Going Along to Get Along?

Jerry Bridges
We really don’t need to worry that we will ever be ‘too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use’. The more the minds of Christians are shaped by heaven, (
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… Philippians 2:4-5 ESV) the more useful we will be, to God, and to the world; the better we will be able to love God, and our neighbor, too. This first of three brief posts on the theme of worldliness, comes from Jerry Bridges…

Jerry Bridges writes… “Now let me review my twofold definition of worldliness. First of all, it’s a preoccupation with the things of this temporal life. Second, it’s accepting and going along with the values and practices of society around us without discerning if they are biblical. I believe the key to our tendencies toward worldliness lies primarily in the two words going along. We simply go along with and accept the values and practices of society around us without thought as to whether those values and practices are biblical.

“That’s why Christian young women will wear immodest dress. They simply go along with the styles others are wearing without stopping to think whether or not those styles are pleasing to God. And there is nothing overtly sinful in sports themselves. But if we simply go along with others around us, we can end up making an idol of our favourite team.”

From Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins – Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

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Wisdom and Guidance – A package deal?

Goldsworthy

 

My feelings, as a young Christian, of frustration over God’s guidance (I wanted it – he seemed too slow to give it) were largely selfish. They still are, and more often than I am comfortable admitting. Perhaps if I were more concerned with finding Wisdom I would have found guidance too. This final brief post on the theme of Wisdom also comes from Graeme Goldsworthy…

Graeme Goldsworthy wrote: “The second approach to guidance is the wisdom way. That is, God has given us the framework within which to make our decisions for life. In the gospel lie all the principles needed for us to make wise and responsible decisions. In being urged to use our God-given brains to make decisions which are consistent with the gospel, we recognize that many situations, even those of great importance, present us with two or more options to choose from, none of which needs to be more acceptable than the others.

“In the course of his daily decision making, the Christian can rest assured that he will not miss out on God’s best. Through momentary insanity or stupidity he may choose a course of action that results in a lot of trouble, even tragedy. But even that cannot permanently remove him from the ultimate purpose of God.

“We all have much to repent of daily, and wiser (more gospel-directed) decisions would keep us from causing ourselves and others much hurt.”

From Graeme Goldsworthy in Gospel and Wisdom

In Christ alone….

Goldsworthy
Paul wrote (in Galatians 2:20) ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’  While we were dead in our sin, with no life of our own, no righteousness of our own, Christ Himself became our life, and our righteousness, to bring us to God. And He became our Wisdom too. This second of three brief posts on the theme of Wisdom also comes from Graeme Goldsworthy…

“(The Wisdom of the Book of Proverbs) is given its full and perfect expression by Jesus. This fulfils the prophetic expectation of the perfectly wise messianic king. As tempting as it is to rush from the texts of Proverbs to an application to our Christian life, we must discipline ourselves to relate our texts first of all to their fulfilment in Christ. Jesus in every way fulfils God’s requirements for Israel. He was the perfectly wise man of God living the absolutely responsible life before his heavenly Father. In his perfectly human existence he lived according to his true perception of reality, making right decisions in the right place and at the right time. In all this he constantly lived as the one who perfectly feared the Lord….

“Thus … we cannot simply apply proverbial wisdom out of the Old Testament to ourselves as if we had never heard of Jesus Christ. Wisdom points to righteousness, but we know that Jesus’ life was lived for us in order to provide a perfect righteousness for us that counts for our acceptance with God (and) Jesus (also) justifies our feeble attempts to live wisely by being what we should be but cannot. Thus, God regards all believers as having the very wisdom of Christ. In other words, Christ has been made wisdom for us 1 Corinthians 1:30).

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus,
who became to us wisdom from God,
righteousness and sanctification and redemption…
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV

From Graeme Goldsworthy in Gospel and Wisdom

The Taming of the Shrewd?

Goldsworthy
For the sons of this world are more shrewd
in dealing with their own generation
than the sons of light. Luke 16:8b ESV

In previous posts, Jesus Himself is seen to be the More than common sense we Christians need in order to live well as his disciples. Since Jesus Himself made the controversial comment above (Luke 16) about common sense or what might be called worldly wisdom, this first of three brief posts on the theme of Wisdom begins there. It comes from Graeme Goldsworthy…

Graeme Goldsworthy wrote: “One of the more difficult sayings of Jesus is the story of the dishonest (manager) in Luke 16:1-9. … There is no question of Jesus condoning the man’s fraudulent approach to his master’s goods. However, he does commend the prudence of the (manager) in the way he pursues his own ends. … So, the children of this world often show greater wisdom than children of the kingdom of God in this sense, that they apply themselves to the problems facing them with far greater tenacity. Ronald Wallace comments (in Many Things in Parables) ‘The average Christian of today is not willing to put into the matter of his religion even a fraction of the perseverance, patience and intelligent concentration that the man who knows only this present world gives towards perfecting his technical knowledge for his business, or even towards his hobbies’.

Graeme Goldsworthy continued: “If Christians showed as much talent and shrewdness in the pursuit of the world for Christ as unbelievers show in the pursuit of riches, who could gauge what effect that would have? In ultimate terms the (manager’s) wisdom is folly for he would be overthrown in the judgement of God. But in limited terms there is a valid aspect of wisdom in what he does. His shrewdness would need to be transformed by the gospel, but it is commendable wisdom for all that.”

From Graeme Goldsworthy in Gospel and Wisdom

Disturbing the Peace?

Utmost
To deal well with the worst of life, with the effects of fallen nature, with our own Sin, and with our own sins, and with the effects of the sins of others upon us, we need Jesus Himself, the Wisdom of God, more than any kind of common sense that will not recognize Him as Lord. This last of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense also comes from Oswald Chambers…

“What do you want me to do for you?”
He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Luke 18:41 ESV

Oswald Chambers wrote: “What is the thing that not only disturbs you but makes you a disturbance? It is always something you cannot deal with yourself. “They rebuked (the blind man) that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more.” Persist in the disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself; do not deify commonsense.

“When Jesus asks us what we want Him to do for us in regard to the incredible thing with which we are faced, remember that He does not work in commonsense ways, but in spiritual ways.

“Watch how we limit the lord by remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past: ‘I always failed there, and I always shall’; consequently we do not ask for what we want, ‘It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.’ If it is an impossibility, it is the thing we have to ask. If it is not an impossible thing, it is not a real disturbance. God will do the absolutely impossible.

“This man received his sight. The most impossible thing to you is that you should be so identified with the Lord that there is nothing of the old life left. He will do it if you ask Him. But you have to come to the place where you believe Him to be Almighty.

“Faith is not in what Jesus says but in Himself; if we only look at what He says we shall never believe. When once we see Jesus, He does the impossible thing as naturally as breathing. Our agony comes through the willful stupidity of our own heart. We won’t believe, we won’t cut the shore line, we prefer to worry on.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Yes, but…

Utmost
What we call common sense may be a reliable help to us on many occasions, though we need to be careful that what we call common sense is not something else entirely;
like the man (or woman) who speaks in Proverbs 22:13 – ‘The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!” Whatever the case, there are times when only faith in God’s word will be enough to see us through. This second of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense also comes from Oswald Chambers…

‘Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but…’ Luke 9:61 ESV

Oswald Chambers writes… “Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely. ‘Yes, but – supposing I do obey God in this matter, what about …?’

Yes, I will obey God if he will let me use my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.’ Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense.

“At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Stormy weather?

UtmostWhen Peter (Matthew 14) stepped out of his boat in a storm, but in faith in Jesus, he began so well, but, ‘when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Later, Paul would write (2 Corinthians 5:7-8) “for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage…” We need more than our common senses can provide if we are to walk with Jesus as his disciples, in both fair weather and foul. This first of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers wrote…  “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 ESV Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your commonsense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not commonsense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your commonsense cannot trust Him? Can you venture heroically on Jesus Christ’s statements when the facts of your commonsense life shout ‘It’s a lie’?

“On the mount it is easy to say- ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it’; but you have to come down into the demon-possessed valley and meet with facts that laugh ironically at the whole of your mount-of-transfiguration belief.

“Every time my programme of belief is clear to my own mind, I come across something that contradicts it. Let me say I believe God will supply all my need, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will go through the trial of faith, or whether I will sink back to something lower.

“Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into personal possession only through conflict. What is your faith up against just now? The test will either prove that your faith is right, or it will kill it. ’Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.’

“The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death. May God keep us in fighting trim! Faith is unutterable trust in God which never dreams that He will not stand by us.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest