We are not Alone in Our Suffering Part 1

Revelation 1:9-10a

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day… .

Companionship from fellow Believers is Precious to Exiles

I remember a Christian lady in my church years back who had a very hard life. She was a faithful Christian, and came to church with her children regularly. They were a beautiful family. She had emotional issues, and her time with fellow believers helped more than we realized (until it was too late).

One day people noticed she had been absent for a while. The local Newspaper reported her death soon afterwards. The circumstances were unclear. Someone later said she committed suicide. However, subsequent reports stated the gun found at her side didn’t even have a firing pin. I don’t how she died. I know she was in an imposed exile, due to her hostile circumstances and a broken down vehicle. She suffered in her isolation from a lack of fellowship with other Christians.

Rev. 1:9-10a presents a powerful message to those in suffering

Most commentators assign Rev. 1:9-11 to minor significance as a “second introduction to the letter.” I do not see it as minor, and certainly not just a repeated introduction to the letters to follow.

I see Rev. 1:9-11 as relating this important truth to John’s churches and to us — we as Christians are not alone in our sufferings for the Gospel’s sake.

Patmos today WikiMedia Commons.JPG

Patmos today (WikiMedia Commons); hardly what John experienced.

Companions in Suffering are Necessary vs. 9a

vs. 9a I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus… .

“Partner” in Greek means “participant with others in some experience or activity.” (see Thayer below). The circumstances here are three—”the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.”

Christians suffer in this world, but they are not alone. John identifies himself with his churches in similar circumstances. He gives them a glimpse into his companion in exile — Jesus Christ Himself. John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. He met with his Lord in the cave he inhabited.

Christians can expect the same companionship, both from the Lord and fellow believers, when they suffer today. We need not be isolated and alone. 

We should not Expect Ecstasy vs. 10

John first explains the nature of the “visions” he is receiving. We experience them by reading the Revelation he wrote. We can be “in the Spirit” reading God’s Word and praying. (Click on the link to Praying in the Spirit if you desire more information).

george whitefieldGeorge Whitefield (pictured left) read through Matthew Henry’s 6 Volume Commentary on the Bible four times throughout his life.  The last two times he read it through on his knees.

Arnold Dallimore in his biography of Whitefield writes, “We can visualize him at five in the morning in his room over Harris’s bookstore. He is on his knees with his Bible, his Greek New Testament, and a volume of Matthew Henry spread before him. With books open before his willing heart, Whitefield gazes back and forth from the English Bible to the Greek to Matthew Henry’s commentary, seeking to discern and digest Scripture’s divine truths.” (See Lawson below).

We obtain understanding of Revelation as we do likewise. It does not yield its treasures to a cursory reading. It becomes more and more precious to those who like John are in exile here.

All faithful Christians are in Exile on this earth. vs. 9b

vs. 9b [I, John,] was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 

I have already stated in an earlier blog post that Christians are dual-citizens: (1) of the nation in which they live; and (2) of heaven to which they are headed.

Philippians 3 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… (emphasis mine; See ESV below).

“Citizenship” in Greek is used of a “corporate body of citizens resident in a foreign city.” Talk about resident aliens! We are all resident aliens to this world and are looking forward to reaching our heavenly home. (see Thayer below).

We all Experience Exile Differently

crypt under the cave of the apocalypse

Recently discovered crypt under the Cave of the Apocalypse

I have been to Patmos. We came to the Island after touring Ephesus, 37 miles to the northwest. We disembarked from our lovely cruise ship at the dock. John did not have such a comfortable journey, arrival, or stay.

According to Pliny and Tacitus, the Romans often sent their prisoners to islands. Tacitus mentions three islands in the Sporades by name: Donusa, Gyarus, and Amorgus. That Patmos was not listed indicates that it was not a primary place for imprisonment at this time. (see Patmos below). Even if the Island was not used as a penal colony, it still must have been a lonely place in the first century. No cruise ship docked there then.

John was physically exiled.

Rome had many ways of “exiling trouble makers. Relegation (relegatio) was the mildest form of banishment by which an undesirable person was removed from Rome or from a Roman province by magisterial decree for a specified amount of time or for life [of the Emperor]. (see

The Roman Governor of Asia Minor simply removed John from the churches of Asia Minor by sending him to Patmos. John was probably told to be on the next boat for Patmos or else. The leaving was forced and unpleasant; the spiritual retreat there was a pleasure!

We can make a spiritual retreat out of our exile, like John did, by finding Jesus as our one true companion!


Entrance to the Cave of the Apocalypse (WikiMedia Commons)

More next time on God’s Exiled children!


ESV. Accessed January 2019 from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+1&version=ESV

Fee, Gordon D. Revelation (New Covenant Commentary Series). Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Lawson, Steven. (2014). “The Preeminence of Scripture in George Whitefield’s Life.” Accessed January 17, 2019 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/preeminence-scripture-george-whitefields-life/ 

Meyer, Jason. (2018). “How to Pray in the Holy Spirit.” Blog post. Accessed January 17, 2019 from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-pray-in-the-holy-spirit

Ovid and the Censured Voice. (2019). “History of Roman Exile.” Accessed January 17, 2019 from http://web.colby.edu/ovid-censorship/exile/history-of-roman-exile/

Patmos. (n.d.) Accessed January 19, 2019 from https://www.bibleplaces.com/patmos/

Thayer. (2011). Thayer’s Expanded Greek Definition, Electronic Database. Biblesoft, Inc. Accessed January 18, 2019 from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek.html

Witherington, Ben. (2003). New Cambridge Bible Commentary on Revelation. Cambridge University Press

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The “Golden Triangle of Freedom”

Os Guiness’s A Free People’s Suicide

Summoning historical evidence on how democracies evolve, Guinness shows that contemporary views of freedom—most typically, a negative freedom from constraint—are unsustainable because they undermine the conditions necessary for freedom to thrive. He calls us to reconsider the audacity of sustainable freedom and what it would take to restore it. (see “Guiness” below)

In Guiness’s book, he introduces the “Golden Triangle of Freedom.”


Freedom requires virtue.
Virtue requires faith.
Faith requires freedom.

If one of the three aspects of this “Golden Triangle” is removed, the whole thing collapses. Freedom is gone.

In What Sense is America a Christian Nation is the Question


Marvin Olasky, pictured above, is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books.

We cannot find Christian ethics transcribed word for word from the Bible into civil law. Elements of Judeo-Christian ethics are there as the basis of civil law. John 8:31-36 presents the necessary spiritual dimension which underpins the freedom citizens of any country has. However, without this spiritual dimension, freedom cannot exist for long among any people.

I love Marvin Olasky’s book, Fighting for Liberty and Virtue: Political and Cultural Wars in Eighteenth-Century America (see “Olasky” in notes below for full information). I got it free from a book club I was a member of back in the mid-1990s. I have marked it up with notes and highlights. It is pure gold! Sadly, it now out of print.

5187Q7X8HWL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_In Fighting for Liberty and Virtue Olasky introduces another book by John Brown—the famous eighteenth century essayist and poet (and not the nineteenth century abolitionist by the same name). Brown saw his own country, Great Britain, in danger of moral, spiritual, and political collapse.

Strangely, Brown also saw the American colonies as Britain’s hope of salvation. Brown wrote his observations in An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (published in 1757). He asked the following question: “Do the present ruling manners and principles of this nation tend to its continuance or destruction?”


We ought to ask this same question today concerning our own country and our own personal ethical lives.

Brown concluded that one of the chief problems Britain faced was that the leaders of England in his day were nothing but promiscuous self-pleasers. They were supposed to set the moral and spiritual tone for the people they ruled, as our governmental leaders are supposed to do for us.

Like the leaders of Britain in Brown’s day, however, many of our leaders in America think that private actions are of no consequence to anyone but the individuals involved directly. We need to see that this attitude is self-serving in the extreme. It is not a sign of “enlightenment” to embrace immorality. Private immorality is sinful and leads men in elective office to neglect their obligations to the people they represent.

Judeo-Christian Ethics

Judeo-Christian ethics must be enshrined in the hearts of people if freedom in America is to remain. We cannot enshrine the Bible into civil law, but we can enshrine it in our own hearts. This is the sense in which America is a Christian nation or not.

The founders envisioned a rare form of democracy the world had never seen before. They wanted self-governance in America. They did not want a State Church or a Theocracy in the nation. 

A famous incident occurred at the Constitutional Convention as Benjamin Franklin exited it.

A lady asked Dr. Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it” (see “Franklin” below)

Can we keep it? Are we doing our part by letting the Holy Scriptures to inform our behavior?


Franklin, Benjamin. (1787). Accessed 8 October 2018 from https://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html

Guiness, Os. (2012) A Free People’s Suicide. Accessed 6 October 2018 from https://www.ivpress.com/a-free-people-s-suicide

Olasky, Marvin. (1996). Fighting for Liberty and Virtue: Political and Cultural Wars in Eighteenth-Century America. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc. N.B. this book is only available from used book sellers. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Virtue is the Necessary Support for Democracy

“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

There is a direct link between the Bible and virtue. Abiding in Jesus’s Word produces virtue in believers. Gregg Herrick defines virtue in its Biblical context.

Christian virtues are settled dispositions that cause us to act in certain ways—ways that are Christ-like. All godly virtues are integrally related to the overarching Christian virtues of holiness and love and are produced by the Spirit as we strive to see them matured in our lives. (see “Herrick” below)

II Peter 1:5-8 enjoins us to pursue virtue.

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Different forms of Government

Aristotle lists four different forms of government: democracy, oligarchy,
aristocracy, monarchy. Each has a specific definition. We may omit Oligarchy and combine Aristocracy under Monarchy today. (see Aristotle” below)

Aristotle also enumerates the goal of each form of government:

oligarchy, exists for the accumulation and increase of wealth;
aristocracy insures the maintenance of education and national institutions;
tyranny has the intention of the protection of the tyrant.
democracy produces freedom. (see Aristotle” below)

We love democracy because its sole reason for existence is to give us freedom!

William Wallace in the movie, “Braveheart” ,makes an important statement all elected officials should take notice of—

You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. (see “Braveheart Movie Quotations” below; emphasis mine) 


William Wallace statue in Aberdeen, Scotland

John Calvin describes necessary character traits in citizens for the various forms of government to prosper.

In a Monarchy the citizenry must exhibit respect.
In a dictatorship the citizenry must have fear instilled in it.
In democracy the citizenry must have virtue

The necessary support for democracy is virtue. If people lose civic virtue, the nation fails.


Aristotle. ( 4th Cent. BC). Rhetoric and Poetics. Accessed  6 October 2018 from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/rhetoric.mb.txt

Braveheart Movie Quotations. Accessed 6 October 2018 from https://www.biography.com/news/braveheart-quotes-anniversary

Herrick, Gregg. (2004). “Virtues Leading to Christlikeness.” Accessed 7 October 2018 from https://bible.org/seriespage/8-virtues-leading-christlikeness

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Dust of the Earth now Sits on the Throne of the Universe!

In the last post we shifted to the last reason why Jesus’s Lordship is essential to the Christian life.

Submission to Christ’s Lordship establishes our ultimate security.

This is based upon Romans 14:9—For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Rembrandt Etching of the Crucifixion (left);
Gustave Dore etching of Angelic pronouncement “He is not Here!” (right)

Jesus emerged from death victorious and returned to the realm of the living.

No one ever emerged from that murky underworld alive in the sense Jesus did. We have three persons mentioned in the New Testament that were raised from the dead. They were not raised to immortality, however. They were resuscitated. I like what one writer has said about the three, “They were the three most pitiable people to be imagined. They had their dying to do all over again.” Jesus emerged from Hades raised in a glorified body. That body now sits at the right hand of the Father in glory. Scottish theologian and pastor “Rabbi” John Duncan well said, “The dust of the earth now sits on the throne of the universe.”


Heaven is not a weird place seemingly extra-terrestrial and twilight-zone like. It is home because our Lord is there in his earthly, glorified body. His going to prepare a place for us should give us a sense of security. He holds the keys of death and Hades according to Revelation 1:17-18

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

So many people depend upon relationships with people on earth for their security. Their maxim is “It’s who you know that’s important.” Maybe so in business, but I agree with Vance Havner, “You don’t have to know the key people when you know the One who holds the keys!”

I like the Heidelberg Catechism’s first question—

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Next time more about our Lord’s resurrection and how it is related to our and our loved ones ultimate security.


Heidelberg Catechism Question 1 and answer. Accessed 11 September 2018 from https://www.rca.org/resources/heidelbergcatechism

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Jesus alone Has Returned from the Dead

Over the past few months we have looked at three reasons why the Lordship of Christ is essential for the Christian life.

First, submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.
Second, submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.
Third, submission to Jesus as Lord makes us his cherished possession.

Let’s shift now to the last reason

Submission to Christ’s Lordship establishes our ultimate security. 

This is based upon Romans 14:9—For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.


“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio, 1603. Public domain

Jesus alone has had a unique world-altering experience—resurrection from the dead.

Jesus lived on this earth as the God-man. He was and is God and man. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states it the best I’ve ever read.

Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer…?

Ans. The only Redeemer…is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever. (See “WSC” below.)

Beyond this we cannot go in explaining the God-man Jesus Christ. But we know he was truly God and truly man.

Woodcuts of Widow of Nain’s son and Jairus’s daughter raised

He went from the realm of the living to that of the dead.

The point is he was alive. Then, “he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, he descended to Hades,” as the creed states so clearly.

The Westminster Larger Catechism question 50 explains the descent as clearly as I have ever read. (see “WLC” below.)

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?

Ans. Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

Someone might protest, several in the New Testament were raised from the dead,


Woodcut of Lazarus raised

weren’t they? Yes. But it was more a resuscitation from death than a resurrection.

C. S. Lewis says this about the death of his wife, Joy—

I want to have [Joy] back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do all over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal? (see “C. S. Lewis” below.)

Jesus’s raising people from the dead during his earthly life demonstrates he has the power to do so.

We will see in the next post the uniqueness of Jesus’s resurrection experience and what this means for us.


Lewis, C. S. (1961). A Grief Observed. From WikiQuote on C. S. Lewis accessed 17 July 2018 from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis

WLC. (1648). Accessed 17 July 2018 from https://reformed.org/documents/wlc_w_proofs/index.html

WSC. (1646-1647). Accessed 17 July 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/
N. B. The question and answer for 21 include the word “God’s elect.” As a Reformed pastor, I have no objection to the terminology. I omit it for the benefit of those who do, so they can read the truth I wish to emphasize and not stumble over the other which I may emphasize at a later time. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Jesus Surprises Us along the Way!

I want to relate the second personal experience in which I learned God takes care of us as His cherished possessions.

Romans 14:8c—”…whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”


Interior of Montreal Cathedral, with Christ as Pantacrator above the apse

In Eastern Christianity, churches have a central picture (Icon) under the dome directly above the congregation. It is Christ as Pantocrator—Christ as Almighty Ruler over the Universe. In the above photo, the picture demonstrated to the congregation Christ is watching over his own children.

In Greece, during the Ottoman occupation, all pictures were stuccoed over, since Muslims do not permit a person’s physical representation in art. After the Ottoman withdrawal from Greece, the stucco was removed. In one such church, to the surprise of the construction crew, the Pantacrator still stared from the ceiling. All the while covered over, Christ was still watching over his own though unseen beneath the plaster.

Today we cannot see Christ physically. He is in heaven unseen by us. However, he is watching over us, his own children, in every experience of our lives.

Personal Experience Two

One faith formative experience involved our oldest son, Joe (age 10 at the time), contracting appendicitis. This time we had insurance, but the deductible was $1,000 on hospital stays. In 1987, $1,000 might just as soon be $1 Million. We didn’t have it.

When Joe had his surgery in 1987, I again thought there would be another mean, “little man” before whom I would appear and hear that same spiel about not taking care of my child, feel just as lowdown, and then sign to pay in installments. God had another idea.


When I went back to the Seminary after Joe’s surgery, I checked my post office box. There was a letter saying someone had made a donation to my account. Inside also was a check for $100. I was happy. I thought, “Well, there is a down payment on that deductible!”

I informed my wife and sons of the gift. We all were happy, but the visit to the hospital bursar was still in the back of my mind.

On Monday morning, I had another letter in my P.O. Box saying someone had actually given me a gift for $1,000. However, the seminary had a policy of giving 10% immediately and then verifying with the institutional bursar that no further debts were owed to the seminary before giving the person the remaining 90%. I was angry at first. Why didn’t they at least let me know more was forthcoming? In the envelope was a check for $900. That met the $1,000 deductible. No visit to the bursar of the hospital was now necessary. The bill was paid in full. 

The Unseen Majesty of God’s Provision

Here is the majesty of the Lord’s provision. The person who gave the money had already sent the gift before Joe contracted appendicitis. I learned through that experience that God is always previous to his people’s needs!

Before they call I will answer 2

I was used to the Lord hearing prayer and then answering in a way that met my needs. I told him I had a need, and then he met it. This time he was prior to my need and had already sent the answer before I knew anything about it. (Isaiah 65:24)

That is true from a human standpoint, but not good theology. My praying does not really tell God anything he does not already know. Then, why pray? First, because God commands us to. Second, his answer often incorporates our praying into the process. God let me know through this incident that he is ultimately responsible for me and all that concerns me. I learned more about God through that incident than I had through the whole of my previous experiences, I think.

Why all the Pain, though?

C.S. Lewis said it so well in his book The Problem of Pain:


whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience, but
shouts in our pain… .

(see “Miller” below.) 

God got my full attention in this experience and not only “burned the dross out, but burned in His promises.” (C. H. Spurgeon quotation; for source see “Taylor” below.)

Two further Scriptures have come to life from the printed page of my Bible.


1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)—Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This is self-humbling—

God cares for us, and He is mighty. He calls us to humble ourselves under Him. Not because He is a controlling God that wants us to force us to bow down to Him because we are nothing. Rather it is because He wants to lift us up and care for us. As we humble ourselves, we truly submit to Him. We’re trusting Him with what’s going on in our lives and believing He is the provider for our needs instead of us ourselves. (adapted for clarity; see “Mobley” below.)

All Things do Work together for the Good

Jesus already knows all of our troubles before they happen. He wants us to accept all from His hands and submit to his providence. Once humbled, he lifts his children up into His arms and meets their needs.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)—And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This was my mother’s life’s verse. She quoted it often to me. Now it has become a light for my path. 


Lord, I may not always see Your hand,
But I know I can trust Your heart to do what is right!
If I am struggling against Your best for me,
Help me to cease the struggle and trust in You!
Your ways are perfect and past finding out by my puny intellect.
I rest upon Your perfect way to give me what I need.
Thank-you ahead of time. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Miller, Jeffrey. (2001). “When Tragedy Strikes.” Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://bible.org/article/when-tragedy-strikes

Mobley, Mike. (2013). “How To Humble Yourself Before The Lord.” Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://www.beforethecross.com/biblical-teachings/humble-yourself-before-the-lord/

Pantocrator picture. Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monreale

Taylor, Cami Marie. (2016). My Mountain: Overcoming Problems. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Christ Assumes Lordship of Our Lives

Over the past few weeks we have looked at two reasons why the Lordship of Christ is essential for the Christian life.

First, submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.
Second, submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.

Now, I want to shift in the next few posts to a third reason:

Submission to Jesus as Lord makes us his cherished possession.

This reason comes from Romans 14: 8c…”whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

This last phrase, “we are the Lord’s,” indicates possession. One commentator says this about the phrase—”[Paul’s] whole argument [in Romans 14:1-15:13] rests on the position of Christians as slaves of Jesus Christ.” (see Parry below).

This aspect of submission to Christ as Lord is probably the most controversial for modern people. No one wants to be someone else’s property. This conjures up the idea of people as chattel of another and the idea of Simon LaGree abusing people as he wills. Scripture chooses this image—that of a slave (doulos)—for the relationship we have with Christ.

As Christians, we indeed do forfeit the right of ownership to our own lives. That’s un-American! Our theme song is like the Burger King jingle, “I want to have it my way.” How’s that working out for us?

We make all our choices and end up in terrible trouble so often. Is it not better to serve another who has our best interests at heart? Jesus Christ is the very best of Lords. Those who become his slaves are doing do voluntarily! He doesn’t force himself on anyone.

Colossians 1:16 tells us

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

We as humans were created by Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ. We do not use Aristotle’s the terminology anymore, but Jesus Christ is the final cause of human beings. To serve Jesus Christ is the true fulfillment of every desire we have by virtue of creation by God. We do not gamble and lose when we trust him to lead us in the best way he sees fit. He does not wish to harm us in any way. His provisions for us are suited to us as a good parent’s provision for a child he or she loves.

Christ does indeed assume Lordship over us.

I enjoy the story behind hymns. One of my favorites is “My Glorious Victor, Prince Divine.” It is by Bishop Handley Carr Glyn Moule, of England (Bishop of Durham, England, 1901-1920). The Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Bath and Wells have the privilege of escorting and supporting the Sovereigns of England at their coronation. Moule did this twice, once for Edward VII (King 1901-1910) and then for George V (King 1910-1936). Moule saw the medieval pageantry of monarchy as it was enacted at these coronations.

Note the antiquated oath of fealty taken by a Prince of Wales—

I, (name) Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship and faith and truth. I will bear unto you to live and die against all manner of folks. (see “Investiture of the Prince of Wales” below).

As the person pledges fealty, he places his folded hands in the hands of his sovereign. It is a moving ceremony and filled with pageantry we know nothing about today. (See picture of Medieval pledge of fealty below.)


Oath of Fealty taken by a vassal to his Liege Lord

Prior to his consecration as Bishop, Moule was moved to write a hymn relating the whole ceremony to a Christian’s pledging his loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. Think of the earthly scene as you read the words, and then relate them to your submission to Jesus as Lord.

My glorious Victor, Prince Divine,
Clasp these surrender’d hands in Thine;
At length my will is all Thine own,
Glad vassal of a Saviour’s throne.

Moule adds the 2-4 verses of the hymn from Exodus 21:5-6.

5 if the servant plainly says, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,” 6 his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

This ritual of making a person a “love slave” is even further removed from our modern culture than are Medieval fealty rituals. We perhaps think that the supreme love for another would be to set that person free from any servitude, but the love slave is made a life-long slave at his own request.

Deut 15 - take an awl - ear

Master piercing a love slave’s ear with an awl to the door lintel.

The ritual would consist of a person’s voluntarily asking to be made a slave for life. The master would pierce the slave’s ear at the doorpost of the entrance to the house. The awl would actually pierce the ear on the lintel itself. Hereafter, his pierced ear would be a token and sign of his service to his master.

(c) William Riviere; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Handley Moule (1841–1920), Bishop of Durham (1901–1920)

Read the other stanzas and picture how it relates to our voluntary lifetime service to our Lord and master Jesus Christ.

My Master, lead me to Thy door;
Pierce this now willing ear once more:
Thy bonds are freedom; let me stay
With Thee, to toil, endure, obey.
Yes, ear and hand, and thought and will,
Use all in Thy dear slav’ry still!
Self’s weary liberties I cast
Beneath Thy feet; there keep them fast.
Tread them still down; and then, I know,
These hands shall with Thy gifts o’erflow;
And piercèd ears shall hear the tone
Which tells me Thou and I are one.
(Moule, 1885).

Being a such slave is not so bad if we serve a great and good Lord! He directs our steps and rules us, but he also takes responsibility for our every need.


My Lord and Master,
Nothing around me in this world satisfies.
I have tried all I desired and now I am empty and forlorn.
Pleasure seemed good for a while, but then
Its vain titillation ended and more and more I feel unsatisfied.
I know I was created by You and for You and nothing but You will
Fill the need at my heart’s center.
I willingly serve you, My lord, My Savior, and my King.


Parry, R. St. John. (1921). Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges on Romans. (Cambridge: UK, Cambridge University Press). Accessed 15 July 2018 fro https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-14.html

Investiture of the Prince of Wales. (2018). Accessed 3 June 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investiture_of_the_Prince_of_Wales

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


We Preserve Life while Alive and then Die to the Lord!

We examined in the last post the fact our submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for dying.

Romans 14:7-8

7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.

This post deals with technical matters dealing with death. I want to deal with the issues of Euthanasia that family members of the terminally ill (and and the medical personal who treat them) face in the pending death of a loved one/patient. I think this will be beneficial in our world where insurance companies and government agencies push so-called “living wills” and “durable powers of attorney.” My view is loved ones need to make decisions for us when we cannot do so for ourselves. We need to be informed when everything is going well, so that when we are faced with a difficult decision, we are ready as far as possible to make it. We leave a loved one our legal power of attorney to act for us if we come to that time when we cannot act for ourselves.

Euthanasia is a form of suicide, albeit second-handed. 

By necessity, euthanasia requires at least one other person to assist in the death of another—a friend, a family member, or a health care worker. (see “Euthanasia” and “Suicide,” below) 


“The Communion of the Saints” from the Apostles’ Creed
includes respect for and support of the dying.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993) forbids in the strongest terms any form of euthanasia.

2276. Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect.

2277. Whatever its motives and means, [active] euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons, [and] is morally unacceptable. (see “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” below.)

Those who are the most vulnerable need to be respected, supported, and protected! 

Active and Passive Euthanasia

Medical Ethicists make a necessary distinction between active and passive euthanasia. This is important for medical personnel.

2278. Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of [heroic measures]. (see “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” below.)

Passive euthanasia is the refusal of “heroic measures” for the terminally ill. Medical workers and family members who refuse “heroic measures” for the terminally ill do not commit murder.

The questions for those with a legal power of attorney for a terminally ill person are:

(1) What would prolong my loved one’s life? or What would insure quality of life as my loved one dies?

(2) What would just prolong my loved one’s death?

Exercising one’s power of attorney to refuse heroic measures is not murder. The point is not to prolong death. 


The above etching is of a Civil War Nurse caring for the dying. Prior to this time triage (selection of which to treat first), centered on selecting which ones were likely to live and basically ignoring those who were expected to die.

A Personal Experience

I served as a volunteer Chaplain at two hospitals over the years. At one hospital a person was in the last 6 months of terminal cancer. There was a zero chance of this person getting better. One relative insisted the person undergo heart bypass surgery since several arteries were blocked. The patient died on the operating table and the surgery cost $350,000 at the time. Due to limited hospital resources, someone else had to be denied bypass surgery for this to happen. (Two persons may have died.)

In my view, the surgery was a “heroic measure” and should not have been performed on a terminally ill person. Denial of this surgery would be a form of passive euthanasia. However, undergoing the surgery followed by death was not active euthanasia since the death was not planned or foreseen as a direct consequence. (See “Euthanasia” below for two distinctions in euthanasia).

It is not wrong to put a Do Not Resuscitate [DNR] sign on a person who is dying of cancer. To give medical care in such a case is not to prolong life, but to prolong death. (See D. L. Moody’s experience in the last post.)

I am not in favor of withholding a saline drip from a terminal patient. Palliative care also is desirable. Should a patient die from prescribed narcotics to dull pain, this would not be murder since death was not foreseen or planned. Medical personnel would not be culpable for administering the prescribed dosage.

Where are we today in Western Society with Euthanasia?

We often hear of “death with dignity.” Whose dignity is affirmed? Whose dignity is denied? God’s honor and dignity are at stake, too. And, one of His image-bearers is involved, also.

I remind myself constantly, all human beings are created in the image of likeness of God.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Some have less of a capacity to mirror their Maker than others do, but they still bear that image. Euthanasia is not pleasant to think about, but the Lordship of Christ is to extend over all areas of our lives, which includes our death.

A Truly “Good Death” Described

“In his book, The Walk: the Life-Changing Journey of Two Friends, musician Michael Card recounts the many ways that biblical scholar Dr. William L. Lane mentored him, beginning with his time at Western Kentucky University and ending with Professor Lane’s death.

Dr. William L. Lane (left) and Michael Card (right)

“Card recalls what occurred when Bill Lane learned that he had cancer, near the end of his life (age 68). [Bill] and his wife decided to move to Franklin, Tennessee, to be nearer [Michael Card]. 

“During the conversation Bill told me why he wanted to spend his last days there. ‘I want to come to Franklin,’ he said, ‘to show you how a Christian…dies.'” (see “Card” below)

Who knows what we might show another as we die to our Lord. It is Christ who holds the keys to death and the grave (Revelation 1:18), and we dare not assume that right ourselves. All who visit us at the end may see how a Christian who has lived to his Lord now dies to his Lord


Lord, I admit I fear the time between my last illness and death. 
I do not fear death itself since I will be with You forever. 
Help me to oppose euthanasia in all circumstances;
in conversation and mentoring others; and in my own belief and actual practice. 

Guide my steps by your Word and Spirit.
And, at the end, come to me and take me to live with You forever!

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Card, M. (2009). Accessed 20 June 2018 from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ blogs/justin-taylor/i-want-to-show-you-how-christian-man/ Michael Card is a Christian musician who wrote “Immanuel,” and “El Shaddai,” etc.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1993). Accessed 18 July 2018 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM
N. B. I have already stated in  an earlier post that I often rely on the Catechism of the Catholic Church because it deals with most modern ethic issues well. Older catechisms were written in a time when modern issues weren’t even thought of.

Euthanasia. I want to make the following distinctions: (1) “Active euthanasia” is assisting another person die. This is in violation of the 6th Commandment—”You must not murder!” Exodus 20:13 (translation mine). (2) “Passive euthanasia” is withholding heroic measures from a person who has zero chance of living. See Pankratz, R. C. and R. M. Welsh. (2001). “A Christian Response to Euthanasia.” Accessed 20 June 2018 from http://www.tkc.com/resources/resources-pages/euthanasia.html

Suicide. Suicide is not an unpardonable sin. Sometimes people snap under the pressures of life. They take their own life as a means of escaping those pressures. Survivors have to deal with the aftermath of pain that follows in the wake of suicide. I wouldn’t add to that pain by suggesting a loved one who took his own life will not be heaven. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

A Good Death is a Death to the Lord!

We have been examining the fact our submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.

Romans 14:7-8

7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.

Dying to the Lord.

The Lord Jesus Christ not only provides us with a motivation for a life lived for Him, but also he also provides us with a basis for a death to Him. We do not decide when and how we die. We “die to the Lord” by permitting Him to decide the time and circumstances of our death. Psalm 116:15 states—”Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (See “Suicide” below) 

What you and I must do is steadfastly refuse to assist others in their suicide if they ask us to. If our loved ones are in pain as they die, we can get palliative care for them. 

Palliative care is the active relief of suffering in a terminally-ill individual, and although there are occasions when treatment may shorten life, this is not the intended or anticipated result. It is simply a side effect or complication of therapy and is therefore ethically permissible. Generally, adequate doses of narcotics to relieve pain do not shorten life. If a nurse should see a patient die after s/he administeried the proper dose of a narcotic, s/he is not guilty of murder. The death was an unintended side effect of palliative care. (see “Palliative Care”; and “Pankratz and  Welsh” below).

We can weep with them, love them, and hold their hand as they die. We cannot assist in killing them because they are made in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1 states—

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

sick bed

A deathbed scene is pictured above with family around the dying man. This was common prior to mid-20th Century. Today we remove death and the dying from our presence as much as possible. Funerals are especially taboo with the young.

Let me add the same qualification about euthanasia that I did about suicide in a previous post. Aiding a person’s suicide in the past is not an unpardonable sin. One can realize that aiding that person’s euthanasia in the past was a sin. Sin confessed to God and repented of is forgiven. Moving forward, a forgiven sinner resolves to promote life and not aid in further euthanasia. 

God takes our sins…and dumps them in the sea
and puts up a sign that says: “No Fishing Allowed.”
– Corrie ten Boom

D. L. Moody’s Words about His Future Death while He was still Healthy

The following words were spoken in part by Billy Graham. He knew D. L. Moody had said the words before he did. Billy was underscoring Moody’s testimony in his own!

Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, [MA] is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. (see “Lindgren,” below) 

moody on Psalm 23

D. L. Moody’s Last Words as He was Dying

“For four hours Mr. Moody faced death without [alarm]. Nay, he rejoiced in it and welcomed it.

“Standing midway in the stream he said, “No pain, no valley! Is this death? It is not bad. It is sweet. It is bliss.”

“Later he said, ‘This is glorious. This is my coronation day, I have long looked forward to it.’ Later still, ‘Don’t call me back; God is calling.’

As his son, Will, knelt by his side as he sank, he could not find it in his heart to call him back. He afterward said to me, ‘I did call him back once, but I could not find it in my heart to do it again.’ (see “Torrey,” below, pp. 30-31) 

V0006951 The death-bed of John Wesley, 1791. Process print after an a

Above is a print of John Wesley’s death bed scene, 1791. He raised one hand high in the air and exclaimed at the end, “The best of all is God is with us!” With these words he fell back onto his pillow and passed into heaven. 


O Lord, Giver of Life and Decision-maker of Death’s hour,
Give me grace to preserve my life and others’ lives
as much as is in my power as long as I live.
I am made in your image and share this

with all humanity.
Help me to respect that image in myself and others.
There is so much death around us.
Help me not to let it cheapen life in my estimation.
Since You hold the keys of death and the grave,
You alone can say when life is over.
Help me to bear testimony to You as Lord and Savior
when my time to die comes.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.


Lindgren, Caleb. (2018). “Someday You Will Read or Hear That Billy Graham Didn’t Really Say That.” Christianity Today magazine accessed 18 July 2018 from https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/february-web-only/billy-graham-viral-quote-on-death-not-his-d-l-moody.html 

Palliative care. See also Pankratz, R. C. and R. M. Welsh). 

Pankratz, R. C. and R. M. Welsh. (2001). “A Christian Response to Euthanasia.” Accessed 20 June 2018 from http://www.tkc.com/resources/resources-pages/euthanasia.html

Suicide. Suicide is not an unpardonable sin. Sometimes people snap under the pressures of life. They take their own life as a means of escaping those pressures. Survivors have to deal with the aftermath of pain that follows in the wake of suicide. I wouldn’t add to that pain by suggesting a loved one who took his own life will not be heaven. 

Torrey, R. A. (1900). Lessons from Life and Death of D. L. MOODY. New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

We Die to the Lord! Suicide is not Desirable.

We are looking at the fact our submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.

Romans 14:7-8

7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.

We may understand the “living to himself,” but what does “die to himself” and “die to the Lord” mean?

“No one of us lives to himself,” does not mean, “every man’s conduct affects others for better or worse, whether he will or not” (see “John Donne” below); it means, “no Christian is his own end in life; what is always present to his mind, as the rule of his conduct, is the will and the interest of his Lord.” (See “Nicoll” below)

What holds true for a Christian in life holds true of his death, too.

He does not choose either the time or the mode of it, like a Roman Stoic, to please himself. He dies when the Lord will, as the Lord will, and even by his death glorifies God. (see Nicoll below).

We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ body and soul! This ought to comfort use greatly. Matthew 10 states—

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Not a sparrow dies without God taking notice.  God watches over his children in life and death because they are His.


Man hanging

What about Suicide?

One of the most painful aspects of ministry is dealing with families in the aftermath of suicide. Someone said “suicide is the ultimate insult.” If the perpetrator doesn’t leave a note explaining why, the pain for survivors can be unbearable. “Why didn’t I see the signs?” “Did I cause him/her to do it?” Family members ask questions like, “Is my son in hell for this sin?”

The Catholic Catechism says this about suicide—

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it… . We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. (see “Catholic Catechism” below)

I quote the Catholic Catechism often since it deals with most modern ethical issues well, in my opinion.

Suicide perpetrators are responsible for their actions since God alone has the right to take life or assign the taking of life, e.g. God has given the civil magistrate the power of life and death in Romans 13:4—

But if you do evil, be afraid; for [the civil magistrate] does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (NKJV)

Expositor’s Greek New Testament says this about “the Sword”—

The sword was carried habitually, if not by, then before the higher magistrates, and symbolized the power of life and death which they had in their hands. (See “Nicoll” below.)

However, suicide does not mean that the perpetrator is automatically assigned to hell at the judgment because he or she did not have the right to take life.

2282 Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. (see “Catholic Catechism” below)

Stoic Suicide

Suicide became a common practice among stoics
when they could not bear their fate

In the absence of a written note, we should assume circumstances intervened that were unbearable, so our loved one took his or her own life. We were not to blame. There were not any signs to see. Our loved one was not in his/her right mind at the time. S/he snapped.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives.  (see “Catholic Catechism” below)

Suicide is a forgivable sin. The only unforgivable sin is rejection of Christ. I have yet to see a suicide where the person wrote, “I don’t believe in God, and I’m taking myself out into the void of nothingness.” There may be cases, but I have not experienced them in 42 years of ministry. And, I have actually seen someone commit suicide. That I’ll never forget!

Our Obligation to Preserve Life

We are obligated by the Fifth Commandment to preserve our own lives as well as the lives of others.

We ought to study these principles so that if we arrive at a hard spot, we won’t be tempted to choose to make a final exit. The Hemlock Society has nothing to teach us. We die unto the Lord Jesus Christ!

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this about the Sixth Commandment—

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor, unjustly, or whatsoever tends thereunto. (See “WSC” below)

Drilling this into ourselves and our children will help make suicide less of an option to escape the unbearable.

Personal Testimony.

My grandfather committed suicide. Yes. I said it out loud. At least I wrote it.

“Red” (what we called him) was a WWII veteran of Patton’s Third Army. I foolishly asked him once what war was like. He replied that he had been a machine gunner on a tank. At the Battle of the Bulge, they opened fire on the Nazi Invading Army. He said he fired until his machine gun turned orange and jammed. He waited until it cooled to resume firing. This was repeated over and over again. The Nazi soldiers came in wave after wave after wave. They were 14 and 15 year old boys mostly. That was all that was left in December 1944. He said they mowed them down as fast as they came. I’ll never forget what he concluded with, “At least once a week I see those boys’ faces in my dreams!” I never asked him again such a foolish question.

He had the weight of this on his mind and other missions he had gone on at night, which my mother told me about after she had asked him the same question when she was a girl.

In 1987 he had had enough of life. He had had pneumonia on top of his emphysema in the winter of the previous year. He took a gun with him to take a nap. Sometime later his wife heard what she thought was a car backfire. When she went in later to check on him, she found him. He lived three days with his heart still beating. 

I expect to see him in heaven! 

God alone is man’s judge and we should entrust our loved one to his care. God knew from the beginning of his life what he would do and it did not diminish God’s love for him. Genesis 18:25 brings me comfort—“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”


Catholic Catechism. “Suicide” section “Fifth Commandment.” [Sixth Commandment in the Protestant Bible]. Accessed 18 June 2018 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

Donne, John. “No Man is an Island.” I hate that this interpretation ruins John Donne’s great poem. The poem is a literary classic—but not a theological one. Christ decides our terms of life and our terms in regard to our death.

Nicoll, W. R. (1956 reprint). The Expositor’s Greek Testament: Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Accessed 14 June 2018 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-14.html

Stoic Suicide Picture. Accessed 18 June 2018 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/History/G_026_Stoic.html

WSC. Accessed May 24, 2018 from http://www.reformed.org/documents/wsc/index.html?_top= http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved