TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

NO SHORTCUTS

“False teaching is easily identified by the fact that it is willingly received by all, and is to everyone’s liking.” John Calvin

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matt 7:13-14 MSG).

“We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God Himself” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p149).

“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me” John Piper (ref#220, p124).  “If we love Christ, it is because he loved us first (1 John 4:19).  If we are Christians at all, it is not because we have decided for Christ, but because Christ has decided for us” John Stott (ref#258, p18).

FATHER, it is so easy for us to choose our own work we are going to do for you.  Caution us when we find our choice doable and satisfying—even if it is “difficult and meticulous at times” it still can be our own choosing.  John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The standards we tend to set for ourselves in work choices are just “difficult enough to weed out the undesirables but not so difficult as to become overly burdensome” John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The sin of pursuing Christianity by human methods disguised itself so easily as spiritual activity.  FATHER, prompt us to recognize the subtlety of working for ourselves instead of following GOD’s choice.

 “…self is the cause for every sin, every shortcoming, all failure, and all that has been dishonoring to God…let us allow Jesus Christ to take entire control of our life, in the faith that His life can be ours” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p38).

ADIBING IN CHRIST

CHRIST – MY STRENGTH

“It was thus with the disciples….when they were prepared, the baptism of power came.  It was power within and power around.  The power came to qualify for the work to which they had yielded themselves…The power came to set up the Kingdom within them….” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p180).

As it was with the disciples, so it is with us.  “…all our strength is in Christ, laid up and waiting for use….ready to flow in according to the measure in which it finds the channels open….” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p183).

“The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him….The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him.  We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Jan 18th).

It is prudent to check often whether we are working or allowing JESUS to work.  Andrew Murray warns: “You are so occupied and filled with other things, religious things, preaching and praying, studying and working, so occupied with your religion that you do not give God the time to make himself known” (ref#272, p47).

“What Christ died for is not that we might help him, but that we might see and savor him as infinitely valuable” John Piper (ref#92, p83).

“…when God and man are spoken of as working together, there is nothing of the idea of a partnership between two partners who each contribute their share to a work.  The relation is a very different one.  The true idea is that of cooperation founded on subordination.  As Jesus was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works, so the believer can do nothing of himself” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p117).

FATHER, how easy it is for me to skip the step of allowing CHRIST to make Himself known.  It is so much easier to do what I think the boss wants and hope that he likes it, as it is to take the time to directly ask. Keep me fearing You.

ABIDING IN CHRIST

THE SAME DISPOSITION AS CHRIST

“The disposition He manifested in choosing and bearing the cross must be yours.  Like Him, you will have to give full assent to the righteous judgment and curse of a holy God against sin….Like Him, you shall experience that it is only through the self-sacrifice of Gethsemane and Calvary that the path is to be found to the joy…of the resurrection life” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p77).  “…let us…bear the reproach he endured” (Heb 13:13 ESV).

“Like Him, you have to consent to yield your life, as laden with sin and curse, to death, and through it to pass to the new life” (ref#266, p77).  “What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, viz., sacrifice our lives.  Not—I am willing to go to death with Thee, but—I am willing to be identified with Thy death so that I may sacrifice my life to God” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Jan 8th).  Let us present our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).

FATHER, grant me a disposition to die.  You have put the desire in me; now aid me to bring it to fruition.  I run to Your SON who has died—I run to Him to show me how it is done.  “I must gaze on Him on the Cross…to make me partaker of the full power of His death to sin, and the new life of victory…I must yield myself to Him in an undivided surrender, with much prayer and strong desire, imploring to be admitted into the ever closer fellowship and conformity of His death…” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p77).

“…we know that He is in us, if we wait and pray to be filled with Him, He will teach us how to abide.  First, guiding our will to a whole-hearted cleaving to Christ, then quickening our faith into ever larger confidence and expectation, then breathing into our hearts a peace and joy that pass understanding…” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p114).

“So the Lamb of God shed his blood that we might defeat the devil by trusting his blood and shedding ours.  Jesus calls us onto the Calvary road.  It is a hard and good life.  Come” John Piper (ref#92, p95).

“’I want the everlasting God to come in and take such hold of me that I may be kept in the hollow of His hand all my life…that every moment He may work all in all in me’” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p45).

ABIDING IN CHRIST

UNITED AT THE CROSS

“Abide in Christ: and your cross becomes the means of fellowship with His cross” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p125).

“…the Calvary road is where everyone meets Jesus…” John Piper (ref#92, p94).

FATHER, the Cross is where I meet CHRIST; it is the place where I can reach out my hand and touch His for it is there He was obedient in His suffering (Heb 5:8) and, being tempted as I, able to sympathize with my weakness (Heb 4:15).  Truly He proved He is the SON of Man and is still the SON of Man abiding in me.  FATHER, You have showered upon me grace upon grace by giving Your Son.  “He can be nearer to me than anything in the world…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p41).

On the Cross the Son of God enters into the fullest union with man—enters into the fullest experience of what it says to have become a son of man, a member of a race under the curse” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p77).

“…my curse pointed Him to the Cross as the only place where He could be fully united to me, His blessing points me to the Cross too as the only place where I can be united to Him” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p78).

“…there is but one place which is both His and mine—that place is the Cross.  His in virtue of His free choice; mine by reason of the curse of sin.  He came there to seek me; there alone I can find Him.  When He found me there, it was the place of cursing; this He experienced, for ‘cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’  He made it a place of blessing; this I experienced, for Christ has delivered us from the curse, being made a curse for us.  When Christ comes in my place, He remains what He was, the beloved of the Father; but in the fellowship with me He shares my curse and dies my death.  When I stand in His place, which is still always mine, I am still what I was by nature, the accused one, who deserves to die; but as united to Him, I share His blessing, and receive His life” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p78).

“He took my cross for His own; I must take His Cross as my own…” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p78).

ABIDING IN CHRIST

BEARING THE CROSS

“…when Christ meets a person today it is always on the Calvary road—on the way to the cross” John Piper (ref#92, p94-95).

The question I should always ask is how do I view my afflictions?  Do I consider ordinary afflictions of life, like everyone else in the world has, as my share of Christ’s Cross? Andrew Murray (ref#266, p79).

JESUS experienced afflictions walking the earth; do I have similar ones?  What does “bearing the cross” really mean?

“…bearing the cross means likeness to Christ in the principles which animated Him in His path of obedience.

The entire surrender of all self-will,

the complete denial to the flesh of its every desire and pleasure,

the perfect separation from the world in all its ways of thinking and acting,

the losing and hating of one’s life,

the giving up of self and its interests for the sake of others—

this is the disposition which marks him who has taken up Christ’s Cross, who seeks to say, ‘I am crucified with Christ; I abide in Christ, the Crucified One.’” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p79).

“…when each is prepared to be known as the repentant sinner he is at the Cross of Jesus” Roy Hession (ref#97, p41-42).  “…there is a great deal that has to be given up: the world, its pleasures, its favor, its good opinion.  Your relationship to the world is to be the same as Jesus’ was.  The world rejected Him and cast Him out, and you are to take up the position of your Lord, to whom you belong, and to follow with the rejected Christ.  You have to give up everything.  You have to give up all that is good in yourself and be humbled in the dust of death” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p59).

“…the only life that pleases God…is His [JESUS’] life—never our life…our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His…” Roy Hession (ref#97, p25).

“…we are not likely to be broken except at the Cross of Jesus.  The willingness of Jesus to be broken for us is the all-compelling motive in our being broken too” Roy Hession (ref#97, p23).

“I must yield myself to Him [CHRIST] in an undivided surrender” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p77, brackets mine).

ABIDING IN CHRIST

CHRIST, THE CRUCIFIED ONE

“…Jesus was willing to become…a worm and no man [Ps 22:6].  And He did so, because that is what He saw us to be, worms having forfeited all rights by our sin, except to deserve hell.  And He now calls us to take our rightful place as worms for Him and with Him” Roy Hession (ref#97, p24, brackets mine).

“’Abide in the wounds of Jesus; there is the place of union, and life, and growth. There you shall see how His heart was opened to receive you; how His flesh was rent that the way might be opened for your being made one with Him, and having access to all the blessings flowing from His divine nature.’” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p76).

Thinking of a slip being grafted into a stem helps me see how close we become at the cross: To begin a graft the stem must be cut for room to place the newly cut slip.  Both stem and slip are injured.

“In the death of the Cross Christ was wounded, and in His opened wounds a place prepared where we might be grafted in…The wounded stem and the wounded graft are cut to fit into each other, into each other’s likeness.  There is a fellowship between Christ’s sufferings and your sufferings” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p76).

JESUS suffered on the Cross; and for me, my self-serving self must die.  “…when I follow Jesus…the old self-determining, self-absorbed me must be crucified” John Piper (ref#92, p95).  “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Rom 6:5 NASB).

This is my goal: to be in His likeness in death as well as resurrection.  Only then will I be able to walk with Him in “newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

PRAYER

MY PRAYER 

FATHER, You are the Vine Dresser, and Your Son is the True Vine.  “He Himself lives in us. Because He prays, we pray too….His meditation on the throne is as indispensable as on the cross.  It engages all His time and powers; it is now His unceasing occupation at Your right hand” Andrew Murray (ref#19, TWENTY-SIXTH LESSON).

CHRIST has made me one of His branches that I may bear fruit (John 15:5).  I can ask whatever I wish and He will do it for me if I abide in Him (John 15:7).  So FATHER, I will form my prayers to You.

Through the cleanness of my hands You will deliver even the one who is not innocent (Job 22:30)! My hands stretched out in supplication can save the wicked.  “It is one of the innumerable blessings of being a child of God thus to be permitted to be the means of…saving sinners from ruin. All the friends of God…should plead without ceasing for the salvation of guilty and dying people” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Job 22:30]).

Francis Chan, realizing the lost-ness of a group of his friends, prayed in anguish: “God, you can’t let these people go to hell.  I love them, Lord.  I love them. Do something please.  I know I can’t do anything for them ultimately.  But you say that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, and so I want all the sin out of my life.  I want to be as righteous as I can.  I want you to hear me and save these people” John Piper (ref#122, p106).

FATHER, in the Gospel sense I am righteous; I do not love or approve of any iniquity (Ps 66:18).  I purpose to put great thought into my prayers making them energetic, earnest (ref#16, [James 5:16]) and fervent, pouring out of my heart, finding their foundation in faith (ref#18 [James 5:12-20]).  Then they will have great power, being assisted by the HOLY SPIRIT.  Being allowed to pray is the greatest reason to be righteous.

My GOD, I have no power to control You; I cannot dictate or prescribe to You; I cannot resist Your purposes, but I can ask what I desire and expect a blessing from You; You will show me favor (ref#16, [James 5:16]).

FATHER, considering the fate of my loved ones, it is necessary to pray consistently and never quit.  I desire to not to faint or lose heart in prayer (Luke 18:1).

PRAYER

ANSWERED PRAYER

“So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD did as Moses asked…” (Ex 8:30-31 ESV).

“Prayer…cannot request too much because the Father desires to glorify his Son as much as possible” Bryan Chapell (ref#66, p97).

“God…satisfies his appetite for joy by answering prayers….he gets his satisfaction by magnifying the glory of his riches by filling up the deficiencies of people who pray” John Piper (ref#220, p216).

“…prayer may and must expect an answer.  Thou dost assure us that this is the fellowship of a child with the Father: the child asks and the Father gives” Andrew Murray (ref#19).

“Think, how many times the prayers of the saints have prevailed with God…Moses’ prayer prevailed to deliver Israel, when the Egyptians so closely pursued them….Asa’s prayer prevailed against Zerah and his Ethiopian army, and Jehoshaphat’s against the Ammonites.  And if prayer has been so prevalent, why may it not be so still?  It is an old, proven means, which has not used to fail….” John Collins (ref#225, Dec 13th).

“We see prayer perfectly…in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Look at Him.  He obeyed God’s commandments perfectly, and He received the Holy Spirit without measure.  He was led and guided of the Spirit. He had put aside His own eternal glory, and He came to live as man.  Then He received the Spirit and was guided and led by the Spirit and thus He lived this life of prayer….His supreme object and desire was to do the will of His Father, and as long as that is our supreme will and desire, as long as we are concerned about that and are submitting to the leading of the Spirit, our requests will be granted as His requests were granted” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p131).

“Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer….Over and over again God has to teach us how to stand and endure, watching actively and wondering” Oswald Chambers (ref#8, Jan 15th).  “…you may discover that your real need was not to know the next step but to have a new revelation of God Himself” Lorne Sanny (ref#302, p195).

PRAYER

SHORT PRAYERS ARE LONG ENOUGH

“…God is in heaven and you are on earth.  Therefore let your words be few” (Eccl 5:2 ESV).

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words, than your words be without heart.” John Bunyan

“…prayer is fundamentally counterintuitive, we need grace to rescue us from our self-oriented religious meanderings so that, with humble hearts we may acknowledge God as the Redeemer-King and cast ourselves on his gracious care” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Mar 3rd).

“Begin in silence.  Speak with simplicity.  Listen in meekness.  Never leave without a conscious season of real communion” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p74).  “…silence is the best speech and listening is the best part of praying” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p38).

“Short prayers are long enough….Not length but strength is desirable.  A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity.  If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better.  Verbiage is to devotion as chaff is to wheat” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 14th PM).

“…the prayer of the upright that delights God comes from a heart that at first feels precarious in the presence of God.  It trembles at the hearing of God’s Word, because it feels so far from God’s ideal and so vulnerable to his judgment and so helpless and so sorry for its failings….The first thing that makes a prayer acceptable to God is the brokenness and humility of the one who prays…what makes prayers pleasing to God is a felt awareness of our tremendous need for mercy….The other thing that marks the upright heart is trust in the willingness and power of God to give the mercy we need” John Piper (ref#220, p214).

ELECTION

ELECTION

Two theologies of Salvation: “One speaks of a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself.  One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind—election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit—as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly.  The other view gives each act a different reference [the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond], and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them.  The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms.  One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on the work of man; one regards faith as part of God’s gift of salvation, the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it” J. I. Packer (Introduction to The Death of Death by John Owen, p4).

“We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election” John Calvin (ref#113, p607).

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30 ESV).

Romans 8:30 can be summarized:

“I believe, therefore I am justified;

I am justified, therefore I am sanctified;

I am sanctified, therefore I am called;

I am called, therefore I am elected;

I am elected, therefore I shall be saved” Thomas Adams (ref#225, March 29th)

“’…those who are justified will be glorified’ (Rom 8:30), so that all the conditions laid down for glorification will be met by the power of God’s grace….Election… guards against the error of thinking that we can earn our way into God’s favor through ‘works of the law.’” John Piper (ref#220, p151).

“…faith is not a condition of election.  Election is a condition for faith.  It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith”  Dan Cummings (sermon, God’s Sovereign Election).

“…whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:47 ESV).  “‘…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom 10:13 ESV).