A FATHER’S TESTAMENT TO HIS SON*
[* “This actual Testament bequeathed by a father to his son- an only child who was about thirteen years of age when his father died - is so tender, so true, so spiritually simple, that –without naturally, endorsing every sentence- we count it a privilege to help fulfil his heart’s desire that his spiritual legacy might reach some now in the twilight in which he once was. His son, who permits us to print it, has fulfilled the Testament at heavy cost.” –D.M.Panton.]
By way of preface I briefly state I was brought up in the Church of England, being the youngest son of an Evangelical Clergyman, who, unfortunately for me, passed away at the early age of 48, just when I most needed his loving care ane guidance. I have evidence that I was Baptized in infancy, and Confirmed in that Church when 15 years of age, and while still a lad at school. Of our so-called preparation for that, ceremony by a learned and well-known “D.D.” the less said the better. I served that Church in all some 35 years, chiefly as a Chorister and Organist in various places Ritualistic and Evangelical, High and Low, as they are spoken of. I carried out my duties carefully and diligently, as I have testimony from those in authority to prove, but regret to say that at the end of that long time I knew very little more about Christ and the Way of Salvation than when I started. This, we will assume, was my own fault, but such is the sad fact.
I was even invited and more than once persuaded to join the Ministry myself. The idea, however, never commended itself to me, and it is fortunate I did not do so, both for the Church and myself, as I was wholly unconverted at the time, and there are certain matters referred to elsewhere which I could not now in the light of fuller knowledge accept. It is also hopeless to teach and preach to others doctrines which you do not yourself believe.
I had noticed on two or three occasions a striking passage in the lesson read at the Burial of the Dead, as follows:- “Some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15: 34). Then I thought the matter over, and found I had practically no saving knowledge of Him at all, for it is one thing to know about God, but quite another thing to know Him by personal contact and daily experience. Also about this time I was much struck by reading a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon on “Are you prepared to die?” which is a very leading question, and I came to the conclusion I was quite unprepared for such an event, and unsaved. It was then brought home to me that I was living in a terribly perilous position,and that I must at once bestir myself (see 2 Samuel 5: 24). I take it the Holy Spirit was at work in my heart, and my Conversation commenced in that way. Thank God, He thus sought me out in a dark world of sin, and brought me back to the Light of His Countenance.
In recent years I have been laid aside with severe bodily affliction, but I have no doubt the Saviour has chastened and corrected me in Love, and in full confidence I commit myself to His gracious care and keeping (Isaiah 41: 10). Faith looks ahead to that bright Home, where there shall be no more pain (Revelation 21:4), and praying that I may be enabled to bear patiently that our Good Master sends me, I bow my spirit in humble submission to the Divine Will (John 13:7).
My intention is that the following Testimony may be attached to my Will, and by God’s Blessing I trust it may be helpful to my dear child, for whom it was chiefly undertaken, and it may be to those that come after (Ecclesiastes 11: 1).
THE PLAN OF SALVATION
We are saved by the Grace of God the Father, through Faith in Jesus Christ the Son, and by the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Thus the Great Trinity of Wisdom, Love and Power, the Three that bear record in Heaven, and witness in Earth, all have a part in it.
(See Ephesians 2: 8; 1 Peter 1: 9*; Romans 8: 9*; and Hebrews 2: 3*.)
[* The ‘salvation’ in the three later texts, is of course (if I mistake not) a future salvation, awaiting some (not all), who are eternally saved by the grace of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.]
THINGS NEEDFUL TO SALVATION
1 REPENTANCE. True repentance consists of godly sorrow whereby we forsake every known sin, and our favourite sins in particular.
(See Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:21; and Luke 13: 3.)
2. WHOLE-HEARTED BELIEF in the revealed Word of God.
(See John 3: 16; John 5: 24; and Mark 9: 23.)
3. SIMPLE TRUST in the finished work of Christ, that your sins are washed away for ever in the cleansing fountain of His Blood.
(See Ezekiel 33: 16; and 1 John 1: 7.)
4. The NEW BIRTH of Water and of the Spirit, which is Conversion.
(See Matthew 28: 32 and John 3: 1-15.)
5. The INDWELLING of the HOLY SPIRIT in our hearts
(See Romans 8: 9 and 16; 1 John 4: 13; and Luke 11: 13.)
6. HOLINESS of life and conversation.
(See Hebrews 12: 14; 1 Peter 1: 16; 1 Timothy 5: 22; and 2 Corinthians 7: 1).
THE MEANS OF GRACE
First and foremost, PRAYER, which is the backbone of the Spiritual Life. At least, begin and end each day with fervent Prayer (James 5: 16), asking the Loving Saviour to accept and present our humble petitions before the Father’s Throne, and to intercede for us.
Our gratitude is so important I have found it helpful to always commence with Thanks and Praise to our Heavenly Father for His manifold and great mercies to us day by day, and for all His wondrous and unchanging Love.
(See Psalm 1: 23; and Philippians 4: 6.)
BIBLE READING AND STUDY is also most important. Read some definite portion of the Bible each day, always asking the Holy Spirit to give you a hearing ear and an understanding heart. Meditate upon what you read, comparing Scripture with Scripture to find out the truth for yourself. Also meditate much on Heaven; this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss, and it will help you to forget the toil of the way.
(See Isaiah 55: 3; Jeremiah 33: 3; Psalm 119: 18; Luke 24: 45; 2 Timothy 3: 16; and James 4: 8.)
It is doubtless well that little children should be
received into the visible Church and named, but the teaching of the Church of
England that infant Baptism conveys with it Regeneration is, in my opinion,
false and misleading, because it cannot be supported by the Word of God. The
only Baptism recognized in the Scriptures is Believer’s Baptism, in which
the all-important Belief must come first, which, it is obvious, it cannot do in the case of an infant (see Mark 16: 16; and Acts
8: 36 and 37). Bishop
J. C. Ryle has well said, “As a result our
Churches are largely filled with ungodly people and ‘baptized infidels,’”
which is a sad, but, I fear, true comment, and I quite agree with it. It is also worthy of note that Our Lord Himself
was named and presented in the
The taking upon ourselves of the promises and vows made on our behalf in infancy by well-meaning, but, too often, thoughtless and careless persons, is an excellent way of making a public confession of Christ (Matthew 10: 32); provided always the Holy Spirit has been at work in our hearts, and we have first been converted and brought to Christ: this is essential. Otherwise, as I regret to say in my own case, it is but an empty form and ceremony, and a fitting sequel to the supposed regeneration in infant Baptism. Thus I was myself a “Baptized and Confirmed infidel,” not being converted till many years afterwards. The Church of England does not exercise sufficient care in this important and vital matter (see Acts 6: 6; Acts 8: 15 to 17; and Acts 19: 1 to 6).
THE LORD’S SUPPER
I must tread lightly here in speaking of the Great Memorial feast of the Saviour’s Love to mankind. We should always carefully and prayerfully prepare and examine ourselves and our lives before we presume to fulfil His dying command; this is vital (1 Cor. 11: 27-29). Rightly understood, a great and blessed Means of Grace, but a means only; and beware of a very popular delusion that Baptism, Confirmation, and the reception of the Lord’s Supper will in or of themselves save your Soul, as they were never intended for such a purpose, and will not do so. It is just grasping at forms and ceremonies which are but the shadows, and losing the substance which is Christ Himself.
(See Matt. 26: 26 to 29; Mark 14: 22 to 25; Luke 22: 19 and 20; and 1 Cor. 11: 23 to 29.)
Probably no word is more misused and misunderstood than this. The Church [Bride] of Christ consists of the general assembly and Church of the first-born which are written in Heaven (Heb. 12: 23). Quite distinct and apart from the various [regenerate believers inside the] visible Churches around us, which may or may not have any part in it.
Personally, I have always felt Christ to be nearer to me when two or three have met together in His Name, as in Matthew 18: 20, than in the great congregation (Ps. 22: 25; Heb. 10: 25).
I take it that even in the visible Church this is a most important and highly responsible office to fill, thoughit is to be feared often lightly undertaken in these days, and without sufficiently counting the cost, which is inevitable and far-reaching in its consequences.
(See Ezek. 3: 17-21, 33: 1-9, and 34: 1-10; also 2 Tim. 4: 1-5, and 1 Peter 4: 17.)
Above all things do not enter the Ministry of any Church unless you feel distinctly “Called” by Christ Himself to such a High Office, and with such great responsibilities. The lack of such a Divine “Call” is fatal to a successful Ministry, and is the chief cause of the many failures we see around us, among those who have, as we say, mistaken their calling (see Jude 1).
This is perhaps the most thorny subject of all in these degenerate days. The great Apostle Paul says (1 Thess. 5: 21), “Prove all things,” and we are not called upon to believe or accept what cannot be proved by the Word of God. Avoid all so-called “New Theology” (2 Tim. 4: 3, 4), and any doctrines that tend to exalt Man, as they have their origin in the Prince of this world, the great enemy of souls (2 Thess. 2: 3, 4). Beware also of any High Church teaching referred to under the heading of the Lord’s Supper, and of all such Romanizing Societies as the English Church Union, and others, with their so-called Masses, prayers for the dead, which have no Scriptural authority and are not required, and so forth. Another myth is the claim to Apostolic Succession in the visible Church, which is entirely devoid of truth or fact. Beware too of the Church usurping the place of Christ, and avoid all these things as you would the plague. It is far safer to keep to the old and well-tried paths (Jer. 6: 16), and follow only that Ministry which proclaims the simple Gospel of the Atonement through the Blood of Christ (1 John 1: 7), plain speaking about Heaven and Hell, Eternal Life and Everlasting Punishment as in Matthew 25: 31-46 (see also Dan. 12: 2, 3, and Matt. 13: 49, 50); and which makes prominent the speedy Second Coming of Christ as the next great event in the world’s history (see Rev. 22: 12). What is true is not and never has been popular, and what is popular is not and never has been true.
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
As believers this is the next great event we should be looking and praying for in the world’s history, and it may happen at any moment (see Matt. 24: 44; 2 Pet. 3: 10). Its fulfilment has been many times foretold, but we need pay no attention to such speculation, as we are distinctly told “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man,” which is certain and conclusive (see Matt. 24: 36; and Mark 13: 32).
We may, however, note that the course of events in the world around us point to the time being very near at hand, and it behoves us to set our houses in order while we may (Isa. 38: 1), and to be ever watching and waiting for His Glorious Appearing. I have always prayed that it might take place in my own lifetime, and the Saviour’s Advent will end the present Dispensation.
(See Zech. 14: 1-5; Acts 1: 11; Titus 2: 13; James 5: 8; Rev. 3: 2; Rev. 22: 2; and remember always 2 Cor. 5: 10).
My testimony contains, I believe, the truth, and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth, which we shall not know till hereafter (John 13: 7). Of course, the Bible references are the most, and perhaps the only, important part of it. Here at any rate we are on safe ground.
(See Isa. 40: 8; Matthew 24: 35; and 1 Pet. 1: 25.)
I trust, by God’s blessing, it may be helpful to my dear child, as I sadly needed some such guidance in my own youthful days. I have always prayed that he might have the great and priceless privilege of being converted in his youth. God grant it may be so, and that till such time I may be spared to teach him to grow up in His love and fear. Should I be called away my desire is that he may have this record of my Testimony to refer to, and in due time be led to seek out the truth for himself.
It has also been my constant prayer that we may have part in that Blessed First Resurrection spoken of in Revelation 20: 6, and that our names may be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (see Rev. 21: 27); so that at the last, with all our dear ones, we may be found one family in Christ - here in full Trust, hereafter in full joy (Matt. 13: 43), and may receive the reward, the Crown of Life that fadeth not away (Rev. 2: 10).
Even so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly (Rev. 22: 20), that Thy Name may be Glorified, and that Thy Throne may be set up for ever, and may we be ever watching and waiting for Thy Glorious Appearing (Titus 2: 13).
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1: 17).