This Day in Presbyterian History:
What More can God Do than Give Himself as a Ransom?
We turn once again to our favorite Presbyterian deacon who was also held the rank of General in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. Thomas Jonathan Jackson, or as he was known from the battle of Bull Run, Stonewall Jackson wrote a letter to his wife Anna on October 13, 1862.
He says, “I heard an excellent sermon from the Rev. Dr. Stiles. His text was 1 Timothy, chapter 2, 5th and 6th verses. (“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”) It was a powerful exposition of the Word of God; and when he came to the word ‘himself’ he placed an emphasis upon it, and gave it a force which I had never felt before, and I realized that, truly, the sinner who does not, under Gospel privileges, turn to God, deserves the agonies of perdition. The doctor (Stiles) several times, in appealing to the sinner, repeated the sixth verse—’Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.’ What more could God do than to give himself a ransom? Dr. Stiles is a great revivalist, and is laboring in a work of grace in General Ewell’s division.”
It is clear that this response in the form of a letter he wrote to his beloved wife was not simply a nominal Christian answer. It is evident from the language used, such as even the phrase “the work of grace,” that General Jackson knew what it was to be a recipient of God’s costly grace, in the perfect life and sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Indeed, what more could God do than to give Himself a ransom for us all?
Words to live by: Despite what the anti-religionist Civil War authors state with regards to Stonewall Jackson, claiming he was a hypocrite because he often slept through the church worship services, the General was an attentive listener whenever the gospel was preached and the Word of God held forth in all its fullness. He could listen and give an outline of the sermon. Well might we who listen regularly to the Word of God be able to not only listen to it, but take down notes for ourselves and others of the content of the sermon. Then, and only then, can we be more than mere hearers of the Word, but doers of it as well.
Through the Scriptures: Nehemiah 10 – 13
Through the Standards: The Tasks of the Visible Church
“Unto this catholic visible Church, Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto.”
WLC 63 — “What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A. The visible church has the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.”