A Message from John Winthrop – Don’t Embrace This Present World

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As Ray began his sermon yesterday, he asked us to imagine being one of one hundred people who were all together on one side of our church’s auditorium — for two months without leaving. Then he told us that this is what it was like for the Puritans who came across the Atlantic Ocean on the Arabella in 1630. They had two choices of where to be during that two months, in the hold or on deck.

Lawyer John Winthrop spoke a sermon to his fellow Puritans traveling with him on the Arabella. Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” is one of the most famous sermons in the English language. As we prepare for this 243rd celebration of the 4th of July, I’d like to share with you the excerpts of the sermon that Ray shared with us yesterday. I’m dividing this into three parts. That way we can slowly take in the language, so different from the way we speak today.

Flag waving at our friends’ home in Kansas.

We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. . . . We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission . . . but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and dissembling with our God, shall embrace this present world, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.

Winthrop’s words about the Lord “break[ing] out in wrath against us” comes from God’s warning to Israel through the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 13:13.

Jesus told us that God blesses both the righteous and the unrighteous.

But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:44-45

However, God is loving and wise. He doesn’t coddle His children. He loves us enough to discipline us.

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood
in your striving against sin;
and you have forgotten the exhortation
which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
It is for discipline that you endure;
God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them;
shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,
but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it,
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Hebrew 12:4-11

Ray talked to us yesterday about the word “righteousness.” As he said, “righteousness” is a word we use at church; it is not a word that gets tossed around much in conversation. As Ray also pointed out, righteousness simply means what is right.

We can look back at the Puritans and admire many things they did and reject some things. We can look at our country now and admire some things and reject some things. Ultimately though we can only control ourselves. As we think about Ray’s key verse for his sermon yesterday, we have to look in the mirror and decide: I will be a righteous person. I will do right. I will train my children to do right. As we think about America’s birthday, that is what we can do to help America live up to the ideals many of its founders had.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

John Winthrop warned the folks on the ship not to “embrace this present world” or to seek “great things for ourselves and our posterity.” This is a powerful temptation for homeschool families — to embrace the world and to want great things for our children so much that we put their hearts, minds, and souls in danger. Let’s remember something Jesus said about that:

If you were of the world, the world would love its own;
but because you are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
because of this the world hates you.
John 15:19

Temporary goals that help your children only in this world are goals too low. Homeschool for eternity! Here’s what the apostle John said many years after Jesus talked about the world hating us:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15



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