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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Valley of Deep Darkness

The Valley of Deep Darkness

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God" (Isaiah 50:10).

Hearing the Lord, obeying His Voice, and yet walking in darkness! Or, shall we put it the other way around, walking in darkness, and yet fearing the Lord and obeying His voice! Can these things be?  The Divine Spirit has penned through the prophet Isaiah the words of that text, so that as long as Isaiah 50:10 stands written, the Divine answer must be, Yes!

First of all, we want to say that the Lord allows His children sometimes to pass through a season of deepest darkness owing to the assaults of satan, in order to bring them to a naked faith in His bare word even though their own experience seems to give the lie to it.

A Word to the Heavy Laden

We are writing to such children of God and not to those who are rejoicing in the conscious presence of their Lord and their acceptance through the blood. Many of these have never trod the depths here referred to. To such our message may have no meaning.

But it is to the poor, tortured, anguished souls, who know what it is to wrestle with wicked spirits in heavenly places, that our message comes. The darkness has closed round you, darkness that may be felt, the shield of faith has almost dropped from your grasp, and the gleam of the firery darts hurled thick and fast at you by the evil one, is all you see. You cannot rest out of God, and yet He seems lost. Nothing is real to you but the darkness. Is this a fancy picture? To others it may seem so, but not to you. We who give it, know from our own experience that it is not. The devil who would triumph in your agony knows so also. But, the devil shall not triumph in your agony knows so also. But, the devil shall not triumph. "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy. Though I fall, I shall arise. When I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me" (Micah 7:8). Even now you may meet him with the hallelujahs of faith, though not of feeling, upon your lips, as you point to the blood of the Lamb.

"Behold, he is in thy hand", said God to satan concerning Job. But only up to a certain point could satan carry out his desire. Poverty, bereavement, sickness, unjust accusations from his friends, and, what we have to do with here, spiritual darkness,all befell Job."Behold, I go forward, but He is not there", he cries in his anguish; "and backward but I cannot perceive Him: an the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand that I cannot find Him." And yet God was there all the time.

Three Subtle Snares

There seem to be three subtle snares of the devil, by which souls are brought into darkness, though these snares are often interwoven one with the other.

The devil uses God's own words to bring souls into darkness. If he quoted them to the Master in the wilderness temptation, how ready he will be to employ the same method with the servant. He knows will the peculiar bent and cast of character of each one he aims to overthrow. To a legal mind he will quote texts that will drive it into an agony of introspection, and into useless acts which are its outcome. We instance one point only.

The devil twists James 5:16, and other passages into meaning that sins of the past which are all under the blood, are to be dragged up and confessed to one and another. But in vain do you seek peace in this way. Memory will ever bring up fresh ghosts to flit before the conscience. Only the blood of Jesus Christ will lay them. No acts of humiliation before others, such as these confessions, will avail, for the sin was against God.

King David, convicted of breaking the fifth and the seventh commandments, was constrained to cry out, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." From these "dead works" of self-humiliation, from these Protestant penances, take cleansing through the blood, as well as for the sins they think to atone for. We use the word "atone" advisedly. The root of the evil lies here. The soul does not fully see the value of the blood of Christ. It does not see that every sin, every bit of the old corrupt life, has been buried in His grave, and that we have no right to dig up again what He has put there.

And This Leads Us on to Think of Second Snare

The devil uses the subject of consecration to bring souls into darkness. Christians are told to "yield all", to "fully consecrate" themselves to "absolutely surrender". Again, the devil drives their thoughts inwards. Scrupulous consciences are tortured with questions as to this or that which is to be given up, and the result is often a state of spiritual nightmare.

But God's grace is farther reaching than that! It is God that worketh in you to will, us well as to do. Consecrate yourselves to the Lord. Yes, but consecrate yourselves after the Scriptural meaning. "Fill your hands", fill them with Christ, bring Christ to God. Tell Him that you cannot surrender all, any more than you can do anything else to fit yourself for blessing. Tell Him that all must be of grace, that you are a spiritual bankrupt apart from grace, but that you cast yourself on grace, to do what you cannot do for yourself. Tell Him that you trust Him henceforth to write His laws in your mind that you may know them, in your heart that you may do them. Tell Him that you have died in Him, that you have been buried with Him, that you have been raised with Him, and now as alive from the dead you trust Him to live out His resurrection-life through you.

It is grace throughout. Learn to magnify the grace of God. At every fresh sight of your own impotence to will or to do, in the matter of consecration as in everything else, glory in the grace which undertakes to do all, and take Christ afresh for all your need.

We Now Pass On to the Third Snare

The devil uses the words of other Christians to bring souls into darkness. Paul said, "Now we see through a glass darkly ... now I know in part." The greatest saint, though he may have been made perfect in love, is still imperfect in knowledge. He only knows in part. Is not this the reason that sometimes a Christian in trouble of soul turns in pain to a fellow believer? The other does not understand that he has to do with a bruised reed that must not be broken, and again the scene described in the Song of Solomon is enacted. "The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me." In this way the Christian is driven deeper into darkness.

There Is Cleansing

Yes! There is cleansing! Dare to believe that whatever takes from your vision of the love of God is not of Him. Dare to believe that whatever minimizes His grace is not of Him. Dare to believe that the love of God is for you. Dare to believe that the grace of God is for you. Just now, in the thick darkness, trust that love, that grace. Let go these distorted ideas of Him that have been inwrought by satan's malice. Uprise the shield of faith once more, and say as Job did, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him", and praise God. Yes, praise Him now. Do not wait till the darkness is past to praise Him. The way out of it, and the way into the walls of salvation, is by the gates of PRAISE. "Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth Me, and prepareth a way that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23).

~Jessie Penn-Lewis~

(The End)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

As Holy As You Want to Be (and other short sermonsQuotes)

As Holy As You Want to Be

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6)

It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Holy Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be.

Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Hunger and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that when their desires became a pain they were suddenly and wonderfully filled. The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness. 

"Lord, quiet my heart today and fill me with this holy longing. I don't want to be contented with my present condition; I long for that vacuum of desire into which the Holy Spirit can rush. Amen"

~A. W. Tozer~
___________________________

Applying the Test of Biblical Accuracy

The tests for spiritual genuineness are two: First, the leader must be a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is nothing if not moral ... But the test of moral goodness is not enough. Every man must submit his work to the scriptural test. It is not enough that he be able to quote from the Bible at great length or that he claim for himself great and startling experiences with God. Go back to the law and to the testimony. If he speak not according to the Word it is because there is no light in him. We who are invited to follow him have every right, as well as a solemn obligation, to test his work according to the Word of God. We must demand that every claimant for our confidence present a clean bill of health from the Holy Scriptures; that he do more than weave in a text occasionally, or hold up the Bible dramatically before the eyes of his hearers. His doctrines must be those of the Scriptures. The Bible must dominate his preaching. He must preach according to the Word of God. The price of following a false guide on the desert may be death. The price of heeding wrong advice in business may be bankruptcy. The price of trusting to a quack doctor may be permanent loss of health. The price of putting confidence in a pseudo-prophet may be moral and spiritual tragedy. Let us take heed that no man deceive us.

~A. W. Tozer~
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Alone With God

"And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples" (John 6:3)

Just prior to this miraculous multiplying of the bread and fish, Jesus "went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples" (6:3). That fact is noteworthy. It seems plain that Jesus withdrew purposely from the great press of people who had been pursuing Him.

There are some things that you and I will never learn when others are present. I believe in church and I love the fellowship of the assembly. There is much we can learn when we come together on Sundays and sit among the saints. But there are certain things that you and I will never learn in the presence of other people.

Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God's Spirit. Then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared by God for it.

Now, in the case of our Lord, the people came to Him, John reports, and He was ready for them. He had been quiet and silent. He had sat alone with His disciples and meditated. Looking upward, He waited until the whole hiatus of divine life moved down from the throne of God into His own soul. He was a violin tuned. He was a battery recharged. He was poised and prepared for the people when they came. "Lord, I'll spend a lot of time in the company of people today, but just now I come in quietness and silence to wait for you to fill me. Amen"

~A. W. Tozer~
__________________________

"The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking , still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders,and interfering with God's work within us."

"I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the "Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven."

"I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it."

~A. W. Tozer~

Friday, December 16, 2016

Church: Don't Make Your Souls Abominable to God

Church: Don't Make Your Souls Abominable to God

"To be separate to God is much more important than to be separate from other things. As God's people are separated to Him, we become more and more conformed to His image, to be the persons God intended us to be when He created the first man and the first woman in His image...Holiness in God's people involves grace, righteousness, integrity, peace and mercy, because these are the characteristics of the God Who has redeemed us and Whom we serve."

Throughout the Scriptures we hear God saying:

"And I will sever in that day..." (Exodus 8:22)
"And I will put a division between My people and thy people ..." (Exodus 8:23)
"And the Lord shall sever between ..." (Exodus 9:4)
"...that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between ..." (Exodus 11:7)
"And ye shall be holy unto Me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be Mine." (Leviticus 20:26)

The Churches' response to these commands should rightfully be - "For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and Thy people from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." (Exodus 33:16)

God is saying - "I will sever ... I will put a division..."
And our response should be - "so shall we be separated ..."

As we examine the Scriptures more closely, we see the manner in which God separated His people.

1. He Separated Their land from the others
"Exodus 8:22 says - "And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarm of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth."

God wrought a marvelous thing wherein He exempted the land that His people inhabited from the awful plagues which afflicted the Egyptians. No swarms of flies, gnats, or imitating kind of insects would approach them. They were remarkably distinguished, preserved, and protected from sharing in the common calamities of the very  place in which they lived - Egypt.

2. He Separated Their Animals from the Others.

Exodus 9:4 says - "And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel."

As evidence of His special favor towards His chosen people, God made a difference in that all of the Egyptian's animals died while those of the Israelites continued to flourish.

3. He Separated His people From the Others

Exodus 11:7 says: "But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel."

"... shall not a dog move his tongue" was a proverbial expression depicting freedom from any alarm or immunity from assault. In this particular case, the Israelites were immune from death. They would leave Egypt without any attack whatsoever.

As we all know,dogs are very senitive to the scent of death and would normally howl at this tragic scene. Or, they would react with continuous barking as the shrieks of mourners pieced the still night. But in the Israelites' camp, there was no scent of death and no sound of mourners. Hence, not one dog moved his tongue to howl or bark in their camp.

4. He Separated Their Nation from the Others

Exodus 33:16 says - "For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth."

Amidst such gross idolatry, the Israelites were separated from the nations of the world by God's special presence. This presence demonstrated to all that they were a peculiar people ... divinely protected ... and highly favored.

5. He Separated Their Souls from the Others

Leviticus 20:25 says - "Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean."

Amidst the universal apostasy, the Israelites were separated or made distinct from the Canaanites or neighboring nations by their higher standard of morality - a standard of holiness - a standard whereby their souls were kept pure from all contamination of sin and idolatry.

This severance from other peoples and nations comes through loudly and clearly in the following command - "For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy; neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Leviticus 11:44).

They had an obligation before God to maintain their distinction as His people among the nations. They were to always and evermore remain consecrated or set apart from a profane use to a sacred one. This is what distinguished them from the nations of the world.

God's command was - "And ye shall be holy unto Me; for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be Mine." (Leviticus 20:26) His people's response was - "...so shall we be separated..." (Exodus 33:16).

Nonetheless, down through the ages, has this always been the response of His people? Is it the response of the present-day, Leodicean Church?

WHAT DID GOD SAY IN EZEKIEL 22:26 TO THE PREACHERS AND LEADERS OF THAT DAY?

"Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shown difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them."

The "priests" were not examples of those who are separated from their worldly ways. By their conduct and careless and corrupt mannerisms, they put no difference between the holy and profane. In their teachings, they failed to keep up the distinction between the clean and unclean. They misinterpreted the Scriptures and wrested God's Word to allow for compromise, worldliness, and sin.

THE RESULT?

The people became contaminated and hateful in God's sight. In other words, they made their "souls abominable" in His sight. God wasn't joking when He admonished all Preachers in Leviticus 10:10 with these words - "And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean."

The prophet Malachi said it this way - "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not" (Malachi 3:18).

Oh! Where... Oh! where is the Preaching that discerns - that cuts to the heart - that makes a distinction between that which is holy and unholy ... clean and unclean ... and that certainly and without a doubt exposes who is righteous and who is wicked - who is serving God and who is not?

Because it is lacking in our day, we as the Church - generally speaking - are guilty of "making our souls abominable" in the sight of a Holy God. We have become contaminated with the world's ways, fashions, and wares and resultantly, stand before Him as something disgusting or sickening.

Contrary to what most want to believe - God is not pleased with the Present-Day Church. He is not pleased with a people who claim to be His own, yet have mingled themselves among the heathen, learned their ways, and followed the multitudes to do evil.

In closing, there is always someone who is asking the question - What is God saying in this day and hour?

He is saying what He has always been saying - "...I will sever ... I will put a division ..."

And how is the True Church responding?

They are collectively and wholeheartedly proclaiming - "so shall we be separated ..."

Are you a member of the True Church?

Don't say that you are unless you want to show us your marks of consecration unto God and total separation from this worlds and its lusts thereof.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matthew 3:10)

May God Bless His Word!

~Connie~

Bible Study Center


Monday, December 12, 2016

Sons of the Cross

Sons of the Cross

"For the chief musician; set to the Gittith. A Psalm of the sons of Korah"

In a sermon the Rev. C. H. Pridgeon, of Pittsburgh, Pa., gives some most helpful renderings of these words in the title of Psalm 84. Speaking on the sixth verse of the Psalm, "Who passing through the Valley of Baca make it a well," the preacher pointed out the suggestiveness of the Title, "Upon Gittith," in its meaning of 'concerning the wine-presses', this signifying that the psalm was probably sung at the time the wine was being pressed out of the grapes. The words, too, "A psalm for the sons of Korah," are equally instructive, for 'the word Korah" may be termed the 'sons of the Cross'. Some of the ancients so read these words ... "Summarizing these points the psalm may, therefore, be said to be a psalm written for the use of the "sons of the Cross", who are passing through the wine press in the Valley of Baca.

A psalm for the Valley of Baca! A psalm to sing in the wine-press! Only 'sons of the Cross' can sing in the wine press, for they know the secret of the ways of God, that out of death comes life; out of suffering, heavenly joy; out of nothingness, the very fullness of God. Therefore, they see not the wine press, and the Cross in their outward pain and loss, as men see them, but from the viewpoint of the 'tabernacles of the Lord of Hosts", from the sanctuary of the heart of God, and they can sing in the wine press when they see the wine of the life of heaven pressed out of them in life-blessing to the souls of men, and know that He Who treads the wine press alone for their sakes is satisfied.

A psalm to sine in the wine press! And what do they sing? "How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts". "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord." When earth is darkest in the wine press, then heaven is opened, and God becomes all in all. And they sing, these sons of the Cross, of the blessedness of the one whose strength is in God, and not in circumstances, or earth-born helps and props. The Hebrew word means "might" or "endurance" is in Thee!" "Behold, we count them happy which endure, writes the apostle. "You have heard of the endurance of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord" (James 5:11). Yes, happy Job, that he had strength to endure until the hour came when his captivity was turned, and he received of the Lord "twice as much as he had before". For the "end of the Lord" is double for all the pain of the wine press, and the length of the time in the wine press valley is the measure of (1) the power of endurance which the soul has in God, and (2) the foreshadowing of the "double" which will come forth in wine press blessing to others.

And they sing; yes, they sing, these sons of the Cross, when they find that in the wine press their hearts have been "melted like wax in the midst" of them (Psalm 22:14), like their Lord upon His Cross, and how in the melting the old limitations have passed away,and their once closed hearts have become "highways of Zion" for others seeking after God; no longer closed to the sorrows of others, shut up in narrow bounds of sympathy and love, but hearts enlarged and open to the needs of a dying world,for "whoso seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his heart of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).

Oh, the closed hearts among the people of God! Oh, the high walls over which none can leap, surrounding their sympathy and love! It is worth the wine press to have the exterior of the "grapes" bruised and broken, if thereby the "wine" of the love of God can be freed to pass out to a world needing more sympathy than preaching, more love than law. Blessed is he "in whose heart are the highways to Zion" for a needy world, a heart open for all in need of God, to enter, and march through it to Zion, even unto God.

But more than all, the "sons of the Cross" can sing in the wine press valley because there they find that they themselves have become a "place of springs" for the water of life to others. They have sought with earnest longings to be channels for "rivers of living water" to flow out to others, and they have "believed", and "believed" according to the letter of the word (John 7:38), but still these "rivers" did not flow. But at last the secret was revealed by the providence of God. They found themselves one day in the wine press valley, and then the rivers flowed! It was an hour when all men seemed to trample with their feet these grapes in the wine press of God, when lo, a spring of divine love, pure as crystal and sweet with the sweetness of heaven, opened in their hearts to the trampling souls, and they knew that they were in the 'place of springs', the heart of God, the heart of God revealed in the heart of Christ upon the Cross of Calvary.

"If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the Cross," they cried, "come down from the Cross." Come out of the wine press! But, how then shall others be saved? How then shall the life of God be given to the souls of men? And even thus must the 'sons of the Cross' follow the Lamb into the wine press of Calvary, if through them shall be given the "wine" of the life of Christ to a dying world.

The Psalmist speaks of only a 'passing through' the wine press valley; and truth to tell it can be only a 'passing through' from time to time, as the 'sons of the Cross' press on in following the Lamb, but as the divine life is increasingly imparted, and divine strength given, those who knowing the 'place of the springs' rejoice each time they are counted worthy to be given wine press joy, yes, the joy of the Lamb, Who on nearing His Cross could say to His little company of sorrowing friends, "My joy I give unto you". The joy which was set before Him for which He could endure the Cross and despise the shame. The joy which can only be known in seeing Calvary from the heart of God; from the viewpoint of heaven.

These souls who thus know the wine press valley as a place of springs, go from 'strength to strength' or (Hebrew) 'force to force', and "every one of them appeareth before God in Zion." Yes, in New Testament language, every one of them emerge into that hidden life with Christ in God, for these are the "overcomers" who are "lifted above all" by the loss of all! From "force to force" they go, through the wine press valleys; more and more losing the earth-life as they are driven on out of extremity into resources which are to be found alone in God, more and more detached from all that earth holds dear to dwell in the heavens with the reigning Lord.

This conformity to the Son of God in His path of the Lamb is the purpose of the New Testament fullness of the Spirit rather than the "signs and wonders' which dazzle the eye of men. "Ye shall receive power to be martyrs", was the promise of the Risen Lord to His disciples, and this surely means in one aspect that just as "through the Eternal Spirit" He offered Himself to God, so all His followers would need the power of the Holy Spirit to follow Him and be conformed to His image, the image of a Lamb.

There are two spheres of service which follow the knowledge of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the one of mighty "works", and the other of being a life-channel for the life of God to quicken other souls. The one is the result of "doing", and the other of suffering. The one stage may be likened in the life of Christ to His mighty works after the baptism in Jordan, and the other as the result of His poured-out life at Calvary. The Cross may be the terminus in the experience of the believer, in the sense of death with Christ to sin and the world; but as that terminus attitude of death with Christ is maintained by faith and obedience, the believer is then led on by the Spirit into a fellowship with Christ's death for life to others; and these are the "sons of the Cross" who joyfully consent to enter into fellowship with their Lord, that His life in them may be poured forth in springs of life to needy souls.

It is of the deepest importance that we cooperate with the Spirit of God in the stage of the divine life which He has brought us into. It is possible to be turned back in our spiritual progress by seeking an experience which may look more advanced than the path indicated by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:10-12. The highest purpose of God in the believer is not to make him so much a powerfully used instrument, as to bring forth in him the fullest manifestation of Christ in every aspect of His character, and this can only be done in the wine press valley of fellowship with His sufferings. He was "crucified through weakness", and  there were no mighty signs and wonders wrought by Him to thrill the multitude at Calvary; but in His weakness and Lamb-silence in suffering and His poured-out life He did more for the world than when He healed the sick and cast out demons in Galilee. Oh that this pure and lovely pattern may be unveiled to the eager children of God at this time who are seeking intensely what they term God's best, the pattern of the Christ in His Lamb-likeness conquering the hosts of darkness, not by fighting but by death. And this beautiful Lamb-likeness of the Lord Christ will not be wrought in us by "visions" of Calvary, nor by sudden and mystical experiences of entering into the sufferings of His Cross, but by the daily and hourly choosing of the will of God in the discipline of life. The "answering not again" when accused of many things; the hidden and silent path of sacrifice unknown to men; the doing good and suffering for it as evil-doers worthy of death.

~Jessie Penn-Lewis~

(The End)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Silence of Jesus

The Silence of Jesus
He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53v7)
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked (1 John 2v6).
As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb- yea, He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53v7).
I will dwell in them and walk in them (2 Corinthians 6v16) is the promise of God, and only as this promise is fulfilled to the believer, can the ‘Silence of Jesus’ be known in the daily life. As we trace out the pattern of the walk of Christ on earth that we may ‘follow His steps’, let us remember that it is not that we may copy Him, but rather that we have before us the pattern of the way, ‘the life of Jesus’ will be manifested in our mortal body, as He ‘walks’ in us, and we intelligently yield ourselves to Him to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Let us first note in the pattern of His life.
1. His Silence over His blessing of others.
He sent him away to his house saying, Neither go into the town nor tell it to any (Mark 8v26).
He charged them that they should tell no man (Mark 7v36).
Was it that He wanted to be hidden and silently to bless and help souls and then pass on? ‘He shall not strive nor cry: neither shall anyone hear His voice in the streets’ (Matthew 12v19) said the prophet Isaiah of the promised Messiah. The Master’s work was so ‘modest’ and done with as little ‘noise’ as possible. It is said of some whom He charged to be silent over what He had done for them ‘so much the more they published it’, so that His fame went abroad and He was given much trouble to deal with the multitudes. The lesson just for us as to the ‘silence of Jesus’ in this respect is that we should not ‘publish abroad’ the ‘fame’ of the instrument God uses in blessing us, but rather that we tell what the Lord hath done, and allow His servants to pass on in quiet unobtrusiveness to do His work.
2. His Silence in delicate difficulties.
When therefore the Lord knew how that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making . . . more disciples than John . . . He left Judea (John 4v1-3).
The Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard. Reports even came to Him, and He took trouble to answer these ‘reports’ by wise action. He could not allow even apparent rivalry between His great forerunner, John the Baptist, and Himself, in the eyes of the religious world. So He simply and quietly withdrew. The trouble was met by His silence and His self-effacing action. So may it be with us to ‘give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully’. Let there be wise action in similar circumstances and silence, so that others are not hurt. ‘In honor preferring one another.’
3. His Silence over the glory of the Mount.
He was transfigured before them . . . As they were coming down from the mountain He charged them that they should till no man what things they had seen.
 Whilst the Lord Jesus walked on earth as Man, only the three disciples knew of that glory on the Mount. The world did not know, neither did the majority of the followers of Jesus, for we are told the chosen three ‘kept the saying’.
There is a good lesson for us in this ‘Silence of Jesus’ regarding His sacred hours on the Transfiguration Mount. The Apostle had learnt it when he wrote to the Corinthians concerning the abundance of the revelations given to him of God. ‘I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be’ (2 Corinthians 12v6). The reticence of the Bible is very wonderful when we consider it. The veil is lifted off the things of God, only just enough to give a glimpse into the unspeakable glory for those who are admitted within the veil. Detailed accounts of God’s deepest and most sacred dealings with His children, are, if not wrong, at least not wise, lest, as Paul said, we ‘glory in men’ and account them to be ‘above’ what they really are. Again there is also the danger of the ‘natural man’ unable to receive the things of the Spirit, turning away, saying ‘This is a hard saying’, and walking no more with the Lord, stumbled by things he cannot understand. The ‘Silence of Jesus’ over the glory of the Mount is a message to all those who know something of the Mount of Transfiguration, to keep God’s secrets until God’s time comes to make the hidden things manifest to the world.
4. His Silence over the path of the Cross.
The cup that I drink ye shall drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized (Mark 10v39).
This was all that He said to the men who asked to share His throne. He did not describe in detail what ‘drinking the cup’ would mean. It would be time enough when they came to it. ‘Ye cannot bear them now’, He tenderly said of the ‘many things’ upon His heart ere He went to Gethsemane. He told them of the Cross, and that it would mean some cost, but of that path through the valley of deep darkness He was silent. Let us then co-operate with His restraining hand upon us, when He keeps us from exposing too fully the path of the Cross, as well as the Mount of Glory. The ‘glory’ would overpower the babes, and so would the way of Calvary. God will lead us all on as we are able to bear it. Let us be tender with the babes, and yet not shrink from faithful speaking when God's time is come.
5. His Silence over the Traitor disciple.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. The disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake (John 13v21-22).
So silent had He been, so lovingly had He treated Judas as one of the rest, that they had no idea who He meant. Never by word or look had He shown them the traitor. How ‘displeased’ the ten were with the two disciples who asked for the Throne (Mark 10v41), so how could the Lord Jesus expose Judas, or arouse their partiality, and produce division amongst His little band? Let us be silent in similar circumstances, and not arouse partiality in those who care for us, when God is leading us to Calvary through the instrumentality of a Judas. Let us never speak if we can avoid it of the human instruments in the pathway of the Cross, nor omit the stooping to wash their feet. To ‘bless’ those who ‘despitefully use you’ (Matthew 5v44) is just what Jesus did.
6. His Silence over the deep things of God.
These things I said not unto you from the beginning . . . I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now (John 16v4 &12).
He spake the Word unto them, as they were able to bear it (Mark 4v33-34).
The power and the need of silence in the spiritual life must have grown upon us, as we have followed from point to point the example of the Lord. Silence over the ‘glory’, silence over the suffering path, and now silence over the things of God which are beyond the stage of growth of others who look to us for help. The apostle Paul also learnt his lesson. ‘I fed you with milk and not with meat, for ye were not able to bear it’, he writes again to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3v1-2). To ‘confess Christ’ is quite a different thing to our forcing ‘strong meat’ on babes.
7. His Silence over questions.
Lord, how? ---- In that day ye shall ask Me no question (John 14v22 & 16v23).
The Lord knew that nothing but the experimental teaching of the Holy Spirit could unfold to these disciples all they wanted to know. How full of questions we are. --- Why? How? When? How we want spiritual things made clear and plain to our minds, forgetting that God wants to do for us exceeding abundantly above all we can ask and think. How wisely the Lord dealt with His questioning disciples. The ‘silence of Jesus’ here is indeed a need for all who are in the position of teaching others. He only answered the question with the words, ‘You shall know by and by’. The ‘Holy Spirit will teach you’. ‘Wait’. Let us thus leave our own questions with God, and lead other questioning hearts to do the same, knowing that in God’s time we shall ‘know’ all He thinks it good for us to know.
8. His Silence in false accusation.
And the chief priests accused Him of many things. And Pilate again asked Him saying, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? Behold how many things they accuse Thee of.’ But Jesus no more answered anything; insomuch that Pilate marvelled (Mark 15v3-5).
The apostle Peter writes years afterwards of this wonderful silence of the God-Man. ‘ When He was reviled, He reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not.’ His silence was Divine. No merely human being could have been dumb in this way, and being innocent and guiltless allow himself to be ‘led’ as a lamb to the slaughter. To be as a sheep dumb in the hand of the shearers. This silence before Pilate and then the silence on the Cross in the midst of untold agony - silence only broken seven times with brief words of wonderful meaning - this silence of Jesus was the climax to a life of God-like silence in circumstances when men must speak. A life of silent waiting until thirty years of age before He entered on public ministry, and made His lamb-like way to the Cross; a life of silence over glory unspeakable with His Father, and suffering untold at the hands of men; of tender silence over blessing to others, and over Judas’ traitor path.
This is the pattern for all who would ‘follow His steps’. The pattern for the one who would ‘walk as He walked’, by His walking again in them. And how can it be? Only by seeing the ‘calling’ and accepting it (1 Peter 1v15). And by taking His Cross as our Cross, ‘we having died’ in Him, and with Him, can thus live unto God, and then the silence of Jesus can be known in truth, and we shall be:
‘Silent’ in our lowly service among others, not seeking to be ‘seen of men’.
‘Silent’ over the glory of the hours on the Mount, lest others think of us above that which is written.
‘Silent’ over the depths of the Calvary pathway that led us to God.
‘Silent’ over the human instruments permitted of God to hand us over to the judgment hall, and the forsaking of our nearest and dearest.
‘Silent’ whilst we stood to serve the very ones who have betrayed us.
‘Silent’ over the deep things of God revealed in the secret place of the Most High, things ‘impossible to’ utter to those who have not yet been ‘baptized’ with that baptism without which they will be ‘straitened’ in spiritual perception ‘until it is accomplished’.
‘Silent’ over questions only to be answered by God the Holy Ghost, when ‘that day’ dawns for the questioning heart, and silences all doubt by the glorious revelation of Him Who is the answer to all our need.
‘Silent’ when forced by others to some position where apparent rivalry with another much-used servant of God seems imminent, only to be hushed by utter self-effacement, and our silent withdrawal without explanation, irrespective of our ‘rights’.
‘Silent’, yea ‘Silent’, in the judgment hall of our co-religionists, when criticized and falsely accused of many things.
Thou Anointed Christ - the Lamb of God - Thou alone canst live this life of silent self-effacement in a world of self-assertion and self-love. Live Thou this life in me.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (Revelation 14v4).
~Jessie Penn-Lewis~


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jelly-fish Christianity

Jelly-fish Christianity

(J.C. Ryle)

The consequences of this widespread dislike to distinct biblical doctrine are very serious. Whether we like it or not, it is an epidemic which is doing great harm, and especially among young people. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a 'jelly-fish' Christianity in the land — that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. 

A jelly-fish, as everyone who has been much by the seaside knows, is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little delicate transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. 

Alas! it is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, 'No dogma, no distinct beliefs, no doctrine.' We have hundreds of ministers who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity! They have no definite opinions; they are so afraid of 'extreme views,' that they have no views at all. We have thousands of sermons preached every year, which are without an edge or a point or a corner — they are as smooth as marble balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint!

We have legions of young men annually turned out from our universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion — and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. Their only creed, is a kind of 'nothingism.' They are sure and positive about nothing!

And last, and worst of all, we have myriads of respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think . . .
  everybody is right — and nobody is wrong,
  everything is true — and nothing is false,
  all sermons are good — and none are bad,
  every clergyman is sound — and no clergyman unsound. 

They are 'tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine;' often carried away by some new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to 'render a reason of the hope that is in them.' 

All this, and much more, is the result of that effeminate dread of distinct doctrine which has been so strongly developed, and has laid such hold on many pastors in these days. 

I turn from the picture I have exhibited with a sorrowful heart. I grant it is a gloomy one; but I am afraid it is only too accurate and true. Let us not deceive ourselves. Distinct and definitive doctrine is at a premium just now. Instability and unsettled notions are the natural result, and meet us in every direction. 

Cleverness and earnestness are the favorite idols of the age!

What a man says matters nothing — however strange and heterogeneous are the opinions he expresses! If he is only brilliant and 'earnest' — he cannot be wrong! Never was it so important for believers to hold sound systematic views of truth, and for ministers to 'enunciate doctrine' very clearly and distinctly in their teaching.