Friday, January 16, 2015


I don't know if it is because I am rooted in lex talionis -- "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." -- or because my sinful nature requires it of me. But when I am offended I must retaliate. That may simply be crafted in an expression of outrage or anger. Occasionally it will be the quiet resignation that people are basically unkind and insensitive. In either case the strategy is not very complicated -- I need to make someone pay!

This sensation is personal, but it becomes compounded when I believe that others are hurt or influenced negatively by what irks me. It troubles me deeply when a tender soul is at risk because of what someone else has perpetrated. It is never more poignant than when it is the Church under attack, or when the Trinity, or the Kingdom of God, or God's creation are impugned. My natural inclination is to raise the alarm and to invite others to do the same. I seek vengeance.

When men of renown write or speak publicly in a manner that denies their adherence to the inerrant Word of God, and when they wish to divert the evangelical believer from his or her allegiance to Christ by subverting the truth, then I become agitated. I find this disappointing, but it does remind me that Scripture is sufficient and that's where I am to hold fast. I need no other revelation.

I am further reminded in all of this that vengeance is not mine to seek. It has not been given to me to defend the honor of the Lord of the Universe, much as I would like to. He says: I will blot out their memory from mankind. (Deuteronomy 32:25), and "I wil take vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations that have not obeyed me (Micah 5:15), and He does not hesitate to remind us:" The Lord is a jealous and avenging God and that He takes vengeance on all His foes." (Nahum 1:2)

In the context of frustration and opposition, instead of endorsing my natural inclination to retaliate, the Lord Jesus instructs me: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven" -- this is what they did to the prophets before you! (Matthew 5:12)

And so it appears that when I set aside my inclination to wrath, and settle the matter that this is God's domain and not my own, then there is blessing, and joy awaiting me. He has lifted my load. He does not need my help in mounting His defence, nor does He allow me to demean those who teach against Him. He simply calls me to live the Christian life, quietly and with confidence, that being the most cogent witness I have to the grace of God in Christ.

-Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

"Keep On!" by Eric Alexander

Note: I first met Dr. Eric Alexander when I was a student at the University of London. The year was 1956. He was a great help to the Inter-Collegiate Fellowship of Christian Students and we often came across him in the course of his ministry. One thing we had in common, beyond our oneness in Christ, was our love for and fellowship with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who when Dr. Alexander was Senior Pastor at St. George's Tron, in Glasgow Scotland, was himself Senior Pastor at Westminster Chapel in London. Later, when I was a missionary on furlough, I had the privilege of preaching at St. George's Tron.

I have seen this narrative in several places and present it here without editorial comment for your enjoyment and edification.

--Dr. Wilfred A. Bellamy

"Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones came to Glasgow, Scotland, to preach at the great St. Andrews Hall. This auditorium held more than two thousand people. It was packed, and the preaching was wonderful. After the meeting finished, I was waiting at the side of the platform for transport home. A long line of people were waiting to speak to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and because I was fairly close to them, I heard some of the conversations. Interestingly, I noticed that every encounter ended in the same way: “Keep on!” was the doctor’s final exhortation as he shook hands.

As it happened, on the journey home I was in the same car as the doctor, and he engaged me in conversation. After the generalities, I summoned enough courage to ask him a question. “Doctor,” I began, “forgive me, but I could not help hearing your last words to every person you spoke with. They were ‘Keep on.’ It sounded as if that was particularly important to you.” He was immediately animated: “My dear man,” he said, “there is nothing more important. The Christian life is not a sprint; it is a marathon, and that is why Jesus says, ‘He who endures to the end shall be saved.’” To my delight, he enlarged on the subject until I was reluctant to get out of the car.

Now, in the year of my eightieth birthday, I have become more convinced than ever of the importance of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ words. One of the great temptations of old age for the Christian is to accept the idea that because physical and intellectual growth may have ceased, spiritual growth will go the same way. The testimony of Scripture is unanimously opposed to that thought. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Isaiah says in 40:29–31: “He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak… . Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength… . They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” The psalmist, speaking about the righteous in Psalm 92:14, writes, “They will still bear fruit in old age.”

Of course, we want to ask, “What is the secret of endurance, and of the renewal of the inward man?” Well, there is a “golden nugget” of truth in Philippians 2:12–13 that helps us in answering that question. There are four secrets embedded in these words of the Apostle: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

These secrets are all facts to be believed, not challenges to be faced:

1. If you are a child of God, God is at work in you (v. 13). The indwelling of God in the believer is a fundamental truth of the New Testament, exemplified in Jesus’ words in John 14:23 and Paul’s in Ephesians 3:16–19. Not only does He dwell in us, but He is engaged in a work in us—clearly the work of our full salvation.

2. God is not only at work in us, He is continuously (or, if you prefer, “perpetually”) at work in us. We know this from the tense of the verb in verse 13. Tenses are really important in the New Testament. The tense of the verb “works” is the present continuous tense, which just means that this is something God is doing all the time. He never ceases, either day or night (Ps. 121:4). God knows no “age of retirement,” so He is as active in us when we are eighty as when we were eighteen.

3. God works unto completion. Some people have great intentions and a lot of goodwill and good plans, but they achieve very little. Here, however, Paul says, “God works in you to will and to work.” That means that all His purposes are eventually fulfilled, and that continues until we are glorified in heaven.

4. God’s work in us is “for his good pleasure.” Sometimes God’s plans may differ greatly from ours. There are times when, as Jesus experienced, God’s way involves pain and loss in order to fulfill His will. But the good pleasure of God is always perfect, without flaw, and impossible to improve upon.

Is there then no challenge in these words of Paul? Of course not. Paul urges us to “work out [our] own salvation.” But that does not mean, “work out your own way of salvation,” or “work with a view to your salvation.” This salvation is already ours. God has accomplished it and given it to us. But we have to work out what God has worked in. There are two things involved in this, especially in our latter years. The first is to look to God, and to God alone for the completion of the work of our salvation. Earlier in Philippians, Paul writes, “He who has begun a good work in you will go on to complete it, until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6). The second is, moment by moment, to set our hearts on the perfect will of God, as Jesus did: “Not my will but yours be done.” That is the desire with which our hearts need to be kept aflame."

-Dr. Eric Alexander

Sanctity of Human Life

I must have sung the hymn "All People That On Earth Do Dwell", dozens of times. It is number one in the Trinity Hymnal and since the sixteenth century has been strong in the Church of Jesus Christ. The poet William Kethe took Psalm 100 as his inspiration and then declared God's truth as it was set to music. Yes, it's an old favorite, but it was a hymn I had not fully understood until in recent years I pondered its meaning:

The Lord ye know is God indeed,
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His flock , He doth us feed
And for His sheep He doth us take.

The hymn establishes the most cogent fact about the sanctity of human life -- God purposed it from before the foundation of the world, God brought it into being in the womb of a woman, and it was God who determined the length of the life of that which He had made. "Without our aid He did us make" the hymn says. Conception could never have occurred had it not been the will of the Father, the Creator of all life, and although we understand the context in which the baby is conceived, we must also understand that the fruit of the union would never occur if it were not the will of God.

When we consider the jealous nature of God as He declares Himself to be, we catch a glimpse of what that means when we consider the work of the artist or the artificer in wood or metal. He is jealous for his creation. How much more therefore is the jealousy of the Lord of the Universe for His creation. So distinctive in design and intent and so destined to fulfill the plan and purposes of God!

Then man decides to take that life and do with it as he pleases! His decision is made circumstantially and often without much thought. While some may take abortion in their stride others will fret for years over the loss of life. Who can measure the psychological consequences of such a heinous act? And who can measure the sorrow that the Creator experiences when the little one that He called forth into being is removed from the earth?

So how are we to treat this aberration in our society? In Africa, a place where I lived for several years, in the tribe where I worked there was no word in the language for abortion. If such occurred naturally the description was always:"she suffered loss." And how great a loss that is! God has given to the Church the responsibility for the defense of His great Name. We are called upon to "love God and enjoy Him for ever." Our enjoyment is rooted in obedience to His command: "Thou shalt do no murder."

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is January 18, 2015. For the glory of God and for the sake of His creation, the myriad children who are under the threat of disposition, and for the parents who will bear the responsibility for this disaster for years to come, may we remember whom we are as the Children of the Kingdom, and once again commit ourselves to live as Kingdom people, not driven the expediencies of the world, but faithful to the One to Whom we belong.

Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

January 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Communicating about Communion with our Communicants