Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Reward of His Suffering

Nikolaus von Zinzendorf was born in 1700 to Austrian nobility.  After Zinzendorf had finished the university, he took a trip throughout Europe looking at some of the cultural high-spots. And something very unexpected happened. In the art museum at Dusseldorf he saw a painting by Domenico Feti entitled “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”). It was a portrait of Christ with the crown of thorns pressed down on his head and blood running down his face.

Beneath the portrait were the words, “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?” All of his life Zinzendorf looked back to that encounter as utterly life-changing. As he stood there, as it were, watching his Savior suffer and bleed, he said to himself, “I have loved him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for him. From now on I will do whatever he leads me to do.”

He was raised in a strong Pietist tradition, Zizendorf felt a strong inclination toward religious work. But as a count, he was expected to follow his late father’s footsteps into government. He did as he was told and in October 1721 became the king’s judicial counselor at Dresden.

After less than a year at court, he bought the estate of Berthelsdorf from his grandmother, hoping to form a Christian community for oppressed religious minorities. They named it Herrnhut—”the Lord’s watch.”

In 1727 the community started a round the clock “prayer watch” that lasted unbroken for 100 years. There were about 300 persons in the community at the beginning, and various ones covenanted to pray for one of the 24 hours in the day.

Visiting Copenhagen in 1731 to attend the coronation of King Christian VI, Zinzendorf met a converted slave from the West Indies, Anthony Ulrich. The man was looking for someone to go back to his homeland to preach the gospel to black slaves, including his sister and brother. Zinzendorf raced back to Herrnhut to find men to go; two immediately volunteered, becoming the first Moravian missionaries—and the first Protestant missionaries of the modern era, antedating William Carey (often called “the father of modern missions”) by 60-some years.

In 1792, 65 years later, with the lamp of prayer still burning, the little community had sent out 300 missionaries to the unreached peoples of the West Indies, Greenland, Lapland, Turkey, and North America. They were utterly, and radically dedicated to making Jesus known.**

Purchase “The Reward” by Matt Papa here – all money goes to global missions.

Citation:

*Christian History – Nikolas von Zizendorf

* John Piper – “At the Price of God’s own Blood

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The Crushing Weight of Love

[A] mistake that many people make: we tend to read 1 Corinthians 13 as an encouraging, feel-good Bible passage full of happy thoughts about love. Instead, I find the passage to be almost terrifying, because it sets a standard for love I know I could never meet.

None of us lives with this kind of love, and there is an easy way to prove it: start reading with verse 4 and insert your own name into the passage every time you see the word “love.” For example: “Phil is patient and kind; Phil does not envy or boast; he is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Phil bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Phil never fails.” Do the same thing for yourself and you will know how I feel: not very loving at all….

It reads very differently, though, when we put Jesus in the picture. If 1 Corinthians 13 is a portrait of love, then it is really a sketch of the Savior we meet in the Gospels: “Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails.”

Paul encourages us to read the Love Chapter in a Christ-centered way by the dramatic shift he makes between verses one to three, where he speaks in the first person, and verses four to eight, where love is personified. First the apostle tells us what he cannot do without love; then he tells us what only love can do. And the reason love can do all these things is that it has become incarnate in Jesus Christ. Jesus is everything that I am not. He alone has “love divine, all loves excelling.” This realization does not crush me; it liberates me, because the love of Jesus is so big that he loves even me. And because he loves me, he has promised to save me, to forgive me and change me. We are nothing without love. But when we know Jesus, who does nothing without love, he will help us love the way that he loves.

Philip Graham Ryken, Loving the Way Jesus Loves, Chapter 1.

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The Thermopylae of Christendom

Charles Spurgeon became pastor of Park Street Chapel in London before he was 20. His following grew to be so substantial that the 6000-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle was built for his preaching ministry. There he served from 1861 to 1891. He was three years into his seven-year pastorate at Park Street when he spoke the following words from “The Poor Have the Gospel Preached to Them.”  By that time, the crowds were so great that he was forced into larger venues—in this case the music hall at Royal Surrey Gardens.

Spurgeon compares the pulpit to Thermopylae, the narrow pass where 300 Spartan warriors stood their ground unto death against a force of 200,000 Persians. Though all these Spartan lives were lost, they purchased precious time for their Greek allies to prepare for ultimate victory. Similarly, the pulpit may seem small, but it can make the critical difference in rescuing a people from ruin.

By “dignity,” Spurgeon meant the high status and fruitfulness of the pulpit, not stuffiness. Indeed, he was criticized for his plain, accessible speech. But he defended clarity and color as necessary for communicating the gospel:1

The pulpit has become dishonored; it is esteemed as being of very little worth and of no esteem. Ah! we must always maintain the dignity of the pulpit. I hold that it is the Thermopylae of Christendom; it is here that the battle must be fought between right and wrong; not so much with the pen, valuable as that is as an assistant, as with the living voice of earnest men, “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” In some churches the pulpit is put away; there is a prominent altar, but the pulpit is omitted. Now, the most prominent thing under the gospel dispensation is not the altar, which belonged to the Jewish dispensation, but the pulpit. “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;” that altar is Christ; but Christ has been pleased to exalt “the foolishness of preaching” to the most prominent position in his house of prayer. We must take heed that we always maintain preaching. It is this that God will bless; it is this that he has promised to crown with success. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We must not expect to see great changes nor any great progress of the gospel, until there is greater esteem for the pulpit—more said of it and thought of it. “Well,” some may reply, “you speak of the dignity of the pulpit; I take it, you lower it yourself, sir, by speaking in such a style to your hearers.” Ah! no doubt you think so. Some pulpits die of dignity. I take it, the greatest dignity in the world is the dignity of converts—that the glory of the pulpit is, if I may use such a metaphor, to have captives at its chariot-wheels, to see converts following it, and where there are such, and those from the very worst of men; there is a dignity in the pulpit beyond any dignity which a fine mouthing of words and a grand selection of fantastic language could ever give to it.  “The poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). 2

Cited from a Karios Journal article.

2 “Preaching for the Poor,” in Spurgeon’s Sermons, 2nd ed. (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1861), 157-158. Preached January 25, 1857, on Matthew 11:5.

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