Santa Clara, CA
| Today's Gospel and the cost|
A preface before the preface. By a check it appears this was started about mid December and is a reflection of [i]"Where my head is\was at"[/i], to borrow a phrase from a beloved brother here, [i]"I don't always agree with myself!"[/i] So taken in that construct, hope that it is challenged where necessary, corrected, rebuked, the flaws pointed out etc. Decided against polishing it and surely much is mere opinion, that which is becoming more and more a sort of indigestion anyway. Truth is all that matters, all that is needed. With some trembling...
Started this weeks ago. Was tempted to extract out this first part, these rather personal pleadings for it has been many days since and am now more or less at rest from the destruction of the moments and they were continual. Am not too fond of just putting forth prayers to God outright into the public for any number of reasons. It seemed best to allow them here.
[i]Staring at a blank page with tear less eye's, they are gone, evaporated into thin air. Oh but I would cry if I only could. Heaviness awaits me, avails me, the prayer closet has become an inner wailing, a crushing, a crucification. Morning after mourning I awake, close the door and it is there, instantly, the olive press of the soul, a tearing of the inner robe, a grinding and a fire and a sword. And not one word of this comes close to an expression, human words fail, groanings that cannot be uttered.
Will I plead for You O Lord to withold Your hand?, No. It must go through, I must go in and not come out, perfecting Holiness in the fear of the Lord. And yet what has this to do with me? Nothing. Nothing of the sort, there can be no other explanation, for it seems I could but turn away and be comforted, that this could stop in a moment and yet it would be regret and failure, to not allow You this vessel which You created to do as Thou will.[/i]
How to speak out from this perplexity? It is but seemingly a few gut wrenching realities. The Lord is grieved deeply, it must be so, O Father give me words to speak! Make me a man of no opinion, let my thoughts not leaven Yours. Your people, who are called by Your Holy Name...
Where is the fear of the Lord?
Was found out by just this;
Joe 2:11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
[b][u]Do we believe this[/u][/b].
Joe 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
Joe 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
The fabric of the heart, do we know this cost?
Joe 2:14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
Joe 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
Solemnity. What is it to sanctify a fast?
Joe 2:16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
Joe 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
Who is it that is to come out? Seems no question as to who is to go in, into the closet, into the furnace, into travail and the olive press of the soul. But how many willing? Any able to stay awake and watch, watch the Savior's agony, ponder the imponderable, what is it to;
[i]And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground[/i].
Pray more earnestly?
What kind of agony breaks the capillaries?
What of this cost?
[i]"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish'. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple".[/i]
We must do away with this modern day falsehood, this telling people lies to 'win them to the Lord'. We are winning nobody and standing in the way of the truth in order to assuage the guiltiness of the rebellious, to make things 'easier' when there is nothing easy about it. We are more guilty than they, for they know not and we ought to know better. How is it that this spurious and contrary idea has infiltrated the gospel? Has the modern man become so enlightened that he has surpassed the Lords own words? [b][i]Cannot be my disciple[/i][/b]? [b]Hate[/b]? Strong words indeed.
We would be better off telling people to stay away from this Jesus than to use this sentimental language of '[i]Accepting Him as your "personal Saviour"[/i]'. It is becoming repulsive to hear it anymore, why does that always sound more like "Your personal [b][u]servant[/u][/b]?
20 to 30 years ago that old sage, that firebrand of a man, Leonard Ravenhill, was asked what he thought the biggest problem of the times was. It was almost strange to hear it, but two things; One, that we do not know Who God is. And the other? That [u]evangelism[/u] was the biggest problem of the day. Not all the sin and moral deprivations, but the church, that it was [i]our[/i] fault.
[i]Evangelism?[/i] Imagine that! And where are we today, some 25 years removed? Better? With so many treating Gods word as if it was something akin to clipping coupons out of a newspaper, bargains, deals, discounts, savings...
[u][b]" If any man come to me"[/b][/u]
"[i]Come to me[/i]"?
How does this measure up against "Inviting Jesus into your heart"?
Are you sure you want that? More so, this;
... [i]and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also,[/i] ... [i]And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me[/i] ...[i]whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath[/i]...
[b]Cannot[/b]. That is a strong word, where on earth did this idea ever come about that there is no cost? A couple of things that I just cannot get away from, that repeat themselves over and over again;
[u][b]"Feed My sheep"[/b][/u]
Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
But withhold the food?;
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
I wonder if we truly have any idea of just what this means.
Joh 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
How indeed! How is it that this can be quickly dodged by not even allowing the question to come forth, lest '[i]they be offended[/i]'?
Joh 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have [u]no life[/u] in you.
Two "Verily, verily's" in the same context.
"Ye have no life in you"
"Cannot be My disciple"
"Believeth on Me"
Believe what? This is not measuring up very well...
"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: [b]so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.[/b] This is that bread which came down from heaven: [b]not as your fathers did eat[/b] manna, and are [b]dead[/b]: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. Joh 6:54-58
Joh 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
How many will even [i]speak it[/i] in this day?
Joh 6:61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, [b]Doth this offend you?[/b]
There it is, there is the rub. Why is it seemingly that if anything the Lord was practically trying to do the opposite of what this day and age is attempting; 'Seeker sensitive' ? [i]"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."[/i] Matthew's telling only gets worse; [i]For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [b]And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.[/b] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me[/i] Mat 10:34-37
Know any of this, any of this cost? Been quietly shunned by your own family? Mocked? Hated? Tolerated perhaps, and self- righteousness will make you everybody's enemy, but a quiet disposition, a prayerful life can bring a lot of grief. The scripture is true; "..[i] to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life[/i]." To be sure this is but light affliction and a humbling of character, you could live in China or Saudi Arabia.
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
"But there are some of you that believe not". For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father". Joh 6:64,65
[i]"that no man can come unto me"[/i]
Seems to challenge saying a simple prayer, accepting Jesus into your heart, "[u]making[/u] Him one's own 'personal'....
"Except" ... [i] it were given unto him of my Father[/i].
Something confounding here. What is it that is given? Salvation? Surely Jesus was given, ... [i]gave His only Son[/i],
[i]He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was [b]upon him[/b][/i]; (and with [b]his[/b] stripes we are healed) Isa 53:3-5 Let us not rush into the healing just yet.
This 'exception' seems to lead right into the other burden and bearing down of late. It as well has been replaying over and over again in my mind and it comes in a form of a question; What was it that truly happened to those that turned on the day of Pentecost? Let that percolate for a moment while continuing John's recording of the Lords words and actions;
Joh 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
How much can be measured from this incredible statement? How gut wrenching is that and how compatible with precisely what our day is presenting. Why were they following Him in the first place? What does this say about the never ending discussion about 'Once saved always saved'? These were His [i]disciples[/i] it says. Quite willing to follow along, see wonderful miracles, hear the rebuke to the Pharisees, all these great things [i]until[/i] he started talking about what? Cost. "[i]From that time many...[/i]" And how many in our day, if and when this is brought to their attention.
Hopefully it will be sooner than later. This is the reality that hit's those that are awakened out of the cults, out of 'word of faith' constructs, out of 'seeker sensitive', cleverly manipulated approaches from fallen man's ideas. It is just stupefying to think that this is being shelved and in it's place we have somehow made Jesus to be someone other than Who He is and changed His own Words to be more palatable as to not offend anybody. Where did the Lord ever play to the crowd, size them up and determine His approach? Joh 8:38 [i]I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with [u]your father[/u].[/i]
The question comes up, could we present this just as it is without any commentary, any additions or subtractions and finish it with the same words He Himself spoke:
Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Once heard a wonderful message, well, wonderful in the sense that it was true, that how often the Lord seemed to be off putting towards many, the opposite of what clever men are now doing. He was largely [i][u]offending[/u][/i] people everywhere He went and that is far removed from [b]being[/b] offensive as some can be just down right brutish, self-righteous, ignorant and arrogant. The truth of that matter is He provoked a response because He is Truth incarnate and often that undressing of the soul brings out all kinds of violent opposition. This just shatters the illusion of this cliché' ridden, sentimental claptrap, easy, effeminate, unoffensive retelling that is being done in large measure in this day ... no wonders Paul spoke of [i]another Jesus than the one we proclaimed[/i]
And just when we think it's over, that all that needs to be said has been said...
Then Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God". Joh 6:68-69
Not only believe, but [i]are sure[/i]. Take note of just this, especially in light of this day of self-assured, assurance insurance; Peter would yet still deny Him later on. But are we sure? If we are, then are we making sure those that hear, hear it [u]all[/u], know the cost, realize just what it is they are asking for, what it is they are "accepting"? And one more looming question; Can this be accomplished in a matter of minutes, with a quick 'said' prayer? "[i]Will ye also go away[/i]?"
Still more salt to be poured on the wound before this is finished;
Joh 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
So not only does it seem that one can believe and [i]be sure[/i], but apparently this is just the beginning, what is one to do with this as a response to "[i]we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God[/i]". Isn't this reminiscent of; "[i]Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.[/i]"? Jam 2:19 My goodness, this is relentless. How does this all square with our modern day approach? How fast would this get one thrown out on his ear for stating such a thing. "Just welcome the Lord Jesus into your heart and by the way, one of you is a devil"? The reality being that it should be said just as He said; "And you being evil... (which if we recall was spoken to his disciples towards the tail end of their asking Him to teach them how to [i]pray[/i]...) no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father". As an aside, [i]who[/i] did the choosing?
Which brings this back to the 'exception' and to Pentecost. What was it that brought forth such a great turning of mens souls on that day? Have been really thinking hard about this, not to be clever or 'profound' or eloquent or any such thing. What happened and why did it happen? And why in this day is it that most everything is directly in opposition to what happened there?
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
Already it seems there is parallels; "amazed and marvelled" is this unlike those who followed Jesus [i]to a point[/i] until He started talking about cost?
Act 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Wonderful! Honestly, what could be more thrilling in a way than to be in part of such a strange gathering, with all the different languages, to be confounded is surely a blessed thing when it is the Lord who is doing the confounding and not mere men programming a 'revival'.
But even this seems short lived;
"And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine". Act 2:12,13
Doubts, mocking. Different reactions, the whole 'group think' mentality easily spread and persuasive, surely a muddy mix in the multitudes. But is this what brought men and women to their senses? Again the parallels to those that followed Him as a curiosity; [i]Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man[/i]. Joh 2:23-25 Again, the force of those words "But Jesus did not [i]commit himself[/i] unto them...he knew all men...what was in man" Should we suppose this is any different now?
Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Act 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose...
The gift of 'suspicion' to borrow a brothers borrowed words.
Act 2:16-18 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
This, it seems is about as far as some are willing to go, a stopping point in the 'acceptance motif', but Peter goes on;
Act 2:19-21 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Interesting, depending on where one stops to insert comments how the emphasis 'changes'...
Act 2:22-24 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, [b]as ye yourselves also know[/b]: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, [b]ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:[/b]
This is some pretty heavy accusations Peter is leveling here. Individuals? "Ye" seems to be indicting the whole lot of them. What's the term? "Guilty by association?"
"[i]Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.[/i]"
This has always struck me, to really ponder this, the Lords resurrection in light of that.
| 2006/1/14 9:55||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Today's Gospel and the cost|
Act 2:25-28 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
The good news with the bad, thank God for that... But he is still not quite finished yet...
Act 2:29-35 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth [b]this[/b], which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
No mincing of words, no equivocation one way or the other and then the deciding blow;
Act 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, [b]whom ye have crucified[/b], both Lord and Christ.
There is that indictment once again, [i][b]Ye[/i][/b]
Everything building to a crisis, a crescendo. Everything here that I have attempted to bring forth in examination, what seems to be the expressed point of the whole matter and if I might so boldly put it, somewhere along the line this must take place in the heart of every true believer even if it is not 'initially', the "this" of [b][i]this[/i][/b];
Act 2:37 Now when they heard [b][i]this[/i][/b], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Isn't this the crux of our modern day gospel when it comes right down to it? The missing element, the very tension and non-confronting aspect of all the clichés' used in derision, "easy" "seeker" ... "[i]sensitive[/i]", there is just nothing [i]sensitive[/i] about it. If this is not brought to bare isn't there something of the sentiment expressed in Heb 6:6 "[i]...seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.[/i]" Better drawn out from John Gill;
[b]seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh;[/b][i]who is truly and properly God, begotten of the Father, and of the same nature with him, in whom he greatly delights; this is Christ's highest name and title; and it was for asserting himself to be the Son of God that he was crucified; and his being so puts an infinite virtue in his sufferings and death; and it heightens the sin of the Jews, and of these apostates, in crucifying him. He was once crucified, and it is both impossible and unnecessary that he should be, properly speaking, "crucified afresh", or "again"; it is impossible, because he is risen from the dead, and will never die more; it is unnecessary, because he has finished and completed what he suffered the death of the cross for; but men may be said to crucify him again, when, by denying him to be the Son of God, they justify the crucifixion of him on that account; and when they lessen and vilify the virtue of his blood and sacrifice; and when both by errors and immoralities they cause him to be blasphemed, and evil spoken of; and when they persecute him in his members: and this may be said to be done "to themselves afresh"; not that Christ was crucified for them before, but that they now crucify him again, as much as in them lies; or "with themselves", in their own breasts and minds, and to their own destruction. Now this being the case, it makes their renewal to repentance impossible; because, as before observed, the sin they commit is unpardonable; it is a denial of Christ, who gives repentance; and such who sin it must arrive to such hardness of heart as to admit of no repentance; and it is just with God to give up such to a final impenitence, as those, who knowingly and out of malice and envy crucified Christ, had neither pardon nor repentance; and besides, this sin of denying Christ to be the Son of God, and Saviour of men, after so much light and knowledge, precludes the way of salvation, unless Christ was to be crucified again, which is impossible; for so the Syriac version connects this clause with the word "impossible", as well as a foregoing one, rendering it, "it is impossible to crucify the Son of God again, and to put him to shame"; and so the Arabic version. Christ was put to open shame at the time of his apprehension, prosecution, and crucifixion; and so he is by such apostates, who, was he on earth, would treat him in the same manner the Jews did; and who do traduce him as an impostor and a deceiver, and give the lie to his doctrines, and expose him by their lives, and persecute him in his saints.[/i]
This exercise here, attempting to draw it all out, it's really long I know, time consuming, so much that seems needed to be spoken still. The rush to make 'converts' but not disciples as the Lord I do believe is after. What is the 'goal', what is it the [i]Lord[/i] seeks? Is it not; Joh 4:23 [i] But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for [u]the Father seeketh such[/u] to worship him.[/i]?
I am truly afraid of what it is anymore that is being postulated as the "Good news" when that very blessed and unimaginable reality is being presented like a pearl cast before the swine. There is no neat and tidy bow to wrap around all this, to draw it to a nice little completion and just as surely am preaching to the choir but compelled nonetheless. The hard truth and the remedy must go hand in hand and it is seemingly impossible to get around the verdict;
Act 2:38-40 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
And the results;
Act 2:41 [b]Then[/b] they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Last thought's. One of the most blessed truths is the realization that Jesus never had an opinion about anything. If we could but attain to the same mind in what we are attempting as opposed to a hundred fleshly 'helps', a thousand man derived programs, leading the fallen through the truth by the scriptures, to the truth of their condition of their hearts and [i]then[/i] to The Way, The Truth and The Light might we be better off? Rather than the reverse order that is being populated in this day? Would it not behoove us to stop with the "Say" this 'simple prayer' and pronounce the benediction of "You are saved brother\sister" and let the Lord speak it to their heart? Wouldn't that go a long way in silencing the whole argument about "Once saved always saved"? Wouldn't it be quite a bit ridiculous to even have to address that which becomes a challenge to a changed disposition? Wouldn't the retort be more in line with, 'Are you kidding?" Can a changed life be preoccupied with whether or not something quite miraculous indeed has transpired, isn't this rather a stupid question when it boils right down to it? What, did I by my own efforts lose the penchant towards a hundred sinful activities and feel a new sting and wounding when they now happen? As if you just hurt your closest friend? Did pulling up my bootstraps somehow transform a life of living after my own selfish lusts into loving the One who came to inhabit my very being? Do I strive to breath under normal circumstances?
By the way, do we really want these idle words repeated back into our ears on the day of judgment, that 'we' pronounced someone 'saved'? And what is it to give someone an assurance of something they may never have entirely grasped in the first place, talk about 'blood on your hands'. Is [i]this[/i] something we ought to be doing?
Is not the vast array of problems plaguing the modern day church due to all the meddling of men? Instead of leading them to Him we are too proud to want to take some credit for securing their souls, despite the clever shifting of words to the contrary. What if you never 'saw' a single soul delivered from the curse of this world? Not a soul saved, would it trouble you? The bigger question is, should it? It's a loaded question for sure, but am appealing to our pride, that repulsive first fruit of the devil. There is a maverick idea running about that puts far too much emphasis on the wrong things. It's not said out loud, but harbored under a dangerous illusion and it has hints of the same self willed trap, even if well intentioned;
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Is not the sentiment here "Look what we have done?" (In thy name as an addendum) "Have we not earned something here?" "We did it all for you, Lord" "Look at all the souls we have saved" (Well, not 'we' of course, addendum#2) "We used our S.H.A.P.E.", our purpose driven abilities (that You gave us, addendum#3) to win many converts, did you not see our altar calls? And what about our great conventions and healing crusades? We gave them the simple words that You said, to just believe on You and they are saved, we told them so and they confessed it with their lips, so we know they are saved. We have done quite well"
Too harsh here? Gone too far? And the Lord being compassionate and forgiving said;
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Something that is bound to come about as if one could hear the footsteps and outrage and the rebuttal...
A peculiar thing is happening in this day in both kingdoms, the exception to the rule has become the rule of exceptions. It cut's across many things. Abortion. What are the arguments (fallacious of course) that are often used? The exceptions, those who are raped, etc. Homosexuality. "Gay rights", and yet they make up less than 5% of the population (give them their way, 10%). And the church now has embraced the same exception mentality even, to be 'tolerant' in a quasi misapplication of truth, it is to leap frog over the now dirty word of responsibility in the name of 'compassion'. The society of men are bent on one thing only: Pleasure, at any and all costs. How mislead are we? The virtues of vice in days gone by, the 'usual' suspects have been swallowed whole by something that may have alluded our attention. Do we realize that it is not movies, recorded music, spectator sports, theme parks, video games that is the big dog on the block, it's [i]gambling[/i]! In 1998, just in America alone, $50 billion was spent on legalized gambling, more than all the others combined. That's 8 year old data! This is proliferating throughout the world and even New Orleans after all that happened wants to rebuild on this foundation of sand. Mega-Casinos with 'family friendly' environments, mega-churches borrowing techniques of the same motif and covering the ills and bankruptcy of the human heart with a nice gloss of paint that will not stick. The gambling of the world is becoming the gambling of souls. Another roll of the dice, a pull of the lever...
Entertainment, the idol of the ages and even the church has embraced it in a seeker sensitive attachment with the ways of the world to be as unoffensive as possible. Check that against the backdrop of all that precedes this. This taken from a pro-abortion site may well summarize the spirit of this age:
[u]Without Restriction as to Reason[/u]
"Forty-one percent of the world's people live in the 50 nations with the world's most liberal abortion laws - those that permit abortion without restriction as to reason. China, France, Guyana, South Africa, and the United States are among the nations that recognize that abortion is a woman's choice."
That header is a powerful statement that provides shelter and a covering to exceptionary rule, the new law of the land.
The difficulty in inserting this all here, it's seemingly diabolical and [i]feels[/i] like a defilement and unnecessary diatribe of society's decadence. Surely all this is 'known', right? The mixing of the Holy with the profane, could wish to but beg off of it, how did I end up here, seemingly so far from the point? It is incredibly grievous, reality is sick with itself, is it too abstract and fanciful to keep bringing up just this;
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
2Ti 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
2Ti 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The church well may be killing those they profess to want to save with [i]kindness[/i]. It is to turn the brutal truth of the matter away from the sickness and evil of the human heart and put a placebo in it's stead.
The cut and paste theology is not going to cut it at all anymore. Yes, the [i]exceptions[/i]. Yes, grace. Yes, the Lord is merciful. BUT we need the BUT of the truth in all it's stark harshness and the cutting and piercing of Gods Word, the only sword that can both wound and heal. Somehow, someway we as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must be broken to the point of shattering our idealism, our cleverness and inability to convince anyone with glib and smooth things, this sales like approach full of clichés' and Christanise language, these pronouncements of salvation as if we dare to be so audacious and bring the lost to their knees by repentance. And that is not contrary as it may sound. It has to start with our very selves. The world may be lost and blind and completely ignorant, let us not forget our own past here, but there may well be degrees of stupidity plaguing the race of men. One of those is not that we are fooling anybody with this cheap version of the gospel, the Pearl of Great Price having been trampled by mere men and cast before swine. No. It is the most precious and only hope this world has.[i] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.[/i] And if this be true then why on earth are we so tethered to it? And why is that the grand promotion?
Cont. (Edit: So much for 'last thoughts'...)
| 2006/1/14 10:29||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Today's Gospel and the cost|
There is a bit more yet. Perhaps the greatest snapshot scripture of them all, in our day:
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Every precious drop of that, truth! I was hunted down by it for years and yet was it that alone that exposed the evil and helplessness of my ability to do anything about it? Absolutely not, not by itself. This may be the right opportunity to begin injecting the 'rule of exception' to it's rightful place.
It is a impossibility to paint everything in stark contrasts of black and white. We know this. The buttressing of exceptions as an allowance not of our choosing but as the Lord sees fit is obvious enough from personal testimony throughout past as well as present history, that which is being made each passing minute. No attempt to crowd into dogmatic assurances, methodologies can carry but only so far. We ought to be well enough informed that a New Testament life is not necessarily in the details of outward practice, gatherings, peripheral matters, but of the import of an inward transformation of the marrow of our beings, the great alteration of disposition. The miracle of new birth. It is an awe and a astonishment if we could but recognize it.
Grace and forgiveness, mercy must yet come. But still more reality needed. It is not a morbid obsession but a more peculiar puzzlement that for all the extremism of this day, when nothing seemingly is 'taboo' anymore, the greatest indictment on the human race is still seen as far too extreme to be brought out into the open and examined.
If we were to insert this into more of our thinking as a fresh reminder of who, why and what the predicament is that has befallen men, it certainly seems it might go a long way in dismissing so much folly, the frank unreality and illusion that the world is under, Christians included, in fact more so, being that we have the mighty privilege of expressing the only way back to our God whose creation it is, as well as the inhabitants. This is Gods universe, Gods planet, Gods will, Gods right, Gods dictates. That the usurper of men and beast that has brought forth the cancer of pride and spread it throughout was first cast down from his abode, something we ought to be well more contemplative of as we likewise will not be spared in our vain attempts at a reverse ascension, building a new tower of Babel.
Continuing the context:
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
There is a puzzlement that also comes reading scripture when it seems things are in contradiction with other mentions, passages elsewhere. A couple instantly come to mind right here;
Joh 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Joh 8:15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
Joh 8:16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
Condemnation and judgement. It seems to me that the point is almost simplified by entering death back into the picture again. "The soul that sins shall die." We have ample scientific evidence of this fact and a really good track record to boot. It is as if to say what needs not to be said. It's not "you will be condenmed", but [i]condemned already[/i], it is present as it is past and present as it is yet future. Smiting our pride and upholding the fact; Rom 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
The crux of the matter comes up next in just what "to believe" means. It is of the utmost matter due to the negation of this profound key to everything. This day has made the impossible simplistic and the simplistic impossible. It would seem redundant at this point to make a big deal about "saying" things, about head knowledge vs. heart knowledge, 'said' faith vs. real faith and just "who" it is that makes a right determination. But this much is for sure, there must be quite a bit more than forming vocal syllables untruthfully regardless of emotional motivation or manipulation, something despairingly grievous of an 'easy believism', it is a contradiction in terms and an impossibility. That is nothing 'easy' about it up to and [i]until[/i] a moment of crisis, and still not quite there yet. It is here where another scripture tears all the props out;
Jam 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
And another fresh reminder of just our lot in facing reality;
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
This seems strikingly out of place, more leaning towards the "Once Saved Always Saved" model than this particular extraction. It has been stuck in the thoughts of late, maybe it's "Behold", consider. There is hope here and warning, "Goodness and severity"
Still there is the bad news before the good news or is it both at the very same time?
Joh 3:19 And [u]this[/u] is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Here lies the crescendo of the beauty and brutality combined and the very problem with quick, glib, thoughtless pronouncements from mere men upon another mans salvation. [b]"This"[/b] again is pregnant with meaning and application, not to our heads but to the marrow of our beings. One could almost wish the order was reversed. It seems hard pressed that printing up John 3:19 on to a banner to wave at crowded football game before a television audience would ever be tolerated. And the reason is obvious and explained fully;
Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
There is the dilemma, here is the part that strangely wants to be silenced even by those who ought to know better. I think it is more amazing that there isn't more guilt produced by the fact that so many are content, even well pleased with holding back the truth of the matter and doing what Jesus never did; Mincing words. The point isn't anywhere near what you or I "think" about anything, it should be rightly said that it is frankly none of our business to be meddling and adding our opinions to how [i]we[/i] think this generation or any other will accept things. It just doesn't need our stinking hands on it. The Lords own words are commanding, demanding and without equivocation. How is it that we find rights to rationalize our approach to 'presentation'? I am again not advocating reading more into this than necessary. How the Lord may lead us individually at any given time can only be understood by the individual and that cannot happen without one dogmatic assertion which I will never waver from; Prayer and Gods word, inseparable entity's. Am only attempting to encourage some sanctified thinking here, contemplate.
Something of a real true and far too grievous matter having now been dwelling on this and writing for weeks, but must be said, just this; Some people are just plain stubborn, proud and haughty. Some will be defiant until the end to their own continued misery. It is starkly unimaginable but it is fact. The "Famous Last Words" posted here is the proof of it as if it was even necessary. Seems overt and unnecessary to keep pounding away at it all, these simple basics that are not really simple nor basic, just that they are perceived that way, given short attention to just as this generation has the attention span of 15 seconds or so before another dose of brain stimulus is needed as a distraction.
I am always apologizing for the longevity and ramblings here and maybe it's a form of false humility or that I am being suckered into the very thing I am opposing, a need to keep things short and simple or it will just fall by the wayside. But forget it, starting to see just why it was that some of these past saints where a bit ticked off about things. They weren't bitter as it may sound, they weren't attempting to bludgeon the lost into some kind of dogmatic, theological proscription but they did see the signs of the times and we are now the product of those real and true prophecies in the ultimate sense. Frankly, the onus was largely on the church in it's failure. They saw the creeping death of another sort, the spiritual life blood of truth being slowly drained away. In it's place is this counterfeit that has no power to save, is loaded with gimmicks and gadgetry, a circus trick for the brain that leaves men quite possibly worse off than if they had never known what their true state is. What can be said towards those who have been duped into believing something that has no evidence of life change effecting them? Those who have bought what was cleverly sold them until a true dilemma hits and who of us saints has yet to not experience a real crisis after being displaced in our nature? What of those ones? Those caught up in spurious heretical notions of prosperity and good things, spoken forth out of the delusions of a preacher and his twisting of the words of God? There is absolutely nothing abstract about the whole of the parable that could really not be emphasized enough in this day of ease and comfort, especially in the West;
Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
There is absolutely no way I could be convinced that if we were to take most of the vast viewing audencies not only of many a popular TV personality but even the pew dwellers of many a modern church construct filled with the 'seeker sensitive' and ship them overseas to a country under [i]real[/i] persecution ... Oh the embarrassment. I am hardly sure I would dare to mouth a proscription of my own reactions, goodness, look at Peter, how easily to sit in our comfy chair and make snide remarks about him.
We just do not know the half of it. This generation of Christians, what is it that they are preoccupied with besides themselves? The President, the war, politics, entertainment, pleasure, a glibly mouthed worship that often rings quite shallow even in it's commercialized world accepting motif. Ravenhills words ring loudly; "[i]Don't sing it if you don't mean it.[/i]" That could be applied straight across the board. We are impatient and dull of hearing, slow to think and ponder, to wait and weep between the porch and altar. To pray and feel the stings of fleshly burnings of the old nature. To groan without words for no other reason than the fact that this world is broken and the heart, the Holy Spirit is grieved or I am in a great delusion as well? We have little patience and next to no contemplation and reflection. We are too busy being about the Fathers business before He sends a one of us with instructions to do so. Forget the "'but's" of what is dictated and oft repeated about go out into all the word if you have no intent on finishing what you started. If it is a chore or a bit of pride and feel good bolster to notch another one for the kingdom because of your cleverness. That could be a dangerous misunderstanding, if you are compelled you will know it and if you are honest enough you will know whether to wait on tables and wait on the Lord. Who am I to say such things? It is only this, how many right now would be doing a greater service to surrender their half hearted, career path jobs as professors of religion (and I do mean that in the strictest meaning of the word, "profess" in many a setting), to give place to those who ought to be doing the Lords bidding in spirit and truth.
I will be more of a fool than this. To the best of my understanding, to go out now, by some force of a mere mans provocation, prodding, guilt trip or manipulation would be as false and ridiculous, a total sham and mockery, it would be hypocritical to go preach if I have not been sent to do so and it would show in the phoniness to live up to it. There is every good reason why there is a recording in Eph 4:11 and following;
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
"The perfecting of the saints" and "The work of the ministry" and "The edifying of the body of Christ"
All the particular roles given [i]for[/i] these things. But how did this ever get inserted and largely overlooked?;
[i]That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;[/i] Wonder if this is taken far too lightly, how many doctrines have come and gone [i]by[/i] the sleight of men? How many still circling about like a vortex catching up the children, tossing them to and fro? And "cunning craftiness"? Why it's industrial these days and the tense seems to be both on the philosophies of the church as much as the world. But who wants to get down into the muck and mire, the dirty business of soul craft, not only our own but others? Faith without work is dead. And if we cannot bring ourselves to pray to know the mind of the Lord, pray to grasp the scriptures not just read them, pray to have some discernment when to keep our mouths shut and when to open them, pray to wait and wait in prayer ... what real use will any of us ever be to the Lord. Prayer is work! And it should be obvious enough by how little there is and the deception is that we think the opposite if we were more truthful; [i]The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.[/i] No, we don't really believe that... [i]fervent[/i]? What's the definition?
FERV'ENT[/b], a. [L. fervens, from ferveo, to be hot, to boil, to glow.]
1. Hot; boiling; as a fervent summer; fervent blood.
2. Hot in temper; vehement.
They are fervent to dispute.
3. Ardent; very warm; earnest; excited; animated; glowing; as fervent zeal; fervent piety.
Fervent in spirit. Rom 12.
And the Biblical;
From G1756; to be active, efficient: - do, (be) effectual (fervent), be mighty in, shew forth self, [b]work[/b] (effectually in).
These old dead saints, what was it, what [i]is[/i] it that marked them differently? Many things to be sure but this intangible, this [i]unction[/i] where did it come from? In this day it is supposed that an 'anointing' drops down from above like the dove upon Jesus, 'effortless' seemingly, but it is too easily forgotten what the cost was. How many of us have the slightest sentiment of what the Lord knew; "My time has not yet come." ? Ready to take on the world, the flesh and the devil after a brief altar call. The Lord tarried 30 some odd years in obscurity before the dove came down, and the devil right along with Him. How would that type of conversion scenario play out now if it were told? Filled with the Holy Spirit and then handed over to the devil for 40 days? Sure this was [i]Jesus[/i], but the point is we have a plethora of 'preachers' that think they are "anointed" and show no evidence of the scorched earth policy of the devil on their character, no scar, no dirt under the finger nails, no broken lines etched in the forehead, darkened eye's from sleepless travailing in prayer, broken bodies not necessarily meaning bones but the putting to death of the old man along with his clever ways. Oh it's so [i]harsh[/i]! Am not being flip here in the least. Is it boasting that some of us know of these things and yet ..[i]Art thou the teacher of Israel, and understandest not these things?[/i] Joh 3:10 What about John the Baptist? What a tremendous waste of talent he would be in our day! All that waiting for a flash in the pan moment, what of his obscurity? Launched unto the scene with the nice seeker sensitive message of "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And to the educated religious elite of his day; "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Strange that this ignoble had the audacity to follow that up with; "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." (Mat 3:1-8) So much for not judging. "Bear fruit"! There is an awful lot of appealing to produce in scripture, both production and 'product'. Might we say [i]Proof of purchase[/i]? Or is that too difficult, too much to ask for? "He must increase, I must decrease" and decrease he did after some compassionate bit of counseling with Herod regarding his incestuous marriage and [i]for all the evils which Herod had done[/i]. Surely it went quite well landing him in prison and a date with a blind barber...
Never really got around to the good news of the bad news, but this generation needs to be shaken out of it's complacency and glibness of such a serious and eternal matter. These old saints had a lot more true love than might be supposed, they were neither cruel curmudgeons, harsh, legalistic, petty 'fundamentalists'. No, they gave a rip and tore their own souls apart for the foolishness and blindness of this world. There is little wonder that many of these of days gone by not only wouldn't dare to put a period on someones conversion, that they had no problem letting the soul wait until it was convinced of the truth of the matter. This band aid approach now is only made more difficult when they have to be pulled off with the hair stuck to it.
There is not a one of us that doesn't have a world full of problems, injustices, complaints, ailments, financial ruin what have you. How different are we then the rest of the world? Are we really so far apart? Do we see things as 'we/they' or "Such were some of you"? Or have we forgotten that? For all the heretical teaching out there, if it was to all come crashing down, would we rejoice or weep? Go and gather up the pieces to rebuild or just mock and scorn? Do we not know what [i]manner[/i] of spirit we are? Have we found an ability to weather the storms that beat against us that the lost can know nothing of? Have we found that this life is not one of ease but of cross bearing and internal exposure of such a sort that pride has become repulsive, that our inability to will ourselves into sinless perfection alludes us? What about our faith? What of this indictment and it's demanding answer to the question;
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luk 18:7-8
Actually the question is twofold, any crying to Him day and night? And what about that rather large matter of faith?
There is such a grand hope to be reconciled back to God, how dare we cast it as such a trite thing. This generation is full of itself and it's good things, it needs to be awakened to it's condition way before the cure is given and that includes it's Christians.
Joe 2:18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
| 2006/1/14 11:23||Profile|
Phoenix, Arizona USA
Thanks for sharing your heart with us Mike, this is a light in the midst of some of my own recent clouded wrestlings. It's going to take a while to chew and digest all this but my initial reaction was to get on my knees and pray, no, mourn.
| 2006/1/14 16:51||Profile|
Southern New Jersey
-Recently, God has given me a fresh, tiny, tiny, tiny, glimpse of His holiness, and reading what you've written has confirmed for me that God will draw us closer if we have a genuine thirst, a burning thirst to draw closer to Him..
-I thank God for you and the other faithful brethren who minister to us on this site. I asked Jesus to take control of my life back in Nov. 1987, and He delivered me from alcoholism and - most importantly - the darkness of sin. But it took some time for me to realize that Jesus not only delivered me FROM, He also delivered me TO. Jesus delivered me TO the place where I could see Him as the standard for holiness and righteousness, and that I couldn't compare myself with anyone else but Him. That is when I realized how important the blood is. I have nothing else but the blood..
-Thanks again, Mike. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you...
| 2006/1/14 21:02||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Cost|
I asked Jesus to take control of my life back in Nov. 1987, and He delivered me from alcoholism and - most importantly - the darkness of sin. But it took some time for me to realize that Jesus not only delivered me FROM, He also delivered me TO.
Praise God. It took some time and still does here as well.
Thanks brothers as well, hard to respond here...
| 2006/1/14 23:38||Profile|
Mike, your post is long and heavy, making my heart pound and sink at the same time, but maybe just what I need now.
I 'accepted Jesus as my personal Savior' more than 5 years ago in US, of course, without truely count the cost. Although I was filled with joy at first and wanted to preach Gospel to all my friends, the euthesiam quickly wore off, I know that I still have largely the same old self inside, and I've been struggling with my lack of transformed life for several years.
Some recent events occurred at my church forced me to read God's words seriously, to ponder "What does it really mean to believe in the Lord?", and then the uttermost important question -- "Do I really believe? Believe what?"
I thought that I desired to know God and to obey Him, but now I realized that it's just half-hearted. The door to the kingdome of God is indeed narrow.
Luke 13: 22-27
Jesus was teaching in every town and village. He continued to travel toward Jerusalem. Someone said to him, Lord, how many people will be saved? Only a few?
Jesus said, The door to heaven is narrow. Try hard to enter it. Many people will want to enter there, but they will not be able to go in. If a man locks the door of his house, you can stand outside and knock on the door, but he wont open it. You can say, Sir, open the door for us. But he will answer, I dont know you. Where did you come from? Then you will say, We ate and drank with you. You taught in the streets of our town. Then he will say to you, I dont know you. Where did you come from? Get away from me! You are all people who do wrong!
Oh, God, have mercey on me!
| 2006/1/15 2:37||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Cost|
There is something very challenging in writing and attempting to express what is often inexpressible or maybe more so, speaking while still holding a misunderstanding, a certain realization that one is indicting oneself.
In more plain words, it is to realize that there is still much that is wrong in the thinking that is in need of repair. An exercise like this is to hold it up and see if I even agree with it...
Is it clear, is it mere opinion, is it pride? Is it seeking the pat on the back, is it still [i]lacking[/i]? The questions keep coming... It is to go out and not know where one is going, but to go anyway.
Zac Poonen has planted a thought that found a great agreement with the spirit and that is in approaching the scriptures every day as if for the very first time. It is an incredible thing. It's the thrill of receiving a new book in the mail and the excitement of discovery by comparison. A whole lot of expression is in just the counter-intuitiveness of those "Aha!" moments, those startling discoveries, those "Wait a minute, this isn't what I thought, this isn't what I have been told ... all along I have been under [i]this[/i] impression, but now, Oh my, how did I ever miss this? How come this is so incredibly opposite of what is being assumed in this day?" But it is also much, much more... Words that arrest the attention;
"And they [i]marveled[/i]"
"And great fear was upon them"
A healthy fear! A wonderful fear! A fearful fear! The kind that can leave one undone and yet filled with awe and astonishment. What other reaction might a human being be expected to have when the natural is suddenly interrupted by the supernatural? To even have a bit of sanctified imagination is enough to cause some trembling. What if while you are reading this... in Luke at the moment, will let his telling of it express this;
[i]And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, [b]I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee[/b], and to shew thee these glad tidings.[/i]
To see it from Zacharias' point of view or to finish the thought, what if this happened while you were yet reading this?... To realize that this [i]happened[/i] in real time and space and history. It is mind blowing... There was a day awhile back praying that I suddenly stood up and was struck by the thought, "What if Jesus was to do again what He did on that day He appeared before the disciples in the upper room and manifest Himself right this very moment?" I stood for a moment pondering it ... and the chills run even now, but a fear gripped me and that same compulsion of "Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man" .. it's not pious, it's an [i]extraction[/i] and a reaction even just to just [i]think[/i] of it. Needless to say I was flat on my face, the heart racing with both fear and wonder. Beautiful and terrible! And referring back to Luke here, how much is this but just one aspect of what might be said, the smallest part of what was transpiring, the extrapolations of the message brought to him, the smiting of his lips due to unbelief?
What am I trying to say with all this? The riches that are before us, that this is [i]GOD'S[/i] Word! Sometimes just the seemingly simplistic is so profound... I am most certainly a redundant fool, the sentiment is here; [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=flat&order=0&topic_id=6706&forum=44&post_id=&refresh=Go]'Line' of thought[/url]
The reason for all this is just that this whole exercise of the [i]cost[/i] feels quite unfinished for there is Good News indeed! And left off midstream it seems...
I 'accepted Jesus as my personal Savior' more than 5 years ago in US, of course, without truely count the cost. Although I was filled with joy at first and wanted to preach Gospel to all my friends, the euthesiam quickly wore off, I know that I still have largely the same old self inside, and I've been struggling with my lack of transformed life for several years.
There is a much better treatment of this 'accepting\receiving' business that I should dig up and post here from our brother who has some track record with the Lord...[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=14601]Receiving Christ [/url] An excerpt reveals a part of the conundrum;
"[i]I came this way, as have many thousands of others. It was a starting place and not to be dishonoured. Every genuine response to God is of vital importance and not to be mocked."
"It may come as a surprise to some reading this that this concept of the gospel and of receiving Christ was the product of the evangelistic campaigns of the 20th Century. This pattern of evangelism has no roots in the history of the Church as we read in the Acts, nor is it in any other part of the New Testament. But it can be a real help says the objector. Yes, it may. The purpose of these thoughts is not to undermine or attack any. My anxieties lie in the fact that counsellors or personal workers may go through the motions and then declare that the seeker has received Christ. This then becomes like a Catholic sacrament which is effectual as long as it is in accordance with a pattern."[/i]
Think I need a revisit in light of all this as well.
But the point YY is that whatever may be the case, here you are! Still digging and searching, [i]working out your salvation with trembling and fear[/i] as we all ought to be, in fact how can it be any other way? This is the greatest adventure there is! Pilgrims Progress is practically an understatement as a title, it is to climb inside the book and travel along with Christian himself (If you have yet to read this, might I recommend it heartily).
Will leave off with this trailing thought. Ever notice what it was that pleased Jesus more than anything?
[i]Then Jesus went with them. But He being yet not far off from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, Lord, do not trouble Yourself. For I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore neither did I think myself worthy to come to You; but say a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers. And I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it[/i].
[i]And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.[/i]
[i]When they couldn't find a way to get him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on his stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the room, right in front of Jesus.[/i]
[i]And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.[/i]
What was His response to each of these?
| 2006/1/15 10:26||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Fragrance|
I fear we are in danger of losing sight of the greatness of the Lord.
Jesus, there is no other Name, no higher calling than to be His. We can be so distracted with so many things and if we might just consider again ... Him.
[i]But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?[/i]
Such mighty, powerful verses. Somewhere along the line picked up on the parallel of crushing flowers, grinding herbs, burning of incense, that it is the very destruction of these things that give off the aroma;
[b]A sweet savor[/b]- Like the smell of pleasant incense, or of grateful aromatics, such as were burned in the triumphal processions of returning conquerors. The meaning is, that their labors were acceptable to God; he was pleased with them, and would bestow on them the smiles and proofs of his approbation. The word rendered here as sweet savor (εὐωδία euōdia) occurs only in this place, and in Eph_5:2; Phi_4:18; and is applied to persons or things well-pleasing to God. It properly means good odor, or fragrance, and in the Septuagint it is frequently applied to the incense that was burnt in the public worship of God and to sacrifices in general; Gen_8:21; Exo_29:18, Exo_29:25, Exo_29:41; Lev_1:9, Lev_1:13, Lev_1:17; Lev_2:2, Lev_2:9,Lev_2:12; Lev_3:5, Lev_3:16; Lev_4:31, etc. Here it means that the services of Paul and the other ministers of religion were as grateful to God as sweet incense, or acceptable sacrifices.
[b]The savor[/b] - (ὀσμὴν osmēn). The smell; the fragrance. The word in the New Testament is used to denote a pleasant or fragrant odor, as of incense, or aromatics; Joh_12:3 see Eph_5:2; Phi_4:18. There is an allusion here doubtless to the fact that in the triumphal processions fragrant odors were diffused around; flowers, diffusing a grateful smell, were scattered in the way; and on the altars of the gods incense was burned during the procession, and sacrifices offered, and the whole city was filled with the smoke of sacrifices, and with perfumes. So Paul speaks of knowledge - the knowledge of Christ. In his triumphings, the knowledge of the Redeemer was diffused abroad, like the odors which were diffused in the triumphal march of the conqueror. And that odor or savor was acceptable to God - as the fragrance of aromatics and of incense was pleasant in the triumphal procession of the returning victor. The phrase makes manifest the savor of his knowledge, therefore, means, that the knowledge of Christ was diffused everywhere by Paul, as the grateful smell of aromatics was diffused all around the triumphing warrior and victor. The effect of Pauls conquests everywhere was to diffuse the knowledge of the Saviour - and this was acceptable and pleasant to God - though there might be many who would not avail themselves of it, and would perish; see 2Co_2:15.
How incredibly different is our humanness, how often our 'sacrifices' unworthy to God.
Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
"And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake."
There are these 'which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?' And shall not God avenge his own elect' ... notice the parallels, even the prayers being set fire to.
But for all that, there is one great and precious sacrifice, how we will ever grasp this and take note of the incredible profundity, our brother touched on this with great understanding here [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=flat&order=0&topic_id=9108&forum=36&post_id=&refresh=Go]Will you stand up and die for your God?[/url]. Let this grip us and ponder on it;
"Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities."
This fragrance, this cost, this is our "So great a salvation". What is our cost by way of comparison? How is our light affliction measurable? Or to be of some sort of complaint ... Dear saints, we may have much need of repentance for our short sightedness, but once that is recognized, do we not see what Ravenhill characterized as the nobility of being a Christian? How vastly different is this perspective?
| 2006/1/18 10:16||Profile|
Very edifying words, brother. Thank you so much.
| 2006/1/18 21:40||Profile|