Getting Real?

Mere cover
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’ 
Ephesians 4: 20-23 ESV

We inevitably resemble our parents when we are born, and will become more like them (not merely in appearance) as we grow, living with them, under their influence, day by day; that potential is in us and is largely irresistible. How much more then, at our new birth, by grace through faith, having received the Spirit of Christ, do we hold in these ‘clay pots’ the real potential to be like Him; to express His real Nature in our own bodies. This second of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending also comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and is already at that moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality. This is not merely a fancy way of saying that your conscience is telling you what to do. If you simply ask your conscience, you get one result; if you remember that you are dressing up as Christ, you get a different one.

“There are lots of things which your conscience might not call definitely wrong (specially things in your mind) but which you will see at once you cannot go on doing if you are seriously trying to be like Christ. For you are no longer thinking simply about right and wrong, you are trying to catch the good infection from a person. It is more like painting a portrait than like obeying a set of rules. And the odd thing is that while in one way it is much harder than keeping rules, in another way it is far easier.

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 ESV

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As if?

Mere cover

A friend, a Christian doctor, recalled how, as a young resident in a regional hospital, he found himself at times the sole ‘doctor’ on duty. At such times he found it helpful, he told me, to act ‘as if’ he were already the doctor that he hoped he would one day become in reality. It worked for him. This first of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups – playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

“Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you really were a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash up. Well, go and do it.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

And now for Something Completely Different…

Lewis 'miracles'
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4 ESV

If we come to Christ expecting ‘just a new beginning’, ‘a fresh start’, ‘a second chance at life’, we are in for a surprise; perhaps even a shock. God is not the author of new beginnings only, but of new lives, entire and eternal; and He will not let us settle for less when Christ has died to give us so much more. This final brief post on the Resurrection of Jesus also comes from C. S. Lewis.

C. S. Lewis wrote: “… there is not in Scripture the faintest suggestion that the Resurrection was a new evidence for something that had in fact been always happening. The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.”
From C. S. Lewis in Miracles.

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.

Satisfaction!

Chagall David

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalm 102:1, 6-7 ESV

 

 


Bless the
Lord, O my soul,

… who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1, 5 ESV

That our taste for satisfaction sometimes leads us to choose to sin is sadly ironic when to choose submission to God will bring a taste of heaven and satisfaction too. This second of three brief posts on the theme Owl or Eagle? also comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon said:Here is a man under a sense of sin. He … cries, ‘I am like an owl of the desert.’ … But look what happens when the Lord Jesus Christ manifests Himself to that poor guilty sinner! He looks at Christ upon the cross …honestly and sincerely, and trusts Him with his soul! Have you not seen the change that such an experience works in men?

Now he is not like an owl any longer. His sin is completely forgiven. In a moment he has passed from darkness into marvelous light, from bondage into liberty, from death unto life!

“… Ask him whether he is like an owl, now, and he will say, “God forbid! Why should I be?”

See how the man walks now? Before, his feet seemed like lead. Now, they appear almost as if they were winged, like the feet of the fabled messenger of the gods. Now, the man runs along the path of duty! He delights in his God. He loves Him! He adores Him! He triumphs in Him, and boasts of the Lord Jesus Christ as His Savior.

All this change is sometimes worked in a single hour—yes, in a single moment the sackcloth and ashes are taken away, (he is) girded with the garments of praise—and sorrow is changed into overflowing bliss!”

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon Owl or Eagle? preached on Sunday, March 10th, 1872.

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.

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.