Laudable Linkage

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Here are several thought-provoking reads found in the last week or so.

Every Testimony Is Dramatic and Miraculous. “There is nothing basic or boring about the life-transforming power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The angels throw a party every time someone comes to Christ, and the parties aren’t less enthusiastic for the freckle-faced eight year olds. Salvation is never small. It is big and dramatic and miraculous, every single time.”

Is Prayer Enough?

What Jesus Said About White Privilege.

7 Stabilizing Principles in a Chaotic World, Part 3: Everyone Is Made in the Image of God. Even the people on the other side of the political fence or the ones who drive us crazy. And we “need to treat everybody—everybody—with that kind of respect.”

How You Might Break the Third Commandment in Church, HT to Challies.

What to Do When a Friend Loses a Baby, HT to True Woman. Much of this is good for other types of loss as well.

Give Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time. HT to True Woman. I remember  as a young mom struggling with guilt when I did not give my children my full attention, yet feeling it was good for them to learn to entertain themselves sometimes. I thought of women in Bible times or even a couple of hundred years ago who had to do so much from scratch and could not have possibly sat on the floor playing with their children eight hours a day. But it is good to set everything aside for one-on-one time together sometimes. This post has some good thoughts along these lines.

How to Leave Porn Behind, HT to True Woman. Good thoughts on “radical repentance” for any sin.

3 Reasons Contemporary Worship Is Declining, and What We Can Do to Help the Church Move On. I don’t agree with every point here, but I especially like this: “We’ve done ourselves and the church a disservice by insisting that there are two kinds of worshipers, traditional and contemporary…Our musical tastes don’t dictate how we worship, our theology does. Both of these extremes are toxic. All worship is historic because it recalls the creative and redemptive acts of God. All worship is contemporary, because we’re doing it now. All worship is future, because it foretells the coming resurrection.”

And, finally, a smile found on Pinterest. This is close to how I really think now, except I say 20. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

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Glorious Freedom

by Haldor Lillenas

Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters,
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain;
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

* Refrain:
Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom,
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator,
Now and forever He shall be mine.

Freedom from all the carnal affections,
Freedom from envy, hatred and strife;
Freedom from vain and worldly ambitions,
Freedom from all that saddened my life.

Freedom from pride and all sinful follies,
Freedom from love and glitter of gold;
Freedom from evil, temper, and anger,
Glorious freedom, rapture untold.

Freedom from fear with all of its torments,
Freedom from care with all of its pain;
Freedom in Christ, my blessed Redeemer,
He who has rent my fetters in twain.

John 8:32, 3: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Laudable Linkage

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I have just a few this week, but I wanted to go ahead and share them lest I end up with an overly-long list next time.

What Does It Mean to “Accept Jesus”? “Accepting Jesus is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.”

Is It “Unspiritual” To Be Discouraged? HT to Challies.

Don’t Leave Your Convictions Behind To Get Ahead, HT to Challies.

A Genealogy of Grace (Mothers of the King). “Accept the fact that every family line, including yours, is a trail of wreckage and debris due to sin. When you do, you will learn to see something better and brighter. You will see his grace and goodness, bringing life out of ashes, light out of darkness, and glory out of decay.”

Would Bath-sheba Have Joined the #MeToo Movement? People have been debating for centuries about whose fault it was that David and Bathsheba fell into sin. I am not posting this to get into that, but I thought the author made some good points that are not often discussed in Christian circles and should be.

A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day, HT to Linda. Thoughts on honoring mothers without alienating others – principles good not just on Mother’s Day and not just in church. I especially liked “The Wide Spectrum of Mothering” under #2.

A different video I watched this morning made me think of this hymn, so I looked it up next.

Happy Saturday!

See the Destined Day Arise

I shared this hymn a couple of years ago, but it is on my mind this season as we particularly remember in gratefulness Christ’s death on the cross for us. This hymn was originally written by Venantius Fortunatus in 569 and was paraphrased or translated by Richard Mant in 1837. The original lyrics are here. In the past few years it has been reworded a bit and a chorus added by Matt Merker.

See the destined day arise! See a willing sacrifice!
Jesus, to redeem our loss, hangs upon the shameful cross;
Jesus, who but You could bear wrath so great and justice fair?
Every pang and bitter throe, finishing your life of woe?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Lamb of God for sinners slain!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Jesus Christ, we praise your name!

Who but Christ had dared to drain, steeped in gall, the cup of pain,
And with tender body bear thorns, and nails, and piercing spear?
Slain for us, the water flowed, mingled from your side with blood;
Sign to all attesting eyes of the finished sacrifice.

Holy Jesus, grant us grace in that sacrifice to place
All our trust for life renewed, pardoned sin, and promised good.
Grant us grace to sing your praise, ‘round your throne through endless days,
Ever with the sons of light: “Blessing, honor, glory, might!”

For His Name’s Sake

It happened Thursday morning that my reading from Daily Light on the Daily Path intersected with my Bible reading. The Daily Light passage for September 28 is as follows:

They shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. Numbers 6:27.

O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. Isaiah 26:13. We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name. Isa. 63:19.

All people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. Deut. 28:10. The LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. I Sam. 12:22

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. Dan. 9:19. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? Psalm 79:9,10. The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Prov. 18:10.

Obviously, what those verses all have in common is God’s name, and there are multitudes more in the Bible. We may be somewhat familiar with the last one, but have we ever prayed for forgiveness, as Daniel did, or help, as Asaph did in Psalm 79, for God’s sake, for the sake of His name, for His glory? I have to admit, most often my focus is on my own need and wanting it resolved as soon as possible.

Part of my Bible reading was in Psalm 79 on this same day, which is quoted in this day’s Daily Light. According to my MacArthur Study Bible, this psalm was probably written after Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He comments that in that time and culture, defeat of a nation was taken to mean the defeat of its god as well. Maybe that’s one reason God manifested Himself to Nebuchadnezzar later on – to show him that He had not been defeated, as well as to show him his need of Him.

Knowing those things magnifies the poignancy of OT saints being concerned for God’s name and, in sense, His reputation. God associated His name with Israel in a particular way. But what of NT saints, especially NT Gentile saints? What is our relationship to His name?

Are we called by His name?

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name…That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Acts 15:14, 17.

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named… Ephesians 3:14-15.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19.

What benefits do we receive through His name?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11.

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 1 John 2:12.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 8:20.

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:23-24.

Do our actions reflect on His name?

And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. Acts 19:17.

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you. Romans 2:24.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrew 6:10.

Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? James 2:7.

Does His name influence our actions?

 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20.

Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. Mark 9:37.

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15.

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:5-6.

Because that for his name’s sake they went forth…3 John 7.

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Revelation 2:2-3.

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith…Revelation 2:13a.

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Revelation 3:8.

What might it cost us to bear His name?

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. Matthew 24:9.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 1 Peter 4:14.

I hope these verses encourage you, as they do me, to enlarge my vision in my prayers, my life, and my actions to concern for His name.

And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. Matthew 12:21.

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.

(Sharing with and Literary Musing Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Glimpses, Soul Survival, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

Save

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See the Destined Day Arise

See the destined day arise! See a willing sacrifice!
Jesus, to redeem our loss, hangs upon the shameful cross;
Jesus, who but You could bear wrath so great and justice fair?
Every pang and bitter throe, finishing your life of woe?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Lamb of God for sinners slain!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Jesus Christ, we praise your name!

Who but Christ had dared to drain, steeped in gall, the cup of pain,
And with tender body bear thorns, and nails, and piercing spear?
Slain for us, the water flowed, mingled from your side with blood;
Sign to all attesting eyes of the finished sacrifice.

Holy Jesus, grant us grace in that sacrifice to place
All our trust for life renewed, pardoned sin, and promised good.
Grant us grace to sing your praise, ‘round your throne through endless days,
Ever with the sons of light: “Blessing, honor, glory, might!”

~ Lyrics: Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-600), tr. Richard Mant (1837), Public Domain (original lyrics here); Alt. words, chorus lyrics, and music: Matt Merker, © 2014

Knowing God, Chapters 15 and 16: God’s Wrath, Goodness, and Severity

Knowing GodWe’re continuing to read Knowing God by J. I. Packer along with Tim Challies’ Reading Classics Together Series. This week we are in chapters 15 and 16.

Chapter 16 deals with “The Wrath of God,” not the most popular subject today. As mentioned from a previous chapter, people like to think of God as grandfatherly and benign. But the Bible presents wrath as a part of God’s character, so it is wise to see what it has to say about it.

Packer defines terms and then sketches out some of the Biblical references, noting that there are more verses about God’s “anger, fury, and wrath than there are about His love and tenderness” (p. 149). “The Bible labors the point that just as God is good to those who trust Him, so He is terrible to those who do not” (p. 149).

Some object to God as displaying wrath because it seems “unworthy” of Him, or like a loss of control. But His wrath is not like human wrath. “God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. God is only angry when anger is called for…Would a God who took as much pleasure in evil as He did in good be a good God? Would a God who did not react adversely to evil in His world be morally perfect?” (p. 151).

“God’s wrath in the Bible is always judicial–that is, it is the wrath of the Judge, administering justice” (p. 151). It isn’t arbitrary or capricious. It’s also “something which people choose for themselves. Before hell is an experience inflicted by God, it is a state for which a person opts by retreating from the light which God shines in his heart to lead him to Himself…(John 3:18-19)” (p. 152).

Packer then traces the wrath of God through the book of Romans, discussing the meaning and revelation of it as well as deliverance from it. Thankfully God has made provision for us to be delivered from His wrath by repenting of our sins and trusting in Christ, who took our sins on Himself at the cross, for salvation. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

The title of Chapter 16 comes from Romans 11:22a: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God.” Packer begins by discussing how some of the “muddle-headedness” about God and what it means to have faith in Him have come about: people follow their own ideas instead of seeking what God reveals in His Word; people think all religions are equal and “draw their ideas about God from pagan as well as Christian sources” (p. 159); personal sinfulness has been downplayed, so people don’t see the need and aren’t open to correction; and, as has been mentioned on the chapters dealing with God’s justice and wrath, people “disassociate the thought of God’s goodness from that of His severity” (p. 159).

Packer then does one of the things I believe he is best at: presenting in distilled form an overview of of both God’s goodness and severity, which I could not begin to reproduce here without quoting half the chapter. But he says God’s severity “denotes God’s decisive withdrawal of His goodness from those who have spurned it (p. 163). “But God is not impatient in His severity; just the reverse. He is ‘slow to anger’… and ‘longsuffering'” patient and forbearing (p. 165). And he has done everything possible to bring people to Himself: “The Bible shows you a Savior who suffered and died in order that we sinners might be reconciled to God; Calvary is the measure of the goodness of God” (p. 165).

Praying for the Lost Scripturally

Photo courtesy of pixgood.com

Photo courtesy of pixgood.com

My late pastor used to frequently emphasize that we not let our praying fall into “Christian cliches,” but that we pray Scripturally. That doesn’t mean we used prayers or phrases in the Bible as magic words or a magical formula, but by seeing examples in the Bible of how and what to pray, we can know we’re praying in line with God’s will.

One night at the beginning of a prayer meeting, he mentioned noticing that there didn’t seem to be many instances in the Bible of Christians praying for unbelievers to become believers, though there were examples of their praying for a number of other things. This wasn’t his message for the night or anything he studied out: if he were preparing a sermon he would have developed the thought more fully before mentioning it. It was more just a thought that had occurred that day that he was throwing out there. Of course it’s certainly not wrong to pray for unbelievers. Paul said in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” But my pastor encouraged us to think of Scriptural ways to pray for them. This is something I am going to be watching for the next time I read through the New Testament, but here are a few thoughts along this line.

1. We can pray for God to send someone to tell them of Jesus. In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” That was something I prayed for my mother often. She was not open to talking to me about her spiritual condition, we lived 1,000 miles apart, and she was not inclined to go to church, so I prayed God would send someone across her path, perhaps a coworker, who would be a good testimony to her. At her funeral, where my former pastor presented the gospel clearly, I heard a number of “Amens” behind me and was astonished at the number of people who evidently knew the Lord there. I don’t know exactly how they were able to share with my mom, but I was touched at how God had answered that frequent prayer.

2. We can pray for their hearts to be “good ground.” In what we call the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Jesus talks about various people’s hearts as ground that the seed of the Word is dropped into. It doesn’t take root and grow in some because it’s snatched away, in others because their heart is stony, in others because thorns choke it out. But the one with “good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit.” Though we’re not specifically instructed to pray this way, I’ve prayed at times for hearts of lost loved ones to become good ground, for the stones to be removed, the bedrock underneath to be broken up, the thorns to be kept back, so that the seed of the Word can take root and bring forth fruit. I think God does that in some by bringing circumstances into their lives to soften them and by bringing them under the sound of the Word that they reject at first, but which gradually breaks down the stoniness. I think apologetics ministries are most helpful here: I’ve seen these types of ministries as well as creation-based ministries scorned a bit because they’re not the gospel.  Most, however, include the gospel and I think they help make way for the gospel.

3. We can pray for God to draw them to Himself. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

4. We can pray for the Word of God to have free course in their lives. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.” I love the term “free course” there – to me it conveys the idea of being unhindered.

I’ve also prayed that God would “open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). Though in that passage that’s not part of a prayer, it’s what God says He will do through Paul, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to ask God to do the same through others. I’ve also prayed that people would realize that whatever they’re trusting in is not dependable and will not satisfy in the long run, or that whatever is keeping them from salvation is not worth it: though I can’t think of an instance in the Bible where that kind of thing is recorded as a prayer, I don’t think those are unbiblical prayers: I think they’re in keeping with the tenor of Scripture.

What do you think? Are these valid ways of praying for unbelievers? Do you have Biblical ways you pray for them?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Friday’s Fave Five

 It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I’m a little late to the party – it has been a busy week! Here are some of my favorite parts of it:

1. Springy days. The weather has been just perfect this week, not too hot or too cold. It’s been rainy and windy today, but I accept that it’s gotta do that some times. 🙂

2. Longer days – or more sunlight to the day, at least. It’s rejuvenating.

3. A productive week. I won’t bore with with the to-do list, but I got some things done I needed to and some things I wanted to. Some weeks I’m not sure where the time goes, but I don’t seem to have much to show for them, so it is nice to get some things accomplished.

4. Timely arrivals. I had ordered something for Jim’s mom’s weekday caregiver’s birthday and paid a little extra for it to get here today. By mid-afternoon I realized that “today” might not mean before she left at 5. I prayed it would get here before she left but was mentally preparing myself that I’d just have to give it to her Monday after her birthday. But it came today at 4!

5. Forty years of being a Christian. It just hit me last night that this year is the 40th year since I believed on Jesus Christ as my Savior. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the exact day and I don’t remember what time of year it was, but I do know how old I was. What a blessing to have known Him and His forgiveness, love, and care for so long. My testimony is here. I encourage you, if you don’t know Him, or you’re not sure, take time to find out more about it. This link explains more about becoming a Christian.

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” I John 5:12

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

31 Days of Missionary Stories: Adoniram Judson’s Conversion

The salvation story of a five year old who is saved from a lifetime of heartache and bad memories is every bit a work of grace as the salvation of the most debauched sinner (though we have to remember, too, that what we think of as the “bad sins” are no worse than our pride, envy, and lack of love). A person doesn’t have to have a dramatic salvation story to have true faith and depth.

That said, one of the most dramatic salvation stories ever is that of Adoniram Judson. He is not quite as well-known a missionary as Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael, but he was among the first missionaries sent by America to another country.  I’ll say more about his life and ministry tomorrow, but for today I want to tell how he was saved. All quotes are from To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson.

The way the Lord brought this young man to Himself has me on the edge of my seat even though I know the story well. Plus, I have known people in much the same situation as Adoniram, and the obvious hand of God in his life gives hope and encouragement that He is at work drawing them as well, bringing them to the influences and people through whom He can work in their lives.

Adoniram had been raised in a strict Congregationalist pastor’s home in the late 1700s. There was never any indication that he didn’t believe: everything outwardly indicated his lifestyle was in line with what he had been taught all his life. When it was time for him to go to college, his father chose one where he was sure his son wouldn’t be led away from sound doctrine.

Adoniram had a brilliant mind which evidenced itself early in life and which God later used in translation work. He did excellently at college. He fell in with some friends who were Deists, who “rejected all revealed religion…. All the Deist admitted was the existence of a personal God.” They believed the Bible as well as other religions’ texts were only the work of men and that Jesus “was not the Son of God except in the sense that all men are” (pp. 33. 38). One of his best friends who had much influence on him was free-thinking Jacob Eames.

When Adoniram graduated and came home, he felt he could not just quietly go along with the family’s beliefs and practices any more. He broke the news to his parents that he had chosen a different way. His father tried to reason with him. “Very shortly he realized with dismay that every argument he advanced was being met by two better ones. Not for nothing had Adoniram been valedictorian of his class. Exposing the fallacies of his father’s syllogisms was child’s play. Point by point, with crushing finality, he demolished every thesis his father set out to prove…So far as logics and evidence went, Mr. Judson had to concede…He still knew he was right, but he could not prove it” (p. 38). His mother’s tears seemingly had little effect, either.

Adoniram had decided he wanted to go into the theater and perhaps become a playwright, so he left home and made his way to New York.

He happened to arrive during a very quiet time for the theater, He couldn’t find work, and then when he did find a theater troupe that hired him, the morals of the group appalled him.

He left to travel some more and ended up at an uncle’s home during the time a visiting young preacher was filling in for him. He and this young man of God “spent several hours in conversation. Adoniram was struck by the fact that, although his host was as pious as his father, there was a warmth, ‘a solemn but gentle earnestness,’ in his speech which kindled an answering warmth in the heart. To be a devoted minister it was not necessary, it seemed, to be austere and dictatorial like the Reverend Mr. Judson. Adoniram rode away in the morning deeply impressed. …The young minister…would [not] experience the pain of Adoniram’s inner conflict. He was at peace with himself” (p. 42).

Later in Adoniram’s travels, he came to a country inn, looking for a room for the night. The only available room, the innkeeper explained apologetically, was next to a young man who was dying. Adoniram assured the innkeeper that was all right, but through the night, he heard the sounds from the next room, and his thoughts were greatly disturbed considering what might happen after death.

The next morning as Adoniram checked out, he asked about the young man and learned that he had indeed passed away. For some reason he asked the young man’s name, and was startled to hear it was Jacob Eames.

Adoniram was stunned. Though shocked and saddened at the loss of a dear friend , especially one so young, even more disturbing were the thoughts that his beliefs could possibly be wrong. Was his friend even now experiencing “the unimaginable torments of the flames of hell — any chance of remedy, of going back, of correcting, lost, eternally lost?” “For already, this moment, Eames knew his error — too late for repentance” (p.44).

He wasn’t converted immediately, but he did realize that no one but God could have orchestrated all of the events since he left home, that they weren’t mere coincidence: the unexpected conversation with young preacher, the failure and disappointment of his plans in New York, and his ending up in a room in an inn next door to his dying friend. He felt he must learn more.

He went home where, soon afterward, two leading Congregationalist pastors came to visit his father to discuss a new theological seminary. They spent several hours talking with Adoniram. He “made an instant impression on [them]. His personality was ingratiating, yet without false humility. His mind was of the finest order. He already knew more theology than many theological students. He was open to conviction. He understood that he must undergo inner regeneration before he could look forward to faith and personal salvation. But clearly this was not to be accomplished in a few hours of argument. The very qualities that made the boy so worth saving made him hard to save. Yet the visitors felt almost at once that if he could find conviction he could become a minister such as had not been seen since the days of Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards” (pp. 47-48).

Eventually “they suggested that Adoniram enroll in the new seminary, where he would have the materials he needed to study to make up his own mind, and the counsel of some of the best theologians in the country” (p. 48). He was enrolled “as a special student — not as a candidate for the ministry” (p. 48). He began his studies: “under Dr. Pearson, he began to read the sacred literature in the original [languages]. At the same time he began to thrash out his theological doubts with Professor Woods, who turned out to be fully his match as a dialectician” (pp. 49-50).

He “felt no blinding flash of insight,” but by November he “began to entertain a hope of having received the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit,” and December 2 “made a solemn dedication of himself to God” (p. 50).