Corrie ten Boom interview

2008-06-03 @ 22:57:16 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()


2008-05-29 @ 13:02:50 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

One life.....

2008-05-28 @ 06:54:30 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

If you love me?

From Spurgeon's, "Christ's People- Imitators of Him"

'For Christ's sake', endeavor to be like him.

Oh! could I fetch the dying Jesus here,
and let him speak to you!

My own tongue is tied this morning, but I would make
his blood, his scars, and his wounds speak.
Poor dumb mouths, I bid each of them plead in his behalf.

How would Jesus, standing here, show you his hands this
morning! "My friends," he would say,
"behold me! these hands were pierced for you;
and look here at this my side-
It was opened as the fountain of your salvation.
See my feet; there entered the cruel nails.
Each of these bones were dislocated for your sake.
These eyes gushed with torrents of tears.
This head was crowned with thorns.
These cheeks were smitten;
this hair was plucked;
my body became the center and focus of agony.
I hung quivering in the burning sun; and all for you,
my people.

And will you not love me now?
I bid you be like me.
Is there any fault in me?
Oh! no.
You believe that I am fairer than ten thousand fairs,
and lovelier than ten thousand loves.

Have I injured you?
Have I not rather done all for your salvation?
And do I not sit at my Father's throne, and even now
intercede on your behalf?

"If you love me," -Christian, hear that word;
let the sweet syllables ring forever in your ears,
like the prolonged sounding of silver-toned bells-
"if you love me, if you love me, keep my commandments."

Oh, Christian, let that "if" be put to you this morning.
"If you love me."
Glorious Redeemer! is it an "if" at all?
Precious, bleeding Lamb, can there be an "if?"
What, when I see your blood gushing from you- is it an "if?"
Yes, I weep to say it is an "if."
Often my thoughts make it "if,"
and often my words make it "if."

"Yes, I love you, I know that I love you.
Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you," the
Christian can say.

"Well, then," says Jesus, looking down with a glance of
affectionate approbation, "since you love me, keep my

O beloved, what mightier reason can I give than this?
It is the argument of love and affection.

Be like Christ, since gratitude demands obedience;
so shall the world know that you have been with Jesus.
2008-05-21 @ 10:31:24 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Holiness of God

2008-05-08 @ 20:08:17 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

does your God live inside you?

2008-05-03 @ 22:25:52 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Value of the Family

2008-05-02 @ 12:59:04 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

The New Testament Christian

(J. C. Ryle, "Looking Unto Jesus!")

"Looking unto Jesus." Hebrews 12:2

 The Christianity which the world requires, is a Christianity for everyday life. A mere Sunday religion is not enough. A thing put on and off with our Sunday clothes is powerless. A weekly round of forms and ceremonies within consecrated buildings, is not enough. Wise men remember that there is a world of duty and trial, outside the walls of the church, in which they have to play their part. They want something that they can carry with them into that world. A monastic religion will never do. A faith which cannot flourish except in an ecclesiastical hot-house, a faith which cannot face the cold air of worldly business, and bear fruit except behind the fence of retirement and private asceticism?such a faith is a plant which our Heavenly Father has not planted?and it brings no fruit to perfection.

A religion of spasmodic excitement will not do. It may suit weak and sentimental minds for a little season; but it rarely lasts. It lacks bone and muscle, and too often ends in deadness.

The Christianity which the world requires, and the Word of God reveals?is of a very different stamp. It is a useful everyday religion. It is a healthy, strong, manly plant, which can live in every position, and flourish in every atmosphere, except that of sin. It is a religion which a man can carry with him wherever he goes, and never need leave behind him. It will wear, and stand, and prosper in any climate?in winter and in summer, in heat and in cold. Such a religion meets the needs of mankind.

But where is such true Christianity to be found? What are its special ingredients? What is the nature of it? What are its peculiar characteristics? The answer to these questions is to be found in the three words of the text which form the title of this paper. The secret of a vigorous, powerful, everyday Christianity?is to be ever "Looking unto Jesus!"

In the phrase "looking unto Jesus," it is useful and interesting to remember that the Greek word which we render "looking," means "looking off," looking away from other objects to one, only one, and looking on that one with a steady, fixed, intent gaze. And the object we are to look at, you will observe, is a PERSON?not a doctrine, not an abstract theological dogma?but a living Person; and that Person is Jesus the Son of God!

The New Testament Christian was a man who trusted, and loved, a living Divine Person. Of head knowledge, and accurate theological definitions, perhaps he had but little store. Very likely he would have failed a basic exam at one of our theological schools. But one thing he did know?he knew, believed, loved, and would have died for, a living Savior, a real personal Friend in heaven?even Jesus, the crucified and risen Son of God.

2008-04-29 @ 07:57:27 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Unholy ministers

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

"Watch your life and doctrine closely." 1 Timothy 4:16

Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a
heavenly life.

Ministers must preach Christ as well in their life・as in
their doctrine. They must not be hot in the pulpit, and
cold and careless in their lives. The lives of ministers
oftentimes convince more strongly than their words;
their tongues may persuade・but their lives command.

What is it, which renders the things of God so contemptuous
and odious in the eyes of many people・but the ignorance,
looseness, profaneness, and worldliness of those who are the
dispensers of them. Unholy ministers pull down instead
of building up. Oh the souls who their lives destroy! These,
by their loose lives, lead their flocks to hell・where they
themselves must lie lowermost!

Wicked ministers do more hurt by their lives・than
they do good by their doctrine. Every minister's
life should be a commentary upon Christ's life!

"Be an example to all believers in what you
 teach, in the way you live, in your love, your
 faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
2008-04-24 @ 09:01:22 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (1) Trackbacks ()

Having a good conscience

"Having a good conscience." 1Pe 3:16

J.C Philpot

We cannot often see our faith, but we can sometimes see our conscience. We cannot always rejoice in the Lord, but we can see whether we fear his great name. We cannot always triumph over our enemies, but we can sometimes observe whether there is a sentinel upon the look out. Thus, if you want to know whether you have faith, look at faith's companion, see what faith is attended by; and if you don't find a "a good conscience," write death upon your religion. Throw away your sword; it is useless; it is of human manufacture; it will break in pieces when you have to encounter your enemy, the king of terrors; God's lightning will shatter it then.

But if the Lord has given you "a good conscience," a tender conscience, a pure conscience, he will strengthen your arm to fight the good fight of faith. You will often think your sword is so short, and your arm so weak that you cannot fight the Lord's battles. But if he has given you "a good conscience," a conscience tender in his fear, he has put into your hands the sword of faith, and he will one day manifest it clearly, that he has himself equipped you with it, by giving you victory over all your foes. Oh, may the Lord raise up in our hearts some sweet testimony that we have "a good conscience," and then we shall have this blessed consolation, that concerning faith we shall not make shipwreck.
2008-04-19 @ 22:19:12 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

The Great God Entertainment

by A.W.Tozer


A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart, the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man.

If this is true (and I believe it is) then the present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.

Schleiermacher held that the feeling of dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the spiritual life might rise, it must always begin with a deep sense of a great need which only God could satisfy.

If this sense of need and a feeling of dependence are at the root of natural religion, it is not hard to see why the great god Entertainment is so ardently worshiped by so many. For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable; they look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as a dope addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon courage to face existence.

No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things, if used with discretion, may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing, however, the all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again.

The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin. The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern men. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character than any other educational influence on earth.

And the ominous thing is that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal thoughts which would fill the souls of men, if they were but worthy to entertain them. The whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds its devotees with a strange fascination; and a religion, incidentally, against which it is now dangerous to speak. For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was?a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.

For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers.So, today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God.
Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate "producers" peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.

The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people.

What is natural and beautiful in a child may be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the sanctuary and seeks to pass for true religion. Is it not a strange thing and a wonder that, with the shadow of atomic destruction hanging over the world and with the coming of Christ drawing near, the professed followers of the Lord should be giving themselves up to religious amusements? That in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood and clamor for religious toys?

"Remember, 0 Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned ! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim." AMEN. AMEN.

Taken from Root of the Righteous, Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1955, p. 32-33.
2008-04-19 @ 21:35:57 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (1) Trackbacks ()

"Because He Saw His Glory" - Sparks


"Because He Saw His Glory"
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - ?Woe!? ? ?Lo!? ? ?Go!?


Reading: Isaiah 6:1-5; John 12:41; Isaiah 6:6-14.

"These things said Isaiah, because he saw his glory; and he spake of him."

John was referring to the Lord Jesus - Jehovah of Hosts!

We have seen that what took place at the time of Isaiah's vision was related to the entirely new order of things into which WE have come. It was the end of an earth-centred system, the end of the earthly seat of Divine government and priesthood; and the introduction of the heavenly and the true, the abiding, the eternal. It was not only a vision of the pre-incarnate glory of the Lord Jesus, but it was a prophetic forecast of the new order, the new economy - what we call the new dispensation. He, our Lord, would be exalted far above all rule and authority: the seat and centre of government would be - as it now is - in Heaven with Him; the priesthood is continued by Him; the house is now a heavenly house. That came in, in its beginnings, with this vision.

We have spoken of the tremendous things that happened in that eighth century before Christ. Now WE are in the time of that vision's real fulfilment. That vision is, or should be, the vision of the Church, the people of God, now; and in the light of that vision the Church ought to be fulfilling its ministry, as did Isaiah. Because Isaiah, as we have pointed out and stressed, is not just a historic figure or a representative of a certain period in this world's history: he is a representation and embodiment of a permanent, Divine function, in relation to bringing the people of God to God's thought and fullness in Christ. And that function is as much here now as it was in the days of Isaiah: the function of the prophetic ministry remains. There may not be a people whom we today call 'prophets', in the Old Testament sense, but the function of the Holy Spirit is being carried on in this dispensation: the function that seeks all the time to keep in view God's full end and purpose before the people of God, and to bring them into that purpose.

If we are a part of the Lord's people, then these two things apply to us: first, the vision of the exalted Lord; and second, the ministry that issues therefrom. These two things belong to US. Whether we are in the good of them or not may be another matter. But that is why these messages are being given: it is the Lord's occasion for telling us about it - what we ought to see, and what we ought to do.

For brevity's sake, I am going to gather all this up into three little words:

Verse 5: "Then said I, Woe...!"
Verse 7: "He touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo..."
"And he said, Go..."

'Woe!', 'Lo!' and 'Go!' That sums it all up; everything is gathered into that.

Let me say at once that what we are speaking of relates to fellowship with God in His purpose. This is not a message to unsaved people: this is a message to the Church, a message to the people of God; and it has to do pre-eminently, fundamentally, with fellowship with God IN HIS PURPOSE.


"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips..."

Isaiah was not what we would now call an 'unsaved' man. He was a chosen servant of God, and, as we now know, a very, very valuable servant of God. And, seeing that this vision was given to him, and all this happened in his experience, as a servant of God, it quite strongly says that these are the things which go to constitute such a ministry - a ministry in fellowship with God concerning His purpose. Yes, and - one says it deliberately - a part of the very foundation of such a ministry, of the very preparation of such a vessel, is this word, 'Woe!' The sinner not knowing the Lord, coming under conviction of sin, might utter that word. It ought, indeed, to be the very first word of a sinner coming to the Lord. But here it is the word, the expression, of a prophet, the exclamation of a chosen servant of God.

Now, remember that the man himself was in this condition before he cried, 'Woe!', and had probably been in it for a long time. Things around him, too, as you will see, were in a pretty bad state, and had been like this for a long time, and he was involved in them. Yet it seems that he had not been stung into the realisation of his own state, and of the real state of things around him. No doubt he had deplored it, no doubt he had felt bad about many things; no doubt he had grieved over the evident declension; but it would seem that not until this moment did he become fully alive to his own condition and the condition around him. What was it that did it?

You know, it is quite possible for us to have much to say about the evils and the wrongs in the world around us, to be quite prepared to admit that we ourselves are anything but perfect, that there is indeed much that is not right about us, without that being an adequate basis for our serving God in this sense - that is, concerning His full purpose. The full purpose of God requires something deeper than that. And so it had to be brought home to the prophet. And what was it that did it?

Well, of course, he 'saw the Lord'. And he heard: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts". And when he really came into touch with the Lord, in this vital way, the first effect was a realisation of the awful state of his own heart, and of the nation around him. And we shall not be of much use to the Lord unless that double sense is with us in an overwhelming way. We must come into touch with the Lord.

Now, we have been talking about 'vision', but let us for the moment forget that word. It is a word that, for most people, conjures up all sorts of things, and might provoke such questions as: 'What do you mean by a vision of the Lord? I have never had such a vision. Am I to have a vision of the Lord? Are you expecting ME to have a vision of the Lord? Do you expect something like this to happen to ME?' Instead of speaking of 'vision', let us simply speak of 'coming, in a living way, into touch with the Lord.'

For after all, that is what it amounts to, and that can happen without any objective visions. A real touch with the Lord will inevitably result in this. It is the declaration of a fact, and it is also a test of our relationship to the Lord. Those who really are in touch with God, those who really have this living relatedness with Him, those who really walk near to Him, are the people who carry with them this - not temporary, desultory, occasional ejaculation, but - abiding consciousness of the WOE of their own state - put that in many ways - their utter worthlessness! "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). Any complacency, self-satisfaction, insensitiveness to sin; any absence of an agony and an anguish over evil, means distance from God. The further you get away from God, the less are you troubled by the sense of sin. The nearer you get to God, the more acute becomes this consciousness. And if He draws near, if the Lord comes into any place or any life, this is the thing that happens.

Now look! 'This One', said John, 'this One whom Isaiah saw, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up - this One was the Lord Jesus; and He came down from that throne. This One, this same One, is "Holy, holy, holy"; it is this very One.' Oh, is it not overwhelming that the One about whom the seraphim were crying 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts' - that that One was Jesus! But if He left His throne in glory, if He has come out of Heaven to this world, He has not left behind His holiness. Look! He is here, and His very presence has the effect of creating a spontaneous outburst. His enemies - they cannot remain quiescent; the evil powers - they cannot remain silent; sinners - they come to His feet. His presence, without His saying anything, means that men begin to make confessions. Sincere, honest people begin to seek Him. Sinners, stricken with the consciousness of sin, say: 'Depart from me - I am a sinful man, O Lord!' The evil people cannot bear this presence, they cannot endure the presence of His holiness. The presence of God is like that!

Look again! Here is Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee: 'as concerning the righteousness which is of the law, found blameless' (Phil. 3:6). That, he tells us, was the verdict of his contemporaries. Not much room for consciousness of sin there, is there? On his way to Damascus he meets Jesus Christ; he sees the Lord high and lifted up. What does he say? The erstwhile self-congratulating, righteous Pharisee writes to Timothy: "...sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Tim. 1:15). He has seen the Lord, and that is the effect.

Job, all through those long chapters of the book which goes by his name, is trying to justify himself, and his friends are saying so: 'Job is all the time trying to justify himself - to put himself right with God and man.' It is a long and terrible story, until the Lord meets him. When his friends at last are silent, the Lord comes in and says: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man: ...declare thou unto me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?..." (38:2-4). And so on. He meets the Lord. What is the end? "I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee, WHEREFORE I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (42:5,6). He has seen the Lord, he has met the Lord, he has been in the presence of the Lord.

We have quoted Peter. Peter was a very self-assured, self-confident sort of fellow. But one day, in the presence of the Lord Jesus, something of that majesty broke in upon him, and he cried "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). It is just that; it is a real test. A life that is really in touch with God can have no pride, no conceit, no arrogance, no self-complacency; it cannot be hard and cruel toward people who are faulty and failing; it knows its own heart too well. That is essential in a ministry that is going to lead to spiritual fullness.

A simple little story is told of a girl who started a little class amongst slum children, poor little be-grimed girls, ragged and dirty, who never knew much about soap and water. She gathered them together, and wondered how she could give them some sense of another kind of life. And so she brought along a beautiful, white lily; a large, white, perfect lily. They gathered round; she didn't say anything; she held it up in front of them; then she passed it round. 'Would you like to feel it? Would you like to look into it?' A grimy little girl, in all her mess and tatters, reached out a grubby hand to touch the lily; and as it got nearer the flower, she suddenly saw herself. She saw the contrast between the hand and the lily, and drew back. She rushed out of the meeting, ran home, sought out all the soap that she could find, washed herself, put on some cleaner clothes, did her hair, and came back. And not a word spoken!

That is only a very simple illustration. But a little touch with the real thing, a real touch with the Lord, should shock us, should really show us ourselves. The background and basis of any real spiritual value to the Lord is a sense of His holiness and the contrast between Him and ourselves. It must begin there; there can be no rushing in.

For I must remind you that Uzziah forced his way into the Holy Place, and took up the censer to offer incense unlawfully. Something that had no right to do so pressed into the presence of God, and God smote it. And the leprosy which broke out upon his countenance was only a symbol of what was in his heart. When Isaiah cried: "I am a man of unclean lips", do not forget that he had seen Uzziah, and had heard the leper calling: "Unclean, unclean" For it was a part of the law that all lepers must do that, to let everyone know; he had to pronounce his own uncleanness. It was that to which Isaiah was referring: "I am a man of unclean lips" - 'I am really no better than Uzziah: I am a leper.'

That is the first phase: 'Woe! Woe! Woe is me!'


"And he touched my mouth... and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged."

There is a very great deal implied in this whole symbolic setting. One of the seraphim, on hearing this cry of woe, this confession of need and undoneness, went to the altar - evidently the GREAT altar - and, with tongs, took up a live coal, brought it over and touched the prophet's lips. Remember that the lips are always the symbol of the heart, for it is out of the heart that we speak. He touched his lips with that LIVE coal. It was not from the sacrifice of last week - that would have been dead coal; it was not even the sacrifice of yesterday - that would have been dead coal, too. Right up to the moment, the coal was still burning: evidently the sacrifice had just been offered, the altar was drenched with blood.

You have here three things: an altar, a burning coal, and (by implication) shed blood - everything that goes to make up the Cross of the Lord Jesus. It is not a little impressive that, in that scene in Heaven in the fifth chapter of the book of the Revelation, where the Lamb is seen in the midst of the throne, the literal statement is: 'as though it had JUST been slain' (v. 6). Right up to the moment, right up to date, this thing is still alive, it is still virtuous, it is eternally efficacious. It was an up-to-the-moment thing that happened. In the symbolism of the burning fire you have the Holy Spirit, operating on the virtue of the Blood and of the Cross of the Lord Jesus, creating the basis of this service. This kind of service, in relation to God's full purpose, requires that all this shall be in the experience of a man or a woman, right up to date: a knowledge of the tremendous efficacy of the Blood of Jesus.

The real servant of God does not make light of the Blood. He makes a very great deal of the Blood, knowing that that Blood needs to be permanently efficacious for him. "The blood of Jesus" - you know the words of the text - "the blood of Jesus his Son KEEPS ON cleansing us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). The true servant of God, one who is related to His full purpose, rests upon the continuous, moment-by-moment, up-to-the-moment efficacy of the Blood of the Lamb, and upon the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, as fire. He rests, too, upon the separating work of the Cross. Remember that that word 'holy' (the seraphim cried: 'Holy, holy...') literally means 'separate'. He is separate. The statement about Jesus is: "separated from sinners" (Heb. 7:26). The Cross is the place of the separation, the dividing; that is its meaning. And the separation is not only a separation from the world - it is our separation from ourselves.

It is, then, the EXPERIENCE of those mighty energies of the Blood, the Cross and the Spirit, on the part of the Lord's people, of servants of God, that is foundational to true ministry. It is not the doctrine, the theory, the truth, objectively or mentally held. We may know all that the Bible has to say about the Blood, about altars, about the Cross, about the Holy Spirit, and yet the reality may not be a deeply applied thing in our being. And that is the tragedy of many a life, even of servants of God today. They may be able to give you all that the Bible has to say on these 'subjects', and yet it may mean nothing; it may be mere cleverness or interest. What God wants is men and women who have been TOUCHED in their inner being by the power of the Blood, by the power of the Spirit, by the separating work of the Cross.


"Then I said, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go..."

Go! You never get that opportunity given by God Himself unless these other things are true. You may take up Christian work, but a Divine, 'apostolic' commissioning does rest upon these other two things. (Do not misunderstand my use of that word 'apostolic'. I am only interpreting: it just means being 'sent'. We all ought to be 'sent ones'; the Church ought to be a sent body.) But thank God for His response to the prophet's "Woe is me!" The seraph said, "Lo"! That was grace! A man like that, who is not exaggerating his condition - it was true, far more true than perhaps he realised, although he cried "Woe!" - a man like that could be visited in this way, and commissioned. Oh, mighty grace! If you had asked Isaiah in the ensuing years how he came to be God's servant, he would say: 'Just by the grace of God - that is all! If you knew what I came to know about myself, you would realise that this would never be the place for me, but for the grace of God! Marvellous grace!'

For, although it sounds so elementary and simple, it is nevertheless profoundly true; that anything that we are allowed to do in relation to the Lord and His purpose must bring to us an overwhelming sense of the grace of God. When we are young men and women, we are all ambitious to get into God's work, to be preaching, speaking, and all that sort of thing. But as we go on, that kind of thing has a strange way of changing, and we come to the place where we say: 'God forbid that I should ever be on a platform, unless - unless - He puts me there. As long as I can keep off it I will; I will only be there because the Lord makes me get there. Because - who am I? Who am I, that I should talk to other people? What am I that I should seem to be standing before them?' That will grow as you walk with God. It is bound to be like that. It will be of the infinite grace of God that you will have any place at all in His purpose.

Here, He says: 'Go!' And the 'Go!', as you see, is following upon this sense of sin, and the overwhelming of Divine grace. And then - "I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" The Lord put it in the form of an interrogation. "Who will go FOR US?" Do you get that? 'WE are in need!' - the triune God! It is the plural, "for US". 'We have need of helpers; We are in need of someone to go.' "Who will go FOR US?" This tests the motive for all service. What is it for? a reputation? self-gratification? Or is it 'for Us'?

'For Us!' There is far more in that than it sounds. I always come back to this great man, Paul. I am perfectly sure that he would not have gone on very far in his work, if it had been for himself; to make a name for himself; to find gratification for himself; or for anything, other than that his heart had been absolutely captured by the Lord. It was for the Lord: "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). The Lord had 'got' him! It was a great love relationship. It is true, from one standpoint, that we are chosen. The Lord said: "Ye did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). We are chosen and apprehended. In one sense, we cannot help ourselves; we are the prisoners of Jesus Christ. That is one side of it. But there is another side that is equally true. It is that the Lord asks for our hearts: He appeals to us as to whether He can have us. He has chosen us, but can He HAVE us? Even though it is true that we are under the mighty constraint, will we voluntarily go with Him and for Him?

There was a day when David, tired, weary and thirsty, made an ejaculation, not perhaps intending that anyone should hear. Somehow David was a man who was always making ejaculations. If you look at the Psalms, you can see that he is always just breaking out about something: 'Oh that men would praise the Lord!' Oh! this... and Oh! that...! He seems to have been a man like that. That is how it was on that day. He just gave expression to a sigh, putting a thought into words: 'Oh for a drink of the water of the well at Bethlehem!' And some of his men who were standing near him heard. They took their swords, broke through the encompassing hosts of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem, and brought it to David. What did David say? He poured it out before the Lord, and said: 'This is the very life of the men who drew it; I cannot drink that'. (1 Sam. 23:14-17).

You see the point. These men had such a loyalty, such a devotion to their lord, that he only had to ejaculate something, and they would risk their lives for him; they would take their lives in their hands for his satisfaction. Is not that what is here with Isaiah? 'For Us! For Us!' The Lord is saying: 'Oh, for somebody like this!' "Who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me." And the Lord replied, in effect: 'You are the man I want! That is what I want - a man with this experience, a man with this basis. Go! Go!'

Now, if you are feeling that all that I have said is not really necessary for the Lord's service; if you think I have been 'piling it on' rather heavily - 'Surely we can be servants of the Lord without all that!' - if you think I am making a lot of it, making the Lord's service complicated, difficult, involved, laying down more than is really necessary: read what follows - read the commission, and I venture to say that, if you had to do the work that Isaiah had to do, you would never do it without Isaiah's foundation.

"Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed."

That was carried right on to the days of the Lord Jesus. John said: 'This thing that Isaiah was told to do is here with us today.' "Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah... might be fulfilled" (John 12:37,38). Right along there in the days of the Lord Jesus, the work that Isaiah did stands. Of course it carries a very solemn message, and perhaps it carries a very big problem for us. But it simply means this - that these people had persistently, and hitherto with impunity, resisted the Word of God by the prophets; and it is a terrible thing to do that. If you do that long enough, there comes a time when you will not be able to believe when you want to, you will not be able to understand when you want to. You have brought your own judgment upon you. That is a terrible thing! It is the explanation of Israel's doom.

But let us leave that aside. Here is a man who has to 'go', and the effect of his ministry is only to be the hardening of many people. That is not pleasant ministry! It is going to create a good many enemies. The Lord said to Ezekiel: 'Son of man, I send you not to a people of a strange language and tongue, that you cannot understand: if I sent you to them, they would believe, they would receive your word; but I send you to the house of Israel, and they will not listen! that is where your difficulty lies' (Ezek. 3:4-7). Very strange! The come-back is so often from Christian people themselves. The real fight arises in that realm, more than in any other. The hardest work of all is the work of having to deal with 'traditional Israel'. It is not easy.

But Isaiah was vindicated! "A remnant shall return" (7:3, marg.). That is the great word that springs out of his ministry. There were millions that went away into captivity under this judgment, but only forty-two thousand and a few more came back. "A remnant shall return", indeed - but he was vindicated in the remnant!

And God always has a remnant. We must leave the others. I do not expect, for one moment, that all Christians are going to accept God's full revelation as to His purpose. It would be folly to think that they will - they will not! You will find your main resistance from Christians, strangely enough. It is true! But, the vindication is in a remnant: a remnant shall return. Compared with the millions, the forty-two thousand may be very small; but the word of the prophet is: "Who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:10).

2008-04-17 @ 08:40:50 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Ministerial Confessions




by Horatius Bonar

We have been carnal and unspiritual. The tone of our life has been low and earthly. Associating too much and too intimately with the world, we have in a great measure become accustomed to its ways. Hence our spiritual tastes have been vitiated, our consciences blunted, and that sensitive tenderness of feeling has worn off and given place to an amount of callousness of which we once, in fresher days, believed ourselves incapable.

We have been selfish. We have shrunk from toil, difficulty and endurance. We have counted only our lives, and our temporal ease and comfort dear unto us. We have sought to please ourselves. We have been worldly and covetous. We have not presented ourselves unto God as "living sacrifices," laying ourselves, our lives, our substance, our time, our strength, our faculties, our all, upon His altar. We seem altogether to have lost sight of this self sacrificing principle on which even as Christians, but much more as ministers, we are called upon to act. We have had little idea of anything like sacrifice at all. Up to the point where a sacrifice was demanded, we may have been willing to go, but there we stood; counting it unnecessary, perhaps calling it imprudent and unadvised, to proceed further. Yet ought not the life of every Christian, especially of every minister, to be a life of self sacrifice and self denial throughout, even as was the life of Him who "pleased not himself"?

We have been slothful. We have been sparing of our toil. We have not endured hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We have not sought to gather up the fragments of our time, that not a moment might be thrown idly or unprofitably away. Precious hours and days have been wasted in sloth, in idle company, in pleasure, in idle or worthless reading, that might have been devoted to the closet, the study, the pulpit or the meeting! Indolence, self indulgence, fickleness, flesh pleasing, have eaten like a canker into our ministry, arresting the blessing and marring our success. We have manifested but little of the unwearied, self denying love with which, as shepherds, we ought to have watched over the flocks committed to our care. We have fed ourselves, and not the flock. We have dealt deceitfully with God, whose servants we profess to be.

We have been cold. Even when diligent, how little warmth and glow! The whole soul is not poured into the duty, and hence it wears too often the repulsive air of 'routine' and 'form'. We do not speak and act like men in earnest. Our words are feeble, even when sound and true; our looks are careless, even when our words are weighty; and our tones betray the apathy which both words and looks disguise. Love is lacking, deep love, love strong as death, love such as made Jeremiah weep in secret places. In preaching and visiting, in counseling and reproving, what formality, what coldness, how little tenderness and affection!

We have been timid. Fear has often led us to smooth down or generalize truths which if broadly stated must have brought hatred and reproach upon us. We have thus often failed to declare to our people the whole counsel of God. We have shrunk from reproving, rebuking and exhorting with all patience and doctrine. We have feared to alienate friends, or to awaken the wrath of enemies.

We have been lacking in solemnity. How deeply ought we to be abased at our levity, frivolity, flippancy, vain mirth, foolish talking and jesting, by which grievous injury has been done to souls, the progress of the saints retarded, and the world countenanced in its wretched vanities.

We have preached ourselves, not Christ. We have sought applause, courted honor, been avaricious of fame and jealous of our reputation. We have preached too often so as to exalt ourselves instead of magnifying Christ, so as to draw men's eyes to ourselves instead of fixing them on Him and His cross. Have we not often preached Christ for the very purpose of getting honor to ourselves? Christ, in the sufferings of His first coming and the glory of His second, has not been the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, of all our sermons.

We have not duly studied and honored the Word of God. We have given a greater prominence to man's writings, man's opinions, man's systems in our studies than to the Word. We have drunk more out of human cisterns than divine. We have held more communion with man than God. Hence the mold and fashion of our spirits, our lives, our words, have been derived more from man than God. We must study the Bible more. We must steep our souls in it. We must not only lay it up within us, but transfuse it through the whole texture of the soul. The study of truth in its academic more than in its devotional form has robbed it of its freshness and power, engendering formality and coldness.

We have not been men of prayer. The spirit of prayer has slumbered among us. The closet has been too little frequented and delighted in. We have allowed business, study or active labor to interfere with our closet hours. A feverish atmosphere has found its way into our closet, disturbing the sweet calm of its blessed solitude. Sleep, company, idle visiting, foolish talking and jesting, idle reading, unprofitable occupations, engross time that might have been redeemed for prayer. Why is there so little concern to get time to pray? Why is there so much speaking, yet so little prayer? Why is there so much running to and fro, yet so little prayer? Why so much bustle and business, yet so little prayer? Why so many meetings with our fellow men, yet so few meetings with God? Why so little being alone, so little thirsting of the soul for the calm, sweet hours of unbroken solitude, when God and His child hold fellowship together as if they could never part? It is the lack of these solitary hours that not only injures our own growth in grace, but makes us such unprofitable members of the church of Christ, and that renders our lives useless. In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone with God. It is not in society, even Christian society that the soul grows most rapidly and vigorously. In one single quiet hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in whole days of company with others. It is in the 'desert' that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest. So with the soul. It is when none but God is near; when His presence alone, like the desert air in which there is mingled no noxious breath of man, surrounds and pervades the soul; it is then that the eye gets the clearest, simplest view of eternal certainties; it is then that the soul gathers in wondrous refreshment and power and energy.  Nearness to God, fellowship with God, waiting upon God, resting in God, have been too little the characteristic either of our private or our ministerial walk. Hence our example has been so powerless, our labors so unsuccessful, our sermons so meager, our whole ministry so fruitless and feeble.

We have not honored the Holy Spirit. We have not sought His teaching or His anointing. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." (1 John 2:20). Neither in the study of the Word nor the preaching of it to others, have we duly acknowledged His office as the Enlightener of the understanding, the Revealer of the truth, the Testifier and Glorifier of Christ. We have grieved Him by the slight put upon Him as the Teacher, the Convincer, the Comforter, the Sanctifier. Hence He has almost departed from us, and left us to reap the fruit of our own perversity and unbelief. Besides, we have grieved Him by our inconsistent walk, by our lack of circumspection, by our worldly mindedness, by our unholiness, by our prayerlessness, by our unfaithfulness, by our lack of solemnity, by a life and conversation so little in conformity with the character of a disciple or the office of ambassador.

We have had little of the mind of Christ. We have come far short of the example of the Master. We have had little of the grace, the compassion, the meekness, the lowliness, the love of Jesus. His weeping over Jerusalem is a feeling in which we have but little heartfelt sympathy. His seeking of the lost is little imitated by us. His unwearied teaching of the multitudes we shrink from as too much for flesh and blood. His days of fasting, His nights of watchfulness and prayer, are not fully realized as models for us to copy. His counting not His own life dear unto Him that He might glorify the Father and finish the work given Him to do, is but little remembered by us as the principle on which we are to act. Yet surely we are to follow His steps; the servant is to walk where his Master has led the way; the under shepherd is to be what the Chief Shepherd was. We must not seek rest or ease in a world where He whom we love had none.

We have been unbelieving. It is unbelief that makes us so cold in our preaching, so slothful in visiting, and so remiss in all our sacred duties. It is unbelief that chills our life and straitens our heart. It is unbelief that makes us handle eternal realities with such irreverence. It is unbelief that makes us ascend with so light a step into the pulpit to deal with immortal beings about heaven and hell.

We have not been sincere in our preaching. If we were, could we be so cold, so prayerless, so inconsistent, so slothful, so worldly, so unlike men whose business is all about eternity? We must be more in earnest if we would win souls. We must be more in earnest if we would walk in the footsteps of our beloved Lord, or if we would fulfill the vows that are upon us. We must be more in earnest if we would be less than hypocrites. We must be more in earnest if we would finish our course with joy, and obtain the crown at the Master's coming. We must work while it is day; the night comes when no man can work.

We have been unfaithful. The fear of man and the love of his applause have often made us afraid. We have been unfaithful to our own souls, to our flocks, and to our brethren; unfaithful in the pulpit, in visiting, in discipline in the church. In the discharge of every one of the duties of our stewardship there has been grievous unfaithfulness. Instead of the special particularization of the sin reproved, there has been the vague allusion. Instead of the bold reproof, there has been the timid hint. Instead of the uncompromising condemnation, there has been the feeble disapproval. Instead of the unswerving consistency of a holy life whose uniform tenor should be a protest against the world and a rebuke of sin, there has been such an amount of unfaithfulness in our walk and conversation, in our daily deportment and talking with others, that any degree of faithfulness we have been enabled to manifest on the Lord's Day is almost neutralized by the lack of circumspection which our weekday life exhibits.

We need men that will spend and be spent, that will labor and pray, that will watch and weep for souls!

2008-03-16 @ 20:11:42 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Hymns of the Lukewarm Church

Hymns of the Lukewarm Church

2008-03-14 @ 14:24:30 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Apostolic Conversion - Art Katz


Pretext or Reality?

This is the verbatim transcript of a message given in 1993 to an American congregation of a spiritually impressive kind. That is to say, that it had all the appearances of a committed body, serious in the Lord, and whose lively worship seemed to testify of its abounding health. Nevertheless, after two nights of meetings, I felt, as the speaker, an increasing sense of despair that not much had been transacted and that if the Lord did not radically intervene there would be little point in continuing.

This message was given on the third night, having spent the day in fasting and earnest intercessory prayer. With hardly a single exception, the entire congregation went down on their faces at its conclusion in a depth of groaning and intensive seeking of the Lord.

The word is like an arrow to the heart of the need of the church world-wide especially in its seeming ?success? and how much more in its static predictability. May it affect you as a reader as it did those who heard and received it as the Lord?s word.

Tonight I believe that the Lord?s heart is on the subject of conversion. I?m very fond of saying, ?Many saved, few converted,? and I?ve come to a realisation after two nights, that to continue along the lines that we have been speaking would be vain unless there has in fact been a radical crossing to the other side. I can?t think of a greater cruelty or delusion than to speak about apostolic things when we are spiritually incapacitated or incapable of walking them out, especially when something foundational to our relationship with God has not yet been effected. The apostolic things that pertain to His glory can only find fulfilment in a people who are utterly abandoned to God. If we embrace only the vocabulary of apostalicity, we engage the cruellest of all deceptions. Let?s talk about anything else, and use any other kind of language, but let?s not embrace this language unless we have an intent to fulfil it. Somehow we need to pause in the course of what is being unfolded in these days and raise the question of the authenticity of our own conversion. Can you understand that it is possible somehow to be saved and even born again of the Spirit - even be filled with the Spirit - and yet not be converted in the sense of an utterness toward God that apostolic reality requires?

Seeing that we are focusing on Paul, I want to read an account of his conversion from Acts, Chapter 9. It is remarkable to note that in the book of Acts there are three expressions or recordings of that conversion. Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the apostolic life that followed was altogether proportionate to the kind of commencement or beginning that it had from the first. Or to put it in another way, maybe we can?t exceed or go beyond what is the point of our beginning. Some of us may need a day of new beginnings or a beginning that has never in fact been made; which if it is in fact not made, would condemn us to being fixed at a certain level of Christian response beneath what the Lord himself intensely intends and desires.

I?m going to ask that we stand and ask the Lord?s blessing before we read the Scriptures. I don?t know where that thought came from, but somewhere in the course of the day I just had a sense of us standing to pray and I just want to invite you to call on the Lord even now. No lengthy prayer from one saint, but just a brief inviting of God to pull out the stops, to ask Him for something of an extraordinary kind. I?m always believing the Lord for something like that, an impetus like that in your spirit, so just sound out from where you are standing and then I?ll conclude in prayer and then we?ll get into the word for tonight.

So then, first reading from Acts 9?

?And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who are thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus who thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord what would thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul rose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananaias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananaias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananaias coming in, and putting his hand on him that he might receive his sight. Then Ananaias answered, Lord I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name?s sake.? [Acts 9:1-16]

Thank you precious God, for the light that shone upon an enemy and deeply converted him, my God, from the murderer to the chief apostle of the Church. What a work, my God, that comes down from heaven in the moment that you appoint, even in all our opposition. We pray that tonight?s speaking, my God, might be for us who have not yet fallen to the earth and who are still proceeding from our seeing, and not yet from yours - that we might be brought down in order that we may be brought up, and that we might learn what great things we must suffer for your name?s sake, whom you will bring before Gentiles and kings - and especially in these last days, before the house of Israel. Come and speak to us out of this text, my God. We thank you and praise you for the privilege of a word about it that might be for us the event of it, in Jesus? holy Name, Amen.

So, as I?ve already said, the inception of the apostolic life greatly determines its end. Many of us are malfunctioning, not walking in fullness, because of inadequate beginnings. I can go off on a long dissertation about the inadequacy of our contemporary gospel, of it being more of a kind of formula for salvation than it is an induction into the most holy faith, and how the pagans in Thessalonica who heard an apostolic proclamation of that gospel were saved ?from their idols to serve the living God, and to wait for His son who comes from heaven and who will save them in the day of His wrath.? (1 Thess. 1:9). Evidently, they heard a much fuller and more powerful presentation of the gospel than most of us, and therefore, right from the instant of their conversion, a quality of things was released that made that church distinctive. Indeed, they reflect their beginning and we reflect ours.

But praise God that if our beginnings have been faulty and inadequate, if our poverty of beginning has affected our subsequent walk, then there are ways in which God can give us a new beginning.

I see in this a kind of parallel with Israel and the great ?crossing over? that they were required to make with Joshua. There is a Jordan, which means literally, ?a descent into death.? And this crossing leaves behind those who stumbled about in the religious wasteland for forty years where many cadavers had been left behind who did not have the fullness of heart of a Caleb or Joshua (Caleb means ?Whole-hearted?). Only two out of an entire generation had the privilege of being welcomed into the land of promise and participating in the taking of the land. We stand at this kind of crossroad today. It is time to cross over, and this sense of crossing has been heavy on my heart in all the days I have been here and even the days that immediately proceeded my coming to you.

But do you know that not all of the house of Israel crossed, but that a portion of the tribes of Gad, Manasseh and Reuben chose to remain on the other side? They remained because the ground there was lush, and the grasses were high and they were cattle breeders, who obviously recognised something of immediate value. They were unwilling for that risk of a faith in what might be found on the other side. They pleaded with Moses and got what they wanted, and they were allowed to remain on the wrong side of the Jordan and have been subsequently lost to the whole history of Israel. The only melancholy reminder we have of the tribe of Gad, who chose the wrong side, are the Gadarenes of the New Testament time who raised pigs and were unwilling, even at that later time, for a deliverer to come because it proved expensive for their flesh. They much preferred to sustain their herds, rather than welcome Him who casting those same herds into the sea delivers from demon spirits!

What a commentary on the consequences of an unwillingness to cross over, of a languishing on the wrong side. I think that the reason is always the same - because it is conducive to the ?flesh,? because back there we have an assurance to things that pertain to ?herds? (i.e., our immediate self-interest).

So there is now, as then, a real necessity for ?crossing over,? lest our own carcasses be found on the wrong side, or that we degenerate into the melancholy that became true for the tribes of Gad and Manasseh, who refused to go over but remained fixed for their ?cattle?s sake!? We just reviewed what the land of the Gadarenes had become by the time of Jesus, centuries later; they are lost even now to any kind of historical remembrance, let alone value.

Consequently, the conversion of Paul, and our conversion, is critical. It begins with the phrase, ?As he journeyed?? I think there is more hope for an enemy of God journeying in full sincerity, even in his error, than for those who purport to be the friends of God and have long since ceased journeying and are just kind of ?treading water? or occupying some kind of safe place. There is more hope to convert an enemy who is in motion, however grievous his error (and the error is a consequence, even, of an intensity for God, however misconceived), than there is for those of us who are safely ensconced in correct credos and doctrines but are not moving at all!

So, there is something in my spirit that rises up in the words we read, ?But as he journeyed?? You wonder if there would have been a conversion if Saul would have been content to rest on his lees and to be satisfied with the conventional categories of orthodoxy that satisfied most of his contemporaries. ?But as he journeyed, suddenly there came a light from heaven,? and I?m wondering if journeying is a condition of that light for us as well? Is it that when the Lord sees a questing there is more hope of our being arrested by the light of God than if we are merely treading water, satisfied with the spiritual status quo of our lives? But until that light shines, until something comes down to us from above, we are fixed in the place where we are. Everything is from the great, sovereign hand of God. Whose eye ?roves to and fro over the face of the earth, seeking that one whose heart is perfect toward Him.? If that were not so, I would not be speaking to you now. I would not be in the faith but would have been a dead man a long time ago. But even as an atheist, and as an enemy of God, ?pouring out threats and murder? against the Church thirty-seven years ago in the same kind of vehemence and opposition as Saul, I was arrested. (See Art?s ?Odyssey of a Modern Jew,? the testimonial book of his own conversion). Probably for the same kinds of reasons that even in my error, even in my opposition to the Church and the faith, unable to mouth the name of Jesus, except as a blasphemy and a curse, God saw a heart that was desiring truth, that was willing to be on the way, ?journeying.? I think this is a disposition pleasing to God, even after one?s initial encounter with God!

I love the way the Lord encountered Saul, who fell to the earth and heard a voice saying to him, ?Saul. Saul, why persecuteth thou Me?? I think that if we are examining the anatomy of conversion, of what it is that must be radically turned, it is this fatal error, if it is allowed final expression, will ultimately result in the persecution of God and the Church. And what is this error? It is this - putting our ?thou? before God?s ?Me.? ?Why persecuteth thou Me?? Why do you celebrate, and put your self-interest, however religious and sanctified you think it is, before Me? Here is where I have to trust the Holy Ghost to take that simple thing that lies too deep for words, and reveal the crux of the matter. We are not converted until His ?Me? is before our ?thou.? That is the fatal mishap, we go through an entire lifetime with our ?thou? preceding His ?Me,? even religiously. Something needs to be wrenched about, radically altered and corrected; the one thing must be before the other - His ?Me? before our ?thou.? If that does not take place, be assured that in one form or the other, we are persecuting God; we are opposing God even while we purport to be labouring and serving in His interest! Isn?t that exactly the picture of Saul? Note that here is not some calculated atheist, indifferent to God, but here was a man zealous for God. The error that led to the persecution of God?s own people, and God Himself in His people, was committed by a religious man in error whose ?thou?, however well meaning, was yet before God?s ?Me.?

How does it stand with you tonight? If that basic and fatal error is possible for a man of religious zeal, who, with every right intention, sought to serve God and to seek out opportunities to round up heretics and bring them back to Jerusalem, how much more then are we capable of exactly the same fatal error? Why we put our ?thou? before His ?Me? is the nub of the matter, so long as we have made ourselves central and prior to Him. That, I think, is essentially characteristic of the Church today, even in its best ?charismatic? form. It is still our ?thou?, it is still, ?How are we affected?? That stubborn, spiritually egocentric attitude, however unconscious and expressed, can only be dislodged by profound conversion. For this in fact is what conversion is.

We can be saved; we can be filled with the Spirit; and yet, this central thing can remain unattended until a light shines down upon us from heaven and brings us down to the earth. Have we not, even in these two nights, integrated His word into the existing categories by which we affirm ourselves, misappropriating the very thing intended by God to unseat and even to devastate us?

I?ll say it again. How many of us, in the hearing of the word on these very nights, have taken that word in through the prism of our own subjectivity and fitted it into the existing construct of our life, our categories, and found a way in which the Word would be amenable to our view of ourselves, of our spirituality, of our call? In a word, what are we doing, even unconsciously, is elevating ourselves above the Word, and ourselves determining how it is to be fitted comfortably into the categories that we approve. Instead of allowing the Word to devastate and demolish our categories, we stand or sit above it as arbiters, carefully moulding it so that it can neatly be taken in and even acknowledged and celebrated as the Word of God, applauding the speaker for having brought it, thinking we have done God?s service!

Can you see why we need to be converted? This egocentrism is unspeakably deep, and ironically, deepest in the religious and spiritual realm. What greater affront to God, what greater expression of putting our ?thou? before His ?Me? than the way in which we even hear and conditionally receive the Word? It is an entirely unconscious process, and we have been doing it for years, thereby missing the value and intent of the God who gave it!

I have to say that last night after the service I left depressed. I felt dejected. My spirit had sunk, I was slumping. I felt a tremendous exhaustion, a tiredness not only of body, but of soul. The word was good - the word was precious in God?s intention, but somehow by the time it had been transmuted to the hearer, the way in which the hearer had received it and even responded or did not respond was already showing that our ?thou? was before His ?Me?. That is why the Lord is saying tonight, ?Halt - I?ll go no further! I?m not going to share the holy things of the apostolic faith with a people who are going to take it, internalise it, and so construe it as to fit into their existing mindsets. By so doing, they somehow find a way to exalt what the word is intending to devastate.?

In effect, we set ourselves above His Word, determining to what degree we allow it credence and acceptance. We determine to what degree we intend practically to internalise and implement it.

Do you realise that this is almost continually going on? Ours is a holy God. He?s pouring His heart out to us and there we are, consciously or unconsciously calculating to what degree we are going to realistically receive such a word with the intent of doing it!

I think in this one thing I have described the essential malaise of the Church, why It is so stale, why It is not going from faith to faith and from glory to glory, why its services are replete with ?sermons? rather than the word of God, which by its very nature demands response and change and is the purpose for which the Word is given. We are not hearing with the intent of doing. We are hearing with the intent of approving the Word as biblical and enjoying it.

Can you see that we bring a whole kind of mindset that stymies the very preciousness of the Word and intent of God?

FOR IF WE WILL NOT BE CHANGED BY THE WORD, BY WHAT ELSE SHALL WE BE CHANGED? But are we receiving it in an open and naked way and letting it have its full work? Are we willing to say, ?Lord, let be unto me according to Thy word?? I don?t know what the consequences will be - it may mean the eradication of my home and lifestyle, of my whole mode of being, or the loss of that for which I have laboured so long that is not intrinsically wrong in itself. But until we come to the place where our heart says continually, in the hearing of the Word, ?Let it be unto me,? we no longer hear the Word as God?s; it can no longer perform the work of God. It becomes merely a ?sermon? that we approve or dismiss.

What did it take for Mary to say, ?Let be unto me according to Thy word?? It meant nothing less than receiving a pregnancy that could not be explained, and that to a pious, self-righteous generation totally prepared to stone to death on the doorstep of her father?s house that woman who had an inexplicable pregnancy. To this day, the Talmud, the writing of the rabbis, makes shaded allusion to Mary?s pregnancy as having come from a Roman soldier. How else shall inexplicable pregnancies be understood? And when Mary said, ?Let be unto me according to Thy word,? she meant, ?I am willing to bear the full consequence of receiving this word, even if it shall mean my death in disgrace although I am in fact a virgin in Israel.?

I?ll tell you, when God shall find a heart like that, there is no limit to the extent of the divine work that can then have its inception. When I think of the potential in this room for the works of God in these last days, not only in this community but beyond it, in a world that is rocked and wracked by violence and filth and muck and perversion and corruption of every kind, waiting for those who will come to it, being sent by God, I sense the frustration of God, who cannot even perform it until a people will first receive His Word inthat same virginal disposition of spirit, willing for its full consequence, whatever that consequence might be! ?Let it be unto me according to Thy Word.?

You?ll save yourself much unnecessary aggravation wondering what the outworking of that word will be in its particular application, if you have reconciled within yourself that it will inevitably lead to the place of death. And once you?ve made that reckoning, what difference by what form it comes - stoning at the doorstep of your father?s house, disgrace, rejection of men, hostility, misunderstanding, catcalls, or shrieks or reproach - these kinds of things with moral and physical hazards of all kinds? God is yet waiting, and has never had any other inception for His works than one who will say, ?Let it be unto me according to Thy Word!?

Let us note Saul?s answer when he was confronted by the Jesus who said, ?Saul, you celebrated and elevated your ?thou? before my ?Me?? From it came that one great apostolic statement that underlines the whole of the great career that would follow, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? I want to say that every invoking of the word ?Lord? without also following it with the balance of Paul?s statement, is playing with a holy thing, even a taking of the name of the Lord in vain.

I want to ask you dear ones?When was the moment that you transacted with God something of the utterness with which Paul commenced his apostolic walk? That one question subsumes and includes every and all other questions, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? No ifs, no ands, no buts. No stipulations, no conditions, no guarantees, no requests - even for illumination, understanding, or explanation. If the Lord is Lord, we have but one posture only, to be down on the earth before Him, with this one cry resonating throughout the balance of our natural lives, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? We say it once, but we live forever in the resonance of that question or we do not live apostolically at all. And that is not one of the least of the reasons why we are hearing tonight what we are hearing. I came with a briefcase full of many choice messages, but I?m not at liberty to cite or to employ any one of them, however much I would delight in the promulgation of the precious, holy seed that God has given me. But my every speaking, my every service, like yours, needs again and again to be conducted in the resonance of that one question only, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do??

How many apostolic careers are in abeyance tonight? How many prophets are there in this room? How many evangelists and teachers and pastors? How many women of travail and intercession, how many callings of God hanging and waiting for the one question God yet waits to hear - a word that has never been sounded in His hearing with every stop removed and with all qualifications forsaken? It is the statement of utter, apostolic abandon. And until the Lord hears it, He is not going to tell you what to do.

That there are things to do is beyond question; but they can only be performed in the power given to those to whom they can be entrusted. ?The Spirit is given without measure? to the sons who have no purpose in themselves and no life for themselves, but who live by one question only, which indeed is living! ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? Anything less is deprivation. Anything less is conditional and inadequate. It is being seized with fears and doubts and vacillations and all those things that cripple and compromise and show us up. There is a release only when we have come finally to that place where with full integrity we say and put before God that thing for which He waits, that thing which He cannot command or compel, but must be utterly and freely and totally given. And no matter what we intone, He?s not Lord until it has been given.

?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? I think that the answer is eternally the same, though the form of the fulfilment of it may vary - ?I will show him how great thing he must suffer for my name?s sake.? No wonder we don?t ask the question.

How wisely we intuit what the necessary answer must be. But I?ll tell you dear saints, if you don?t know it, that for every suffering that comes as the consequences of obedience to the Lord is a glory unspeakable, is reward eternal, is a joy even in the midst of the suffering and pain and distress and misunderstanding of men and the reproach that follows an obedience to a God who would have us do.

We need to ask ourselves, has there ever been a point, in the whole of our Christian life, where each of us has asked God, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? - with full intention, not in just giving answer to something that would be spoken in that moment, but living continually in the light of that question ever after?

2008-03-06 @ 09:29:06 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

Apostolic Conversion 2


?Well Art, you don?t understand, I?m a professional, I?m a doctor, I?m not some off-the-wall ?Jesus freak? like Saul. He didn?t have much to lose. You have to realise that I have a family and professional responsibilities.?

Saul was the prized student of the Rabbi Gamaliel, and if there is any man who committed religious suicide by the raising of that question and forfeiting an entire career that would have won him a celebration to this day in Jewish orthodoxy, it was Saul. But he forfeited all that, and counted it as dung, as we know, by raising the only question, the right question, that any creature can raise before its Creator, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? Whatever the consequences, whatever the loss, You are Lord, and if You are not the Lord of that question, then anything I would presume to speak in that name is a mockery and a travesty and a religious exercise that even at best falls short of the glory of God!

The irony is, and mark my words, if you continue in such an exercise, in the last days you?ll find yourself, not among the persecuted, but among the persecutors! Centrifugal force continues to work, ever bringing us into the one orbit or the other - into that which is apostolic or that which is finally apostate! ?For the love of many shall grow cold,? and the last days shall be marked by the great apostasy and falling away of many who could not bring themselves to follow the Lord withersoever He would lead them, but who found themselves in a vortex of a kind less than that which is apostolic and themselves offended by those who are apostolic and ironically opposing and persecuting them! This is the end of those whose ?thou? is yet before His ?Me.?

We must not ask, with Saul, ?Who art thou, Lord?? and receive the answer, ?I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.?

Do we really know Him until we do? Lord, give me grace, I don?t know how to say this, I have been trying to say it for two nights,. ?Who art thou Lord?? Even the revelation of You as Lord so much waits on our ?pulling out the stops?, that You are not going to squander and give us such treasure of the revelation of the knowledge of Yourself in truth until You see a people of truth willing to serve You in truth, but who are presently labouring with a truncated and inadequate understanding of God. If we really recognise it, we would see it crippling our spiritual life; we cannot rise above our inadequate vision of Jesus that we have subjectively internalised for our own purpose. We need to ask, really and truly, ?Lord who art Thou??

I have myself been guilty of mouthing that word glibly in a facile way. Who hasn?t? But I have to acknowledge in the light that is shining down on us from above tonight - I really don?t know as I ought to know! ?Who art Thou?? The answer is, ?I AM. IAM THAT I AM THAT I AM. I will be who I will be. I am Jesus. I?m not your ?buddy boy? and I am not the one to help you along the way and patch up your marriage, though I do all those things. I am above your need. I AM JESUS.? Unless that revelation comes, and comes when our faces are upon the ground, what kind of apostolic service can we perform? For it cannot exceed, but must necessarily reflect whatever our knowledge of God in truth is. Is that not why we ourselves are victims of inadequate ministries? Is not that why we have been invited to ?accept the Lord? and repeat a prayer? Praise God for the measure in which He honours that, but look now how stultified our lives have been, banging around, divorced and remarried, doing the kinds of things that reflect not having a true beginning from the first. We never knew Him as we ought, and yet we are ?singing His praises,? or think we are! And the powers of darkness, brooding over us, relish the continuation of just this kind of thing that causes them no perturbance at all! There is nothing here that alarms them. Go ahead, continue your round of services; continue your programs. It in no way jeopardises the kingdom of darkness, because you cannot rise above and exceed your inadequate knowledge of God. Even the use of His name is a kind of ?nomenclature,? a formula, a shallowness that does not invoke much.

Only that one who is deeply converted, that one who has gone down on his face and must be raised up from it as blind, who can see no man and must be lead away as a child, is the one with the potential to threaten the kingdom of darkness! And how many of us want to be so led away by the hand? Here was Saul, the prize student of the Rabbi Gamaliel, he who could quote you yards of scripture with rabbinical interpretation, lying utterly blind, utterly devastated by the word that came to him in the voice that called him by name. And when he arose, he could not see because of that light and had to be led away, and he saw no man. And I don?t think he ever saw men in the way we see, evoking in us fear and intimidation and compromise. The fear of man is so powerful, so repressive an element in our Christian living because we have never gone down and been brought up in blindness by that light that never again permits us to see man, even ourselves in our own humanity.

Now I want to tell you the last and cruellest of our deceptions - it is our concern to be understood and to be perceived in the way we would like men to acknowledge us spiritually. And until we are blind to men, even to the ?spiritual man? that we think ourselves to be or who we desire to be known as, we cannot serve God apostolically . We must come to such a selflessness, such a mindlessness about this last man, this last cruel deceiver, who, after we have given up every other form, yet retains this kind of power by which we are traduced and compromised; the necessity to be understood by men in the way that we would wish ourselves to be seen and to be approved! We need to come to place where we see no man, even our own man, even our own seeing!

That is why Paul could say, ?Follow me as I follow Christ,? without an iota of arrogance or audacity. Is it not we who think that he is arrogant because we project upon him the ego in which we still live, not having fallen on our face upon the ground upon which he had fallen, and been blinded by the light of God, which blinded him? You project on him your own idea of ?man? and assume that he must mean by that some kind of egotistic statement because you cannot understand a man who sees no man, and in which the element of self is therefore not a factor. He does not have to be recognised, he can be despised, he can be cast out, he can be the offscouring of the world, without so much as blinking at it, for he sees no man. The light that has come down has blinded him once and for all to that last crippling seeing, even the seeing of ourselves that makes us spiritually self-conscious and therefore compromised.

?And he, trembling in astonishment asked, Lord, what would You have for me to do?? I?m a little suspicious, even to give an invitation tonight, and have you say now, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do?? Of course you?ll say it, but you will leave unchanged because it must be said ?with astonishment and trembling.? God forbid that we should make of this the last and worst and cruellest of deceptions in an altar call that we can glibly fulfil. Aren?t we doing that already, with our so called ?repentance?s and confessions? and other kinds of statement that are just a little too easy for us to pronounce? You?ll know it is authentic when you die a thousand deaths in making it. Beware of anything that is fascicle, that is easy, that is glib, however correct. The cruellest delusion is to find ourselves in a lie about the very thing that is correct. It is with an utterness of astonishment and trembling that we need to say, ?Lord, what would You have me to do??

And you can know that if you will say that tonight, the God who inspired this word also will hear your word, and take you at that word. Your life will be changed, from this night and from that speaking. Things will be released that have been held in abeyance, waiting for the pronouncement that must come from you, but may rightly come only if it is true and not just a religious reflex, but made with astonishment and with trembling. This is the point of ?crossing.?

Many of us have said, ?Lord, what would You have me to do?? but only in a particular moment of distress or need. But who of us asked it foundationally in a once and for all way, in utter abandonment of something never again to be taken back? Once you say this, the words are irretrievable. Something has been registered and recorded in the annals of heaven and has been heard in the hearing of witnesses and before the principalities and powers of the air. It is once and for all! It requires an utterness that nothing in this world has prepared us to perform.

This is the world of relativism; this is the world of ?Easy come, easy go.? This is the world of ?maybe,? ?I guess,? and ?I suppose.? This is the world that shuns and despises the absoluteness of God, and therefore cannot meet Him on that ground. To meet Him on this ground, with that absoluteness, with ?all the stops pulled out?, is once and for all to be brought out of that relativistic world of compromise into the ?absoluteness? of the kingdom of heaven!

That is the reason I?m fasting today as well as praying. I know there is something of a transaction that can be performed tonight with astonishment and with trembling that will shake the earth, that will release in the earth such things that will take eternity of eternities to celebrate. This is the kind of thing that is beyond any man to perform. This thing itself must be given by God, but it must be spoken by men who are willing to ?go down.? Be assured, you will never come up again in the same way. TO LIVE A WHOLE LIFE CONTINUALLY REITERATING THAT QUESTION IS CONVERSION.

What is your condition tonight? What is your status? Are you just ?saved? - or are you converted? The moment God, Who has waited so long, hears your response, He will answer, ?Arise and go, and it will be told you what you must do.? But before it is told you, before there is an explanation, before there is any assurance, arise and go. That rising is in the strength and power of the resurrection life itself! That coming up from that death into that which you have gone, like one struck dead from that light, is not you pulling yourself together, it is the force of the life of the Lord Himself. For the rising and the going is a call to things beyond any capacity in yourself to perform and to do. It is entirely a resurrection requirement! That is what makes apostolic doing a glory, and that is why Paul himself, the Chief of the apostles, was the one who most frequently punctuated his prayers with the cry, ?Lord, who is sufficient for these things?? As I say this, I know that I am looking out on a congregation of very sufficient human beings, very skilled, very capable, very well ordered lives, who could make a very impressive show of things. But God is calling you, dear saints, to a dimension of service beyond any capacity in yourself to perform, and says, ?Arise and go.? And when He says, ?Arise,? it is not just an invitation, but an impartation of life, waiting for the one who has forfeited any hope in himself in any possibility of serving God on the basis of his own ability.

I?ve seen grown men tremble and weep when they heard this astonishing word. They were sailing along marvellously, serving God with adroitness and ability when they heard a word like this that cut like sword through their hearts and brought them down as dead men, trembling on the ground. Later, when they were physically lifted up and seated in a chair in astonishment, with hands clapped over their mouths, each one would say to me, ?But Art, I have been encouraged in the Church to perform on the basis of my Ph.D. and my expertise, and I have been solicited to serve and do things on that level, and have until now succeeded marvellously.?

But now something has come clear beyond any capacity in the individual; there is no rising, no walking away except in the power of that indestructible life that raised Jesus from the dead, and will raise us also who are willing to be struck dead, brought down into that earth and entirely blinded to the thing that we perceive as capable and celebrated as correct. Must we, like Saul, wait for someone to lay hands on us to confer to us our seeing and an understanding as it is only mediated through a lowly member of the body of Christ?

How classic this conversion is; its every element so formed in heaven, its wisdom so eternal that this great Saul, this giant in himself, was so reduced by the light that had fallen from heaven, greater than the noonday sun, that he was taken like a child by the hand in total helplessness and dependency lying as one dead. Blind for three days and nights, neither eating or drinking, he reviewed his entire ?charismatic? understanding. All of the principles of the faith, all of his ?New Testament? understanding, the Lord totally put to death. For if he was to be God?s gift to the Church, it had to be by an understanding conferred by God and is received by the laying on of hands by the simplest of the saints, Ananias. In the total dependency to which God brought him, Saul was grateful that there was an obedient servant, who, however great his personal fear, obeyed God and came, laying his hands on Saul, that he might see. God had to teach this apostle, the Chief apostle to the Church, the genius and mystery of the Body of Christ from the very inception of his whole apostolic walk, a lesson that many of us have never yet understood and have not yet seen, though employing its terminology! It must be conferred by revelation to those who would otherwise be blind to it.

However much we mouth the particulars of the ?Body of Christ,? (as if a new fad or a new vogue and a new vocabulary with which we can play and express ourselves), if it has not come to us by revelation, it has not come to us. Maybe that is why we are in our current condition. It is only ?terminology,? and awaits a receiving of something utterly humiliating that can only come to us through the operation of the lowly Body, or it will not come at all.

This ?Arise and go,? saints, that will come for some of us in this hour, need not mean that any factor of our life is in any way outwardly changed. You will still go to work tomorrow, you will still come home to your same house. In fact, nothing of our circumstances will in any way be externally altered, and yet, at the same time, profoundly, everything will be altered. This ?Arise and go? sets in motion the whole heavenly dynamic by which in one day that to which we will return may not always be there.

So it is not for you to posture and for you to deliberate what you need to do once you have made this response. Having made it, the arising and going, having been set by God, will have its own logic, its own unfolding. ?It shall be told thee what thou must do.? Like Abraham, you will hear, ?Get thee out into the land that I will show you.? There is always a future dimension that requires this trembling and cleaving to the God who will show us what is required the next day, even the next moment. That is not the way we have been groomed by our society to live. We want to know; we want to have assurance; we want to have a firm grasp on what we are doing and why we are doing it and what will be the consequences of our doing. But God says, ?I will show you what you must do.?

And I?ll tell you, for men who hear the kind of word that the Lord is pleased to give me, it is a ?will show you? even for the very next sentence! It is the very next word. I don?t know what follows this one. ?Where do I go from hear Lord?? Your notes are not going to be your dependency. There is a necessary cleaving to what is given moment by moment by the God who has called us, and calls us into an utterness of dependency upon Him that violates every strength and confidence in which the world would have us to be established. It is a pilgrim way and you?ll never get used to it.

Yesterday?s success will not suffice today. Now, the consequences are even greater; life and death are at stake, eternity is in the balance, and who is sufficient for this kind of speaking? Once you arise and go, that is, begin to speak, it will be told thee. But you need to live with the tension of it, just as Abraham did, as every true saint who has ever responded to such a call, because there are things you must do. Thing that no one else can, that no one else is intended to do. It is explicit; it is appointed; there is a must that is for you. And God is bound up for the revelation, for the releasing of it, until He has heard your, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do??

?It shall be told thee,? God says, ?when you?ll tell Me that you are willing to put your ?thou? beneath My ?Me? once and for all.? Now your purpose and calling can be revealed; now it can be released. And it will not be what you thought it would be, but what the Lord has intended it to be and will now show you. It is here where God makes the apostolic appointment, the eternally significant purpose for our being. This is the antidote to religious boredom and is the highly serious faith that persuades even our own children.

Do you know what the measure of having come to apostolic verity is? It is that we are able even to persuade our own children of the truth and seriousness of that which we are about. These children have the uncommon facility for sensing just how earnest their parents are together with other adults. They are asking themselves, ?How much does this also make a requirement of me, though I am young? Is it something to which they (the adults) subscribe, because they like that kind of thing??

We will know that we have arrived at apostolic verity and reality corporately, when we will have persuaded our own children! And the fact that we haven?t, as yet, has had a toll beyond anything that we can conceive. Our present satisfaction and willingness to abide in something less than the sacrificial intention of God has come about because we have languished in and have loved the wrong side because its grasses are flourishing that feed our flesh. This has cost the kingdom of God incalculably in virtually every home.

Until we have come to this, have not our best religious efforts been a ?persecuting of the saints,? by means of lulling them into a lesser place, even ironically in the name of that which is apostolic and prophetic? Jesus said to Saul, ?In that you have persecuted the Church, you have persecuted Me.? Are we not guilty of persecuting the Church if we are measuring out to it something less than that which is heavenly? Is it not a depriving of the saints in encouraging then to equate doctrinal correctness and the verbalising of truth as being truth itself? Is it not fancying that we ourselves are there, while all the while we have not yet entered the land of promise, let alone taken its cities? Are we still not on the wilderness side? Have we not persecuted the Church, short-changed it, and liberally gilded our acts with words ?apostolic? and ?prophetic,? though we have condemned our hearers to languishing on the wrong side without even the awareness that that is their condition?

So Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man. He never again saw men or feared men, but found that key to apostolic boldness and uncompromising audacity that regards God Himself only. From this time forward, everything is for the Lord?s sake and not for one?s own. You?ll find that in Paul?s writings. You never hear any reference to, ?for my sake.? There is no ?my.? It is for their sake and the Lord?s sake. And what kind of Church would we have today if men of this kind were our ministers? Until we have such men, we are suffering a kind of deprivation that is tantamount to persecution, and those who have been its ministers need to recognise this and fall before the Lord.

So then, the one who persecuted the Body, failing to recognise its Head, receives sight, receives apostolic seeing, through the laying on of hands by its simplest member. From the very first, the Chief apostle was instructed about his dependency upon the Body and what the genius of that organism is - that alone is glory to God. And unless we ourselves lie blind, ?neither eating nor drinking for three days,? (i.e., putting aside even our traditional categories) we shall not see, but be condemned to employ the terminology of the Body of Christ while living effectually independent of it, yet all the while lauding it, thinking that we are doing God?s service!

?and immediately he arose and there fell from his eyes as it had been scales.? I trust this is happening now.

?And straight away he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the son of God.? And straight away, equally, he opened himself to the opposition and persecution of men who have a particular vitriolic hatred for that which is apostolically authentic. Who cannot abide is challenging reality!

?Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live! And they cried out and cast off their clothes and through dust into the air.? What is there about a converted man that makes the powers of darkness so fulminate and foam and rage that men are besides themselves with a fury, and filled by the spirit of it, and cannot abide that ?such a man? live?

What a man - what a heavenly man! What a servant to the Church, for the Church?s sake and for the Lord?s sake! It is this kind of selflessness that labours day and night and brings the whole counsel of God without fear that it will be understood, accepted, or rejected, or cause offence. Such a man does not anticipate the consequences for himself, because he lives in the resonance of one great statement, continually, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do??

Let?s bow before Paul?s God at this hour, who is the I AM and JESUS still. Many are called, but few are chosen, he tells us. Remember; Many saved, but few converted. Conversion is to the uttermost, or it is not conversion. It is an utterness to God by the Spirit, that the world cannot abide and will forever oppose, even unto death. But the works that such a man will do are eternal in their consequence.

So, in the name of Jesus, and as the minister of this word, I call upon you to respond with fear and trembling and astonishment to the God whose light has shone round about you. Bring down to earth every lesser thing, however correct, however applauded by men, however much it delights your own soul, that He might raise you up for the works that you must do when you arise and go in the power of the life given you once you have gone down into the death of everything less. Let Him hear you from that place one statement only, ?Lord, what would You have for me to do??

I think the Lord is being literal; He means that explicit statement; He means a real coming down. Don?t deceive yourself that you can make a private, silent, seated transaction saying, ?The Lord understands? and is accepting. It is just that kind of thing that has kept us from apostolic truth, reality, authority, and power. No respectable, private, polite transaction on your terms. One transaction only, on His terms, with an utterness that requires even your bodily coming down, and these explicit words spoken - ?Lord, what would You have for me to do??

2008-03-06 @ 09:27:35 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

The Martyrs Mirror

Thoughts on
The Martyrs Mirror

by Dean Taylor

One of the most impressive historical accounts of radical Christianity and Christian persecution was recorded soon after the Reformation in a large book entitled The Martyrs Mirror. This stouthearted work was compiled by Thieleman J. van Braght of Holland in the year 1660 AD.

The work is available online in its entirety. The preface to the online version remarks about this extraordinary work: ?The Martyrs Mirror, the classic AD 1660 Dutch religious history, memorializes the godly lives and glorious deaths of thousands of early Christians, especially European Anabaptist martyrs between 1524 and 1660. The book shines a mirror on ordinary people who experienced a spiritual reality that few today can even imagine. Like the more famous Fox?s Book of Martyrs, this compilation attempts to trace the history of those through the centuries, beginning with the martyrdom of Christ?s apostles, who were willing to stand alone for a simple, obedient faith.?

Many of these stories are stunning, but perhaps one of the most poignant testimonies of radical Christianity and Christ-like faith recorded during these troubling times was that of Dirk Willems.

Dirk was a young man who was converted to Christianity in Holland during a time of great persecution. The year was 1529. The Spanish had taken over Holland and, wanting to stabilize the country, committed themselves to putting an end to Anabaptists and other radical Christian nonconformists. Apparently Dirk was no quiet believer, but instead, shared his faith openly and even allowed others to be baptized in his home. The king?s palace in present day Asperen was turned into a prison. Dirk, after being arrested, was tried and committed to prison for his faith. After being there some time Dirk figured a way of escape. Taking bed sheets and tying knots in them, he let himself down the prison walls. Unfortunately, he was quickly spotted by the burgomaster and the ?thief-catcher? was sent fast on his pursuit. Dirk swiftly made his escape over a thin body of ice that surrounded the castle. For a moment I imagine Dirk must have thought that he might just pull this off. However, the much heavier thief-catcher also attempted to cross the thin ice, but to his peril the ice split open and he fell to what he must have thought was his death. Dirk was well on his way when he heard his pursuer?s cry for rescue. Turning around he realized that the thief-catcher had fallen into the ice, and was now pleading for his life.

Taylor familyI have often wondered what Dirk Willems must have been thinking at that moment. In front of him was his life?his freedom. All he had to do was keep running. Who would blame him if he didn?t turn around to aid the thief-catcher? He had been falsely imprisoned, and to return now would inevitably cost him his life. But Dirk had died to himself years before when he gave his life to Christ. Now, if any real temptations to keep going had raced through his mind at this moment, we would never know it from this account.

Jesus taught that His followers must love their enemies, feed them, and even bless them. He knew that Jesus had done that very thing for him, and now it was his turn to do the same for this drowning man. The account goes on to tell us that he immediately turned around and pulled his pursuer out of the ice. The thief-catcher was greatly moved by this unprecedented act of compassion and wanted to let Dirk go free. However, looking on from a distance, the burgomaster screamed to the thief-catcher reminding him that he had sworn an oath of loyalty. Sadly, the burgomaster persuaded the thief-catcher to choose loyalty to the state over compassion for his rescuer, so the thief-catcher apprehended Dirk and brought him back into captivity.

Once back into captivity his persecutors showed no compassion on him for his act of mercy. Instead, they reconvicted him for his crime of heresy and rebaptism. The report says that he was then placed in severe imprisonment until the day that he was finally taken to the city square to be burned at the stake. This was an awful death. If burning at the stake could be said to be either good or bad, this one was horrible. The eyewitness reports said that a strong east wind was blowing and that the upper part of the fire was being blown away leaving Dirk to suffer horribly because only the lower portion of the fire was burning him. The eyewitnesses said that they heard him cry out to God over seventy times, ?O my Lord, my God!? Finally, a local official traveling by on horseback was filled with sorrow for the young man and he ordered that the fire be arranged so that Dirk would be put to death quickly.

The Martyrs Mirror finishes its epitaph on Dirk Willems? life saying:

?But as he had founded his faith not upon the drifting sand of human commandments, but upon the firm foundation stone, Christ Jesus, he, notwithstanding all evil winds of human doctrine, and heavy showers of tyrannical and severe persecution, remained immovable and steadfast unto the end; wherefore, when the chief Shepherd shall appear in the clouds of heaven and gather together His elect from all the ends of the earth, he shall also through grace hear the words, ?Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?? (I Pet. 5:4; Matt. 24:31; 25:2).

O, that each of us might have a testimony just like that! A testimony of a life that is undoubtedly sold out to God! So that when all is said and done we, too, might run confidently into the welcoming arms of our blessed Savior and hear that glorious salutation, ??Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!?

Charity Ministries
2008-02-21 @ 14:23:59 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (1) Trackbacks ()

All the sins of the saints - Thomas Brooks

All the sins of the saints

"We know that all things work together for good,
 to those who love God, to those who are called
 according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

All the afflictions, and
all the temptations, and
all the desertions, and
all the oppressions, and
all the oppositions, and
all the persecutions?
which befall a godly man,
shall work for his good.

Every cross, and
every loss, and
every disease?
which befall the holy man,
shall work for his good.

Every device,
every snare,
every deceit,
every depth,
every stratagem,
and every enterprise of Satan against
the holy man, shall work for his good.

They shall all help to make him . . .
  more humble,
  more holy,
  more heavenly,
  more spiritual,
  more faithful,
  more fruitful,
  more watchful.

Every prosperity and every adversity;
every storm and every calm;
every bitter and every sweet;
every cross and every comfort?
shall work for the holy man's good.

When God gives a mercy?
  that shall work for his good.
When God takes away a mercy?
  that shall work for his good.

Yes, even all the falls and all the sins of
the saints shall work for their good. Oh . . .
  the care,
  the fear,
  the watchfulness,
  the tenderness,
  the zeal?
which God raises in the souls of His saints by their
very falls! Oh the hatred, the indignation, and the
detestation?which God raises in the hearts of His
children against sin?by their very falling into sin!

Oh what love to Christ,
what thankfulness for Christ,
what admiration of Christ,
what cleaving to Christ,
what exalting of Christ,
what drawings from Christ's grace?
are saints led to, by their very falls!

It is the glory of God's holiness, that . . .
  He can turn spiritual diseases?into holy remedies!
  He can turn soul poisons?into heavenly cordials!
  He can prevent sin by sin, and cure falling by falling!

O Christian! What though friends and relations frown upon you,
what though enemies are plotting and conspiring against you,
what though needs, like armed men, are breaking in upon you,
what though men rage, and devils roar against you,
what though sickness is devastating your family,
what though death stands every day at your elbow?
yet there is no reason for you to fear nor faint, because
all these things shall work for your good! Yes, there is
wonderful cause of joy and rejoicing in all the afflictions
and tribulations which come upon you?considering that
they shall all work for your good.

O Christians! I am afraid, I am afraid?that you do not
run so often as you should?to the breasts of this promise,
nor draw that sweetness and comfort from it, that it would
yield, and that your several cases may require. "We know
that all things work together for good, to those who love
God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I
have been the longer upon this verse, because the condition
of God's people calls for the strongest cordials, and the
choicest and the sweetest comforts.

2008-02-20 @ 21:23:29 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

It was sin - Keith Daniel

I was once walking in the town of Durban, a number of years ago now. It?s a large and beautiful
city, Durban in South Africa. In the center of the town is what were called monuments?all the different kings and queens of the British Empire in the heart of the city, as the people rush through. They have many open air meetings there, trying to win people to Christ. As I was walking through all the bustle, all the hundreds of people just criss-crossing to get to each part of the city, I saw a young man standing there, and he had tracts of salvation. He was dressed clean, and he looked clean. The way he was giving these tracts
out made me stop in respect. I looked at him, and thought, ?Look at this fellow.? He didn?t want to let anybody passed. It was like there was something of a desperation in him. ?Please, read this sir. Please, please take it. Please stop. Take this.? He didn?t want to let anybody pass, giving these tracts out of salvation. I looked at him in respect.

Above: Keith Daniel

After awhile I saw he looked at me, and he recognized me. He walked up to me, and said ?Are you Keith Daniel??

I said ?Yes.?

He said to me, ?Mr. Daniel, have you got any time? Are you in a hurry??

I said, ?Well, I?m going somewhere, but what do you need? What do you want??

He said, ?There?s a tramp, a down and out, who?s here in the town gardens, just sitting under the
statues. I?ve tried to lead him to Christ. There?s something different about this tramp. He wasn?t always in the gutters. This man comes from somewhere good, and not too long ago. He?s just suddenly lost everything. But I can?t get through to him. Won?t you please come? I know he?ll still be somewhere here. Come and speak to him.?

So I said, ?Surely I will. Let?s go.? We went around to one of these big statues. We eventually
found him. He stood slowly when he saw us coming to him. He was dressed like a tramp, and he looked
like a tramp, a man who gave up, sitting in the gutters now. This young fellow looked at him and said,?This is Mr. Daniel. Keith Daniel. He?s a preacher. I believe that if you just listen to him, you could understand of what I?m trying so hard, so often to tell you. I believe he?s going to help you to find God, to show you the way to God, what God can do for you. Won?t you please listen to him?? So the man beckoned that I could speak.

I began to talk to him about God.

Now I found something. Oftentimes we give just our testimonies. I found to give the Word of
God. It?s what God says that matters. So even if it?s to a tramp, leave something of what God says. I began to quote the scriptures to him, of what God holds out to the sinner, of what God promises He can do, no matter how destroyed the life is.

I held out the scriptures to him. As I was quoting scriptures to him, eventually he started quoting
them with me. So I quoted another scripture, and word perfect he quoted with me. I looked at him and said ?But how is this possible? You know everything that I know. You know everything I?m telling you. You know everything I know.? And I found tears welling up in my eyes to find a man in the gutters who knew so much.

Then tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, ?I was a Dutch Reformed Dominee.? A minister, a
preacher, in the largest denomination of our country. ?I went through a university, a theological seminary. I attained after seven years the highest of all marks of all the theological students. I was the top theological
student of the university when I graduated. I was taken straightway to one of the largest Evangelical Dutch Reformed churches of South Africa, right into the pulpit. There were five other ministers, but I was the one, as young as I was, who was given the pulpit, because I could preach. I preached what you?re telling me. I
preached the gospel.?

I said, ?What went wrong? What happened??

Then the tears really came. ?Sin. You see, somehow sin wasn?t dealt with, even though I had a
testimony. Though I went through university and I attained the highest degree, the highest marks of the entire university in the theological section, sin was still there.?

It?s possible, you know. It?s possible to get into a pulpit, one of the largest Evangelical churches in a nation, because you can so preach, because you?ve so attained academically, in theology. They have to, they?re obliged to put you in the greatest church right at the start. It?s possible to stand up preaching the gospel when sin is still in your life, never doubt it.

He said, ?It was sin. I had this problem. Sin. Oh I always used to think if my heart condemn me,
God?s going to deal with it somewhere. Someway it?s got to stop. I went back to sin. I sinned. Then one day I stood up. I was preaching, calling for men to come to Christ, and suddenly I looked out and I saw a face. Someone who knew about my sin, looking at me warning to sinners to come to repentance to God. Somehow I got through that sermon, I don?t know how I got through, holding myself up in the pulpit, my heart just crushed. I don?t know how I did it, but I got up and preached again. This time when I stood up, and I began to preach, I didn?t see one face, I saw two faces. The devil won?t let you get away with it. I
couldn?t preach. Here were people looking at me knowing that here I am crying to sinners, and yet I?m a sinner myself. I?m still in my sin. I couldn?t preach. I just walked from the pulpit, determined never to go up again, no matter what the cost.

?And it cost. I won?t tell you the whole thing of what it cost me, but I lost my family, lost my
home, lost everything. One thing led to another, and now I?m in the gutters. But you see what I was doing was wrong. I had no right to stand in the pulpit of God and cry out to others when I was still in sin myself. And I had to make a choice: either stand up in the pulpit and face the condemnation of others who I had been guilty of sending to hell, or get out of the pulpit forever. I made a choice, and look what it?s cost me.
I?ll never go back to the pulpit. It was wrong. I was wrong.

?Young man, I?ve watched you. I watched you when I saw you standing there with your Bible, with your tracts, with your desperation, calling to people, not wanting to let anyone go by. I watched you.
Because of my background, I watched you carefully. Watched you when you spoke to me so zealously. I
watched you the other day when you stood there. Two men walked up to you. I saw you talking and
laughing. Saw you put your Bible away. Saw you go in that building with the men. I know something of
those men?s sin, and I watched them. I waited until you came out, and I waited for them. I was going to find out what you did in that building there. Young man, I want to tell you you have no right to come the next day onto the street with your Bible, and your tracts. You have no right! You?re wrong! You?re wrong in what you?re doing, thinking you have the right.?

The two of us just looked at him. I looked at this young man, who had turned white. His lips trembling at being found out. Then the greatest shock of all came. He looked at the two of us. This man having given up the pulpit to be honest. And this man who?s clinging to God with every breath in his body never to lose the right to be in the pulpit, to look every man on earth in the eyes and say ?Come to God?, and have the right to say to them.

He said, ?So what? Being a Christian doesn?t mean you never sin. Being a Christian doesn?t mean
you can?t sin, ever.? He turned, and walked away from us a dozen steps, back into the street, with his Bible, and his tracts, and his sin, I believe to this day, all three.

Who you are speaks so loud that the world can?t hear what you say. They?re looking at your walk, not listening to your talk.

They?re judging by your actions every day.
Don?t believe you?ll deceive by claiming what you?ve never known.

They?ll accept what they see and know you to be. They?ll know you by your life alone.

Audio Sermon

have you turned from a life of sin? (transcript)
2008-02-20 @ 21:13:52 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

But woe and alas!


(Thomas Brooks, "London's Lamentations" 1670)

Suppose, say some, that a man were to endure
the torments of hell as many years, and no more,
as there are . . .
  sands on the sea-shore,
  drops of water in the sea,
  stars in heaven,
  leaves on the trees,
  blades of grass on the ground;
yet he would comfort himself with this poor thought,
"Well, there will come a day when my misery and
torment shall certainly have an end!" But woe and
alas! this word "Forever! Forever! Forever!" will fill
the hearts of the damned with the greatest . . .
  horror and terror,
  wrath and rage,
  dread and astonishment!

Suppose, say others, that the torments of hell were to
end after a little bird should have emptied the sea, and
only carry out in her bill, but one drop once in a thousand
years?and so continue until the whole ocean was taken

Suppose, say others, that the whole world, from the
lowest earth to the highest heavens, were filled with
grains of sand, and once in a thousand years an angel
should come and fetch away one grain of sand?and
so continue until the whole heap were taken away.

Suppose, say others, if one of the damned in hell
should weep after this manner?namely, that he
should only weep one tear in a hundred years, and
these should be kept together until such time as they
should equal the drops of water in the sea. How many
millions of ages would pass, before they could make
up one river, much more a whole sea! And when that
were done, should he weep again after the same manner
until he had filled a second sea, a third sea, a fourth sea
?if then there should be an end of their miseries?there
would be some hope, some comfort that they would end
at last! But hell shall never, never, never end! The
eternity of hell?is that which sinks them under the
most tormenting terrors and horrors!
2008-02-15 @ 20:15:09 Permalink Engelskt/English Kommentarer (0) Trackbacks ()

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