Archive for November, 2015

Blessed Assurance

So my Bible Study Fellowship question asked:
What assurance do you have that Jesus has purchased you for God?

My lesson offered several biblical assurances that are laid up for me in God’s excellent Word (John 3:16-19, Romans 10:9, Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 2 Timothy 2:19). In addition to these, however, several other assurances came to mind which bore witness immediately to my soul of having been re-created in Christ. This began that day in the break room at Sears when I joyfully came to throw all of my hope for life and salvation on the effectual death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. The philosophical Law of Causality states that “every change in nature is produced by some cause” and this is no where more evident than in the change that took place in me from that day forward – the cause being none other than He who changed my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and wrote his moral law on this heart so many years ago.

From that moment of conversion, I experienced an uplifting of my spirit and a sense of peace and well-being which sprang from having the wrestlings of my heart and my impotent efforts answered by Jesus’ finished work on the cross – He did it all [Ephesians 2:8-9] – achieving for me that which I had been unable to do on my own. I immediately sensed a release of all my strivings when I realized my God-given desire to please Him was fulfilled, not in my never-ending checklists and duties, but in his own Son. I find my place at the banquet because of the Beloved.

Other evidences?

I received a new and lasting affection toward God. From then on, I have had a bend toward the things of God. I am hungry, still, after more than 30 years, to move “further up and further in” as C.S. Lewis put it.

A spiritual sensitivity to my offenses against God has increased not decreased over the years. Conviction of sin, which targeted first only my behavioral sins, has expanded its sanctifying work in me by addressing also those outwardly-imperceptible sins of thought and motivation as the Holy Spirit continues to form the new man in me.

Scripture began to make sense to me (1 Corinthians 2:14). I’ve read it now seven times and it continues to teach me. Each time I take up the Book, I still find it speaks to my soul, shapes my thinking, and magnifies Yahweh.

I have a filial connection to the Body of Christ, the Church. I am bound to fellow believers in a way that transcends race and ethnicity, geo-political boundaries, and socio-economics. I am not only bound to those believers in my local church, but to those who claim the name of Christ in my city, country, and around the world. Watching the global news these days, 1 Corinthians 12:26 is played out many times over: If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. This connection and association with the Body transcends time as I look ahead to worshiping around the throne with believers from ages past, present, and future.  There is a unity of the Spirit which we recognize in each other that goes deeper often than the unity of many blood relations.

Lastly, I have a deep-seated soul-peace when I consider the security of my eternal destination. Until I take possession of it, I bear the seal of the Holy Spirit (as the above evidences attest to) and He is the guarantee of my inheritance to come. I no longer wonder and hope and fret over my place in eternity. I walk this world now as a stranger and wayfarer, but I am confidently making my sure way to the Celestial City.

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Sun spots

As I sat confessing my sins today, I was humbled by the black and whiteness of my world and how easy it is for me to see the speck in my brother’s eye. This was brought home for me in two ways recently, one in the Spurgeon quote which Pastor Ray Ortlund (the son) posted and which follows. The other came in a discussion with a dear saint who may have similar tendencies but who decided, “I don’t want to be that person.” That phrase has hit its mark and I hope, too, to amend my discernment to bring life, when possible, and not just find fault.

“We should be merciful to one another in seeking never to look at the worst side of a brother’s character. Oh, how quick some are to spy out other people’s faults! They hear that Mr. So-and-so is very useful in the church, and they say, ‘Yes, he is, but he has a very curious way of going to work, has he not? And he is so eccentric.’ Well, did you ever know a good man who was very successful, who was not a little eccentric? . . .

Do you go out when the sun is shining brightly and say, ‘Yes, this sun is a very good illuminator, but I remark that it has spots’? If you do, you had better keep your remark to yourself, for it gives more light than you do, whatever spots you may have or may not have. And many excellent persons in the world have spots, but yet they do good service to God and to their age.

So let us not always be the spot-finders, but let us look at the bright side of the brother’s character rather than the dark one, and feel that we rise in repute when other Christians rise in repute, and that, as they have honor through their holiness, our Lord has the glory of it, and we share in some of the comfort of it.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
Treasury of the New Testament
(Grand Rapids, n.d.), I:65.

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Return of the King, I

Recently, Dana and I had a wonderful weekend with my sister and brother-in-law and the rest of our clan reviving an old family Renaissance Festival custom.  Afterward, as often happens at my sis and bro’s, the fellowship continued.  I’ve had more laughs and more hearty conversations in that house than in most – what a joy!  Sunday we attended my kiddos budding church and afterwards… more laughs and hearty conversation at my daughter, Courtney’s, as she had us over for lunch.  A blessed weekend.

At church that day, Dana and I were introduced to a new hymn which really grabbed our hearts.  It’s a charge to the Church.  It’s meaning undoubtedly heightened for us by David Mathissermon which preceded it.  Taken from 1 Timothy 3:14-16, the message was The Church.  The Church – a happy family and diverse assembly who are gospel people (sinners saved by Christ’s sacrifice) confessing the mystery of godliness.  Mathis concluded by proclaiming two lamps that make Jesus known to the world: Jesus himself in his incarnation and Word AND… the church!  At the end of the service, I just wanted to do a big group hug with these other believers (most of whom I did not know) but with whom I feel more commonality, deeper family affection, and greater union of spirit than with some on my physical family tree.

The Church – Thank you, Lord Jesus, for binding me to your family!

O Church, Arise

O Church, arise, and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our Captain.
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth,
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;
An army bold, whose battle-cry is Love,
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole,
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on every side
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died,
An inheritance of nations.

Come see the cross, where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This victory march continues till the day
Every eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come put strength in every stride,
Give grace for every hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When with Christ we stand in glory.

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2004 Thankyou Music
See more at: http://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/song/o-church-arise/#sthash.EDcnn6lu.dpuf

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