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Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Fruits and Effects the Holy Spirit Produces

The Fruits and Effects the Holy Spirit Produces

"When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment" (John 16:8).

Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep conviction of sin - and true repentance for it. It is His special office to convict of sin.

He shows the exceeding holiness of God.

He teaches the exceeding corruption and infirmity of our nature.

He strips us of our blind self-righteousness.

He opens our eyes to our awful guilt, folly and danger.

He fills the heart with sorrow, contrition, and abhorrence for sin - as the abominable thing  which God hates. 

He who knows nothing of all this, and saunters carelessly through life, thoughtless about sin, and indifferent and unconcerned about his soul - is a dead man before God! He has NOT the Holy Spirit. 

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart can only be known by the fruits and effects He produces. Mysterious and invisible to mortal eye as His operations are - they always lead to certain visible and tangible results.

Just as you know there is life in a tree by its sap, buds, leaves and fruits - just so you may know the Spirit to be in a man's heart by the influence He exercises over his thoughts, affections, opinions, habits, and life. I lay this down broadly and unhesitatingly. I see it clearly marked out in our Lord Jesus Christ's words, "Every tree is known by his own fruit" (Luke 6:44).

~J. C. Ryle~

Have You Received the Holy Spirit?

"Have you received the Holy Spirit?" (Acts 19:2).

What are the evidences of having received the Holy Spirit?

If we have received the Holy Spirit - the Lord Jesus stands high in our estimation - and our views of ourselves are very humbling. And just in proportion to the power and depth of the Spirit's work - will be out conceptions of the glory, grandeur, and excellency of the Saviour; and our discoveries of the depravity, pollution, weakness, and misery of our own hearts. 

If, therefore, we have heart affecting views of the glory of Christ and His finished work - and if we lie low in the dust under a sense of our weakness and worthlessness, so that we are brought to depend wholly on Christ, and on Christ alone - we have surely received the Holy Spirit within!

Also, if we have received the Holy Spirit - there is in us a deep-rooted abiding hatred to sin - all sin, especially sin in ourselves. What was once our darling sin, has become the object of our hatred - and against that sin we set a double guard. For nothing do we sigh so often, for nothing do we desire so ardently - as holiness. The Holy Spirit always sets the whole soul against sin - and longing for perfect holiness.

True, our old desires toward sin will sometimes revive - but then we loath ourselves on account of it, mourn over it, and confess it before God. The cry of the soul is, "Holiness, Lord, more holiness! Deep, penetrating, all-pervading holiness!"

Now, if we hate sin everywhere, all sin, and especially the sin that dwells in us; and if we love holiness, admire holiness, pray for holiness, pant for holiness, and strive for holiness - then there is no doubt that we have received the Holy Spirit.

Once more, if we have received the Holy Spirit - then we are ruled by God's Word; we do not follow custom, or allow our desires or prejudices to dictate our course. In all times of difficulty, when in any perplexity, something seems to say within us, "To the law and to the testimony," and to the precepts of the New Testament, we turn.

The Word of Christ is the law of the true believer. Everything short of it, or beyond it, or beside it, or contrary to it - is sin! "Only what Jesus commands, all that Jesus commands, and because Jesus commands," is the language of the soul!

And while we thus make the Word of Jesus our rule - we deny ourselves. We deny our own wills, our own passions, our own desires, our likes and dislikes. We are before Him, as He was before His Father, when He cried out, "Not My will - but may Your will be done." If then, we make the Word of God our guide, and habitually deny ourselves for Christ's sake - we may rest assured that we have received the Holy Spirit.

Reader, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" Remember, "If anyone does NOT have the Spirit of Christ - he does not belong to Him!" (Romans 8:9).

~James Smith~

Satanic Temptations # 1

Satanic Temptations # 1

I would now invite your attention to a subject of deep importance, yet of great and awful mysteriousness; I mean, the agency of satan in our temptations to sin. Of the real personality of this dreadful being, there can exist no well-founded doubt to anyone who, with meekness and a teachable spirit, submits his understanding to the teaching of God's Word. To resolve what is there affirmed of satan's varied attributes and actions into mere orientalisms, and to conceive that nothing more is intended than a bold personification of the evil principle, goes far to turn the whole gospel history into fable, and requires bu another and more adventurous step in the interpretation of Scripture, to convert even the Saviour Himself into a mystical character, and to make Him only the personification of virtue. Of the history of satan we know but little, except that he is an apostate spirit, a fallen angel, pre-existent to man, cast out of heaven for his sin, and now in some unknown manner employing himself in seducing others to sin. He is, in all probability, the leader and chief of all the "angels who sinned and kept not their first estate - but left their own habitation, and are cast down to hell, and delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

He is by way of eminence called "the devil," a word that signifies a slanderer and accuser, a term that perhaps has reference to his past history in heaven, and his present conduct upon earth. By way of emphasis he is called "the wicked one," (Matt. 13:19, 38; Ephes. 6:16; 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, a fearful title, importing that his whole character is made up of unmingled turpitude, and every kind of wickedness; that he is wicked in himself, and the leader of all wickedness in others. In other places he is designated "the tempter," (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5.).  This appellation he has derived not only from his seducing our first parents from their innocence - but probably from his successful wiles in heaven, and certainly from his constant occupation among the children of men. It may be imagined that, filled and fired with impotent rage and revenge towards God, for his expulsion from heaven; with envy and malignity towards man, as selected in Divine sovereignty to be the object of Divine benevolence; and perhaps, above all, cherishing an envenomed personal enmity and hostility against the Lord Jesus Christ in His mediatorial character and redeeming work, he is ever seeking by his temptations to keep men under that yoke to which he has reduced them, and from which it is the design of the Saviour to emancipate them.

It would seem to have been his object to be the tyrannical head of the human race, to have all mankind as his vassals, and to lead them by sinning against God, to do his will. Perhaps his design was to be an object of worship and adoration, "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4); hence his declaration to Christ, "All these kingdoms will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:9). His grand ambition and policy then,are to be a kind of rival with God, to lead men off from Jehovah, and draw them under his own influence. This accounts for his personal enmity to Christ, who "was manifested to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). To counteract the work of redeeming mercy, as far as in him lies, and thus oppose the purpose of God, the honor of Christ, and the happiness of man - he is ever tempting the children of Adam to sin, and following up, as far as permitted, his first success in the Garden of Eden

In what manner satan tempts men to sin is a deep mystery. That in some way he has access to the human mind is clear, else how could he tempt at all, since he does not appear personally and solicit to iniquity? Peter in addressing Ananias said to him, "Why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" (Acts 5:3). Still the mode of his operation is concealed from us. We are very imperfectly acquainted  with the nature of our own spirits; and how another spirit can act upon us, is a mystery not to be explained.

The manner in which satan and his influence are described in the Word of God, and the earnestness with which we are admonished to guard against him, should excite deep concern and holy vigilance. It would seem that his power, though of course limited and restrained, is very great; that his trickery is equal to his power; and that his malignity is not inferior to either. The very idea that we have to combat with such a foe, a foe that had the courage to attack the Son of God - a foe the more dangerous for the cloud of mystery that hangs about him, and conceals his movements from observation - a foe that actually subdued our first parents, notwithstanding their perfect innocence and paradisaic situation - a foe whom success has made bold, and experience sagacious, in ruining souls - a foe that may be near us at any moment, unseen, and therefore unnotices, and may be preparing some new kind of attack, is indeed sufficient to alarm us, far more than it does, and to put us upon the best means of averting the danger. With too many professing Christians, there seems to be a careless confidence, and an air of unwarranted security, which their situation of extreme peril does not justify, and which is quite opposed to the solemn warnings contained in the Word of God.

~John Angell James~

(continued with # 2)

Evidences & Results of Sanctified Affliction # 1

Evidences & Results of Sanctified Affliction # 1

"Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty!" (Job 5:17).

"Before I was afflicted I went astray - but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I was afflicted - that I might learn Your statutes. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous - and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75).

"And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord's discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline - which all receive - then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we have natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplines us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Our subject is peculiarly appropriate to many. Few are the travelers to heaven who do not pass through the land of "Bochim" (the place of weeping - Judges 2:5), and the valley of tears, in their way. Blessed are they, and more blessed will they be, who, being chastened by the hand of their heavenly Father - are thereby made partakers of His holiness. The afflictions and consolations of ministers are often made subservient to the good of their people. The apostle has beautifully expressed this, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. I would not be a sterile thorn in the garden of the Lord, but a fruitful vine, and bearing the more fruit for the 'pruning of His severe but infallible kindness'; and "I desire fruit that may abound to your account." May it be granted me to teach you by example as well as precept - not only the 'active virtures', but the 'passive graces' of our holy religion; and both by what I suffer and enjoy, may I be made more effectually the comforter as well as instructor of the sorrowing portion of God's chosen family.

1. The proof of a sanctified affliction begins to show itself while the trouble lasts. Though it be very true that it is 'afterwards,' when it is gone by, that it yields "the peaceful fruits of righteousness" in their maturity; yet as there can be no fruits where there have been no blossoms, so in this case the 'buds of spiritual improvement' must be seen during the season of affliction, or there will be no ripe fruits afterwards. A right frame of mind rarely comes on when the trial is over - if it does not commence while it lasts. The seeds of improvement, like some grain - must be sown while the showers are falling and the ground is wet, or they will not germinate and yield a crop. While the tear is yet in the eye, the earnest desire after sanctification must be in the heart. Let not the sufferers, therefore, put by the wish, and suspend the effort to get good, until the visitation of the Almighty has passed away. A child who is not brought to reflection, and to begin, at least, an appropriate disposition, while under chastisement - is rarely brought to it when the rod is laid aside, and he is restored to his fellows, in all the joyousness of boyish hilarity. The reason why trials are so generally unproductive of spiritual effect, is because the sufferer postpones his attempts to render them beneficial until days of prosperity return - and then he is too busy and too happy in the enjoyment of his altered circumstances, to call to remembrance the wormwood and the gall.

Hence, a striking proof of sanctified affliction is a deep concern, a studious effort, and much earnest prayer - that it might be blessed for the good of the soul. The only solicitude of a worldly man and of a 'worldly-minded professor of religion,' is to get out of trouble as fast as he can, and in any way he can. But the concern of a consistent, spiritual, and growing Christian - is to get out of it only in God's time, by righteous means, and with holy fruits. When there is a real inward desire, and not the mere profession of such a wish, that the trial might be sanctified, and that it might not be removed until it is; when there is a willingness to remain in the furnace, however long the time and fierce the fire, until the dross is separated, and the gold refined; when there is a disposition to say, "Lord, smite me until the folly is beaten out of your wayward child. Do not stop until you have restored me to yourself, since the sorest word you could say to me, would be, "Why should you be stricken any more?" and my chief blessing, not to have it said of me, 'Let him alone'" - this is sanctification. If the soul is in that state, it has received good, and is getting it still. Here is God's end in afflicting accomplished, which is - that we might be partakers of His holiness.

But just look at a more detailed description of the state of mind of those who are really benefiting by affliction.

They recognize the hand of God in it, whether it comes direct from Him or through the medium of second causes. "It is the Lord!" they exclaim. "It comes from God! Is there evil in the city, and the Lord has not done it? I am silent, and open not my mouth, because you, O God, have done it!" Yes, they do not wander about amidst the briars, torn and lacerated, seeking after second causes - but go and lie down at once on "the soft green" of the doctrine of providence.

Then, as they recognize the hand that smites, they are equally forward to acknowledge His DESIGN in their affliction. "This is for my good, I know, because I am told that all things work together for my good. I do not see how, but that is not my business - all I know is, it will be so, for God has said it. He intends to make me holier by this affliction. He is bent upon my improvement. He thinks me, shall I say, worth and worthy of being chastised? Yes, I receive it as a message from God to me,saying, 'See how important holiness is in my people, since I call you to suffer so much in order to promote it.'"

~John Angell James~

(continued with # 2)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful

I hesitate strongly in including this poem in one of my blogs. And then I remembered this blog of mine, "A Disciples Cry", and I decided to cry out to others, as a warning to those who don't think anything is wrong with America. Some folks desire a revival of the Holy Spirit. Well, what good is a revival going to do if we all go back to our "unholy" living, our unChristlikeness?  Our actions speak louder than words to the saved and unsaved. We must first get our "act" together before God will consider bringing down His Spirit.  This is not intended to be political but simply very wise Christian teaching. The poem is for us in America. Perhaps we will read it entirely and rise up and speak out, or, at least, change our way of living and draw ourselves, and our friends, much closer to God through Christ!!! The world is watching us and will copy our actions if we mend our ways - God will withdraw His hand from us, and God will be appeased!!

America the Beautiful

America, the beautiful
Or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims pride,
I'm glad they'll never see.

Babies piled in dumpsters,
Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet Land of Liberty,
Your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly
Poisoned by cocaine,
Choosing to indulge their lusts,
When God has said, "Abstain."

From sea to shining sea,
Our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love
And a need to always pray.

We've kept God in our temples,
How callous we have grown,
When earth is but His footstool,
And Heaven is His throne.

We've voted in a government
That's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges
Who throw reason out the door.

Too soft to place a killer
In a well-deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby
Before he leaves the womb.

You think that God's not angry
That our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait
Before His judgment comes?

How are we to face our God,
From Whom we cannot hide?
What, then, is left for us to do
But stem this evil tide?

If we, who are His children,
Will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His Holy Face
And mend our evil way:

Then God will hear from Heaven
And forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land
And those who live within.

But America the Beautiful,
If you don't - then you will see,
A sad, but Holy God
Withdraw His hand from thee.

~Alabama Judge Roy Moore~

Growing Into Enlargement (and others)

Growing Into Enlargement (and others)

So often in the battle we go to the Lord and pray, and plead, and appeal for victory, for ascendency, for mastery over the forces of evil and death, and our thought is that in some way the Lord is going to come in with a mighty exercise of power and put us into a place of spiritual ascendency as in an act. We must have that mentality corrected. What the Lord does is to enlarge us to possess. He puts us through some exercise, some experience, and takes us by some way which means our spiritual expansion, an increase of spirituality and spiritual capacity, and as we increase spirituality, so we occupy the larger places spontaneously.

The law which the Lord sets forth is that spiritual ascendency over the forces of darkness and death corresponds to spiritual growth, and spiritual growth is essential to spiritual ascendency, to enlarged territory. The challenge with which the Lord meets us is this: "Can you fill it? Can you occupy it? Can you possess it? Are you able, if I give it to you? The disaster would be all the greater if the Lord gave large territory and we could not occupy it and fill it. How important is spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, spiritual increase!

The whole question of progressive victory rests upon progressive spiritual development. It does not rest upon our having the gift of ascendency from the Lord. Ascendency is, in effect, developed in us by spiritual growth and enlargement; it is a matter of capacity. Hence those who know most of victory are not always those who talk most about it, but are those who have been through experiences and processes by which they have been mightily extended in Christ spiritually. Turning that around the other way, it should be a comfort to know that everything the Lord does with us in the nature of a painful stretching: that cutting of deeper channels, deeper furrows, that leading into depths; that breaking up and breaking open; all that which is in the direction of making for a deeper, wider, higher energy of the Lord through suffering is intended to bring into a place of spiritual power, spiritual ascendency.  Thus the power of the enemy becomes weaker, because the power of the saints is becoming greater through their growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We have to be built up unto power, unto ascendency, unto conquest. It is quite evident that if there is not an adequate spiritual background to the life of those who make assaults upon the enemy, they will be knocked to pieces, for they will not be able to stand up to him. It requires that there should be spiritual competence, spiritual wealth, spiritual background, and spiritual fullness in order to stand up to the enemy and force him to quit the position.

We must be enlarged to occupy. The Lord will not give otherwise. He is governed by infinite wisdom in the way in which He deals with us; "I will not drive them out from before thee in one little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased...". The measure of spiritual ascendency is the measure of spiritual increase.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Preeminence of Knowing the Lord

Our minds are so often occupied with service and work; we think that doing things for the Lord is the chief object of life. We are concerned about our lifework, our ministry. We think of equipment for it in terms of study and knowledge of things. Soul winning or teaching believers, or setting people to work, are so much in the foreground. Bible study and knowledge of the Scriptures, with efficiency in the matter of leading in Christian service as the end in view, are matters of pressing importance with all. And well and good, for these are important matters, but, at the back of everything, the Lord is more concerned about our knowing Him than about anything else. It is very possible to have a wonderful grasp of the Scriptures and a comprehensive and intimate familiarity with doctrine; to stand for cardinal verities of the faith; to be an unceasing worker in Christian service; to have a great devotion to the salvation of men, and yet, alas, to have a very inadequate and limited personal knowledge of God within. So often the Lord has to take away our work that we may discover Him. The ultimate value of everything is not the information which we give, not the soundness of our doctrine, not the amount of work that we do, not the measure of truth that we possess, but just the fact that we know the Lord in a deep and mighty way.

This is the one thing that will remain when all else passes. It is this that will make for the permanence of our ministry after we are gone. While we may help others in many ways and by many means,so far as their earthly life is concerned, our real service to them is based upon our knowledge of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Something More Than Bible Study (and more)

Something More Than Bible Study (and more)

I expect the experience of many of you has been similar to my own. You see, for some years at the beginning of my ministry, I was occupied with Bible teaching. I took all the books of the Bible, analyzed them, and put the outline on a blackboard. By that method I got to know what was written in the Bible. Well, of course, that is of some value, for it is a good thing to know what is in the Bible,but after some years of doing that kind of work, God took me personally in hand and through deep, deep experience, He brought me to know the meaning of the Bible. Well,I could tell you that the Gospel by John has mainly to do with life, and I took my colored pencil and put a colored line under every occurrence of the word "life." This matter of eternal life was a wonderful thing - in the Gospel of John. Then the Lord began to work in my life in such a way that the only thing I needed was divine life. Spiritually I came into a situation of death. In my ministry I came into a situation of death, and physically, too, and it was then that this whole question of life became a very serious matter for me. My whole future, spiritually, physically, and in ministry, depended upon whether God gave me new spiritual life. And through that deep experience the Gospel to John was no longer in a book. It got inside me. Divine life moved from the position of teaching in the Bible to become a reality in myself. If that were not true, I should not be talking to you now.

And so I could go on. I could have given quite a good analysis and outline of the Letter to the Ephesians,and could tell you on a blackboard all that that Letter has to say. It is the great Letter about the Church as the Body of Christ. Well, I thought. I know about that. And then God took me in hand, and through a very deep experience He brought me to see the real heavenly nature of the Body of Christ, and all this other idea of the Church seemed to me to be like nonsense. Putting up buildings and calling them "The Church"; going to services and saying, "I am going to Church." That whole system became empty. I had come to see that the Church is, after all, only an earthly expression of the heavenly Lord Jesus.

Now, I did not start out to speak about the Church, but I am just emphasizing one thing: We only come into spiritual reality through spiritual experience, and it is in experience that we come to know what Christ is.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Maintaining the Testimony of Jesus

We are here as the Lord's vessel - a part of it - that is left here on this earth while our Lord is away, in order to maintain His testimony, or that He may maintain His testimony, here in this world until He returns. That is our wonderful calling, but that is our great responsibility. This ought to come upon us with great force. You and I, taking it individually, are entrusted with no lesser thing than the maintaining of the testimony of Jesus on this earth in His absence. That is our calling, that is our business, that is our responsibility; but, blessed be God! that is provided for abundantly by Him in the gift of the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Turning Difficulties to Account

The completing of the House of God will be no less fraught with difficulty and obstruction than the commencement, but where the Holy Spirit is absolute Lord, these difficulties will be proved rather complementary than otherwise. The "many adversaries" will only be sovereignly used to further rather than arrest the consummation of "the eternal purpose."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Doctrinal Knowledge vs. Personal Acquaintance (and others)

Doctrinal Knowledge vs. Personal Acquaintance (and others)

The writer, over a period of nearly forty years of personal contact with evangelical Christianity in many parts of the world, has been terribly impressed with one basic weakness or defect; which defect undoubtedly is indicative of a whole set of defections from what was the conception in the beginning. While the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is well known, and a great deal of teaching on that doctrine has been received, both from expositors personally, and through an immense amount of literature on the subject, there is a great deal to make real the question as to whether or not, after all, multitudes -even the majority - of Christians know anything about the Holy Spirit as a POSITIVE, active, indwelling presence.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Sole Motive for Movement

How many spiritual tragedies we have known brought about by human selectiveness apart from the first and supreme interest of Christ. It might be the choice of residence, location, for instance, for reasons of convenience, pleasure, escape, or seeming necessity, as in the case of Abraham. No less a question than having the Lord with us is bound up with such choices and decisions. We cannot move off the Lord's ground without the consequence of spiritual disaster. How costly it was in the case of Elimelech!

If Christ is the Way, the Directive, then He is the Example. How meticulously careful He was not to move, or be moved, by any consideration but the directive of the Father!

Many motives were put to Him for action and movement, but He abode in the Father, and, often at great cost, refuses other considerations.

We must seek to know that we are where we are because God has put us there in the interests of His Son, and then it must be God Who just as definitely moves us when the time to move has come.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Beyond Healing

Sometimes, in the discretion of God, the death-victory of Christ, means actual healing of the human body supernaturally. More generally it means - by faith's appropriation - Divine life in sustenance and ability make life's continuous miracle.

Amid all the so-much-to-be-deplored features of Christendom's defaultings and contradictions, there goes on in the multitudes of devoted and committed individual believers a living testimony to "the power of His resurrection" in endurance, sustenance, survival, and victory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Quest for Understanding

The greatest desire in my heart - and the longer I live the stronger it grows - is to understand the Lord Jesus. There is so much that I do not understand about Him. I am always coming up against problems about Him, and they are not intellectual problems at all, but spiritual ones: problems of the heart. Why did the Lord Jesus say and do certain things? Why is He dealing with me as He is? He is always too deep for me, and I want to understand Him. It is the most important thing in life to understand that Lord Jesus.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Having the Lord's Hand Upon Us

It is not error, not false, and not a mistake to say that the Lord Jesus is making history by His hand being upon us. And if He can get His hand upon us, He will draw out spiritual values from these lives which will be for the good of His people. In a measure and in a sense, the Lord can draw values out of your life and mine for His people, beyond anything that we could produce- but for that hand of God upon us. Have you got hold of that? Is it not helpful? It is encouraging.

~T. Austin-Sparks~