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 Oswald Chambers ~ The Psychology of Faith I

[b]1. The Constitution of Faith[/b]

[i]And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him. (Hebrews 11:6 rv)

There is not possible a normal healthy human being apart from religious faith. Faith claims the whole man and all God’s grace can make him.[/i]
Forsyth*

The conception of faith given in the New Testament is that it must embrace the whole man. Faith is not a faculty, faith is the whole man rightly related to God by the power of the Spirit of Jesus. We are apt to apply faith to certain domains of our lives only—we have faith in God when we ask Him to save us, or ask Him for the Holy Spirit, but we trust something other than God in the actual details of our lives. “Faith claims the whole man and all that God’s grace can make him,” just as it claimed the whole of our Lord’s life. Our Lord represents the normal man, not the average man, but the man according to God’s norm. His life was not cut up into compartments, one part sacred and another secular, it was not in any way a mutilated life. Jesus Christ was concentrated on one line, viz., the will of His Father, in every detail of His life. That is the normal standard for each of us, and the miracle of the Gospel is that He can put us into the condition where we can grow into the same image. Our Lord lived His life not in order to show how good He was, but to give us the normal standard for our lives. The life He lived is made ours by means of His death; by the gift of the Holy Spirit and obedience to Him. We are put into the relationship to God that Jesus had—“that they may be one, even as We are one.”

Faith is a tremendously active principle of trust in Jesus which is ready to venture on every word He speaks: “Lord, Thou hast said (e.g., Matthew 6:33: ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’); it looks mad, but I am going to venture on it; I will sink or swim on Thy word.” We cannot have faith in every word of Jesus whenever we think we will. The Holy Spirit brings a word of Jesus to our remembrance and applies it to the circumstances we are in, and the point is, will we obey that particular word? We may have seen Jesus and known His power and yet never have ventured out in faith on Him. Faith must be tested because only through conflict can head-faith be turned into a personal possession. Faith according to Jesus must have its object real, no one can worship an ideal. We cannot have faith in God unless we know Him in Jesus Christ. God is a mere abstraction to our outlook until we see Him in Jesus and hear Him say, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” then we have something to build upon and faith becomes boundless.

[b]2. Faith and Confusing Issues[/b]

[i]Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17; see vv. 17-20)

An inadequate theory of faith distorts practice.[/i]
Forsyth*

The Apostle James continually says, “If you have faith prove it by your life.” Experience is never the ground of my faith; experience is the evidence of my faith. Many of us have had a marvellous experience of deliverance from sin and of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, not a fictional experience, but a real experience whereby we prove to our amazement every day that God has delivered us, then comes the danger that we pin our faith to our experience instead of to Jesus Christ, and if we do, faith becomes distorted. When the baptism of the Holy Ghost came upon the early disciples it made them the written epistles of what they taught, and it is to be the same with us. Our experience is the proof that our faith is right. Jesus Christ is always infinitely mightier than our faith, mightier than our experience, but our experience will be along the line of the faith we have in Him. Have we faith to bear this testimony to those who know us—that we are what we are because of our faith in Jesus? We have faith in Jesus to save us, but do we prove that He has saved us by living a new life? I say I believe that Jesus can do this and that; well, has He done it? “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Are we monuments of the grace of God, or do we only experience God’s supernatural power in our work for Him? Extraordinary spiritual experiences spring from something wrong in the life, you never get the exquisite simple faith in God along any special line of experience, but only along the common line of regeneration through faith in Jesus. Be sceptical of any revelation that has not got as its source the simplicity by means of which a “babe” can enter in, and which a “fool” can express. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

[b]3. Faith and Consecrated Issues[/b]

[i]. . . work out your own salvation.[/i] (Philippians 2:12)

[i]The normal course of all religious experience is expansion followed by concentration.[/i]
Forsyth*

When God gives a vision of what sanctification means or what the life of faith means, we have instantly to pay for the vision, and we pay for it by the inevitable law that “expansion must be followed by concentration.” That means we must concentrate on the vision until it becomes real. Over and over again the vision is mistaken for the reality. God’s great Divine anticipation can only be made manifest by our human participation, these two must not be put asunder. Every expansion of brain and heart that God gives in meetings or in private reading of the Bible must be paid for inevitably and inexorably by concentration on our part, not by consecration. God will continually bring us into circumstances to make us prove whether we will work out with determined concentration what He has worked in. If you have had a vivid religious experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, what are you going to do with it? We are sanctified by God’s grace and made one with Jesus in order that we might sanctify our holiness to God as Jesus did. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself” (John 17:19). There is no difficulty in getting sanctified if my will and affections have at their heart the earnest desire for God’s glory. If I am willing for God to strangle in me the thing that makes me everlastingly hanker after my own point of view, my own interests, my own whiteness—if I am willing for all that to be put to death, then the God of peace will sanctify me wholly. Sanctification means a radical and absolute identification with Jesus until the springs of His life are the springs of my life. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

The great need to-day is for Christians to toe the line: “And the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:23). Unless Christians are facing up to God’s commands there is no use pushing forward to meet the life of our time. Jesus wants us to face the life of our time in the power of the Holy Ghost. Do we proclaim by our lives, by our thinking, by our faith in God, that Jesus Christ is sufficient for every problem life can present? that there is no force too great for Him to cope with and overcome? If our faith is not living and active it is because we need reviving; we have a faith that is limited by certain doctrines instead of being the faith of God.

The Apostle Paul is always tremendously practical, he comes right down to where we live, he says we must work out the salvation God has worked in.“All power is given unto Me,” said Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit’s presence we can do those things which please God—are we doing them? By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can bring every thought and imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and can keep this body the chaste temple of the Holy Ghost—are we doing it? By the power of the Holy Spirit we can keep our communications with other people the exact expression of what God is working in us—are we doing it? The proof that we have a healthy vigorous faith is that we are expressing it in our lives, and bearing testimony with our lips as to how it came about.

There is no end to the life of faith; sanctification itself is only the ABC of the Christian life. The life of Jesus from Bethlehem onwards is a picture of the sanctified life, and anything that would make our souls stagnate produces a distortion. It is a continual learning, but not of the same lesson, if we have to be taught the same lesson it is because we have been very stupid. God will bring us into circumstances and make us learn the particular lessons He wants us to learn, and slowly and surely we will work out all that He works in. There is no patience equal to the patience of God.

*Peter Taylor Forsyth (1848-1921) was a British Congregationalist minister and theologian. Chambers read many of Forsyth’s books and valued his insights.


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 2006/7/27 8:49Profile
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 Re: Oswald Chambers ~ The Psychology of Faith II

[b]The Psychology of Faith II[/b]

[b]1. Faith and the Son of God[/b]

[i]. . . looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.[/i] (Hebrews 12:2 rv)

[i]He fought the battle, He proved the possibility of victory, He shewed us the place and revealed to us the secret of the power.[/i]
Forsyth

Jesus Christ is the Captain of our faith; He has gained the victory, consequently for us Satan is a conquered foe. When we are sanctified and have become “His brethren” we are put, not in the place of the first Adam, but in the place of the last Adam, where we live by the power and might of the faith of the Son of God. We have to get rid of the idea that because Jesus was God He could not be tempted. Almighty God cannot be tempted, but in Jesus Christ we deal with God as man, a unique Being—God-Man. It was as Son of Man that “He fought the battle, and proved the possibility of victory.” After His Baptism, Satan, by the direct permission of the Holy Ghost, tested the faith of Jesus: “And straightway the Spirit driveth Him forth into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12 rv). Satan broke what Adam held straight off; but he could not break what Jesus held in His person though he tested Him in every conceivable way; therefore having Himself suffered being tempted, “He is able to succour them that are tempted.”

When we are born again we get our first introduction into what God calls temptation. When we are sanctified we are not delivered from temptation, we are loosened into it; we are not free enough before either morally or spiritually to be tempted. Immediately we become His “brethren” we are free, and all these subtleties are at work. God does not shield any man or woman from any requirements of a full-grown man or woman. Luke 22:28 (“But ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations”) presents Our Lord’s view of His life as Man, viz., as one of temptations, not triumphs. When we are born again the Son of God is submitted to temptations in our individual lives, are we remaining loyal to Him in His temptations in us? When temptation comes, stand absolutely true to God no matter what it costs you, and you will find the onslaught leaves you with affinities higher and purer than ever before. Temptation overcome is the transfiguration of the natural into the spiritual and the establishment of conscious affinity with the purest and best.

[b]2. Faith and the Sons of God[/b]

[i]Beloved, now are we the sons of God.[/i] (1 John 3:2)

[i]Having been made sons of God does not absolve us from the lifelong task of actually making ourselves sons of God.[/i]
Forsyth

We have to take pains to make ourselves what God has taken pains to make us. You can take a horse to the trough, but you can’t make him drink; you can send your child to school, but you can’t make him study; and God can put a saint into a right relationship with Himself, but He cannot make him work out that relationship, the saint must do that himself. We must take the pains to make ourselves visibly all that God has made us invisibly. God alters our disposition, but He does not make our character. When God alters my disposition the first thing the new disposition will do is to stir up my brain to think along God’s line. As I begin to think, begin to work out what God has worked in, it will become character. Character is consolidated thought. God makes me pure in heart; I must make myself pure in conduct. This point of working things out in actuality is apt to be lost sight of.

The business of faith is to convert Truth into reality. What do you really believe? take time and catalogue it up; are you converting your belief into reality? You say, “I believe God has sanctified me”—does your actual life prove He has? “I believe God has baptised me with the Holy Ghost”—why? Because you had cold shivers and visions and marvellous times of prayer? The proof that we are baptised with the Holy Ghost is that we bear a strong family likeness to Jesus, and men take knowledge of us, as they did of the disciples after Pentecost, that we have been with Jesus, they recognise the family likeness at once. True justification can only result in sanctification. By justification God anticipates that we are holy in His sight†, and if we will obey the Holy Spirit we will prove in our actual life that God is justified in justifying us. Ask yourself—Is God justified in my justification? do I prove by the way I live and talk and do my work that God has made me holy? Am I converting God’s purpose in justifying me into actual experience, or only delighting in God’s anticipation? There is a great snare especially in evangelical circles of knowing the will of God as expressed in the Bible without the slightest practical working of it out in the life. The Christian religion is the most practical thing on earth. If the Holy Spirit has given you a vision in your private Bible study or during a meeting which made your heart glow, and your mind expand, and your will stir itself to grasp, you will have to pay to the last farthing in concentration along that line until all you saw in vision is made actual. During these past years there has been a terrific expansion in lives through bereavement and sorrow, everything in individual life has been altered, but there is the price to pay. The price is the same in national as in individual life.

The peculiar aspect of religious faith is that it is faith in a person who relates us to Himself and commits us to His point of view, not faith in a point of view divorced from relationship to a Person. “If you would know My doctrine,” said Jesus, “do My will.” Our Lord never teaches first by principles, but by personal relationship to Himself. When through His Redemption we become rightly related to Him personally, our hearts are unshakeably confident in Him. That is the Divine anticipation being participated in, the tremendous work of God’s supernatural grace being manifested in our mortal flesh.


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 2006/7/29 9:50Profile
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 Oswald Chambers ~ The Psychology of Faith III

[b]The Psychology of Faith III

1. Mental Belief[/b]

[i]But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.[/i] (John 1:12)

John 1:12-13 is a grand, mighty, all-embracing word—“to as many as received Him . . .” The way mental belief works is that it leads us to understand who Jesus Christ is and what He can do for us and in us. Jesus Christ is the normal Man, the Man according to God’s standard, and God demands of us the very holiness He exhibited.

A spiritually minded Christian has to go through the throes of a total mental readjustment; it is a God-glorifying process, if a humbling one. People continually say, “How can I have more faith?” You may ask for faith to further orders,* but you will never have faith apart from Jesus Christ. You can’t pump up faith out of your own heart. Whenever faith is starved in your soul it is because you are not in contact with Jesus; get in contact with Him and lack of faith will go in two seconds. Whenever Jesus Christ came across people who were free from the ban of finality* which comes from religious beliefs, He awakened faith in them at once. The only ones who were without faith in Him were those who were bound up by religious certitude. Faith means that I commit myself to Jesus, project myself absolutely on to Him, sink or swim—and you do both, you sink out of yourself and swim into Him. Faith is implicit confidence in Jesus and in His faith. It is one thing to have faith in Jesus and another thing to have faith about everything for which He has faith. Galatians 2:20 does not refer to the Apostle Paul’s elementary faith in Jesus as his Saviour, but to the faith of Jesus. He says that the identical faith that was in Jesus Christ, the faith that governed His life, the faith which Satan could not break, is now in him through identification with the death of Jesus; the faith that characterised Him now characterises Paul.

[b]2. Moral Belief[/b]

[i]Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.[/i] (Romans 6:6)

If we are honest and obedient, moral belief will follow mental belief very quickly. Am I poor enough, humble enough, and simple enough to believe in Jesus? Do I believe Him when He says that God will give me the Holy Spirit if I ask Him? If I do believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit on the authority of His word, then I will have to make a moral decision about all that the Holy Spirit reveals. He will reveal to me what sin is, and He will reveal that Jesus Christ can deliver me from sin if I will agree with God’s verdict on it in the Cross. Many of us do believe in Jesus, we have received the Holy Spirit and know we are children of God, and yet we won’t make the moral decision about sin, viz., that it must be killed right out in us. It is the great moment of our lives when we decide that sin must die right out, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. It is not done easily; it is only done by a moral wrench. We never understand the relation between a human life and the Cross of Christ until we perform a moral act and have the light of God thrown upon reality.

The transactions which tell in my life for God are moral decisions, not mental ones. I may think through everything there is in Christian doctrine and yet remain exactly the same; but I never make a moral decision and remain the same, and it is the moral decisions to which the Holy Spirit is always leading us on the basis of the Redemption. A moral decision is not a decision that takes time, one second is sufficient; what takes time is my stubborn refusal to come to the point of morally deciding. Here, where we sit, we can decide whether or not the Redemption shall take its full course in us. Once I decide that it shall, the great inrush of the Redemption takes efficacious effect immediately. There are times when the Holy Spirit does touch us, times when there are “flashes struck from midnight” and we see everything clearly, and that is where the danger comes in, because we are apt to let those touches pass off in sentimental ardour instead of making a moral decision. It is a sensible delight to feel God so near, but unless a moral decision is made you will find it much harder next time to pay attention to the touch when it comes. It is better to decide without the accompaniment of the glow and the thrill—better to decide in cold blood, when your own will is in the ascendant, deliberately swayed by the rulership of Christ.

[b]3. Mystic Belief[/b]

[i]For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.[/i] (Colossians 3:3)

Paul is not talking to disembodied spirits, he is talking to men and women who have been through identification with the death of Jesus and know that their “old man” is crucified with Him. If we are born again of the Holy Ghost, and have made the moral decision to obey what He reveals about sin, then we must go on to believe that God can enable us to live for His glory in any circumstances He places us in. You can always detect the right kind of belief in Jesus by a flesh-and-blood testimony. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Other people are not likely to confuse grapes with thorns, or figs with thistles. Mystic belief means that we enter into a conscious inheritance of what the Redemption has wrought for us, and daily, hourly, manifest the marvel of the grace of God in our actual lives. The majority of us “hang on” to Jesus Christ, we are thankful for the massive gift of salvation, but we don’t do anything towards working it out. That is the difficult bit, and the bit the majority of us fall in, because we have not been taught that that is what we have to do, consequently there is a gap between our religious profession and our actual practical living. To put it down to human frailty is a wiggle, there is only one word for it, and that is “humbug.” In my actual life I live below the belief which I profess. We can do nothing towards our salvation, but we can work out what God works in and the emphasis all through the New Testament is that God gives us sufficient energy to do it if we will. The great factor in Christian experience is the one our Lord continually brought out, viz., the reception of the Holy Spirit who does in us what He did for us, and slowly and surely our natural life is transformed into a spiritual life through obedience.

Oswald Chambers
[i]Conformed to His image.[/i]


*[u]to further orders[/u]: ad infinitum; endlessly; the phrase, military origin, continuing present action until one receives different orders


*[u]ban of finality[/u]: the limitation or “curse” of having one’s mind made up, unwilling to consider new information


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Mike Balog

 2006/7/31 9:24Profile
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 Re: Oswald Chambers ~ The Psychology of Faith III

[b]Sacramental Christianity[/b]

The word “sacramental” must be understood to mean the real presence of Christ being conveyed through the actual elements of the speech and natural life of a Christian. “Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men,” that is, confess with every part of me that —“Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” come, not only historically, but in my flesh.

[b]1. Sacramental Service[/b]

[i]But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom[mg] the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.[/i] (Galatians 6:14 rv)

By the Cross of Christ I am saved from sin; by the Cross of Christ I am sanctified; but I never am a sacramental disciple until I deliberately lay myself on the altar of the Cross, and give myself over emphatically and entirely to be actually what I am potentially in the sight of God, viz., a member of the Body of Christ. When I swing clear of myself and my own consciousness and give myself over to Jesus Christ, He can use me as a sacrament to nourish other lives. Most of us are on the borders of consciousness, consciously serving, consciously devoted to God; it is all immature, it is not the life yet. Maturity is the life of a child—a child is never consciously childlike—so abandoned to God that the thought of being made broken bread and poured-out wine no longer unseals the fountain of tears.

When you are consciously being used as broken bread and poured-out wine you are interested in your own martyrdom, it is consciously costing you something; when you are laid on the altar of the Cross all consciousness of self is gone, all consciousness of what you are doing for God, or of what God is doing through you, is gone. It is no longer possible to talk about “my experience of sanctification”; you are brought to the place where you understand what is meant by our Lord’s words, “Ye shall be My witnesses” (rv). Wherever a saint goes, everything he or she does becomes a sacrament in God’s hands, unconsciously to himself. You never find a saint being consciously used by God; He uses some casual thing you never thought about, which is the surest evidence that you have got beyond the stage of conscious sanctification, you are beyond all consciousness because God is taking you up into His consciousness; you are His, and life becomes the natural simple life of a child. To be everlastingly on the look-out to do some work for God means I want to evade sacramental service—“I want to do what I want to do.” Maintain the attitude of a child towards God and He will do what He likes with you. If God puts you on the shelf it is in order to season you. If He is pleased to put you in limited circumstances so that you cannot go out into the highways of service, then enter into sacramental service. Once you enter that service, you can enter no other.

[b]2. Sacramental Fellowship[/b]

[i]Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.[/i] (John 12:24)

If you are wondering whether you are going on with God, examine yourself in the light of these words. The more spiritually real I become, the less am I of any account, I become more and more of the nature of a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying in order that it may bring forth fruit. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I only decrease as He increases, and He only increases in me as I nourish His life by that which decreases me. Am I willing to feed the life of the Son of God in me? If so, then He increases in me. There is no pathos in John’s words, but delight, “Would to God I could decrease more quickly!” If a man attracts by his personality, then his appeal must come along the line of the particular work he wishes to do; but stand identified with the personality of your Lord, like John the Baptist, and the appeal is for His work to be done. The danger is to glory in men—“What a wonderful personality!” If when people get blessed they sentimentally “moon” around me, I am to blame because in my heart I lay the flattering unction to myself that it is because of my way of putting things they begin to idealise the one who should be being made broken bread and poured-out wine for them. Beware of stealing souls for whom Christ died for your own affectionate wealth.

[b]3. Sacramental Responsibility[/b]

[i]Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church.[/i] (Colossians 1:24 rv)

By “sacramental responsibility” understand the solemn determination to keep myself notably my Lord’s, and to treat as a subtle temptation of the devil the call to take on any responsibility that conflicts with my determined identification with His interests. God’s one great interest in men is that they are redeemed; am I identifying myself with that interest? Notice where God puts His disapproval on human experiences, it is when we begin to adhere to our conception of what sanctification is, and forget that sanctification itself has to be sanctified. When we see Jesus we will be ashamed of our deliberately conscious experience of sanctification, that is the thing that hinders Him, because instead of other people seeing Jesus in me, they see “me” and not Jesus. We have to be sacramental elements in His hands, not only in word but in actual life. After sanctification it is difficult to state what your aim in life is, because God has taken you up into His purposes. The design for God’s service is that He can use the saint as His hands or His feet. Jesus taught that spiritually we should “grow as the lilies,” bringing out the life that God blesses.

[i]Conformed to His image[/i]


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Mike Balog

 2006/8/5 15:28Profile





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