Clear & Uncomplicated: Gladys Aylward

Her theology was the same, clear and uncomplicated. There was a living God, and she was His servant. There was a loathsome Creature called Satan, and she was his enemy. There was an immortal soul in every human being proceeding to an eternity in either Heaven or Hell.  Her job in life was to convince people that if they would but put their trust in Jesus Christ her Lord, who had died on the cross for them, they would get straight on the road to Heaven. And since Jesus Christ had come to life again, and had promised to be with those who trusted and obeyed Him, however beset with trials and temptations the road to Heaven might prove to be, they need fear nothing, for He would never let them down.”

The Transparent Woman – Phyllis Thompson in Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God – Noel Piper

The life story of Gladys Aylward  is well worth your time if you have not already read it.  In 1932, at the age of 31, she left London, England with no money to speak of and traveled across Europe and Russia all by herself to be a missionary in China, all because she knew that God had told her to go to China, even though the missionary society ruled that she was not qualified.  It would be seventeen years before she would see her family again.

What a beautiful quote about her theology. All the side issues have fallen away and her beliefs are distilled down to this clear and uncomplicated view of herself in God’s mighty work in the earth.

May she be an example to us. Thank you for your time.


Part I : “Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning the born again person conforming to godliness.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul tells him “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” (I Timothy 6:3) [Emphasis mine]

The Apostle Peter writing to believers stated the “doctrine conforming to godliness” as follows:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the formers lusts, which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.” And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1: 14-19)

In other words, after a person is born again, if he is properly instructed in the truth, they, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will begin to purify their souls of defilement (sin):

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)

Over a period of time they will become more and more Christlike in their manner of living or conduct.

This process is known as progressive sanctification. Sanctification is the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. The Greek word from which sanctification comes from means “to make holy”. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer and His purpose in calling him by the gospel. It must be learned from God as He teaches it by His Word and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who gives the desire and the power to accomplish it. The following scriptures witness to these truths:

I Thessalonians 4:3 says “This is the will of God, your sanctification…”

I Thessalonians 4:7 says “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

I Thessalonians 4:4 says “…that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor”

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:17 as He prayed for His followers “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”

Philippians 2:13 says “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Some who claim to be born again take the teaching on the grace of God too far. They believe that willful sinning is okay after salvation because “it is all under grace”. That they can live in fornication, impurity, immorality or other habitual sin and still be in fellowship with the Holy Lord Jesus and the Holy Father God is in direct opposite to what the Word of God teaches. Concerning these believers, it is truly as Paul told Timothy in the opening verse, “….he is conceited and understands nothing;…”. The Apostle John warns the recipients of his letter known as II John to “Watch yourselves that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God;…” (II John 1:8-9)

Our brother, the Apostle Paul, told Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16a) and “….discipline (i.e. train) yourself for the purpose of godliness;…” (I Timothy 4:7b).

Concerning godliness and after exhorting Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” Apostle Paul said “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (I Timothy 4:10) The man who the Lord Jesus used to write a large portion of the New Testament and He sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (that is you and me) was daily laboring and striving to be godly in his conduct. He knew the struggle and the temptations that come our way and learned how to overcome them with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Paul advised Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself…”. We would be wise to heed his advice to Timothy. Apostle Peter exhorts us:

“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter1:13)

Let us keep sober in mind and spirit and not be drunk on the spirit of this world (Satan’s kingdom) where anything goes, no boundaries; as long as it makes me look good, meets my emotional needs, it is okay. Where, in a deceived state, I can act like a god (make my own rules) and walk in pride and arrogance toward God and His Word; be wise in my own eyes. Grieving the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption.

Instead, let us examine ourselves and see if there is any wicked way in us when compared with God’s Word and the Lord Jesus’ life. Not in a condemning way. “There istherefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1) If we find ourselves in sin or with unconfessed sin, let us repent (i.e. agree with what God says about it and turn from it) and purpose not to do it again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. (I John 1:9-10)

Paul’s experience birthed this advice: “Pay close attention to yourself…”
My thoughts.
My words.
My actions .
What I am listening to.
What I am watching.
What I am entertained by.
What I am laughing at (a type of approval).
The motives behind my actions.
Is there any malice, wrath, anger?
Am I speaking truth or a lie?
Am I slandering someone?
Am I acting as a judge?
Am I walking in Pride? (Pride always sees the faults in others)
Am I being jealous?
Am I a manslayer? (“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer…” I John 3:15)

And we could go on and on with this list. Each of us has areas we need to bring into submission to the Word of God. And as we study God’s word, He will reveal sin we are not even aware of.

In closing, three reasons as to why Paul’s admonishment to “Pay close attention toyourself…” is needed:

This concludes Part I of this post.  Please return for Part II in the next post.  Thank you!

Who Are “Those That Do Not Obey The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus”?

Who are these people who will suffer the eternal wrath of the Lamb at the end of time?

In II Thessalonians 1: 6-10 our brother Paul writes the following to the Christians at Thessalonica:

“….For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed –for our testimony to you was believed.” [Emphasis mine]

In this scripture, Paul uses two different terms to describe the people who will suffer eternally the Wrath of the Lamb.

The first is “those who do not know God”. These are people who have no biblical, saving relationship with our God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hindus, Islamics, Buddhist, Jews, all of the different world faiths, non-religious, atheist, humanist, and others will make up this group. A vast group of people. You shudder at the thought of what is going to happen to them.

The second is “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”. Now a casual reading of this could lead some to wonder or believe that self-effort or works may be involved in salvation. Or that a born again person can fall away due to not doing something that the Lord required. While studying sanctification, I found a verse that explains who these people are. I put my thoughts before you for your consideration.

In I Peter 1: 1-2 Peter writes about the three things that happen in the salvation of a sinner.

“…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:…”

The first is that the sinner is “chosen” by God and then, secondly, the Holy Spirit begins the “setting apart” or sanctifying work that brings the sinner to the point where they “obey” or, another way of saying it, express their faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see this in Acts 6:7 where it says;

“And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”

Then, thirdly, as the result of the sinner’s obedience/faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus, he is “sprinkled” with the Lord’s blood. Salvation is complete.

The second step concerning the work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying someone is also known as positional sanctification. Sanctify means to “set apart”; to set apart from the sinful nature and the world to serve God. At the point of salvation, God the Father moves the saved sinner from the dominion of Satan to the kingdom of His beloved Son. The sinner is in a new position. In Christ. After salvation, the believer begins a process known as progressive sanctification where little by little with the help of the Holy Spirit; he begins to get the sin out of his life and grows in Christlikeness. This Christlikeness, ABOVE ALL, is what God desires for the believer.

Therefore, in II Thessalonians this descriptive term, “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” refers to a LOST person who the Holy Spirit tried to draw to Christ but the person resisted His ministry and never exercised their faith in the gospel presentation they heard. This person was never born again. They remained in their original state of a sin.

The following Book of Hebrew scriptures show people doing this. The text is Hebrews 3:7 -4:2 and I will only quote pieces to give you the overview. Read the entire section when you can.


“Take care brethren lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God, “ (12)

“Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” (3:1-2)

We see the writer of Hebrews using Old Testament examples to exhort the Jews who are seriously considering the claims of Jesus as the Messiah to go on to put their faith in the good news (gospel) that is being preached to them. If they do not put their faith in the good news being preached to them and return to the abrogated (formally ended by God) temple sacrifices, they will not enter the Sabbath rest, i.e. salvation. Notice in the scriptures above that God is speaking to them, unbelieving hearts are in the people; therefore, they do not unite faith with the word preached. They are not saved. They do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Another example is found in Acts 7:51. We find Stephen before the Jewish Council addressing the High Priest and other leaders of Israel. He says the following to them:

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in the heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. “

It is interesting to note in the account of the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to the Lord at night in John chapter 3, when he said to Jesus “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do the these signs that You do unless God is with him.”, the “we” in the original Greek grammar refers to this Council that Stephen was speaking before and Nicodemus was a member of. My point here is that the High Priest and the leaders of Israel knew that Jesus had come from God because of the multitudes of miracles (signs) He had done. Yet, they resisted the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying ministry of bringing them to faith in the Son of God. Instead, they killed him.

Of this group, the Bible tells us that only Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38) exercised faith and believed or obeyed the gospel.

It is sobering to know that according to what Jesus told the disciple about being brought before kings and courts, that the Holy Spirit is giving Stephen what to say to these men and He is telling them that you always resist Me like your fathers did.

For a positive example of this, listen to what Peter told the Pentecost crowd when he concluded preaching the gospel after the Holy Spirit fell and they wanted to know what they should do. Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, said:

“Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts2:38)

Their obedience is recorded in verse 41:

“So then, those who had received the word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

Here you have about 3000 Jews receiving the word (i.e. gospel that Peter preached) and obeying what he said (i.e. exercising their faith in what they heard) and being born again. Just opposite from what the leaders of Israel did.

Therefore, in conclusion, the people referred to in Thessalonians are people who had the opportunity to hear the gospel (good news) but rejected it. They never united the word preached with faith to come to salvation. They resisted the sanctifying work or “setting apart” work of the Holy Spirit.

The only seemingly contradiction to this view is this: did God the Father make a mistake in choosing some people before the foundation of the world because these people rejected the gospel? Now, we know He does not make mistakes; therefore, there is an explanation.

The Word says God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) He is delaying the end of time so people can be saved.

The Lord Jesus said about the Holy Spirit that “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:8-10)

These two verses show that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to the whole world and, of course, the Lord Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. So these verses show that God desires that all men come to salvation but since He will not violate a person’s free will, some will reject the gospel and others will unite their faith with the gospel preached and be saved.

Let us leave the choosing to Him and let us be about the reaching out to all men.

Thank you for your time. Please forward any comments or thoughts concerning this matter.

“Pay close attention to yourself…” (Paul to Timothy)