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    Elders' Blog - Entries from June 2014

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    ThuThursdayJunJune26th2014 Redeemed to Proclaim Reconciliation
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Biography Outreach 0 comments Add comment


    Last week I wrote about a trip the Briggs family made to the Chestnut Grove Cemetery in Ashtabula, Ohio, to visit the grave site of those who died in the Ashtabula Train Disaster of 1876. Among those buried there in the common grave are noted hymn writer, Philip P. Bliss and his wife Lucy. Interestingly, the trunk containing the belongings of Mr. Bliss survived the crash and safely reached Chicago. When it was opened, many unpublished, and in some cases, unfinished hymn-poems were found. Among them were the words to My Redeemer, which was later set to music and was one of the first recordings made on the phonograph, invented by Thomas Alva Edison

    I will sing of my Redeemer,
    And His wondrous love to me;
    On the cruel cross He suffered,
    From the curse to set me free.

    Refrain:
    Sing, oh, sing, of my Redeemer,
    With His blood, He purchased me;
    On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
    Paid the debt, and made me free.

    I will tell the wondrous story,
    How my lost estate to save,
    In His boundless love and mercy,
    He the ransom freely gave.

    I will praise my dear Redeemer,
    His triumphant pow’r I’ll tell,
    How the victory He giveth
    Over sin, and death, and hell.

    I will sing of my Redeemer,
    And His heav’nly love to me;
    He from death to life hath brought me,
    Son of God with Him to be.

    The gospel message challenges the redeemed (the sinner bought out of slavery to sin by the mercy and grace of God), to understand the immensity of the privilege of being reconciled to the Creator/Owner by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This understanding leads to intentional positioning to be able to proclaim the message of reconciliation to any and all that need to hear it. The hymn “My Redeemer” points the hearer toward reflection and rejoicing on these Scriptural realities:

    1. Jesus Christ set the believing sinner free from the punishment which was rightfully theirs by taking their punishment upon Himself.

    "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree." Galatians 3:13

    2. With his own blood, Jesus Christ satisfactorily paid the sin debt of anyone who would by faith believe in him.

    "For there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." Romans 3:22-25

    3. Having been saved from eternal separation from the Creator God, the penalty for violating his perfect standard, the believer gratefully and intentionally seeks to position himself for service to his Savior and Master.

    "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

    4. Having been set free from that which previously enslaved him, the believer, with a humble and grateful heart, desires to make known the power of the Redeemer to those who don’t yet know him.

    "Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:17-18

    5. Because of the love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ on behalf of sinful people, anyone who calls on the name of the Jesus Christ will be saved from their sin.

    And he [Jesus] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:42-43

    As a church family, Kossuth is well-positioned to welcome and befriend those from other nations who will be arriving in our community in the coming weeks. What a wonderful way to make known the mercy and grace we have received from our Redeemer!

    Will you:

    (1) Pray that the Lord will orchestrate divine encounters among these newcomers to our community where the Gospel message can be clearly proclaimed.

    (2) Be used of the Lord through the resources He has entrusted to you (your experiences, your education, your home, your gifts) to tangibly and tactfully connect with those who don’t yet know Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

    (3) Specifically be involved in the International Friendship Program…not a home stay, just a friend. We are seeking to connect as many Kossuth families to this program as possible. Please contact Paul Briggs or Dana Gottfried to get connected.

    ThuThursdayJunJune19th2014 What a Savior!
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Biography Gospel 0 comments Add comment

     

    The Ohio Historical Marker near the old Ashtabula train station reads like this:

    Ashtabula Train Disaster, December 29, 1876

    Near this site, an iron truss bridge collapsed into the Ashtabula River during a blizzard, plunging a passenger train with 160 on board into the gulf below. Nearly 100 people were killed in this, one of the worst train disasters in American history. The most well known passengers were Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) and his wife, Lucy. A leading gospel song writer, Bliss wrote more than 100 hymns including the music to “It Is Well With My Soul.” The unidentified were buried in a mass grave at Chestnut Grove Cemetery that is marked by a tall granite monument listing the names of those who died. ... The incident…led to reforms in bridge design and railroad safety.

    Somehow on Briggs family vacations on more than one occasion we have ended up wandering around an old cemetery. Our recent vacation to Ohio included one such visit. Old cemeteries often have interesting stories to tell and interesting stories of people’s lives to reflect upon. The cemetery we ended up in was in Ashtabula, Ohio. The grave was the grave of Philip P. Bliss. While his name might not be familiar to you, I trust some of the words which follow are!

    “Man of Sorrows!” What a name For the Son of God who came.
    Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! What a Savior!
    Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood;
    Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Savior!
    Guilty, vile and helpless, we; Spotless Lamb of God was He:
    “Full atonement!” can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!
    “Lifted up” was He to die, “It is finished,” was His cry;
    Now in heav’n exalted high; hallelujah! What a Savior!
    When He comes, our glorious King, All His ransomed home to bring,
    Then anew this song we’ll sing; Hallelujah! What a Savior!  

    The details of the death of Philip P. Bliss which aren’t included on the Ohio Historical Marker are that he survived the initial impact of the bridge collapse on December 29, 1876 and escaped from the burning train car through a window. Realizing that his wife had not made it out, he went back into the train to rescue her. At the age of 38, he died attempting to save his wife.  

    Nearly 140 years later, the words of the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Savior!” continue to remind God’s people of these important foundational truths:

    (1) The Person of Jesus Christ and the mission He came to accomplish. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

    (2) The sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the place of any and all who will trust Him. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  

    (3) The great exchange of the guilt and shame of the believing sinner for the righteousness of Christ. “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    (4) The present exaltation of the risen Christ. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

    (5) The future promise of his glorious return. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

    I am thankful to the Lord for taking the Briggs family to Ashtabula, Ohio. Having the opportunity to reflect on how the Lord used the short life of Philip P. Bliss and the truth he put to song to think about foundational truths of the faith has been refreshing. I trust it will prove the same for you. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

     

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