The Fifth Evangelist

The Fifth Evangelist

You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. – 1 Peter 3:15

Philippians 2:12-13

 12 Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685. It is almost incredulous that Bach was not well received or appreciated during his lifetime. Sadly, he was forgotten and his great body of musical work simply disappeared into obscurity for decades. It was more than a century after Bach’s death in 1750 that Felix Mendelssohn read the score of the St. Matthew Passion. Mendelssohn was enchanted. On March 11, 1829, Mendelssohn conducted the entire work for the first time in a century. Consequently, Bach was recognized as one of the great musical geniuses of classical music.

Bach was more than simply a magnificent musician and composer. He was also a theologian. He composed his music for God. He lived out his faith. Rather than devoting himself to books, he did his work with a keyboard and pen. Bach wrote musical equivalents of verbal ideas. He wrote melodies that rose and fell mimicking undulating seas. Most of his works were derived from biblical themes, stories, and verses. Indeed, almost 3/4 of his compositions were written for worship. His music and words overflow with faith, joy, and truth. He was dubbed “The Fifth Evangelist” (Albert Schweitzer).

The St. Matthew Passion has been referred to as “the supreme cultural achievement of all Western civilization.”

As children of the King living in a fallen world, it is often hostile and suspicious of us. We seem odd and peculiar. We do not go along with current trends and progressive cultural undercurrents. We are in this world, but we are not of this world. We simply don’t belong here. Our home is in our Father’s house which the Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for us.

Johann Sebastian Bach understood and lived accordingly over three centuries ago. He had become one with the Lord Jesus Christ. And his life and music reflected his deep and wholehearted devotion to Him.


“At a reverent performance of music, God is always at hand with his gracious presence” (Johann Sebastian Bach).

Father Your servant Johann Sebastian Bach got it right in his walk with you. His life and music reflected it. Enable me to do the same.


What is the most compelling argument for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it logic, reason, evidence, or apologetics? No! The most compelling argument is the life of the child of the King who has melded their life with that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Our conduct, our confidence, our faith, our hope, and our joy should emit the sweet smelling aroma of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives are to be above reproach. Our goal is to be “someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God” (Barclay).

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

How does a child of the King become a person like Bach? The apostle Peter tells us what to do.

1 Peter 3:15 Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

The Greek word translated as sanctify is hagiazo. Hagiazo means simply to reverence, treat as holy. It connotes the act of dedicating or setting aside for the Father’s use. It involves spiritual and moral preparation to live as the Father intended children of the King to live. We are to give the Lord Jesus Christ His rightful place at the core of our lives. We are to allow Him to sit upon the throne of our hearts, the control center, and be in charge.

But there’s more. The Father is at work to accomplish this very thing in and through us. It is His goal and purpose. He gives us the desire to give the Lord Jesus Christ His rightful place. And then He provides the power to actualize it. We simply work out when He is already placed within us. The Father remarkably creates a spirit of cooperation and sweet reverence.

Philippians 2:12-13

 12 Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

The Greek word translated as work out or work hard is katergazesthai.

Katergazesthai means to work hard to show the results. It connotes bringing to completion, putting something into effect entirely or thoroughly.

“The verb ‘work out’ carries the meaning of ‘work to full completion,’ such as working out a problem in mathematics. In Paul’s day it was also used for ‘working a mine,’ that is, getting out of the mine all the valuable ore possible; or ‘working a field’ so as to get the greatest harvest possible . . .” (Wiersbe).

It is as if Paul says: “‘Don’t stop half-way; go on until the work of salvation is fully achieved in you.’ No Christian should be satisfied with anything less than the total benefits of the gospel” (Barclay).

“There are problems in life, but God will help us to ‘work them out.’ Our lives have tremendous potential, like a mine or a field, and He wants to help us fulfill that potential” (Wiersbe).

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture Johan Sebastian Bach being welcomed into heaven in much the same way as Stephen.

Acts 7:55-56

 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Every child of the King should long to hear words of praise for a life well-lived.

Matthew 25:21 The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”


© Dr. H 2022

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