Saturday, 27 May 2017

John and Batty Stam

John And Betty Stam:  Martyred Missionaries To

    “God can use us if only we are empty, broken vessels in 

His hand.” – John Stam

God's Work in John's Life

     It was in a splendid Christian environment that John C. Stam entered the world on January 8, 1907, at Paterson, New Jersey, the seventh of nine children.  John and his brothers and sisters were early taught the things of God.  They took part in the family devotions and were present each morning at the family altar.  Christ truly was the head of the Stam home.  John’s father, Peter Stam, was a stalwart Christian and an earnest worker in the church.  A contractor by trade to support his family, he also started Star of Hope Mission.  At first his outreach was to Jews in the city of Paterson, but later the work was extended to jails, poorhouses, hospitals, factories and street preaching.

     John’s mother, a wonderful Christian character, was both a Mary, ready to sit at the Lord’s feet, and a Martha, who was willing to serve.  Each of the children was dedicated to the Lord for His service at his birth. 

     Although John was brought up in this fine Christian atmosphere and was taught the way of salvation by praying parents, he was not converted until he was fifteen years of age.  The whole family was engaged in the evangelistic work of the Mission.  He was accustomed to seeing the transformation that took place when a heart opens to receive Christ in all His saving power, but he did not see himself like the drunkards, down-and-outs and those who did not know the Gospel who were saved at the Mission.  He had grown up hearing the Gospel and believed it, yet he was all the more in danger because of his self-righteousness. 

     One week a blind evangelist, a man who really knew God, came to the Mission.  The evangelist’s message seemed directed right at young John.  It was during this series of meetings that John gave his heart to the Lord and was very definitely born again.  The Lord got hold of him in a real way.  From that time on John knew that he was no longer his own and rejoiced more and more to be at the service of his Master.

     For two years John attended business school and was employed as a stenographer and clerk in various business houses.  He was also an active worker and an invaluable assistant to his father at the Mission.  As often as five or six times a week, John went with his friends to the slums and on street corners of Paterson to hold open-air meetings.  Many were the times that the Lord richly blessed as the Gospel was proclaimed.  During all this, John felt the call of God in his life and was anxious to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God’s Work in Betty’s Life

     On February 22, 1906, Elizabeth Alden Scott was born at Albion, Michigan, where her father, Charles Ernest Scott, was pastor of the Presbyterian Church.  Betty was the first of five children.  Six months after Betty was born, Dr. and Mrs. Scott accepted a call to the Shantung Province in China.  This was the start of the Scott’s long and illustrious missionary career.  For twelve years Betty lived with her parents in Tsiangtao, China.  Early in life she developed a deep and lasting love for the Chinese people.  She was anxious to see these benighted Chinese come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. 

The Scotts in China, Helen standing at the back

     Betty returned to the United States, her parents remaining in China, to study at Wilson College in Pennsylvania.  It was after her freshman year, at a summer Bible Conference in Keswick, New Jersey, that she gave her life to Christ in full surrender.  She shared with her parents:  

“I don’t know what God has in store for me.  ...It’s as clear as daylight to me that the only worthwhile life is one of unconditional surrender to God’s will, and of living in His way, trusting His love and guidance.”  

At the conference she took as her life motto:  “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  It was not long thereafter that her call to China became predominant in her life.  She had always planned for missionary work in China, but now she felt certain that it was God’s plan for her life to bring the message of salvation to these people she so dearly loved.

     Following her graduation from Wilson College, Betty attended the Moody Bible Institute in order that she might be better equipped for her life’s work.  It was here that she and John Stam first met. 

Training at Moody Bible Institute

     In September 1929, after a long period of serious and prayerful consideration, the way opened for John to enter Moody Bible Institute.  He took part in many of the student activities and in much of the Christian work of the school.  He served on the executive committee of the Missionary Union, on which Betty also served.  Here the two young students first realized that both were interested in missionary work in China.  

        Some time previous to this, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Isaac Page of the China Inland Mission (CIM), John had set his face toward China, believing that God wanted him there to spread the Gospel and tell of Christ’s power to save.  The weekly prayer meeting of the CIM that met in the Page’s home was partly responsible for the deepening of the friendship between John and Betty. 

     From the time that CIM sent out its call for “The Two Hundred,” Betty volunteered for the un evangelised sections of China and was accepted.  She sailed for China alone in the autumn of 1931, yet not alone, for she and John had an understanding that they would be united in marriage when John came to China a short time later, if it were God’s will.

       John graduated from Moody in the spring of 1932, a year later than Betty.  He was speaker of his class and at his graduation expressed his quiet trust in God by using the verses from Lamentations, 

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning:  great is Thy faithfulness” (3:22-23).

     It was difficult for John and Betty to separate when she went ahead to China, but both of them knew that the will of the Lord came first and that their lives were His. They had surrendered themselves wholly to the Lord, knowing that if He wanted them to be together, it would come to pass.  They had the assurance that this was best left in His hands.

     In September 1932, John sailed for Shanghai under CIM. After a brief unexpected reunion with Betty (she had been detained in Shanghai for medical reasons when the new missionary party, including John, arrived), they were again separated for another year during John’s language study at Anking.  But on October 25, 1933, John and Betty were united in marriage. Little did they know on that blissful day that soon they would give their lives in China for the furtherance of the Gospel and for Christ’s sake.

  John and Betty Stam were first stationed in Suancheng, Anhwei Province (1933) where they continued language study, held Bible classes and did evangelistic work.  In the summer of 1934 the Stams were designated to fill the place of the local secretary at the Mission at Wuhu.  It was here in September that their baby daughter, Helen Priscilla, was born.

      John and Betty made ideal missionaries.  They had an ardent love for the Chinese people.  They worked hard and soon won their way into the hearts of those to whom they ministered.  They had an honest zeal for God’s cause and both were able to adapt themselves remarkably well to their new work and surroundings.

    John was over six feet tall, with a cheerful disposition and a winning smile.  His conversation with everyone, of whatever nationality, was soon turned to the things of God.  His letters home were deeply religious and seemed to bubble over with warmth and zeal.  He feared nothing, neither travel, rain, mud, cold or heat.  The women and children were especially attracted to Betty, and many were the visitors at the Mission house.  John and Betty traveled a great deal about the province, Mr. Stam usually walking and Mrs. Stam in a sedan chair carried by Chinese footmen.

    On November 12, 1934, the Stams left Wuhu with baby Helen Priscilla to begin a new work in Tsingteh.  They made the trip in short segments, preaching the Gospel while traveling from town to town, giving out copies of God’s Word.  They arrived in Tsingteh at the end of November and moved into a large old Chinese house that had been adapted for a missionary family. 

Imminent Danger

    They had been in their new home less than two weeks when they began to hear persistent rumors of the Communists in that territory.  This did not, however, prevent John from beginning his evangelistic work.  At their first Sunday service four outsiders were present besides the family and the servants.  At the second service only the family and servants were in attendance.  However, during the weekdays the street chapel was open five different times with good attendance and attentive listeners.  

      John wrote home, “The people here seem quite friendly, and several men have been in with whom I have been able to have a good talk.  God help us to open the Scriptures to them.

    At eight o’clock on the morning of December 6, the City Magistrate warned John of the coming of the Communists.  A second message was received 9:30 a.m. saying the Communists were within four miles of the city. 

    The attack of the Communists came so suddenly that before the Stams could get away the enemy was at the gate.  The servants fled.  The Stams knelt in prayer knowing the only way to turn was to God.  The bandits broke open the lock on the gate and rushed to the house door.  John met them fearlessly and let four of the soldiers in.  He spoke to them very kindly and asked them if they were hungry.  

      Betty very graciously served them tea and food.  The soldiers demanded all the money that John had, which he surrendered to them.  The soldiers then tied John, while he asked for safety for Betty and the baby.  Sometime later Betty and the baby were also taken.  All were put in the city prison for the day. 

    While in the prison, John wrote Mr. Gibbs of the China Inland Mission Headquarters at Shanghai:  

“My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists in the city of Tsingteh.  Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.  All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight.  God grant you wisdom in what you do.  ...The Lord bless and guide you – and as for us – may God be glorified whether by life or by death.”  

     The letter was slipped to a fellow Christian and was smuggled from one Christian to another until it reached Shanghai.

    The next day the Communists carried away what booty they could, and with the Stams, marched quickly to Miaosheo some 17 miles away.  John and Betty were shoved into a post office and left under guard.  The postmaster recognized them and asked where they were going.  “We are on our way to heaven,” John answered simply.  The postmaster gave Betty some fruit and slipped paper and pencil to John who quickly wrote a second note to headquarters letting them know the circumstances. 

    The Stams were taken to a large, vacated house where John was tied in a standing position to a bedpost.  Betty was allowed to tend to the baby through the night.  When she arose the next morning, Betty tucked Helen Priscilla inside her sleeping bag and hid some money among the baby’s things before zipping the bag closed over the sleeping baby. 

One in Life and One in Death

    The Stams, with their hands behind their backs and their outer clothing removed, were led through the main street of Miaosheo to a little hill just outside the village limits.  Helen Priscilla was left behind in the house.  The poor people of the town who had not fled to the mountains were called to witness the execution of the “foreign devils.”
    John was ordered to kneel.  The brave young missionary spoke a few words as he knelt on one knee.  While he was talking, the executioner struck him to the ground.  Betty, bound as she was, fell on her knees beside him.  A quick command, the flash of a sword and the two were reunited.  One in life and one in death, they were now one in a martyr’s testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ.

    And what about little Helen Priscilla who was left behind tucked away in secret?  Early the next day a Chinese pastor friend of the Stams sought out and found the baby safe where her parents had left her, warm in her sleeping bag and none the worse from her day without food and care.  

Pastor Lo Ke-chou and his wife made the journey to Wuhu where the baby was delivered to the anxiously awaiting missionary group and from there Helen Priscilla was taken to her grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Scott in Tsinan.

Helen with her Grandparents

    Some time later, Dr. Scott came into possession of Betty’s Bible found in the loot taken by the Communists.  In it Betty had written:  

“Lord, I give up my own purposes and plans, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions, and accept Thy will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever.  …Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.  Work out Thy whole will in my life, at any cost, now and forever.  ‘To me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).”

    Early in life John and Betty had settled it in their hearts that they were willing to die for the cause of proclaiming Christ.  Following their martyrdom, hundreds of young people joined the ranks willing to go to the far ends of the world to share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

    Adapted from An Hour With John And Betty Stam:  Martyred Missionaries To China by T. W. Engstrom and supplemented from other sources.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Norah Freed

Norah Freed(101!!)


I can't remember how I came across this old book, but it has been a great blessing packed with short bite size nuggets of encouragement taken from every day things. 

The author, Norah Freed, was born in Surrey into a large family (7 siblings!). She came to faith in Christ after she moved to Belfast aged 16, and in 1928, after completing a course at a Bible school in Birkenhead she sailed off to Morocco to serve in Tangier as a midwife missionary. She ministered to the Arabic speaking people until 1960, in which time she had become a scholar in Arabic and put those skills to great use by translating a whole Christian hymnbook. 

At the age of 54, life completely changed as she married Ralph Freed, who was the general of Trans World Radio, his son was the founder. TWR was still developing in those early days, and it was 'All hands on deck' as different family members pulled together to make the project work, Norah include! She went from midwife to radio broadcaster, as she became responsible for presenting a new programme that was to be hit, with 1,682 'episodes' of 'Woman to Woman' running from 1964 to 1995. She personally replied to the thousands of letters she received over the 31 years of the show, and wrote 3 books in between.

Be blessed and encouraged by this lovely short reading from Mrs Norah Freed out of one of her three books, Bible Calling


BUT GOD.......(Genesis 50:20)

It was a letter that took my mind off the job that I was doing and made me think of the story of Joseph. The writer was a mother who suddenly found herself plunged into one of those dark tunnels through which Christians sometimes pass. Until that day, hers had been a happy home with the Lord at its head. But that cruel blow struck without warning and she was engulfed in great sorrow. It has been a long tunnel for her, and the end is not yet in sight. But, oh, how struck I was by her undaunted trust and faith in God in the midst of such trying circumstances. She commits each day to the Lord and has proved that He never fails her and He enables her to face life with Him. Looking to the future, she said, "I dreaded....but God..." That is what made the difference. "But God...." Even with a sore heart she is learning to live in the realm of the supernatural.

There was another who found great comfort in those two words and was able to use them as he looked back on a difficult way. In the book of Genesis, chapter 50 and verse 20, you find Joseph facing those of his own family who had been the cause of all his trouble and saying to them, "As for you, Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good."

What a triumph that was. Joseph, the owner of the coat of many colours, the loved son of his parents, sent of an errand to his brothers, never returned, but at their cruel hands was thrown into a pit. Afterwards he was sold to some passing traders and later unjustly accused and cast into prison and forgotten of men. Surely that was enough to make anyone feel there was no hope of deliverance.

In most people it would have stirred up a desire for revenge and vindication, but Joseph committed it all to God and was prepared to wait His time. Faithful even in prison, his attitude brought him some recognition and he was given the custody of two prisoners whom Pharoah had put there. He cared for them, and just there he was used of God to interpret their dreams which eventually were used towards his release. There was God using circumstances that seemed so trivial. Just a dream that bothered these men. Ah, but the Lord was with Joseph and was causing all things to work together for good. God had other plans for him and here they were being fulfilled through a stay in prison!

What a tremendous vindication God gave to him. He was ultimately freed, given a place of honour and trust, and became a succourer of many, even of those who had treated him so badly. Yes, he looks back and with love in his heart for those brothers he says, "Don't be afraid. You thought evil against me, BUT GOD deemed otherwise, He meant it unto good."

Is there a sorely tried woman reading just now? You are puzzled by the things that have been happening to you? You have felt the lash of a cruel tongue opened against you unjustly? You have known the feeling of utter helplessness when others have turned against you out of sheer jealousy? Your heart is sore because it has been let down by those you loved and trusted? Maybe the language of your heart just now as you sit and survey your life is "All these things are against me". There seems to be no answer and no end in sight and you long for understanding. Everything has got on top of you and you feel you cannot stand any longer being shunned and misjudged.

Is it possible that you have wrapped yourself up in a garment of self-pity because you have been so hurt; that you have missed the greatest blessing the Lord wanted to bring into your life through these very circumstances? Look how fruitful Joseph became because he let God engineer his circumstances for him, and gave the reply to those who had hurt him. All the way along it was, "But God."

Why don't you today commit your cause to Him and let Him bring blessing out of adversity for you? You know when we tough things ourselves and try to work out a solution that will justify us, we make a mess of it, but Gods vindications are worth waiting for. He will do the exceeding abundant for you and those things that are pricks and thorns today cannot harm you if you will hand them over to the Lord. Instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle! 

Here's a great reading (from today..) out of Spurgeon's daily devotional that ties in perfectly with this message.....

"He led them forth by the right way."—Psalm 107:7.
Changeful experience often leads the anxious believer to enquire "Why is it thus with me?" I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved. 

Lord, thou dost hide Thy face, and I am troubled. It was but yesterday that I could read my title clear; to-day my evidences are bedimmed, and my hopes are clouded. Yesterday I could climb to Pisgah's top, and view the landscape o'er, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; to-day, my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress. 

Is this part of God's plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven? Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God's method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. 

These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith—they are waves that wash you further upon the rock—they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven. According to David's words, so it might be said of you, "so He bringeth them to their desired haven." By honour and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way.

Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. "We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom." Learn, then, even to "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."

"O let my trembling soul be still,
And wait Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee."

Charles Spurgeon's Daily Devotional

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Understanding the Times

Article taken from 

Do You Understand The Time In Which You Live?
  By Henry Blackaby

    The following edited message was given at Heart-Cry Southeast in March 2010 in Tennessee U.S.A. Used by permission (

UK bus advert

    These are very crucial days. There is an element in this nation that is seeking to remove Christ from everything about the nation and to remove any mention of a Christian God. That places your life and mine in a very significant moment in history. This is a time for us to speak up and not let the world around us remove everything that this nation was founded on.

    In the Book of Acts we read about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that they were immersed in the power and presence and activity of God. Out of that moment of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the life of the disciples, it was not long before it was said, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6). It would be wonderful if our nation began to say, "There are some Christian folk who have had an encounter with the risen, living Christ, and the Holy Spirit has filled their life and they are now being used of God to turn our nation and our world upside down!"

    Does our nation need a deep touch of God? The only means that God has for turning the world upside down is you and me. But so often we have moved away from the intimate relationship with God and we are simply practicing religious activity. Are you going to say, "Lord, I do not want to think only about the death and resurrection of Christ, but I want to be involved in Your eternal purpose, and Your eternal purpose included Pentecost."

    Jesus told His disciples to "…tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). They did, and they were endued with power from on high and they turned their world upside down. The same Lord who said that is the same Lord who today is speaking to your life and mine. Would it not be a tragedy for you and me to know the truth of God and then ignore it and our lives be just the same as they have always been, not making a bit of difference in the world in which we live?

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Jesus’ Way of Revival

    There are two major Scriptures I want to use to show how Jesus describes revival. The first is from Matthew 4:17-25. Verse 17 is very crucial: "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’" Next He gave an invitation to four fishermen: "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." If they would follow Him they would experience what He was preaching. He said in effect, "If your life is not at this moment experiencing the full presence and power and activity of God, you are going in the wrong direction."

    I would say that to you. If you are a child of God, a believer, it is God’s anticipation that you should be experiencing day after day the mighty presence and power and activity of God. It may be in your own personal life where He can turn things upside down and rearrange everything about your life. Or maybe it will be in your family when suddenly God encounters your children. But you ought to be able to see the activity of Almighty God expressing Himself in and through your life.

    So Jesus looked at the people and said they needed to repent. That is, they were going in the wrong direction. Repent means to turn around and go in a new direction. Jesus was standing right there and He basically said to these men, "You need to repent. You need to turn around and follow Me, and the reason you need to do that is because the kingdom of heaven is at hand – the whole rule and activity of God is right next to you."

    These fishermen immediately left their nets and began to follow Jesus. If you read the rest of Matthew chapter 4 you will discover that the fishermen could have never experienced how near God was and how near the activity of God was if they had stayed at their fishnets. They had to leave their fishnets and follow Jesus. Then you will notice that as soon as they began to follow Jesus they saw what it is like for all of heaven’s resources to rest on the life of Jesus. Jesus also became the pattern for you and me of the activity of God. What does God want to do in your life and mine? Look at the life of Jesus and you will see the pattern in Him.

    As these fishermen began to follow Jesus, for the first time they saw the blind receive sight, the deaf hear, the lame leap, the dead raised back to life, storms stilled and multitudes fed. They were experiencing what it is like for heaven to release all the resources of God into the life of any child of His. So Jesus said to the fishermen in essence, "You are going in the wrong direction because it is obvious you are not experiencing the fullness of God’s presence. Follow Me and you will experience how near the kingdom of heaven is."

    Now, that is true for your life as well. Do you know that the kingdom of heaven is right next to you, the rule of God is right near you? God wants to express all the resources of heaven into your life and through your life. If you are not experiencing the nearness of heaven, you need to repent. That is, you need to say to God, "I realize I am going in the wrong direction. I need to turn around and walk in an intimate relationship with my living Lord." That is not just a theological statement. It is a practical invitation from God.

    Every great revival in history has brought people to their knees in repentance, and it has also brought near to them all the resources of God. One of the great movements of God is what He did through Evan Roberts, a young man in Wales. He was in a Bible college and he heard a visiting preacher say, "What is needed in the church today is for God to bend the church back to His will." Evan Roberts fell on his face before God and cried out, "O Lord, would You bend me?" God saw his heart and did. History records that in the next six to eight months a hundred thousand people came to faith in Christ through Evan Roberts and those who joined with him.

    What would happen if God did that kind of a thing in every life reading this? What impact would it have on the nation(s)? We read the record but have no intention of letting God do anything like that for us. We are in a comfort zone. Revival always moves us out of the comfort zone. We want to say, "Lord, I want You to bless me where I am, but do not change anything in my life." But God cannot bring revival that way. He will say to you, "Repent!" That is, turn around and find out where Christ is going.

    God is always at work around you and He is seeking to draw you into an intimate relationship with Himself. When God begins to do that it will create a crisis of belief in you. But He will let you know clearly what He is saying. What you do next will indicate what you believe about God. If He is speaking to you and He clearly opens your mind to the Scriptures, He then watches to see how you are going to respond to Him. We love to say, "Lord, I am Your servant." And He may say, "I have not noticed it yet because when I speak there is no response from you. You like to hear Me speak but you do not connect it to your life. When I speak you ought to tremble and then immediately respond." When He spoke to the disciples they left everything immediately and began to follow Him, and they had an experience with the kingdom of God like they had never known.

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Israel's Past and Future

Israel’s Past And Future
  By Derek Prince

    It takes no cleverness to point out the faults of Israel. Somebody showed me a copy of an article published in a Christian magazine pointing out some of the sins of Israel. I could not help reflecting that the prophets of Israel did a much more thorough job! How could anyone add to the recital of sins found in Isaiah? (e.g., 1:1-15; 59:2-8). Furthermore, similar indictments are found in most of Israel’s other prophets.

    This is all the more significant because the same prophets who described in clear detail the sins of Israel also predicted with equal clarity and detail the restoration of Israel. If the prophets of Israel had been blind, sentimental and nationalistic and had overlooked the sins of their people, then we could say that their promises of restoration were merely unrealistic, wishful thinking. But because the same prophets who promised restoration were the ones who uttered the indictments, I see no logic or consistency in endorsing the indictments and refusing the promises of restoration.

Headline for May 1948

Israel’s Restoration Predicted
    The prophets of Israel certainly do make clear, specific promises of a restoration of Israel which will take place in two phases: first to their land and then to their God. I always put it in that order because I see in Scripture that God purposes to bring most of the Jews back to the land unredeemed, not in faith, in order that He may deal with them there. This is stated in Hosea 1:10 – "In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’"

    The place where God said, "You are not My people," was the land of Israel. Consequently, the Jews restoration and acceptance by God has to take place in the land of Israel.
    There is a practical reason for this which is not readily appreciated in our contemporary, Western version of Christianity. Under the influence of secular values, we have made the Christian faith primarily a matter of a person’s individual relationship with his God. Our emphasis is mainly on the word my – my Saviour, my faith, my church, my ministry and so on. But this does not accurately represent the biblical perspective.

    Throughout the Scriptures God deals with individuals in the context of a larger group – a family, a community, a congregation, a nation. This is brought out in the account of the salvation of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30-31. The jailer asked the apostles, "What must I do to be saved?" In his inspired answer, however, Paul went beyond the jailer’s individual need: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." The salvation which the Lord offered extended beyond the jailer as an individual and embraced his whole household. That is the biblical norm. God regularly deals with the individual in the context of a larger entity.

    Historically, this has always been true of God’s dealings with Israel. He has consistently related to them not just as individuals, but as a single people, joined by a covenant both to God and to one another. This is how God intends to deal with them at the close of this age – as a single people. In order to do this, however, He must gather them once again in one place. The place indicated both by logic and by Scripture is their own land – the land of Israel.

Ethiopian Jews arriving in their homeland Israel after being exiled for hundreds of years

   A further promise of spiritual restoration is found in Isaiah 45:17, 25 – "But Israel shall be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever. In the Lord all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory."

    That is so simple! The word justified means "acquitted, counted righteous before God." In other words, Israel’s righteousness will be imputed to them on the basis of faith, not of works. They will thus become true spiritual descendants of their forefather Abraham, who "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).

    Another promise of Israel’s restoration is found in Jeremiah 32:36-37 – 

"Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city [Jerusalem] of which you say, ‘It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place [which was the land of Israel], and I will cause them to dwell safely.’"

    This prediction was certainly not fulfilled by the partial and temporary return from Babylon in the time of Zerubbabel. Nor can it be applied in any meaningful way to the church. Yet this passage in Jeremiah 32 is only one of many prophecies that contain the same promise of Israel’s ultimate and total restoration.

    We are therefore left with only two possible conclusions: Either these predictions are to be fulfilled in the destiny of Israel, or God has uttered prophecies that will never be fulfilled. In the last resort, it is not just the destiny of Israel which is at stake. There is an issue of even greater importance that concerns all believers. It is the reliability of Scripture itself.

Israel’s Restoration Described

    In Jeremiah 32:38-42 God continues: 

"‘They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.’"

    God declares that He will bring upon Israel the good that He has promised to them in just the same way that He brought calamity upon them. The calamity that came upon them was a matter of objective historical fact. It was not merely "metaphorical" or "spiritual." Therefore the good that God will bring upon them will likewise be objective history. It will not be merely "metaphorical" or "spiritual."
    The land in which God says He "will assuredly plant" His people can be interpreted in no other way than the land of Israel. And if God does this with all His heart and soul, who can undo it? Surely not a Palestinian leader! Nor even the United Nations!

    In Jeremiah 50:19-20 God further unfolds His plan to restore Israel: 

"But I will bring back Israel to his home...‘In those days and in that time,’ says the Lord, ‘the iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve.’"

    The last word, preserve, might well be rendered reserve. God is committed to pardon the remnant He is going to reserve by His grace.
    The closing words in verse 20 also agree with the promise already quoted from Isaiah 45:25 – "All the descendants of Israel shall be justified." For those who have been justified by faith in the Messiah, there remains no record of iniquity or sin.

    In Ezekiel 36:22-23 God reveals one main purpose of Israel’s restoration: His own glory. 

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord," says the Lord God, "when I am hallowed [or sanctified] in you before their eyes."’"

    God’s promise to restore Israel is not based on anything good they have done, but only that God may be glorified through it. If Israel deserved pardon and preservation, they would not need God’s grace. But it is only through receiving His grace that they can restore to Him the glory which their sins have robbed from Him.
    People have often said that unrepentant and unbelieving Jews will not be allowed to return to their own land. But God says that He will bring them back first and then begin to cleanse them from their sinfulness.

    "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 36:24-26).

    I believe God has already begun the process of changing their stony hearts into hearts of flesh. It is happening right now! I have been privileged to witness firsthand some aspects of it.
    In the 1940s many Jews would express their contempt for Jesus by spitting at the mention of His name. They also refused to spell His name in its correct Hebrew form. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, however, a remarkable change in this attitude began to manifest itself. Many Jews are now ready to acknowledge that Jesus really was Jewish and seem eager to hear of the impact He has had in the lives of Gentile Christians.

Fellowship of Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ in Israel

    Since 1967 a whole new movement has grown up consisting of Jews who have personally acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah, while retaining their identity as Jews. The name by which they have become known is Messianic Jews. Worldwide, they now number in the hundreds of thousands.
    God reveals that this change of heart will prepare Israel to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: 

"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God" (Ezek. 36:27-28).

    There is no doubt as to the land which God gave to the forefathers of Israel. Only one land answers to that description: the land which is now again known as Israel. I must emphasize that this promise describes a literal, historical return of the Jews to their land. There is no way to "explain away" this promise. The Bible is God’s Word, and this promise must be fulfilled!

    But physical restoration to the land is not the final goal. It is only a necessary prelude to the climax which is God’s ultimate purpose: restoration to God Himself. "You shall be My people, and I will be your God." All the events currently taking place in the Middle East are being divinely orchestrated to bring about this supremely important objective: the reconciliation of Israel to their God.

    A little further on in Ezekiel 36 God again reminds the Jewish people that they have done nothing to deserve their restoration: "‘Not for your sake do I do this,’ says the Lord God, ‘let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!’" (Ezek. 36:32).

    Ultimately, the whole human race has no hope of good apart from the mercy and grace of God. By definition, these can never be earned. This is equally true of Jews and Gentiles. God has chosen, however, to make His restoration of Israel a grand, historical demonstration of this truth to all nations.