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Sunday, September 30, 2012

God's Supreme Interest in Man # 5

Are you a man in Christ? In the realm of all that terrible contradiction and conflict, there is a respite, and we are put into a position. In the righteousness of God through faith in Christ, we are in that position. Would that I could grasp it; would that we could all grasp that! It is reality because thee was never a time when the saints of God were more assailed and harassed by accusation and condemnation than at this time. Frustration in the Christian life is very largely due to a failure to apprehend, to grasp, the real meaning of being in Christ, being in this One in Whom there is no condemning conscience, no worrying. In this One, there is no schism, and that is the position that we are brought into "in Christ."

We will have more to say about all this later when we come to the crisis. But, oh! the infinite blessedness of what it means to be placed "in Christ." If only we could grasp it. We are all defeated here, and we have all failed here, everyone of us failing to grasp this initial, fundamental blessedness of being in Christ, of what it means to be placed in Christ, where so far as God and we are concerned, there is no controversy, and there is no conflict. God is not against us, and yet we believe so often that He is. And the devil tells us a thousand times every day that the Lord is not for us, that He is against us. The devil will use anything that he can as a ground of argument to bring us under condemnation. This is the shadow of that terrible havoc the enemy has brought about in human life. Oh, the infinite preciousness of our position in Christ before ever the work was taken up or perfected. Through our position in Christ, there is a new Humanity, a different kind of Humanity in Christ, a Humanity that has been regenerated in Christ, a new humanity has been introduced into this creation, the destiny of which is final conformity to HIS IMAGE, being renewed, made anew after the IMAGE.

You know, with all that He had to meet and counter and suffer, He went tranquilly on His way. It was not until that day, that hour, that moment, when, being made sin for us and a curse for us, taking the place of this disruptive creation, then His soul was torn asunder, but not until then was He ever disturbed by any controversy with His Father or His Father with Him. He had tranquility; and "in Christ", we have tranquility.

Dear Friends, I am saying tremendous things to you, but after all, what does this mean? This is after all just the simple truth of a Christian's position by faith in Jesus Christ, where there is no more controversy between us and heaven, heaven and us, for there is no condemnation in Christ. Ye were created by Him for a position and a state like that, and He has come back to redeem from all that contradicts that state. He has come to redeem man. But what I want, and I said I had one object, one thought at this time, around which all this is being governed. I want to emphasize this: that it is man that God is after. It is man that God is after, not things, not systems, not orders, but MAN. He is after human life, He has come to get it, to redeem it, to make it again. It is our humanity upon which He has focused His attention. It is there that we should find so much help in the explanation of His dealings with us. What is it, what is He up to and after in His attention upon us? His attention is upon us, but what is He up to, and what is He after? Well, He is after a humanity, a man, a human life that can be the expression of Himself, His OWN IMAGE, "renewed after the image of Him." That is the explanation.

We ask a thousand questions of what the Lord is doing and why He is doing this and that and so many things with us, why He is taking this way. And, as I see it, all the questions are answered in this one thing. He is after our person, after our  human nature, He is after our humanity. He is after this creation, this purely and unique creation, human beings, to make them after His OWN IMAGE. That is why He is dealing with us as He is. Sometimes it seems He is dealing with us as though we were the only individuals in the vast universe. It is all so real, and sometimes it is so terrible, so drastic. Sometimes it is as though He has singled us out from everybody else to deal with us. Here is the answer in Colossians three, nine to eleven: "being renewed, make anew, after the IMAGE of Him that created him."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "The Pattern and the Purpose")

Most Important: Your Names Written in Haven

" ... Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Those who are active in Christian service must beware of two opposite pitfalls: the elation that comes with success on the one hand, or the discouragement that comes with failure, on the other.

These may be considered by some as trivial, but the history of the Christian ministry will not support this conclusion. They are critically dangerous and should be guarded against with great care.

The disciples returned to Christ with brimming enthusiasm, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name," and He quickly reminded them of another being who had allowed success to go to his head.

"I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven," He said. "In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

The second of these twin dangers need not be labored. Every minister of the gospel knows how hard it is to stay spiritual when his work appears to be fruitless. Yet he is required to rejoice in God as certainly when he is having a bad year as when he is seeing great success, and to lean heavily upon Paul's assurance that "your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, September 29, 2012

God's Supreme Interest In Man # 4

And what is the ultimate frustration? The ultimate frustration is death. There is nothing that speaks more of frustration than death. It says defeat, it says imperfection, it says nothing finalized in this life. The final frustration is death. For death has a date with every mortal being, and you will never defeat that one. It is defeating you all the way along. 
And while it is possible to have a long life with the blessing of the Lord, length of days is no guarantee of happiness. But it may be very much the other way, when men long to die all the more because of conditions. Well, be that as it may, the point is that the final consummate outworking of frustration is death.

And when we have said all this about this schism and frustration in every realm, to where do we trace it? e trace it to mam himself. It is just man! It is this that has happened in man, this devastation in human nature and human life. Indeed, the original image has gone. It has been lost. Well there is the dark, the miserable side, but it is so true. And we have to note it before we can get on to the other side, the positive side.

In Colossians 3:10 and 11 where the scriptures turn us to the other side: "Being renewed after the image of Him that created him," the reintegration, the reunification in the Creator, in Christ. "Christ is ALL, and IN ALL!. You notice every schismatic element is touched upon in Colossians 3:8 and 9. Every schismatic element is touched upon in man's nature inverse eight. Then, at the end of the paragraph, there are all the racial divisions, Jew, Gentile, and so on. Yet, every disintegrated element is excluded in Christ, the Unifier and the Unification of all, beginning in the individual and ultimately manifested in a whole race, beside which there will be no other race, because you cannot have something extra to all. If you come to all, then there is nothing more. There is nothing more at all. And how we underlined that phrase in all these passages which we read, "all things." In Colossians 3:11, it says "Christ is ALL, and IN ALL." That is final, consummate, everything reunited.

This Son of Man Is a Unity In Himself: There is No Schism In this Person

Now, I pick up that point as we begin the great positive revelation of the meaning of Christ. And we light upon the real significance of the Incarnation, the Son of God becoming man. Says Paul, "Made in the likeness of man." Himself man. And the Lord's own favorite, chosen, cherished title for Himself, the "Son of Man." He loved that name. He constantly used it in preference to every other title. His Person, His Incarnation, the very object of His coming out of eternity into time, out of eternity into history, the very meaning, purpose, object, and explanation of Himself having come from glory, is found in this word, MAN.

And that is not just a proper name, Son of Man, that is a purpose, a purposeful title. That is a meaning, that is an explanation, that is a definition: MAN, the Man Christ Jesus; and this Son of Man is a Unity in Himself. There is no schism in this Person, in this Humanity, He is One, nut dual, but One. There is a Unity, an integration in Him.

Do you know the Lord Jesus in all His life here never suffered from conscience? I do not mean He did not have a conscience. Conscience is a part of the full personality, but Jesus never for a split second suffered from conscience. If He had done that, He would not have been a Unity in His personality, in His nature, because conscience is always a divisive element. It suggests strife, conflict, two things. Paul says it either accuses or it excuses. Whichever it does, the conscience speaks of something to be combated within the person concerned. Oh, do we not know all about conscience? it is this conscience that is accountable for ninety percent of our misery. Is that not true? "Oh, my conscience, what a time it gives me." Jesus never suffered from conscience, not for a moment. There was no duality in His nature; it was single. It was One, a Unity; there was no fighting in His nature. No, if there is perfect obedience, there is no place for an accusing conscience. There is no place for conscience to trouble a perfectly obedient life. And He was able to say, as no other part of the human race could ever say, "I do always those things which are well pleasing unto Him." "I do always" - what a claim, what a statement in a world like this, a Man in the human creation standing up before heaven and earth and hell and saying, "I do always those things which are well pleasing to Him." There is no schism in Him, because of perfect obedience.

And now do you begin to see a little more to your own heart's satisfaction, why the Apostle was always using one little phrase, "in Christ," and what he meant by it?! What this phrase meant to him, and how heart ravishing it was to him in its meaning, "in Christ." "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ." Here the conflict is gone. The conscience is redeemed in Christ. In this matter of condemnation - which carries with it more than anything else frustration - in Christ that is gone. There is no condemnation in Christ. And when Paul uses that phrase, it is always, "We are in Christ": "we," in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Avoiding a Spiritual Identity Crisis

"God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4)

A true sense of identity comes from knowing that God Himself personally selected you to be His child.

Many people in our society are on a seemingly endless and often frantic quest for personal identity and self-worth. Identity crises are common at almost every age level. Superficial love and fractured relationships are but symptoms of our failure to resolve the fundamental issues of who we are, why we exist, and where we're going. Sadly, most people will live and die without ever understanding God's purpose for their lives.

That is tragic, yet understandable. God created man to bear His image and enjoy His fellowship forever. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they violated that purpose and plunged the human race into sin. That crated  within man a spiritual void and an identity crisis of unimaginable proportions. Throughout the ages ungodly people have tried to fill that void with a myriad of substitutes, but ultimately all is lost to death and despair.

Despite that bleak picture, a true sense of identity is available to every Christian. It comes from knowing that God Himself personally selected you to be His child. Before the world began, God set His love upon you; it was according to His plan that Christ died for you (1 Peter 1:20). That's why you responded in faith to the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13). Also, that's why you can never lose your salvation. The same God who drew you to Himself will hold you there securely (John 10:29).

Don't allow sin, satan, or circumstances to rob you of your sense of identity in Christ. Make it the focus of everything you do. Remember who you are - God's child; why you are here - to serve and glorify Him; and where you are going - Heaven, where you will spend eternity in His presence.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for choosing you to be His child and for drawing you to Himself in saving  faith. Praise Him for His promise never to let you go.

For Further Study: Read John 6:35-44; 10:27-30; Romans 8:31-39. According to Jesus, how many believers will lose their salvation? What was His reasoning? What did Paul base his certainty on?

~John MacArthur~

Friday, September 28, 2012

God's Supreme Interest In Man # 3

The apostle Paul made a terrible declaration as to the effect of the Law. He said it has only brought to light man's weakness, impotence, helplessness. It has not done anything to save man, but it is rather to condemn him.

Paul writes in Romans seven and speaks a whole chapter in these terms: "The good that I would do, and I would do it with all my heart, I do n
ot. And the evil that I would not do, I do, and with all my heart I struggle and I strive and I labor and I groan not to do these things, the evil that I would not, that I do. Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? How ever did I know that the thing was right that it should be done? How ever did I discover that the thing was wrong that I should not do it? The Law made me know right from wrong and left me paralyzed, utterly incapable of rising to it, either to say: No! or to say Yes! Oh, wretched man!" Isn't that frustration? And isn't that the history of man right up to date? Well, that is the Law of Moses.

You and I, dear friends, are living in a time in the world when there is not a law which can cope with human nature as it is. Oh, what a time of lawlessness, which is only another way of saying, man's utter inability to answer to the law. Or, shall we put it this way: the law's utter inability to cope with man. There is this schism in human nature, this dividedness in personality, in constitution that works out in utter frustration. That is a word today - frustration. My word, what a lot is covered by that word today.

Schism and Frustration In Every Realm

And how real it is in every realm and, yet, personal. As I have just cited in Romans seven, the "I"- "O wretched man that I am!" - what I would do, I do not; what I would not do, that I do." It is all so personal, this division, this schism in me, in the personal realm. Also, this schism is in society. Oh, I need not dwell extensively upon each of these things. Society: - what a disruptive thing human society is! What an unstable thing it is! What a restless thing it is! The competitiveness - oh, there it is, it makes you heartily sick to see how in society no one can show something new or fresh without the other person eyeing it and going one better or trying to outdo the other. Oh, the many-sidedness of this conflict in the social order among people.

Likewise, this divisiveness is in the economical realm. And we are not here to talk about economics, but let us just put another word in the place of economics - it means money. The realm of money - surely the love of it is a root of all evil. It is the cause of conflict, of strife, of rivalries. It is the cause of everything that speaks on the one side of schism, divisiveness, and on the other side of frustration. Never before in the history of this country have people had so much money! And never before has there been so much dissatisfaction and grasping for more! Day by day, the papers are just full of this grasping, this scheming to have money, and more money. What does it lead to? Well, it does not lead to rest and peace and satisfaction. Not at all, it leads to more and more frustration. How divided human nature is. You would think if they had so much they would be content, and human nature would settle down and say, "I have go all this, let me be satisfied," but it just works the other way. All this is in the economical realm.

No matter how far man goes, whether to the moon or to the planets, he will never come to rest. This is something in him that defeats him; and when it has got so far, he is still a restless being, driven on and on and never satisfied. Sometime, at some point for some reason, human nature became disrupted and disintegrated and schismatic. It became divided in conflict, even in the individual. We all know the conflict in ourselves. It happened.

The Bible opens with a picture very different from that conflict and opens where everything is beautiful. God Almighty, Who is meticulously perfect in His requirements, utter in His standards of satisfaction, the Infinite God was able to look at all things and say, "It is very good." My, it is something that the Lord can look upon one little bit and say, "It is very good." You and I would feel very happy if there was one little thing about us that the Lord could say, "That is very good." But looking on all things and saying, "It is good" - it is very good," that is the opening picture of the Bible. Then something happened, disrupted the universe, shot through the universe, and there became this schism and this resultant frustration.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

The Measure of True Success

Ephesians 1:1

God is more interested in your faithfulness than He is in your accomplishments

Our society is success-oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God's standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.

Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle - one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and who were recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.

That was a high calling, and yet, judging from Paul's lifestyle, most people would hardly call him successful - having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God's will. His final testimony was, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). That's true success!

Although we're not apostles, we're to follow Paul's example of faithfulness. That's possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are "saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:1). By God's grace we've trusted in Christ as our Lord and Saviour (Eph. 2:8-9) and have received His righteousness (Phil. 3;9) and His Spirit (Eph. 3:16) and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).

What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God's measure of success. make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord's commendation: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Suggestions for prayer: Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need. Thank Him for His Word, through which you learn the principles of godly living. Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of other.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10; Titus 2:11-12. What is the goal of your salvation? Are you living each day in light of that goal?

~John MacArthur~

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"I Will Be As The Dew Unto Israel" # 4

Dear brothers and sisters, we have the beauty of Christ in us; you do not have to put it on as Solomon put on his glory. You are like the Lily, you have it - but it needs the dew that it should grow and blossom and bring joy to the heart of God! "I will be as the dew unto Israel." You will notice that the Lord does not say, "I will give dew unto Israel." He said, "I will be the dew". What a marvelous promise. The Lord says, "I will come to you, my child." You notice the Word says in verse three, "in Thee the fatherless finds mercy" - "My poor orphan brought into the family, the one who was not blessed and not loved and not My people, but now blessed and made one of the family. I will come to you Myself and be Dew to bring your life into full freshness and fruitfulness for the glory of God and the blessing of man." Oh, let us lay hold of this promise which is another one of these marvelous "I will's" of the Lord. We need not be looking to others and saying, "I wish I knew the dew." We need not be giving up in despair to feel." "In my circumstances, with things as they are, I cannot know the dew," but we need to be receiving the promise of the Lord gratefully to our heart. "My dear child," He says, "if you are contrite, and if there is really that full reconciliation between us, if you are disillusioned about everything and everybody except Me, I will be as the dew."

What shall we say about the dew? I think first of all we must take notice of the gentleness of the dew, the gentle dew distilling. It has to be a quiet night for there to be dew. It is in the night that the dew appears. As to its strength, the dew is not weak or strong, nevertheless, its effects can be seen! But as for its manner of coming, the dew is gentle, it is silent. And the Lord says, "I will come to you like that." We have missed the Lord very often because we have been looking for whirlwinds, and He wanted to come as the dew. We were crying for the torrential rain, and He was offering to be the dew. The dew is too quiet for some of us, but how mightily potent it is; or, perhaps, we are so drawn out in the heat of our own spirit, our own exercise, our own concern, our own complaint, that the dew only comes when the heat dies down. When the earth cools off, the dew begins to come; perhaps, we have not been quiet enough or cool enough.

There is a mystery and a miracle about the dew. Of course, any schoolboy can tell you how it happens. In a sense it is easy to explain; and, yet there is a perennial mystery about it. There is, of course, a mystery about the rain also, of how water can be gathered up from the ocean and brought over in the clouds and poured out upon the earth. It is very wonderful, but there seems to be a surpassing mystery and miracle about ti when moisture is present without clouds and without winds, just the moisture that was in the atmosphere, that nobody was able to appreciate, distilling into the dew. You hardly see it, but it is there. You have to get up early to see it, but all the world sees the effects of it. There is a mystery about God's coming to our spirits which is not to be explained by our efforts, by anything that we can do. No, it is just the grace of God working this miracle, changing our dryness into His freshness, our heat into His coolness, our barrenness into His fertility. You will remember that in Exodus it is said, "The manna came with the dew." You will remember that even after forty years, the Israelites still called it "manna". It was God's heavenly gift. And so the Dew is the spirit's refresher, it is a miracle, and those of us who know the dryness o our own hearts will testify most to the miracle that it can be. But, thank God, for the miracle that it is when the Lord comes with His refreshing grace; nobody can rob us of this promise and this blessing except our own lack of faith.

The dew achieves its object by its constancy. One night's dew would make very little impression on the cedars of Lebanon or even the flowers of the fields. The point about the dew is the constant coming and coming and unfailing renewal, and that is the Lord's promise to you and to me. In the silent night, in the secret of the night, by a miracle, in daily renewal, we may know freshness and fullness of life. "I," He said, "Will be as the Dew unto Israel."

Remember how Gideon made the dew an occasion of a special appeal to the Lord for the proof of the reality of His presence? In his case, the issue was not dew as such, but the issue was the personal testimony, the proof, that He, as an individual,could count upon God. Gideon tried it the first time as he put out his fleece and said, "Though there be dew nowhere else, let there be dew on the fleece and I shall know that is God - that is God." It came, and then to make absolutely certain that it was God, he had God o do it the other way around (Judges 6:36-40). So, dear friends, if the Lord is Dew in your life, not you alone will know that, but all who will meet you will say, "That is God." Not because you are a clever person, not because you are so devoted and active and earnest, but that is just God.

Do you remember what Gideon did with the fleece? He did not only look at the fleece to see if it looked wet, for appearances are sometimes deceptive, but he took the fleece and wrung it into a bowl. Perhaps that is what the Lord is doing with you. Is He? Has He taken you in His hands, and is He wringing you? What is coming out? Well, out of Gideon's fleece, there came a bowl full of water.

The Lord grant that we may not be dry when He wrings us, but only let that wringing be a further proof that we have got the Dew. May the Lord come to us  constantly as the Dew; may it be so, for His namesake. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

God's Supreme Interest in Man # 2

The Creator and the Created

Firstly, then, it is man and His Creator. It is the Creator and the created. Perhaps it would be well if we arranged several other passages alongside of this one, going back to the beginning of this same letter in chapter one and verse sixteen through twenty: "For in Him were all things, all things created, in the heavens and upon t
he earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him al things consist ... that in all things He might have the preeminence ... through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself." The center and circumference of all things is Christ, the Creator of all things.

Then there are those familiar words in John's Gospel, in chapter one and verse three: "All things were made through Him; and without Him was not anything made that hath been made." John and Paul are one in perfect agreement on this matter of Who was the Originator of all things.

Next, there is the Letter to the Romans, chapter eleven, for it is always good to have, it is right to have an adequate scriptural basis for what we are saying. Chapter eleven and verse thirty-six says, "For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things."

And let us see more scripture in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter eight and verse six: "...There is One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we unto Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him." Well, that establishes this: which we have called the throwback to the Creator and the created.

Then, in order to come to these words about renewing, or making anew, or starting again, we have a process of recovery, and we have to contemplate that terrible disintegration of the man to whom these scriptures are referring. Yes, the disruption of human life, the disruption of every member of the human race, is very terrible. We need not argue, I think, from Scripture on this, because the argument is finished immediately when we consider ourselves, and mankind as we know mankind.

We are perhaps more aware today than ever of this disruption, this disintegration in human life. We are aware that there is a fundamental schism in man, and in mankind. And schism, wherever it is found, always means frustration. Frustration is the evidence of a schism, a divisiveness in human life and in human nature. And we see this right from the beginning of history as recorded in the Bible. All the way through, and coming out in our time in a consummate way, there is frustration in human life.

Every new step which is thought to be a step of progress, of advancement, of development, brings with it its own frustrations. No matter how far advanced, how fully developed, how phenomenal the enlargement of knowledge and of ability to do and to achieve, the frustration goes with it in the same measure until we reach the point in the world's development which we have reached in our own time. Frustration runs hand in hand through history with every fresh development and movement. It is there in human life, it is in the creation, and it is in the universe as it now is. And God Himself has taken pains to bring this out for man's realization.

For instance, there is the Law as we have it in the Old Testament, as we have it vested in a nation, who was chosen for this very purpose of being God's object lesson to all the nations, to all the world. There is the Law, and the Apostle Paul puts his finger upon that whole system with its long history, its meticulous application, and he says, "The Law was given in order to show how impotent man is." If ever there was a thing employed by Almighty God to demonstrate and expose the weakness of man, it was the Law, that is, the Law of Moses as it is called - the Law of God.

The Apostle Paul made a terrible declaration as to the effect of the Law. He said it has only brought to light man's weakness, impotence, helplessness. It has not done anything to save man, but it is rather to condemn him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Christ Does In Us What We Cannot Do

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:4)

Writing to the Corinthian believers, Paul promised full spiritual deliverance and stability in the knowledge that Jesus Christ "is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption". He also assured the Colossian believers: "You are complete in Him!"

Our great need, then, is simply Jesus Christ. He is what we need. He has what we need. He knows what we need to know. He has the ability to do in us what we cannot do - working in us that which is well-pleasing in God's sight.

This is a difficult point in spiritual doctrine and life for many people who may have been prominent and ambitious, and used to doing their own thing in their own way!

But no matter who we are, we must acknowledge that it is a gracious plan and provision for men and women in the kindness and wisdom of God. Brothers and sisters, we get Christ and glory and fruitfulness, a future and the world to come and the spirits of just men made perfect; we get Jesus, mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of the everlasting covenant; an innumerable company of angels and the church of the firstborn and the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God!

And before we get all that, we have the privilege and the prospect of loving and joyful service for Christ and for mankind on this earth!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

God's Supreme Interest In Man

(this will have to be in installments but I feel the need to get this posted. Sometimes it is extremely important and satisfying to go over things we have learned in the past and in a more in-depth way. Hope you agree. I will try to post a new "installment" each day, and each installment will be titled: "God's Supreme Interest in Man # 1, or 2, or 3, etc. I'm sure you will be amazed as we get i
nto the next installments!)

God's Supreme Interest in Man

(Colossians 3:8-11)

May I say, dear friends, as we approach the message that is in these words, my real and very strong concern is that we shall touch reality at this time. My concern is that we shall go beyond theory, beyond teaching as such, and meet the Lord at the point of deep reality, where His need in us is really met and our need in Him is met. We are in times when the building up of Christian truth, teaching, and knowledge is immense; and, yet, the corresponding reality in life is by no means equal in measure. There is a margin, a gap, between what is known and what is lived. And we want to get into that gap as the Lord may enable us, and close it up, or let Him close it up, so far as we are concerned at this time, in order that truth and life shall come close together, and, indeed,become one. And that is the object which is in my heart at this time - not to say so much more, however true it might be, but really to touch very vital issues. Now there may be a lot said at this conference, but I have one thought and object that is governing everything that will be said. All will be gathered around just this one issue, which I trust will become increasingly clear as we go on.

Having said that, let us look at this fragment of the Word which we have just read in verses eight through eleven in the third chapter of the Letter to the Colossians. Here we will analyze it, break it up, and note the five very distinct points that are touched upon by the Apostle in these words.

First of all, there is retrospect to the Creator and the created, where the Word says, "being renewed ... after the Image of Him that created him." That is a throwback to creation and the Creator. Just note it, for we are going to take up each of these points separately. But number one is this retrospective touch upon the beginning of everything in the Creator and the created. It says, "The IMAGE of Him that created."

Second, there is the pattern and purpose of the Creator in the creator, "being renewed ... after the IMAGE of Him that created him." There is a pattern, the image, the purpose, the renewal of that IMAGE.

Thirdly, we will see the real nature and the effect of the crisis in the life of Christians. Something has happened in the life of Christians, which marks the beginning of a process, a process indicated by these words, "being renewed, made anew, made over again." There is a crisis in the life of the believer when something happened: "ye put off... and ye put on." That is the nature and meaning and the effect of the great crisis in the life of the Christian.

Fourthly, there is the occupation and energy of the Holy Spirit Who is doing this renewing work, this "being renewed." Well, we are not doing it, either for ourselves or for other people, and other people are not doing it for us. This is the occupation and the energy of the Creator's Spirit. He, Who brooded over the chaos and brought out of the chaos the Divine Order, is the same Spirit now occupied with His own energy in making anew, renewing, according to the IMAGE. This renewing is the activity of the Holy Spirit.

And in the fifth place, there is the exclusiveness and the inclusiveness of Christ. Notice the last statement, "where there cannot be." That is the right kind of exclusiveness, or exclusivism. A whole realm and system and order and nature is excluded: "There cannot be ..." But the inclusiveness is just Christ, where "Christ is ALL, and in ALL." That is the analysis of these verses. This is very simple and to the point, but how very comprehensive and how very important and meaningful. Well, let us begin to take them up, one at a time.

(continued with # 2 ' "The Creator and the Created")

"I Will Be As the Dew unto Israel" # 3

Well, it is nice to know the Lord is the Lily, but it is wonderful when you realize something of your own shortcomings and sinfulness and failure and come by reconciling grace to the Lord to hear Him say about you: " ... he shall blossom as the lily, and he shall cast forth his roots of Lebanon," - as the trees of Lebanon. Lebanon was famous for its great cedars which could only stand erect and strong because of the profundity and firmness of their roots. And here the Lord does not even mention trees. The roots of the trees seem to have something of the mountain - the roots of Lebanon. I do not know what the roots say to you, but I know what they say to me. They speak of strength. They tell me of stability; and as I would long for the beauty of the Lily, so I would long for the strength and unchanging, faithful, persistent, immovable strength of the deep-rooted tree. Of course, it is the gales and the storms that discover how deep or how shallow the roots are. And there many gales and storms around us, dear brothers and sisters, and likely to be; but, thank God, we need not fear. We need not be moved ... "he shall cast forth His roots as Lebanon."

Those are the kind of people the Lord wants. And, mark you, these are not two classes of people, some who are beautiful and some who are strong. In the one life, the Lord seeks both beauty and humility; simplicity and yet majesty, dignity, and strength: "his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree." This is a different kind of beauty, the beauty of fruitfulness! The olive is not merely a fruit in the more or less luxury sense in which we describe fruit, but it is more or less the essential, staple diet. In the very maintenance of life, the people depended on the olive harvest and the olive oil. There are people all around us who need their life nourished, they need that oil. We should not only be beautiful and strong, but we should be able to give to the needy of the oil of Christ's own life for their strengthening, for their nourishment in the Lord.

There is also in verse seven a mention of "the corn and the vine" - all this in the one life. Then you notice, still in verse six, this "smell as Lebanon," and in verse seven, "the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." Here is  a further characteristic of the great fertility - vital freshness - of a life as God meant it to be, fragrant surely with the very fragrance of Christ! And finally his own confession, his own consciousness is expressed in verse eight: "I am like a green fir-tree, an evergreen," which means freshness through the seasons with all the changes of circumstance, passing through various phases. "I am like a green fir-tree, never changing, always fresh."

Now it is not for me to say whether I am like a lily or like a cedar, for like the olive tree or the scented flower, other people must give their verdict on my life. However, it is for me to say whether I am like a green fir-tree or not - I am to know that - for here is the confession borne out of inner experience: "I am like a green fir-tree. I know through all the changing chances of circumstance and time the freshness of Divine love in my own spirit." And I thank God, that in all humility, that I do know something of this, at least; and if there is anything in us of this variegated full-expression of life as God meant it to be, the secret is very simple. It is all caused by the dew, "the dew of Hermon." The flowers would be there with the essential beauty, consciously waiting for the dew that they should grow and blossom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

O God, Forsake Me Not

"Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to every one that is to come" (Psalm 71:18)

The early Christians turned the world upside down. Their charge and ours today, is the same - to rescue the perishing and care for the dying, to go to the helpless ones and tell them Jesus saves.

I heard about a little girl who said to her mother, "Do you remember that priceless vase we all love so much that's been handed down to our family from one generation to another?" The mother said, "Yes." The little girl revealed, "Well, this generation just dropped it."

Now friend, this generation cannot drop it. The faith we enjoy must be handed down from generation to generation. We must not drop this priceless heirloom that God has placed into our hands.

Ask yourself honestly, which is more precious to you - your possessions or the over two billion souls who do not know Jesus Christ? On which are you spending your talents, treasures, and time? Ask God to help you die to yourself in order that He may use ALL of you for His glory.

~Adrian Rogers~

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous" (1 Peter 3:8)

There are five qualities of friendship:

1. Harmony. We are to be of one mind, not necessarily singing the same note, but complimenting one another.

2. Sympathy. We hurt when friends hurt. The world is looking for friends like this.

3. Fraternity. We are to love one another like brothers. There is no brotherhood, like the brotherhood in Jesus Christ.

4. Pity. If you want to be a real friend, you're going to have to feel deeply. You'll need to put yourself in the place of the other person.

5. Humility. Genuine courtesy is thinking of the other person's needs before your own. You are less concerned with your rights, and more concerned about the relationship.

Begin to develop these characteristics of friendship in you life and watch God change the world!

Are you lonely and in need of a friend. Ask God to build these characteristics in your life and to lead you to someone with whom you can be a friend. Then, be a friend. In your weakness, He will show Himself strong.

~Adrian Rogers~

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"I Will Be As the Dew Unto Israel" # 2

Next you will notice that Hosea turns to the mountains of Lebanon in verses five through seven:

"I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon."

When God is disclosing His ideals for His people, He always turns us to a mountain. That is what the Lord would wish, that we should be a mountain-top peak.

In Judah, and in later days, the prophets turned to Zion - "in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness," - the house of the Lord, in the top of the mountain; "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion," - beautiful in its elevation and its order (Psalm 48:1, 2). That is what God wants His people to be.

Then Hosea turns to another mountain, the most important one in the Lebanon range, Mount Hermon, fertile and fresh and full of the life. Hosea sees in that mountain a picture of what God's people ought to be. You will remember what it says in Psalm 133: "As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion"- even so, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

Also, in Psalm 133, the picture given unto us is the picture of the fullness of life, for when we are thinking of the House on the mountain, we are thinking of corporate life.

When we look at this picture of Hermon, there is no contradiction of that fullness of life, for the emphasis is not now on the order, and the relatedness, but it is just upon the simple, fundamental, basic needs of life - fullness of life. And while spiritual order and corporate life may provide you with difficulties in your relatedness to others, here in Hosea is something which is purely, simply, wholly, a question of your own personal life with the Lord.

Nobody can keep us from having the dew, except ourselves. "I will be as the dew unto Israel." Now see what the dew produces in verse five: "... he shall blossom as the Lily" - beautiful, attractive expression of life, the lily of the field. Are we blooming for the Lord, or are we drooping? We shall blossom as the Lily. Remember what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:28 and 29, "The lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin ... Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Why? Because Solomon's glory was artificial, but this glory is natural, beautiful, the lily of the field. No human artifice can produce what grows up so simply and so spontaneously all around the lower parts of the mountain. There is a lot of argument as to what the lily of the field was, whether it was anemones, irises, or another flower. Some feel, and I cannot but in my heart agree with this, the Lord was not pointing to any particular flower. So much is pointed out by the fact that here are flowers that grow spontaneously, producing a beauty which is wonderful to behold. These lilies are not flowers as we usually know them - chosen and arranged in the midst of others, part of a formal garden for show and for admiration. There is nothing formal about these. Perhaps they are seen, perhaps they are not seen; perhaps they are admired, perhaps they are ignored. They do not mind, they just go on blooming! Oh, for life that will just bloom with the beauty of the Lord, not for show, not for admiration, but simply as an expression of Christ in His beauty - "The Lily of all lilies."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

An Image of Hope

"The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations" (Psalm 98:2)

How often do you see people wearing a pendant, charm, or ring in the shape of a cross? How many churches do you pass regularly that have a large cross atop the building or bell tower? Stained glass windows,  baptisteries, pulpits, choir robes - all of these things are commonly adorned with the image of a cross. We see this so often, perhaps we have begun to take the cross for granted.

From our modern-day perspective, we often fail to understand the utter shock value of the cross. If you were a citizen of first century Rome, you would most likely live your entire life hoping never to see such an image. In that culture, the cross was the ultimate symbol of shame, horror, death, and curse. Crucifixion was so repulsive that the Romans would not allow any of their citizens to die by this method, regardless of the crime.

How did such a horrific symbol become an image of hope and mercy? By dying on the Cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for mankind's sinfulness. Every sin was nailed to the Cross with Jesus, and it all died there with Him. When He rose from the grace, our sins did not. Therefore, sin and death were defeated once and for all. In Christ, all men and women have the opportunity to share in that salvation.

Praise God today for the gift of salvation, and thank Jesus for bearing the punishment for your sin.

Lord, when You accepted the Cross, You accepted its humiliation. Let me never treat it as a vague symbol, but as a terrible place where You went to save me. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memories and Thanksgiving

"T. Austin-Sparks - A memorial of His life and teachings"

Very shortly after his departure in 1971, the Norfolk Christian Gathering of Norfolk, Virginia, issued a statement of "MEMORIES AND THANKSGIVING FOR THE DIVINE CALLING, LIFE, AND MINISTRY OF GOD'S SERVANT - T. AUSTIN-SPARKS." That statement read, in part:

"We thank the Lord that ... the distinctive emphasis and message of the Word revealed to Brother Sparks reached us in America years ago through "A Witness and a Testimony," it's associated literature, and his personal visits for conferences...

"We thank the Lord that ... in his person and his messages, the Lord enabled Brother Sparks to bring fresh spiritual values out of living experience - messages wrought in him - evidencing the illumination of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and of the Father's eternal purpose in His Son. All of our brother's spoken and written ministry came to us as bearing the unction and imprimatur of the Holy Spirit ...

"We thank the Lord that ... He gave our brother that much-needed ministry for the remnant of this current end-time period. By it we were greatly encouraged in faith to 'go on' into God's full purpose in spite of misunderstandings.

"In his spoken and written ministry the Lord has bequeathed to us a great legacy of truth - a trust so vital that it imposes on us a serious challenge and responsibility ..."

Because we brothers have been spiritually enriched in such great measure over a forty-year span by Rev. Sparks  ministry, we are deeply concerned to make some little part of that wealth available to others. So for the following pages we have culled a number of choice passages from Rev. Sparks writings - though mostly from "A Witness and a Testimony" magazine covering the years 1941 through 1971.

Our desire and hope for these pages - reflecting in a small way, Rev. Sparks' own heavy burden through many years of service and suffering - are that they may contribute to the building up of others to more mature spiritual stature, and as a consequence further their preparation for the Lord's return. May He do it in all of us!

[This is the introduction to a book entitled, "Words of Wisdom and Revelation" which I will occasionally post articles to my blogs and to Facebook. I took the liberty to use the title "Rev." for Austin-Sparks. He was a Baptist minister for many years and, then, deciding that he wanted no recognition for himself, he himself removed the title from his name. He wanted Christ to have all, and total, glory for whatever he accomplished in His writings under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. With the same thought in mind, T. Austin-Sparks never used his full name on his books and articles. He preferred simply "TAS."]

The Holy Trinity

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2)

Here we have one of the texts in which the great truth of the blessed Trinity is seen to lie at the very root of our spiritual life. In this book we have spoken especially to the adoration of God the Father and the need of time, sufficient time each day, to worship Him in some of His glorious attributes. But we must remind ourselves that, for all our communion with God, the presence and power of the Son and the Spirit are absolutely necessary.

What a field this opens for us in the inner chamber. We need time to realize how all our communion with the Father is conditioned by the active and personal presence and working of the Lord Jesus. It takes time to become fully conscious of what need I have of Him in every approach to God, what confidence I may have in the work that He is doing for me and in me, and what the holy and intimate love is in which I may count upon His presence and all-prevailing intercession. But oh to learn the lesson that it needs time and that that time will be most blessedly rewarded!

Even so too is it with the Divine and almighty power of the Holy Spirit working in the depth of my heart as the One who alone is able to reveal the Son within me. Through Him alone I have the power to know what and how to pray and, above all, how to plead the Name of Jesus and to receive the assurance that my prayer has been accepted.

Dear Christian reader, have you not felt more than once that it was as it were a mockery to speak of five minutes to be alone with God, to come under the impression of His glory? And now does not the thought of the true worship of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit make you feel more than ever that it needs time to enter into such holy alliance with God as shall keep the heart and mind all the day in His peace and presence? It is in tarrying in the secret of God's presence that you receive grace to abide in Christ and all the day to be led by His Spirit.

Just pause and think: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ!" What food for thought - and worship!

~Andrew Murray~

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Will Be as the Dew Unto Israel

In the Book of Hosea, at chapter fourteen and verse five, the Word says: "I will be as the dew unto Israel." You will notice that the rest of the chapter discloses that this is a promise for the contrite, for those who are aware and deeply grieved by the baseness of their own departure from the Lord, and lack of faithfulness to Him. The chapter opens,

O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and return unto the Lord: say unto Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips"

That is the kind of person to whom the Lord says, "I will be as the dew," - the one who has only God's mercy to appeal to. There may be some who would resent the application of this story of Hosea to themselves, for it is a very dark one, showing the worst kind of ingratitude and unfaithfulness. You may think, "Well, there are Christians like that, but not me." You may perhaps feel, "Well, I know some people like that, but I am not the one." Then, all I can say to you, dear friends, is that this promise is not for you: "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

Now, do not say you have no promises and no blessings. You may have the lightning and the thunder and the rainstorm, but you will not have the dew. The dew is only for the contrite! And if you will look at the last verse of this chapter, you will find that this is what it is saying, "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things?" - This obviously does not only refer to this chapter, but to the whole book, and it is regarded by many as the final comment when the book is read. The whole story is told, "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them?"

This chapter is the chapter of the joys of reconciliation, as the erring people come back asking the Lord to be received graciously, making their own confession and promises: "so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips," - disclosing how disillusioned they are with the path that they have been treading. In verse three Israel says, "Never again, never again! Asshur cannot save us, I will never look to anyone but the Lord again! We will not ride upon horses, I will not try to imitate anybody else! Neither will we say anymore to the work of our hands, 'You are our gods.' I will cease from all my own work and effort! Never again, Lord! you are the One, and the only One, to fill my life!" And in response to this blessed reconciliation, the Lord has His promises to answer every profession of truth in Him. And the interchange goes on until we come into verse eight, where the two can hardly wait to speak. We have four separate statements, Ephraim begins: "What have I to do any more with idols?" The Lord breaks in: "I have answered, and will regard him." Says Israel, "I am like a green fir tree." The Lord can hardly wait to say, "From Me is thy fruit found." This is the atmosphere of the chapter. If you have ever had a quarrel and a reconciliation, you will know what this is all about. Thus, Israel and the Lord can hardly wait for each other to pour out their heart in renewed and deeper love than ever before. So look in chapter fourteen and verse four at the Lord's response to Israel's fresh assurances of trust in Him: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely!" And now in this atmosphere of mutual interchange, where there are fresh protestations of sorrow for sin and, on the other hand, a gracious call of forgiveness, there comes this blessed assurance from the Lord, a special promise in verse five, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

In may parts of the Bible, you will find the Lord's assurances that He will heal their backsliding, "He will love them freely," but here is a special promise: "I will be as the Dew unto Israel." Does not your heart cry out? - Mine does! O, to know the Lord like that, like the dew! - Not just a matter of comfortable feeling, for we have verses in this chapter fourteen, which express how this will work out in life if the dew is in its abundance and profuse refreshing power. Well, here we have the picture in the dew of how the child of God ought to be: What the Prophet Hosea sets out as being the fullness of life as God means it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Happiness: Your Whole Ambition to be like Jesus

"And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2)

The assumption that human beings are born "to be happy" is scarcely questioned by anyone in today's society and the effect of this modern hedonism is felt also among the people of God.

The Christian gospel is too often presented as a means toward happiness, to peace of mind or security. There are even those who use the Bible to "relax" them, as if it were a drug.

How far wrong all this is will be discovered easily by the simple act of reading the New Testament through once, with meditation. There the emphasis is not upon happiness but upon holiness. God is more concerned with the state of people's hearts than with the state of their feelings.

Undoubtedly the will of God brings final happiness to those who obey, but the most important matter is not how happy we are but how holy! 

The childish clamor after happiness can become a real snare. One many easily deceive himself by cultivating a religious joy without a correspondingly righteous life.

For those who take this whole thing seriously I have a suggestion: Go to God and have an understanding. Tell Him that it is your desire to be holy at any cost and then ask Him never to give you more happiness than holiness! Be assured that in the end you will be as happy as you are holy; but for the time being let your whole ambition be to serve God and be Christlike!

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 5

He has Established His Sovereignty over all, men, devil, and death; established it in every realm

This was the testimony being brought home those forty days; His sovereignty in all these things. He was making them know the literalness of His Person in resurrection to be equal to that in the days of His flesh: He was not a spirit, but literally as real in Person as before His death. Pentecost is the climax to the literalness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Next, the emancipation from the limitation of time and space. Still training an instrument for future usefulness! He is no longer bound by limitations of time. He is seeking to bring home to them that, though not seen, His absence is never to be taken for granted. He is there all the time, and there is no time when He is not with them!

Next, the establishment on the ground of their world commission. Forty days is the period of probation which ends in a demand to assume responsibility. After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites were commanded to occupy the land.

The Third Part of the Training - the Ten Days after His Ascension

Probation and training issue in the  taking up of responsibility. Ten is the number of responsibility. See the boards of the Tabernacle ten cubits high and covered with gold. Here you get the type and teaching concerning man's responsibility towards God; man is only able to meet that responsibility (but he is able to meet it!) on the ground of redemption and in the power of the Divine nature.

Ten days were spent in praying, entering into this thing by prayer, busy with no other burden! And oh! with all the revelation He has given us, should it not bring us to our knees in prayer? Pentecost did not come one day short of full prayer preparation; forty days of revelation and then ten days' prayer; a clear manifestation of Himself and His new thing; and the first carrying of that responsibility in ten days of prayer.

And what was the result of that praying? A thrusting out by and in the power of the mighty Holy Spirit, resurrection revelation, a seeing the fields white unto harvest, and then a giving of themselves unto prayer, until sent forth of the Spirit. Vision, prayer, go; yes, that is the Lord's order.

Here is a threefold preparation, and Pentecost is the climax to that preparation, and the ground upon which the Holy Spirit comes.

"Ye are witnesses of these things ... but tarry Ye ... until ye be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:48, 49).

"He was received up, after that He had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom He also showed Himself alive after His passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said He, ye heard from Me... ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:2-5).

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem ... these all with one accord continued steadfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren." (Acts 1:12, 14)

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

What Part Do I Have?

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28)

If God the Father chose us and the Holy Spirit set us aside for His holy purposes, then what part do you and I have?

There is divine sovereignty and human responsibility. You have been sanctified unto obedience. Salvation is free, but you must obey.

God's divine sovereignty in choosing us does not nullify our response to His call. You have been saved out of this world, sent back into this world to witness to the world, and that is the only business you have in this world.

Now, you do not work to be saved. You work because you are saved. Someone has said and I agree: "I will not work my soul to save, that work my Lord has done. But I will work like any slave for the love of God's Son."

Twenty-four hours stand between you and this time tomorrow. Right now, make a commitment to use one of those hours in prayer for others. Ask God to save those who are lost in your family, your neighborhood, your student body, or your workplace. Pray by country or by continent - asking Him to send missionaries and equip them to disciple those He saves.

~Adrian Rogers~

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4)

Some people distort the doctrine that when a man is saved he is always saved. They get the idea if that is true, then they will sin all they want to.

If the only thing that keeps you from sinning is fear of losing your salvation, I wonder if you have really surrendered yourself to God and asked Him to save you?

Peter tells us that we have become "partakers of the divine nature." Does that mean you don't sin any more. No.

Before I was saved, I was running to sin. But afterward, I ran from it. You may slip, but you are saved.

Have a desire to live pure and clean to the glory of God.

Do you have a desire to be holy? Or do you treat the doctrine of assurance as a license to live a sinful life?

~Adrian Rogers~

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 4

Now, Pentecost comes to rule them out utterly; it is no longer themselves but HIM; now they can follow to the death, now they can forgive, the personal has gone, no longer are their interests the predominant thing even in the things of God; but solely and utterly HIS GLORY at any cost.

Pentecost demands that ground, speaks of that ground - we are finished! There is no place for mere soul-force here; soul-force in the things of God is a denial of the Holy Spirit; He is the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).

It is no longer our efforts, our achievements, we are out of it, and it is henceforth, The Lord did it! That is Pentecost!

The Lord is seeking to get an instrument, by and through which to present the Lord Jesus to the nations as "Prince and Saviour" (Acts 5:31). And there must first be a realization of the absolute sovereignty of the Lord Jesus in the life, before there can be such a presenting of Him to the nations.

Contradiction in life brings weakness in testimony, and there can be no ruling in prayer through being in touch with the Throne, where there is any contradiction, authority in prayer is paralyzed. All this is preparation and training to gain an instrument; an instrument for the enthroned Lord, to meet His need and to establish His sovereignty in the earth.

The Second Part of the Training - the Forty Days after the Resurrection

This is another phase of their training; note the feature of this. It was an establishing in their experience of what He said He was - Resurrection in Person.

In the days of His flesh, He had claimed power over His life, "no one taketh it away from Me ... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from My Father" (John 10:18), and for forty days He was establishing in their experience what He said He was, and all He had claimed to be. It would have been a catastrophe without those forty days, they would have lost the reality of the living presence of the Lord.

It was also the establishment to them of all He had promised in relation to His resurrection; "I will never leave you." "I am with you always - all the days." "Because I live, ye shall live also." He had made many promises on the ground of resurrection, and came back and established them all; and theirs was a faith in a risen, living and present Lord, and not only in a historic Jesus.

Next, He established the fact that He is Lord of men; and we see the inclusiveness of His claim. All forces that could be used of men were brought in by them to put Him out of existence; but He came back! Man cannot get rid of the Lord Jesus. He is sovereign of men.

Back of men is the devil, he is involved in all this, and he has exhausted himself and resorted to his last weapon, Death. The answer to that is the Resurrection: "I am ... the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am Alive for Evermore, and I have the keys (authority) of death and of Hades" (Revelation 1:18).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Why We Lack Understanding

"He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead" (Mark 9:9)

As the disciples were commanded, you should also say nothing until the Son of Man has risen in you - until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you truly understand what He taught while here on earth. When you grow and develop the right condition inwardly, the words Jesus spoke become so clear that you are amazed you did not grasp them before. In fact, you were not able to understand them before because you had not yet developed the proper spiritual condition to deal with them.

Our Lord doesn't hide these things from us, but we are not prepared to receive them until we are in the right condition in our spiritual life. Jesus said, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:12). We must have a oneness with His risen life before we are prepared to bear any particular truth from Him. Do we really know anything about the indwelling of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His Word is becoming understandable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we don't have His Spirit. And our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us. But our insensible thinking will end immediately once His resurrection life has its way with us.

"... tell no one ...". But so many people do tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration - their mountaintop experience. They have seen a vision and they testify to it, but there is no connection between what they say and how they live. Their lives don't add up because the Son of Man has not yet risen in them. How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?

~Oswald Chambers~

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 3

Pentecost was a Recognition and a Proof of all Christ came to be, and all He Taught, and All He Did

All the spiritual value of that comes by Pentecost into its full vindication.

 His claim to sovereignty is established by the moral and spiritual results of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a child of God and transforming it, by causing it to know in experience (not by intellectual argument) the life of His sovereign triumph, that inward reigning in life by Christ Jesus. All that the Lord Jesus taught and did is vindicated by the Holy Spirit in working into the life of the believer the victory of that resurrection life of the Lord Jesus!

The Lord Jesus was vindicated by a mighty experience of the Holy Spirit! It is the spiritual and moral value of the Person, and the bringing of the fruits of that by the Holy Spirit into the life; it is the change the Holy Spirit makes in the moral life that is the vindication of the Lord Jesus. You cannot divorce moral responsibility and spiritual experience, there is no vindication thus, but chaos and contradiction. Pentecost is the climax to the Person, work, and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, as it gives spiritual and moral value to those in whom He dwells; i.e., proved in experience by the Holy Spirit.

Why did the Holy Spirit come? To make experimental in the life, by the same Holy Spirit, all that Jesus is for the believer. This is the progressive and constructive work of the Holy Spirit, the transforming of men and women.

Pentecost was a Climax in Relation to the Training and Preparation of an Instrument

The first chapter ends with the presentation of that instrument; the completion of the Apostolate with the inclusion of Matthias. An instrument had been trained and prepared for the continued work of the enthroned Lord. This preparation is in three parts: 1. In the days of His flesh; 2. The forty days after His resurrection; 3. The ten days after His ascension.

The First Part of the Training - in the Days of His Flesh

One year after He started His public ministry, He called and had in training for about two years those whom He chose. What were the chief features of that period of training? First, a seeing and a hearing without understanding; a very real thing. As we read the Gospels we see it was a time of laying in of a subconscious store of not understood deeds and words. Oh! but did not the Holy Spirit work on that afterward?! What does the Holy Spirit coming into our life mean? An explaining of Who Jesus is; "He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you," and until He comes words have not that potent force; "the Spirit giveth life' (John 6:63).

Second, being allowed to participate in the works and supernatural powers, and being given flashes of spiritual revelation; "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is n heaven." Only flashes, immediately passing, but a knowing something of "the powers of the age to come."

Do get the principle of this. Very often the Lord antedates things for us, and then we find them go down into death; but this is training; and has to be in order to get us, our flesh-hold out of it; it is a principle of training, and so the Lord brings us into spiritual cooperation with what He is doing.

Pentecost is necessary to put things into another realm, where the "I" is utterly OUT and the Lord is utterly in. Pentecost is the climax of this. This was all accompanied by and headed up to a complete breakdown and personal failure on the part of the disciples, they failed Him all along the line; see them with the Syrophenician woman, distraught with trouble, crying unto them, "Have mercy on me!" and they "besought Him, saying, "Send her away; for she crieth after us."

Again, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times?" "Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee; what then shall we have?" Bargaining to get more than they gave up! and caring not for the others, only let us be first; ambition for a place of prominence; this is not the spirit of Him Who emptied Himself, and humbled Himself, unto the death of the Cross!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

A High Privilege: God Counts Us His Friends

"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God ... and he was called the friend of God" (James 2:23)

The image of God in man cannot extend to every part of man's being, for God has attributes which He cannot impart to any of His people, however favored.

God is uncreated, self-existent, infinite, sovereign, eternal; these attributes are His alone and by their very definition cannot be shared with another. But there are other attributes which He can impart to His people and in some measure share with His redeemed children. 

Intellect, self-consciousness, love, goodness, holiness, pity, faithfulness - these and certain other attributes are the points where likeness between God and man may be achieved. It is here that the divine-human friendship is experienced!

God, being perfect, has capacity for perfect friendship. Man, being imperfect, can never quite know perfection in anything, least of all in his relationship to the incomprehensible Godhead.

The more perfect our friendship with God becomes the simpler will our lives be. Those formalities that are so necessary to keep a casual friendship alive may be dispensed with when true friends sit in each other's presence. True friends trust each other.

Unquestionably the highest privilege granted to man on earth is to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God. Nothing is important enough to be allowed to stand in the way of our relation to God. We should see to it that nothing on earth shall separate us from God's friendship!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 2

Pentecost Linked with all the Old Testament Scriptures

and was the climax to all that had been written. The Holy Spirit came with the full virtue of everything that had been written in the Old Testament concerning Christ to make them real and to fulfill them; to bring those fulfillments into the personal experience of the believer. The Holy Spirit's advent was to make all the Old Testament a manifested fulfillment in the Person of Christ Jesus.

In this record of Acts 2 there is a breaking up and opening of the meaning of the Scriptures. Joel; what was the burden of the Word to Joel? "The Day of the Lord" "But this is that which hath been spoken through the Prophet Joel." "This is that," the day when the Lord came into His own. We speak of having our day; the Lord comes into His day. Pentecost is the Lord coming into His day, He is enthroned; and this Day of the Lord is in two parts; the former took place at Pentecost, and the latter part is in the Book of Revelation.

Pentecost was the introduction of the "Day of the Lord" on the grace side of His sovereignty, and in the Apocalypse it is the judgment side of His  sovereignty - one day, but in two halves; and as surely as the Lord Jesus has commenced His reign in grace, so surely He will take the rod of iron to smash the nations in judgment who resist and reject His reign in grace.

The Day of the Lord is in our hearts now. He is sovereign Lord; and so He is offered to the nations in grace, but also we have a message of authority, and if there is a refusal of His grace, there must be an acknowledgement of that sovereignty in judgment; for everything shall confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

"Wherefore, also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name .. and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9, 11).

In another part of the same record the link is with David and Solomon. With David and Solomon you have introduced a revelation of grace, glory and wonder; it needs the two persons to illustrate the reign and work of the Lord Jesus; and you come into Pentecost where it has its fulfillment and spiritual realization.

David and Solomon are types of the Person of the Lord Jesus, in His work and reign; He is David and He is Solomon, but He transcends them both; He takes up all that is typical in them and fulfills it in His own Person: Pentecost is the climax to the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Christ.

Now as to the Person, life and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Pentecost was a Recognition and a Proof of all Christ Came to Be, and all He Taught, and all He Did")