Rise and Shine?

Utmost

 

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Ephesians 5:14 ESV

‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ Jesus said. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ said Paul. Jesus was reminding sinners, like us, that, apart from Himself, we would be forever unfruitful. Paul was reminding sinners, like himself, but in whom Christ Himself now lived, that anything God willed, they could do, overcoming every obstacle and bearing much fruit. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers writes…  “All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you – ‘Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!’ That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, ‘Buck up,’ we find that the initiative is inspired. We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say – ‘Arise from the dead.’

When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the ‘bucking up.’

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.

When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, ‘Arise from the dead,’ we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand – ‘Stretch forth thy hand,’ and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

What we shout when the devil whispers?

John Stott
15 
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 
Romans 6:15-16 ESV

 

Paul was criticized for emphasizing the Grace of God in Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Some attempted to discredit him (and the Gospel) asking, that if Grace is free, then why not continue in sin, and receive more grace? This third of three brief posts on the theme Slaves of God also comes from Dr. John Stott…

John Stott writes… … (this is) a question that is often whispered in our ears by the greatest enemy of the gospel, Satan himself, who seeks to entice us into sin. As he asked Eve in the garden, ‘Did God say…?’, so he whispers in our ear, ‘Why not continue in sin? Go on! You are under grace. God will forgive you.’

“When this happens, how do we answer the devil? We must begin with an outraged negative, ‘God forbid’, ‘By no means!’ But then we need to go further and confirm this negative with a reason. And there is a reason, a solid, logical, irrefutable reason, why the subtle insinuations of the devil must be repudiated. It is most important, because it brings all this great theology down to the level of our practical everyday experience.

“What is the reason we must give in rebutting the devil’s enticements? It is based on what we are, namely that we are one with Christ (Romans 6:1-14) and slaves of God (verses 15-23). We became united to Christ by baptism (at least outwardly and visibly). We became enslaved to God by the self-surrender of faith. But whether we emphasize the outward baptism or the inward faith, the point is the same. It is that our Christian conversion has had this result: it has united us to Christ, and it has enslaved us to God. This is what we are, every one of us: one with Christ, and a slave of God.”

From John R.W. Stott in Men Made New.

Remember to blush today?

 

John Stott20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:20-23 ESV

J.B. Phillips translates verse 21a as: ‘Yet what sort of harvest did you reap from those things that today you blush to remember?’ If we have forgotten how to blush over even the memory of our sins, that may not be so much a sign of our growing maturity as it may be a sign of our more cold-blooded rebellion. This second of three brief posts on the theme Slaves of God also comes from Dr. John Stott…

John Stott writes… “Here then are two completely different lives, lives totally opposed to one another – the life of the old self, and the life of the new. They are what Jesus termed the broad road that leads to destruction, and the narrow road that leads to life. Paul calls them two slaveries. By birth we are slaves to sin; by grace and faith we have become slaves of God. The slavery of sin yields no return, except a steady, moral deterioration and finally death. The slavery of God yields the precious return of sanctification and finally eternal life. The argument of this section, then, is that our conversion – this act of yielding or surrender to God – leads to a status of slavery, and slavery involves obedience.”

From John R.W. Stott in Men Made New.

Do you not know?

John Stott

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 
Romans 6:15-16 ESV

Christy Nockles 2009 song, My Master, (still a welcome regular on my play list during morning walks) recalls the experience of the slave in Exodus 21:4-6 who, when he said, ‘plainly’, ‘I love my master…I will not go free…’ confirmed his slavery ‘forever’ by allowing his master to bore an awl through his ear into the doorpost of his house. Are we not unpopular enough in the world today, as Christians, that we would dare to suggest that slavery to God is something to be desired, for Love’s sake? This first of three brief posts on the theme of Slaves of God comes from Dr. John Stott…

John Stott writes… “First comes a question: ‘What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?’ (6:15). This is the same question as in verse 1, ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?’ This question is followed in verses 2 and 15 by the same answer, an emphatic negative, ‘By no means!’ or ‘God forbid!’ (AV).

“Then comes another question explaining this negative, and beginning, Do you not know? Verse 3:Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?’ Similarly, verse 16:Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey?’

“… In verses 15-23 what we are to know is that through self-surrender, through yielding ourselves, we are slaves of God and therefore committed to obedience. This is what the beginning of verse 16 says: Once you have chosen your master, you have no more choice but to obey. This is true as a principle, whether you yield to sin, ending in ‘death’, or to obedience, ending in ‘righteousness’, acceptance with God.”

From John R.W. Stott in Men Made New.

Signpost or distraction?

Ministers of God

How awful if people in need of a hospital were so distracted by the signs along the way that they never reached the care they truly needed. This final brief post on the theme of the Ministry of Christ also comes from Leon Morris…

“If we are to grasp New Testament teaching on the ministry it is important to be clear on the place assigned to Christ’s ministry. His is the one essential ministry. All human ministry depends on His ministry, and, indeed, is nothing more than a continuation of it. Christian ministers must take their starting point in what Christ has done, and they can do no more than minister His gospel to men. Their task is to point men to Christ that He may meet their need. As T. W. Manson puts it, ‘The ministry of Jesus is the standard and pattern of the Church’s task; but, more than that, the Church’s task is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus…All our endeavours are to be understood as ways in which the Risen Lord continues his work in the world.’”

From Leon Morris in Ministers of God.