Plus One?

 

God's Words

 

For where two or three are gathered
in my name, there am I among them.’
Matthew 18:20 ESV

 

Some people set an extra place at the table for Jesus, the unseen guest at every meal and the silent listener to every conversation. (Whether such an idea is attractive or not may say much about us.) Of course it is true, in a way, of any Christian home, and, in a way, it is true of every table, every conversation, everywhere, but, particularly, in the fellowship of the Church. This final brief post on the theme of Fellowship also comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “Third, fellowship is a gift of God. The NEB translates Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 as follows: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and fellowship in the Holy Spirit, be with you all’ – and this is probably right. It is only where the Holy Spirit has been given, where men are spiritually alive and anxious to grow in grace themselves and help others to do the same, that fellowship becomes a possibility; and it is only as the Holy Spirit enables us to speak to others, and others to us, in such a way that Christ and the Father are made known through what is said, that fellowship is made a reality.

“When we seek to enjoy fellowship together, we should do so in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, whose office it is to reveal Christ to us; otherwise, our talk with each other will be empty and profitless, and the goal of fellowship – fuller acquaintance with our common Lord – will not be achieved.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words

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Catch and Release?

God's Words
‘… as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.’
(Exodus 34:29 ESV) Fellowship is ‘catching’ and better caught than taught. It grows in each of us through our contact with God and we (the Body of Christ in the world) become carriers together of this new condition. Its symptoms include the love of God and our neighbour. This second of three brief posts on the theme of Fellowship also comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “Second, fellowship is a test of life. Fellowship means opening one’s heart to one’s fellow-Christians. Where there is pretence or concealment, fellowship cannot exist. But the only man who is free to eschew pretence and concealment about himself when talking to his fellow-Christians is the man who is being open and honest in his daily dealings with God. A man who is not letting the light of God shine full on his whole life cannot have free fellowship with other believers; indeed, he will shrink from fellowship, lest his insincerities be detected. ‘If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,’ wrote John, ‘we have fellowship with one another– but not otherwise (1 John 1:7).”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words

We need a bigger ‘Ship…

God's Words

To think that fellowship at church is the function of just those social events where the out-going shine, while more reserved characters are better occupied ‘off stage’, is mistaken. Fellowship (with a capital F) is much bigger than that, requiring the participation of every member of the Body of Christ to best fulfil God’s purposes for it. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Fellowship comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “First, fellowship is a means of grace. Through fellowship one’s soul is refreshed and fed, and by the effort to communicate one’s knowledge of divine things one’s own grasp of them is strengthened. To have God’s children praying for you, caring for you as a fellow-believer, and sharing their experiences of trial and triumph with you brings vast enrichment; and your support of others in the way that others have supported you will mature you as well as benefiting them. Paul’s constant pleas that Christians would pray for him as he prays for them (Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:19; Col.4:3; 1 Thes. 5:25; 2 Thes.3:1 f.; Phm.22; cf. Heb. 13:18) and James’ injunction, ‘confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed’ (5:16), confirm this. Christian fellowship is a means of grace that we neglect to our poverty and at our peril.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Dressed to Kill?

God's Words

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of his might.

11 
Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand
against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV

‘He dresses to kill’, was one clue to beat me in a recent crossword puzzle. The answer was ‘Matador’ and it came to mind just now, suggesting this verse from Ephesians regarding our daily fight against the devil and our sin; a fight we need never take up less than perfectly equipped to win, with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, at hand to deliver the ‘coup de GRACE’ every time. This final brief post on the theme of killing our sins also comes from J. I. Packer …

Dr Packer writes:  “The Spirit is present (in the believer) in person to oppose indwelling sin. He teaches the Christian to understand revealed truth and apply it to himself, stirs him up to obey it and strengthens him as he does so (it is He who works in us) ‘both to will and to work for his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). Sin can be mortified only ‘through the Spirit’, for he alone makes men willing and able for the task. But where the indwelling Spirit exerts His sovereign power, failure is impossible.

“When the Christian fights sin, therefore, he opposes a dethroned and debilitated foe; he is animated by the energy of what is now the deepest and most powerful instinct in his nature; and he goes in the strength of the Holy Spirit of God. His superiority is assured; he may join battle with confidence; he is going to win.” 

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Yes, we can…

God's Words

I have never been a fan of ‘bumper-sticker’ psychology (neither theology for that matter). For example, ‘If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right.’ Neither have I put much store in the power of slogans other than that they may serve helpfully as reminders of more helpful, if rather more complex, truths. This second brief post on the theme of killing our sins also comes from J. I. Packer …

Dr Packer wrote: “Nobody has much heart for a fight he does not think he can win. To expect defeat is thus to ensure it. If I imagine that, try as I might, I am bound to fail, I shall not even try as I might. But the Christian is forbidden such disastrous pessimism. God obliges him (or her) to expect success when (fighting) sin.

…The end of God’s justifying and regenerating us is ‘that the body of sin [our sinful character] might be destroyed [brought to nothing], that henceforth we should not serve sin’ (Romans 6:6). By our regenerating union with Christ and the incoming of the new life, sin receives a blow from which it can never recover. Its power is broken, and its ultimate destruction guaranteed.

Accordingly, God tells his people that ‘sin will have no dominion over you’ (Romans 6:14). Its reign has ended as far as they are concerned. Their part is now by mortification to hasten the demise of their dethroned and doomed enemy. Hereby he assures them that however furious or stubborn sin may prove, however deeply it may have entrenched itself behind bad habits and temperamental weaknesses, sustained pressure cannot fail to uproot and rout it.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

A New Hope…

 

God's Words
J.I Packer says: “The Christian is committed to a lifelong fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Mortification is his assault on the second. Two texts from Paul show that (mortification) is an essential ingredient in Christian living: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you’ (Colossians 3:5); ‘if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.’ (Romans 8:13b). But how may we accomplish that? In this first of three brief posts on the theme of killing our sins J. I. Packer tells us that it will be ‘by the Spirit’ …

J.I Packer wrote: The Spirit implanted (in Christians) a new life-principle… the ‘new heart’ and ‘new spirit’ promised in Ezekiel 36:26, the ‘new man’ put on at conversion (Ephesians 4:24), the ‘seed’ of God in his children’s hearts (1 John 3:9).

“This new energy finds its characteristic expression in the same attitude and relationship to God as that which marked Christ’s human life; a spontaneous affinity to God and love for him and for his word and his people. Godlessness is as distasteful to it as godliness is to sin. Faith, love, and opposition to sin are its natural fruits, and sure signs of its presence (Galatians 5:6, 17).

“It is the Christian’s new nature and true self, the ‘inner man’ which delights in God’s laws (Romans 7:22). It replaces sin as the reigning power in his heart and the dominant impulse in his life. It is no longer his nature to sin. Insofar as (a Christian) does so, he acts out of character, and his heart is not in it. He can never sin with all his heart again.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

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.