Charles Simeon The Rejected Preacher Who Prevailed

This is the day that … Charles Simeon was born in 1759.

The place was Reading, England, and the aristocratic home in which young Charles was reared was one of ‘affluence’.

It was during his education at Kings College, Cambridge that he was wonderfully converted through the reading of a sermon on the subject of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16).

As he read about propitiatory sacrifice in the Old Testament, he thought, “What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an offering for me, that I may lie my sins on his head?” He immediately laid his sins “upon the sacred head of Jesus.”

Despite the fact that “he found no Christian fellowship at the university” young Simeon’s Bible became his constant companion. Three years later, in 1782, he was ordained as a Church of England deacon and appointed minister of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge the following year.

And there it was he ministered over the next 50 years.

“Highly unpopular at first on account of his message and manner, scorned and abused for many years, he carried on regardless of men’s opinions, until in the end he became perhaps the best known and best respected name in Cambridge” (C. Simeon, by H.E. Hopkins).

Opposition there certainly was!

“The pew holders locked the doors of their pews to prevent visitors from using them. So Simeon placed benches in the aisles, but the church officers threw the benches into the church yard. Simeon started a Sunday evening service to reach needy sinners, but the officers locked the church doors!” (Victorious Christians, by W. Wiersbe, page 62).

“When I was an object of much contempt and derision in the university,” he later wrote, “I strolled forth one day, buffeted and afflicted, with my little Testament in my hand … The first text which caught my eye was this: ‘They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross.'”

He invited students to his home on Sundays and Friday evenings for “conversation parties” to teach them how to preach. By the time he died, it is estimated that one-third of all the Anglican ministers in the country had sat under his teaching at one time or another.

One Anglican historian writes that Charles Simeon introduced the singing of hymns into Anglican services … for which the Prayer Book makes no provision (apart from Psalms, Canticles and Veni Creator). “In singing hymns evangelicals (like Simeon) were no doubt acting illegally, as, it would seem, we all are today” (Through the Ages, by F.E. Barker, page 277).

Before his death on 13 November, 1836, he also played a major role in establishing the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, and the London Jews Society. He has been described as “the most famous evangelical clergyman” the Church of England ever produced (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 625).

He remained a bachelor his whole life, and his entire ministry was at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge—even today a focal point of evangelicalism in England.

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.

Islam’s Lost Foundations

I believe Islam is close to its end as a world religion. I once heard from a man who had been told such a thing in a prophecy and I am personally inclined to believe it. So let me share some thoughts about some things which will contribute to Islam’s demise.

Islam has lost its foundations. Modern Islam attempts to be a complete religion, while ignoring its foundational components. As such this religion will crack and crumble. It is incomplete and unstable unless it rediscovers its foundations.

What are the lost foundations? I’m glad you asked.

Some years ago I developed a character training program for use in schools. The pilot program was quite effective and several schools asked me to implement it for them. One school had a large Moslem contingent in the student body, so I decided to incorporate some Koranic material into the otherwise Christian sources.

I contacted a local Islamic society and explained that what I sought were Koranic quotes which involved the teaching of godly character, so I could use those quotes to support my promotion of good character qualities. After a week or so I was advised that the Koran (Qu’ran) did not teach character.

There was a simple explanation for the absence of character training in the Koran. Since Islam is built on the work of Musa (Moses) and Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah), and they both give clear instruction in character and lifestyle, there is no need for Mohammed to repeat the work of those earlier prophets.

I was further told that the Koran is a book of prophecies, not a book of character training, since those things were done already by Musa and Isa.

The three great prophets of Islam are: Musa; Isa; and Mohammed. The three great prophetic writings, therefore, are the Old Testament (Musa’s prophetic work), the Gospels and New Testament (focussed on Isa al Masih) and the Qu’ran (the prophetic works of Mohammed).

Today, however, the most prominent activists for Islam seem to have abandoned the foundations laid by Musa and Isa. They do not promote the holy law and Ten Commandments of Moses. They do not teach the golden rule or love for others which are central to the lifestyle Jesus taught.

Consequently we have a modern Islam that has lost its foundations and is trying to apply the prophecies of Mohammed without the foundations laid by Moses and Jesus. Many Moslems, it seems, only give lip-service to the place of Musa and Isa. If this is so, then they are denying their own religion. When the followers of a religion deny in practice what they preach in theory, then the religion is dead. It is a vain show of a religion, not a living and dynamic force that can bring good into the world, or even to its followers.

When a religion cannot enrich its own followers it ceases to be a religion, and becomes a political system or some other social entity. I believe that such has already happened in many reaches of the Islamic world. Islam is crumbling from its own failure to embrace Musa and Isa. Islam has lost its foundations.

It is now simply a matter of time, and I predict a short time only. The Islamic nations will become embroiled in increased fanaticism, as people try to live out prophetic teaching without the character, faith and love taught by Moses and Christ. Islam’s greatest enemies are its own fanatical followers who will promote nothing more than obsession and political force. Islam will again try to force conversion at the end of the sword, only it will be holding the sword to the throat of its own people.

Yet Isa al Masih is the Messiah for all people, including the Moslems. He is ready to pour out wonderful grace on the followers of Islam. Moslems will make the most devoted and effective followers of Jesus Christ and they will be mightily used to prepare the world for the return of our saviour.

Millions of Moslems will come to know and love Almighty God with such depth of relationship that they will shame western believers. Millions of fellow Moslems will become the world’s most effective evangelists, even winning the Jews to faith in Christ in amazing numbers. And Millions of fellow Moslems will be so powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit that they will bring to life again things not seen since the life of Christ and the book of Acts.

Islam is about to crumble, yet Moslems are about to enjoy the most wonderful days they could ever imagine. Join me in prayer to hasten this great grace upon the followers of Mohammed.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Angry Dad, Wise Dad

Just how many fathers can you have? How can you have a Rich Dad and a Poor Dad? How could Jesus say to the Jews, “Abraham is your father but Abraham is not your father”?

Robert Kiyosaki added fresh recognition to the truth of multiple fathering in the title of his best selling book on his wealth journey. In Kiyosaki’s case, so he explains, his biological dad was an academic and not a wealthy man. The father of his friend, however, was an entrepreneur, and quite wealthy. Young Robert decided to learn from the man he called his Rich Dad, things which his Poor Dad was unable to teach him.

So, in that case, we see how there are different levels of fathering. We each have a biological dad, whether we ever met the man or not. We also have people who ‘father’ us, but mentoring our lives. I call that kind of fathering as Devotional. We devote ourselves to their values, skills and qualities. We effectively become the student of our Devotional Father, as Kiyosaki did to his friend’s biological dad. That boy’s biological dad became Kiyosaki’s Devotional Dad.

Devotional sonship identifies us as taking on the values, character or spirit of another person, in order to gain from that connection. The ‘sons of the prophets’, in 2Kings 6:1, were disciples of the prophets in order to become like them. Some men are called the ‘father’ of all who follow a certain course. Genesis 4:21 identifies Jubal as the ‘father of all who play the harp and organ’.

If you are a woodworker then you could be called the ‘son’ of those who invented and developed that craft. If you are a philosopher you may be a son of Aristotle or a son of Plato – since you will have a different philosophical perspective, dependent on who your ‘father’ is.

Last Saturday I taught this topic to a group of Young Adults and I will build this concept into the Youth Horizons book which I am gradually developing. For now, though, let me sow some of this into your thinking.

I am currently reading through Proverbs as I read my way through the Bible this year. What is leaping off the page to me in the early chapters is the abundance of references to ‘son’. King Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, quotes from his dad, King David, advising him to seek wisdom. There we have the use of the word ‘son’ in a biological sense.

Solomon then uses the word ‘son’ freely in his own dialogue. The commentators readily assume that Solomon wrote this book for the benefit of his own sons. I suggest otherwise. If Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs for his son, Rehoboam, then the book proves to be quite useless. Rehoboam did not follow the wisdom imparted in the book of Proverbs. Rather than respect the advice of his father and those who are wise, he listened to the foolish advice of his peers.

I suggest that Proverbs was written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to impart wisdom to all the children of God. The use of the word ‘son’ does not indicate biological sonship, but devotional sonship. Each of us who are devoted to God become God’s sons (even if we are female we enter the same place in God’s presence as any male can lay claim to – so I am not saying ‘sons and daughters’, but ‘sons’).

When the book of Proverbs says, “My son”, it is God calling out to any and all who will submit themselves in devotion to Him and make Him their Father.

You may have a Rich Dad in your biological father and a Poor Dad in your spiritual leader. You may have an Angry Dad in the man who is mentoring you in your career and a Wise Dad in the man who comes alongside to counsel you.

Be careful who your devotional and spiritual dads are. The Jews in Jesus’ day were biological descendents of Abraham but Jesus rightly pointed out that they were children of the devil (John 8:36-44).

I suggest you dive into the book of Proverbs again and read it as if it is written personally to you, from your loving Heavenly Father.