A Brief Meditation for the Month

December 2023

In the year 1543, among other Protestant martyrs in Scotland who died for their faith, were a husband and wife, Robert Lamb and his wife, Helen. They were charged with: “assembling together to hear expositions of Holy Scripture, dishonouring images, eating flesh on fast days, and for blaspheming the Virgin Mary.” In addition to these accusations, they, with others, were charged with “eating a goose on a forbidden day.” When the day of execution arrived for six martyrs, including Robert and Helen, she begged to be allowed to die alongside her husband, but this was denied. However, she was permitted to accompany him to the gallows before she herself was drowned. Before parting company, Helen kissed her husband for the last time and said to him: “Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days. But this day, in which we must die, ought to be the most joyful to us both, because we must have joy for ever. Therefore, I will not bid you ‘Good night,’ for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven.” When Helen was then led to the place of her own execution, she handed her infant child, still sucking at her breast, to a sympathetic woman and implored her neighbours witnessing the event to care for the children she must be parted from before being plunged to her death in the cold merciless water.

These brave sufferers for the truth joined the long line of witnesses for Christ throughout the centuries of the Church’s history. The Saviour and the truth of God meant so much to them that they were willing to die before they would deny or surrender either. Their faith was not a cheap, superficial faith. It was an enduring faith wrought in them by the operation of the Holy Spirit. In our day and generation, we may not be required to suffer or die as some of our forefathers have, but we need the same persevering, steadfast, uncompromising faith that motivated and steeled them. They were given faith to “live godly in Christ Jesus,” and they were given grace and faith to die for him. The Bible reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God, and as the apostle Paul, quoting from the prophet Habakkuk, tells the Romans and the Galatians, “The just shall live by faith,” Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11, so it remains: the faith which pleases God is personal faith in the person and saving work of his Son, Jesus Christ. This is justifying faith, and without it, we can never hope to find acceptance with God. However, it is essential to remember that justifying faith is persevering faith. Justifying faith is not a mere one-time act but a consistent and persistent lifestyle of total daily dependence upon God’s saving and sustaining grace. This is what enabled the apostle Paul to endure so many hardships throughout his ministry. He was able to write to Timothy regarding his apostleship and ministry to the Gentiles: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12. Paul was not attempting to keep himself, but he had confidence in the One to whom he had entrusted the safekeeping of his soul. Such spiritual confidence maintains peace and tranquillity within the soul. This is not a natural fleshly presumption but a simple childlike trust in the unfailing faithfulness of God. Listen to the inspired words of the Psalmist: “The Lord is thy keeper,” Psalm 121:5. Dear believer, where else will you find such solace, or anyone so reliable? In the same Psalm, verse four, the Psalmist reminds us: “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” What blessed divine devotion!

G. G. Hutton.