Christianity Magazine arrived in the mailbox my senior year in high school. It was an encouraging, instructive and challenging friend for the next 16 years. A few years ago, Christianity Magazine became available on Logos Bible Software, and once again I found it to be a helpful companion. The articles are short, practical, earnest and still relevant today. They are worth the read and re-read.
Below are a few quotes from Christianity Magazine’s editors and regular contributors. I hope you enjoy them, and perhaps they will refuel your desire to revisit this useful resource.
I have a cassette tape with the handwritten title: “Sermon: Selfishness #1,” and at the bottom it says, “Preacher: Dee Bowman.” I listened to it so often the cassette literally fell apart. In the sermon brother Bowman said, “Selfishness is seen in man’s preference for satisfying his own self with ends that are lower than God intended.” Then he illustrated the sin of selfishness with the parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). That sermon found its way into an article entitled “Getting Hold of Yourself” in which brother Bowman wrote,
“Selfishness, which is at the base of nearly all sin and which is the result of inordinate self-esteem, is a problem with which all of us must deal from time to time.” (Bowman, D. (1986). Front Lines: Getting Hold of Yourself. Christianity Magazine, 3(5), 2.)
Dee Bowman revisited the theme of selfishness in another article and wrote,
“Selfishness likes unbridled independence (2 Peter 2:17–20). “Let me do my own thing,” it cries out. It has regard for others only when they can be used to re-varnish an already too great opinion of itself. Selfishness is pride, but with a mission. It seeks expression in pleasure, recognition, gratification. It is at the root of all sin.” (Bowman, D. (1991). Front Lines: True Love—Considerate and Selfless. Christianity Magazine, 8(4), 2.)
Paul Earnhart’s articles move me to worship and to greater earnestness in faith. He wrote wonderful expositions of the Parables, but he is best remembered for a series of articles on the Sermon on the Mount. One of his first articles began like this:
“The whole world, then as now, was in earnest pursuit of happiness and had just as little conception as men today of how to obtain it. There was no surprise in the announcement that there was true blessedness in the kingdom. The shock came in the kind of people who were destined to obtain it.
The beatitudes speak exclusively of spiritual qualities. The historic concerns of men—material wealth, social status and worldly wisdom—do not simply receive little attention, they receive none at all. Jesus is clearly outlining a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36), a kingdom whose borders pass not through lands and cities but through human hearts (Luke 17:20–24). This altogether unlikely kingdom arrived as announced in the first century (Mark 9:1; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9) but most were unprepared to recognize and receive it—even as they are now.” (Earnhart, P. (1984). Mining the Scriptures: Practical Expositions: The Sermon on the Mount. Christianity Magazine, 1(2), 27.)
In a recurring feature entitled, “And Then Some,” Brent Lewis collected meaningful quotes from articles and sermons. But, one of my favorite features was, “The Psalms in Practice,” where he examined and applied a “snapshot” from the Psalms. Like this one…
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (84:10).
“How important is the service of God to you in your life? Do you want to worship God at every opportunity? The psalmist says that only “a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” This was his attitude toward worship. Here is the joy of a single day spent in the worship and service of God. That is no small thing, at least to the psalmist. To him, it is more important than a thousand days spent in other pursuits. In joy and worth it outweighs all time spent conducting business or following pleasure.” (Lewis, B. (1988). The Psalms in Practice: The Servant’s Attitude. Christianity Magazine, 5(7), 25.)
There were few churches where I grew up. Sewell Hall’s “Lights in the World” articles allowed me to visit faithful believers around the world. They inspired my faithfulness and caused many thanksgivings and prayers to God.
One of my favorite was entitled, “A Light with Little Potential” about Frank Henderson who’s love for lost souls led to hundreds of people hearing the gospel through the use of an “answering machine” in his home. (Hall, S. (1989). Lights in the World: Holding Forth the Word of Life: A Light with Little Potential. Christianity Magazine, 6(8), 31.)
Most of all, I appreciate brother Hall’s godly wisdom and careful attention to truth, as seen in this article entitled, “The Church for Everybody”
“Far too many churches are trying to remodel the religion of Jesus Christ to make it a religion for people who don’t like religion. For those desiring recreation, they offer recreation. For those desiring entertainment, there is entertainment. For those whose primary interest is secular education, they offer day care, kindergartens, schools and colleges. For those whose appetite is for food, they build church kitchens and dining rooms. The attempt is to be “the church for everybody.”
Such carnal, temporal appeals were never authorized by the Lord. He intended that the church be a “called out,” separated body of people. If the gospel is the only appeal, it will make that separation.” (Hall, S. (1989). Hallmarks: “The Church for Everybody.” Christianity Magazine, 6(8), 5.)
Ed Harrell used his unique historical skills to examine Biblical, religious and social topics in a regular feature entitled, “Past, Present and Perfect.” But, one of the first articles I read in each issue was the article brother Harrell wrote on the back page. It was cleverly named, “Rear Views.” He briefly connected Biblical truths with real life stories. For example, in an article entitled, “Overconfidence” he begins,
“I like being around young people because of their fresh exuberance for life. Living is a challenge that surrounds them, a sea of possibilities engulfing them. Everything seems possible.”
He then gives examples of youthful enthusiasm. Then this application…
“Christians need to be called back to the exuberance of our spiritual youth: “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (Hebrews 10:32). The brand new child of God is likely to think that the road ahead is clear, that living for the Lord will be a snap, and that everyone else will respond to the truth as soon as he tells them the good news. Of course, none of that is true. But the enthusiasm is refreshing. We must keep that flame burning. It will keep us from becoming cynics; it will keep us trying. If you don’t always succeed in life, neither do you always fail.” (Harrell, E. (1997). Rear Views: Overconfidence. Christianity Magazine, 14(3/4), 32.)
I thank God for the faith, love and passion for truth which live in these men. They help me.
If you are interested in getting Christianity Magazine in Logos Bible Software, here is a link: https://www.logos.com/product/9684/christianity-magazine (About a dollar an issue. Less than the original price 30 years ago.)
I also enjoyed L.A. Mott’s expositions of Biblical text like Isaiah and Philippians. Of course, I love anything that deals with the text!
Here is another quote from Sewell Hall. It sound like it was written for the church today!
“A newspaper article states that churches must make major changes if they are to survive. Should such changes be made? If the purpose of the church is to attract as many people as possible, then it will have to accommodate itself to changing human preferences. But the survival of such a church is of very little consequence to the world.
The church that Jesus built is not a church “of men” but “of Christ” (Romans 16:16) and “of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:14). It is composed of men and women bound together by a common purpose to live by the will of the unchanging God (James 1:17) as revealed in His unchanging word (1 Peter 1:23–25). Any changes made must bring them closer to the will of God, not to the will of men (Acts 5:29). They dare not attempt to remake God in the image of man; their mission is to remake men in the image of God, however many or few may be willing to be remade. They are the salt God has placed in the world to improve it. “But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned” (Matthew 5:13)? The church must not allow temporal considerations to turn her from her eternal mission.” (Hall, S. (1989). Hallmarks: Back to the Bible—To Be Christ’s Church. Christianity Magazine, 6(6), 5.)
The pictures above came out of Christianity Magazine, January 1999. I wish I had one of the early copies of the magazine. They had hand-drawn pictures of the authors.