My Musings

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Beating of Obadiah Holmes – Tale of an Unsung Baptist Hero (Part 2)

We know that after Christ conquered death and rose from the grave he ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God. Scripture is clear that he is not standing, but that his is sitting.

“…where Christ SITTETH on the right hand of God.” ~ Colossians 3:1

“…when he had by himself purged our sins, SAT down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” ~ Hebrews 1:3

However, there is one reference to Christ standing up at God’s right hand.

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus STANDING on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man STANDING on the right hand of God.” ~ Acts 7:55-56

As Stephen was being martyred, he looks up toward heaven and sees Christ, not sitting, but standing at the right hand of God. In one passage we see Christ sitting, and in another passage we see Christ standing. These scriptures are not in contradiction to one another. I believe that as Christ is sitting at God’s right hand he is looking down at us and watching us as a father would watch his children. When Christ sees one of his children doing something out of the ordinary (like willingly laying down his life for the sake of Christ) he stands up and begins to both cheer for him and to give him more grace.

When Stephen was being martyred for his faith in Christ, God began to use his death to create the momentum for a great Christian movement. In that crowd, witnessing the Spirit of God on this devoted martyr was a man named Saul who would eventually change his name to Paul, write nearly half of the New Testament, and start churches all over Europe and Asia.

Christ stood up, cheered for his devoted saint and decided to bless Stephen’s act of devotion beyond human measure! When this man, Obadiah Holmes, decided to suffer for Jesus, Christ must have looked down from heaven and decided to use him in much the same way as he used Stephen.

Here are some of the effects of the beating of Obadiah Holmes in Boston. John Spur, an on looker, gave testimony that being moved by the powerful faith of Holmes, he was born again during the beating of Obadiah Holmes! Amazing!

John Clarke, Holmes’ pastor, proficient in law, medicine, and theology, was moved by the beating of Holmes to write a book entitled, “Ill News From New England.” In this book, Clarke presented his philosophy of government and pushed for government not to interfere with man’s conscience relating to religious matters. These writing, in part, influenced the freedoms in America that were just around the corner.

On Feb. 10, 1702, Valentine Whiteman married Susanna Holmes, the grand-daughter of Obadiah Holmes and great-grand-daughter of Roger Williams who was called the apostle of freedom of conscience. In 1712, Whiteman moved to New York and started the first Baptist Church in New York City. Holmes had a godly offspring.

It is amazing how God used this man in early American history. Many of the early Baptist churches can trace themselves directly back to the influence of Obadiah Holmes and his godly posterity.

Whiteman won Wade Palmer who in turn won Schobel Stearns to Christ. Schobel Stearns probably deserves more credit than anyone else for the explosion of the gospel across the southern states. Schobel Stearns is credited by many as the father of the Bible belt. It is said that over 5,000 churches are direct descendants from Schobel Stearns.

That is a revival! Thousands of churches were started all across the south, transforming the entire political, social, and religious landscapes. Thousands and thousands were saved and baptized as a result.

I believe that Christ stood up that day as he looked down at Obadiah Holmes as he was stripped to the waist and beaten nearly to death. As that blood ran down and filled his shoes and pooled at his feet, I believe I can almost hear the savior shouting up in heaven, “I’m going to bless you, Obadiah! Don’t you give up! I’m going to bless you and your descendants beyond your wildest dreams! Obadiah, you won’t even know the extent that I’m going to bless you!”

I wonder if we would stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and just give our lives over to Him, how many lives we could influence for His glory! How many people would come into contact with us and their lives be so stirred because they saw somebody devoted and on fire for God!? How many of God’s blessings would he begin to pour over our lives and our nation for our sakes like he did for Obadiah?

Obadiah Holmes – An Unsung Baptist Hero

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