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Friday, July 31, 2015

Another Nature

"And you ... hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable" (Colossians 1:21-22)

For the moral unlikeness between man and God the Bible has a word, "alienation", and the Holy Spirit presents a frightful picture of this alienation as it works itself out in human character.

Fallen human nature is precisely opposite to the nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Because there is no moral likeness that is no communion, hence the sense of physical distance, the feeling that God is far away in space.

The new birth makes us partakers of the divine nature. There the work of undoing the dissimilarity between us and God begins. Fro there it progresses by the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit till God is satisfied.

The only remedy for human nature is to destroy it and receive instead the divine nature. God does not improve man. He crucifies the natural life with Christ and creates the new man in Christ Jesus.


Practice the Presence

"I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved" (Psalm 16:8)

The scriptural way to see things is to set the Lord always before us, put Christ in the center of our vision, and if satan is lurking around he will appear on the margin only and be seen as but a shadow on the edge of the brightness. It is always wrong to reverse this - to set satan in the focus of our vision and push God out to the margin. Nothing but tragedy can come of such inversion.

The best way to keep the enemy out is to keep Christ in. The sheep need not be terrified by the wolf; they have but to stay close to the shepherd.

The instructed Christian will practice the presence of God and never allow himself to become devil-conscious.

Brother Lawrence wouldn't pick up a straw from the ground but for the love of God. When he was dying he said, "...When I die I won't change my occupation. I have just been worshipping God for 40 years on earth, and when I get to heaven I'll keep right on doing what I am doing."

~A. W. Tozer~


Do you realize that the devil has absolutely no authority over you?         
In Colossians 1:12-13, the apostle Paul tells us,

Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

You and I have been delivered from the power of darkness.  We are out from under the authority of the devil.

That was a happy day for me when I realized this truth. After I was saved, I was afraid of the devil because I had been so deeply involved in the occult.  I literally had a fear that hung upon me and followed me everywhere I went.  So I just prayed over and over, "God, please make me so I'm not afraid of the devil."

I started to constantly read the New Testament. As I did, I realized what Christ had done for me, and I was set free.

As I thought about this truth, I was reminded of being in elementary school.  We had this kid who terrorized a lot of other kids.  I was so afraid of him.  One day, he just pushed one of my buttons.  All of a sudden I was on top of him holding his arms down, and I was thinking, "Why in the world was I ever afraid of this kid?"  He was absolutely helpless!

Just like that bully, the devil is a defeated foe. And part of your inheritance is authority over all the power of the enemy.  It is a happy day when you realize it.

~Bayless Conley~

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Seeing Things As They Are

"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him" (John 1:32)

John the Baptist possessed the right kind of vision, a true spiritual discernment. He could see things as they were.

The Holy Spirit came like a dove, descended like a dove, putting down His pink feet and disappearing into the heart of the Son of God.

I wonder out of all those crowds who saw the Holy Spirit come?

Only John the Baptist. I do not think anyone else had the kind of vision that was necessary to see Him.

John the Baptist was a man of vision in the midst of men who had no vision. He knew where he was in his times. The drift of the hour or the trend of the times in religion would never carry him away.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill -
Oh, may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will.


Dying to Live

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ...?" (Romans 6:16)

For all God's good will toward us, He is unable to grant us our heart's desires till all our desires have been reduced to one. When we have dealt with our carnal ambitions; when we have trodden upon the lion and adder of the flesh, have trampled the dragon of self-love under our feet and have truly reckoned ourselves to have died unto sin, then and only then can God raise us to newness of life and fill us with His blessed Holy Spirit.

It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation. Here many are called and few are chosen.

The meaning of self-denial is not an infliction of personal torment nor penance, but it is simply the giving up of the very principle of living for ourselves. It is completely changing the direction of our being and will, so that no loner in any sense do we act with reference to how anything will affect us, but our one thought is how it will affect God or others.

~A. W. Tozer~

Holier Than Thou Attitude

Revelation 2:4

(4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

  Revelation 2:9-11

(9) "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (10) Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throwsome of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (11) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.""

  Revelation 2:13-15

(13) "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (14) But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. (15) Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

  Revelation 2:19-20

(19) "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. (20) Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

  Revelation 3:1

(1) "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,"These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

  Revelation 3:4

(4) You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

  Revelation 3:8

(8) "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

  Revelation 3:11-12

(11) Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (12) He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

  Revelation 3:15

(15) "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

  Revelation 3:19

(19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
New King James Version  

Note that each of these congregations—those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea—was located in a Gentile city, and in all probability, each congregation's membership was primarily Gentile. It is quite likely that in each congregation the Jews were a minority.

Recall that the Romans ravaged Jerusalem in AD 70, and its Christians had to flee to Pella to save their lives. It is highly probable that none of these congregations had any communication with any survivor of the first congregation in Jerusalem. All of the apostles except John were dead, and he had been banished to Patmos. This circumstance was far different from the one in which the church was founded.

Were these Gentile congregations still part of the true church? Were they free of flaws and perfect in their character, attitudes, and doctrines? Would such a negative judgment eliminate them from being a true assembly?

Consider these further factors: Revelation 2:4 commends the congregation in Ephesus for doctrinal vigilance but castigates it for leaving its first loveRevelation 2:9-11 shows Christ commending Smyrna for being spiritually rich, but He also admonishes them to overcome. Despite His commendation, they are not a finished product.

Revelation 2:13-15 praises those in Pergamos for not denying their faith, but its members are doctrinally divided, and they permit heresy to continue. Revelation 2:19-20presents Thyatira as growing in good works, but its members tolerate heresy and are guilty of sexual immorality.

Revelation 3:1, 4 exposes Sardis as spiritually dead, though it contains a few who remain undefiled, indicating that its members have virtually lost their faith and are capable only of dead works. Revelation 3:8, 11-12 reports that those in Philadelphia are faithfully enduring, but Christ admonishes them to hold fast and overcome. Finally,Revelation 3:15, 19 judges Laodicea as spiritually bankrupt and gives it no commendation at all. The congregation is strongly advised to be zealous and repent.

What does a composite picture of these congregations reveal?
1. All seven of them are admonished to repent, hold fast, or remain faithful.
2. Only two of them, Smyrna and Philadelphia, receive strong commendations and no listing of their sins and other shortcomings.
3. Two of them, Pergamos and Thyatira, receive a lesser commendation and fairly strong rebukes for sexual immorality and allowing deceivers into the congregation.
4. Two of them, Sardis and Laodicea, receive strong rebukes and no commendations.
In terms of a true church in a single corporate body, what do we see? Only sixty years or so following Christ's resurrection, we have a mixed bag as regards overall stability and righteousness.

Even so, is any one of them not a true congregation, an assembly of truly called-out ones? Does Christ in any way say that even one of them was no longer part of His church, His body of people? Not in the least. There are, however, warnings that, if they did not repent, some within their fellowship might not be within the Body of Christ in the future. Two things are sure:
1. Some of these congregations are clearly spiritually better than the others.
2. Some of them are decidedly awful, even though, using carnal judgment, they may outwardly appear good.
Since Revelation is an end-time book, the overview given in Revelation 2 and 3 is especially significant at this time. It is forecasting what things will be like just before Christ returns, and He uses these first-century congregations to illustrate His forecast for our time.

Remember that God is judging us individually within each group. An attitude that we should not allow to grow in us is to think that we are the only ones who retain a true-church identity. The other side of that same concept is that, even if we agree that others are still part of the true church, we are still better than they are—indeed, everybody else is Laodicean by comparison.

This unmistakably holier-than-you attitude is extremely destructive to true brotherhood and proper fellowship and unity. Luke 18:9-14 records this teaching of Christ concerning self-righteousness and its effects on these matters. Those who elevate themselves in their judgment of themselves as compared to their fellow members bring on themselves this condemnation. God does not justify them when they make this kind of judgment.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Bush With No Fire!

"True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the father seeketh such to worship him" (John 4:23)

Whatever direction the theological wind may set there are two things of which we may be certain: One is that God will not leave Himself without a witness. Saving truth will never be completely hidden from the sight of men. The poor in spirit, the penitent, will always find Christ close at hand ready to save them.

The other is that the Holy Spirit is the true conservator of orthodoxy and will invariable say the same thing to meek and trusting souls. Illuminated hearts are sure to agree at the point where the light falls.

Our only real danger is that we may grieve the blessed Spirit into silence and so be left to the mercy of our intellects. We'll have bush, pruned and trimmed and properly cultivated, but in the bush there will be no fire.

Mere wisdom makes us hard and cold, but wisdom set on fire with love and energized by power through the Holy Spirit will enable us to bless the world.


Knee, Adore and Obey

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me ... If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:6, 15)

Truth is forever the same, but modes and emphases and interpretations vary. It is a cheering thought that Christ can adapt Himself to any race or age or people. He will give life and light to any man or woman anywhere in the world regardless of doctrinal emphasis or prevailing religious customs, provided that man or woman takes Him as He is and trusts Him without reservation.

The Spirit never bears witness to an argument about Christ, but He never fails to witness to a proclamation of Christ crucified, dead and buried, and now ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The conclusion of the matter is that we should not assume that we have all the truth and that we are mistaken in nothing. Rather we should kneel in adoration before the pierced feet of Him who is the Truth and honor Him by humble obedience to His words.

The first principle and condition of divine guidance is a surrendered spirit. Next, there must be a readiness to obey. He will not give us light unless we mean to follow it.

~A. W. Tozer~

Love Songs Across the Storm

He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering. (Gen 41:52)
The summer showers are falling. The poet stands by the window watching them. They are beating and buffeting the earth with their fierce downpour. But the poet sees in his imaginings more than the showers which are falling before his eyes. He sees myriads of lovely flowers which shall be soon breaking forth from the watered earth, filling it with matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:
“It isn’t raining rain for me, it’s raining daffodils; 
In every dimpling drop I see wild flowers upon the hills. 
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town; 
It isn’t raining rain for me: it’s raining roses down.”
Perchance some one of God’s chastened children is even now saying, "O God, it is raining hard for me tonight.
“Testings are raining upon me which seem beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are raining fast, to the utter defeat of all my chosen plans. Bereavements are raining into my life which are making my shrinking heart quiver in its intensity of suffering. The rain of affliction is surely beating down upon my soul these days.”
Withal, friend, you are mistaken. It isn’t raining rain for you. It’s raining blessing. For, if you will but believe your Father’s Word, under that beating rain are springing up spiritual flowers of such fragrance and beauty as never before grew in that stormless, unchastened life of yours.
You indeed see the rain. But do you see also the flowers? You are pained by the testings. But God sees the sweet flower of faith which is upspringing in your life under those very trials.
You shrink from the suffering. But God sees the tender compassion for other sufferers which is finding birth in your soul.
Your heart winces under the sore bereavement. But God sees the deepening and enriching which that sorrow has brought to you.
It isn’t raining afflictions for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Spirit, which are bringing into your life such a spiritual enrichment as all the fullness of worldly prosperity and ease was never able to beget in your innermost soul.
—J. M. McC.
“A harp stood in the moveless air,
Where showers of sunshine washed a thousand fragrant blooms;
A traveler bowed with loads of care
Essayed from morning till the dusk of evening glooms 
To thrum sweet sounds from the songless strings;
The pilgrim strives in vain with each unanswering chord, 
Until the tempest’s thunder sings,
And, moving on the storm, the fingers of the Lord 
A wondrous melody awakes;
And though the battling winds their soldier deeds perform, 
Their trumpet-sound brave music makes
While God’s assuring voice sings love across the storm”

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Godhead Never Works Separately

"We will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23)

What we have in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is Deity present among us. He is not God's messenger only; He is God. He is God in contact with His creatures, doing in them and among them a saving and renewing work.

The Persons of the Godhead never work separately. We dare not think of them in such a way as to "divide" the substance.
 Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two. He cannot divide Himself.

Where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. "We will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). For the accomplishment of some specific work one Person may for the time be more prominent than the others are, but never is He alone. God is altogether present wherever He is present at all.

Jesus is the epitome of love, kindliness, geniality, warm attractiveness and sweetness. And that is exactly what the Holy Spirit is, for He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.


Unity In Worship If Not In Doctrine

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8)

Christianity is rarely found pure. Apart from Christ and His inspired apostles probably no believer or company of believers in the history of the world has ever held the truth in total purity.

One great saint believed that the truth is so vast and mighty that no one is capable of taking it all in, and that it requires the whole company of ransomed souls properly to reflect the whole body of revealed truth.

The Spirit always says the same thing to whomsoever He speaks and altogether without regard to passing doctrinal emphases or theological vogues. He flashed the beauty of Christ upon the wondering heart, and the awed spirit receives it with a minimum of interference.

No single doctrinal principle is important enough to displace the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the one name that alone should dominate His Church. It is not union but unity that God wants, and that is a matter of life and love.

~A. W. Tozer~

Demons Are Our Major Enemy

1 Corinthians 10:20-21

(20) Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. (21) You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord"s table and of the table of demons.
New King James Version   

To use Paul's analogy, our spiritual diet must not be a mixture of true and false doctrines. In this area of life, a mixture produces nothing good (James 3:11-12). We must make every effort to separate the true food from the false if we are to grow and qualify for the Kingdom of God. This is a responsibility that falls on each of us—we cannot leave it to others! We must acknowledge the source of the false teaching—Satan, his demons, and his false ministers—to truly appreciate the seriousness of heresy.

Like Peter, Paul warns about heresies within the church: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:1). The Greek word planos, translated as "deceiving" (NKJV) or "seducing" (KJV), is the same word from which we derive the English word "planet." It conveys the idea of wandering. To the astronomers of ancient Greece, the planets appeared to wander in a heaven populated by other, relatively fixed lights. Thus, evil spirits induce people to wander from the true path of God's Word. These are the principalities and powers against which we wrestle (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Heresy is not always easily detected because Satan usually camouflages the lie with a large measure of truth. He is a master of deceit. Because the world is so ignorant of God, Satan can tell them virtually anything, and they will believe it. But with us he generally does not directly challenge or obviously and blatantly misquote Scripture. His confrontation with Jesus, beginning in Matthew 4:1, is a classic example. He subtly twists the intent of a scripture to bend it into a wrong application or understanding. At other times, he will appeal to our vanity to get us to react to his suggestions without thinking.

The Bible gives only a few specific doctrines with which seducing spirits, heresy or false ministers are directly associated. However, do not be fooled that so few doctrines are directly mentioned with the word "heresy" attached. No doctrine is sacrosanct to demons. They will attack the people of God in any spiritual area. The Bible makes it very clear that demons are our major, major enemies, and deception that leads us into sin is their game!

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Monday, July 27, 2015

Trinity In Unity

"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7)

Among the important writings which appeared [in the fourth century] is the Athanasian Creed. It was written as an attempt to state in as few words as possible what the Bible teaches about the nature of God; and this it has done with a comprehensiveness and precision hardly matched anywhere in the literature of the world. Here are a few quotations bearing on the deity of the Holy Spirit:

"There is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Spirit."

"But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal."

"And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another." 

"But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal. So that in all things, as is afore said: the Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped."

The Holy Spirit came to carry the evidence of Christianity from the books of apologetics into the human heart.


The Godhead Of The Spirit

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter ... even the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16-17)

In her sacred hymnody the Church has freely acknowledged the Godhead of the Spirit and in her inspired song she has worshiped Him with joyous abandon. Some of our hymns to the Spirit have become so familiar that we tend to miss their true meaning.

In the poetical words of Fredrick Faber I have found a hymn to the Holy Spirit which I would rank among the finest ever written:

Fountain of Love! Thyself true God!
Who through eternal days
From Father and from Son hast flowed
In uncreated ways!

I dread Thee, Unbegotten Love!
True God! sole Fount of Grace!
And now before Thy blessed throne
My sinful self abase.

O Light! O Love! O very God
I dare no longer gaze
Upon Thy wondrous attributes
And their mysterious ways.

The Holy Spirit is a Being dwelling in another mode of existence. He nevertheless exists as surely as you exist.

~A. W. Tozer~

Be Kind Toward All - An Apt Teacher - Patient (and Other devotionals)

And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)

When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.

The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.

Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.

So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.

“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

~L. B. Cowman~


1 John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.
There is no light in the planet but that which proceedeth from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which cometh from the Lord Jesus himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love Him for no other reason than because He first loved us. Our love to Him is the fair offspring of His love to us. Cold admiration, when studying the works of God, anyone may have, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God's Spirit. How great the wonder that such as we should ever have been brought to love Jesus at all! How marvellous that when we had rebelled against Him, He should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. No! never should we have had a grain of love towards God unless it had been sown in us by the sweet seed of His love to us. Love, then, has for its parent the love of God shed abroad in the heart: but after it is thus divinely born, it must be divinely nourished. Love is an exotic; it is not a plant which will flourish naturally in human soil, it must be watered from above. Love to Jesus is a flower of a delicate nature, and if it received no nourishment but that which could be drawn from the rock of our hearts it would soon wither. As love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly bread. It cannot exist in the wilderness unless it be fed by manna from on high. Love must feed on love. The very soul and life of our love to God is His love to us.

"I love thee, Lord, but with no love of mine,
For I have none to give;
I love thee, Lord; but all the love is thine,
For by thy love I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in thee."

~Charles Spurgeon~


Too Busy for the Great Commission?

by Chuck Swindoll

If you were to do a little fun research to discover the sheer quantity of activities that happen each day in America, you'd be amazed. Consider, for example, the number of cups of coffee consumed, the number of babies born, the number of people who take a taxi, bury a pet, get divorced, go to the hospital, watch prime-time television, ride on an airplane, and go to school.

So what? That's trivia, right? When you multiply all those things by 365, you get the general idea that there's a fair amount of energy, money, activity, and trauma going on in a year's time. And that's just in America - representing only a portion of the world's population. We may not be big, but we're busy. In fact, we are so busy it's easy to get selfishly swept up in the whirlwind of our own little playground sandwiched between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans . . . blessed beyond measure and rich beyond comparison.

Every so often it's helpful to stop the annual merry-go-round, get off, look objectively, and think clearly. It's not only helpful, it's essential for the Christian. In this circus-like American lifestyle of ours, we tend to be deafened by the blare of our own band and blinded by the lights of our own spots, shining - always shining - on the ring of our own choice.

That needs to change. We need to hear the voice of the Ringmaster as He raises His hand to stop the band:

"We interrupt this program to bring all of you a reminder that the world in which you live is not the whole world . . . but only a very small part of the world for which I died."

The Great Commission is still "the Great Commission," not "The Limited Agreement for My Corner of America." He still looks out across a wide world and weeps over men and women and children who do not know - have never heard - His healing, life-giving Name.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Two Shall Become One

"A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ... and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26)

How can one personality enter another? The candid reply would be simply that we do not know, but a near approach to an understanding may be made by a simple analogy borrowed from the old devotional writers of several hundred years ago.

We place a piece of iron in a fire and blow up the coals. At first we have two distinct substances, iron and fire. When we insert the iron in the fire we achieve the penetration of the iron and we have not only the iron in the fire but the fire in the iron as well. Two distinct substances... have co-mingled and interpenetrated to a point where the two have become one.

In some such manner does the Holy Spirit penetrate our spirits. In the whole experience we remain our very selves. There is no destruction of substance. Each remains a separate being as before; the difference is that now the Spirit penetrates and fills our personalities and we are experientially one with God.

The Christian is in correspondence with God. He walks "in newness of life." Indeed, the deeper walk of the Holy Spirit in sanctification quickens every spiritual sense.


The Holy Spirit is God

"I will put my spirit within you ... and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27)

How shall we think of the Holy Spirit? The Bible declares that He is God. Every quality belonging to Almighty God is freely attributed to Him. All that God is, the Spirit is declared to be. The Spirit of God is one with and equal to God just as the spirit of a man is equal to and one with the man.

The historic Church when she formulated her "rule of faith" boldly wrote into her confession her belief in the Godhood of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles' Creed witnesses to faith in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit and makes no difference between the three.  The fathers who composed the Nicene Creed testified in a passage of great beauty to their faith in the deity of the Spirit:

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.

All that the Son is the Holy Spirit is, and all that the Father is the Holy Spirit is, and the Holy Spirit is in His Church.

~A. W. Tozer~

Our Personal Faithfulness and Endurance

Revelation 3:10

(10) Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
New King James Version   

Before examining this promise, it may be helpful to understand what it does not say. Note how conventional wisdom would paraphrase this verse:
Because you consider yourself to be a Philadelphian, and because you are with the church organization that is doing the most to preach the gospel to the world, I will keep you from the hour of trial and will take you to the Place of Safety where you will be protected while all those who disagree with you will go through the Tribulation.
"Conventional wisdom" is not actually wisdom! It is what is generally held to be true by many, yet it may, in fact, be fallacious. This rendering of Revelation 3:10 is the conventional wisdom in some circles, illustrating how many take narcissistic liberties with this verse. It also shows why there is such an emphasis today on which church group is the best: because we are averse to pain and tend to try to avoid it. Thus, some convince themselves that they will be safe from what lies ahead because they are with the rightchurch—rather than being right with God. This is extremely dangerous, as it indicates that they trust in the wrong thing.

The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are written in large part from a perspective of "if the shoe fits, wear it." In each, Jesus concludes with "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches"—plural—meaning we should glean all that we can from each letter rather than focus on our favorite one.

In this light, a way to approach Revelation 3:10 is that perseverance is part of what Christ uses to define who a Philadelphian is. Thus, an individual is a Philadelphian because he keeps His command to persevere, in addition to exemplifying the other things He says, such as keeping His Word and not denying His name (Revelation 3:8). In short, a person cannot conclude that, just because he is fellowshipping with a particularly faithful group, he will be carried along in its positive momentum and benefit from the promise of protection and other blessings. An unfaithful individual in an overall faithful group will reap what hesows, not what the rest of the group sows.

Christ says similar things in other places, as in Matthew10:22: "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (emphasis ours throughout). He makes no mention of group membership but addresses the enduring individual. Similarly, in Matthew 24:12-13 and Luke 21:36, He emphasizes what we do as individuals—our personal faithfulness and endurance—rather than the merits of a particular group. Just as Laodiceanism can be found in each of us regardless of the church we attend, so each of us can persevere and courageously endure no matter where we fellowship.

~David C. Grabbe~

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Knowing or Knowing About?

"For I know when I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12)

In religion more than in any other field of human experience a sharp distinction must always be made between "knowing about" and "knowing." The distinction is the same as between knowing about food and actually eating it. A man can remain spiritually dead while know all the historic facts of Christianity.

"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). We have but to introduce one extra word into this verse to see how vast is the difference between knowing about and knowing. "This is life eternal, that they might know "about" thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

That one word makes all the difference between life and death.

We dare not conclude that because we learn about the Spirit we for that reason actually know Him. Knowing Him comes only by a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit Himself.

The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds.


Who Is The Holy Spirit?

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things" (John 14:26)

How shall we think of the Holy Spirit? The Bible and Christian theology agree to teach that He is a Person, endowed with every quality of personality, such as emotion, intellect and will. He knows, He wills, He loves; He feels affection, antipathy and compassion. He thinks, sees, hears, and speaks and performs any act of which personality is capable.

One quality belonging to the Holy Spirit, of great interest and importance to every seeking heart, is penetrability. He can penetrate the mind; He can penetrate another spirit, such as the human spirit. He can achieve complete penetration of and actual intermingling with the human spirit. He can invade the human heart and make room for Himself without expelling anything essentially human. The integrity of the human personality remains unimpaired. Only moral evil is forced to withdraw.

By nature we are in correspondence with sin; but by union with Christ in His death and resurrection and by the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are out of correspondence with it ... [and] dead alike to its presence and power.

~A. W. Tozer~

Why Is It?

"An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes!" Psalm 36:1

Why is it that, today, the masses are so utterly unconcerned about spiritual and eternal things, and that they are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?
Why is it that defiance of God is becoming more open, more blatant, more daring?
Why is it that even among those who profess to be the Lord's people, that there is so little real subjection to His Word, and that its precepts are so lightly esteemed and so readily set aside?

The answer is, because "There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Romans 3:18
Ah! what needs to be stressed today--is that God is a God to be feared! Happy is the person who has been awed by a view of God's majesty, who has had a vision of . . .

  God's unutterable greatness,
  His ineffable holiness,
  His perfect righteousness,
  His irresistible power,
  His sovereign grace!

Time was, when it was the general custom to speak of a believer as "a God-fearing man". That such an appellation has become extinct, only serves to show where we have drifted. Nevertheless, it still stands written, "Like as a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him!" Psalm 103:13

When we speak of godly fear, of course, we do not mean a servile fear, such as prevails among the heathen in connection with their gods. No! We mean that spirit which Jehovah is pledged to bless, that spirit to which the prophet referred when he said, "To this man will I look--even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2

Nothing will foster this godly fear, like a recognition of the sovereign majesty of God!

"I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you--this is the One to fear!" Luke 12:4-5
"Our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29
"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 1

~A. W. Pink~


Romans 14:8
We live unto the Lord.
If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, He might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the center of their hopes in heaven? The answer is-they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the "salt of the earth," to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as "workers together with Him." Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to "the praise of the glory of His grace." Meanwhile we long to be with Him, and daily sing-

"My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
'Rise up, and come away.'"0:31

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, July 24, 2015

Walk In the Spirit

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them ... who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1)

The idea of the Spirit held by the average church member is so vague as to be nearly nonexistent. When he thinks of the matter at all he is likely to try to imagine a nebulous substance like a wisp of invisible smoke which is said to be present in churches and to hover over good people when they are dying.

Now, how should we think of the Holy Spirit? A full answer might well run into a dozen volumes. We can at best only point to the "gracious unction from above" and hope that the reader's own desire may provide the necessary stimulus to urge him on to know the blessed Third Person for himself.

If I read aright the record of Christian experience through the years, those who most enjoyed the power of the Spirit have had the least to say about Him by way of attempted definition. The Bible saints who walked in the Spirit never tried to explain Him.

We will never understand the Holy Spirit so long as we terminate our thought upon Him. The Scriptures always lead us on beyond every subjective experience to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.


Knowing By Experience

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mind eyes; cease to do evil" (Isaiah 1:16)

In post-biblical times many who were filled and possessed by the Spirit were by the limitations of their literary gifts prevented from telling us much about Him. They had no gifts for self-analysis but lived withing in uncritical simplicity.

To them the Holy Spirit was One to be loved and fellowshiped the same as the Lord Jesus Himself. They would have been lost completely in any metaphysical discussion of the nature of the Spirit, but they had no trouble in claiming the power of the Spirit for holy living and fruitful service.

This is as it should be.

Personal experience must always be first in real life. Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than mere knowledge by description, and the first does not presuppose the second nor require it.

Happy is the man who will not allow himself to be diverted and distracted, but having emptied and cleansed his heart, will stand waiting for Christ to descend, fill and ever remain as the glorious indweller of the soul.

~A. W. Tozer~