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Listen while you read: "Lord I Want To Be A Christian"1 (Lyrics)

I don't think that I ever heard my dad preach. If I did, I was too young to remember. I was just a wee lad in the early 1930s. He had survived being wounded several times (including at Vimy Ridge) and shell-shocked in World War I, only to have his career as a minister of the gospel (and his life) end too soon by what is known today as Parkinson's Disease. He has long gone on to be with the Lord, but the message will never die.

I still have the outline of a sermon my father preached some 80 or so years ago based on Ephesians 3:18. On reading this verse in the New International Version, it occurred to me that if my dad were still preaching, he would probably not have used the same sermon today. Why? Because he and the congregation would most likely be reading from a modern translation, whereas 80 years ago, he would undoubtedly have been reading from the King James Version. What is the difference?

Ephesians 3:17b-19a (NIV) – And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.

Ephesians 3:17b-19a (KJV) – That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.

Note that the third and fourth dimensions are switched.

No, it doesn't change anything, but as my dad pointed out, the version with which he was familiar fitted in perfectly with the best known of all Scripture verses, John 3:16.

For God so loved the world – That is the width of His love – it takes in the whole suffering, sinful, struggling world.

that he gave his only begotten Son – That is the length to which God went. Jesus gave His life. And God the Father watched that terrible deed, when He had but to say a word to save His Son from such an ordeal. They both suffered beyond our imagining. Why?

that whosoever believeth in him – Whosoever! You cannot sink so low as to be beyond the reach of the love of Christ. That is the depth of His love.

should not perish, but have eternal life – That is the height – the ultimate – eternal life with our Saviour.

The sermon expanded on each "dimension", then added a warning. In stressing the dimensions, we might overlook what is perhaps the most important word of all: whosoever believeth.

We need not wait to begin an eternal life with Him. The moment we repent and believe, His immeasurable love enfolds us with patience and understanding, and in all the uncertainties of life, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Prayer: Dear Lord and heavenly Father, Your love for us was at a cost to You and Your Son that is beyond our imagining. Help us, Lord, to do our best to be worthy, to live every moment with the knowledge that we are Yours. May we, in the words of the hymn, "be closer drawn to Thee". In the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Robert Sutherland <>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:


    Good reminder Robert. Btw I have all of my Dad’s handwritten sermons and bible studies. A priceless treasure.

    Bravo Bob! Even though I’m still travelling after my father’s funeral, I read your piece today and it was great!

    Robert, Thank you for sharing these insights with us today. Praising God for all the dimensions of His love. Blessings.

    Good morning, Robert. You are right. God our father allowed his only son to die a horrible death to save our sinful souls!

    Thank you Robert for your devotion this morning. A great way to start my day. I’m sure you must have received some of your father’s genes…a good message and reminder for us for sure. Keep writing.

    Your Dad must have been an engaging preacher! He knew his text and used it wisely to God’s glory!
    Thanks, blessings,

    Thanks Robert for sharing of your dad’s service and love, which mantle has been passed to you. Has Father selected the recipient of this ministry when the time arrives? I imagine He has.

    Dear Robert,
    Thanks for putting the time in to bring us this thought.

    Today’s devotion opened my understanding of the passage you wrote.
    You are right, it fitted perfectly John 3:16, then again, every passage leads to the sacrificial love of God through Christ Jesus.
    Thank you for reminding me. I needed this ‘daily bread’ to nourish my weary spirit.
    God bless you.

    I too had an uncle, that fought on Vimy Ridge. He was wounded and had to crawled back from the front line to safety. My uncle also suffered from shell shock and was terrified of thunder storms and would try to be with someone for support during them.
    Your message was well put.
    Thank you and others that contribute to this page. It is much appreciated and may God bless each one of you.

    Dear Bob,
    I thank you for today’s devotion in reminding us of what we as Christians too often take for granted. We speak of God’s love, yet our minds cannot truly wrap itself around the profoundness of God’s love for us. It is a divine love, the kind that God alone is capable of giving. May all who read and reflect on this devotion be touched anew with His love, and as you prayed, be drawn closer to Him, and live with the certainty that nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus. Praise be to God!

    Dear Robert, what a blessing to have had a father with such faith. My own father is very cynical about the Church and Christ. It pains me to see him not accept that Great Love He has to give him. I love my dad with all my heart after receiving such healing through Him who loves us.
    I am retiring in several months and I decided this morning to print the devotional that are touching my soul and yours will be the first one.
    Thank you for sharing a bit of your history and wisdom which comes from God himself.
    May Our Lord Jesus Christ bless your work and your life.

    Hi Robert,
    If your devotional ever found fertile ground it did so with me. I use for my devotions the Amplified and King James versions. But when I get to passages like John 15,16,17, or Ps 91… I go to the King James, if only for the lovely sound of them. I recently acquired Spurgeon’s Treasury of David wherein the author presents many versions of the Psalms or portions of, and it is really an eye-opener.
    But as you pointed out the message of Salvation is presented quite clearly for every one.
    Thank you so much for today’s submission.
    God bless.

    Dear Robert Sutherland,
    You have really given us a strong message to begin the new month of March. Many thanks. I can see that your father was a great preacher — and you must have followed in his steps when you have chosen to share this with us all.
    I tucked some of my thoughts into your precious prayer:
    Prayer: Dear Lord and heavenly Father, Your love for us was at a cost to You and Your Son that is beyond our imagining. Help us, Lord, IN APPRECIATION FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR US, to do our best to be worthy, to live every moment with the knowledge that we are Yours — BOUGHT BY YOU AT THE PRICE OF YOUR ONLY SON. May we, in the words of the hymn, “be closer drawn to Thee”. In the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
    Keep writing.

    Good Morning Robert:
    What a beautiful message bringing honor and love to the memory of your dear father, who from your description certainly was a true servant of the living God.
    How blessed we are when we can remember our parents as doers of the word and not hearers only.
    This was a beautiful teaching message assuring us the Love Of God can and will provide eternal life to WHOSOEVER seeks Him and claims Him as Savior and Lord.
    I had the pleasure of visiting the memorial at Vimy Ridge several times, and while there, touring the trenches, I was made aware of the great, great sacrifice, men like your dad, made on our behalf in dangerous and deplorable conditions.
    I am sorry you lost your dad at such an early age, but you have much to be proud of him for. He was a young man who was indeed loyal to both his country and indeed his Master.
    Your message made me even more aware of two blessings we as Canadians have:
    A) The gift of freedom we enjoy today because of men like your dad, who thought it an honor to leave their loved ones at home and serve their country abroad during wartime.
    B) The blessing we have had over the years because, men like your dad, lived and died knowing and teaching others the old, old story that, “God did provide us with the wonderful gift of Eternal Life when we He sent His Loving Son to die for the Whosoever Will.”
    Your dad was a great man of God who delivered a great message. He died early, but left much for you to be thankful for day in and day out. God bless you.

    Good morning,
    What a beautiful devotional. Thank you for being the vessel that FATHER chose to bring HIS word to touch my heart & soul.
    Your story reminds me of my grandfather, a flying officer in the royal flying corp. He passed away when I was a teen.
    Granddad did not speak of the war much and I knew not to ask.
    One day granddad spoke…and about his flying experiences…I did not ask, just listened He started out with generalities. One thing stuck in my memory of his empathy for those in the trenches. The horrid living conditions…the horrors of battle, no mans land and so on. He said nothing about killing or being shot at. But he several times described what he saw from the air returning from dog fights…the soldiers in the trenches, both friend and foe.
    Your description of your dad, shell shock, reminded me of my visit with granddad many years ago. What I see in my minds eye is a fresh as it was when granddad painted the image with his words.
    Thank you again for your devotional, the two different versions, of the verses you used as an examples and pointing out the difference.
    Impacts me to read more deeply And to take time to ponder and reflect.
    I know that your dad, my grandparents, my father and friends who have preceded me to traveling to be with the LORD are enjoying their reward for their faith and practice. I also know that FATHER is most generous to have given HIS only son, JESUS, so that we believers, can be washed free of our sins, and take comfort that no matter what this life throws our way, that we are not alone and that our room awaits us when we are called home.
    My prayer for you is that your always enjoy health, happiness with prosperity all the days of your life.
    AMEN & AMEN.
    (Texas, USA)

    Thank you Rob,
    I have subscribed to this devotional for quite some time and this is the first I have had the privilege to read one by someone I know! Keep up the good inspirational work.


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