October 2011

Monthly Archive

The Christian’s Very Life

Posted by on 13 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Andrew Murray, Christ in You

 

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:20 ESV

Christ lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in the gospels, all that Christ is as the second person of the Trinity, and all that Christ is as Lord now lives in us. Since Christ lives in us, we are never alone. Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live holy lives. Since Christ lives in us, we can respond (not react) to every life situation according to the will of God. Since Christ lives in us, we can daily experience Him intimately and powerfully by faith. Therefore, we desire all of Him in all of us all the time.

The Lord Jesus is the Christian’s very life, and the Holy Spirit dwells within our spirit to manifest Him, to work out all that is in Him and to reproduce Him in us. We must remember that there is something in the sight of God that is higher than work. There is Christ-likeness. That is our Father’s purpose, and it is His work.

Andrew Murray cited in His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Christian Life, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan,1998), 42.

Paul Ran, Christ Pursued

Posted by on 11 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: God's Grace

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit . . . .

John 15:16

Prevenient (i.e., coming before) grace is the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts granting us the ability to receive the gospel. Our sin enslaves us, darkens our understanding, and binds our wills. God by his unmerited favor must go before providing us the ability to accept (or reject) his offer of salvation in Christ. If anyone is hungry for God and seeks salvation, it is the Holy Spirit stirring in their hearts drawing them to something eternal. God’s pursuit is not passive, dilatory, or random. The Holy Spirit wants us, he wants our hearts, he wants our devotion. God pursues us and pursues us relentlessly. Jesus woos us, confounds us, corners us in order to draw us and win us to himself.

Paul ran from Christ; Christ pursued and overtook him. Paul resisted Christ; Christ disarmed him. Paul persecuted Christ; Christ converted him. Paul was an alien; Christ made him a member of the family. Paul was an enemy; Christ made him a friend. Paul was ‘in the flesh’; Christ set him ‘in the Spirit.’ Paul was under the law; Christ set him in grace. Paul was dead; Christ made him alive to God. How does one give reasons for this? He does not give reasons; he sings, ‘Blessed be God who blessed us . . . even as he chose us in him.’

Lewis B. Smedes, Union With Christ (Grand Rapids, 1983), 86-87.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Jesus Gave It All Away

Posted by on 08 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Keswick Convention, The Cross

The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20-21 ESV). 

The Keswick Movement has almost been forgotten. The annual conference began in the mid-19th century for the “promotion of scriptural holiness.” The Holy Spirit’s work in and through the Keswick Conference has changed lives for Christ for over a century and a half. Such notables as Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Watchman Nee, Major Ian Thomas, and F. B. Meyer have all either taught at the yearly conference or were influenced by its teaching.

The sermons, devotionals, and books written Keswick authors and speakers have drawn me into the experience of Christ in a manner no other Christian literature can or does. In their instruction, I have found intimacy with Christ, experienced his constant, conscious presence, and discovered freedom from past pain and persistent sin.

The passage below is one of my favorite selections from a Keswick sermon. Charles Fox declares the greatness of the love of Christ: while suffering inextricable pain, Jesus is thinking about the needs of others. Jesus is carrying the sin of the world on his shoulders, yet he is giving away his inheritance for the benefit of others. Jesus was thinking of others’ needs when you and I would have been self-consumed by our suffering.

Just before He died, Jesus made an inventory of all He had, and then gave it all away. Hear Him: ‘My peace I give you'(John 14:27). ‘That my joy might remain in you (John 15:11).’ He gave His body-‘given for you’ (Luke 22:19). He gave His blood-‘shed for you’ (Luke 22:20). Then He gave what He thought a great deal of-His words. Twice He repeats this legacy, ‘I have given them the words which Thou gavest me’ (John 17:8). ‘I have given them Thy word’ (John 17:14). All He had He gave away. ‘The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them’ (John 17:22).

Then, when He was on the cross-for He was never so rich as when He was on the cross!-He gives away pardon. He gives home-‘Woman behold thy son!’ (John 19:26). He links two of His own together for ever. There are no such friendships as those which are made by the cross of Christ. Then, on the cross, He gives paradise away-paradise, never heard of between Genesis and Revelation, except only at the cross: ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). Yes, today-immediate transition when you take Christ.

His very clothing was given. ‘They cast lots for His vesture’ (Matt. 27:35). I wonder what that soldier thought as he put on that seamless vesture: a picture of us murderers clothed in the stainless robe of righteousness of Christ.

Then His very dead body was given away. Nobody cared for it, until one disciple came and begged it, and was allowed to have it for the asking (John 19:38).

Is He not rich, my Master? ‘My peace, my joy, my words, my glory!’ All given away! This is indeed the Master. Is He yours?

Charles A. Fox, “The Gifts of Jesus” in Daily Thoughts From Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 178.

The Rest of God

Posted by on 06 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Plymouth Brethren, Sabbath Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matt. 11:28 ESV

The Rest of God means experiencing by faith God’s adequacy and faithfulness in every life situation resulting in freedom from worry, anxiety, and care. This rest is not passivity, inactivity, or idleness. His rest is an encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit who lifts us up into an experience of the resurrected Jesus. It is Jesus who dispels our earthly fears and worldly burdens calming our hearts in the midst of life’s storms. New Testament rest is the peace of Christ, confidence in God’s covenant promise, and assurance in the Holy Spirit’s keeping power.

The more we rest in Him the more we are independent of everything outside of Him at such a time, the more vigor we really possess; and the better we get over the winter, be it ever so severe. If I am independent of the winter, it is evident that I have mastered it, and not it me; and if I have done so, through the strength of the Lord Jesus, I am relieved though in no human way. Peter is delivered from prison in a superhuman way; but first he, though enduring a very trying winter, could lay him down and sleep–take his rest, because the Lord sustained him.

J. B. Stoney, His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 460.

 

Spurgeon’s Word of Knowledge

Posted by on 05 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Charles Spurgeon, Spiritual Gifts

Charles H. Spurgeon

 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance (i.e., word) of wisdom, and to another the utterance (i.e., word) of knowledge according to the same Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:7-8 ESV

A word of knowledge is insight given to a believer into another person’s past which ministers God’s present love into their current problems and struggles. A word of knowledge reveals heart-felt secrets that only our omniscient God could know for the purpose of displaying God’s care and concern for that person’s needs. “A word of knowledge is usually defined within charismatic circles as the report of a specific piece of information that a person could not possibly have known naturally” (Adrian Warnock).

There were many instances of remarkable conversions at the Music Hall; one especially was so singular that I have often related it as a proof that God sometimes guides His servants to say what they would themselves never have thought of uttering, in order that He may bless the hearer for whom the message is personally intended. While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, “There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence ! ” A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, “Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?” “Yes,” replied the man, “I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened ? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place ; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays ; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me ; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.”

Spurgeon elaborates that his experience of the word of knowledge (not his term) was not uncommon in his ministry:

I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ” Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did ; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.” And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, “The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: 1854-1860 (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1899), 226-227.

 

One Answer to Every Human Need

Posted by on 04 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Exchanged Life, Jesus Christ, Watchman Nee

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Heb. 1:1-2 ESV

Often our problems are complex, our lives frustrating, and our lifestyles lonely. We look for answers, we long for solutions, and we struggle for meaning. Yet, Christ calls, “come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden” (Matt. 10: 28-32) and, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Christ is still the solution to our problems, the answer to our need, and the lover of our souls who fills our lives with meaning.

God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need — His Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us He works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: He lives instead of us for our deliverance.

So we can speak of two substitutions — a Substitute on the Cross who secures our forgiveness and a Substitute within who secures our victory. It will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our questions in one way only, namely, by showing us more of His Son.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, PA: CLC, 1985), 12.

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