Christianity 201

October 5, 2011

Who is Obedient, Faithful, Fearing the Lord?

From Menno Simons after whom the denomination Mennonites is named:

“Who then is the man who fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.”

Sovereign Lord, Your way is the way of peace, and blessed is the person who walks there.  For mercy , love , justice, humility, patience and obedience are found along this way.  Such a person clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, satisfies the thirsty, comforts the needy, and reproves, warns, consoles and admonishes.  Such a person is sober, honest, modest upright and just.  Such a person gives no reason for offence and walks towards eternal life.

But there are very few who find this way.  I fear, beloved Lord, that hardly ten in a thousand find this way, and of those, hardly five really walk it.

So it has been from the beginning.

  • For when there were only four people on earth, the scripture says that three were disobedient and the fourth was killed by his brother. 
  • There were only eight righteous ones who were saved from the flood, and one of those was disrespectful to his father.
  • In Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding area, there were only four righteous ones, and one of those turned back to look and was turned into a pillar of salt.
  • More than 600,000 fightin men came out of Egypt, among whom only two were able to enter the promised land.  Not, beloved Lord that all who died along the way were damned.  But it was due to their unbelief that their way into the promised land of Canaan was delayed.

~Menno Simons, A Meditation on the Twenty-fifth Psalm (1537) in Early Anabaptist Spirituality, translated and edited by Daniel Lieschty (Paulist Press, 1994) pp 257-258

paragraphing, bullet points added

September 23, 2011

Our Image Determines Our Destiny

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It’s really unfortunate that there are not modern language editions of the classic works of Andrew Murray.   Last night I was reading the “eighteenth lesson” of With Christ in the School of Prayer and was amazed again at the depth of his writing.

He begins with Jesus interacting with the Pharisees over the paying of the tribute tax, and Jesus’ question, “Whose image is on this coin?” (Matt 22:29) But then he quickly moves to Genesis 1, and talks about the fact that we were created in God’s image and that even post-fall, we still bear that image.

Our destiny was to fill, to subdue and to have dominion over the earth.  As God’s representatives, we were to rule here on earth.  The idea was that we were God’s representatives here on earth, and that there was a certain power that went with that responsibility.

Then, Andrew Murray points out that God’s relationship with man, and man’s relationship with creation underwent a great change when sin was introduced; but with redemption, we have “the beginning of a glorious restoration.”  This is also seen as God introduces what we could call ‘the road back’ through Abraham.

This road extends to us, where we have the opportunity to be new creations in Christ, and be brought back to our original destiny as God’s image is restored, and with it, the power to have dominion.  He then states that this will allow us to be bold in prayer.

There is much more in this lesson, but Murray concludes with the reminder that we, the church, have no idea of the high calling we have been given as we begin to understand, and move in, our original destiny.

…There’s no way I’ve done this justice in a few short words;  as good as paraphrasing Andrew Murray would be, trying to summarize him robs the text of its original depth and richness.  I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of With Christ in the School of Prayer and dedicate yourself to taking very small sections at a time, i.e. a chapter a day and slowing your reading speed to half its normal pace so you can absorb all that this great writer is saying.



September 18, 2011

What It Means to Say, “He Emptied Himself…”

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Phil. 2: 5-7 RSV

The phrase “he emptied himself” was, to me, an obvious reference to Philippians chapter two, but when I tried to find it, it occurs neither in the NIV or the King James version.  It actually appears in the RSV (Revised Standard Version)…

…Each weekend, Phil Johnson at the reformed blog Pyromaniacs posts something from Charles Spurgeon.  I discovered today I’ve had this one bookmarked for a few weeks.  In addition to seeing the humiliation of Christ’s incarnation, I hope it whets your appetite for reading more of Spurgeon and other classic authors.

Though he was rich, “he became poor.” I am only telling you something that you know full well, but let your minds be refreshed with the remembrance that Christ was so poor that he was swaddled with bands just as any other infant was. Although he was the Infinite, he was so poor that he had to be sheltered in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn. Afterwards, he was so poor that he was banished from his own country and had to flee into Egypt. He was so poor that he was the fit companion of a humble carpenter at Nazareth; so poor that, when he came out into public life, his dress was the common garment of a laborer, woven from the top throughout without a seam.

He had not where to lay his head, though foxes had their holes, and birds their nests. He was so poor that he was indebted for his daily bread to the charity of gracious women who followed him, and ministered to him of their substance. Though the cattle on a thousand hills were his, he sat upon a well at Sychar, and said to a poor woman, “Give me to drink.”

Oftentimes, he knew what faintness and hunger meant; and the longer he lived the more intense his poverty became, until, at last, he was left without a friend when most he needed sympathy,—without one to speak a good word for him when he was arraigned before the bar of those who had resolved to condemn him to death. Since was he taken out to die without a rag to cover him; and when he was dead, he was indebted for a tomb to one who lent it to him out of love.

Never was there anywhere else such poverty as the poverty of Christ, for it was not merely external, it was also internal. He became so poor, though bearing our sin, that he had to lose the light of his Father’s countenance; emptying himself of all the repute he had, he became a spectacle of scorn and shame because our shameful sin had been laid upon him. See him on yonder shameful cross, mark his many wounds, hear his expiring cry, and as ye gaze upon that spectacle of majestic misery, remember that although he was rich, he became thus poor.

Charles H. Spurgeon

July 24, 2011

Matthew Henry Quotations

It’s almost redundant to run some Matthew Henry quotations, since Matthew Henry, by virtue of the Bible commentary that bears his name, is probably already being quoted hundreds of times today.  A number of websites pay tribute to the clarity of his analysis of scripture.  I would suggest that along with a Bible dictionary and a Bible handbook, the one-volume Matthew Henry Commentary is a must-have title for your bookshelf.

“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

[After being robbed] “I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.”

“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”

“It is more to the honor of a Christian by faith to overcome the world, than by monastical vows to retreat from it; more for the honor of Christ to serve him in the city, than to serve him in the cell.”

“[When] Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better – His PEACE!”

“God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.”

“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his work, honor our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.”

“Goodness makes greatness truly valuable, and greatness make goodness much more serviceable.”

Sources:  Think Exist, Famous Quotes and Authors, Christian Quotes, Good Reads, Wisdom Quotes