Circuit riders

Circuit riders

It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent. – Luke 24:47

Acts 1:8-9

 8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.

In the earliest years of the United States, members of the clergy were assigned to travel around specific geographic territories (circuits) to minister to the settlers and organize churches. These men were called circuit riders. In sparsely populated frontier areas, the Methodist Episcopal denomination and its successors worked in rural villages and unorganized settlements, setting up camp meetings.

One of the stellar years for camp meetings was 1811. It was estimated that 10%-33% of the entire American population attended at least one camp meeting.

James McGready (1763-1817) was a revivalist Presbyterian minister during the Second Great Awakening on the American frontier. An observer commented, Father McGready would so describe Heaven that you would almost see its glories … and he would so array hell and its horrors before the wicked that they would tremble and quake, imagining a lake of fire and brimstone yawning to overwhelm them.

Circuit riders became romantic figures and inspired multiple novels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

How is the message of the gospel to be spread? The Father has chosen to use people, ordinary men and women, children of the King, to spread the gospel truth regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded all children of the King to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Father wishes that everyone has an opportunity to hear the truth and respond to it. That is why we are commissioned and tasked to spread the gospel message.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to repent.

Of course, not everyone will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. We were given instructions regarding the need for gentleness and patience. Our responsibility is to present the truth clearly with kindness and love. God alone is responsible for changing hearts.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.

 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father is patient and merciful towards sinful mankind. He grants the maximum amount of time possible to allow them to repent (M.S. Mills).

Father thank You that You use all means possible to present the truth of the gospel to the human race. Thank You that I heard the voice of my Shepherd, and I came to Him, and He gave me eternal life.

INSIGHT

What is the attitude of the Father’s heart regarding the salvation of the human race? What does He want and desire for people? He has spoken clearly about this issue. He leaves no doubt about His intentions.

1 Timothy 2:4-6

 4 [God] wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus.

 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

Ezekiel 18:21-23

 21 If wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.

 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

 23 Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.

The Father wants everyone to understand the truth and be saved. He takes no pleasure in the death wicked. The attitude of the Father’s heart is the impetus behind our efforts as children of the King to spread the Word. Our job is to get the message out. God’s job is to convict people of their need to deal with the problem of sin.

The Scriptures present a paradox regarding the human race. On the one hand, every individual can make free moral choices. What they choose is determined by their hearts. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ is clear that only a subset of humanity is part of His sheep, among the entire human population. When those who are His sheep hear his voice, they follow Him. When they do, they receive the gift of eternal life. His sheep get saved by responding to the message of the gospel.

John 10:27-29

 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,

 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.

For sheep to hear His voice and believe, someone must tell them wonderful news of the gospel.

Romans 10:14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

The sheep who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ self-identify when they respond to His voice, the message of the gospel.

There is no other way to know who the sheep of the Lord Jesus Christ are.

Spurgeon commented, “If God had painted a yellow stripe down the back of each of the elect, he would run up and down the streets of London, lifting up shirttails, and preaching the gospel to the elect.” But Spurgeon reminds us that God has not indicated you would get saved the yellow line down their backs. Instead, He has commanded us to “preach the gospel to every creature.” We must urgently appeal to everyone to come to Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ waited until the very end of His ministry, after His resurrection, to announce the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

Making disciples is of utmost importance to the Father. It is as though He is holding back the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ so that the maximum number of sheep can hear their shepherd’s voice and respond.

“However, in His grace and mercy towards a sinful human race, He delays that return so human souls can find salvation and enjoy eternity with Him. God would like to see all men saved (2 Peter 3:9), yet this verse makes it plain He does not force His will on His creation. This is consistent with His nature as a God of love, for love cannot be satisfied by a forced response but requires a response of love. God, therefore, allows man to make his own choice but yearns for all mankind to repent and surrender to His love. He delayed the second coming because more souls might find salvation” (M.S. Mills). God is patient and merciful towards sinful mankind, but while that mercy is demonstrated in granting time for repentance . . ..”

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

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