Friday, 23 November 2012

A Renewed Mind Transformed A Nation


Ebenezer ErskineThe young Ebenezer followed his father, the Rev. Henry Erskine, to their old kirk in 1690 for the Catechism Class. The children were drilled in the questions, but F.W. Boreham tells us that young Ebenezer was struck by the answer to the 43rd Question of the Shorter Catechism which starts with I am the Lord thy God. These words were planted deep into the mind of Ebenezer and would take a further twenty or so years before they would germinate.
Following in his father's footsteps, Ebenezer became a pastor at Portmoak, Scotland.
"I began my ministry without much zeal, callously and mechanically, being swallowed up in unbelief and in rebellion against God." Ebenezer Erskine
F.W. Boreham tells us-
'He feels no enthusiasm for the Bible; indeed, the New Testament positively wearies him. His sermons are long and formal; he learns them by heart and repeats them parrot-fashion, taking care to look, not into the faces of his people, but at a certain nail in the opposite wall.'
A HANDFUL OF STARS, page 58, Dr. F.W. Boreham
But Ebenezer's understanding of God and His Word was about to dramatically change. His wife, who knew God, prayed fervently for her husband to meet Christ. She then took seriously ill. The fever gripped her. She begain speaking to her husband in her delirium and "her words were wild and passionate." She spoke of the Lord and His dealings. Her husband was pierced "to his soul." As she lay on her death-bed, Ebenezer cried out to the God he did not know.
"At last, the Lord was pleased to calm her spirit and give her a sweet serenity of mind. This, I think was the first time that ever I felt the Lord touching my heart in a sensible manner. Her distress and her deliverance were blessed to me. Some few weeks after, she and I were sitting together in my study, and while we were conversing about the things of God, the Lord was pleased to rend the veil and to give me a glimmering view of salvation which made my soul to acquiesce in Christ as the new and living way to glory.".From the Diary of Ebenezer Erskine
The words of the Catechism: I am the Lord! I am your God. I am the Lord your God - gripped the mind of Ebenezer. These words of Scripture transformed his mind.
¶ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2
Despite being religious, Ebenezer Erskine was lost. Then the Lord, the Lord his God, gripped his mind. He realised that the Lord God had a rightful claim on his life. He discovered that what he was taught in his childhood was no mere religious program, but life! Parents should ever be mindful that what they teach their children by word or by deed may take years before it germinates!

Ten years after his conversion the full impact of what Christ had done in his thinking was felt by congregation when he preached not from notes, not from rehearsal - but from his soul as he gazed through the eyes of those in his congregation into souls and declared that God is their God, their Lord, and that Lord thy God was their God! This sermon would go down in history as one of the greatest ever preached in Scotland. Ultimately he would lead to one of the greatness spiritual revivals Scotland had ever witnessed. All because a father sowed a seed of Scripture into his son, a praying wife pervently interceded for her husband, and the Lord God intervened.
Trusting in the Lord thy God,
Onward go! onward go!
Holding fast His promised word,
Onward go!
Ne'er deny His worthy name,
Tho' it bring reproach and shame;
Spreading still His wondrous fame,
Onward go!
"ONWARD GO!" Ira D. Sankey, 1881
¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Redeeming Left-Handers

The Bible For Left-Handers
by Dr. Andrew Corbett 21st November 2012
There are some obscure verses in the Bible that seem to make is difficult for anyone claiming that every word of the Bible is inspired. These obscure verses tend to pop-up through the Old Testament. Some of them seem random. Some of them seem out of place. Take Judges 20:16 as an example-
Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
Judges 20:16
Understanding The BibleSome people who believe the Bible to be divinely inspired resolve these obscure verses by using a combination of ignoring them and ascribing to them a "lesser" divine inspiration. But if the Bible's own claims about itself are taken seriously, then this approach can not be reconciled with such claims.
One of the primary claims of the Bible is that it is uniquely authoritative (2Timothy 3:16-17)...[continue reading]

Thursday, 15 November 2012



Joseph Scriven was in love. The day before his wedding he had arranged to meet his bride-to-be for a romantic tryst just outside Dublin. As she rode her trusty horse over the bridge where her love was waiting for her on the other side, the horse was startled and bucked her off into the River Bann below where she drowned. He wrote to his mother that his world had collapsed. He recovered and fell in love with Miss Falconer whom he intended to marry only to have his rival steal her heart. Heart-broken he left for Canada. He eventually fell in love again. But just before he married, his fiancé suddenly contracted pneumonia and died. He then wrote another letter to his mother that would be immortalized in verse for generations to come.
Joseph Scriven undoubtedly asked God "Why!?" It's a question that is asked which invites a non-verbal response, such as a hug, or simply time given listening to the anger, doubts, and frustrations of the hurt. Many people have found God in such inexplicable pain and loss. In asking God "Why?!" they soon discover that what they thought was God's silence was actually God's response. Us ponderous types tend to analyse and dispense theoretical answers to such questions from the hurt and broken who are battling the tragic loss or dibilitating injury of a loved one, while the more wiser among us are not entering into such vain exercises. Instead, they are making meals, mowing lawns, baby-siting children, washing clothes and answering phone calls. In the midst of Joseph Scriven's pain he found solace in not being the beneficiary of love but the giver of it.
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. Second Corinthians 1:4 THE MESSAGE
Joseph Scriven found Christ in the eye of his storm. He began to look for opportunities to serve. He was seen around Port Hope, Ontario, chopping wood and milking cows to help certain widows out.
Scriven became a familiar sight around Port Hope, a big man with bushy white hair and full white beard, carrying a buck and a bucksaw, offering to cut wood for anyone who was unable to cut his own or pay someone to do it for him. But he wouldn't cut wood for hire.
History of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada*
Battling heart-ache, grief, troubles, disappointments, discouragements, temptations, and sorrows, Mr Scriven found Christ as his Healer, Burden-Bearer, Refuge and Solace. I was reminded of these things today after I had my morning meditation from Second Timothy where the aged apostle Paul lists those who had either "left" him, "betrayed" him, or "damaged" him.
¶ You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes...For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.Second Timothy 1:154:10
Despite all that had happened to Joseph Scriven, he turned to Christ rather thanfrom Christ. It is utterly bewildering that someone would be let down by a fellow believer and turn away from Christ! Firstly, it is not only possible to continue to love someone who has disappointed you and let you down - it is imperative that you do so. A casual reading of Colossians 3:12-14 seems to demand that our loving each other be done against the backdrop of reasons for strained relationships with each other. The next time you are offended by, disappointed with, angry about, another Christian, don't burn the relationship! Especially don't curse your church because of it. Rather, turn to Christ for the grace and strength to be able to fulfil Colossians 3:12-14 (and Romans 12:9-21). Secondly, don't hold Biblically uninformed views about what you can expect from those you love or those who love you. It is very possible for those who love you to let you down. Someone can still love you even though they disappoint you. Joseph Scriven found all of this to be true.
¶ Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive..
Colossians 3:12-13
These difficult experiences caused Joseph Scriven to pen these words to his mother-
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there.
"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."
John 15:15

Monday, 12 November 2012


What does it mean to be a Christian? Recently a minor Party Senator criticised Christians for voicing concerns over her Party’s policy agenda. She claimed that Christians should stop preaching “at” people because Christianity was really about helping the poor. Her claim was bolstered by a recent delegation of nearly 200 Christian ministers who agreed with her! But she’s not the only Politician to think that Christianity is merely about improving social conditions.

Just before Prime Minister John Howard lost power, his opponent was interviewed about being a Christian. He said that his Christianity was like that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (the German pastor who withstood Hitler, was jailed for nearly three years by the Nazis and was executed at the command of Hitler- Hitler’s final command - which he gave two days before he committed suicide and the War consequently ended). Bonhoeffer, stated this politician, did not see Christianity as being about converting people. Rather, Christianity was about opposing injustice - which is why this German pastor withstood Hitler at the cost of his own life. If elected Prime Minister, this politician would promote Christianity as a force for social justice - not converting people “like evangelicals”!
It’s one thing for politicians to not understand what Christianity is about, but it’s quite another matter for so-called Christian ministers! Today there is a growing number of such ministers who deny that anyone need to be “converted” in order to become a Christian. For those of us who do know what a Christian is and care about how Christianity is understood, we are faced with the challenge of not only defending it - but getting on with it!
In John Bunyan’s unequalled classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, he tells of a man who prayed. As a result of praying he becomes aware of the burden on his back. This man realises that no matter how hard he tries he cannot free himself from this burden. He embarks on a journey to find relief and becomes Pilgrim. He meets Evangelist who points him to a hill called Golgotha. It is there that he meets the bleeding Saviour. As he gazes into the face of Jesus he cries out, "For me He dies! For me He dies!" The burden of sin, guilt and shame snaps off his back and rolls down the hill. At that point Pilgrim is converted! So firmly did Bunyan believe that Christianity only began with conversion that he was prepared to be jailed for that belief for some 17 years! 
Theologically, a Universalist believes that everyone is saved without having been converted. They base this idea on verses like Romans 5:15 which compares Adam’s sin condemning everyone with Christ’s death saving everyone. If the Universalists are correct, then Evangelicals are wasting their time preaching for people to be converted and should  instead be concentrating on helping the poor. But Universalists must ignore much Scripture and history to come to this conclusion. But what’s more concerning is this: if they are wrong their error has dire eternal consequences for millions of people.

To be converted to Christianity is a dramatic spiritual change. It is described as being “translated” (‘transferred’) from darkness to light (Col. 1:13; 1Pet. 2:9), brought from death to life (Eph. 2:1-5) and being “born again” (John 3:3).  
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
1John 3:14
The problem that the Universalist faces in sustaining their case from Scripture is: Scripture. Reading all of Romans 5 it becomes apparent that the salvation achieved by Christ is available to every person through the preaching of the Gospel to those who “receive the abundance of God’s grace” (Rom. 5:17). Salvation must be “received”. But this is not the only problem the Universalist must deal with. Not only does the Bible affirm that all people are in the grip of sin’s tyranny, human experience down through history confirms every time someone does something evil to other humans. But the same testimony of human experience points us to literally millions of examples of people who have been converted, some dramatically, to Christianity.
Conversion involves a change of heart, mind, spirit and will. It is not merely “turning over a new leaf” or “making a New Year’s resolution”. It is rather a miraculous transformation by the Holy Spirit which begins with a recognition of a person’s sinful guilt. This is called “conviction”. The Holy Spirit then opens that person’s heart to the Gospel where they receive God’s grace and forgiveness as they are enabled by the Holy Spirit to repent.
It appears in Scripture that God generally uses three broad approaches to lead people to repentance. Firstly, Romans 2:4 says that God uses kindness to lead people to repentance.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2:4
Secondly, it appears that God uses miracles to bring people to repentance. Christ expresses His disappointment that many of the cities in which He performed miracles did not repent-
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn’t turned from their sins and turned to God. 
Matthew 11:20
Thirdly, God uses tragedy to bring people to repentance. 
God is in the business of conversion. He loves to convert people. He loves to rescue those who cry out to Him in humility. To those people, including Parliamentarians, who ridicule us Evangelicals for promoting Christianity by conversion, converted people like Apostle Paul, C.S. Lewis, and Andrew Corbett present a problem. It might also be worth noting that Dietrich Bonhoeffer would sound a loud "Amen!" He made this extremely clear in his book "Life Together" where he stressed the need for conversion and pointed out that the Christian community should only be considered as being constituted of those who have been converted. 
Phillip Adams, one of Australia’s most renowned ABC media personalities and an avid atheist, spoke at a Pastors’ Conference. He stated what should never have to be stated by atheist to a group of Christian leaders: If I believed what you claimed to believe that eternity, heaven and hell, and the need to be converted - I would be shouting it from the rooftops and I wouldn’t care who ridiculed or opposed me in the process!
It is my prayer that we will see many thousands of people authentically converted to Christ all around the world. It’s one thing to claim that we believe everyone needs to be converted in order to become a Christian - but it’s an entirely different thing to live like we believe it!

© Dr. Andrew Corbett

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Hurt Hearts Healed


The world, just like people, is made up of invisible immaterial stuff, and physical material stuff. And just like us, when there is a problem with the material stuff it is usually obvious. Less obvious is when there is a problem with the immaterial stuff - the spiritual stuff. The centre of who we are spiritually is most usually referred to as our heart.
Just like our physical hearts, our real hearts are fragile. Physically, our hearts are protected by our rib cage. Spiritually though, our hearts start off a little more exposed. When our young hearts are still discovering the world we have trusted people in our lives who serve as protectors. As we grow we learn who to allow in -and- who to keep out of our hearts. But sometimes, some people, learn this too late.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none. 
Psalm 69:20
To love involves opening our heart to someone. Our hearts are the store from which our deepest sources of delights, hopes, dreams, and fears are kept. To reveal your heart involves risk. As with any worthwhile risk, the benefits of having your heart well treated are enormous. These benefits are the essential ingredients for a person to become all they can be. The joy that two hearts wedded together nuptially experience is unsurpassed by any other human joy. But arriving at such a sublime heart-connection involves a journey of both delights and heart-aches. You can tell whether a person has a strong heart by how much of it they let others see.
¶ We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
2Cor. 6:11
Yet there are some whose hearts will never allow them such wonders of love because they have locked too many rooms of their hearts to prevent anyone else from seeing in letting alone entering in. If your heart has been wounded perhaps you have simply shut that room rather than repaired it.  A wounded heart that is a shut heart becomes a cold heart. Perhaps it's time to receive some divine heart surgery?
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10
Of course, sometimes we don't mean to shut up hurts within our hearts. Offences come and our hearts almost involuntarily withdraw. Betrayal strikes deep in our hearts and we lock down even further. Envy creeps in and cripples large sections of our heart. And before we know it our once transparent hearts are now as cold as stone. But God the Great Heart Surgeon invites us to open up our hearts to Him.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26
All of us have had our hearts hurt. Not all of us have had our hearts healed. Will you open up your heart to God? He is the Model Father. He can be trusted. He knows how to guard and protect what you share with Him from your heart. Pour out your heart to Him tonight. If you are struggling with an issue of heart coldness, let Him heal your heart. Christ is still in the business of taking cold hopeless hearts and warming them with His love. You'll see.
They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
Luke 24:32
Ps. Andrew