Was Your Salvation Just Empty Assent?

Some people are transformed when they come to Christ. They go on to change their world as God changes them. Others make a profession of faith and seem to drag themselves through an empty and ineffectual Christian life. This post may give a clue as to why there can be such stark difference between believers.

It’s in the Gospel

A key difference between believers is the “gospel” which they believed. Do you remember what gospel you believed?

The Apostle Paul used the term “another gospel“, thus acknowledging that there are varieties of gospel preached.

“For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.” 2Corinthians 11:4

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6,7

Gospel is Good News

The word “gospel” means “good news“. It is the good news about Christ and His sacrifice to save us from our sins. It is the news of God’s love and God’s grace made available to us through Jesus Christ. It truly is Good news.

But the good news comes with a claim upon our life. While God is a giving God, he also asks us to respond to His offer with appropriate faith and commitment on our part. It is at the point of commitment that people’s response to the gospel can be very different. And that accounts for the difference in impact the message has on people.

The Easy Gospel

One of my sons attended a huge conference several years ago and was completely unimpressed by the “gospel” message given to the audience. It was, in effect, a call to come and try out Jesus. “Give Jesus a go in your life and see what He can do for you”.

This is what might be called the “easy gospel” because it makes no claims upon the hearer.

We all know that if people get something for nothing of if things come easy people do not value it. They treat it like something that is of no real importance.

The Lordship Issue

Built into the gospel is God’s claim of Lordship over our lives. In order to be saved we must have faith, but we must also put ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus.

“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

It is this “Lordship” issue which goes to the heart of why some people do not seem to be changed by the gospel. They do not make Jesus the Lord of their life.

Repent or Assent

The very first sermon Jesus preached was to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Repent means “turn around”. It demands a change of direction.

The act of repenting, turning away from your old life and living for God, is an act of accepting the Lordship of Jesus. Repentance and Lordship are complementary.

However many people simply give “assent” to Jesus. They believe that He lived, died for them and rose from the dead. That means they believe the right things. But they do not add to their faith the issue of submission to Christ’s lordship over their lives.

Assenting Gospel or Repenting Gospel

When you responded to the gospel and decided to become a Christian, were you presented with an “assenting gospel” or a “repenting gospel“? Did you simply give mental assent to the claims of Christ, or did you fully yield to those claims and make him Lord, by repenting of your old life?

People who add Christ to their life have not repented. People whose new faith has not produced a change in them and their way of life have simply assented to Christ.

Repentance is the first step of change in a person’s new life as a Christian. A person who repents will be different, because the very act of repenting involves change. It involves them turning around and going a different way.

Was Your Salvation Empty Assent?

If your salvation experience did not produce a big change in your life, then you probably accepted an “assenting gospel” and missed out on the important step of repentance. So, what was your salvation experience like? Is it nothing more than empty assent?

If you have an empty salvation then you need to de-throne self. Assent allows “you” to stay on the throne of your life. Repentance means you have stepped off the throne and placed the will of God over your life.

I call you to repent of your independent lifestyle. I call you to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, so He can exalt you in due time. I call you to lose your life so you can find it.

And please don’t just “assent” to what I am saying. “Repent” and be different from this moment on.

Stuart Hamblen Writes Songs for the World

This is the day that Stuart Hamblen was converted at 4 o’clock in the morning. It was 1949.

Under conviction of sin, 40 year-old Hamblen, the son of a Texas minister, telephoned Billy Graham, waking him up: “Pray for me,” he begged the evangelist.

Billy Graham was preaching in his “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” crusade, which had been scheduled to last for three weeks. It was about to close, and Hamblen’s wife, Suzy, had talked him into attending.

But the conversion of Hamblen and two other well-known identities in the Los Angeles area led to an extension of the crusade for another five weeks (Billy Graham, by John Pollock, page 80). Three thousand chairs were added to accommodate the crowds; 6000 people had already been attending the “canvas cathedral” each night.

Hamblen was born October 20th, 1908, in Kellyville, Texas, the son of a travelling Methodist preacher. Hamblen’s radio and movie career began in 1926 on radio KAYO in Abilene, Texas, where he became radio broadcasting’s first singing cowboy. In 1929, he won a talent contest in Dallas, Texas and with the $100 cash prize in hand headed for Camden, New Jersey, to the Victor Talking Machine Company to seek his fortune. Recording four songs for the forerunner of RCA Victor, Stuart then set out for Hollywood, California, where he auditioned at KFI and went on the air as “Cowboy Joe”. He also became a member of the original “Beverly Hillbillies”, radio’s first spectacularly popular western singing group.

In 1931, and for 21 years thereafter, Stuart stayed on top of the popularity charts on the West Coast with his radio programs. During that time, his motion picture credits included: “In Old Monterey” with Gene Autry; “The Arizona Kid” and “King of the Cowboys” with Roy Rogers; “The Plainsman and the Lady” and “The Savage Hord” with Wild Bill Elliott; “Carson City Cyclone” and “The Sombrero Kid” with Don ‘Red’ Barry; “King of the Forest Rangers” with Larry Thompson; and “Flame of the Barbary Coast” with John Wayne.

Stuart Hamblen achieved fame as a rodeo champion, a country/western singer and songwriter, a dance-band leader, a gambler, and a heavy drinker. His 1934 Decca recording, ‘Out on the Texas Plains’, was one of the year’s top selling discs.

But when he was converted, he told his radio audience: “I’ve quit smoking and drinking”. And he was going to sell all his racehorses, except one, “which would never race again”.

Shortly afterwards “he bumped into his friend, movie star John Wayne. ‘What’s this I hear about you, Stuart?’ Wayne asked. ‘Well, John,’ came the answer, ‘I guess it’s no secret what God can do!’ ‘Sounds like a song’, the tall movie star replied, and that remark started the musical notes ringing in Stuart’s mind …” (New Life in Country Music, page 64). As a result Stuart Hamblen wrote …
It is no secret what God can do;
What He’s done for others He can do for you…

Recorded by George Beverly Shea in 1951, this song soon became a firm favourite for thousands of Christians and has been translated into over 50 languages around the world. It was the first song to ‘cross-over’, becoming #1 in Gospel/Country/and Pop categories and starting the trend for ballad style gospel songs

He also penned ‘This Ole House’ which was awarded 1954 Song of the Year, and was number one song hit in seven countries at the same time. His 230 song titles also include ‘Open up your Heart and let the Sun (Son) Shine in’, ‘This Book’ and ‘Known only to Him’.

By 1952 he was a candidate for the office of President of the United States – on a Prohibition ticket! He came in fourth in an election won by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Married to his wife, Suzy, for over 55 years, Stuart lived with her on their horse ranch in Canyon Country (Los Angeles), California, where he produced his weekly nationally syndicated “Cowboy Church of the Air” program. They also bred Peruvian Paso Horses. Stuart Hamblen died on March 8, 1989.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Lord Shaftesbury Stands Up for the Abused

This is the day that …Anthony Ashley-Cooper died in 1885 at the age of 84.

Better known as Lord Shaftesbury, he has been described as “the outstanding Christian layman of the 19th century.”

He was born on 28 April 1801 at 24 Grosvenor Square, London, the oldest son of the sixth earl of Shaftesbury. With strong family connections and good academics at Oxford he was well set for a political career. He became Lord of the Admiralty in 1834, but he chose not to run for prominence in any party, in order to more effectively help people in need.

A committed Christian he was active in support of organizations which took the gospel and the Bible to ordinary people, such as the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, YMCA and the London City Mission.

His first social cause was the plight of lunatics who were treated most inhumanely. He stuck with that cause and changed the relevant legislation through his life.

His next cause was to limit the working day in mills to 10 hours per day. This was vehemently opposed but he eventually won out. He was a man of action and he strengthened his case on many issues by first-hand investigation of the conditions. He visited hospitals and met many who were maimed and deformed through their working conditions.

He then campaigned against women and children being used in mines. Children as young as four spent 12 hours a day on all fours, pulling carts in the dark. He freed women and any child under 13 years from working in mines.

Then he took on the cause of boys apprenticed to chimney sweeps. Then came education of the neglected poor, leading to the setting up of “ragged schools” through which 10,000 children were assisted in his lifetime.

Then he turned his attention to providing quality housing for underprivileged, creating model villages and establishing thousands of well-equipped homes that were affordable to the working class.

Always the aristocrat he was keen to promote evangelical endeavour where he found it. However he objected to the Salvation Army due to its equal treatment of women in leadership, to which he disagreed. He labelled William Booth as the “antichrist”.

It was he who led the fight against child labour … five year-olds ankle deep in water working pumps in rat-infested mines … children forced to climb and clean chimneys by unscrupulous masters … and the cruelty often inflicted upon small children who worked 12 or 14 hours a day in the mills.

He was chairman of the Ragged Schools Union for 39 years … he supported the newly formed British and Foreign Bible Society … and the Protestant Alliance … and the Church Missionary Society … and the Young Men’s Christian Association (which was Christian in those days!) And more!

On his deathbed he asked for Psalm 23 to be read to him each morning, and “frequently those present heard him murmur his favourite prayer, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’.”

Don Prout recommends: If you can get hold of a copy of John Pollock’s biography of this great man called Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl, read it! Or Grace Irwin’s The Seventh Earl is equally fascinating. Or, I Stand Alone by Jenny Robertson.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

George Cadbury the Chocolate Philanthropist

This is the day that … George Cadbury was born in 1839, in Birmingham, England.

George’s father, John Cadbury, was a tea and coffee dealer. George’s mother, Candia, died when he was in his mid-teens and John’s health was poor. So George’s education was cut short by his need to work in the business.

At the age of 22, he, along with his older brother Richard, took over his father’s business. Five years later Cadburys became the first company in Britain to sell cocoa. The beans were roasted and ground to form a powder which customers made into chocolate drinks.

In this Quaker family, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs had been standard ‘Sabbath reading’, along with the Bible.

Thus it was that working conditions were improved, even a half-holiday was granted on Saturdays … in an age when such things were unheard of.

Eventually, as their cocoa refining experiments revolutionised the business, George even began a daily worship service in the factory. Attended by a few at first, there came the day when “visiting ministers spoke of the impressive sight of a great crowd of worshippers led in praise by 3000 women’s voices, the girls dressed in pure white overalls ready for the day’s work” (Yarns on Christian Torchbearers, page 45).

To improve living conditions for his workers George Cadbury built three villages on the outskirts of Birmingham. From an initial cluster of 24 houses for key workers, a total of 300 houses formed the Bournville Village. His factory, on the River Bourn, was called the “Bournville Works”.

A pension scheme was introduced for his employees long before parliament thought of such an idea.

Here was a Christian businessman and philanthropist who loved people … for, as his biographer says: “He had caught the secret of love from Christ, his Lord and Saviour” (Life of George Cadbury, page 277).

George taught school every Sunday morning for fifty years, instructing some 4,000 students over that time. He also ran evangelistic meetings for the derelict of the city. It was at one of those meetings that his daughter, Helen, made her commitment to Christ at the age of 12. She was so excited about sharing her faith that she organized a group of girls who sewed pockets onto their dresses to carry the small New Testaments her father provided. The girls called their group “The Pocket Testament League“. Using small membership cards, they pledged to read a portion of the Bible every day, pray, and to share their faith as God provided opportunity. Helen later married RA Torrey’s popular gospel singer Charles Alexander.

George Cadbury believed that society would be better if people owned and worked their own land, so he opposed the land monopoly. He was also a pacifist who objected to the Boer War in South Africa.

He is remembered as a philanthropist. “I have for many years given practically the whole of my income for charitable purposes, except what is spent upon my family. Nearly all my money is invested in businesses in which I believe I can truly say the first thought of the welfare of the work people employed.”

George Cadbury died at Northfield Manor on 24th October, 1922.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Columba – Arrival at Iona

This is the day that … Columba landed on the tiny isle of Iona off the northwest coast of Scotland in the year AD 563.

Columba had been a monk in Ireland … and had surreptitiously copied a Book of Psalms belonging to the Abbot.  When this was discovered, St Finnian demanded the copy be given to him, and Columba refused.  The High King of Ireland at Tara even decided that the copy belonged to the Abbot, but Columba was not going to give up without a fight.  Literally!  A fierce battle took place – both sides had gathered armies – and “the king’s forces were severely defeated” (The Man with the Coracle, by M. Backer-Benfield, page 6).

F.F. Bruce, in The Spreading Flame, also refers to this incredible war that took place over the Book of Psalms – “Some accounts represent Columba as vowing he would not return to Ireland until he had won as many pagans for Christ as had fallen in the battle – 3000 all told!” (page 387).

So to Iona he journeyed, and there founded a monastery.  “From this primitive abbey went missionaries who carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scotland, then to England, to France, Germany and all of Western Europe.”  Iona became “a lighthouse to the Dark Ages” (Decision  Magazine, March, 1975).

And it was Columba who first reported seeing the Loch Ness monster!  In 565  (The People’s Almanac, Volume 2, page 1278).

And Columba’s copy of the Book of Psalms is still to be seen at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin (National Geographic Magazine, May, 1977, page 626).