better ways to deal with crimes like Rape today, we have prisons, something that did not exist in Canaan (remember, Joseph was thrown into a pit, Gen 37:24). We also have laws that dictate certain punishments for rapists or those caught holding slaves or murders or whatever crime you want to name. When the system works (unfortunately there have been examples in the media lately where rapists have been let slide for ludicrous reasons), those people are held accountable for their actions.

Honestly, Militant Atheists sound like those who advocate for Theonomy, and would feel at home under the teachings of Paul Tilich and Ian Murray who believe Mosaic Law should be taught and kept in modern societies. A Reconstructionist idea that rejects the reformed ideas that the Civil and Sacrificial laws are fulfilled in Christ and are no longer applicable in today’s society. The Civil law does teach us there is a way to live with people (with respect and dignity, taking responsibility for wrong actions) but we have better ways of dealing with crimes like Rape and Murder. Granted, a do think a Rapist should be made to account for his crimes, make a sincere apology and maybe even be forced to make reparations to the girl and her family, but all of this as part of sentencing which should include substantial (15-20 years) jail time.

Note: Christians still follow the 10 Commandments as Jesus upholds and even expands them beyond external expression to inward, spiritual life only attainable through a life lived in the Holy Spirit as laid out in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and by Paul in Romans1-10

I can explain all this to you, I can bring you this logical and reasonable argument because I have studied the context by which Scripture was speaking into. God, though outside of time and not constrained by time, was writing into a specific culture through divine inspiration of men like Moses (Old Testament) and Paul (New Testament). It is reasonable to assume that there are things in the law that are counter to that culture and are not normative to our culture (the Maiyans were the last major world culture to practice mass child sacrifice, which again, made Pagan Rome blush).

This is also why we need to have intellectuals in our churches teaching our children Catechism and preparing them to respond to the arguments that people will bring against God and against them. Solid men and women of faith who can hear the arguments of those insolently apposed to Christian Faith and respond in a way that is rational and respectful. Who know, not just about the bible and about the God of the bible, as the fundamentalists think they do, but the specific situations and goings-on of the time periods. Not experts, but those who devoted themselves to studying scripture all considering all that must be considered to truly understand that which is being said.

Then we need them to teach our children to do the same, so that the great legacy of faith may continue through the next generation and beyond.

 

Original Articles:

Apologists, Catechist, theologians, Wake up!

Why young people are leaving the Church

 

Historical Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia of the Bible

The Complete New Testament Dictionary of Theology

Notes from Old Testament Survey by Dr. Carol Kaminski

“Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Rielly

 

Biblical Text:

English Standard Version 1988

Greek-English Lexicon & Side-By-Side Translation

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

The Day I learned the Boston Transit System.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

It is 12:15 in the afternoon on a Monday and I am sitting on the patio outside the cafeteria talking to my brothers and sisters in Christ. But in the back of my mind I am slowly driving myself crazy. This all started a few weeks back…(cue flashback music)…I had just returned from a trip to Northfield Massachusetts after one of the best weekends I have had in my life and I had no way to get back from the Bus Station in Boston. I had requested a ride from my brothers and sisters at the Seminary but class schedules seemed to make that impossible.

On top of that I do not drive, so I had been talking to the associate pastor and my mentor about finding a ride and freaking out because people at the Seminary were telling me to use Public Transit and people were sending me maps that I could not read and I could not get people to understand that for the visually impaired this was a near impossibility without a guide the first time and I was going to have to do it sooner rather than later anyway because of upcoming trips. I mean, what if I got lost? What if I did not know where to get off the train…I knew nothing about Boston Transit, though I had lived in the North Shore for nearly a year. What was I going to do?

Finally, a brother from the Seminary came down to get me (Thank the Lord because I was seriously concerned I was not going to be able to get home and have to stay in Boston and become a street musician or something. Which you know, I could do, I had my guitar, I’d lived on the streets before (voluntarily) and so I knew how to survive, but doing it for a long period of time?

Okay, okay, sorry, so now back to Monday (Music back to reality). My pastor and I had agreed to go down to Boston so I could learn the transit system. So here I was, sitting outside the cafeteria with friends silently freaking out about the afternoons adventure. I mean, I had mastered the Denver transit system, after getting lost about 20 times, but Denver is not as big as Boston and not as busy. I get it, okay, suck it up Jonathan, you are a 25-year-old grown man who needs to be able to be independent. You need to learn how to do this and you won’t be alone. Pastor Kevin will be with you and God will be with you.

Okay, okay, we can do this, Pastor showed up and we headed for Boston North Station, stopping for lunch and then at the train station so I could look at the departure and arrival times for my respective trips into and out of the city. Learning how to read the board with the help of Pastor showing me how to read the times. Then we headed for North Station and did the same thing, looking at the “Big Board” of arrivals and departures with my magnifier, flying my “I’m visually impaired banner” with great pride and dignity. We then talked to a kind gate agent who informed us that there one can get disability passes that allow you and a guide to travel for free but you have to jump through 20 legal hoops to prove you are disabled (cause you the magnifier doesn’t give it away). But that was really helpful because it would save this poor seminary student money and help me get around the city a lot easier and rely less on people to drive me the hour into Boston and pick me up afterwards.

Alright, I can do this, I can master this system and I can get myself and  my girlfriend around the city without fear…I can do this…I mean…I can right?

We purchased our Subway Tickets and headed out the doors, down the sidewalk, across the street and down to the Orange-Line Station. I was still alive, I had not gotten lost, I inserted my card and the doors opened and I stepped out onto the Subway platform. I had never taken a subway trip before, this was exciting…but scary…I mean…I’ve seen Law and Order and Batman. But I’ve got this, I can do this.

We boarded the train, the doors shut, I was not shut in a small metal box traveling about 2 blocks a second and I was going to be on it for three stations. You know, what could possibly happen?

We followed the train down three stations and then, instead of switching to the Red-Line to South Station, which I will do when I go down on Friday. We decided to go check into these Disability passes and so we exited the station and walked down to the store and talked to the lady and then we decided to go up to summer street and walk down to South Station and we found it with great ease and then we decided to walk to Boston Commons and get coffee at “The Thinking Cup” and then we took the green line back to North Station…and…I did it…I learned a good amount about the Boston transit system, enough to try it on my own…Which I get to do…on Friday.

Cause you know, freaking out about things is not always the best, when you have great people in your life who love and care for you and who point you to Christ. Then you really have all you need in life and whatever happens God is going to be good and the Spirit is going to be within you and your sins are forgiven and God is in control and well…that makes learning the Boston Transit system a breeze.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to train for NASA…I can do that right?

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Explanation for our (Near) Silence on Orlando Shootings.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

If you do not know about it by now, then you have not been watching the news or the internet. Last Sunday a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people while injuring 53 more. This sad and tragic act has been the topic of almost every news story and point of debate everywhere from the Campaign Trail to the creators of memes and those who I call “Internet experts” that always seem to have the right opinion on Social Media. Resulting in a flurry of accusations and comments on race and violence and gun-control and treatment of the LGBT community by Christians and Republicans, debates about what an “Assault Weapon” is and finger pointing that would make the greatest debater fear for his life building to an incoherent babble that would make a Greek blush.

Everyone making comment, everyone making debate, everyone having to have their voice heard…well…except us.

I know “Jonathan, a Muslim walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people, shouldn’t you be talking about how it was God’s judgement or demanding life be sacred or defending the second amendment or talking about Islam…You’re a Christian, should you not have something to say on this?”

It turns out that I did release one statement on the subject, it was as follows.

“The fact is those who died in Orlando were made in the image of God, as was the shooter. Yes, the image was distorted and skewed and lost in depravity. But we must still mourn and pray with and for those who passed away and those who they left whether they are children of the covenant struggling with sin or not. As for what God will do, I know that He will be Just. #PrayforOrlando.”

That was all I had to say, the post was released both on the Jonathan David Faulkner Facebook Page and on my own personal profile. After that statement we moved on, choosing to engage in a discussion on the difference between Call and Vocation. An article that garnered our lowest reader count of anything we have ever released and saw none of the usual reactions to that kind of article. Meanwhile sites covering Orlando exploded, their comment sections filling up with outrage, anger and prayers for the victims.

“You could have really blown up over this, I mean, people listen to your opinion.” We know, but we did not want to be a part of what we knew was coming, and for the sake my conscious, I am glad I was not. It was like the day we released an article about Westboro Baptist by 10:31 Writer Josh Williams and our site blew up because we mentioned Westboro. But my conscious was troubled because we had stooped to their level, we had attacked them and in turn became targets. We had treated them ungraciously and I did not want to manage a ministry that sunk to that level. So I told the guys and gals that Westboro was off limits unless we could talk about them in a gracious manner. That event was also why I maintained a desire to see Joshua Feuerstien restored and see him transformed by the true Gospel way back in January when we first started researching his theology. I did not want to participate in the hatred, choosing to have fun when we and many others were called “Sissies” in a video earlier this year instead of firing back with an angry tirade of our own. I do not want to be that person, I do not want to run that type of Ministry.

Consider also that any other response would merely have been us adding to the noise and deluge of opinions without a complete understanding of the situation. I know, a Muslim man walked into a Nightclub during Ramadan and killed or injured 103 people. I know it came shortly after a Cleric spoke at a Masque in Orlando with an open anti-gay message. I know that Christians and Republicans have been blamed for the attack because they have impeded “LGBT Legislation” and proposed “Anti-LGBT Legislation” creating an environment where this was possible. I have seen the gun control debates, though I know little about guns or the finer points of the legislative process. I know that all the arguments I have heard this week have baffled me, as has all the finger pointing, and while I have opinions on Gun-Control that I will tell you if you really want to know, I also know that legislation cannot stop something like this.

So, I refused to engage in the public discourse, refusing to add to the ruckus because I did not want to be party to more division, hate and fear. I choose to do something else instead, I chose to Pray for Orlando and to carefully consider what was going on so that if I was asked I could have a well thought out, articulate response to something horrendous. I chose to react through actively praying, actively seeking the Lord and being there for those who needed comforting. To not offer an opinion, but to offer hope and love and care when it was needed most. Choosing the Gospel over destructive words.

Because, while I will never accept the LGBT Lifestyle I refuse to be hateful towards anyone who disagrees with me, in fact, to quote Glenn Beck’s statement to the LGBT Leaders in New York a few weeks back: “If someone was trying to shoot you I would stand between them and you and if I had a gun of my own, I would even shoot the person trying to shoot you.”

I hope you have seen, through reading these posts that God’s Heart considers all human life sacred. Beginning from the Imago Dei, seeing all people as made in the image of GOD and wanting to see that image renewed in Christ through Faith in Christ. We want to see people free from the bonds of what we, as an organization consider sin, but we know that being hateful and cruel does not a free man make in the end. We do seek to stand united with those who are suffering and hurting while being messengers for the Gospel. All human life has value in God’s Heart.

So that is why I have been quiet on this issue, I cannot, and will not speak out of hatred or ignorance on the issue and instead of throwing my opinion and intellectual weight around I found it better to be a light and witness to the broken and hurting. So that all might know that God is as good as He is just

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

#GospelDrivenSissyPreacher: “You Don’t Talk About Sin Enough”

By Jonathan David Faulkner

I always check my email about four times a day, since God’s Heart uses my personal email for site communications BT has access to it as well. So if I don’t see it, BT probably will and it will come up in our bi-weekly meetings. But I saw this one, an email from a concerned reader right after our Celebration article that came out right after Easter.

“I do not like God’s Heart for those, and I am not sure I want to read anymore.” The writer told us, “you never talk about sin, and I think you should.” After praying about it I responded in brief, inviting the emailer to converse with me on the subject. We had a good email conversation over the next couple days and I was able to explain to him why we do not always talk about or harp on sin.

The truth is, we do talk about sin, but we have made a conscious decision to be a positive reinforcement to the church, giving wisdom and guidance in our crazy world. We recognize that sin exists, that people sin, that we sin, we believe what the bible says. I do not pretend to be a perfect man; the reality is that I am a sinner. My job then, is to repent of that sin when it happens and then rest in the reality that I am forgiven and reconciled to God and walk in the spirit and work to reconcile any damaged relationships. I have to do that; it is required of me by scripture, and that requirement is life-giving when it is lived out. Sin separates us from God and repentance and God’s forgiveness reconciles us to Him through the blood of Christ. We are all under grace, and we need it daily.

That’s how we view sin, we want to be real and honest about it, and now we want to tell you something.

You do not need us to remind you of your sins.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that most of us who are believers are well aware of our sins. Those who are not aware of their identity in Christ often say they are haunted by it. Like the Psalmist says; ”My sin is ever before me.” We are aware of when we sin, we are aware of the sins of the past, we are aware of the sins we commit when we commit them. If our conscious is not seared, we are aware of our sin.

So, unlike Joshua Feuerstein and many other groups on all ends of the theological spectrum we do not think it is any benefit to you to throw sin in your face and condemn you for it. In fact, my father has three things that remind us of our sin.

They are:

  1. The World and its depravity
  2. The Holy Spirit who Convicts
  3. The Accuser who condemns us.

Instead, my father believes then that we should be building each other, that we should speak the life-giving words of Christ and: “Be reminded of who we are.”

That is what the late Morris Tee and I set out to do after the closing of 10:31, during a time in my life, just over a year ago now, when I myself was rediscovering who I was in Christ and working to reconcile all that had been broken over the winter. When we were dissolving the corporation and all its various entities (A process that is still going on a year later) we wanted to keep God’s Heart because, although it did not have the readers it once did, it had served a purpose over the years and we wanted to renew that purpose, to build up and encourage the body of Christ.

But you cannot do that when you are constantly putting down and condemning everyone, harping on sins (some of which are not sins) and putting down those who disagree with you. This of course is in stark contrast to the man whose teachings we have spent the last few months addressing. Trying, and sometimes failing, to be gracious towards this man, despite our strong disagreement. We have maintained that we want to see restoration and redemption in this situation and not for this man to be torn down.

We want a healthy and robust church, full of people who are assured of their identity in Christ. It is not that we have some unhealthy view of sin, disregarding it and brushing it off, but you do not create a group of believers who know the joy of freedom by chaining them to sins that they are forgiven for and set free from.

Another reason that comes to mind is that this is a reaction to my own time as an extremely legalistic fundamentalist. I have destroyed so many people, some of which I may never be reconciled to. Before I go I hope I can restore a few, show love to those who I formerly would not have.

So if that makes me a Sissy Preacher, then so be it, if that makes me a coward and a liar in the eyes of those who disagree with me, then let it be. I can be gracious with them, I can love and honor them too and pray for restoration in their lives, that they might know the Joy of true and genuine freedom in Christ.

We will affirm always that Christ died to be the propitiation for our sins, that God’s wrath is totally appeased and we can have forgiveness and can be reconciled to Him. We affirm then that the position of the believer has been changed and the condition before God changed from Sinner to Saint, Sons and Co-Heirs because of the blood of Christ and that we are justified and made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ. We also affirm that the Holy Spirit is at work within the believer, transforming the mind and heart of the believer into Christ’s Likeness and that this is an ongoing process that will come to completion in heaven. That God has completely freed us from sin and when we repent of sins committed He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse us, His covenant People, restoring us to a deeper relationship with Him.

At God’s Heart for those we are #GospelDrivenSissyPreachers, and we thank God for the chance to do that every single day.

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

A Protestant Goes to a Monastery:

 

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

I once considered Cloistered life, no joke, as I studied Church History I found the flow and practice of Monastic life quite appealing. Eventually I began visiting a little Benedictine Monastery and conversing with the brothers. As I prayed about the decision I found God was not calling me to Holy Orders, he wanted me in the Local Church and while one can do that in a Monastery, but it is not the primary purpose. Also, I am not Catholic, as you know I was raised Presbyterian, served as a Baptist Pastor and am working on Ordination in the 4C’s. I am aware there are Protestant Monasteries, even Protestant order of Franciscans, I consider myself a student of the Little Saint from Assisi, (I now own the Omnibus of Sources on him), but the more I prayed about it, the more the Lord called me back to His mission for my life. I still enjoy going to Monasteries, they are quiet places, great for study, praying and listening and resting.

It was the last three reasons that I went. If you live here at the Seminary you know that my life has been a bit crazy lately, between leading worship for Chapels, God’s Heart, Paper Writing and all those other things associated with Seminary Life I had been running a bit low on energy, I needed a rest, since I missed the Soul Care retreat in February because of Mentored Ministry I had not had a proper break and since I load my semesters to get a lot done early on I found myself in need of a break.

So I saw the opportunity and took it, a day trip down to the Monastery with one of my fellow Seminarians.

The Monastery is set in the hills, next to the little towns of Still River and Harvard (Not the school). Its white buildings were built in the 1600’s with the exception of a barn that was built when the Benedictine’s first moved out to the Monastery in the 70’s and took up Dairy Farming. Now it is the multi-purpose facility for the use of the many retreat groups that come through their each year. Benedictine Monks are called to perform some task per The Rule of St. Benedict and this particular Monastery’s good was hospitality.

We arrived for 8AM mass, it was modeled after the Old Mass so everything was spoken and sung in Latin with the exception of Holy Scripture, which was read in English. We of course could not take Communion since we were not Baptized Catholics, but it was interesting to see the Host Elevated and hear the prayers and songs of the Monks as they joyously participated. After that we met with Father Augustine and toured the Monastery, visiting the guest house and learning about the History of the Abbey. After that we were on our own for awhile, we ended up going down to a little stone chapel (My room here on campus is bigger) and spending time in silent prayer and scripture meditation. I also wrote a poem while we were there. Then we trekked back up to the Monastery (about a mile) in the rain so we could meet with Father Augustine to ask questions about Monastic Life. We then went to Sext, one of the divine offices, which was again in Latin, though this time we had English translations, and after that lunch. The rest of the time was spent reading and praying and being quiet before the Lord. I spent the afternoon in the guest house, watching the storm clouds pass by outside, occasionally feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.

It was a quiet and peaceful day, just the day I needed as I drank in the much needed prolonged scripture reading. Meditating specifically on Psalms 130 all morning while sitting in that tiny stone chapel, listening to the birds sing and the rain fall, it was, what my Protestant Soul needed.

I know my readers are going to ask “Why did you go to Mass? Aren’t you a protestant?” The answer to the second question is “Yes, I am a Protestant,” Reformed as the next Reformed Theologian, but does that mean I can reject all that came before Calvin and Luther? We have discussed before how Church History did not start at the Reformation, Catholicism is our roots, and we are all part of the catholic (universal) church, which includes Catholics. There are also some very beautiful and life-giving practices given us by the Catholic Church that even Calvin upheld as good things (i.e Monastic devotion to study of scripture, praying the psalms). I may not agree with Transubstantiation, preferring the Reformed Doctrine of Real Presence and the explanation of Divine Mystery to answer the “How?” But there are many beautiful practices given us by the Early Church and then the Catholic Church that should never have been left behind.

The truth is, I went because it was good for my soul to experience God in another context, to be with Him in a place that was unfamiliar, yet quiet. The Mass was the best place to start, focusing my heart on God and preparing me for a day spent mostly in silence. The beauty of the Latin Service helped me meditate on the beauty of God. The reading of Scripture help prepare my heart to receive more Scripture. By the time we reached the Little Stone Chapel my heart was ready to listen to God.

As I opened my Bible to the Psalms I opened directly to 130. A psalm I long ago memorized and have spent time praying and meditating on. I decided to that this was a good time to pray through it again. As I did verse 7 kept repeating in my head: “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is Steadfast Love and with the Lord is plentiful Redemption.” With these words came the Joy of the knowledge of that Plentiful Redemption. As I thought through the verses over and over again, the forgiveness of Iniquities, waiting for the Lord, Hoping in him, I could not help but think about how these aspects of the Gospel. Hope, Love, forgiveness of sins, all of those things that this Psalm reminds us of that we now have through the cross of Christ. How do we not come to him in gratitude and seek His will out of gratitude and with tears of Joy as we consider what He has done for us.

Do you know how big God’s Heart for you is? Or do you never get the chance to see it, is your life so full of activity that you never had time to simply retreat into Him. Do you ever sit back and consider what He has done for you by His great work of redemption on the cross. Or is your relationship with Him distant, you being unaware of His indwelling Spirit and Him reaching out to you, but you not knowing?

Oh dear brother, dear sister, I pray you know the Joy of your redemption so fully that it inspires you to sporadic praise of Him who gave it.  That you might be spurred to greater love and good works for those around you. That is might encourage you to encourage others, that it might exhort you to love God more deeply and to walk more closely with Him. That it might encourage you to righteous living and through that you might become an instrument of Justice, peace and mercy.

This is what I took from being with the community of Benedictine Monks. That there is so much Joy in our redemption that to deny that Joy is to deny part of its very core.

Oh brothers and sisters, hope in the Lord, always, hope in the Lord.\

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Untwisting, Twisted Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:15

 

By Jonathan David Faulkner

Untwisting Twisted Scripture looks at popular teachings and their use of Scripture.

I have heard a lot of popular Fundamentalist Evangelists respond to critics by using 1 Corinthians 2:15 to justify maliciously condemning others. The verse says: “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” (ESV). Pulling this verse out of context it is easy to say, as they do, that no one can judge them and that they are the final authority on all things. This verse has been twisted by Authoritarians, it has nothing to do with malicious condemning someone and then justifying yourself.

Let’s look at the immediate context of the passage:

            The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)\

It is interesting here, as you can see, that this is a comparison between the man who does not know Christ and the one who does. The Greater context talks about the Spirit’s working in our lives, giving us the ability to understand the teachings of Scripture, specifically giving the Corinthians the ability to understand Paul’s words, this of course comes through the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling of God inside of us. If we did not have the spirit we would not have the ability to determine or discern the things of God. But because we have the Spirit of God, because we can learn to grow in and learn to listen to and be led by that Spirit, we can have the ability to judge those things that we come across.

Paul is also commenting, starting back in verse 4 about how the Corinthians received the Gospel in general, by the wisdom of the Spirit, and not by the wisdom of man. Noting a desired progression in the Corinthians own life from the world’s wisdom to the Spirit’s wisdom, because it was by the Spirit’s wisdom that the Gospel was seen and understood. Again noting a progression or growth from the World’s Wisdom towards the Wisdom of God because through the Spirit we have “The Mind of Christ.”

John Calvin, writing on verse 13 says this in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians:

Because they are spiritually discerned. That is, the Spirir of God from whom the doctrine of the Gospel Comes, is the only true interpreter, to open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.

But what of the verse in question? How then does the Spiritual Man “Judge all things?” What does it mean for him to do so? Well, if you asked Feuerstien, he might tell you it means he can be prosecutor judge and jury and no one, not even other Christians, can question him. But if you look at the Greek word used here, you find a different story unfolding. The word is “Anakrino” which means to judge, discern, question, investigate, sift through or to scrutinize. Yes, it has a legal ramification, but only in the investigative sense. It is the same word used by Pilot when turns Jesus back over to the Jews in Luke 23:14 saying “I have examined him and found no guilt in him.” Yes, it does involve a verdict, but a verdict in the Christian sense requires a graceful dealing on any subject and with anyone.

Christians who practice an authoritarian interpretation end up looking more like the Prosecutor in God’s Not Dead 2 rather than images of the Living God. Such an interpretation invites and “Us against them” mentality that is driven by fear of opposition. Instead of a fair judgement or the proper discernment of a situation, instead of judging the idea, or the fruit of a ministry we become judge, jury and executioner of anyone who disagrees with us. This is Pharisaic at best, demanding that everyone stand in line and be judged by us. If we continue in this we should tremble on the day we stand before God (we will anyway) knowing that the measure we judged others with was so very hard that we ourselves could not stand up against it.

True and genuine Christian Maturity is being able to look at a thing and examine it with the help of the Holy Spirit. To be able to say about an idea, a thought or the fruit of a person’s life and say “This is good” or “This is bad.” And then be able to either encourage or exhort that person in a right manner that will either spur them on to more love and good works or lead them to restoration through repentance.

True and genuine Christian Maturity does grant us the ability to judge all things, but that is not a judgement that ends in condemnation of the individual person, but if there must be condemnation than it must be of an ideology or group mindset because it bears bad fruit. As I have said before, every single thing we come across, every teaching, every politician’s platform, every doctrine must be thoroughly examined and held up against the standard of Scripture. The only way we have the ability to do such a thing is by the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to understand as we study Scripture. There can be no proper exegesis or interpretation without the Spirit’s guidance, it is not a work of man, but of God himself, incarnate in us through the Holy Spirit. Like the Eunuch in the book of Acts, reading the scrolls of Isaiah, it took Phillip, a man filled with the Spirit of God, to help him understand what he was reading.

The word of God is life-giving, even David’s lament in Psalms 51 can be used to bring life to the lost soul. When someone uses this Word to bring about more bondage or put down other believers who disagree with them that is not a Holy Spirit led reading of the Text. We must learn to discern a teaching, like the Berean Christians, always studying, always searching the scriptures. So that the living and active Word of God can be used by the Spirit to do that transformative and life giving work. We were not called to go from one cruel master to another, but to become Children of God, with all the rights and promises thereof.

 

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in
Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Faulkner on The Fifth:

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By Bradley Tucker:

 

It’s Friday and Jonathan is answering questions from Bradley, talks about his Easter Sunday Experience, The Sense of the Sacred and more.  

Q: So, after last Monday’s article on the Fruit of Joshua Feuerstein’s ministry there was a comment left by Josh that suggested you were a liar, what are your thoughts on this?

A: First of all, I want to make it clear that Joshua is not always wrong, there are some points where he does hold to essential doctrine. But the 55% truth does not negate the 45% lie and you do not have to read the article to figure out that we were not off-base, just watch the comment sections of his videos and posts. Many of his followers agreed with us and some even shared the article. It’s a very divided group and a very angry one. That’s far from the fruit of the spirit and Josh does nothing to intervene. Instead he openly insults other pastors and tears them down. Participates in Link-Baiting and Fearmongering, stirring up the people to anger against their own brothers and sisters in Christ and trolls people who do not agree with him. That is not the mark of a Christian Pastor, based on these observations we can make a logical conclusion, this is bad fruit. If making such an observation makes me a liar then that’s fine. I will continue to try to address this issue in as loving and compassionate way as possible. He is still my brother and I can forgive him for the implication. In the end, Joshua needs grace as much as the rest of us, I am no better than he in that category.

Q: But that was not the biggest issue with the comment?

A: No, the biggest issue was that the commenter promoted an Anti-Trinitarian viewpoint, saying we do not need “Father, Son and Holy Ghost cannot save we must call on the name of Jesus.” You can call me a liar all you want, but the moment you profess a heretical and blasphemous doctrine, that is, it is directly in opposition to the teachings of Scripture and thousands of years of Orthodox, Trinitarian Teaching, you are going to spark in me anger. Especially if you then use that doctrine to oppress viewpoints that might disagree with yours or to promote oppression. We would not have the son without the father and we would not have true and genuine Christian Freedom without the death of the Son. The Holy Spirit confirms these truths for us and comes and dwells within us. They are three in one and one in three. It’s a divine mystery. What we do have now is free access to the father, sonship, freedom from sin, total washing and purifying by the blood of Christ and the ongoing work of Sanctification. We do have joy and love.

Q: What does Church History teach us about our response to Authoritarianism in the Church?

A: Yesterday we talked about Julian of Norwich in our Medieval Spirituality Class. She was an Anchoress at the little parish church in Norwich during the late Medieval Period (1360’s-1416). This was the time right before the Reformation where a similar kind of authoritarianism as to what we have in America today had popped up. Julian was a mystic who one day had 16 visions in 24 hours and recorded them in her memoir. Each vision focused on the deep love of God for the people which was and is quite opposite to the Hellfire and Brimstone of Authoritarianism. I could go on for hours, but I will not for the sake of the reader and your hands. The Bottom line is, God shows Perfect Love, Love is at the very center of God’s Heart for His people, it is out of love that we can even exist and the bible tells us that it was out of love that God sent His one and only son (John 3:16). That is, God loves sinners because we are all sinners and fall short of God’s standard and glory (Romans 3:23). God also desires that the whole world come to salvation in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). And that we are instruments to take that message to the world and make disciples of all nations. So the solution to Authoritarianism then is to daily show a Gospel centered love for everyone we encounter. Acknowledging that person’s identity and potential identity as created by God, son or daughter and loving and encouraging that so they might come to know Christ more deeply, or come to know Him as Lord and Savior.

Q: I have heard you talk a lot about Rediscovering the Arts, and we have talked about Art and the Church before here, but what is the idea behind rediscovery of the Arts in the Church?

A: As I said last time this came up, we have done ourselves a huge disservice by rejecting the use of any art form that is not music. In the Medieval Church art was a discussion starter, the Laity did not have Scripture and so their way of expressing the Doctrines they were being taught by the Clergy was to create art or to consider it. The Medieval Church was covered in Art, depictions and Icons lined the walls. It was impossible to walk into a church and not see an image of the crucified savior, the risen savior, The Apostles, the Church Fathers, The Saints. Now, it did become abused, to the point that people were worshiping the artwork itself and even worshiping the Saints depicted in the art. And we have to guard against that, but art can be a means of discussion, a way to start a conversation with an unbeliever or even stir up the religious affections of young and older believers. I heard a story once of someone showing a Medieval Painting that showed all of the things Jesus went through on his way to the Cross. All of it biblically sound, the person leading the study said that Christians who had read the story a million times were saying “I had no idea that he went through that, and I’ve read the story a thousand times.” It puts an image to the words we read and can help us understand Theology.

Q: What did you do for Easter?

Well, woke up at about 4:30 and got ready for the Sunrise service my church did here on the Hill, then we headed over to Gordon College for a combined service with both services (our church would not fit that many people in one service). Then my sister and I headed over to a church members house for Lunch and then we hiked up to one of the many points looking out at the Ocean down in Glouster. It was a beautiful and relaxing day of celebrating the Risen Lord. I felt energized for the rest of the week!

 

 

Bradley Taylor is the Content Editor for God’s Heart for Those

 

Have a question for Jonathan? Send it in!

 

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Celebrating You, Our Readers!

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Let us be honest, it has been a downright gloomy few weeks for us. We’ve talked about division and about voting and politics and comments thrown at us. There has been a lot of negative topics covered as we have sought to build up others in the face of those who would tear them down. But not this time, for the sake of my own soul I need a break from addressing those who would rather shame us than encourage and exhort. So I want to simply take a moment to encourage you.

Yes you, you reading this, the person who puts up with all of my words and who have encouraged and sought to build me up. My regular readers and those who are reading for the first time, I am edified by you, encouraged and even driven to praise of the Lord because of you. Because you walk with me in this journey to discover God’s Heart for…well…everyone. Listened as I preached the gospel, what I hope to be the true gospel, of salvation by faith in Christ. Walked with me through the journey of this awesome Healing work God has been doing as He has restored and redeemed the church. You have been part of that, with your outpouring of love and support and even by just reading this blog. I did not set out to inform you, to teach you or to exhort you. But to encourage and love you as God as encouraged and loved me.

So I have one thing to say after nearly five years.

You are all awesome and I love you. Let me dote on you, you who are Saints of the Living God, sons and daughters of His Majesty. You are beautiful and handsome, strong and powerful, wise and kind. You are called sons and daughters of God; a title you cannot lose no matter how many lies the enemy throws at you. You have hope of deliverance from every temptation and every valley. You have hope in the dark places and a light in the midst of troubles.

I want to celebrate you, celebrate your love and kindness towards this broken man. The joy you have shared in your emails to me both through 10:31 Life Ministries and through God’s Heart. You deserve it, for helping me shed the chains that had so long held me. You deserve it for liking our posts and for keeping up with us over the last five years. For sticking with us when our writings were about the worst thing on the planet, to now when they are…slightly better.

Always remember that you are loved deeply by God and by myself. Stand firm in the promises of our savior and I hope to see you out on the road.

God Bless You

Jonathan

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in
Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Good Friday Reflection:

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Reading: Luke 22, Philippians 2:1-11

It sounds strange to celebrate a death, but today we do, the death of our Messiah, the death that ended the war and gave us victory over sin and Death. Equally important because of this death, because we are now covered in blood the wrath of God is satisfied and the veil that kept us from Him is torn and we have access to the Father through the Son. All those who believe now have the Spirit of God dwelling within them who testifies to our redeemed reality of righteous standing before God. The same spirit promised by the Son who was sent by the Father to die on the cross for our sons, he was crucified, dead and buried and on the third day he rose again from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God the Father. Praise the Lord that he, being by his very nature God, considered equality with God something to be grasped, but instead humbled Himself to death so that we might have life.

If there was ever a greater reason for the believer to celebrate then know not what it is. This life we have been given so freely, how can it not so stir up in us such love and affection for God. That our debt would be satisfied by a most perfect lamb without blemish, the perfect son of God. Such a great thing it is that it should move us to praise when we think on such, as Luther put it: “A Happy Exchange.” Christ has received our the punishment of death our rebellion has earned for, we have the glory that Christ deserved by his Obedience. Oh what amazing grace, oh what a great joy and comfort to the believers.

Let us lift our voices in praise, all Heaven and Earth rejoice, in the midst of sorrow comes Joy, in the midst of death comes Christ. The Salvation of all who believe is assured by the indwelling Spirit

We are free, sins bond is broken, we have a new name, let us praise Him for it.

EASTER