By Doug Beacham
Christ—God’s Love Gift is the title of this column and the title of a 1969 collection of sermons by the late Joseph H. King. The book
was compiled by the late B.E. Underwood, former IPHC general superintendent. Focusing on Christological sermons that King preached,
Underwood’s book provides a sampling of J.H. King’s insights on the person and work of Jesus Christ. King published the sermon entitled “God’s Love Gift” in Falcon, North Carolina, in a 1916 book, Select Sermons. Using John 3:16 as the text, and building around Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, King expounded:
“The text exhibits the sublimest of all divine attributes. Omnipotence holds all things in their place, power directs all in their movements, justice protects all in their rights, mercy pities all in their miseries, goodness covers all in its kindness, omniscience guides all by its counsel, truth illuminates all with its light, faithfulness fulfills all that is expected, grace saves all who are seeking, but love is the crown of all. Love is the source of all, the force of all, and the bond of all, in Godhead. ‘God is love.’ Holiness is love in its spotlessness; joy is love in its overflowing; peace is love in undisturbed repose; goodness is love providing; patience is love enduring; zeal is love burning; and wrath is love’s vengeance upon the wickedness of an impenitent world.”
My thoughts turned to the portrayal of Jesus in Joseph H. King’s writings for several reasons. First, King rightly discerned that Jesus is the Father’s gift of love to lost humanity. In the paragraph quoted above, “God is love” is the ground of all existence— from creation’s opening moment to the coming of God’s eternal kingdom. Second, Christ as the Father’s love gift is an appropriate focus as our hearts are preparing for the Christmas season. The IPHC is focusing on the Advent season with a call for Sunday, November 29, first Sunday in Advent, to be designated Red Sunday. We encourage you to decorate your sanctuary in red and wear red as part of your clothing. It’s a way of reminding us of the blood of Jesus, the price that was paid for our salvation. Third, this year we have focused on our second core value, “We Prayerfully Value Pentecost.” In particular, the final quarter of this year we have focused on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded that the gifts of the Spirit are not about our exaltation or achievement; rather, they are about the body of Christ, God’s love gift.
Regarding J.H. King, the King home in Franklin Springs was dedicated as an IPHC museum on November 7. You can find out more about
that at iphc.org. When the last of the four King children died, leaving no heirs, the IPHC was able to purchase this home. Due to the extraordinary work of Mrs. Sue Carr and her children, as well as IPHC archivist Dr. Harold Hunter, this home is being preserved as a fitting historical tribute as well as a place to prayerfully reflect on our IPHC present and future. I am thankful that Dr. Tony Moon, a professor at Emmanuel College, will soon release the definitive biography of Bishop King after several years of historical and theological study. He has pieced together a detailed and compelling account of the life and influence of Joseph H. King and we celebrate this accomplishment. It will surely provide encouragement and enrichment to all who read it. Once released, we will be sure to provide information on how you can purchase a copy. J.H. King died in 1946 before I was born. But I knew his late wife, Blanche Moore King, and their four children. In my opinion, J.H. King was the most significant General Superintendent of our first 50 years as a movement.
His roots in Methodism gave him a solid theological and biblical background for effective ministry. King traveled globally in 1910 and 1911 and was present in many of the places around the world where the IPHC is now very strong. His theological writings, particularly From Passover to Pentecost, remain an IPHC classic. In this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am indeed primarily thankful for Jesus Christ—God’s Love Gift. And I am thankful for godly, passionate preacher-scholars like Bishop J.H. King who laid the foundations for us as the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
This article was published in the November/December 2015 issue of Encourage.