Posted in holy spirit, martyn lloyd-jones

The Holy Spirit’s work through Common Grace explained by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

By Elizabeth Prata

I listened to a wonderful sermon recently. I’ve been enjoying and savoring Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ series called “The Great Biblical Doctrines.” The one I’m referring to was called Creation and Common Grace.

Jones was a preacher in the UK in the last century. The bio states, “

“David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.”

It’s only 27 minutes long, because unfortunately the beginning portion has been lost. Nevertheless, you can easily understand the points this great pastor is making from the jumping off point where the sermon does open.

I was struck by the multi-layered aspect of the sermon. The sermon puts so many pieces together. The Bible is one great, unified work. It’s the revelation God wants us to know about Him and His work among the people and of earth. It is THE TRUTH, not a truth and not many truths. As you study to understand it precept by precept, a jot here, a tittle there, you begin to see a large picture emerge.

This sermon explains the work of the Holy Spirit through His ministry of common grace, and through understanding common grace, you’ll understand how when the restraining ministry of the Spirit ends at the rapture, this will be a dramatic moment as the Tribulation begins. (2 Thessalonians 2:7). You’ll understand how men could be so sinful that without the common grace of the Holy Spirit’s restraint we’d all kill each other immediately. You’ll understand why Jesus said that unless the days of the Tribulation were cut short, no flesh would survive. (Matthew 24:22). You’ll understand that the Holy Spirit has been working on earth since before earth was created. You’ll understand that it’s the Spirit who sustains all, Jesus does it through the Spirit. (Colossians 1:17).

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51).
The Spirit is the conscience that exists in all men. Though Jones’s sermons sadly are not transcribed on the site, someone took the time to publish long excerpts of this particular sermon here.

Jones said of man’s conscience,

You will remember that we are told in the prologue of John’s Gospel about ‘the true light which lighteth every man’ (John 1:9). It does not matter how you translate that verse – ‘the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ says the Authorised Version; ‘the Light that lighteth every man was coming into the world,’ says another. We are not concerned about that. We are interested in the phrase ‘the light which lighteth every man’. And there is such a light. It is a kind of natural light, as we call it, natural understanding. It is the light that is in the conscience and there is that light of conscience in every person born into this world. Now that is one of the operations of the Holy Spirit in what is called common grace.

You will remember that in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it is written, For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. When the Spirit lifts his retraining hand from man’s conscience, sin will be loosed in such a way that it is today impossible to comprehend. No man will have a conscience. Sin will reach its full expression. The horror of the few believers who come to faith in the Tribulation and live long enough to see these horrors will be permanently scarred by what they see, save the promise that God will not allow them to remember. (Isaiah 65:17).

Dr Lloyd-Jones’ delivered this sermon in 1954, and already back then he could see the decaying effects of a society being given over to its sin. That was 68 years ago, and how much more we see the accelerating effects of societies being given over to sin now. He said,

God, through the Holy Spirit, restrains the foulest manifestations of sin, but there are times when He gives people up to them. Are we, I wonder, living in such an age? Compare the twentieth century with the nineteenth. It is obvious that the moral level is very much lower today. That does not mean that everybody was a Christian in the Victorian era, but it does mean that even people who were not Christians were better men and women, speaking generally, than people now. Why? It was because of the general influence of the Holy Spirit. But it does look as if again, today, God is giving humanity over ‘unto vile affections’ as Paul outlines in Romans 1.

The Holy Spirit’s influence in the world and upon the world is not to be underestimated in light of the more visible qualities of the Messiah Savior and Father God. Please listen to the sermon and its part 2, The Significance of Pentecost, where the Spirit’s ministry dramatically changed when the Church was formed.

EPrata photo
Posted in poetry, theology

Kay Cude poetry: Treasured Memories

To all the mothers out there reminiscing over the time that has passed and your sons and daughters are now older, perhaps having left the nest, flying off to new skies and making nests of their own. The sweet time of little hugs and recious moments fly by. Cherish them.

Kay Cude did just that, revising a poem she had written long ago as she remembered just such a moment treasured in her heart.

Artist’s statement:

I had written this poem for my son many years ago to recount our sweet time together when he was a two-year old.

SWEET MEMORIES TENDERED FROM LONG-AGO

Kay Cude is a Texas poet.
Used with Permission.

Posted in theology

Prata Potpourri: Disability, Prone to wander, Spiritual gifts, more

By Elizabeth Prata

Hello friends, I pray you are doing well today. I am sliding into the summer break from school and I am overjoyed it’s the end of the year. It was a good year, I love my job, but I enjoy the time off so much. I always have these grandiose plans for the 8 weeks I’m off. Usually I give myself a week to decompress then plan to read and craft and clean and hike and do all sorts…but then I don’t. LOL, I do accomplish stuff, but my plans are always more grandiose than either my energy level or the time frame permit. But I still have fun!

Our church’s summer series of TableTalks will begin in 2 weeks. These are super fun. We meet, eat, then have a lesson, then stay around and discuss it at our tables. It’s friendly, edifying, low key, and edifying.

Do you have summer plans?

I’ve rounded up some content I thought might be worthwhile to read or view. I hope you enjoy!

In this first one, my friend DebbieLynne offers some thoughts on the perks of disability. Thoroughly wonderful and totally convicting. “An unexpected perk of disability

Here, G3 Ministry has a wonderfully concise article about spiritual gifts!

Dr. Abner Chou is a linguistic genius and an all around genius…He has been a professor at TMS for a while, and interim President for a year. My friend attends there and he has lauded Dr Chou’s talents for two years since he has taken classes from him. Now, we read that he has been affirmed as The Master’s Seminary President. Yay!

Paul Washer with a 3-minute clip on hell. Buckle up…if you dare!!

We are Prone to Wander, oh we are prone!

Pastor Gabe with the truth, once again. He is on Twitter, and has a blog and a podcast / podcast.

I am autistic, I know people who are autistic, I know people who have been close with non-verbal autistic people. This is a powerful reminder not only to underestimate autistic people (and the principal’s comment hurt my heart) but also that no matter who we are, we are all made in the image of God and to treat each other with dignity. “Nonverbal autistic valedictorian delivers speech

Thanks for reading! Have a super day.

Posted in eternal, God, martyn lloyd-jones, sovereign

Spiritual Journey, MLJ & the Eternal Decrees of God

By Elizabeth Prata

There’s a meme going around where people post photos of the men who have been part of your spiritual journey. It’s interesting. Of course the moment I posted mine, a person came on and commented “How about following Christ, not men?” Sigh. There’s always one.

Anyway, mine went like this:

Joel Osteen, Adrian Rogers, John MacArthur. Some didn’t know who Adrian was, I posted part of his bio that he was three time President of the Southern Baptist Convention, was conservative and stood for those theological principles, his ministry was Love Worth Finding and you can still tune in and hear his sermons today, and was a four point Calvinist or sometimes confused Arminian. He had his own theological journey, lol.

Of course someone immediately came on and started crabbing about Calvinism. I replied a few times then just deleted her comments. There’s always one. Sigh.

But they represent a journey that’s apt for me. I was new to the faith. Osteen was at the height of popularity. I listened to Osteen because I loved the arc of his rhetoric, because I thought with such a large church he must be THE guy, and because his man-pleasing speeches touched me. But as I grew and opened my Bible more and more along with what he was saying I saw pretty quickly thanks to the Holy Spirit that he was far from it. I ditched Osteen.

I loved Rogers’ clear delivery and deeper theological concepts. His focus on the sovereignty of God was a balm to my increasingly sanctified soul.

Yet as I studied it became clear that God was sovereign also in salvation, that He pre-ordained whom He would choose for salvation, and once I heard MacArthur confirm what I’d been learning from my study of the Word, that was it for me. I’d found my guy.

Not to say that I wasn’t also influenced by my own pastor, or by other men. There’s Sproul and the men at Ligonier. There’s The Master’s Seminary and the men under JMac. In the discussion on my Facebook page of who we enjoy listening to, someone mentioned Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Doctor, the man of Logic on Fire. I agreed he was a good one also. Aren’t we blessed in this day and age to have such opportunities to hear such men of God expound the word?!

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

When the commenter mentioned Lloyd-Jones, it reminded me of a blog post I’d published a few years ago on MLJ’s sermon series on the Eternal Decrees of God. It’s the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the “Eternal Decrees of God”, and one of the best sermons I’ve heard on any topic, ever. It is by UK preacher from the last century, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and it’s 50 minutes long. This is the first sermon in his wonderful series, Great Biblical Doctrines. Please take a listen, I know you will be edified.

Blurb: “Scripture: The character of God’s activities; antinomy explained; the importance of understanding the harmony of the Biblical doctrines; God’s unchanging plan; the decrees of God are unconditional and sovereign; problems in understanding this doctrine; God is not unjust.

The Eternal Decrees of God

MLJ’s other sermons are at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust, here. I recommend him. Who do you enjoy listening to?

Posted in charismatic, doctrine, error, God in a box, personal revelation, truth

Help! God is in a box! We have to get Him out!

By Elizabeth Prata

illustration from Not a Box

One week I read a book to the kids at school called “Not A Box” by Antoinette Portis. It is a book about imagination. An unseen narrator asks a rabbit, “Why are you sitting in that box?” The ensuing pages record the rabbit’s responses, insisting it is not a box, while the illustrations show indeed that in the rabbit’s mind, the box is indeed something else and the rabbit is busy outside of it.

I write frequently of the absolute integrity and truthfulness of scripture and that the only reason we can say the Bible is absolutely true is because it is the revealed word from a living and holy God. His word is contained in the Bible and nowhere else. To be sure, we can see His qualities in creation, which revealed His creative power and His divine nature (Romans 1:19-20). But His revealed will to humans? In the Bible and the Bible alone.

Continue reading “Help! God is in a box! We have to get Him out!”
Posted in theology

They crept in

By Elizabeth Prata

For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4).

For context, Jude is opening his letter by saying he’d wanted to speak of the faith and their common salvation, but must change his intended topic to one of discernment. He warned against false teachers in the next verses, including the one above.

There are so many parts to this verse to explore and chew on. Today, let’s look at the first phrase, ‘certain people have crept in unnoticed’. The question is, WHY was it unnoticed? Why didn’t the people notice the false teachers among them? It all starts with destructive heresies, ungodly men creeping in unnoticed. And why aren’t they noticed?

Because Christians today all too often fail to be familiar with the real thing, foregoing Bible study, quiet time, prayers, and worship, so that when the counterfeit shows up, being only subtly different from the Truth, it goes unnoticed.

Where do they creep into? They creep into houses, as was the custom of that day, and today, by television or podcast or books. They creep into the church as a tare. They creep in to the ministry as a false teacher. They creep in, and the majority of the population of the place are unaware.

At night, especially if you live in the south, or in a city apartment building in the north, cockroaches scamper about. While you sleep, they creep in to your cupboards and nibble on your food. They scuttle in, while you are sleeping unaware. They come out at night to eat and cavort over your clean counters, they creep in and you don’t notice them…until one day you spot a dropping. And another day another dropping, then a pile of droppings. Likening false teachers to cockroaches is an apt metaphor.

They creep in, they are unwelcome, they hide as long as they can, until the putrid fruit of their presence is detected. Southerners, knowing the frequency with which cockroaches like to invade, will protect the house. They have regular pest control measures. Do you want cockroaches crawling over your baby as he sleeps sweetly in the crib? Of course not! So protective measures are taken to keep the house free of pests.

So it should be with churches. Jude is a protective measure, dispensing wisdom from experience and a purity of truth from the Holy Spirit

Peter also is a protective measure against the pestilence of false teaching and the people who bring it. There is a parallel verse to Jude,

But false prophets also appeared among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1).

Barnes’ Notes on Peter’s verse: “[T]here were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious teachers, but whose doctrines tended to sap the very foundations of truth. The apostle Peter, describing these same persons, says, “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.” See the notes, 2 Peter 2:1. Substantially the same idea is expressed here by saying that they “had crept in unawares;” that is, they had come in “by stealth;” they had not come by a bold and open avowal of their real sentiments. They professed to teach the Christian religion, when in fact they denied some of its fundamental doctrines; they professed to be holy, when in fact they were living most scandalous lives. In all ages there have been men who were willing to do this for base purposes.”

They creep in, and insinuate themselves into the minds and hearts of their prey. The prey, (us), are unaware they are being devoured by a predator, and when discovered can’t believe the wolf is really a wolf. “But he’s so nice!” they say. “She helped me!” they cry. “It can’t be true!” and they disbelieve this person or that certain person is really false. Like kudzu, overnight the tentacles have grown and clung on. Disentangling now is unworkable and difficult.

Meanwhile, as Barnes mentioned, what are the ‘base purposes’ for which they have crept in? We know one of them is greed. (2 Peter 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:17). They have other appetites they want to satiate, too. (Romans 16:18). Whatever their base desires, they are immoral. Greed, lust, fame, pride…whatever it is that the false teacher seeks, they find it by preying on unwary Christians. They peddle His word for dishonest gain. They contradict holy precepts and upright living required by God of His people and especially of His ministers.

Too often we forget we are in a war. With all the talk of winsomeness and seekers and love…we forget that we give sin no quarter. We kill it. We forget that there are active and present enemies out to kill US, to draw us away, or to pollute our souls, or to deceive us. The enemy wants to destroy our witness. He wants to do anything against Christ that he can, and will stop at nothing short of God’s own boundaries to get it done.

We slay sin, we tear down philosophies, we anathematize false teachers. Those are fighting words. So, dear sister, fight!

EPrata painting

Posted in theology

Can you be an ‘ex-Christian’?

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

There’s no such thing as an ex-Christian. Look at 1 John-

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19)

John is saying here that people who ‘backslide’ and then fall away from the faith entirely, never really were saved to begin with. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him,” (Titus 1:16).

For many professing “ex-Christians”, it starts with apostasy, something Paul said there would be plenty of in the last days.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim 4:1-3)

And before the person started falling away, in came sneaky heresies they began listening to:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

So the apostate’s progression is: profess Christ by mouth… but since there was no visible fruit to show the state of grace they were claiming on the inside, they were never really saved; fail to walk closely with Jesus by procrastinating in discipleship, bible study, prayer, and/or worship, furthering the distance between themselves and Jesus; listen to or promote destructive heresies that either they knowingly or unknowingly begin to believe, start doubting Christ’s sufficiency; doubt more, and then slide to full blown renunciation and end up in a state of atheism.

Peter says “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” (2 Peter 2:20)

Notice the words that both Jude and Peter use to describe the heresies what will infiltrate the church in the last days; “secretly” and “crept in”. The heresies don’t come into the church by way of aggressive men bellowing a ‘new doctrine’ to the delight of followers who joyfully jump their pews and run out the door to his new church. They come sneakily, secretly, subtly.

And no wonder, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…” (Genesis 3:1) so satan isn’t going to capture hearts with bellicose attitudes or flagrantly detectable bad doctrine. Many of the preachers and teachers will not even openly pronounce their heresies, they will be secret within their heart and only after a while, introduced slyly, like Billy Graham. Jude’s words “crept in” also indicate something that also isn’t readily detectable and is subtle at the start.

These teachers will have a big, white smile, open their lecture with a warm joke, and tell you that Jesus was a good, moral teacher and that you deserve the best life now. They will never tell you that your best life is later and that Jesus didn’t come to be a moral leader but to seek and save the lost- And that you are lost. Others will tell you that we are all one universal consciousness, we are our own gods, and then, they will give you a car. They will tell you that if you believe in Jesus, He will make your life better, while you are seeking Him from comfy amphitheater watching a techno-sermon with a cappuccino in your hand. Seeker-sensitive churches are false on their premise because in Romans we learn that no one seeks God.

The end result of a Christian in name only – that is, one who claimed Jesus but never really believed – and is one who is at risk of being tempted by destructive heresies, and ultimately of apostasy. What comes next is atheism.

Atheism is a natural cul-de-sac in the road away from the cross. Gotquestions.org writes:

“At the same time, it takes just as much faith to believe in atheism. To make the absolute statement “God does not exist” is to make a claim of knowing absolutely everything there is to know about everything and of having been everywhere in the universe and having witnessed everything there is to be seen. [I]t cannot be proven that God does not exist. It takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a theist.”

Which, I suspect, could be one of the reasons Peter said it makes a person worse off from what they were before. After apostasy settles in and atheism rears its head, a person is well and truly now in the dangerous pits of despair, misplacing their burgeoning faith in something for a faith in nothing that will last forever.

Be careful you do not drift, make your calling and election sure.

RESOURCES

Is it Real? 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

Can I know that I am Saved?

What is Sanctification?

Posted in theology

Medieval mystics: Conclusion

By Elizabeth Prata

Last week I’d explored excerpts from visions of four famous Medieval Mystics of the Catholic Church:

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

We have quite a few women running around today claiming they have been given special revelations directly from Jesus, apart from the Bible. They’ve ‘taught’ through these visions, they have written books about what they’ve learned from these visions, they go on speaking tours telling about these visions, and they preach, even to men, with these visions.

In the past I have often written against these women and against this activity. It is blasphemous, it is wrong, it is immoral, and it is sin. The point of the series was to alert Christian ladies as to who these medieval women are and to show from the Bible why their visions were error. Why? AW Tozer had praised one of them in a recent devotional posted on social media. In Three Little Wounds Tozer wrote that because of mystic Julian of Norwich “England was a better place because this little lady lived” and her book of visions was a “great spiritual contribution to the world.”

No.

Now, it grieves me that women unaware of Julian’s blasphemies would forge ahead on the basis of Tozer’s or any other person’s fervent recommendation, and then begin to think that receiving visions and revelations was all right. It happens. More frequently than one might think. And that is the way that the devil likes it. He laughs because it is not God speaking to these women, but one of his dastardly demons, masquerading as ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:15). Either that, or the mystic’s visions are just flat out lies.

So I write against direct revelation and will do so again. It was not all right in the Bible days of Revelation. In Revelation 2, Jesus spoke against a false teacher metaphorically named Jezebel. He said she was teaching unbiblical things, leading His children astray and calling herself a prophetess. He said if she did not repent, He would kill her and her children. (Revelation 2).

God has never been accepting of people who claim to speak in His name when He has not spoken to them. It is an emptying of His name, a way of taking His name in vain. Worse, they want something, usually unbiblical and women (or men) co-opt Christ in their sin. For example, Bridget wanted the pope to stay in Rome and not move back to Avignon, so she claimed to have had a vision from the Virgin Mary that told off the Pope. Or Hildegard, when she wanted permission to move to another monastery and was denied permission, fainted into her bed with paralysis until her Abbott relented. “Hildegard attributed the condition to God’s unhappiness at not following his will regarding moving the monastery. The abbot relented and granted his permission for the move, and she recovered shortly thereafter.” (Source FaithMag). What a miracle, right? Well if God says so, I better comply! USING God to get your way is an utmost sin against His Holy Name. It literally breaks the Fourth Commandment. (Exodus 20:7).

Reformer Martin Luther pre-conversion was initially interested in these women’s visions, especially Bridget, and of their revelations because of their criticism of popes and of the Church. But as he studied them, he later dismissed Bridget and the others’ revelations as “mere ravings”.

We read of these Medieval mystics women today and might wonder over their popularity. Their hyper-focus on the bloodier parts of the Passion, their sensuous mystical union with Christ as Man and them as Bride, consummating in ecstasy, their acceptance of supposed revelations in direct opposition to what the Bible says, their usurping behavior calling out authorities and using illnesses to get their way…so easy to look back and say goodness, reject these ladies!

But aren’t the revelators of today much the same? Doesn’t Beth Moore preach to men, call out authorities, use hyper emotionalism to get her way like Julian did? Doesn’t Anne Voskamp present poetical writings in her books like Hildegard did in her lyrical songs, as a sensuous union with a mystical Christ? Doesn’t Joanna Gaines announce that the ‘Lord’ promised her fame and success, like he did to Catherine of Siena, so Catherine could do great things?

There was some sort of altruistic impetus in each of these women, and they did help the poor and the sick. But their motivations were suspect as their later life bore out.

They were also ritualistic. Aren’t Bridget’s alleged lesson from Jesus of saying 15 Our Fathers and 15 Hail Marys along with the 15 Oes, repeated over and over is supposed to honor His wounds (how about honoring HIM?), against what he said to do in Matthew 6:7? Isn’t Joel Osteen just as ritualistic when he holds his Bible aloft at the opening of all his speeches and says a certain unchanging mantra?

Ladies, all direct revelation post-canon closing is of the devil. All of it. Though some of the mystics were more ‘out there’ than others (Catherine of Siena comes to mind), anyone claiming direct revelation is deceitfully deceived. It’s either satan, bad burrito dreams, or a flat out lie. Any way you slice it, claiming direct visions from Jesus in violation of Hebrews 1:1-2, or accepting them from someone else is sin.

The Bible says the canon is closed, Jesus spoke. (Hebrews 1:1-2). He declared the Bible totally sufficient for all life. (2 Timothy 3:16). He has revealed to us all He wants us to follow. (Deuteronomy 29:29). Romans 15:4 says For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.

Direct revelation was wrong then (when it wasn’t from God) and since the canon closed, it’s wrong now. I mention these mystics even though they are Catholic, thus not of the faith, because they are praised with veneration and feast days in the Lutheran and the Anglican church. Please be wary, and remember, the best way to spot a counterfeit is by knowing the real thing. Stay close to Jesus and His word, and you will be blessed.

Julian, Catherine, Hildegard, Bridget, medieval Mystics still famous today, sadly!

Posted in theology

Christian Mystics #4: Bridget of Sweden

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

Bridget of Sweden. Altarpiece in Salem church, Södermanland, Sweden (restored digitally) Source Wikipedia

The mystics I’ve been looking at this week lived in the Middle Ages, are all women, and were all Catholic.

Birgitta of Sweden was born sometime in 1303, no exact date known. Her lineage was exalted- her father was one of the richest landowners of the state and her mother was distantly related to the kings of her state. But Bridget did what gals at that era were supposed to do, she married at age 14 and bore 8 children. Six of them survived infancy to become full grown. Her daughter Catherine also became a Catholic Saint.

At some point in Bridget’s adulthood and prior to her husband’s death, Bridget became known for her acts of charity. She was also summoned to the Queen’s Court to become Mistress of the Robes, AKA Lady in Waiting. There, Bridget got an eyeful and was not hesitant about proclaiming the King and Queen in later manifestos as unfit. King Magnus was heavily rumored to be homosexual and refused sexual relations with his queen. But he somehow still managed to bear two sons, one who became king of Norway and the other king of Sweden. Queen Blanche later endowed Bridget’s Order and asked for her and her husband to be buried there. Bridget accepted the money but refused the request of burial at her monastery, explaining that Blanche was “She is a snake with the tongue of a harlot, the bile of dragons in her heart and the most bitter poison in her flesh. Therefore all her eggs became poisonous. Lucky are those who never experience their burden”.

In 1341 Bridget and husband Ulf went on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain which was the thing to do. After their return, in 1344, Ulf died. Bridget decided to enter a Cistercian monastery in Sweden and dedicate her life to acts of charity toward the poor, homeless, and “sinners” AKA unwed mothers. Bridget tended them with great compassion, it is told. She only remained at the monastery for a short while, founded an Order of the Brigittines in Sweden, (Most Holy Savior) then decided to move to Rome, where she remained until her death in 1373.

Bridget’s visions had been occurring since her mother’s death in 1315 when Bridget was 11 years old but had been told to keep them quiet by her aunt. The visions grew more frequent as she aged and a year after Ulf died she had a whole series of them. She had been recording them all along, calling her journal Celestial Revelations. Both her confessor and her Abbott became interested and translated them into Latin.

There were two religious traditions in the medieval times, one was that in art, the Virgin is depicted in the Nativity as kneeling over the Babe. The other is the excessive focus on Christ’s Passion, with all hyper-attention to His wounds, the blood, and even gore. Catherine of Siena was fixated on this, so was Hildegard. Now comes Bridget with the same interest.

In addition to advising kings, queens and popes, another way Bridget was an Influencer, was that when her visions were published her view of the Nativity changed the depiction of the scene in all future art. In the past, Mary had been shown as reclining during birth. After Bridget’s vision, the Virgin is kneeling, has a spontaneous birth from that position, and kneels to pray to Him, who is not in swaddling clothes but naked on the ground. An ox and donkey usually accompanies her visionary scene, as does Joseph with a candle. An unearthly light emanates from the Babe. This scene with those elements as described above has become known as “The Adoration of the Child”.

The episode of the Virgin’s Adoration of Christ, which does not appear in the gospel account of the Nativity, derives from Saint Bridget of Sweden’s fourteenth-century vision of the birth of Christ. This widely read account narrates how, with the newborn still naked on the ground, the Virgin knelt in worship.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

One has to be pretty popular to have universally changed the way we view the Nativity scene FROM the Gospel account TO a woman’s alleged vision. If you research “The Adoration of the Christ Child” you will find most paintings arrange the scene as Bridget ‘envisioned’ it, and Museum statements attributing this arrangement to Bridget.

The other focus in Medieval times was on Christ’s Passion. For some reason Bridget wanted to know how many blows were on Christ’s body. She prayed constantly to be told this. Thus, ‘Christ’ allegedly came to Bridget and instructed her to the fact that he had 5475 blows. He told Bridget that if she said 15 Hail Marys and 15 Our Fathers, plus a series of prayers He would teach her, she would have honored every one of His blows after one year was concluded.

Oy.

As we might enjoy Spurgeon’s devotionals today, in the Middle Ages the devotional book of prayers Christ allegedly taught Bridget, called the Fifteen Oes, was the one to have. Oes because each prayer begins with O Jesu (“O Jesus; O King; O Lord Jesus Christ”). The devotional was supposed to be a sort of catechism to educate people on the Passion, and also penitential, to inspire sorrow for his beating and death. Sadly after publication, promises became attached to them. Promises that if one says the prayers regularly then souls will be relieved from Purgatory. And after that, Indulgences became attached, too. The popularity of Bridget’s prayer book declined during the 1500s Reformation since Indulgences were a key point on which Martin Luther opposed the Catholic Church.

Here is an excerpt of one of Bridget’s revelations:

But you, my daughter, whom I have chosen for myself, and with whom I now speak in spirit: love me with all your heart – not as you love your son or daughter or parents, but more than anything in the world – since I, who created you, did not spare any of my limbs in suffering for your sake! Yet, I love your soul so dearly that, rather than losing you, I would let myself be crucified again, if it were possible. (Source)

Here is another, where Bridget was allegedly an eavesdropper on a conversation between Christ and His mother Mary:

Then Mary, the Mother of God (who until now had remained silent) spoke: “Oh, my Lord and most dear Son, You were in my womb as true God and man. By your grace you sanctified me, who was but an earthen vessel. I beg you, have mercy on them once more!” Then the Lord answered His Mother: “Blessed be the words of your mouth that ascend like a sweet fragrance to God. You are the Queen and glory of angels and all saints because, by you, God and all the saints are made happy! Because your will was as my own from the beginning of your youth, I will do as you wish once more. (Source)

This is blasphemy. Jesus said His will was the Father’s (not the Mother’s) and by the Father’s will Jesus obeyed all that was to be done:

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way. (John 5:19).

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)

So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and I do nothing on My own, but I say these things as the Father instructed Me. (John 8:28)

Bridget influenced much of Europe, urging people to live a pious and moral life, even boldly chastising them if they did not (as she did with Sweden’s Queen Blanche and homosexual husband King Magnus). Bridget campaigned against church corruption. She, like Catherine, urged the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon. He did, but returned to Avignon three years later. Bridget didn’t hold back, and chastised Pope Urban V through a supposed revelation from Virgin Mary given to the upset Bridget. She predicted he would die if he returned to Avignon. And he did die three months later.

Bridget’s Order became famous and well endowed. Her book of revelations and the Fifteen Oes were widely circulated. As she was a contemporary of Julian of Norwich and Catherine of Siena, Cardinal Adam Easton wrote the Defensorium Sanctae Birgitta in Norwich, 1389-1391, defending the three women’s visionary and prophetic writings.

Saint Bridget is worshiped in the Catholic Church, (shrine and all), in the Anglican Communion, and in Lutheranism, where Bridget is celebrated in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) on her feast day on July 23.

Tomorrow: Conclusion. If you have read all four of these essays on the Medieval Mystics, you might have noticed similar strains. These women were all noted for pushing the bounds of womanly roles, they were discontent to remain in spheres the Bible outlines, they were mouthy, and seemed to use illness AND revelations to proclaim their visions and get their way. I’ll explain this further in the Conclusion, as well as compare them to modern mystics today.