Tuesday February 2, 2016

Extracts of an Email Conversation between Two Christian Friends

Slightly edited (e.g. place names removed and personal names replaced with initials) with explanations in square brackets. Reproduced by permission.

From D_:

I have also started reading Mr. Tyndale [William Tyndale] again.  I was so blessed by it last weekend, and enabled to hope and trust in all simplicity, but since then I have been, almost it seems flooded with atheistical philosophic thoughts.  I thank God that through it all I have been enabled to still, though very faintly, know what is true and at times I can trust in Christ and see him clearly.  You know that I was hoping to speak to my parents about baptism, but whenever I hope to, this unbelief rises up so strongly.  Though I trust there is a glimmer of faith too, behind it all.  I guess I learn through it that the times when I can see, it is the grace of God, since I cannot of my own heart.  But you know I get so confused sometimes, and so tempted.  The little faith I trust I have is so weak.


Sorry about that, it’s just I know we can talk about these things and you understand me (?)

From C_:

Tyndale is excellent.  We were in _ the other day and I went into the bookshop where I originally bought his “Obedience.”  [Obedience of a Christian Man]  I thought I might find some more Tyndale but there was nothing.  Only a biography but it was £27.50.  We do remember you in prayer.  Little Faith is better than Great Presumption.  It is my experience that when I seek to do God’s will, the opposition increases.  In the gospel we read that it was when the disciples took ship, as directed by Christ, that they found the wind contrary.  And the Lord Jesus came to them and even Peter’s little faith trod upon the waves of the sea.  And even when he began to sink under the waves, the Lord raised him up again and upheld him.  I love that passage – I find great encouragement there.

From D_:

Thank you for that.  I was reading Mr. T. [William Tyndale] again and was struck by the piece in his introduction where he labours the point about our imagination of God and that being idolatry.  That’s so powerful – it goes right to the root of the matter.  He has revealed himself in His commandments and His promises.  Not what we might think about Him.  That’s been my problem for years.  I have been trying to be cautious and not hope too much until I knew, until I felt.  But that’s idolatry, it’s forming my own idea of God and His nature.  He has promised that those who repent (continually, as Mr. T. says) and trust in Him, hope in Him, pray to Him, shall be saved.  And we love Him because He first loved us.  [1 John 4:19]  It seems almost too much, but that is the promise of God.  How then, can it possibly be presumption if we trust exactly what He promised?  Although there is continually that evil heart of unbelief, in spite of it I can hope now. I’ve known this before, but recently I’ve been waiting for some sort of confirmation or feeling, I can’t explain what.  I’ve been trying to understand everything, rationalise everything, like being at University, so that I could believe.  But that’s impossible, and neither is it faith.  I have to come now like Job, can I understand how the world was made or the treasures of the snow?  [Job 38]  Can I understand the person of Christ?  No, there’s so little of anything I can really understand, though I know it to be true.  But with His grace I can trust and hope (if weakly at times) what He promised, in spite of myself.  And that is all.


I had a really good talk on Sunday with one of the elders at the chapel we go to in _ and, it was amazing, because following Mr. T. [William Tyndale] once again enlightening me, the gentleman told me exactly what I had learned.  But I know that you are suspicious of ‘evangelical’ ism; if I am deluded, please tell me.  I can’t possibly see, however, that one can be deluded in taking God at His word.  But what is presumption then?


Thank you for your encouragement.

From C_:

I think that what you are describing is of the very essence of faith.  It is to take God at his word and to trust him and to call upon him.  It is, out of a felt sense of our need as sinners, to look to our Lord Jesus Christ alone to save us.  And as such it is ever joined to repentance (which is, as Mr. T. [William Tyndale] rightly says, continual just as faith is continual).  It is much more than a mere rationalistic “understanding.”  To trust and to hope in what God has promised to lost and ruined sinners, who know that they cannot save themselves, is, I believe, the very essence of real faith.


With presumption there is no repentance; it is always joined to pride.


It is akin to, if not the same as, “easy-believism.”  It is a notional understanding of the gospel.  And because it is not real faith there is no trial, no wrestling with God, no calling upon God, no felt weakness, no opposition, no doubts and no fears.


It is true that I am suspicious of modern “evangelicals” – but not true (conservative) evangelicals.  Just as I am becoming increasingly suspicious of modern “Calvinists” but not true Calvinists.  Perhaps we should be suspicious of any labels.  “They that are Christ’s” or “the elect” is much more Scriptural.


No, I do not think you are deluded.


“For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  (Rom. 10:12-13.)


I’m glad to hear that you had a good day on Saturday and on the Lord’s day too.  _


And I thank you, sir, for your encouragement.  I assure you that your godly example and conversation is much more of an encouragement to me than you can possibly realise.


With sincere prayers for your eternal good,


Your affectionate though unworthy friend and brother,



From D_:

Thank you very much for your email.  May I assure you that you and Mrs. _. have also been a continual source of great encouragement to me.  I am so thankful for the love which you show in many ways, also for Mrs. _.’s corrections from time to time.  You are some of the few people that I can really talk to, and that really want to listen.


We heard one of your sermons on Sunday night, about “if you will not believe, neither will you be established”, or similar to that.  [“If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”  Isaiah 7:9.]  Thank you.  _  What a mercy to be given the grace to believe, then.


Thank you for your prayers.  I do remember you in prayer too.  Please pray that I may be enabled to walk in God’s will, not in the way of my heart.


Please be assured of my affectionate and sincere friendship too.  By His promise I can also call you my brother, though like you I am unworthy of anything.  But He has promised, and love puts no account on worth.


With much love,



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Wednesday March 2, 2016

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Wednesday March 2, 2016

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Wednesday March 2, 2016

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Wednesday March 2, 2016

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