Tag Archives: John Wesley

4 Reasons Why Situational Ethics Doesn’t Work In The Case of Abortion

Would you consider abortion in any of the following four situations?

1. There’s a preacher and wife who are very, very poor. They already have fourteen children, and now she finds out she’s pregnant with the fifteenth. They’re living in tremendous poverty. Considering their poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending an abortion?

2. The father is sick with a bad cold, the mother has tuberculosis (TB). They have four children. The first is blind, second is dead, third is deaf, fourth has TB. She finds that she’s pregnant again. Given their extreme situation, would you consider recommending an abortion?

3. A white man has raped a thirteen-year-old black girl, and she became pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending an abortion?

4. A teenage girl is pregnant. She’s not married. Her fiancé is not the father of the baby, and he’s concerned. Would you consider recommending an abortion?

If you said yes to the first case, you just killed John Wesley, one of the great evangelists in the nineteenth century. If you said yes to the second case, you killed Ludwig van Beethoven. If you said yes to the third case, you killed Ethel Waters, the great black gospel singer who thrilled audiences for many years at Billy Graham Crusades around the world. And, if you said yes to the fourth case, you killed Jesus Christ.


Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Current Issues


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May 5th in Christian History – Alexander Maclaren, Justinian, and George Whitefield

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

321: Emperor Constantine, unable to subdue the Donatists, gave them grudging tolerance. The Donatists, a North African sect, split from the Catholic Church because they insisted that those who had betrayed Christ and the Scripture could not lightly be readmitted to the Church. Bishops consecrated by former traitors were not in the apostolic succession, they said, and so they set up their own succession.

553: The Council of Constantinople II began. Under Emperor Justinian, who was manipulated by his wife, Theodora, it issued a ruling favorable to the Monophysite heresy (Constantinople image on rightSee article on Justinian below).

1525: Frederick the Wise, benefactor of Martin Luther and Reformation, died.

1910: Alexander Maclaren, a Baptist preacher with a worldwide reputation for his sermons and writings, died on this day. He refused to write out his sermons so that the Holy Spirit would have free play when he spoke. During singing, he sat with the congregation, observing that he wanted to “join the praise, not lead it.” (See article on Alexander Maclaren below)

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 5th.

 “Alexander Maclaren: The Prince of Expositors”

 Alexander Maclaren, born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1826 was one of the greatest preachers of the nineteenth century.

“A man who reads one of Alexander Maclaren’s sermons,” said Sir Robertson Nicoll, “must either take his outline—or take another text.” How did he do it? The answer is simple: Through hard work, disciplined study, and concentration on the one important thing—preaching the Word. He turned down most speaking and social invitations. He stayed home, did his work, and built a great church.

“I began my ministry,” he told a group of young preachers, “with the determination of concentrating all my available strength on the work, the proper work of the Christian ministry, the pulpit … I have tried to make my ministry a ministry of exposition of Scripture.”

To Alexander Maclaren, preparing messages was hard work. He often said he could never prepare sermons while wearing slippers; he always wore his outdoor boots. He was known to devote sixty hours to the preparation of a single sermon.

In 1845 Maclaren was sent to preach at a run-down church in Southampton, where the people were so impressed they called him to be their pastor. The Portland Chapel had suffered greatly under an incompetent pastor who had plunged them into debt and given the church a bad reputation.

“If the worst comes to the worst,” Maclaren wrote home, “I shall at all events not have to reflect that at the funeral of a withered one.” The work at Portland Chapel prospered.

Two years later, he was invited to preach at Union Chapel, Manchester. He accepted their call, and began an amazing forty-five-year term that gave him the name, “Maclaren of Manchester.”

History repeated itself: the church grew and had to move into a new edifice that seated nearly two thousand people. Maclaren had changed his location, but not his disciplines. He refused most invitations, and concentrated on studying the Word and feeding his people. He was not a visiting pastor and he repeatedly challenged the adage that “a home-going pastor makes a church-going people.” He reminded ministerial students that the adage was true only if, when the people came to church, they received something worth coming to hear.

Dr. Alexander Maclaren was one of the clearest Bible Expositors of the age. How he became such a Bible scholar is worthy of note. One who in his early ministry was an assistant to the great Baptist preacher, once asked him what had contributed most of all to his success.

Dr. Maclaren, after deprecating the idea that he had attained “success,” said that he owed all that was in himself and his ministry to the habit, never broken, of spending one hour a day “alone with the Eternal.” The hour, which he took, was from nine to ten in the morning. His assistant says that he was sometimes allowed to be in the room with the pastor, but no word was allowed. In his well-worn armchair he sat, with his big Bible on his knees, sometimes reading its pages, more frequently his hand over his face.

During that hour he did not allow himself to read even the Bible for texts, or as a student. It was read as a child would read a letter from an absent father; as a loving heart would drink in again the message from a loved one far away. Maclaren died on May 5th, 1910.

 “Justinian and Jesus”

The fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries rumbled with prolonged controversy about the nature of Christ, and numerous councils convened to grapple with this issue. The Council of Nicaea in 325 said that Christ was fully divine. Fifty years later, the Council of Constantinople proclaimed Christ fully human. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 formulated the famous creed that Christ is “truly God and truly man … two natures without confusion, without change, without division, or without separation. … ”

On this day in Christian history, May 5, 553, another council was convoked, this one by Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. Justinian, brilliant and tireless, longed to be religious. He spent many nights in prayer and fasting, and endless days in theological study. He built the fabulous cathedral of Hagia Sophia and spoke longingly of a unified church.

But Justinian was also vain, ambitious, ostentatious, and easily influenced. His beautiful wife Theodora, daughter of a bear trainer, was ruthless, and she played him like a marionette. Unable to understand the two natures of Christ, she held the Monophysite view—that Jesus had no human nature but possessed only a divine nature, clothed somehow in human flesh. At the Council of Constantinople, Justinian, manipulated by his wife, issued a decree favorable to the Monophysites.

Pope Vigilius had refused to attend the council due to fear for his safety and because of the preponderance of Eastern bishops. In Rome he received news of the council’s actions with disdain but eventually accepted its decisions as unimportant. Monophysite views, however, continue to this day in Abyssinia, Syria, and in the Coptic church of Egypt.

And Justinian? He eventually became a full-fledged heretic, preaching that the body of Christ, being incorruptible, could not have experienced suffering and death. He died in 565, unrepentant, at age 83, his later years darkened by perpetual disasters.

Healthy Christianity demands both a correct theological knowledge of Christ and a personal knowledge of the Savior through faith and obedience. Justinian grappled with the former, never arrived at the latter, and makes us wonder what the Lord thinks of his title in history—Justinian the Great.

In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word.John 1:1-3a

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day – this article was adapted from the May 5th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.


“Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and the Holy Club”

Charles Wesley and two friends began a small Christian group at Oxford in 1728. John Wesley, who had already graduated from Oxford, returned the following year as a tutor and assumed its leadership. Oxford students made fun of the group, referring to it as the “Holy Club” or “Methodists.” By the time George Whitefield joined the group in 1733, there were eight or nine dedicated members.

The focus of the Holy Club was on religious self-discipline. They woke up early for lengthy devotions, took Communion each Sunday, fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and observed Saturday as the Sabbath in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Exhorting each other to live piously and do good works, they were motivated by the belief that they were working for the salvation of their souls. Yet their self-discipline brought them neither happiness nor salvation (Oxford University Campus pictured on left).

The lifestyle of the Holy Club had a catastrophic effect on the life of William Morgan, one of the founders. He lost his mind and eventually his life in his struggle to achieve self-disciplined perfection.

Whitefield was the first Holy Club member to question their practices. He read a book where, in his words,

God showed me that I must be born again, or be damned! I learned that a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament, and yet not be a Christian. Shall I burn this book? Shall I throw it down? Or shall I search it? I did search it; and, holding the book in my hand, thus addressed the God of heaven and earth: “Lord, if I am not a Christian, or if I am not a real one, for Jesus Christ’s sake, show me what Christianity is that I may not be damned at last!” God soon showed me in reading a few lines further that “true religion is a union of the soul with God, and Christ formed within us,” a ray of Divine light was instantaneously darted in upon my soul, and from that moment, but not till then, did I know that I must become a new creature.

His solution, however, was to try to become a new creature through further extremes of self-denial. During Lent in 1735 he only ate a little coarse bread with tea. By Holy Week he was so weak that he could not study or even walk up a flight of stairs. His grades began to suffer and his tutor wondered if he was going mad. His physician put him in bed, where he remained for seven weeks.

Having hit bottom in his efforts to earn his salvation. Whitefiled described what happened next:

God was pleased to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold f his dear Son by a living faith, and by giving me the Spirit of adoption, to seal me, even to the day of everlasting redemption.

O! With what joy—joy unspeakable—even joy that was full of and big with glory, was my soul filled when the weight of sin went off and an abiding sense of the love of God broke in upon my disconsolate soul! Surely it was a day to be had in everlasting remembrance. My joys were like a spring tide and overflowed the banks.

Later he declared, “I knew the place: it may be superstitious, perhaps, but whenever I go to Oxford I cannot help running to the place where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me, and gave me the new birth”

On May 5, 1735, Whitefield wrote a letter to John Wesley, attempting to share what had happened to him. He wrote, “Into his all gracious arms, I blindly throw myself.” It would be three more years before the Wesley’s found his gracious arms.


 Have you ever found yourself trying to earn your salvation?

Salvation is a gift to be received from God, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Good works do not lead us to Christ—it is out of our relationship with Christ that good works flow.

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you cannot take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. – Ephesians 2:8-9

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 5th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.


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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Church History


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May 1st In Christian History – Joseph Addison and John Brown

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1551: The eleventh session of the Council of Trent opened. The council, which began in December 1545, was interrupted so many times as it dealt with deep issues that it took eighteen years to accomplish its work on the Counter-Reformation, finally closing in December 1563.

1873: Missionary-Explorer David Livingstone died in Africa near Lake Bangweolo (now within Zambia).

1939: The popular radio series that has featured Theodore Epp, Warren W. Wiersbe, and currently Woodrow Kroll (pictured on the left) – Back to the Bible began broadcasting from Nebraska.

 “Raised Up to Remake English Morals”

God raised up Mr. Addison and his associates to lash the prevailing vices and ridiculous and profane customs of this country, and to show the excellence of Christ and Christian institutions. – John Wesley

To win such praise from John Wesley, Joseph Addison must have been a good influence indeed.

God “raised up” Addison on May 1st in 1672. He was born in England near Amesbury in Wiltshire, in the heart of Old Wessex, not far from the Avon River. His health at birth did not give much assurance that he would survive long, so he was baptized the same day. Despite his early poor health, he survived and grew into a young man, surrounded by strong moral influences. He was related to clergymen on both sides of his family. Hs mother was sister to the bishop of Bristol, and his father became the dean of Lichfield while Joseph was a youngster. Richard Steele visited the Addison home and considered its air of affectionate peace worthy of writing about in an issue of The Tatler.

Addison became one of the great stylists of the English language. His Latin poetry was also among the best written by an Englishman. But his real fame comes from the periodicals he and Richard Steele produced together: The Tatler, The Spectator and The Guardian.

The papers enjoyed a wide readership. Addison’s stated purpose in The Tatler was “to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.” The papers introduced the middle-class readership to recent developments in philosophy and literature. It is said that Addison and Steele’s works in the three papers were responsible for raising the general cultural level of the English middle class.

One of the most popular sections of the papers was Addison’s tales about a fictional character named Sir Roger de Coverly. Lively anecdotes about him exposed folly and suggested better behavior:

My friend Sir Roger has often told me, with a great deal of mirth, that at his first coming to his estate, he found three parts of his house altogether useless: that the best room in it had the reputation of being haunted, and by that means was locked up; that noises had been heard in his long gallery, so that he could not get a servant to enter it after 8 o’clock at night; that the door of one of his chambers was nailed up, because there went a story in the family that a butler had formerly hanged himself in it; and that his mother, who lived to a great age, had shut up half the rooms in the house, in which either her husband, a son, or daughter had died. The knight, seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass and himself a manner shut our of his own house…ordered all the apartments to be flung open and exorcised by his chaplain, who lay in every room one after another, and by that means dissipated the fears which had so long reigned in the family.

I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous harrows, did not I find them to very much prevail in all parts of the country.

Although he trained to become a priest, Addison never became one. It would have been a difficult path for him, for he was painfully shy. Instead of preaching to the public in a church, the press became his pulpit. In addition to his satires, Addison wrote hymns such as “When All Thy Mercies, O My God”:

When all Thy mercies, O my God,

My rising soul surveys,

Transported with the view, I’m lost

In wonder, love and praise.

(Addison pictured on left)

On his deathbed, Addison was calm and courageous. He urged his nephew to “see how a Christian can die.” The excellence of his writing ensures that his memory will not perish soon, for his essays are often included in anthologies of English literature.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 1st.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.


John Brown Finds A Wife

The mid-1680s is remembered as the Killing Time in Scotland. Royal regiments martyred Scottish Presbyterians at will. Despite the danger, Presbyterian John Brown fell in love with Isabel Weir. He proposed to her, but warned that he would one day seal his testimony with blood. Isabel replied, “If it be so, I will be your comfort. The Lord has promised me grace.” They were married in a secret glen by the outlawed minister, Alexander Peden. “These witnesses of your vows,” said Peden, beginning the illegal ceremony, “have come at risk of their lives to hear God’s word and his ordinance of marriage.” The vows were spoken, and then Peden drew Isabel aside, saying, “You have got a good husband. Keep linen for a winding-sheet beside you; for in a day when you least expect it, thy master shall be taken.”

The Brown home soon included two children. It was happy, filled with prayer and godly conversation. Fugitive preachers were hidden and cared for there. But on May 1, 1685 John rose at dawn, singing Psalm 27, to find the house surrounded by soldiers. The family filed onto the lawn. The commander, Claverhouse, shouted to John, “Go to your prayers; you shall immediately die.” Kneeling, John prayed earnestly for his wife, pregnant again, and for his children. Then he rose, embraced Isabel, and said, “The day is come of which I told you when I first proposed to you.”

“Indeed, John. If it must be so, I can willingly part with you.”

“This is all I desire,” replied John. “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his children, then Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot. The soldiers hesitated. Snatching a pistol, Claverhouse placed it to John’s head and blew out his brains. “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” he snarled. Isabel, fixing Claverhouse in her gaze, told him she had never been so proud of him. Claverhouse mounted his horse and sped away, troops in tow. Isabel tied John’s head in a napkin and sat on the ground weeping with her children until friends arrived to comfort them.

“Armies may surround me, but I won’t be afraid; War may break out, but I will trust you. I ask only one thing, Lord: Let me live in your house every day of my life to see how wonderful you are and to pray in your temple.”Psalm 27:3,4

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day – this article was adapted from the May 1st entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.


“The Death of John Brown”

 The child on the moss she laid 

And she stretched the cold limbs of the dead,

And drew the eyelid’s shade,

And bound the corpse’s shattered head,

And shrouded the martyr in his plaid;

And where the dead and living slept,

Sat in the wilderness and wept.

This POEM, written by Henry Inglis, tells the story of death of John Brown, Covenater martyr.

The Covenanters were Scottish Presbyterians who resisted the Episcopal system that Charles I, Charles II, and James VI imposed upon Scotland from 1637 to 1690. They opposed the divine right of kings, believing that limitless sovereignty belongs to God alone. When Presbyterianism was outlawed and replaced by episcopacy, the situation became very serious for the Covenanters, who were forced to choose between obedience to God or to the king. During the reign of Charles II they were haunted, jailed, and killed in large numbers.

John Brown was a poor farmer in Priesthill, Scotland, who aspired to be a Covenanter minister, but felt hampered by a problem with stammering. A brilliant man, Brown instead put his intellect and love of the Bible to work at home—teaching theology classes to local youth at his farm. Being a Covenanter meant being willing to give up his life for Christ at any moment, and Brown taught his students not to fear persecution but rather to consider it joy to suffer for Christ. Students came from miles around to be inspired by the gifted teacher (John Brown pictured on left).

In 1682 Covenanter pastor Alexander Peden performed the wedding ceremony for John Brown and Isabel Weir. After the ceremony Peden said to the bride, “Isabel, you have got a good man; but you will not enjoy him long. Prize his company and keep linen by you to he his winding sheet; for you will need it when you are not looking for it, and it will be a bloody one.”

On May 1, 1685, the king’s troops came to Priesthill looking for Peden. They surprised Brown in his field and brought him back to his house and ransacked it. Finding some Covenanter literature, they began to interrogate him. Speaking in a clear, stammer-free voice, Brown’s confident answers made the chief officer ask whether he was a preacher. When told no, the officer replied, “Well, if he has never preached, much has he prayed in his time. Go to your prayers, for you shall immediately die.”

John Brown fell on his knees, asking God to spare a remnant of believers in Scotland. The officer, cut him short, accusing him of preaching rather than praying. The officer later confessed that he could never forget John Brown’s powerful prayer.

Brown then said to his wife, “Now Isabel, the day is come that I told you would come when I spoke to you first of marrying me.”

She said, “Indeed, John, I can willingly part with you.”

He replied, “That is all I desire. I have no more to do but die. I have been ready to meet death for years past.”

As he said his good-byes and kissed his wife and baby, the officer broke in and ordered the troops to shoot him. The soldiers were so moved by the scene that they would not comply. The officer angrily pulled out his pistol, walked over, and shot John Brown in the head.

“What do you think of your fine husband now?” he asked Isabel.

Through her tears she answered, “I ever thought much good of him, and more than ever now.”

As the poem tells, Isabel laid her baby on the ground, bound up her beloved husband’s head, straightened his body, covered him with a plaid blanket, and sat down and wept.

Peden was in a nearby Covenanter home and described seeing a meteor that morning, “a bright, clear, shining light [that] fell from heaven to the earth.” He told his fellow believers, “And indeed there is a clear, shining light fallen this day, the greatest Christian that I ever conversed with.”


John and Isabel Brown’s marriage was filled with love and yet accompanied by the awful reality of the constant threat of death. Can you imagine what it would be like to live with martyrdom as a continual possibility? How would you live differently?

“You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my youthful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s followers.” Revelation 2:13

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 1st entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.


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