Jesus, the Hound of Heaven



Evangelism is one of the important spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. Speaking of the true church as the “Body of Christ” (an organism not an organization), Ray Stedman likened evangelism to the digestive system of the body which makes food (not part of the body) into parts of the body.

There are 19 or so gifts given to the followers of Jesus when they first enter God’s family. But evangelists are very special, (think of Billy Graham, his son Franklin, Greg Laurie, Ron Ritchie, Ray Comfort in our day). The great Apostles of Jesus in the early church were marvelous evangelists, not only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but Peter, Paul, Stephen (the first martyr,) and many others. 

Evangelists are not only in the public eye---actually most Christians come into the Body of Christ one-on-one because some Christian has loved them and shared the content of the gospel message with them.

The Apostle Paul urged Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.”

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Jesus indwelling every follower is prepared to shine forth His life through each and every member of His family--regardless of what their actual spiritual gifts may be. Many come into the family of Jesus all over the world because: “...If I (Jesus) am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32)

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

John—A teen ager when Jesus asked him to join the Lord’s Band of Brothers)—wrote the following about 60 years later as an old man living in Ephesus, Turkey:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
(John 1:6-18)

Evangelists proclaim a very specific message to outsiders. They need not argue secondary or peripheral topics but take note of First Corinthians 15. Of course “apologetics” is important, but this is best done after the outsider sees the centrality of Jesus in every aspect of the faith. We humans may think we don’t need God but in fact God is the Source of everything. 

To the Philosophers at Athens

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. Addressing the Areopagus Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:16-31)

Some think following Jesus leads to austerity and poverty and estrangement from everyone of importance in our lives, but that is not so.

Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:7-10)

Evangelist Greg Laurie asked recently, "Can Anyone Be Good Enough?" [“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23]

Are people basically good? When I was a kid, I used to think so. But then my life experiences didn’t confirm that belief, because I saw so many people doing bad things.

You might be surprised to know, however, that most Americans believe people are basically good. In his book What Americans Believe, researcher George Barna revealed that 84 percent of non-Christians agree with the statement that people are basically good.

That shouldn’t be too surprising. But what is somewhat surprising is that 77 percent of self-described Christians think the same thing.

So, are people basically good? Here’s what I think. (You might be surprised.) My answer is yes and no. There are good people. There are people who do good things. Some people are good neighbors and good citizens. They’re kind and considerate.

There are people who have done good things, have made great sacrifices, or have done something heroic on behalf of others. In fact, I’ve met some nonbelievers who are nicer than some Christians. But being nice is not what gets us to Heaven, of course.

Maybe this is a better way to frame the question: Are we good enough to get to Heaven on our own merit? The answer is a resounding no. No one is good enough to reach God’s very high standards. We all fall short of them.

In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul systematically shows us that everyone falls short. In fact, if we learn nothing else from the first chapter of Romans, we discover that we’re all sinful. The bad news is that we’re sinners. The good news is there’s a Savior.

Our salvation is not earned. Rather, it is given to us as a gift from God. The immoral person needs Jesus. And the moral person needs Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus.

In many parts of the world, many have never been told they are loved by God, they may not yet know that one man (Jesus) has solved forever the problem of sin and death—Jesus died for everyone who ever lived. Further, Jesus is not dead now having conquered death forever on behalf of everyone.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

“...Jesus Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

Romans Chapter One tells that all of us are without excuse.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21)
Access to Jesus is universal. If anyone anywhere wants to call upon God, God will respond. Of course there are gods everywhere so it’s a good idea to go to the top.

“There is only one way to God, Jesus said so. Come to Jesus and He will connect you to the Father.” (Ray Stedman).

“God is love and he who loves is born of God.”
Of the four common Greek words for love used in the New Testament agape is the word used here).

Jesus works in the world in two ways. The announcement of the gospel is the message with content, consistency, logical and detailed. Jesus is called the Logos of God in the New Testament but He is also called the Wisdom of God, especially in the Old Testament. It’s important to consider that we have a built in ability to respond to the unconditional love in the world directly from God, or through other people.

See also Wikipedia for a wide perspective on evangelism.

Jesus is the Hound of Heaven

When shepherds send their sheep to pastures every day they dispatch them under the watchful eye of trained sheep dogs. The shepherd can focus on other matters because the dogs obey their Master and do not heed the voice of a stranger. The sheep dogs act as proxies for the owner of the flock.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:22-30)

Dogs Come to Mind


This essay is really not about dogs per se but about the unceasing efforts of Jesus to draw all men to Himself. The skill of dogs, these intelligent animals, who symbolize agents of the Great Shepherd is phenomenal! A friend of mine raised a wonderful German Shepherd named Nicolette. She was a wonderful companion for Steve all her life, but she populated the neighborhood with her black offspring because Steve could not afford to have her properly bred each time she came into her heat.

 

 

Rescue Dogs

As a boy I read about the great rescue dogs of Switzerland who were dispatched with a keg of brandy around their necks to rescue climbers snow bound in the high Alps.

And Tracking Dogs are Amazing

A dog is a man’s’ best friend! Cats, not so much so!

In third world countries run wild on the streets and are considered unclean. This metaphor was used when the New Testament was written.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3:1-16) 

But these, (False Teachers), like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.

These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:12-22)


You ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog (by Elvis Presley in 1952) 

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog
Cryin' all the time
You ain't nothin' but a hound dog
Cryin' all the time
Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit
And you ain't no friend of mine


Francis Thompson THE HOUND OF HEAVEN

This short essay is inspired by my rediscovery of a quaint poem from 1893 which alludes to Jesus as an active evangelist, hunting down lost men and women world wide, in every generation since the beginning.

"The Hound of Heaven" is a 182-line poem written by English poet Francis Thompson(1859–1907). The poem became famous and was the source of much of Thompson's posthumous reputation. The poem was first published in Thompson's first volume of poems in 1893. It was included in the Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917). Thompson's work was praised by G. K. Chesterton, and it was also an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien, who presented a paper on Thompson in 1914. This Christian poem has been described as follows:

"The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood. As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit." J.F.X. O'Conor, S.J.[3]

Influence

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat---and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet--- 'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.' I pleaded, outlaw-wise, By many a hearted casement, curtained red, Trellised with intertwining charities; (For, though I knew His love Who followèd, Yet was I sore adread Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside). But, if one little casement parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to. Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue. Across the margent of the world I fled, And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars; Fretted to dulcet jars And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon. I said to Dawn: Be sudden---to Eve: Be soon; With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over From this tremendous Lover--- Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servitors, but to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit. To all swift things for swiftness did I sue; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, The long savannahs of the blue; Or whether, Thunder-driven, They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven, Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:--- Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. Still with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat--- 'Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.' I sought no more that after which I strayed In face of man or maid; But still within the little children's eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair. 'Come then, ye other children, Nature's---share With me' (said I) 'your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses, Wantoning With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses, Banqueting With her in her wind-walled palace, Underneath her azured daïs, Quaffing, as your taintless way is, From a chalice Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.' So it was done: I in their delicate fellowship was one--- Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies. I knew all the swift importings On the wilful face of skies; I knew how the clouds arise Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings; All that's born or dies Rose and drooped with; made them shapers Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine; With them joyed and was bereaven. I was heavy with the even, When she lit her glimmering tapers Round the day's dead sanctities. I laughed in the morning's eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, Heaven and I wept together, And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; Against the red throb of its sunset-heart I laid my own to beat, And share commingling heat; But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says, These things and I; in sound I speak--- Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences. Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth; Let her, if she would owe me, Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me The breasts o' her tenderness: Never did any milk of hers once bless My thirsting mouth. Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy; And past those noisèd Feet A voice comes yet more fleet--- 'Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me.' Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke! My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me, And smitten me to my knee; I am defenceless utterly. I slept, methinks, and woke, And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep. In the rash lustihead of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years--- My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. My days have crackled and gone up in smoke, Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream. Yea, faileth now even dream The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist, Are yielding; cords of all too weak account For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed. Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount? Ah! must--- Designer infinite!--- Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust; And now my heart is as a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver Upon the sighful branches of my mind. Such is; what is to be? The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind? I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds; Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds From the hid battlements of Eternity; Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again. But not ere him who summoneth I first have seen, enwound With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned; His name I know, and what his trumpet saith. Whether man's heart or life it be which yields Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields Be dunged with rotten death? Now of that long pursuit Comes on at hand the bruit; That Voice is round me like a bursting sea: 'And is thy earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing! Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught' (He said), 'And human love needs human meriting: How hast thou merited--- Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms, But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms. All which thy child's mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: Rise, clasp My hand, and come!' Halts by me that footfall: Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly? 'Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.'



Jesus the Shepherd King | | King Ego | The Angel of the Lord | God and His Angels | God’s Rule by Means of the Angels

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December 3, 2019