Thoughts to Consider April 23, 2010
Do YOU recognize that God is sovereign in our lives and that he has His own will for every single one of us? If so, think about how you respond to trials. Do these match each other? This test of faith is related to the first one we talked about–TRIALS. So if you do recognize that He is sovereign, it’s about time to put what we believe into our actions when faced with difficult situations
– R & N
His “Call of Duty” from the Lord April 22, 2010
John Newton had his own “Call of Duty”. He received this call of duty from the Lord. This was the third test of his genuine faith in the Lord that parallels to what we’ve studied in the book of James.
Being a Pastor…
In 1764, Newton became pastorate of the Church of England parish in Olney for 16 years. When he was 54, he then began his 27 year ministry at St. Mary’s Woolnoth. His hearing and eyesight began to fail him, but he continued preaching
Richard Cecil suggested to him that he stop preaching when he turned eighty years old, but Newton responded with, “What! Shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?”
Going Deeper into his Sermons…
One of his sermons and responses to his own letters revealed his profound knowledge in God’s will for him. It was called How to Know the Will of God. Newton mentions that knowing God’s will of God will cause us to fully submit to Him, which was discussed in class from James 4:15. “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” This is the mindset that James believed that Christians today should have, and John MacArthur mentions that it is part of God’s will for us to be submissive to Him.
In James 4:14 it states, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” This passage illustrates just how in control God is over our lives; he can take away everything he’s given us, our existence, all in an instant of time. In John Newton’s life, he faced many trials, one of which was his near death experience on the ship, as mentioned before in a previous post. This was one of the reasons why he accepted God into his heart–because he realized how sovereign God was in his life.
John Newton mentioned in this sermon as well, “The plans of our operations may, for aught I know, be well laid, according to human wisdom, and our generals and admirals well qualified and supported to carry them into execution; but I am afraid the Lord God of Hosts is but little acknowledged or thought of in our counrcils, fleets, or armies.”
– R & N
“You’re my FAVOURITE!” April 21, 2010
Partiality, as defined in the study guide of James, refers to an attitude of personal favoritism. The word can be traced down to a greek word meaning “lifting someone’s face”, with the intentions of judging based on appearance and giving special favor and respect. John Newton is a prime example of someone who was impartial as seen through the way he acted with groups of people, as well as individuals.
1. The city of Liverpool
a)In the mid 1750’s, Liverpool was known for having one of the most busiest slave-trade ports in Europe. The locals, in a desperate attempt for mere survival, would become slaves and were treated horribly. John Newton was once a slave trader, and when he opened his eyes to the cruelty that slaves were subjected to, he assisted William Wilberforce in abolishing slave trade.
b) Newton also recognized how the local church ministries degraded Jesus and did not the required skills needed. So, Newton invited well-known preachers from around the world, and aided the locals in proceeding on their spiritual walk with Christ. In James 2:8, it indicates that people must love their neighbour’s as themselves and not show partiality in any sense.
2. Thomas Scott.
Thomas was a liberal clergyman, in the nearby town of Ravenstone. He looked down upon Newton’s evangelical views and considered his theology to be meaningless. He once listened to Newton’s sermon and made a joke of it, and completely disrespected Newton’s work. Scott’s views changed when he heard how Newton had visited a dying couple several times, while had not once offered assistance or prayer to the couple–living a few doors from Scott. After this realization, Scott began to read Newton’s works with new eyes, and even sought out advice from him. Scott was amazed at how friendly Newton was and how he was not offended by his disrespect toward his work In James 2:1, it advises to not withhold the faith of the Lord, with any sort of partiality. Through being impartial, Newton became a great example for Scott, and motivated him to become an Evangelical minster and author.
– R & N
May he rest in peace… April 20, 2010
John Newton died on December 21, 1807 in London, England. This is a picture of his gravestone, and his body was buried in Olney alongside his wife, whose death gave him great heartbreak. He spent a big part of his life in Olney, preaching and helping those in need.
“Dead Faith” and James April 15, 2010
There are many verses mentioned in the book of James that talk about dead faith, which also relate to John Newton’s situations of when he proved his faith to be genuine.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?’” ***
***This metaphor explains that it is useless to tell a person to go get their necessities, without actually acting on it and providing it for them. Like in this situation, there is no use if a person tells peope they have faith and belief in God. It can only be proven through one’s actions. John Newton did not necessarily help people who were literally hungry and poor, but he helped those who were in spiritual and emotional need.
– R & N
Did John Newton have “dead faith”? Before you think about that, let us clarify what is meant by dead faith. In James 2: 17-21, it states that faith by itself, without works, is dead. This does not mean that we should feel forced to prove our faith through our actions. In our study of the book of James, it points out that if a person has true geniune faith, they will have a strong desire to serve God, and therefore, their actions will come naturally as a result.
Jesus loved children as seen through Mark 10:14, “Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them”. When Newton went to Olney, he scheduled thursday afternoons to meet children and teach them about the Word of God. He had at least 200 children who came almost every session. He welcomed any child to come and listen, even if they didn’t come to his church! Do you think that his interest in helping the young was partially because of the impact his mother had made on him spiritually in his early life?
You might think that your life is busy, but John Newton once stated, “I have seldom one-hour free from interruption. Letters that must be answered, vistants that must be recieved, business that must be attended to. I have a good many sheep and lamb to look after, sick and afflicted souls dear to the Lord; and therefore, whatever stands still, these must not be neglected”(“The Life of John Newton”, p. 139). So, he was constantly busy, and doing anything in his power to help people come to know Christ.
A person who he helped greatly was William Cowper. William Cowper was a mentallly ill poet and a writer of hymns. He suffered from depressions and during the periods of time in which he could not bear to be alone, Newton would accept him into his home. Richard Cecil, his friend and biographer, mentioned that “his home was an asylum for the perplexed and afflicted”. When Cowper’s brother died, Newton began writing hymns with Cowper for the church. This not only helped cowper somewhat heal, it also provided the church with new hymns.
– R & N