Looking Unto Jesus

Faith is the firm solid confidence that God will be faithful to his present and future promises. We hold this absolute conviction in our hearts even though we can’t physically see him or his promises. The great men and women of the past lived like this and God blessed them.

Paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1-2.

The phrase,”Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:2) is one of the most succinct definitions of faith in the New Testament. “Looking unto Jesus,” is an expression of dependence, obedience, allegiance, and devotion. Faith as “looking unto Jesus” is a looking away from everyone else and everything else that would distract us from supreme satisfaction in Christ. It is declaring to the world that only Christ satisfies and fulfills. To look to Jesus and Jesus alone is our soul’s fulfillment, prize, and delight.

Looking unto Jesus is resting on God’s character, believing Christ’s Cross, and obeying the Spirit’s leadership with a certainty that surpasses physical sight and transcends human understanding. Looking unto Jesus believes God’s promises, relying on his faithfulness, and being confident in his unfailing love. When we look to Jesus we ignore bad circumstances, negative feelings, and discouraging thoughts to stand on God’s word and walk in his ways (Isa. 55:8-9). In short, this faith believes what God says is true—our sins are washed away in Christ’s blood, our lives are in his hands, and his grace will never fail us.

Looking to Jesus, with the look of faith, because our salvation is in Him alone; with the look of love, because He alone can satisfy our heart; with the look of strong desire, longing to know Him better; with the look of soul devotion, waiting only to know His will; with the look of gladness, because we know He loves us; with the look of wonder and admiration, because He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, our Lord and our God.

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1894), 484.

 

What is Abiding in Christ?

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5-6 ESV

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacies keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have outcomes that will last for eternity.

To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness from it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne.

C. H. Spurgeon, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Daily Readings (Geanies House, Tain, Ross-Shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1996), 54.

When our Lord says: ‘Abide in me, and I in you,’ He points to something analogous to this. ‘Abide in me’: that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gives, a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: ‘I in you,’ God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.

Andrew Murray, The True Vine (Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.), 35.

Sprint or Marathon?

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Heb. 12:1

The Christian life is a long distance race that requires absolute determination to finish and to finish well. Endurance is a “looking unto Jesus” through the up’s and down’s of life with the goal of pleasing his heart and being transformed into his likeness. The fruit of endurance is a deepening maturity and a depth of character that attracts lives to the gospel.

Endurance, or perseverance, is a willingness to stand in God’s chosen situation, or advance at his speed, so that, the full fruit of the Holy Spirit can be revealed. Believers must not bow to society’s pressures, succumb to false teaching, doubt God’s promises, or be angry at unexpected setbacks, but persevere into the knowledge and love of Christ. A heart that endures is a heart that trusts that God has an appointment in our disappointments.

True religion is not only drawing nigh to God once in the Holiest, but a life to be renewed there every day; it is not only the entrance upon a new and living way, but a continually abiding life and walk in it. It is running a race with patience.

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1993), 497.

 

The Christian’s Very Life

 

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.

Striving vs. Abiding

Struggling vs. Receiving

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jer. 2:13

Striving is living the Christian life by our own effort: laboring, straining, and sweating to make something happen in our walk with Christ. Striving is our vain attempt to earn Christ’s approval, love, and forgiveness. Striving endeavors to earn God’s good graces, achieve God’s promises, and fulfill God’s vision all in our timing and in strength.

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity.

Abide in Christ: so will you bear much fruit. Not a vine is planted but the owner thinks of the fruit, and the fruit only. Other trees may be planted for ornament, for the shade, for the wood–the vine only for the fruit. And of each vine the husbandman is continually asking how it can bring forth more fruit, much fruit. Believer! Abide in Christ in times of affliction, and you shall bring forth more fruit. The deeper experience of Christ’s tenderness and the Father’s love will urge you to live to His glory.

Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, Chapter 19.

Once and Forever

Christ’s Work on the Cross Was Once and Forever

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

Heb. 10:12

Andrew Murray is one of the church’s richest devotional writers: simple in writing style, yet profound in thought and insight. Church historians describe him as an Evangelical pietist: a heart for the gospel and a passion for living it. Murray lived from 1828-1917 and was born in South Africa. He continued to pastor in that troubled country for years, but he is best known for his numerous writings on prayer and the Christian life. Murray’s most well-known works are With Christ in the School of Prayer (1885) and The Spirit of Christ (1888). Murray traveled and spoke widely with most, if not all, of his 240 books still in print.

I have always benefited from reading one of his titles. Below is a beautiful quote from The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews that describes Christ’s the finished work on the Cross as once and forever. Redemption performed once on the Cross with no additions needed and eternal, always and forever affecting salvation for those who believe.

Once and forever : see how the two go together in the work of Christ in its two principal manifestations. In His death, His sacrifice, His blood-shedding, it is once for all. The propitiation for sin, the bearing and the putting away of it, was so complete that of His suffering again, or offering Himself again, there never can be any thought. God now remembers the sin no more forever. He has offered one sacrifice forever ; He hath perfected us forever. No less is it so in His resurrection and ascension into heaven. He entered once for all through His blood into the Holiest. When He had offered one sacrifice forever, He sat down on the right hand of God. The once for all of His death is the secret of the forever of the power of His sacrifice. The once for all of His entering through the blood, the power of the forever of His sitting on the throne.

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1993), 360.

A Twofold Grace

A Grace that Empowers

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Titus 2:11-12 NIV

Grace is a word that has been cliched in Christian churches. So overused and misused that very few people truly know what the word actually means anymore. Grace has become an abstraction in people’s minds. Often, it is misunderstood to mean, “God overlooks our sin(s).” Some truth exists in that statement, but not the whole truth. Biblical grace has two meanings:

Justifying grace is God’s undeserved, loving commitment to rescue us from his wrath and judgment. In Christ, God delivers us from sin and transports us into his loving kingdom of forgiveness.  Justifying grace calls us to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, the one who has taken all our sin and just judgment upon himself. When we trust Christ by faith, his work of forgiveness begins by releasing us from our debt, transforming our hearts, and freeing us to live for him. Grace flows from the Cross: Christ death, burial, and resurrection was a costly grace.

Sanctifying grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. Jesus is our desire for he works in us a hunger for holiness. Jesus is our ability for he enables us to make godly decisions and righteous choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world and its influence, our flesh and its passions, and inbred sin and its bondage.

In other words, grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Freedom from our sinful past, we are made right God; freedom from the power of sin, we can walk with God; and eventually, freedom from the presence of sin, we will live with Him in eternity.

The word grace is used in two senses. It is first the gracious disposition in God which moves Him to love us freely without our merit and to bestow all His blessings upon us. Then it also means that power which this grace does its work in us. The redeeming work of Christ and the righteousness He won for us, equally with the work of the Spirit in us and the power of the new life He brings, are spoken of as “grace.” It includes all that Christ has done and still does, all He has and gives, all He is for us and in us.

Andrew Murray, The Believers’s New Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 83.

It is impossible to speak too strongly of the need to know that as wonderful and free and sufficient as is the grace that pardons, so is the grace that sanctifies; we are just as absolutely dependent upon the latter as the former. We can do as little to the one as the other. The grace that works in us must as exclusively do all in us and through us as the grace that pardons does all for us. In the one case as the other, everything is by faith alone.

Andrew Murray, The Believers’s New Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 85.

All That Is Christ’s Is Ours

The New Covenant

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

Luke 22:20 NLT

Covenant is an eternal binding promise that two parties will love one another unconditionally. This eternal covenant is not a contract. In a contract, the relationship is based on performance, if the terms of the contract are broken, the relationship is terminated under penalty. In a covenant relationship, love is the basis of the relationship. If the covenant is broken, the offended party pursues the offender winning back their heart through discipline, grace, and love (Jer. 32:40-41). Obedience and mutual affection is all that is required for enjoyment of the full blessing of the covenant.

Under the New Covenant, God promises to pursue us in order to create a people all his own. God desires that we would be a people who would obey him from our hearts by a faith that works through love (Gal. 5:6). God promises four things in the New Covenant that the Old Covenant could never deliver: heart-felt obedience, personal experiential knowledge of God, Holy Spirit-empowered living, and life-transforming forgiveness (Ezekiel 36:25-26).The New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant for the New Covenant empowers us, the covenant partner, to keep God’s most precious commandments (Ezekiel 36:27).

In the New Covenant, we are placed “in Christ” (Heb. 9:15). Like Jonathan and David (1 Sam. 20:16-17), who shared all their possessions: all that is Christ’s is ours and all that is ours now belongs to Christ. All that Christ purchased for us on the Cross is ours. All that the Holy Spirit bestows is ours. Our all that Father grants is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Fix your heart upon the great and mighty God, who in His grace will work in you above what you can ask or think, and will make you a monument of His mercy. Believe that every blessing of the Covenant of grace is yours; by the death of the Testator you are entitled to it all—and on that faith act, knowing that all is yours. The new heart is yours, the law written in the heart is yours, the Holy Spirit, the seal of the Covenant, is yours. Act on this faith, and count upon God as Faithful and Able, and oh! so Loving, to reveal in you, to make true in you, all the power and glory of His everlasting Covenant.

Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants and the Second Blessing (Fort Washington, PA: CLC, 2005).

What God Really Wants!

What God Really Wants?  He Wants Us to Trust Him

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Heb. 11:6

Faith is a response of the heart which receives what God has already done for us in Christ. Faith is relying on God’s character, standing on God’s promises, believing God’s Cross, and obeying God’s Spirit with a certainty that surpasses physical sight and human reasoning.

In our hearts, we are assured that God’s faithfulness will bring God’s Word to pass in our circumstances, intervening in our lives, and meeting our needs. Faith believes that God not only works on behalf of others, but he is ready to meet my needs as well.

All that God wanted man to do was, to believe in Him. What a man believes, moves and rules his whole being, enters into him, and becomes part of his very life. Salvation could only be by faith: God restoring the life man had lost; man in faith yielding himself to God’s work and will.The first great work of God with man was to get him to believe.

This work cost God more care and time and patience than we can easily conceive. All the dealings with individual men, and with the people of Israel, had just this one object, to teach men to trust Him. Where He found faith He could do anything.

Nothing dishonored and grieved Him so much as unbelief. Unbelief was the root of disobedience and every sin; it made it impossible for God to do His work. The one thing God sought to waken in men by promise and threatening, by mercy and judgment, was faith.

Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants (London: Fleming H. Revell, 1898).

We Have Something For Which They Longed . . .

new_covenant

. . . the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

Trinity Sunday, June 7th, I preached the sermon, “We Have Something For Which They Longed.” This message had been burning in my heart for some time and many of you resonated with the biblical truths that I shared. As requested, the outline, notes, and text of my message is now posted for your spiritual encouragement. If you have any problems downloading the entire sermon in Google Documents, please email me and I forward the text to you in Word format.

We Have Something (or Someone) For Which They Longed

Pentecost Year B 2009

[Preached Trinity Sunday Year B 2009]

Rev. Canon Glenn E. Davis

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (emphasis mine)

Gal. 3:13-14 (NKJV).

Overview: The Old Testament people of God yearned for intimacy with God: conscience-cleansing forgiveness of sin, power to obey the law, and life-changing experiences of His presence. The finished work of Christ on the Cross performed the work needed for us to experience all these truths and much more. What Old Testament men and women of faith hoped for and desired, we as New Covenant believers now know. We must not take these precious truths for granted. This sermon is about these great doctrinal truths and how we can fully experience their power and purpose.

Read or download the entire sermon on Google Documents.

To believe fully in the Holy Spirit as the present and abiding and all-comprehensive gift of the New Covenant has been to many an entrance into its fullness of blessing.

Andrew Murray, The Believer’s New Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 49.