Friday, 11 September 2015

The Truth of the Trinity

I was recently asked to defend the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This is certainly an important doctrine, and it is not hard to find in the Scriptures. However, this study will be somewhat limited by the proviso attached to this request that stated that this defence must exclude the writings of the Apostle John. Rather than finding that a hindrance, I have found that setting aside the writings God gave through John has helped by narrowing the field of study so that there is less material to cover and include here.

I must begin by defining what I am defending. The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is only one true God. This one true God exists in three distinct, yet unified persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For this doctrine to be Scripturally proven there are three key items that must be shown from the Bible.
1. That the three Persons of the Trinity exist distinctly.
2. That the three Persons are each God.
3. That these three Persons are not separate Gods.

1. The three Persons of the Trinity exist distinctly.
We must begin by acknowledging the three Persons of the Trinity. There are many passages that show all three of them distinctly in either a clear expression or in a clear description. Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:33, 1Peter 1:2, and 2Corinthians 13:14 each refer to all three Persons within a single sentence. Isaiah 48:16 also shows the three Persons in the Old Testament.
There are also instances where the description of a situation shows each distinctly in person and action. A fine example of this is the baptism of Christ in Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son comes up from the water, the Spirit of God descends like a dove, and the Father speaks from Heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
Thus we can clearly see that the three Persons all existing and acting in distinct ways.

2. The three Persons are each God.
To say that God the Father is God requires almost no argument due to the obvious nature of the statement. The terms "God" and "Father" are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament. A good example to show that the Father is God is found in 1Corinthians 8:6, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him."
Proving the deity of Christ is not difficult either, but it seems less obvious to some people. Thus I will give a little more attention to this. One helpful passage is found in Hebrews 1:6,8 "And again, when He bringeth the Firstbegotten into the world, He saith, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.' But unto the Son He saith, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom." Verse 8 quotes from Psalm 45:6. Here the Son is clearly referred to by the Father as "God." It has been argued that the word, "Elohim," translated as "God" in Psalm 45:6 is occasionally used in the Old Testament in reference to certain men. However, that is by no means common. Of the 2606 times "Elohim" is used in the Bible, only 4 are translated in a way that does not refer to deity. They include the following: Abraham was referred to as "Mighty (Elohim)," Pharaoh referred to the thundering and lightning God sent as "Mighty (Elohim)," Elohim is translated in Psalm 8:5 as "angels," and in Jonah 3:3 the city of Nineveh is referred to as "Exceeding great (Elohim gadol)." When less than 0.2% of the usage does not denote deity, it would be a convenient mishandling of the Scripture to suggest that Psalm 45:6 does not refer to God.
Another valid point from Hebrews chapter 1 is that in verse 6 the angels are told to worship the Son. Jesus clearly taught in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 that it is wrong to worship anyone but the Lord God. This again shows that Jesus is God by His right to accept worship. There are numerous and frequent instances in the Gospel records of Jesus receiving worship without objection. e.g.: Matthew 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 28:9, Mark 5:6, and Luke 24:52.
Paul echoed the equality of the Son with the Father in Philippians 2:6 when he wrote that the Son "thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Jesus believed it was right for Him to be treated equally to God. However, the Scriptures tell us in Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 that God will not give His glory to another. No one has a right to share in God's glory. Satan's sin at the beginning was seeking equality with God (Isaiah 14:12-14) and this was what he tempted Eve with in Genesis 3:5. Equality with God is fit for neither angels like Lucifer nor for mankind like Eve. For Jesus to accept this equality would be a heinous crime on the level of Satan’s fall and Man's fall if He were not truly God.
Any misunderstanding regarding the role of Christ in His obedience and subservience to the Father can be easily cleared up. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." The Son is not inherently inferior to the Father (as the previous verse shows), but He did take upon Himself the form of a servant. This was to fulfill His ministry and to provide an example for us to follow.
Also, Old Testament prophecies foretold that the Messiah would not be just a man, but God. A few examples would include Isaiah 7:14 (Emmanuel means "God with us"), Isaiah 9:6 ("His name shall be called... The Mighty God"), and Jeremiah 23:5-6 where the Branch of David is referred to as The LORD our Righteousness (Jehovah Tsedeq). This Saviour who was to come was no ordinary man, He is God.
In dealing with the Holy Spirit we must also conclude from the Bible that He is God. The Holy Spirit, also mentioned in the King James Version as the Holy Ghost, is not merely a New Testament teaching. We find the Holy Spirit as early as Genesis 1:2 and Job 26:13 where the Spirit of God was involved in creation. He is our Creator God. He is referred to in terms that refer to a person not just an indistinct entity. He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:20), He has a will (1Corinthians 12:11), He speaks (Acts 13:2), and He has a mind (Romans 8:27).
It should go without saying that the Spirit of God is deity. His very name clearly reveals this. However, in case there is any doubt, we can see many Bible proofs of this. In Acts 5:3-4 Peter rebukes Ananias for lying to the Holy Ghost and emphasizes the evil of what he had done by saying, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” 1Corinthians 3:16 also refers to the Holy Spirit as God when it says that we are the Temple of God in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Certain characteristics of deity are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit. 1Corintians 2:10-11 shows the omniscience of the Holy Spirit, and Psalm 139:7-10 shows His omnipresence.

3. These three Persons are not separate Gods.
Having shown that the three Persons of the Trinity exist distinctly and each are clearly taught in the Scripture to be God, we must deal with this last assertion of the doctrine of the Trinity. If we cannot prove the third point to be true, then we must succumb to the accusation that we are polytheists and worship three Gods. There can be no doubt that from the earliest days of our faith we and our forefathers of faith have constantly asserted that we worship one God. The Bible shows repeatedly that there is only one God. A few examples are: Deuteronomy 4:35, 6:4, Isaiah 44:6, 45:5-6, Mark 12:29, 32, 1Corinthians 8:6, and 1Timothy 2:5. One of the most significant of these is Deuteronomy 6:4 which tells us “The LORD our God is one LORD.” The beauty of this statement is that it clearly shows that there is only one God while also using the plural Hebrew word Elohim to refer to God. Therefore, this Old Testament verse shows the plurality of persons within the one true God.
Because the Bible shows that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God and that there is only one true God, we are left with only one logical conclusion. That conclusion is that there is one God in three distinct, yet united, Persons.

The doctrine of the Trinity must not be forsaken by true Bible-believers. There should be no doubt in the mind of any genuine seeker that the Trinity is a reality. This is by no means an exhaustive study. There are many other passages of Scripture and lines of argument that have been neglected in this brief study. The doctrine of the Trinity is woven throughout the Bible from beginning to end. May God help those who truly believe the Bible to never forsake this vital doctrine!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Atheism’s Black Sheep

I recently found a second-hand copy of a book called “There Is a God.” The title did not naturally catch my eye, but the subtitle did it: “How the World‘s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.”  In 2004 Antony Flew, a famous philosopher and avowed atheist, shocked many people by announcing that he was no longer an atheist.  This was not a man who had no recognition prior to this transformation in his perspective.  He had been a leader in the modern atheistic discussions and had brought forward many of what were considered the leading arguments against God in the last 100 years.  In this book, Antony Flew himself discusses the journey that he took in his own words.

It might not be entirely the transformation that some might hope for.  Professor Flew has not gone so far in this book as to personally accept what I would love to see him embrace: personal faith in Jesus Christ.  But after 50 years of atheism, even his acknowledgement that God must exist is a huge step.  He still is not ready to accept any specific religious persuasion and has not embraced life after death either.  His influence over the discussions of atheism against theism is, however, shaken by his statement of his acceptance of “the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being.”  That’s quite a lot to accept for someone who previously taught and truly believed that the rational mind must consider the idea of any sort of God to be purely unreasonable.

One of the characteristics of Professor Flew’s writings on the subject of atheism is that he has always rejected the almost religious side of atheism that this book condemns.  He did not pursue atheism necessarily because he was mad at God or was a fanatic of “religious atheism.”  He rather rejected the idea of God from purely rational reasoning.  It did not make any sense to him to accept the idea of a real God.  In spite of having grown up in the home of a widely respected Methodist leader, Antony Flew believed that God was impossible to believe in.  His progress toward atheism, surprisingly, came through the same mindset that eventually led to his acceptance of God: reason and logic.  He says in chapter 4 “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena.”  He continues, “It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions.  Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous.  In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.”

In the first three chapters, Professor Flew discusses the reasons he embraced and promoted atheism in the bulk of his life.  There was a constant willingness to adapt as he understood things more clearly through life.  One of the noblest principles that he sought to follow through life has been called the Socratic principle: “We must follow the argument wherever it leads.”  This willingness to follow the logic of an argument wherever it led is seen in two earlier examples where he found that he was unable to maintain opinions that he had previously held.  Firstly, when he embraced atheism as a teenager one of his reasons was his perception that evil in the world precluded a good God.  Even as an atheist, he later came to refer to this as one of two “juvenile inconsistencies” that he had previously believed.   The second example was his political departure from Marxism to a “vigorous defense of free markets.”  In light of his genuine search for truth, it should not have come as too much of a surprise that he finally found it.

In the remaining seven chapters, Professor Flew describes his journey from atheism to theism and explains his reasons for that unusual change.  There were three main questions that he could not answer through atheism: How did the laws of nature come to be, how did life as a phenomenon originate from nonlife, and how did the universe come into existence?  He shows how these questions logically proved to him that there must be a divine Being who was the Creator of all.  The arguments used are certainly worthy of a renowned philosopher of Flew’s stature.  These are not pat “just believe it” answers.  They are logical, consistent, and profoundly persuasive.

For a Bible-believing Christian this book provides some excellent arguments for the existence of God that can be used to challenge the thinking of atheists we are seeking to reach for Christ.  Besides Flew’s own reasons for believing in God, there are also two helpful appendices.  Appendix A is written by Roy Abraham Varghese and is titled “The ‘New Atheism’: A critical Appraisal of Dawkins, Dennett, Wolpert, Harris, and Stenger.”  Appendix B is titled “The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright.”  Antony Flew is not certain whether he is ready to believe that God has revealed Himself either through a specific religion or through incarnation.  In that context, this second appendix deals with the rationality of the historicity, deity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Of all the major religions in the world, Professor Flew comments that “the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honoured and respected,” and says, “If you’re wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat.”

This book is an enjoyable read for anyone who is interested in the discussion of the existence of God.  A certain level of familiarity with some of the context of that discussion is helpful for anyone picking this book up, but anyone should be able to take some valuable thoughts away from this book.

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Moody Moment

I recently read a sermon excerpt in the first issue of Forward Magazine.  I enjoyed it so much I thought I would repost it here.  This is from D.L. Moody’s sermon from 2Kings 7 entitled “Belief in God.”

I have believed in God for thirty years.  When first converted I did not believe in Him very much, but ever since then I have believed in Him, more and more every year.  When people come to me, tell me they can’t believe, and ask what they shall do, I tell them to do as I once knew a man to do.  He went and knelt down and told God honestly he could not believe in Him, and I advise them to go off alone and tell it right out to the Lord.
But if you stop to ask yourself why you don’t believe in Him, is there really any reason?  People read infidel books and wonder why they are unbelievers, I ask why they read such books.  They think they must read both sides.  I say that book is a lie; how can it be one side when it is a lie?  It is not one side at all.  Suppose a man tells down right lies about my family, and I read them so as to hear both sides; it would not be long before some suspicion would creep into my mind.
I said to a man once, “Have you got a wife?”  “Yes, and a good one.”  I asked: “Now what if I should come to you to cast out insinuations against her?”  And he said, “Well, your life would not be safe long if you did.”  I told him just to treat the devil as he would treat a man who went around with such stories.  We are not to blame for having doubts flitting through our minds, but for harbouring them.  Let us go out trusting the Lord with heart and soul today.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Alive on Purpose

On October 14th, 2012 an Australian man named Felix Baumgartner rode a helium balloon high up into the stratosphere.  It was not exactly a science or observation mission. The only reason he rode this balloon so high was so that he could jump from it.  This may sound crazy or terrifying to some, but he jumped and completed a free-fall of about 39 kilometres.  Relying only on the force of gravity he reached an estimated speed of 1357 kilometres per hour.  That is about mach 1.25!  He survived and broke several records in the process.  I've learned in life that people who do the sorts of things that others only imagine are usually people who work hard to accomplish their incredible feats. 
In the Bible, Daniel was an incredible individual like that.  He was in the stratosphere in his occupation and in his walk with God.  He reached great heights in the government of more than one world empire, and he also had revelations in visions from God that have fascinated and astounded the world for the last 2500 years.
How did he get there?  I believe that the Bible clearly shows in his early life a principle that he carried with him throughout his years.  Daniel as a young man (perhaps only a teenager) faced a time of pressure when he was originally taken as a captive to the land of Babylon.  He was expected to eat certain things that he knew were contrary to the way a God-fearing Israelite ought to eat.  The pressure was certainly serious.  Going against the flow may have led to extreme consequences.  Don't forget that the king had a macabre interest in having people cut into pieces (Daniel 2:5 and Daniel 3:29)!
Daniel's response was that he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).  He settled his purpose in his heart and then lived a life that was based on that purpose no matter what the cost.  This is a key to his greatness.  This is why, when on another occasion his prayers were outlawed, he continued to do as he had always done.  He had a purposed life.  It is too easy to make decisions in a moment based on the circumstances, but it is also dangerous.  It is wiser to make our decisions based on God's purpose for our lives.  Keeping our minds conscious of our purpose is tremendously important in living for God.  Living purposefully will help us to be greatly used by God. Do not make random, reactive decisions; settle your purpose and live by it!  Make your purpose a part of planning your day and directing your life.
Living purposefully enables us to focus our lives on what truly matters.  When we live our lives on purpose, we are less likely to waste our time, which really means wasting our lives.  Living purposefully enables us to accomplish more and greater works.  Living purposefully enables us to have time to relax.  That may seem counter-intuitive, but by wasting less time and accomplishing more in the time we invest, we are then able to get enough rest and not burn out.  Living purposefully enables us to inspire, encourage, and lead others.  We see this in the story of Daniel when his three friends follow his lead. Living purposefully keeps our lives centred on God and His will for us, and that is a great purpose! 

His servant and yours,
Pastor Paul Gibbesh

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

St. Paul Did NOT Write Hebrews

For a long time now there has been a lot of discussion about the authorship of the New Testament book of Hebrews.  I think that the discussion is largely irrelevant when the truth is abundantly clear to any Bible believer.  Of course the book of Hebrews was written by the Lord!  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God!  I believe that if the name of the human penman God used was important He would have told us!  However, because the discussion continues and because interpretation of the book is often influenced by the belief that Paul wrote the book, I here provide my reasons for believing that Paul did not write the book of Hebrews.

The title that has been added to the book reads: "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.," and that is a popular argument for the book having been written by Paul.  I would like to make it clear that this title was not a part of the original letter and was added afterwards.  I grant that it seems to have been there a long time, but that doesn't guarantee its accuracy.  For example, the title on the book of Revelation is given as "The Revelation of St. John the Divine."  Well, I certainly have a problem with that title.  Firstly, I am not in the habit of referring to certain great Christians as St. John or St. Paul.  This can easily lead to the Catholic error of differentiating between so-called "Saints" and the common people.  Every born-again Christian is a saint of God, made holy by our Lord's grace.  Secondly, the title of Revelation is immediately contradicted by the very first verse of that book, which says "The revelation of Jesus Christ..."  So we find that the header of Revelation is erroneous.  Because this is the case, I do not consider the title on Hebrews to be infallible.

Another issue is that Paul wrote in Galatians 6:11 "Ye see how large a letter I have written to you with mine own hand."  In contrast, the author of Hebrews said in chapter 13, verse 22 "I have written unto you in few words."  If Hebrews was written by Paul, it would be strange to say "few words" when most of the letters we have from Paul are shorter than Hebrews.  Especially in light of Paul saying Galatians was a large letter for him to have written with his own hand.  (And please do not interpret Galatians 6:11 to say that Paul wrote in large individual letters.  No part of the definition of the Greek word translated there as "letter" could be used to refer to individual letters.  That is sloppy and illogical exegesis.)

The style of the letter also varies from Paul's letters.  For example, in every letter we have from Paul he always used a greeting within the first few verses that included the phrase "grace and peace to you" or a slight variation of this.  The most significant variation from that theme is that in his letters to Pastor Timothy and Pastor Titus he adds "mercy" to the "grace and peace."  Maybe Pastors need extra mercy!  Hebrews has no such greeting.  Why would that be the only time that Paul did not do that?

In Hebrews 2:3  the author speaks of the salvation that was "spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him."  This seems to be a strange thing for Paul to say when in 1Corinthians 9:1 he sought to validate his role and ministry by saying "Have not I seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"  Paul was in fact one of  "them that heard Him."

Lastly and significantly, in 2Thessalonians 3:17 we read "The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."  We can so often clear up questions and debates simply by opening the Bible and looking there for answers!  Paul clearly states that the token of an epistle written by him was that He himself would put his signature to it.  If his name was not there, Paul did not write it.  Period!  It seems from 2Thessalonians 2:2 that Paul may have had problems with others sending letters that claimed to be from him, but they were forgeries. Oh, if he only knew that 2000 years later people would still be attributing letters to him that he didn't write!

Many good people believe and have been taught that Paul wrote Hebrews.  I do not have a problem with anyone who believes that, but I believe that we should study to show ourselves approved unto God as workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.  I believe that we can find the answer to this question and many others without looking any further than the precious Book that God has given us!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Don't Turn Off

Don’t Turn Off

Recently my laptop computer was not functioning properly.  I decided that it would be helpful to run a system restoration.  I thought that if I could return to the factory settings it would probably eliminate some of the glitches that were causing frequent problems when I used my computer.  As it turns out, it did help with stabilizing the system.

While the computer was going through it’s process of restoring the factory settings, a message was displayed on the screen that said, “Please do not turn off your computer during this process.”  If the computer is turned off during the restoration process it will ruin that process and the restoration will have to be started all over again. This reminded me of the process God sometimes uses in our lives.

Occasionally our Christian life can get off track, and, like my computer, begin to have glitches that disrupt the proper functions.  The spiritual system of our lives can become unstable.  When we start messing with some of the designed functionality of our walk with God by doing things our own way, we should not be surprised when our life becomes as frustrating as a rebellious computer.

God will sometimes bring us through a purifying restoration process to bring us back to our original design specifications.  He will allow certain programs or files that are corrupt and are interfering with the proper functions to be deleted.  Not too shockingly, those programs or files that we intentionally downloaded into our lives are often tough for us to see deleted.  However they must go for stability to return to the system.  If they are not removed the system of our spiritual lives will continue in the state of disfunction that has been frustrating us.  We will continue to try  to go forward, but we will consistently be hindered by the systemic chaos caused by the confusion of content as we have tried to mix good programming with bad programming.

What a blessing that the Lord wants to help us with the purification process!  It may be painful, but it sure is necessary.  It is always better to fix the problem in our walk with God than to try to manage in spite of it.  The time and difficulty taken to restore my laptop has been amply repaid by the time and frustration saved by not having to fight with it anymore.

One problem that occurs when we are going through this painful process of restoration is that we are sometimes tempted to turn off during the process.  What I mean by that is that in the pain of purification and separation from the things we held dear, we might be tempted to throw in the towel and give up on the whole thing.  We might stop going to church, reading our Bible, and praying regularly.  We might give up on our convictions and the good spiritual decisions we have made.  We might stop trying to live for the Lord.  So often Satan at that time of purifying will whisper in our ears that we are failing and might as well give up now since God has clearly given up on us anyway.  However the fact that we are being purified is actually evidence that God is working to draw us back to Himself!

The danger of turning off during God’s process can be illustrated by what happened with my laptop.  I won’t bore you with the details, but during the return to the factory settings, my laptop was unintentionally turned off.  The computer was about half-way through the restoration when this happened, and I was horrified when I turned the computer back on and found that I needed to start the process all over from the very beginning.  All I had done had been wasted!  All the time waiting for the process to be completed was now to be done all over again!  Let’s just say I was not too thrilled.

When God is purifying us and restoring us to the original design specifications, we may turn off and fight the process.  However, any gains that may have been made toward fixing the problem will likely then need to be redone.  This is why we might feel like we’re never getting anywhere in our Christian life.  We feel like we are constantly repeating the same struggles, sufferings, and battles.  Sometimes we will feel that way because we have shut down on God when things started getting tough.  Then when we come to the place of seeking God again, He will start the restoration process again.  We need to realize that the reason things were getting tough is that God was trying to get us back to the place where we could abide in His easy yoke and His light burden.  By turning off we prevented ourselves from getting to the place of peace that we secretly wished we could get to!

You will never function properly in your Christian life unless you are following your design specifications.  And if the restoration process has been begun, just yield to it, knowing that God is using that process to bring you to a place of effectiveness and victory in His purpose for you.

Whatever you do, don’t turn off!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Paul Gibbesh

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

"Praying Hyde"

I recently came across a little flyer titled "A Precious Secret of Prayer From that great man of prayer: “Praying Hyde.”  It was a blessing to me and was apparently an excerpt from the book "Praying Hyde" by F.A. McGaw which was published in the 1920s.  This was good enough to make me want to read the rest of the book.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

"A Precious Secret of Prayer From that great man of prayer: “Praying Hyde”
 Mr. Hyde had a wonderful experience to which he owed, I believe, his power with God, and therefore with man.  He used to speak of it as one of the most direct and solemn lessons God had ever taught him.  He was up in the hills resting for a short time.  He had been burdened about the spiritual condition of a certain pastor, and he resolved to spend time in definite intercession for him.  Entering into his “inner chamber,” he began pouring out his heart to his Heavenly Father concerning that brother somewhat as follows:

‘O God! Thou knowest that brother how--’ ‘cold’ he was going to say, when suddenly a hand seemed to be laid on his lips, and a Voice said to him in stern reproach, ‘He that toucheth him toucheth the apple of Mine eye.’  A great horror came over him.  He had been ‘judging’ his brother.  He felt rebuked and humbled before God.  It was he himself who first needed putting right.  He confessed his sin.  He claimed the precious Blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin.  ‘Whatsoever things are lovely… if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Then he cries out, ‘Father, show me what things are lovely and of good report in my brother’s life.’  Like a flash he remembered how that brother had given up all for Christ, enduring such suffering from relations whom he had given up.  He was reminded of his years of hard work, of the tact with which he managed his difficult congregation, of the many quarrels he had healed, of what a model husband he was.  One thing after another rose up before him and so all his prayer season was spent in praise for his brother instead of in prayer.  He could not recall a single petition, nothing but thanksgiving!  God was opening His servant’s eyes to the highest of ministries, that of praise.

Mark the result also on that brother’s life!  When Mr. Hyde went down to the plains, he found that just then the brother had received a great spiritual uplift.  While he was praising, God was blessing.  A wonderful Divine Law, the law of a Father’s love.  While we bless God for any child of His, He delights to bless that one!

This was the secret of John Hyde’s power with God; he saw the good in God’s little ones, and so was able to appreciate God’s work of grace in that heart.  Hence he supplied the Heavenly atmosphere of praise in which God’s love was free to work in all its fullness.  This, too was what gave him power with men.  We are attracted to those who appreciate us.  All our powers expand in their presence, and we are with them at our best.  Hence they call out all that is good in us, and we feel uplifted when with them.  When we look at people’s faults we shrivel up their energies, they are at their worst.  In a word, we encourage their faults by thinking about them.

Let us remember above all else that God’s people on this earth are in the making.  This is His workshop and souls are being fashioned and formed in it.  The final polishing touches we will not receive in the present life, but when this body of our humiliation has been transformed… suppose you go into a carpenter’s shop and begin to find fault with his unfinished chairs and tables!  You say, “How rough this is!  What an ugly corner that is!’  The carpenter will doubtless get angry and say, ‘Bear in mind that I am still making these things.  They are not yet finished.  Come and see the pattern after which they are being fashioned.  See, this is what they will be yet like when I have done with them.’  He shows you beautiful chairs and tables-- shining, perfectly formed, polished to perfection!  Is the carpenter not right?  Is the critic not in the wrong?  The one looks at the things that are lovely and eternal; the other at those which are unlovely and, thank God, fleeting.

How often Mr. Hyde excused men who had been unkind to him.  ‘They do not understand,’ he said.  ‘I know they do not want to be unkind,’ he once replied when he was asked to defend himself against a bitter and unjust attack.  A friend even offered to write and explain, but he quietly said, ‘This is my cross which He wants me to take up and carry for Him.’

What if we all had this spirit -- misunderstandings in mission stations, etc., would cease… Oh, these petty quarrels, jealousies, and misunderstandings among the dear children of God!  How can they be done away with?  I think that Hyde’s way is sure to succeed.  Be MUCH IN PRAYER; let any slight or even insult be an occasion to pray for the very persons who do these things, and praise God for the privilege of being permitted to bear these things.  I think it is Madam Guyon that used to say when she was insulted or persecuted, ‘Thank you; Father; you saw I needed just this humbling.’

But we need a life of prayer to be able to do this, not a spasmodic spurt, but a habit of prayer, to live in communion with Him…

The secret of Hyde’s power with God and with men -- ‘Giving thanks in everything.’

This is God’s command to those who would be full of the Holy Spirit, and no one I have ever known obeyed this command more faithfully than John Hyde.  It was one great source of his joy and therefore of his attractive power.  Again and again he would declare that if we want to know why trials are sent us, let us begin by thanking God for them, and we will doubtless soon see why they have been sent.  We had among ourselves a phrase, ‘Praising God through shut teeth:’ that meant praising God in the face of the greatest troubles and darkest hours of life.  This we can always do, for we can never doubt that He is our Father in Heaven, and so all must be well for us at all times and in all circumstances.