If I ruled the world?

Mere cover

 

In those days there was no king in Israel.
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25 ESV

 

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Well, maybe. But is even the best democracy the best we can aspire to in this world? Might not Christians hold onto hopes for a society, this side of Heaven’s perfect City of God, where standards of what is ‘right’ may not only be agreed upon but also followed; and what might such a Christian society look like? This first of three brief posts on the theme of A Christian society comes from C.S. Lewis…

C.S.Lewis wrote: “The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one’s work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. … To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, the New Testament is always insisting on obedience obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry and anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls ‘busybodies’.

“If there were such a society in existence and your or I visited it, I think we would come away with a curious impression. We would feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, ‘advanced’, but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned – perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing.

“That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.

From C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

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God’s convergent guidance?

Fear to Faith

I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me…
Habakkuk 2:1 ESV

Whenever we have prayed according to the Spirit of God, submitting our own spirit to His, He will always answer. By His Spirit He may answer us in scripture; or He may answer by His Spirit at work in us. But, as they used to say in the late night television commercials, ‘Wait! There’s more!’ This final brief post on the theme Where to Look for Answers to Prayer also comes from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones…

Dr. Lloyd-Jones wrote: “Then again He sometimes answers our prayers by so providentially ordering our circumstances, and the day-to-day happenings of our lives, that it becomes quite plain what God is saying. God never calls us to do any work without opening the door. He may take a long time, but if God wants us to do some special task He will shut other doors and open that particular one. Our whole life will be directed to that end.

“This is a common experience of the Christian life. God often allows obstacles to arise, but the way ahead remains clear. God’s will is certain. The point is that we must be looking for these answers, and ready to recognize them when they come.

“Having committed my problem to God I must expect God to answer. I should also compare one indication of guidance with another, because if God is always consistent with Himself in His dealings with me, I can expect them all to converge.”

From Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in From Fear to Faith (Rejoicing in the Lord in Turbulent Times).

God’s good impressions?

Fear to Faith

 

I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me…
Habakkuk 2:1 ESV

 

God is never limited in the way He answers our prayers. He is so fashioning our own spirits in fellowship with himself and in likeness to Jesus that we begin to find His Word in scripture confirmed in us. This second of three brief posts on the theme Where to Look for Answers to Prayer also comes from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones wrote: “Then God sometimes answers directly in our spirits. (Habakkuk) said: ‘I will watch to see what he will say in me’ (cf. AV margin). God speaks to me by speaking in me. He can so lay something upon the mind that we are certain of the answer. He can impress something upon our spirits in an unmistakable manner. We find ourselves unable to get away from an impression that is on our mind or heart; we try to rid ourselves of it, but back it comes. So does God answer at times.”

From Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in From Fear to Faith (Rejoicing in the Lord in Turbulent Times).

Waiting (and Watching)?

Fear to Faith

 

I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me…
Habakkuk 2:1 ESV

 

 

Fear and faith go together like a riddle and its answer. C.S.Lewis said, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. When God finally gets our attention in the worst of our pain, and we turn to Him and pray, where may we look for His answers? This first of three brief posts on the theme Where to Look for Answers to Prayer comes from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones wrote about the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk: “ (When we pray) we must look for the answer. Habakkuk is looking for the answer. We so often fail because we just pray to God and then forget about it. If we pray to God we must expect answers to our prayers. Do we in fact, after we have prayed, continue to look to God and eagerly await the answer … expecting it to come at any moment? God, of course, may answer in a number of different ways.

“For instance, you can expect God to answer you as you read His Word, for it is the commonest way of all in which He does this. As you are reading Scripture, suddenly a strange and wonderful light is cast upon your problem. If you say to yourself, ‘This is the Word of God through which He speaks to men and I wonder what he has to say to me,’ then you are likely to obtain your answer. Watch and wait for it.”

From Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in From Fear to Faith (Rejoicing in the Lord in Turbulent Times).

Plus or min-us?

John Stott C the C
I do not receive glory from people.
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:41, 44 ESV

Imagine a wedding where the Best Man believed that the day was all about him. John the Baptist said of his witness to Jesus, ‘Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This final brief post on the theme of glory also comes from John Stott…

John Stott wrote: “To love the glory of God more than the glory of men is also to seek approval from God rather than men. This too was the declared ambition of Jesus. ‘I do not receive glory of men,’ He said. Indeed, we know that He was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3) …yet God approved Him (Mark 1:11; 9:7; Romans 1:4; Philippians 2:9-11)…

“Very different was the ambition of the Pharisees. Their supreme concern was to stand high in the favour of men, rather than God, and this had an evil effect upon every aspect of their lives.

“ John writes that towards the end of His ministry ‘many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ (John 12:42,43).

“They could not contemplate the ridicule and rejection which would follow an open commitment to Christ. They were hungry for popularity and praise. The same self-regarding anxiety to stand high in the opinion of others keeps many Christians dumb today when they should be vocal in testimony to their Lord….

 “Our ministry will never be blessed by God until we can cry with honest defiance: ‘Am I now seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.’ (Galatians 1:10).

From John R W Stott in Christ the Controversialist.Plus

Mine be the glory?

John Stott C the C

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

Luke 18:10-12 ESV

To suggest the Pharisee, in saying ‘God, I thank you,’ was glorifying Him, rather than him-Self, is to have missed Luke’s comment in verse 9, ‘(Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous’. Of course none of us would be caught going to church to praise ourselves. Would we? This second of three brief posts on the theme of glory also comes from John Stott…

John Stott wrote: “At this point it seems right to pause and see how much Pharisaism lingers even in Christian hearts. Indeed, so proud is our corrupt nature that even in our most sacred moments we may find ourselves motivated rather by self-glory than by God’s glory…

“True heart-worship is the most God-centred, God-honouring activity in which man either can or will ever participate. It is to ascribe to God the glory due to His name, to be occupied with God and with God alone. It has been truly said that nothing so disinfects us of egoism.

“Yet into public worship how subtly and swiftly does self-glory begin to intrude! The minister becomes proud of the way he is leading the service, the preacher of his eloquence and learning, the choir and musicians of their musical ability, and the congregation of their piety in being in church at all!

“Thus, just when our attention should be absorbed exclusively with God in self-forgetful adoration, we become self-conscious, self-righteous, self-important, and self-congratulatory again.”

From John R W Stott in Christ the Controversialist.

Glory me?

John Stott C the C

‘…for they loved the glory that comes from man
more than the glory that comes from God.

John 12:43 ESV.

The temptation to grab some glory for ourselves, even in the little things of life (at home, at work, or even at church) can creep up on any of us. But glory that is taken, is no glory at all. This first of three brief posts on the theme of glory comes from John Stott…

John Stott wrote: “Ultimately there are only two controlling ambitions, to which all others may be reduced. One is our own glory, and the other God’s. (John, in his gospel) set them in irreconcilable opposition to each other, and in doing so disclosed Christ’s fundamental quarrel with the Pharisees: ‘they loved the glory of men’, he wrote, ‘more than the glory of God.’  (John 12:43)

“To love the glory of God more than the glory of men is to seek to bring glory to Him rather than to men. It is to desire that all men will honour God (not us or others), and that we and they will give to Him the glory which is Hid due. It is to fulfil the aspirations of the Lord’s Prayer, to be concerned for the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of God’s kingdom, and the doing of God’s will.

“The man Christ Jesus was imbued with this desire. ‘I do not seek my own glory,’ He could say. Again,He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.’ (John 8:50; 7:18). ‘Father,’ He prayed, ‘glorify thy name.’ This was the supreme passion of His life and ministry, so that He could claim at the end, ‘I glorified thee on earth.’ (John 12:28; 17:4).

From John R W Stott in Christ the Controversialist.