Tuesday, June 07, 2011
My dear wife Ellen, my "minister to the minister", is constantly on the hunt for quotes and resources to stoke the fires of my teaching and preaching ministry. She is also an ardent fan of Alistair Begg from whom the following George Smeaton quotes were gleaned:
"When we lose sight of the grandeur of the Gospel, the passion for the lost will cease."
"To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil."
Following the above quotes, Pastor Begg paraphrased Smeaton by saying, "To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of Sub-Saharan Africa from the problem of AIDS."
This might, at first glance, seem like an overstatement. But when you "do the math" it really is not. The suffering experienced by untold millions from the horrors of AIDS is, for all its pain and grief, finite suffering. The suffering of one sinner in hell, because of its severity and duration, is infinite suffering.
Smeaton is right, when we lose sight of the greatness of the Good News, we cease to care for those who are perishing in their sin. We cease to be distressed at the prospect of our neighbors spending an eternity in hell. But the opposite is just as true: When we are daily reveling in the gracious extent of God's saving mercies, enjoying sweet communion with God, in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and walking consciously in what David termed "the joy of our salvation", then we are filled care and concern for the lost and are moved, not merely by duty, but rather by joy to invite them to love, worship and enjoy Jesus as we do.
May God restore to us a vision of "the grandeur of the Gospel."