Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him?

Utmost
If you have faith as a mustard seed . . .
nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20

This second of three posts on the theme of faith is taken from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest October 31st.

 

‘We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.”
The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

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It’s not gas….

Mere cover

C.S. Lewis writing in terms of THE Faith ‘So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.’  Acts 16:5 ESV, reminds us that our faith in Christ is not a matter of our response to the way he makes us feel about ourselves. Rather, it is a matter of believing in what his Spirit has revealed to us as the Truth and this must become the heart of our preaching to ‘modern audiences’. This is the first of three posts on ‘faith’.

 

“The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort. Now a clearly maintained distinction between what the Faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like. This immediately helps them realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact — not gas about ideals and points of view.”
C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity

‘…you thought that I was one like yourself.’

RR poster
‘Plantin’ and readin’, plantin’ and readin’. Fill a man full of lead and stick him in the ground and then read words at him. Why, when you killed a man, why try to read the Lord in as a partner on the job?’
Simms Reeves (Hank Worden)

 


‘Get a shovel and my Bible. I’ll read over him’,
says John Wayne as Thomas Dunson in Red River the 1948 western directed by Howard Hawks, just one of my favorites in my favorite genre of films.The passage Dunson chooses to read over the recently deceased (We brought nothing into this world and it’s certain we carry nothing out…) comes from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and he turns to it on three occasions in the movie.

RR graveFirst there is the Mexican rider he shoots for being the bearer of bad news; that the land Dunson has just decided to settle already belongs to Don Diego by right and patent of the King of Spain. That’s a claim that annoys Groot (Walter Brennan as Dunson’s sidekick) so much that he says, on hearing that Diego’s home is 400 miles to the south, ‘That’s too much land for one man. It ain’t decent!’ and Dunson rationalizes the necessity to kill the Mexican, saying that Don Diego took the land from somebody else, probably the Indians. He sends the second Mexican rider back to his boss with another message, ‘Tell Diego that now I am taking it from him!’

RR Draw
The second service is for young Dan Latimer, killed when the herd stampedes, while the third and the one which inspired this post, is for the three quitters killed by Dunson with help from Garth (Montgomery Clift) and Groot (Walter Brennan). Mailer, Fernandez and one other argued with Dunson, wanting to quit when the stampede left rations short and Dunson, fearing that others might also desert, shoots them.

 

After the shootout Dunson tells Matthew Garth,
‘…there’s quitters to be buried. We’ll Happy Hankread over them in the morning,’ and that’s when Simms Reeves (Hank Worden) makes his insightful comment about “plantin’ and readin”  which put me in mind of a verse from the Psalms. In Psalm 50 God accuses the wicked of hating discipline and ignoring his word, of being pleased with thieves and keeping company with adulterers, of giving their mouths free rein for evil, of framing deceit with their tongue, and speaking slander against their brothers. God says, ‘These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.’

Perhaps the only thing more foolish than believing that there is no God is to believe that God is like us, to believe in a god made in our own image. But this is the dynamic at the heart of sin, the essence of Satan’s temptation in Eden when he tells Eve that if she eats the fruit that God has forbidden she will not die, that God only forbade it because when they do eat they will be like God. This attitude still infected Israel’s worship during the exodus from Egypt so that Moses had to remind the people before they settled in the land, You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you…’ Deuteronomy 12:8-9 ESV

SermonOf course this attitude has never gone out of fashion. Whether we deny that God exists or believe in a god we have created in our own image, whose prejudices and appetites strangely match our own sinful ones, we are still responding to the echo of Satan’s words to Eve, ‘…you will be like God…’. They say that all the best lies contain an element of the truth and the truth is that God has created us in his own image, that Christ the perfect man is the perfect impression of the fullness of God and we will be like him. As John says in his epistle, ‘Beloved, we are God’s children now, and …we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.’ 1 John 3:2

So what should our attitude be while we wait to enter into the perfection of our rest in Christ? We have, by grace, through faith, already entered into eternal life. May we not be like God even now? Of course, as God’s children, filled with his Spirit, we may. But the attitude of Thomas Dunson who does whatever he pleases and then tries to ‘read the Lord in as a partner on the job’ can not be the attitude of a child of the true God.

In the vine
Rather, as Paul wrote, in Christ now, we should,
Have this mind among (our)selves, which is (ours) in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Philippians 2:5-7 ESV

The Cost of Our Forgiveness

Utmost
This is the third of three posts on the theme of forgiveness.

It comes from Oswald Chambers:
My Utmost for His HighestNovember 20th

‘In whom we have…the forgiveness of sins.’ Ephesians 1:7

 

 

‘Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God-God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which god can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ; to put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favour is through the cross of Christ, and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy (Spirit), and our sanctification with the simplicity of faith, and to forget at what enormous cost to God it was all made ours. Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace; it cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God. Never accept a view of the Fatherhood of God if it blots out the Atonement. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement. God’s forgiveness is only natural in the supernatural domain. Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is slight. Sanctification is simply the marvelous expression of the forgiveness of sins in a human life, but the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin. Paul never got away from this. When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.’

From Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

God means what He says….

Lewis
C. S. Lewis writes about the problem of forgiveness:

. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

 

As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought.

But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine percent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one percent guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian character; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.

From C. S. Lewis The Weight of Glory