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FRONT PORCH GOSPEL: Scholars Henry, Maclaren join us on the ‘Front Porch’ (part 2)

Today I want to take you to an excerpt of Maclaren’s writing, this based on Nathanael’s confession in John 1, where he declares, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (v. 49).

Mr. Maclaren delves into the confession in his usual beautiful style:

“Notice… the enthusiasm of the confession; one’s ear hears clearly a tone of rapture in it. The joy-bells of the man’s heart are all a-ringing. It is no mere intellectual acknowledgment of Christ as Messiah. The difference between mere head-belief and heart-faith lies precisely in the presence of these elements of confidence, of enthusiastic loyalty, and absolute submission.

“So the great question for each of us is, not, Do I believe as a piece of my intellectual creed that Christ is ‘the Messiah….’ That will not make you a Christian, my friend. That will neither save your soul nor quiet your heart, nor bring you peace and strength in life, nor open the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven to you.

“A man may be… sunk in all manner of wickedness… though he believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the King of Israel. You want something more than that. You want just this element of rapturous acknowledgment, of loyal submission, absolute obedience, of unfaltering trust” (Eerdmans 66-67).

If you’ve ever heard a church of Christ preacher preach, you will recognize immediately a similar emphasis on the necessity of absolute obedience over mere “head-belief,” as Maclaren calls it.

Many quiet mornings – or in the evenings when the day slows down – I regularly pick up Maclaren and enjoy some of the world’s best prose and deep contemplation of scripture. I’m thankful for him and for Mr. Henry for their aid through the years in helping me to try to glean some of the hidden gems deep within the word of God.

I expect you will hear from these two great writers again in our visits on the “front porch,” sometimes directly, and sometimes just in the subconscious influence of their elegant style.

Blessings to all!

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email: or call or text 972-824-5197.

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