A New Book by Greg Gordon, Explores the Ancient Christian faith with Modern Evangelicals in mind

WILLS POINT, TX – Greg Gordon, the founder and curator of SermonIndex, one of the largest Christian sermon sites on the internet, has recently published a book exploring the life and writings of one of the early Church leaders. 

This book is the third small volume in his Early Church Father Series, which Greg hopes will encourage modern believers to learn more about the roots of our ancient faith. He says, “My goal is to make the writings of these early Apostolic figures easily readable by abridging those writings and adding Scripture references to show their love for Scripture. My hope is that others will rediscover the great history of the early church and the writings of the godly men who Christ used to help spread His glorious Gospel.” 

He goes on to say, “Over the last seven years I have spent considerable time looking into early Christian history, with a particular focus on the first four hundred years of the Church. In my findings I am seeing an authenticity, a vibrant reality and a strong message which sadly is lacking in some of the modern pulpits, in Western countries especially.”

“I believe modern believers will benefit from picking up these short books. Imagine being able to sit down with one of the Apostles themselves or those they ordained as the next leaders! This new book shares some of the writings of St. Ignatius. The volumes have been made available for free download in ebook format for wide distribution.”

The easiest way to read this book is to download it on Amazon in Kindle format. (Due to the book being made available at no cost, readers are encouraged to leave a review on Amazon.) If you are looking for other formats such as .pdf then visit the authors Smashwords page.

From the book preface:

“Today in the Body of Christ, especially within evangelicalism and other modern expressions of the Church, there is an increasingly urgent need to reconnect with the foundational precepts of the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints.’

Ignatius writes while bound in Rome, ‘From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated.’

 As the cover of this book shows Ignatius being devoured by two wild beasts, this was his fate and faithful martyrdom.

So here we are 2000 years later, and able to sit down with St. Ignatius, to hear his heart, his passion for Christ, and his love for the Church. Let us glean a view of truth from his writings to see the Bible in a new light and be bolstered to continue on in the faithful continuance of the ‘One Faith’ given to the Church.”

from St. Ignatius of Antioch

With the constant influx of so many new Christian books on various subjects, the writings of the earliest Christians are well worth considering. Perhaps by exploring the past we will find the way to the future. This book might be a first step for many to dig and find those ancient wells of faith that literally “turned the world upside down.” 

Has there been a reluctance on the part of many modern believers to explore these older Christian writings? 

Greg says:”Yes, there are some who are scared of anything written ‘after the Bible’ but before the 1500’s Reformation. It is actually pretty sad for me to think about how we are missing so much of Church history and its riches due to fear of the unknown. We are living in a faith that is over 2000 years old and the Church has weathered many storms. We are much stronger understanding this and learning from the past. The first few centuries of the Church built the foundation for what we are enjoying today, namely even the canonization of Holy Scripture! It was not the Scriptures that gave birth to the Church but the Church gave birth to the New Testament Scripture. The lives of martyrs and godly men preserved the message in word and deed for us. We have again much to learn. I wrote an article called ‘A Survivalist Guide to Christianity’s New Dark Age‘ in which I allude to the fact that the evangelical Church has entered a new Dark Age. Part of the solution is to look back and learn from early Church history.”

Yet, overall, Greg is optimistic and believes that books like these, distilled for modern readers, will help open up a dialogue that will enable us to begin to understand more of the authentic faith we need to have displayed in our day. His hope is that in bringing the the testimony of the early Christians to light, modern day believers can be strengthened and encouraged in their faith.

urator of SermonIndex, one of the largest Christian sermon sites on the internet, has recently published a book exploring one of the early Church leaders. When asked why, his response was: “Over the last 7 years I have been spending copious amounts of time reading Church history, namely the first 400 years of the Church. In my findings I am seeing an authenticity, reality and strong message which sadly is lacking in some of the modern pulpits in Western countries especially. The reason for releasing this book along with 2 others in the ‘early church father series’ is to show the modern evangelical Church the great history and godly men who help found and spread the Church so that in the modern day we have heard the message. My simple goal is to make the writings of these early Apostolic figures easily readable by abridging the writings and putting Scripture references to show their love for Scripture.” He adds, “I believe modern believers will benefit to pick up these short books.”

You can now read freely some of the secrets that made the early Church grow so fast. Imagine being able to sit down with one of the Apostles themselves or those they ordained as the next leaders! This new book shares some of the writings of St. Ignatius. The volumes have been made freely available in ebook format for wide distribution.

The easiest way to read this book is to download it freely on Amazon in Kindle format (due to it being a free book, as a courtesy leave a review on Amazon once you read it). If you are looking for other formats such as .pdf then visit the authors Smashwordspage.

From the book preface we read:

“Today in the Body of Christ, especially within evangelicalism and other modern expressions of the Church, there is an increasingly urgent need to reconnect with the foundational precepts of the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints.’

Ignatius writes while bound in Rome, From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated. As the cover of this book shows Ignatius being devoured by two wild beasts, this was his fate and faithful martyrdom.

So here we are 2000 years later and able to sit down with St. Ignatius, to hear his heart, his passion for Christ, and his love for the Church. Let us gleam a view of truth from his writings to see the Bible in a new light and be bolstered to continue on the faithful continuance of the ‘One Faith’ given to the Church.”

from St. Ignatius of Antioch

With the influx of so many new Christian books on various subjects, it seems this is a rare good addition, as the quality of these older Christians seems well worth considering. Perhaps by exploring the past we will find the way to the future. This book might be a first step for many to re-dig and find those ancient wells of faith that literally “turned the world upside down.”

When asking Greg has there been a recluncance by any to explore these older Christian writings he replied: “Yes, there are some who are scared that anything written ‘after the bible’ or before the 1500’s reformation. This fear stems from the anti-roman catholic thinking amongst many evangelicals. It is actually pretty sad for me to think about how we are missing so much of Church history and its riches due to fear of the unknown. We are living in a faith that is over 2000 years old and the Church has weathered many storms. We are much stronger understanding this and learning from the past. The first few centuries of the Church built the foundation for what we are enjoying today, namely even the canonization of Holy Scripture! It was not the Scriptures that gave birth to the Church but the Church gave birth to the Scripture. The lives of martyrs and godly men preserved the message in word and deed for us. We have again much to learn. I wrote an article called ‘A Survivalist Guide to Christianity’s New Dark Age‘ in which I allude to the fact that the evangelical Church has entered a new Dark Age. Part of the solution is to look back and learn from Church history.”

Yet, overall Greg is optimistic and believing books like these distilled for modern readers will help open up a conversation and dialogue to start to understand and grasp some of the authentic faith we need to have displayed in our day. The examples of the earliest Christians will be one of the ways to help our modern day believers is his hope.

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Hear Me Lord, Finding Intimacy Again with God

“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” – Psalm 86:1

As days go by in our life here on earth so many times our focus gets fixed on something transient and passing. Daily cares of life, all the needs and desires of others in our lives, even our own ambitions, and goals sometimes cloud the vision for what really matters. Remember when you started to know the Lord, the day you bowed your knee and spoke with your Lord who redeemed you? Remember the awe in your heart for Him who died for you? How sitting at his feet for hours was easy? We all can drift from this intimate focus on the Lord, where our hearts desire was for Him to just hear us and answer. Where we had a poor and needy attitude of being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). If you have drifted from this goal, you can still put your main aim to know Jesus more intimately, He is waiting for you.

There is a wonderful contemporary song that captures some of the heart of being a friend with Jesus but still having great fear and awe in what He did for us, here are some of the lyrics: 

Wonderful, merciful Saviour
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would’ve thought that a Lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

Today, set your heart back to the place where you first found Him. Not in just Bible reading, or in ministry endeavours or other Christian things, but in that place where you sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39) for Him alone. One day we will bow at His feet in heaven in adoration. Let us also now be found at His feet in intimate worship and relationship.

Lord, I bow today before Your feet, I look to Your face and just long to hear words from Your mouth. Forgive me for being so distracted with other things. Precious Lord let me know You more intimately day after day until I see you soon. Amen.

Not Forgetting God’s Mercy

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

As humans we are prone to forget many things. Everyone has walked out the home and realized at some point they forgot their keys to the car. Also in spiritual life we are prone to forget things that God speaks to us or does for us. When we are in a situation where we are hurt we are prone to react in a way that is not like how God treated us. When God forgives us, He forgets. When we forgive, we continue to talk about the problem or bring back peoples sins when it is convent for us. The Scripture passage does not tell us to be “angry” as God is angry, or to be judging as God will judge the motives of all men’s hearts one day (1 Corinthians 4:5). Rather it says for us to be “merciful.” 

Life affords us many opportunities to be merciful to others, though we have great reasons to accuse or condemn, God’s calling on our lives is to forgive and show mercy. The season of Lent is coming up in the Church calendar. This could perhaps be a time to think each day of how to be merciful to others in your life. We all need forgiveness and mercy daily from God, why not share that grace to others in your life? The prodigal son deserved only judgement for his foolish decisions but the character of God in the Father shows how mercy He is in embracing the son and rewarding him, though undeserving. When we celebrate Communion, when we daily pray “forgive us our trespasses” (Matthew 6:12) daily, let us feel God’s mercy and share that mercy with others. There are many ways to grow in Christ-likeness and mercy is one of them. Let us not forget mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

Uttering No Slander Towards Others

Whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others. – Psalm 15:3

The psalmist David speaks of the type of person who can dwell near the Lord. When we speak against someone’s reputation this is never a light thing. One who God dwells near should have absolutely no slander in his lips or in the heart. We all judge others or form opinions in our minds of others, we must be quick to cast down thoughts that are not based on our personal experience of the individual. When we hear stories or third-party stories of another brother and sister in the Lord and then cast a judgment we err. It is even worse when we take part in slandering someone when we have never known or spoken with the actual individual being blamed. Even if a brother or sister has erred in a significant way this is not our job or right to slander them, rather we should seek to pray for them and show the love of God. If we are praying for our sister or brother we will not be able to sin against them, but when we are sinning against them we can never truly pray for them.

Polycarp bishop of Smyrna says, “Not quickly crediting an evil report against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God.” Though we know the theology that God is ever-present seeing all things, we usually act as if God cannot see. When we talk about others, ruin someone’s name, write words that accuse we do not realize all of these words are in the sight of God. Our Lord even said that every single small word we utter or write will be held for account in the last day (Matthew 12:36). In the passage we are looking at the last statement is of significance. In Hebrew the words for “casts no slur” essentially gives us a word picture of someone picking up an object to throw at someone. Here we have words being spoken to others in reproach and scorn. The word “slur” in hebrew gives the sense of something that is despised. One who is a child of God cannot carry such hate in their heart no matter even if evil was done to them. When we speak about others in such ways we end up hurting ourselves spiritually and the Lord does not dwell near us. When we judge others like this we end up judging our Lord who became sin for that individual. We end up speaking against him as a despised thing. All humans are made in the image of God and when we sin against them we in a sense sin against God. David in his confession of sin against other humans realized that the sin was against God (Psalm 51:4). Let us do not wrong to our neighbour even to those who have hurt us.

Stay with me, Lord (a prayer by Padre Pio)

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak
and I need Your strength,
that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life,
and without You, I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light,
and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice
and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You
very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is,
I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes;
death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength,
so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You.

It is getting late and death approaches,
I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows.
O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all it’s dangers. I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread,
so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness,
the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You,
if not by communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it,
but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth
and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen

I Am The Vine by St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril expounds of the passage of Scripture John 15:5 speaking of the union of the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit. A rich and powerful exposition from the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in AD 400. He is known for the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus where he defended the “inseparable unity” of the Divine and human nature of Christ. Read now his exposition:

The Lord calls himself the vine and those united to him branches (John 15:5) in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with him, and how important it is for us to remain in his love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Savior, those who are joined to him, as branches are to a vine, share in his own nature.

On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with him depends upon a deliberate act of the will; on his part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had good will, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ, and received from him the dignity of adoptive sonship that made us his own kinsmen, according to the words of Saint Paul: He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the foundation, because it is upon him that we as living and spiritual stones are built into a holy priesthood to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Upon no other foundation than Christ can this temple be built. Here Christ is teaching the same truth by calling himself the vine, since the vine is the parent of its branches, and provides their nourishment.

From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but the fruit of a new life founded upon our faith in him and our love for him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ, and we cling to his holy commandment in order to preserve this life. Eager to safeguard the blessing of our noble birth, we are careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, and who makes us aware of God’s presence in us.

Let the wisdom of John teach us how we live in Christ and Christ lives in us: The proof that we are living in him and he is living in us is that he has given us a share in his Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with himself and with God the Father because they have been united to him by faith and determination to do his will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God, and teaches them to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity.

Finding Fulfillment in God Alone

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42:2

Life is full of needs. Emotional needs, physical needs, purpose and goals. We are constantly needing to find a sense of fulfillment in life in what we do, who we are and our surroundings. God made humankind with this inner void of needing companionship, comfort and communion. Jesus did not desire this as he shared with people that He would comfort them and give them rest of souls (Matthew 11:29). Jesus knew of the inward thirst of the human soul and put Himself as the giver of the solution (John 4:14). Though the world offers hundreds of solutions to the deep needs of mankind, only God truly fulfills all these needs. As Christians when we are honest with ourselves we realize that many times we have sought fulfillment in places other then God alone. At at time of knowing this Israel forsook God and sought their fulfillment and purpose in other things and God chastised them that these were “broken cisterns” that would not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). How is it with you today? Have you been seeking pleasure and fulfillment apart from God and His ways? The greater tragedy is we can even be around the things of God and even serving Him but missing that fulfillment and living waters He promised.

St. Augustine prayed this ancient prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill his longing soul: “Oh come, Thou refreshment of them that languish and faint. Come, Thou Star and Guide of them that sail in the tempestuous sea of the world; Thou only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked. Come, Thou Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying. Come, Holy Spirit, in much mercy, and make me fit to receive Thee—Amen.”

The Psalmist David asks the question “When can I go and meet with God?” Is that your desire today? Are you longing to be with Him. Spend time in His presence, which ultimately is our greatest privilege on this earth. Have other things clouded your view and desire to be with the One who was pierced for your transgressions? God desires that we come to Him. Jesus says, “Come unto Me.” (Matthew 11:28). Are you weary? Come to Him. Are you tired? Come to Him. Have you spent your time and energies on lesser things? Come to Him. When we choose to simply sit at His feet and listen, He is pleased. If you are fainting or thirsting today, it is a clear sign that you need Him. God meet with God and find that life and joy in His presence that the world can never give.