Thursday, 26 July 2012

The world's greatest hymn :'My High Tower' by Paul Gerhardt

It is true that I love great hymns, and among them, I believe Charles and John Wesley have written most of the greatest. However, there is one hymn that I think I would hail even greater than any of the Wesley's, and that I offer to you now. It was originally written by the Lutheran Pastor Paul Gerhardt, who by any stretch of the imagination you could not say he enjoyed a comfortable life. It was later translated by the author Frances Bevan. The hymn is based on Psalm 62 and Romans 8, so if you are familiar with those passages you will recognise their spirit and content within the verses. The hymn is a powerful confession of faith in the midst of trouble and tribulation, and as I wrote before, Gerhardt was no ivory tower theologian and no stranger to family bereavement. I first came across the hymn in the 1970's when as a teenager I  attended a fellowship  where we sang many great old hymns put to guitar music. I hope you will find the words a blessing as they have been to me these many years. AK

Is God for me? I fear not, though all against me rise;

I call on Christ my Saviour, the host of evil flies.

My friend the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me, God,

What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?

I know it, I believe it, I say it fearlessly,

That God, the Highest, Mightiest, for ever loveth me;

At all times, in all places, He standeth at my side,

He rules the battle fury, the tempest and the tide.

A Rock that stands for ever is Christ my Righteousness,

And there I stand unfearing in everlasting bliss;

No earthly thing is needful to this my life from Heaven,

And nought of love is worthy, save that which Christ has given.

Christ, all my praise and glory, my Light most sweet and fair,

The ship wherein He saileth is scatheless everywhere;

In Him I dare be joyful, a hero in the war,

The judgment of the sinner affrighteth me no more.

There is no condemnation, there is no hell for me,

The torment and the fire my eyes shall never see;

For me there is no sentence, for me has death no stings,

Because the Lord Who saved me shall shield me with His wings.

Above my soul’s dark waters His Spirit hovers still,

He guards me from all sorrow, from terror and from ill;

In me He works and blesses the life-seed He has sown,

From Him I learn the Abba, that prayer of faith alone.

And if in lonely places, a fearful child, I shrink,

He prays the prayers within me I cannot ask or think;

In deep unspoken language, known only to that Love

Who fathoms the heart’s mystery from the Throne of Light above.

His Spirit to my spirit sweet words of comfort saith,

How God the weak one strengthens who leans on Him in faith;

How He hath built a City, of love, and light, and song,

Where the eye at last beholdeth what the heart had loved so long.

And there is mine inheritance, my kingly palace-home;

The leaf may fall and perish, not less the spring will come;

As wind and rain of winter, our earthly sighs and tears,

Till the golden summer dawneth of the endless Year of years.

The world may pass and perish, Thou, God, wilt not remove—

No hatred of all devils can part me from Thy Love;

No hungering nor thirsting, no poverty nor care,

No wrath of mighty princes can reach my shelter there.

No Angel, and no Heaven, no throne, nor power, nor might,

No love, no tribulation, no danger, fear, nor fight,

No height, no depth, no creature that has been or can be,

Can drive me from Thy bosom, can sever me from Thee.

My heart in joy upleapeth, grief cannot linger there—

While singing high in glory amidst the sunshine fair;

The source of all my singing is high in Heaven above;

The Sun that shines upon me is Jesus and His Love.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

''Why go I mourning?” -Psalm 42 -C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon's evening message for the 21st July was this remarkable piece which I hope and pray will be a blessing and encouragement to some soul who happens to come upon it. There is always hope in God-no matter how dark the night may seem to be. For those who firstly do not know God in a personal way, I encourage you to turn to him now in faith and ask him to forgive you and to make you his own. He will not break a bruised reed or a smouldering wick, nor will he  put you out but rejoice over you. For those of you who read this and know they are already God's children take heed of this word from Spurgeon. Satan will try to drive you to despair and tell you that you are not the Lord's, but I can confidently say that the Lord is good and that the one who is gentle and lowly in heart will not reject you, but rather, gather you up in his arms and bring you home rejoicing. Feel free to email me at

Can you answer this, believer? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair?

Do you not know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope then! Hope always! For God fails you not. Do you not know that your God loves you in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments. No father chastens always: your Lord hates the rod as much as you do; he only cares to use it for that reason which should make you willing to receive it, namely, that it works for your lasting good.

You shall yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold him who sits at the top of it—your covenant God. You shall yet, amidst the splendours of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them, and wrought your lasting good by them.

Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “forever with the Lord,” your bliss shall never wane.

'Faint not nor fear, his arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and thou shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee'

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

All People can be saved

The statement ‘All people can be saved’ is the second of the ‘Four Alls’ of Methodism. The first all being 'All people need to be saved', the third 'All people can know they are saved' and the fourth  'All people can be saved to the uttermost'. Though Wesley never articulated salvation in this way it encapulates fairly well his thinking on the subject. But before examining the statement, ‘All people can be saved’, I shall briefly look at the Biblical basis for the first ‘All’'.

Christianity on the whole teaches that all people need to be saved, as the scripture states: ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom.3.23).However the question of whether all people can be saved has been a matter of controversy in the Church for hundreds of years, most famously between John Wesley, who followed the teachings of Jacob Arminius who taught that Christ’s death atoned for the sins all humankind, hence all could be saved, and George Whitfield, who followed John Calvin, who taught that Christ’s atoning death was limited to those who had been unconditionally elected and only those could be saved.

There are numerous verses that support the belief that all people can be saved because Christ has paid the price for their sins and that through repentance and putting their faith in Christ they can obtain the free gift of salvation. Those showing that Christ died for the world include that of John 1.29: ‘Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’(also Jn.3.16., Jn.6.51.,2Cor.5.19.) The verses such as 1 Tim.2.4 and 2 Peter 3.9 also make it plain that it is God’s desire that all would be saved and that none would perish. Through the work of God’s prevenient grace in individual lives people can decide either to follow or reject the gospel call. God has not reprobated anyone, as Charles Wesley declared:

‘Come sinners to the gospel feast,
let everyone be Jesu’s guest
There need not one be left behind,
for God has bidden all mankind.’

And Zinzendorf

'Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.'

The onus is then on the Church  to proclaim this message throughout this world, both far and near. In John Wesley’s essay ‘A short method of converting all the Roman Catholics in the kingdom of Ireland’ he challenged the clergy to ‘only live like the apostles, and preach like the apostles, and the thing is done’. As todays world is increasingly becoming more and more a multicultural society we must like Paul be prepared to say ‘ I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.’ Being open to ‘Fresh expressions’ of Church and have an evangelism that is both incarnational and contextual, as well as being fired with a passion like Paul and Wesley who were prepared :

'I would the precious time redeem
And wholly live for this alone,
To spend, and to be spent, for them
Who have not yet my Saviour known’,
is both the logical and loving response to God’s desire to see our generation came to Christ.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

How much should Christians love the lost?

In thinking about this question we must also consider the two great commandments- to love the Lord our God with all our hearts,with all our souls, with all our strength and with all our mind; and to love our neighbour as ourselves.If we truly love God the second will come as a natural consequent of the first. It should also be understood that we as human beings do not have a natural love for God and the love we do have for our fellow human is usually based on selfishness -that is, what we can get out of it.However when the light of the gospel and God's love dawns on us we begin to change.John tells us that we love because He first loved us and Paul declares that 'the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us'.Paul also tells us that it is a fruit of the Spirit and that without this love,that though we give up all we have for God,it counts for nothing!

So what about the Christian and his relationship with lost humanity-what should his attitude be? Scripture is very clear throughout its pages. From Moses who prayed that God would take his life in order to spare the people of Israel to Paul who stated that he would wish that he himself were cursed in order that his fellowcountrymen would be saved, it shows us that we must be prepared to put our lives on the line for the lost.Jesus was of course the perfect example when he laid down his life for us on the cross and took the punishment for our sin in order that we might go free.

I am tempted to say it is only the spiritually mature who will have this attitude-perhaps this is true, but it does not necessarily have to do with the length of years a person has been a Christian. A young Christian fully grasping the love of God in his own life might easily be prepared to lay down his life for God and the lost, whereas sadly it is often the older Christian, whose love has become lukewarm, who would rarely dare countenance such a thought.

The preacher Charles Spurgeon expresses the essence of my thoughts more eloquently that I in the follow paragraph, and my prayer is that it would stir our hearts in prayer and action for our unsaved friends and family as well as the myriads of people that we meet throughout our lives.AK

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."