Cyprian’s Letter to Christians in Prison

Cyprian’s Letter to Christians in Prison

Cyprian’s letter to his Christian friends who were in prison for their faith and condemned to forced labor in the mines is one of my favorite writings from the early church fathers:

“For a Christian body is not very greatly terrified at clubs, seeing all its hope is in the Wood. The servant of Christ acknowledges the sacrament of his salvation: redeemed by wood to life eternal, he is advanced by wood to the crown. But what wonder if, as golden and silver vessels, you have been committed to the mine that is the home of gold and silver, except that now the nature of the mines is changed, and the places which previously had been accustomed to yield gold and silver have begun to receive them? . . . Moreover, they have put chains on your feet, and have bound your blessed limbs, and the temples of God with disgraceful chains, as if the spirit also could be bound with the body, or your gold could be stained by the contact of iron. To men who are dedicated to God, and attesting their faith with religious courage, such things are ornaments, not chains; nor do they bind the feet of the Christians for infamy, but glorify them for a crown. Oh feet blessedly bound, which are loosed, not by the smith but by the Lord! Oh feet blessedly bound, which are guided to paradise in the way of salvation! Oh feet bound for the present time in the world, that they may be always free with the Lord!”

Epistle 76


Aristides on the Early Christians

Aristides on the Early Christians

Aristides’ Apology for the Christians is one of my favorite Christian writings from the second century. In it, he defends Christians from the false accusations made against them by the Romans in a letter to Emperor Hadrian. I encourage you to read the whole thing as well as the rest of the writings of the apostolic church fathers. The following excerpt shows how the early Christians conducted themselves:

“But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search, have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.”

Videos on Apologetics You Should Watch

I have been collecting my favorite videos on Christian apologetics for some time and would like to share them with you. Here is a link to my YouTube playlist on Christian apologetics. In addition, here are my favorite Christian channels on YouTube that consistently put out good content:

Acts 17 Apologetics

Reformed Apologetics Ministries

Alpha and Omega Ministries

Apologia Studios

Theology, Philosophy, and Science

The Gospel Coalition

Desiring God

Inspiring Philosophy

Ryan Reeves



Real Truth Real Quick

One Minute Apologist

Living Waters

Tony Miano

Answers in Genesis

HeartCry Missionary Society

Paul Tripp

I’ll Be Honest

Christian Praise and Worship

The Character of Thomas Brooks

I am currently working my way through the first volume of the writings of the Puritan Thomas Brooks. His writings have had a wonderful impact on my understanding of prayer, temptation, suffering, and trusting in God. I would like to share with you some of the character traits that made him the excellent pastor he was. Alexander Grosart writes in his memoir of Brooks that he was, “A person of a very sweet nature and temper: so affable, and courteous, and cheerful.” He was not a man who fit the caricature of the Puritans so common in English classrooms and the media. His trust in God resulted in joy before others. “He feared nothing of himself or others, knowing the promise and oath of God would stand firm.” This trust in God gave him confidence before others.

He was a humble man who ascribed all the power of his ministry to Christ instead of himself. “Pride and moroseness are bad qualities of a man of his employ, and make men afraid of the ways of God, for fear they should never enjoy a good day after.” The godly life is the blessed life because true happiness only comes through the gospel. If we are called to imitate our pastors, they should be men who are worthy of imitating and people we would want to be like. There is something infectious about a Christian who loves God and wants to share God’s love for him with others.

Brooks was a man of deep patience who could endure sickness and infirmities because he always knew God would take care of him body and soul. “Sense of pardon took away sense of sickness.” Because his future was secure, he did not mind when his body was failing. “He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart.” He knew the truth and lived it out. Christian theology was not a mere exercise for him, but his very life. And this theology impacted every aspect of his life and he wanted to show others how to apply it to theirs. He was eager in his writings to share his great knowledge of Scripture, not for his own sake, but for the good of his readers who were engaged in combat with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Labor was “his meat and drink.” He took great delight in his work as a pastor. After college, he served as a Navy chaplain at sea and on land before entering the pastorate. He said that he would not exchange his years at sea for all the riches of England. Through his time at sea, I am certain that he grew in his dependence on God as his life was in the hands of the raging sea. Living among sailors would have enlightened him to the sinfulness and vanity of the world. Knowing the depths of the sins of others helps us to appreciate the greatness of God’s grace in saving us from our own sinfulness. Ministering to sinners teaches us how to speak to their heart and convey the gospel in language they can understand. May God raise up more men like Thomas Brooks.

How to Build Your Library for Free

Here are a list of some of the free online resources I use on a regular basis in addition to Bibleworks on my PC.

Online Libraries:

The works of Thomas Brooks and Thomas Watson are the best.

Almost all writings from the 17th to 19th century are available online in one form or another.

Google Books:

Go to search tools and change it to the 19th century to download books for free.

The “International Critical Commentary” is one example of a great resource.

Always preview books as much as you can through Amazon and Google before you buy them.


The commentaries of John Calvin, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, Matthew Poole, John Lightfoot, A. T. Robertson, and the sermons of Charles Spurgeon are all available online for free.

Bible Study Tools: – The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge which is a great reference tool.

My First Sermon at Seminary

This is an outline of the first sermon I preached at seminary six years ago:

2 Chronicles 25:2: “The Danger of A Divided Heart”

Read 2 Chronicles 25:1-4, 14-16.


(Introduction) My prayer for you this afternoon is that you would not end your life like that of Amaziah but serve God with all of your heart.

He started off well but ended his life in idolatry and under the judgment of God.

So many seminary students eventually drop out of ministry because of the idolatrous desires of their heart.  Adultery, money, insecurity.

God is not looking for namby-pamby Christians but for those who will serve him with undivided hearts.

Proposition: I call upon you to “Serve God with An Undivided Heart.”

What idols are preventing you from serving God with a whole heart?

What is it that consumes your thoughts?  That is what you worship and that is your god.

We see in this passage four ways that we can serve God with a divided heart that we must keep away from: idolatry, hypocrisy, greed, and unbelief.

(1) You can serve God with a divided heart by setting up idols that divide your worship between God and the world: Verse 14 worship of idols. 

According to 2 Kings 14:4 Amaziah also refused to take down the high places where idolatry was committed. 

Do not set up idols in your life that divide your loyalty to Christ.  Forsake the idols of your heart.  Do not have an undivided heart.

Hudson Taylor: “The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.” 

Wilbur Chapman: “Christian! It is not the ship in the water, but the water in the ship, which sinks it. So it is not the Christian in the world, but the world in the Christian, which constitutes the danger. Anything which dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it!”

Don’t Waste Your Theological Education by neglecting personal worship, Bible reading and prayer, not evangelizing, not serving in the church, setting aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ, and not dealing seriously with the sin in your life.

Philip Jacob Spener: “A young man who fervently loves God, although adorned with limited gifts, will be more useful to the church of God with his meager talent and academic achievement than a vain and worldly fool with double doctor’s degrees who is very clever but has not been taught by God.”

(2) You can serve God with a divided heart by being a hypocrite: Verse 4 – partly obeyed the Law of Moses. 

Avoid hypocrisy: Amaziah obeyed the Law of Moses in not killing their children according to Deuteronomy 24:16 but broke the first commandment by committing idolatry 25:14.

(3) You can serve God with a divided heart by making wealth your treasure: Verse 9 – response to the man of God.

Do not make wealth your treasure: his treasure was in his wealth. 

Following the Lord is costly. 

The Lord will repay you for the sacrifices you have made on behalf of his kingdom as the prophet says.

(4) You can serve God with a divided heart by ignoring the Word of God: Verse 16 – rebukes the prophet. 

Do not ignore God’s warning in Scripture:

God sends people into our lives to turn us from our idolatry. 

Have you said to them what Amaziah said to the prophet?

(Conclusion) Half-hearted worship results in the judgment of God 25:17.

Pray that God would open your eyes to your sin unlike Amaziah – Verse 20

Hebrews 3:12-13: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

God disciplines his children to turn them from their idolatry in order that they may serve him with a whole heart.

Hebrews 12:6-8: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

Have you been like Amaziah?  Have you started off well but have lost your first love?

Do not let your end be like that of Amaziah – it is the end the counts.

Will people remember you as a half-hearted servant of God or as one who is fully committed to doing God’s will in every area of your life?

What is it in your life that you have to forsake to serve God with a whole heart?

What is it that you are worshiping beside God that is dividing your heart?

Ask yourself, “Will this divide my heart in my obedience to Christ?”

Whatever it is, that is idolatry.  Confess it to God, repent of it and forsake it.

Closing prayer: Do not let our end be like that of Amaziah but of the Apostle Paul.

Books Every Christian Should Read

This is my recommended list of books that I believe every Christian should read in their lifetime. Anything written by Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, Thomas Brooks, Jeremiah Burroughs, Paul David Tripp, or Paul Washer is worth reading as well.

If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments by Randy Alcorn

A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith by Anonymous

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer

The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett

Heaven on Earth by Thomas Brooks

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks

In the Beginning by Walt Brown

The Evil of Evils by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

Baptism: Its Mode and Subjects by Alexander Carson

Reasons for Separating from the General Synod of Ulster by Alexander Carson

The Meaning and Use of Baptizen by T. J. Conant

David Brainerd: His Life and Diary by Jonathan Edwards

The Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George

From Heaven He Came And Sought Her by Jonathan Gibson

The ESV Study Bible by God

Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

More Than Conquerors by William Hendricksen

The Apostolic Fathers by Michael W. Holmes

The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

Death and the Afterlife by Robert Morey

How to Answer a Jehovah’s Witness by Robert Morey

How to Answer a Mormon by Robert Morey

The Islamic Invasion by Robert Morey

Autobiography of George Muller by George Muller

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray

The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink

Desiring God by John Piper

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper

A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert L. Reymond

All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon

A Puritan Golden Treasury by I. D. E. Thomas

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

Quest for More by Paul David Tripp

Without A Doubt by Kenneth Samples

Women in the Church by Thomas Schreiner

The End Times Made Simple by Sam Waldron

The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson

The Church of Rome at the Bar of History by William Webster

Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells

The Forgotten Trinity by James White

The King James Only Controversy by James White

The Potter’s Freedom by James White

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Sermons in Solitary Confinement by Richard Wurmbrand

Anything written by the Puritans