March, 2011 browsing by month


The Comforter Cometh

Thursday, March 31st, 2011


“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and
devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25
In this world of sorrow people yearn for deliverance from life‘s problems and stresses. If only
someone could give them relief from the things that oppress their spirits and make their lives
drudgery, they reason, then their lives would be ideal. First-century Israel was no different, for
the Jews of that day longed for liberation from the onerous yolk of Rome as well as a restoration
of the glories of their independent past. Against this backdrop, a devout man named Simeon
walked into the Temple precincts one day in order to see the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. His
aspirations went far beyond nationalistic sentiments or personal desires for an easier life. Rather,
he awaited the coming of ―the Consolation of Israel‖ – the advent of the Messiah, a person
whose life and actions would have cosmic and eternal effect for Israel and the nations.
Thou Wilt Command Thy Servant’s Consolationi
The translators of The New King James Version rightly capitalize ―Consolation‖ in Luke 2:25,
recognizing that it is a messianic title, and not merely a description of an activity towards Israel.
It is true that the nation will one day be consoled – in addition to many other nations that will
share in the blessing of Christ‘s millennial reign – yet one must remember that this comfort is
bound up in one person: the Messiah Jesus.ii The phrase ―the Consolation of Israel‖ certainly had
technical messianic overtones in other contemporary Jewish sourcesiii, and later Rabbinic
Judaism frequently employed it to refer to the Messiah.iv As one historian notes: ―In Rab.
Judaism the ‘consolation of Israel’ is a blanket term for the fulfillment of Messianic
expectation…‖v Another author agrees: ―…’the consolation of Israel,’ is rooted in the consolation
language which in Isaiah is connected with God‘s eschatological restoration of his people (Isa
40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 52:9; 57:18; 66:10–11).‖vi David Gooding further elucidates the origins of this
expression, saying:
The delightful term ‘consolation of Israel’ suggests that his expectation was based on the
programme enunciated in such passages as Isaiah 40ff. He was looking for the day when
Israel’s warfare and chastisement would be over, and God would ‘comfort his people’.
Nor was Simeon narrowly concerned simply for the future of Israel. Basing himself again
on Isaiah’s predictions (e.g. 42:6; 49:6 etc.) he foresaw the time when the light of God’s
salvation would spread to the very ends of the earth (see 2:31-32).vii
Comfort Ye My People
After all of the awful things that happened to Israel in antiquity, the nation collectively felt
an understandable desire for comfort from their woes. As the land in between competing
southern and northern superpowers – Egypt, Aram, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia to name
but a few – they experienced periodic military invasions. They were also harassed by their
western and eastern neighbors: Philistia, Edom, Moab, and Ammon. At the end of the Old
Testament period, Babylonian captivity successively gave way to Medo-Persian and
Hellenistic domination. The outward assaults were matched by inward spiritual declension,
as the Jewish people repeatedly struggled with departure from the Lord, bringing in idolatry,
perversion, disunity, and spiritual impoverishment. In addition to these national calamities,
individual Israelites felt the weight of personal sin, as well the burdens of living in a fallen
world.viii Yet the Lord spoke of personally comforting His people in the future as their perfect
Shepherd King (Isa. 40.) As two linguists assert: ―Comforting is God‘s proper work. He turns
earlier desolation into perfect consolation both in individuals…and also in the people of God,
cf. Is. 54:11 ff.; 51:19 ff.‖ix Subsequent pogroms, pervasive anti-Semitism, and the horrors of
the Holocaust (ha-Shoah, to the Jews) augment the needed comfort for the Jewish people.
The future time of Jacob‘s trouble – the Tribulation of the New Testament – will turn the
nation‘s eyes to its Messiah (e.g. Zech. 12:1-13:1; Rom. 11:25-29.) The Consoler of Israel
will defend them and usher in His reign among them.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Luke 2:25 is pregnant with the expectation of what Peter called ―the restoration of all things‖
(Acts 3:21.) Pius believers like Simeon patiently and earnestly awaited personal, national, and
global deliverance from the powers of evil. Messiah‘s kingdom will eventually fulfill all of the
prophecies for Israel‘s restoration and glory, as well as accomplish the ultimate triumph over sin
and evil in the universe. Charles Wesley‘s classic hymn captures the spirit of Simeon‘s rejoicing
Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.x
As Woudstra writes: ―Thus in one comprehensive gesture we see all the messianic prophecies
plus all the saving interventions of God in behalf of His people summed up in this one beautiful
phrase: the consolation of Israel.‖xi
God‘s New Creation is centered in the person and work of His glorious Son. This man will
console His redeemed people during His Millennial reign and the eternal kingdom that lies
beyond it (Isa. 66 and Rev. 21-22.) In his inimitable way, J. Vernon McGee straightforwardly
articulates the centrality of Christ in His Father‘s plans for the present and future manifestations
of His salvation: ― God had promised Simeon that he would see the salvation of God. What did he
see? He saw a little Baby. Salvation is a Person, and not something that you do. Salvation is a
Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. You either have Him, or you don‘t have Him.
You either trust Him, or you don‘t trust Him.‖xii
Things Future, Nor Things That Are Nowxiii
While Isaiah 40:1-2 and Luke 2:30-32 teach that ―the Consolation of Israel‖ will one day
extend His comfort over all the earth, He also presently gives His comfort to those know Him by
faith. This personal Comforter presently ministers for His children before the throne of God (1
John 2:1-2; Heb. 7:24-28.) In their struggles and trials He consoles His people. As James G.
Deck‘s poetry fittingly express this truth in song:
O JESUS, gracious Saviour,
Upon the Father’s throne —
Whose wondrous love and favour
Have made our cause Thine own;
Thy people to Thee ever
For grace and help repair,
For Thou, they know, wilt never
Refuse their griefs to share.
O Lord, through tribulation
Our pilgrim-journey lies,
Through scorn and sore temptation,
And watchful enemies;
Midst never-ceasing dangers
We through the desert roam;
As pilgrims here and strangers,
We seek the rest to come.
O Lord, Thou too once hasted
This weary desert through,
Once fully tried and tasted
Its bitterness and woe;
And hence Thy heart is tender
In truest sympathy,
Though now the heavens render
All praise to Thee on high.
O by Thy Holy Spirit
Reveal in us Thy love,
The joy we shall inherit
With Thee, our Head above;
May all this consolation
Our trembling hearts sustain,
Sure — though through tribulation —
The promised rest to gain.xiv
Do our hearts rejoice in the great Consoler ? Like Simeon are we looking for His coming? Or do
the things of this world distract us from our Lord and Savior? Let every saint examine
themselves to ensure that they are currently enjoying fellowship with and trusting in the Lord
Jesus Christ. Those who seek strength and comfort from Him will never be disappointed. As the
Psalmist says: ―When I thought, ‗My foot slips,‘ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When
the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul‖ (Psa. 94:18-19, ESV.)
i Anonymous paraphrase of Psa. 42, ―As pants the hart for streams,‖ found here: Accessed on 3/31/11.
ii The terms Messiah (Hebrew) & Christ (Greek) are equivalent, & when not transliterated are best translated
―Anointed One.‖
iiiPlummer affirms that ―Those ‘who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’ (i.79) need consolation; and the
salvation which the Messiah was to bring was specially called such by the Jews…There was a belief that a time of
great troubles (dolores Messiae) would precede the coming of the Christ. Hence the Messiah Himself was spoken of
as ‘the Consoler,’ or ‘the Consolation.’‖ Alfred Plummer, ICC: A Critical & Exegetical Commentary On The Gospel
According To St. Luke. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903, p. 66. [Italics in the original.]
Farrar adds that ―‗May I see the consolation of Israel!‘ was a common Jewish formula, and a prayer for the Advent
of the Messiah was daily used.‖ F.W. Farrar, The Cambridge Bible For Schools & Colleges: Luke. Cambridge: The
University Press, 1890, p. 72. Compare the Pseudepigraphical work of the first or second century A.D., 2 Baruch
44:7: ―For if ye endure and persevere in His fear, And do not forget His law, The times shall change over you for
good. And ye shall see the consolation of Zion.‖ Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Edited by Robert Henry
Charles. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004. [Emphasis mine.] For background on 2 Baruch, see
James H. Charlesworth, ―Baruch, Book of 2 (Syriac)‖ in Freedman, David Noel. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary,
Vol. 1. New York: Doubleday, 1996, pp. 620f.
The Dead Sea Scrolls also evidence this messianic association of ―the consolation.‖ Referring to one of them,
4Q176, Hatina remarks: ―Fragments 1–11 are of greater value for NT studies. They are a fairly well preserved
anthology of biblical texts. Except for the possible reference to Psalm 79:2–3 at the beginning of the first fragment,
all of the quotations are taken from what is today called Second Isaiah, namely, Isaiah 40:1–5; 41:8–10; 43:1–7;
49:7, 13–18; 51:22–23b; 51:23c–52:3; 54:4–10a. The quotations are arranged sequentially and preserved accurately,
which suggests that the compiler read progressively through Isaiah 40–55 and recorded certain texts. While the
fragmentary condition of the document prevents us from understanding the broader significance that the quotations
once had for the Qumran community, an informed inference can be made on the basis of a common theme running
through the quotations. In every quotation Yahweh offers words of consolation or comfort—the meaning of the
Hebrew word Tanḥumim in the title given the scroll—to his people Israel by assuring them that he is a faithful and
loving God who will soon bring restoration to those in despair. Although Second Isaiah was originally concerned
with the release of the Israelites from Babylonian exile, the Qumran community interpreted these texts as prophecies
relevant for their own day.” Thomas R. Hatina, “Consolations/Tanhumin (4 Q176)” in Porter, Stanley E., and Craig
A. Evans. Dictionary of New Testament Background : A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.
electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
iv Darrel Bock comments: ―In fact, later rabbis will call the Messiah Menahem, or Comforter (Schmitz and Stählin
1967:793; y. Berakot 2:3). It was such deliverance that Simeon expected.‖ Darrell L. Bock, IVP NT Commentary:
Luke. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP, 1994, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.,
PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa.
v G. Braumann, “Comfort” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, ed. Colin
Brown. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971, p. 329.
vi John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 1:1-9:20. Vol. 35A. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002, p. 118.
vii D.W. Gooding, According to Luke. pp. 55f. Electronic ed., accessed here: on 3/29/11.
Morris‘ comments are also helpful: ― The consolation of Israel for which he looked is another name for the coming
of the Messiah (cf. SB). This was expected to be preceded by a time of great suffering (‗the woes of the Messiah‘)‚
so that he would certainly bring comfort. In days when the nation was oppressed the faithful looked all the more
intensely for the Deliverer who would solve their problems.‖ Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary.
Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 3. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988, p. 104 [Italics
Other helpful quotes on Jewish understanding of the phrase:
― Simeon had waited for ‘the consolation of Israel’ (2:25), a term used for the hope of God‘s restoration of the
theocracy to that nation.‖ Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., “The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume
150:600 (Oct. ’93). Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1993, p. 466.
―The consolation of Israel, for which Simeon had waited, refers to the coming messianic age.‖ Mark C. Black, The
College Press NIV Commentary: Luke. College Press Publ. Co., 1998, p. 36 [Emphasis original.]
viii Consider Ecclesiastes and Malachi just to name a few of the ancient laments against sin and injustice uttered by
godly souls. Romans 8:22-26 articulates the groaning of the godly in this fallen world: ―For we know that the whole
creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of
the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But
if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our
weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for
us with groanings which cannot be uttered.‖
ix Otto Schmitz & Gustav Stahlin, “παράκλησις” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 5. Edited by
Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964, pp.
x Charles Wesley, ―Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,‖ Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord (London: William Strahan,
1745), number 10. I quote the first stanza only, found here: Accessed on 3/30/11.
xi Martin H. Woudstra, ―Theological Influence On Translation,‖ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume 10. Lynchburg, VA: Evangelical Theological Society, Spring 1967, p. 97.
xii J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4. electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, p. 254.
[Italics original.]
xiii A.M. Toplady, ―A Debtor to mercy alone,‖ Spiritual Songs, #326 found here: Accessed on 3/31/11.
xiv J.G. Deck, ―O Jesus Gracious Saviour,‖ in Spiritual Songs, #187 found here: Accessed on 3/31/11.

Book Recommendation

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I recommend this new book by my friend & brother in Christ, Joe-Paul Swinski. It is available here:  -KRK

From GFP’s website:

The Battleground of Rational Fear
By: Joe-Paul Swinski

“And yet we are saved…”

This refrain plays through my mind as I encounter struggles in my own life and see them in the life of so many Christians who are near and dear to me. We all took that step of faith where we proclaimed we were helplessly dead in our sins and could do nothing but call out to the God of Heaven and Earth to save us and bring us into an eternal relationship with Him. We took that step of faith and maybe we thought that everything else would fall into place. The growing pains I experienced when I realized that God would neither remove me from the battle that is life, nor give me the victory over every struggle I faced the first day I was saved is still fresh in my mind. Listening to a respected leader in our church who I go to for advice and encouragement, I was sternly reminded that the road of faith and dependence on God does not end with salvation. “How were you saved,” he asked. “By faith,” I replied. “And do you think we no longer live by faith now that we are saved?” “No, I guess not.” This book is a collection of the lessons I learned as I came to realize this most basic truth.  — from the Preface

Each chapter in this book will start off with a corresponding key verse. Appropriately, the key verse for the whole book is Proverbs 3:5. As you read through the pages that follow, I want you to ask yourself: “How would I act if I truly obeyed this verse?”

A Loving God Must Send The Lost To Hell

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: A Loving God Must Send People To Hell

A Loving God Must Send The Lost To Hell

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false
teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the
Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow
their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By
covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment
has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. For if God did not spare the
angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved
Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the
world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes,
condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would
live ungodly.”2 Peter 2:1-6

Recycling Old Lies

The recent publication of Rob Bell’s Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of
Every Person Who Ever Lived generated much commentary in the media, including interviews
with the eminent journalists George Stephanopoulos and Martin Bashir.i While denying that he is
a universalist, Bell makes contradictory statements that point in that heretical direction.ii Of
course, “evangelical” critiques of the Bible’s teaching on eternal punishment in the lake of fire
are nothing new. During the past thirty years various prominent scholars have vacillated on this
controversial issue, while others have denied it outright.iii Some prominent nineteenth-century
evangelical scholars also had difficulties with this doctrine – F.W. Farrar and Andrew Jukes to
name a few.iv Human doubts and opinions notwithstanding, the clear teaching of the Bible
affirms that the holy God of the Universe will consign unrepentant sinners to eternal punishment
in the lake of fire (e.g. Mk. 9:38-50; Rom. 2:4-11; Rev. 20:10-15.) Peter warned that such false
teachers would arise; thus one should not be surprised to read of heresies like this universalism
and annihilationism reappearing in modern times.
As horrible as it may be to contemplate the future perdition of the lost, eternal punishment
shows that God is righteous and loving. If the Almighty did not judge sin and evil, then He
would be an accomplice to every wicked thought and act ever committed by men on planet earth.
If there is no justice beyond this world, then the heinous deeds of men against their fellow
creatures would be unresolved. It would mean that God does not care about the damage that sin
does to people made in His image. Genocide, war, corruption, oppression, and perversions of
every kind would go unpunished; therefore, the Lord would be saying that He is uncaring toward
those who are hurt by these sins. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many other tyrants would escape any
reckoning for their lives of iniquity and dissipation. The cross of Christ pronounced judgment
upon this wicked world, for only the redemptive work of Christ – which entailed His
unparalleled suffering for sin in all of its foulness – could adequately provide a payment for such
evil (John 3:18-21; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 1:7.)
Rather than being indifferent or unfeeling toward the plight of fallen humanity, God’s wrath
shows that He loves and cares for His creation. He is “…not willing that any should perish,” and
so has made a way through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ for everyone to receive the forgiveness
of sins and eternal life (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-5.) In His longsuffering, He is waiting for human
beings to repent – that is, to change their minds about God and themselves. They must see that
God is holy and good; conversely, they must understand that they are sinners deserving of
judgment and eternal wrath. Then, they must receive the Lord Jesus, confessing Him as their
only Lord and Savior, Who died on the cross to bear their punishment and extend to them eternal
life (John 1:12; John 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; Rom. 10:9.) He rose again to vindicate His claims as
the Messiah and Son of God, and now lives to intercede in heaven for those who trust Him (Heb.
7:21-28.) But His longsuffering will not last forever. One day He will judge those who reject His
light (2 Pet. 2:9; 2 Thes. 1:6-10.)

Righteous & Holy Love Wins

Because He loves mankind, God does not minimize sin or sweep it under the rug. He insists on
judging all of it. That is why the Lord’s sufferings on the cross were so awful: He was judged for
sin in all of its loathsomeness. His work enables the great exchange: human sin for divine
righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21.) If impenitent people spurn His loving offer of grace, life, and
forgiveness through Christ, then the only destiny that remains for them is banishment to an
eternal hell, where the enormity of rejecting an infinitely good and beautiful God will be
adequately recompensed. If He did not do this, then all of His attributes – including His
righteousness, holiness, goodness, and love – would be impugned. If He does not pour out
everlasting wrath upon sin and evil then He would not be true to His own character, Word, and
justice. By not punishing sin to the fullest extent possible, He would effectively say that evil does
not matter, which is tantamount to saying that people do not matter. Humans matter to God – so
much so, that His Son took on human flesh and died to save sinners. A God of love has already
done all that He can do to save His creatures. If they go their own way, then they make a choice
with eternal ramifications, resulting in their eternal separation from their Maker. In doing so,
they separate themselves from the source of light, life, and goodness. All that remains outside of
Him is darkness, the second death, torment, and defilement (Rev. 22:11.)

i For a good audio interview with Martin Bashir regarding his thoughts on his interview with Bell, see here: ; Bashir’s original interview may be viewed here: Both of
these links were accessed on 3/22/11.
ii For critical & informative reviews of Rob Bell’s book, see the following links:
love-wins-a-review-of-rob-bells-new-book ; ;
t+Mohler%27s+Blog%29 ;
All of these links were accessed on 3/22/11.
iii John R.W. Stott would be in the vacillating camp (after writing an article advocating annihilationism, he later
back-tracked & now apparently considers himself an agnostic on the subject of future punishment.) Meanwhile, the
late theologian Clark Pinnock and writer Brian McLaren both deny a literal, eternal hell. For a survey of evangelical
views on Annihilationism, see J.I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism In Review,” found here: Accessed on 3/22/11.
iv The nineteenth century challenges to the biblical doctrine of hell were ably answered by F.W. Grant, (Facts &
Theories As To The Future State, found here: ) & Sir
Robert Anderson (Human Destiny , found here:–
human-destiny.html ); the links were accessed on 3/22/11.

When The Earth Shakes

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: When the earth shakes

They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship, To the moles and bats,
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the LORD, and the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Isaiah 2:19-21
The recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan – not to mention Haiti and Chile in 2010 –
ought to remind people of the unstable nature of life on this planet. Yet one must keep in mind
that “the earth is the Lord‟s and all of its fullness”; as the Creator He controls its destiny (Psa.
24:1.) The Bible teaches that He sometimes uses natural catastrophes to turn men back to
Himself. On other occasions, He judges cities like Sodom and Gomorrah through cataclysms of
one sort or another (Gen. 19.) Natural disasters are a result of the Fall: the event when Adam and
Eve brought sin and death into the world (Gen. 3.) Ever since that tragedy, the creation has
groaned under the weight of sin‟s corrosive effects (Rom. 8:20-22.) Thankfully, the Bible assures
people that it will not be this way forever, when the glorious liberty of the sons of God dawns,
the broken power of sin will be rolled back from planet earth.
Getting Man’s Attention
In this current time of grace, the Lord is not directly intervening to thwart evil or bring about
the physical installation of His throne on earth. Instead He is “longsuffering toward us, not
willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9.) He is holding
off the outpouring of His wrath against sin and sinners, allowing them opportunity to turn to Him
for the salvation that He gives as a free gift through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:10
goes on to tell of the end of this time of amnesty: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in
the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with
fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
The text at the beginning of the page refers to this future “day of the Lord of hosts” – a time
synonymous with two main activities: the Lord‟s glorious exaltation which vindicates Him on
the earth and the simultaneous putting down of evil and sin (Isa. 2:12.) At the present time,
people imagine that God is distant and does not involve Himself in human affairs. This notion
will rapidly dissipate when the Lord arises to “shake the earth mightily” (vv. 19, 21.) It will be a
fearful time for unbelievers, as is evidenced by their terror-stricken behavior. The idols that they
trusted in – which are actually replacement gods of human invention – will instantly become
obsolete. They will be cast aside as useless when the true and living God manifests His power.
Men will flee to caves vainly imagining that the earth can conceal them from the One who
fashioned the continents and shakes them at will. Thompson captured the thought well in his
classic poem, “The Hound of Heaven”: “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.‟”i
As Christians look at these disasters, let us pray that many would consider the Lord of heaven
and earth, who will one day rise to shake all that is not founded on Himself, the Rock (Psa.
18:31.) May many turn to Him for salvation before it is eternally too late. Let us also pray for
those who mourn the loss of loved ones, as well as for the injured and homeless. God is merciful
and works amidst human tragedies large and small. Lastly, let us thank Him for the security He
offers to those who trust in Him.
i Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven”, first published in 1893 & found here: Accessed on 3/12/11.

A Tribute To My Father, Bruce Keyser

Thursday, March 10th, 2011


Big Dad At Rest

A Tribute To Bruce Keyser

By: Keith Keyser

My father wanted me to speak at his funeral, but I told him that I am simply not emotionally strong enough to fulfil this request. So with love and respect for my father, I would like to say a few things in print, & rely on my good friend and brother in the Lord Larry Price to read them for me.

First, as a family, the Keysers would like to thank each of you for coming and supporting us as we grieve. Those who are helping us in many ways – large and small –  are too many for us to enumerate. Nevertheless, special mention must go to Nate & Heather Wilcha for their faithful care and service towards my parents. Their kindness is a practical demonstration of the love of Christ, and we appreciate them opening their home when ours was unsuitable to accommodate my father’s special needs. We also want to thank the believers gathered in the Lord’s name at Grace Gospel Chapel for their continued prayers and support during my father’s long illness & the trials that accompanied it. We are also grateful to our extended spiritual family of Christians in many places who have prayed and expressed their sympathy – and are even now – praying for us.

Often times when someone dies the thoughts of people become theologically fuzzy. Many eulogies are guilty of indulging in wishful thinking or mere human sentimentality. Obviously people want to think of their loved ones as being in a better place, but what confidence can we put in such notions? A classic hymn was running through my mother’s mind during the last few days of Dad’s life: “When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be/when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.” The problem is: We’re not all going to heaven. Wishing that our loved ones are there or that we will one day go there, doesn’t ensure a place in the presence of the Holy God.

Of course, the Bible teaches that the Lord wants everyone to go to heaven: He “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4.) Nonetheless, salvation from hell and God’s righteous judgment against our sin is only to be found in the One Mediator between God & Man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5.) Apart from personally receiving Christ as Lord and Savior one is doomed to a lost eternity in the Lake of fire.

Keeping in mind these biblical facts, I can say on the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, that my father is in heaven with the Lord. One night in approximately the year 1948 an old man came to preach at an assembly of Christians in Pottstown. Many of the regulars of that congregation considered this speaker to be rather dry or boring. Nevertheless, as this man, Mr. Mills preached the Word of God  Bruce was convicted of his sin & of his need for a Savior. He saw that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for his sins & to purchase him out of sin’s slave market to be a servant & son of God. By faith, he received Christ as his Lord & Savior, and began a spiritual journey that culminated in his going home to be with the Lord this past Sunday night.

The Christian Gospel offers a relationship between God & human beings. The Lord Jesus defined eternal life in this way: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3.) The account of Abraham & Isaac on Mt. Moriah is one of the most beautiful Old Testament stories  foreshadowing the unparalleled sacrifice of the cross. Like my father & I, this father & son had a close relationship. But their bond was even closer, for Isaac was the son that God miraculously gave to the aged Patriarch when he was beyond the normal age for fathering a child. His wife, Sarah had always been infertile, & she was now also past the age where one could conceive & bear a child. These scientific facts notwithstanding, Almighty God gave them this special son, Isaac, whose very name means “laughter.” What joy he brought to their lives!

It is well known that my father & I shared a prodigious sense of humor that always seemed to find the hilarious aspects of even the mundane things in life. We had many stock phrases that brought to mind inside jokes between us. Certain classic songs never failed to bring smiles to our faces; I’ll never hear about a boll weevil without hearing him sing: “Looking for a home/just lookin’ for a home.” No one ever approached the eviction of a flying squirrel from his dining room with greater gusto than my dad; wielding a dirty work broom on mom’s beloved lite blue carpet. (The spectacle reduced me to tears & convulsions of uncontrolled laughter!) When it came to hunting, he never let me forget bagging my first tree (I missed the deer, but took a nice gash out of a small tree ten feet in front of me! He photoed me with my quarry.) To make matters worse, he had a knack for hanging out in the heated truck, while I froze in the forest. He would nap, eat, nap some more; then come out & shoot a deer, gut it, drag it, & nap again. Brian & I can share many stories about our adventures with Big Dad in the mountains of Potter County.

Like Abraham & Isaac of old, our special friendship was a gift from the Lord. Many times people imagine that God is austere or harsh – a sort of cosmic kill-joy. But that could not be farther from the truth. God is the giver of every good & perfect gift, especially the gift of His Son. He wants us to have joy. The things of this world that we imagine will bring us joy so often disappoint us. That is because joy is only to be found in a relationship with God Himself. As Psalm 16:11 reminds us: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Big Dad & I were able to enjoy one another’s company so much because we shared the joy of the Lord in common. As two born again, children of God we could appreciate God’s goodness in the pleasurable times of life, as well as in its moments of sorrow.

Returning to the story of Abraham & Isaac, Genesis 22 tells the tale of how God demanded that the former offer Isaac in sacrifice to Him. By this time the promised son was at least in his late teens, & could have easily overcome his father & thwarted the offering. The recurring theme of the passage, however, is that “the two of them went together” (vs. 6, 8.) No word of complaint is heard from Isaac as Abraham bound him to the altar. The silence was only broken by God calling out from heaven to stop the father from striking his son with a mortal blow. A ram was offered up instead of Isaac, & the father & son were able to resume their lives, having passed the test successfully.

More than two thousand years later, another Father & Son came to that same place. They came with the unwavering resolution to open a way for sinners to be saved from wrath & bondage, & to open the way for them to have a relationship with God the Father. In order to do this, the Father would strike the Son with the blow that our sins deserved. In my dad’s last moments in this life, I reminded him of the Son’s words to a condemned thief who was hanging on the cross next to him. The Lord Jesus said to him: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43.) Moments later my father breathed his last, stepping out into eternity, & into the presence of the Lord, for believers have confidence through Christ to be able to say: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8.)

The wonder of this Gospel is that the Father voluntarily offered up His Son to death, & the Son likewise willingly gave His life as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45.) As strong & as brave as my father was, he would – quite reasonably – have rather avoided his sickness & death. Yet the Son of God came to earth for the express purpose of dying for our sins, so that we might be freed from their penalty & power forever.  What is more, because Christ rose from the dead in triumph, the power of His resurrection will one day raise believers’ bodies to live with God in glorious forms that will never know pain, corruption, or decay. My father will rise again, because Christ has risen. Because the Lord lives, he will live also.

I am so thankful to the Lord that He gave me a father who loved our family sacrificially – one who was faithful to us in the good & bad times of life. But above all, one who preached the gospel to us, exhorted us to follow the Lord, & always reminded us that serving God is the chief thing. In my early teens he challenged me to give my mind to the study of Christian biography & the Scriptures (as opposed to more trivial areas of knowledge like popular culture, which had been claiming my attention.) He was a man of his word and one whose integrity permeated his business and personal lives. He has gone before us, but I know that I will see him again, for the Scripture promises that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16.) Farewell, Big Dad, you have entered into your rest in the Lord Jesus.