Sometimes I am amazed at the way things work out for good when Christians and ministers seem to be at their weakest. I was talking to fellow-intern Galen Balinski today about how I never seem to get as much done as perfectly or as completely as I want to. But somehow in the mix, through the visitation and power of the Holy Spirit and the light of the Word of God, the work of the Lord is done. In our weakness He is strong.
Several times lately, I have gone out for a walk or a late-night bite to eat, feeling that I haven’t really accomplished what I was supposed to accomplish in the day. During the walk or meal, I’ve come upon someone with whom I’ve gotten into conversation only to find they are perplexed about the truths of God. Usually this happens in conjunction with my mentioning that I work for a church. One man whom I’ve met twice at Pizza Hut recently while buying a tiny pizza at midnight has told me how he searches and wonders about God’s hand in the lives of men and in the epochs of mankind. He wonders why the existence of evil in the universe in spite of God’s goodness and gracious nature in giving many good things to mankind. He tries to live a moral life at this point and seeks for God’s blessing and in some ways finds it. He’s concerned about his childrens’ decisions as they go through their lives. How much higher though is God’s redemption and salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ upon hearing the herald of the Gospel? An understanding of human sinfulness is often the lynchpin in a person’s gaining a true understanding of the salvation of God. Another man, whom I met when I stopped along the street to see a local soccer league match as I was walking toward a park, told me he enjoys life but knows he needs to get back to church and that he has enjoyed going to church in the past.
From our church on 26th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue I recently walked up 10th Avenue and east on 59th Street to the southwest corner of Central Park. From there I walked up the entire length of the west side of the park. One word describes Frederick Law Olmstead’s park in Central Manhattan—Beautiful. As to my walking from the church on 26th Street to the northwest corner of Central Park at 110th Street, let me say that I love to walk and consider it one of God’s greatest natural gifts to me—that I am able to walk and observe things as I go along the way.
Pray for the ones I mentioned earlier, if you find it in your heart to do so. I mentioned earlier: the lynchpin in understanding the Gospel of God’s salvation is realizing the experiential truth that we humans today are all sinners in need of a savior. I have been putting forward in my invitation to men and women lately the line of Peter and of John the Baptist and of Christ himself – Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. Repent, and believe the Gospel. I have stressed faith in the past; now I am stressing repentance a little more. Both are needed. Repentance was certainly an importance aspect of my salvation. In repenting I thought there would be no hope of salvation for me personally—that I was too bad to be saved and that I would go to hell anyway. I was seeking some relief from the corruption and hell on earth I perceived myself to have come into. In hope against hope I hoped that God would save me through Jesus Christ, even if only for the period of my life on earth. I was terrified lest at any moment the judgment would fall and the whole eschaton be executed swiftly and all mankind enter judgment and eternity instantly. I took the Scripture that he will “by no means clear the guilty” (with the omission of those last two words which were inserted in the text of the Authorized Version) to mean that He would by no means clear anyone. I searched for how salvation, his mercy and grace and the forgiveness of wickedness, rebellion, and sin, were even possible before God, the Just Judge of the universe. I believed though the words of Jesus which said “Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” My mind was taken back to Union Gospel Chapel where I had heard the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ often as a child. I believed. I was almost surprised though when the Lord wouldn’t leave me, even though I gave up trying to follow Him at one point, saying I just wasn’t able to follow Him and do good. He would not leave me. And John Bunyan was absolutely correct in his metaphor of the fire upon the hearth burning hotter and hotter though a man stood in front of it throwing water upon it. There was a Man who stood behind the hearth, throwing oil onto the fire. Selah.
We take the Lord’s table every week in church here at the mission, and what a blessing it is to do so. How many things we remember in taking the table – to quote or otherwise allude to a certain pastor in South Carolina (Dr. Minnick of Greenville): we look back to the cross; we look around to observe the others with us in the faith; we look within to examine ourselves as to whether we take the table in a manner worthy of its subject matter; and we look ahead to the Lord’s return. I add that we take the table in remembrance of his death but that our hope is in light of the fact that He has risen from the dead, conquering sin through death and then conquering death itself. This theme, the theme of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, is what we seek to hold forth as Christians and as heralds. The preaching of the Word of God (which is by nature an evangelically-weighted revelation) and the heralding of the Gospel are full of the light of God and the sense of the resurrection from the dead. I fully trust that when the Gospel is preached, God might just do a miracle of raising someone from the dead and making him or her go up and sit with Him in heavenly places yet while standing on earth. A preacher touches Heaven while standing on earth. As to whether I read this last line from another author or thought of it myself, I cannot tell.
Posted by: Christopher Love, NYGM Intern
Dr. Bill Jones
Dr. Bill Jones has helped in the establishment of two churches in otherparts of the country and served as Pastor for 14 years. The past few summers, Bill has...