Jesus said, “Unless…”.

God's Words

Childlikeness towards God, said Jesus – meaning simple trust, responsiveness, and dependence – is the spirit in which alone we enter the divine kingdom and live its life (Matthew 18:3 f.)” So says Dr. J. I. Packer commenting on the similarities between our physical life as newborns, and our spiritual life when we, by Grace, through faith, are born again. This final brief post on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

Dr Packer writes: “Third, the baby moves, turning its head, flexing its limbs, later on rolling, crawling, tottering, toddling, exploring; and similarly the born-again person moves in the spiritual realm into which he has now come, sorting out priorities, reshaping his life in the light of his new allegiance, exploring Christian relationships and ways of worship, using enterprise for the Lord in many kinds of work and witness. Constantly to be ‘zealous for good deeds’ (Titus 2:14) and to be wanting and trying to do more and more for God’s kingdom is thus a third sign of being regenerate.

“Fourth, the baby rests, relaxing completely and sleeping soundly in adult arms and wherever else feels firm; and in the same way the born-again person rests in the knowledge that God’s everlasting arms are underneath him (Deuteronomy 33:27) ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast’ (Psalm 131:2). Constantly to rest in quiet contentment, concerned only to be faithful in obedience and leaving it to God to overrule the outcome, is thus a fourth sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

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A Christmas Feast?

God's Words

Of a new-born’s first cries, we might say, ‘Healthy set of lungs; a good sign!’ If prayer is the equivalent to those cries, an early sign of a healthy new life, spiritually, then another may be a healthy appetite. This second of three brief posts on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

 

 

Dr Packer writes: “Second, the baby feeds, instinctively; and the born-again person also feels a hunger for spiritual food – first the milk and then the meat of God’s revealed word. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 3:2).

He listens to the word preached and taught and discussed; he reads it in his Bible, and in books that throw light on the Bible; he asks questions about it; he meditates on it, memorizes it, chews on it, labours to squeeze all the goodness out of it. ‘Oh, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day … How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’ (Psalm 119:97, 103).

Constantly to crave for God’s word and to want to go deeper into it is thus a second sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

Vital Signs?

God's Words

 

When Jesus said, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3) Nicodemus asked the obvious question. Jesus replied that this is not a problem we are left to solve on our own. God Himself works our re-generation in us, by his Spirit. How do we know when He has? This first of three brief posts on the theme signs of Life comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

J I Packer writes: “The signs whereby a regenerate person may be known correspond to the natural actions of the newborn child. First, the baby cries, instinctively; and the born-again person instinctively prays, crying to God in dependence, hope and trust as a child to his father.

The gospel which he received and to which he responded by embracing Christ as Saviour and lord promised him adoption into God’s family (Galatians4:4 f.), and now it is his nature to treat God as his Father, bringing to him all his own felt needs and desires. We (regenerate believers) “received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).

The new Christian’s prayers are honest and heartfelt, as children’s cries for help always are, and though as he matures prayer may become harder (this does happen) it never ceases to be the most natural activity in which he engages. Constantly to look up to God as your Father in heaven and to talk to him from your heart is thus a sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

Fear-less Grace?

God's Words
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 ESV

By Grace, through faith in Christ, we may live free from all hopeless attempts to justify ourselves in God’s eyes; we may live free from all hopeless addiction to sin; and we may live free from all hopeless anxiety and fear. This final brief post on the theme of living under grace also comes from J. I. Packer…

Dr. Packer wrote:Finally, the Christian living under grace is free from bondage to fear (Romans 8:15 ff.; cf. 1 John 4:17 f.) – fear, that is, of the unknown future, or of meeting God (as one day we all must do), or of being destroyed by hostile forces or horrific experiences of one sort or another. He knows himself to be God’s child, adopted, beloved, secure, with his inheritance awaiting him and eternal joy guaranteed.

“He knows that nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ, nor dash him from his Saviour’s hand, and that nothing can happen to him which is not for his long-term good, making him more like Jesus and bringing him ultimately closer to his God.

“So when fears flood his soul, as they do the soul of every normal person from time to time, he drives them back by reminding himself of these things, moving to and fro within the sequence of thoughts which the honest, homespun Christian verse of John Newton put (in Newton’s original):

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved; …

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

And how can fear stand in the face of that?”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Why not sin?

God's Words
As well as being freed from the (hopeless) task of making ourselves acceptable to God, we Christians, living now, in Christ, not under the Law but ‘under Grace’ find that we are freed also from the ‘dominion’ of sin. ‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’ Romans 6:14f. This second of three brief posts on the theme of living under grace also comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “Paul succinctly spells this out in Romans 6:1- 8:14 arranging his thoughts as an answer to the question, ‘why should not those who are justified by faith cause grace to abound (pardoning grace, that is) by going on sinning as before?’

“Paul’s reply, in brief, is: not only is righteousness (law-keeping) both possible and prescribed for Christians, but it is also a fact that no Christian can go on sinning as before, for union with Christ has changed his nature so that now his heart (his inner man) desires righteousness as before it desired sin, and only obedience to God can satisfy his deepest inner craving.

“(A Christian) hates the sin that he finds in himself, and gets no pleasure from lapsing into it. Such is the state of mind of the man who is freed from sin’s dominion; he loves holiness because he loves his Saviour-God, and would not contemplate reverting to the days when, as sin’s slave, he loved neither. He knows that his freedom has ennobled him and brought him both the desire and the strength for right living, and for this he is endlessly thankful.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

‘Every-day’ Grace?

God's Words

‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’ as Paul wrote in Romans 6:14f. So, what does it mean for us, as Christians, to live, every day, ‘under grace’? This first of three brief posts on the theme of living under grace comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “The life of grace is a life of freedom… the Christian under grace is freed from the hopeless necessity of trying to commend himself to God by perfect law-keeping. Now he lives by being forgiven, and so is free at every point in his life to fail (as inevitably he does in fact, again and again) – and, having failed, to pick himself up where he fell, to seek and find God’s pardon, and to start again.

“Pride, our natural disposition, which is self-protective, self-righteous and vainglorious, will either refuse to admit failure at all or refuse to try again, lest the trauma of failing be repeated; but the humility of the man who lives by being forgiven knows no such inhibitions.

“The Christian’s experience of daily failures, along with his inside knowledge of his own false motives and his tally of shameful memories, make him constantly want to claim for himself Paul’s end-of-life description, ‘the foremost of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15); daily, however, his shortcomings are forgiven and his joy restored.

“One reason why, as Jesus taught, we must be ready to forgive our fellow-Christians countless times is that our own life with God is a matter of being forgiven countless times, too.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Worldly? Maybe not…

 

God's Words
Just occasionally (not often enough?) I become almost guiltily aware of the sometimes vast gap that exists between me and other Christians in other parts of the world in respect to the good things I receive from God on a daily basis (so much more than ‘just’ my ‘daily bread’). But does this mean I am wrong to enjoy what God gives? This second brief post on the theme of worldliness comes from J.I. Packer.


15 
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

J.I.Packer writes: “…we see what the nature of worldliness is, and avoid the mistake of equating it with the use and enjoyment of created things, as such. Worldliness means yielding to the spirit that animates fallen mankind, the spirit of self-seeking and self-indulgence without regard for God.

“Whether a man is worldly thus depends, not on how much enjoyment he takes from the good and pleasant things of this life, but on the spirit in which he takes it. If he allows these things to enslave him (1Corinthians 6:12) and become a god – that is, an idol – in his heart (Colossians 3:5) he is worldly.

“If, on the other hand, he is disciplined in his use of them, not indulging to the detriment of his own or others’ edification (1 Corinthians 10:23-33; 8:8-13) nor losing his heart to them, but receiving them gratefully as God’s gifts and a means for showing forth his praise, thanking God for all pleasant occupations and all delightful experiences, and not letting the merely good elbow out the best, he is not worldly, but godly.

“Again, it is not worldly to be praised; but it is worldly to live for men’s compliments and applause, and to find one’s highest happiness in the thought that one has gratified men, rather than in the knowledge that one has done God’s will.

“Worldliness is the spirit which substitutes some earthly ideal, such as pleasure, or gain, or popularity, for life’s true goal, which is in all things to praise and to please God.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words