Martin in England #9 – Let the dead speak!

Bunhill Fields

Today we had a packed day full of lots of wonderful things to see and do as we close out our time here in the U.K. We left this morning and set out for Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds, essentially a place where many nonconformist to the Church of England in the 19th century are buried. The likes of which are John Owen who recently has had a great influence on my life through one of his books, The Mortification of Sin. John Bunyan the great Puritan author of Pilgrim’s Progress as well as other works is buried in Bunhill. Issac Watts the great hymn writer, Susanna Wesley the mother of Charles and John Wesley, Daniel Dafoe author of Robinson Crusoe, and one you probably have not heard of John Rippon, believed to be the first Baptist preacher. When you look at a cemetery you have a couple of different options: you can say look at all these headstones of lives gone or you can thank God for the lives represented by those headstones. Today as I thought about the influence that several of these have had on my life, I am grateful to God for His ministry through these faithful men and women at Bunhill Fields.

Next we were on to Wesley’s house and Chapel. It was a very nice tour that took us through Wesley’s home where he spent the last 11 years of his life before died well into his 80’s. Wesley covered an enormous amount of ground on horseback preaching from town to town. One such story has it that Wesley caught up to a man riding a horse and began to talk to the man about God. The man said to Wesley, you sound like one of those fanatical followers of John Wesley, to which Wesley replied, I’m not one of those followers I am John Wesley. The man spurred his horse and rode away from Wesley, but Wesley being an experience rider caught up with the man and continued to talk to him about Christ. On Wesley’s monument the epitaph reads, “the world is my parish,” this was in response to his being criticized by the bishop for preaching outside his parish for it was uncouth to do in those days. Wesley told the bishop, I don’t think on the day of judgment when I stand before God and he asked me why i didn’t tell so and so about Christ it will be a sufficient answer to say to the Lord, “Lord, they weren’t in my parish.” Praise God for the life and ministry of John Wesley. Next, we went to see the site where it is believed that John Wesley’s conversion began on Aldersgate Street.

Then in the afternoon we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral and it was breath taking. It is the 4th largest cathedral and the life’s work of Christopher Wren. We climbed the 526 stairs to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral where the views of London were amazing. From St. Paul’s we went on to a training session at All Souls where John Stott was the pastor for some 50 years. Rico Tice, an evangelist at the church talked about a curriculum he has developed called Christianity Explored. I It was quite fascinating and a real delight to be with a man so passionate about evangelism and the local church and how they are to co-exist. One of the things that stuck with me the most today from Rico Tice when talking about evangelism he said we must love people enough to cross the pain line with them and explain to them that they are enemies of God and in danger of His wrath because of their sin and desperately in need of rescue. Powerful! He then said after you have passed the pain line and you are awaiting whatever response may come we are to 1. be for whoever we have just shared with and 2. truly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our job in evangelism is to preach Christ and God’s work is to open the eyes of the blind towards Him. Rather than endorse his own material, Rico said we should look at the gospel of Mark and see if we see it the way he does when he uses Christianity Explored.

Today was a day packed full of wonderful places and things, and I am again grateful for the opportunity to be here and learn what I have and what I will continue to learn as a result of this trip. I end today with lyrics from Isaac Watt’s, When I Survey the Wonderful Cross. Google Watts and see the list of songs he wrote for the glory of God. May our worship be filled with the Glory of God, not just the sounds and styles we prefer!

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

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