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Handed Down

To us, by us.

The Celtic Revival: Celtic Christian Worldview (14)

This is the catholic faith; which it is more profitable to believe and confess than to demolish by discussion. Neither the wisdom of the age nor worldly understanding which follow the outward appearances of things rather than knowledge of the truth could discern it but the apostolic faith has handed it down and the vigilance of the church has kept it safe.

  - Liber de Ordine Creaturarum, Irish, 7th century

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

  - Jude 3

In every generation, Christians have been zealous about the twin works of education and evangelism. This was no less true of Celtic Christians (ca. 430-800 AD), who understood themselves to have received the apostolic and catholic (universal) faith and were committed to proclaiming and inculcating it by every available means, keeping it safe and handing it down for the generations that would succeed them.

Monasteries were a primary venue for instruction, as well as for preparing and sending missionaries as peregrini pro Christo to proclaim the Gospel among unevangelized peoples and in moribund Christian parishes. Celtic Christians understood they had an obligation to ensure the faith was kept safe and handed down so that it might be believed and confessed by succeeding generations. They taught through preaching, teaching, poetry and song, copying and illustrating manuscripts of various kinds, and creating beautiful works of art for instructing the illiterate.

A primary reason you and I have the privilege of confessing, knowing, enjoying, and serving Jesus Christ today is because of the faithfulness of our forebears in the faith. And it was not always an easy task for Celtic Christians to persevere in these two important works. They were often opposed by local kings and pagan priests, as well as by Christian pastors who had grown complacent and comfortable doing nothing of any eternal value.

Celtic Christians especially came under duress toward the end of the period of the Celtic revival, beginning in the 9th century. Viking boats swept down from Scandinavia repeatedly, pillaging and murdering throughout Celtic lands, and especially venting their wrath against the churches, monasteries, and their leaders.

Prior to that onslaught, Celtic Christians made incredible sacrifices to evangelize all of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Low Countries, Southern France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. As the anonymous writer of the Liber understood, the Lord of the Church kept His people vigilant in the faith, causing them to flourish in their generation and to hand the faith on to the generations that followed them.

In other generations, men and women have taken great risks, embarked on courageous adventures, stood their ground in the face of death, and sacrificed comfort, convenience, and even life itself to confess the faith of Christ and make sure it was handed on to the generation succeeding them.

What about the generation succeeding us? By most accounts, today’s 20-40-year-olds aren’t much interested in spiritual things, and particularly not in the Gospel of Christ. What about younger people? Or even our neighbors and associates at work? Are we handing on the Gospel or simply hanging on for dear life in an age increasingly hostile to the things of Christ? Will Jude’s urgent exhortation fall on deaf ears in our generation? And will yours be among those deaf ears?

How will you “contend earnestly for the faith” today? All of us as followers of Christ “ought to be teachers” (Heb. 5.12). We are called to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1.8). What are you learning and how are you growing in your walk with and work for the Lord? How willyou share your experience of Him in the weeks and months to come?

And what about your Personal Mission Field? Have you mapped it? Are you working it day by day, by preparing well, demonstrating the love of Jesus, initiating conversations where grace can flow, and working to see others transformed by the Gospel?

Christians in our day seem open enough to learning. But we have contracted a reticence in teaching one another and evangelizing the lost. Will ours be the last generation of Christians?

Of course not, for God raises up faithful witnesses and teachers in every age to lead His people in revival, renewal, and awakening. The question we need to face is: Will we be among those faithful teachers and witnesses?

For Reflection
1. J. I. Packer wrote that, no matter how old or young we are, there’s always something to learn and always someone to lead. How does that translate into your daily walk with and work for the Lord?

2. Whom will you encourage today to keep growing in the Lord and in living as His witness?

Psalm 107.1-3 (Faithfulness: Great is Thy Faithfulness)
Lord, You are good, we give thanks and we praise You!
Your steadfast love will forever endure.
Let the redeemed, who from trouble You rescue,
Gather and say that Your mercy is sure!
Refrain vv. 1-3
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
We give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
Boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

Use me, Lord, to hand on the Gospel so that…

Witnesses for Jesus

We are called to be witnesses for Christ, and to do this consistently and well, we need to be always preparing. Our two little books, The Gospel of the Kingdom and Joy to Your World! can help you in developing a more consistent witness for Christ. Order your free copies by clicking here.

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter.
You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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