By: Rev Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church, CW Committee Member)
(This article is written in the knowledge that there is a broad range of opinion amongst evangelical Christians on the coronavirus and on how society should react to it. It is therefore offered for consideration in a humble and deferential manner – and in a spirit of brotherly love).
Britain is in desperate need of spiritual direction. Liberal secularism has fashioned the national mindset in such a way that responses to national crises are now totally different in character to, say, those which prevailed during World War Two.
Let us examine the current response to the coronavirus in the light of how the nation once dealt with the affliction of war. Covid-19 has, in fact, exposed the deep spiritual void in our contemporary national life; whereas during the Second World War, although the nation’s spiritual condition was far from thriving, there was still a general acceptance of the concept of God’s providence overruling in the affairs of men.
So, faced with a powerful enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, society understood that military might and strategy were not the only answers, but that there was also a need to seek the aid of the Almighty, He who determined the outcome of wars. Even the politicians publicly acknowledged this. As a result, the war witnessed no less than 12 national days of prayer, all widely supported throughout the land – and this revealed that society still broadly appreciated the words of Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God”.
By: Michael Hobbis
CW Committee Member
All in a matter of a few weeks, a virulent virus spreads over the globe. The pandemic Coronavirus – Covid 19 – has caused widespread disruption in every nation it has visited, many are calling these ‘unprecedented times’, times when the medical services have been stretched, often beyond capacity, in terms of hospital beds, staff and equipment. The price of oil, man’s liquid gold, has for the first time in its history reached negative territory. To add to these calamities the world’s economies are in danger of a great, possibly the greatest, recession ever.
When the Bible, the Word of the Living God, in the book of Amos speaks of the “lion roaring”; what does this mean? It means that God by The Lord Jesus Christ who is also called in Scripture “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”, has roared out a warning to the inhabitants of the earth. How? By His acts of Providence in temporal judgements, we may say chastisements. Amos which speaks much of these Divine acts declares: “the lion has roared, who will not fear?”
It should be remembered that Almighty God who has sent out this warning holds in the hollow of His Hand all His creation and all events be they great or small. Lest any should ascribe these things to chance or the ‘natural way of things’, He asks by Amos: “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” The Puritans in the time of the black death had no doubt as to who had sent such a plague!
By PETER SIMPSON
Many, including the Prime Minister, have likened the current coronavirus pandemic to the crisis faced by the nation in World War 2.
There is certainly one key area where at the present time we would do well to emulate what happened during the wartime years, and that is in respect of a corporate turning to God by means of national days of prayer.
In WW2, as various crises and turning points came into being, some 12 national days of prayer were held. This was reflecting an historic and long established tradition in which between 1535 and 1939 this country had conducted no less than 536 such occasions of public prayer and ‘humiliation’ in respect of national calamities, including outbreaks of plague and cholera and poor harvests.
During the course of the Second World War Britain was very dependent upon the importation of food by sea in order to feed the population. It was more than ever vital that the nation grew as much of its own food as possible. Christians were therefore praying that He would mightily bless the produce of the fields. The harvest in 1942 in fact brought forth one of the most abundant yields on record, so much so that the then Minister of Agriculture, R. S. Hudson, on the BBC News of October 10th, openly attributed the harvest to the intervention of the Trinitarian God in answering the people’s prayers.
By Peter Simpson
ADOLF Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945. On May 4, at Luneberg Heath in Lower Saxony, representatives of the armed forces of the Third Reich went to General Montgomery’s headquarters and signed a paper accepting the Allies’ terms of unconditional surrender. The German delegation was led by Generaladmiral von Friedeburg, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy.
On May 8, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the Speaker of the House of Commons and requested that the House adjourn in order to cross the road to St Margaret’s Church to give thanks to God for the rescuing of the nation. Later that day King George VI went out on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace and again offered thanks to the Lord, as he addressed the crowds in front of him.
That same evening the King further addressed the nation, and concluded his speech stating, ‘In the hour of danger we humbly committed our cause into the hand of God and He has been our strength and shield. Let us thank Him for His mercies and in this hour of victory commit ourselves and our new task to the guidance of that same strong hand.’
Not even viruses occur outside of the providence of God
Regarding the national and indeed worldwide calamity of the coronavirus, this pandemic must be viewed as a call to the nation to humble itself before the Trinitarian God who controls the advent of all diseases. We must as a people cry out to the Lord in prayer, for He is able to deliver us, both on an individual and a national level.
Believers in Christ experience God’s special protection in their physical and material affairs, as well as in matters of the soul. This is clearly taught in Matthew 6:33, and in Psalm 91:1 we are told that believers
“dwell in the secret place of the most High … (and) abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.
The ‘secret place’ and the shadow’ speak of the special protection which the Lord is able to grant to those who honour Him even in times of common calamity. This of course is not to say that Christians will not contract diseases or suffer the negative effects of a widespread affliction along with all other people – we all live in the same fallen world – but the difference is that believers always remain under God’s special providential care. This gives them a security and a peace of mind which those outside of God’s kingdom simply do not possess.
The Bible deals specifically with the issue of plagues and nationwide medical emergencies, for example in Leviticus 26:15-16, and Deuteronomy 28:15, 21-22. These passages teach us that if a nation carries on ignoring of God’s laws, He will withdraw His protecting hand in respect of that nation’s health and general medical well-being; He will also remove from a people who reject Him in their economic prosperity. So the Bible establishes a distinct connection between common calamities such as epidemics and national righteousness.
Major outbreaks of disease are not a judgement upon individuals, and anyone may become a victim of them, but they are a warning to nations to seek the face of the God who controls all men’s circumstances. How we need in this nation to humble ourselves before the one true God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, because there are many aspects of our national life which are an offence to God.
Yes of course, in the midst of an epidemic we care for the sick and the vulnerable, and must take all the necessary medical precautions, but we must above all else seek the Lord Jesus Christ, and cry out for mercy as a nation which has failed to honour God.
Dealing with sickness was a major factor in the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He clearly taught that His healing of a variety of medical conditions represented the need for all to be healed from the plague of sin. He thus declared when healing a paralysed man,
“That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, he saith to the sick of the palsy … Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10–11).
So a nation afflicted by plague and sickness is a nation which needs to examine its relationship to the holy God and to come in repentance and faith to the only Saviour of men, the Lord Jesus Christ, He who is well able to remove the coronavirus from a humbled people who seek Him.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul … Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:2–3).
Pastor Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church and CW Committee Member)
By I A Sadler
Most of the research for this article was done in 2019 before there was any sign of a global emergency. During his research, the author often wondered why he felt the Lord’s leading in this way. Now that the Lord’s mighty hand has been revealed upon the nations through this present coronavirus pandemic, the author is burdened in the fear of the Lord to publish this article. The author’s prayerful desire is that it may be an encouragement and a help to the Lord’s people at this time of chastening and judgment upon an ungodly world.
Chippenham, UK, 31 March 2020
Copyright – I A Sadler, 2020
The author gives permission (indeed encouragement) for this article to be copied freely, provided it is not altered in any way.
The Hand of God Manifest
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter 2 v 9) “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3 v 7) These scriptures bear particularly upon the events that began at Pentecost on the Lord’s Day morning 8th June 1783. A godly man who was an eyewitness wrote: “In clear and calm weather, a black haze of sand appeared to the north of the mountains nearest the farms of the Síða area. The cloud was so extensive that in a short time it had spread over the entire Síða area and part of Fljótshverfi as well, and so thick that it caused darkness indoors and coated the earth so that tracks could be seen. The powder which fell to earth looked like the burnt ash from hard coal. … A southeasterly sea breeze drove the dark cloud back inland later that day so that, like other clergymen here, I was able to celebrate the day with religious services under clear skies. The joy of those celebrations was turned to sorrow soon enough. That night strong earthquakes and tremors occurred.”
These were just the beginnings in southern Iceland of one of the greatest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The scale of the Laki eruption is almost unimaginable; the eruption lasted for eight months and a giant fissure (crack in the earth’s crust) opened that was 17 miles long, from which issued fountains of lava that reached up to 4500 ft high and floods of lava that covered 230 square miles, much of which was inhabited farmland. Part of the eruption occurred under the Vatnajökull icecap, resulting in massive glacial floods for nearly two years. Vast emissions of sulphur and fluorides poisoned the air, water courses and the pasture land. Great rivers that issued from behind the mountains through canyons dried up, only to be replaced by floods of fiery lava that consumed all in their path. Often, the land in front of the lava exploded and was torn apart, whilst day and night continual lightning, thunder claps and tornados further terrified the local people. Outside of Iceland, a choking sulphurous haze arrived in parts of Europe during the unusually hot summer of 1783. Trees lost their fruit, crops failed and many fell sick and died. This led many to believe that Armageddon had come. The winters that followed the eruption were exceptionally cold and harsh, with worldwide climatic changes. In Iceland itself the majority of the cattle died and one fifth of the country’s population died of disease and famine. The total death toll in Europe alone has been estimated in the many hundreds of thousands.
by Charles Spurgeon
If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith in Him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, “He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ.” Walking signifies progress. “So walk ye in Him”; proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved.
Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of man’s walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget Him; sometimes call Him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in Him.
We must keep to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go, but live and have our being in Him. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him”; persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the first, Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let Him be the same ’til life’s end; the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and enter into the joy and the rest which remain for the people of God. O Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.
By: J. C. Philpot
And what fruit? Why, fruit of three kinds: fruit in the heart, fruit in the lip and fruit in the life.
I Let us see what these fruits are that he brings forth in the heart, or rather, that the Lord brings forth in him.
There is, first, the fruit of faith. This is the only man who really believes in Jesus; who believes the Gospel to be glad tidings to perishing sinners; and who believes in and accepts the doctrines of grace as sweet and suitable to his soul. This is the only man who really believes in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His blood, in His glorious righteousness, in His dying love, as sweet and suitable. And why does he believe it? Because it has been revealed in a measure to his soul. Another may have heard it and received it gladly; but there has been no special discovery or manifestation of the gospel to his heart with Divine power. His head may be stuffed with doctrines; but there is no faith in his heart; no real coming unto, trusting in, or hanging upon the Lord Jesus Christ. There may be abundance of false confidence and presumption, but no real looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ out of the depths of a broken heart; no calling upon His Name; no seeing Him by the eye of faith; nor casting all his soul upon Him as able to save to the uttermost.
Again, He will bring forth the fruit of hope; or rather, God will bring it forth in him. The light shining into his soul making his evidences clear, bringing sweet manifestations of the love of God into his heart, applying His precious promises, and shedding abroad His favour – all these things, experimentally felt within, give him Gospel hope, “an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into that within the veil.” Others have no such hope. Their hope is the hope of the hypocrite that shall perish, the spider’s web spun out of his own fleshly bowels and vain hope; not a good hope through grace, anchoring in the blood, love and obedience of Jesus.
By: A. W. Pink
1886 – 1952
The dawning of a new year is a fresh call unto each of us to put first things first, and it is only by heeding this call that we are prepared to start it aright. The greatest tragedy of life is that the vast majority of our fellows are dissipating their energies on secondary things, spending their strength for that which satisfies not. Alas, how much time have we wasted in the past! But a new year affords us another opportunity to mend our ways: how much of it, then, are we going to improve and conserve for eternity? The answer to that question will be determined by how far we put first things first.
It is one thing to recognise and realise that it is both our duty and wisdom to put first things first, and quite another to actually do so. It is much to be thankful for when light from above makes plain the path wherein we should walk – yet something more than illumination is required in order for us to traverse the same. Strength, power, enablement, is indispensable – and that we have not by nature. Have we not already been made painfully aware of this fact? Then have we humbly acknowledged it to God, and sought from Him fresh supplies of grace? Let us say with Jehoshaphat, when the enemies of Israel assembled against them, “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us: neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chron. 20:12).
Solemn words by J. C. Philpot in 1853 – based upon Joel 1
Where in our day, with all this material prosperity, is real religion and vital godliness, which are the evidence of grace? Does it flourish? Is the church, the Lamb’s wife, growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ministers preach with power and savour? Is God deeply feared, are His promises firmly believed, are His precepts carefully obeyed and His ordinances highly prized. Is His Word dearly loved, His honour and glory earnestly sought? Are those who profess the truth humble, prayerful, watchful and spiritually minded? Are they walking as living witnesses for God and testifying to an ungodly world that they are children and servants of the Most High? Is the line of separation between the church and the world clear and distinct? And does she shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners”(S of S 6:10)?
Who can say it is so? Who can say of the church that she is flourishing and that her prosperity runs parallel with that of the world? We may rather take up Joel’s lament in verses 10 – 12 of the chapter we read, “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree even all the trees of the field are withered”.