Desember

Dag 1

HIGHER EXPECTATIONS – A.W. Tozer

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. Colossians 1:28-29

The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes “lord” in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.

That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform….Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.

Dag 2

COMMOTION, NOT DEVOTION – A.W. Tozer

…and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:12

“The accent in the Church today,” says Leonard Ravenhill, the English evangelist, “is not on devotion, but on commotion.” Religious extroversion has been carried to such an extreme in evangelical circles that hardly anyone has the desire, to say nothing of the courage, to question the soundness of it. Externalism has taken over. God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only; the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker. The adolescent taste which loves the loud horn and the thundering exhaust has gotten into the activities of modern Christians. The old question, “What is the chief end of man?” is now answered, “To dash about the world and add to the din thereof.”…

We must begin the needed reform by challenging the spiritual validity of externalism. What a man is must be shown to be more important than what he does. While the moral quality of any act is imparted by the condition of the heart, there may be a world of religious activity which arises not from within but from without and which would seem to have little or no moral content. Such religious conduct is imitative or reflex. It stems from the current cult of commotion and possesses no sound inner life.

Dag 3

VISION AND REALITY – Oswald Chambers

“And the parched ground shall become a pool.” Isaiah 35:7

We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

“Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter’d by the shocks of doom
To shape and use.”
God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

Dag 4

IN THE HANDS OF THE POTTER – Austin Sparks

O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are the potter. We all are formed by Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NLT)

We are in the Lord’s hands, and being in His hands we are in the hands of a Potter Who knows what He is after… first of all, the vessel is in the potter, and then eventually the potter is in the vessel. What we mean is this. That before ever the potter starts, the vessel is in his mind, in his heart very clearly. The pattern is not something objective, the vessel is already a complete thing in him; and then he gets to work upon it and when he is finished, he is in the vessel he has wrought. What was in Him has come out in it. We say of people’s work: “I can see who made that, it is just like them.” “That is just like So-and-so to make a thing like that.” Yes, He is in His work, He is in the vessel that He makes, and that is just what He is doing. Sometimes that clay has to be pressed down to a shapeless mass, broken. It is not showing all that He intended it to show, there are defects and flaws, and so He crushes it down to shapelessness. A mass without shape. But it is to start again to get something more perfect than has been before, in which He Himself is.

May He give us grace to endure whatever the trial may be, along whatever line of metaphor, the wind, the blaze, supreme heat, or pressure of His hand, all of which is to get us into a place where we cannot be moved, where hell cannot shake us, where His power is made manifest as triumphant over all the power of the enemy.

Dag 5

RELIGIOUS OR CHRISTIAN? – W. Ian Thomas

There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!

Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for
God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at rituals, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!

They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life – God’s life!

There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!

Dag 6

THE FULL SPECTRUM OF GRACE – Andrew Murray

We know how often a man may be suffering from a disease without knowing it. What he counts a slight ailment turns out to be a dangerous complaint. Do not let us be too sure that we are not, to a large extent, still living “under the law,” while considering ourselves to be living wholly “under grace.” Very frequently the reason of this mistake is the limited meaning attached to the word “grace.” Just as we limit God Himself, by our little or unbelieving thoughts of Him, so we limit His grace at the very moment that we are delighting in terms like the “riches of grace,” “grace exceeding abundant.” Has not the very term, “grace abounding,” from Bunyan’s book downward, been confined to the one great blessed truth of free justification with ever renewed pardon and eternal glory for the vilest of sinners, while the other equally blessed truth of “grace abounding” in sanctification is not fully known. Paul writes: “Much more shall they which receive the abundance of grace reign in life through Jesus Christ.” That reigning in life, as conqueror over sin, is even here on earth. “Where sin abounded” in the heart and life, “grace did abound more exceedingly, that grace might reign through righteousness” in the whole life and being of the believer. It is of this reign of grace in the soul that Paul asks, “Shall we sin because we are under grace?” and answers, “God forbid.” Grace is not only pardon of, but power over, sin; grace takes the place sin had in the life, and undertakes, as sin had reigned within in the power of death, to reign in the power of Christ’s life. It is of this grace that Christ spoke, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” and Paul answered, “I will glory in my weakness; for, when I am weak, then am I strong.” It is of this grace, which, when we are willing to confess ourselves utterly impotent and helpless, comes in to work all in us, that Paul elsewhere teaches, “God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto all good works.”

Dag 7

APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING – David Tryon

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
There are many young Christians, who, having begun well, have gradually slipped back, as they have proved by bitter experience how utterly unable they are to reach the standard which God requires. Are you like that? You know your life is fruitless, but it is not because you do not care. You are tremendously concerned that your life should bear fruit; you have tried your hardest to be the best for God, and you have failed. “It is no good,” you say, “I cannot be a keen Christian.” Is that what you say? Is it? Do you see what you are admitting? You are admitting the very thing that God has been asking you to admit! The Lord Jesus said, “As the branch cannot . . . no more can ye,” and you didn’t believe it; so He has been letting you find it out by experience. And now, at last, you say, ” It’s no good. I cannot….” You are admitting at last what He has been trying to tell you all along. You have come to the place where He can begin to do His work in you.

Troubled Christian, lately you have said often, almost in despair, “I cannot.” It is true; yet if you could but see, that is no reason for despair, but rather for joyful expectancy that your barren days are past, for now God is going to show you what HE is waiting to do in those who “cannot,” and who admit it. You cannot. Consent fully to that position of complete powerlessness. Do not be afraid to let go every hope of being able to make the smallest contribution towards the production of real fruit. Turn your back on self, and refuse to expect any good thing from it any more. And now listen as He tells you of the Life which is going to do through the branch what the branch can never do by any effort of its own.

Dag 8

ONLY DO WHAT HE IS DOING – Austin Sparks

We cannot take up work for Christ;­ plan, scheme, devise, organize or enter upon Christian enterprise ­ and so command the Divine seal and blessing. We cannot pray as we incline, even though it be to the extent of passion and tears, and so secure the Divine response. Failure to recognize this is bringing multitudes of people to despair because of no seal upon their ardent labours, and no answer to their prayers. In the unfolding of the laws of His own effective life the Master put tremendous emphasis upon the fact that the words that He spoke, and the works that He did, were not of (out from) Himself; it was the Father both speaking the words and doing the works. A thorough study of the Gospel by John will convince that this was so. Said Christ, “The Son can do nothing out from himself, but what he sees the Father doing and this knowledge of the transactions of the Father as to what, how, and when ­ all most important ­ was, as He made clear, because He abode in the Father. So for all the future of His work He prayed that His disciples might abide in Him. Thus the law of effective and fruitful life, service, prayer, etc., is that there shall be such a oneness that we only do-but surely do-what He is doing. We must know in our spirit just what Christ is doing, how He is doing it, the means which He will use, and His time for it. Moreover, our prayers must be the prayers of the Lord Himself prayed in us and through us by the Holy Spirit. This is surely made very clear as being the realm in which the Church in apostolic times lived. This will demand a considerable sifting of all undertakings in the name of Jesus, and will require that nothing is done until the mind of the Lord has been made known. For the practical purposes of God in this age Christ is the One Body holding fast the Head, and the business of every member is to realize more and more fully the meaning of this incorporation and oneness of identity.

Dag 9

INTELLIGENT LEADERSHIP IN THE HOME – Ray Stedman

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way… 1 Pet. 3:7a
This emphasizes the responsibility of the man in giving intelligent leadership to the married life. Every man is ultimately responsible to God for what his home becomes. This is the constant asseveration of Scripture. In writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says, “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God,” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Thus, within the framework of total leadership in the universe, he puts the responsibility of the husband to exercise leadership within the home.

This is a role for which woman was not made, and essentially and basically she does not want it. I know it is popular to make jokes about bossy wives and henpecked husbands (and there are such in evidence around us, I do not deny that), but having observed the marriage scene for considerable time, and having personal involvement in it, the problem is not so much due to the demand of wives to assert leadership as it is the refusal of husbands to assume their responsibilities. This is borne out by studies made along this line by competent scholars. It is difficult to understand how men can give themselves to careful, responsible leadership in business, but when they get home they expect everything to rock along all right and turn out well in the end — without any thought, direction, or leadership on their part. We call women the homemakers, but women are homemakers only within the general pattern determined by the husband. It is the man who is to choose the values that go into a home. It is the father who ought to decide the emphases that are to be expressed within a home. True, it is often the mother who implements this choice and upon her falls the responsibility for carrying out much of it in application and implementation, but, by and large, it is the man who makes the choice of what the home shall be, whether he does it consciously or unconsciously. There is built into his male nature, by divine fiat, not only a responsibility but a desire to do this.

It is the man who determines whether the family shall be sports-minded or book lovers; whether they are travelers or stay-at-homes; a family that emphasizes personal integrity in their relationships, or are clever manipulators who get along by their wits; whether they are social climbers or quiet introverts. Almost always the stamp of the family is determined by the man. This is also, therefore, where men most frequently fail in marriage. They do not exert leadership, they do not give intelligent direction to the home. Even if they do give some kind of leadership, it is not thoughtful, it is not intelligent, it is not “according to knowledge,” as Peter says. It is simply a drifting along, making the best of things according to the way they feel at the moment. Thus there is no leadership at all, or, what there is, is lopsided.

Dag 10

THE LIVING CHRIST – James S. Stewart

“The only saving faith”, said Luther, “is that which casts itself on God for life or death”; and Paul, whose faith was of that gallant kind, whose religion was a daily risk, who had no comfortable illusions about the forces antagonistic to Jesus was the least likely of men to be seduced into the intricacies of speculations remote from the urgent realities of life.

One name by which Christianity, quite early in its career, came to be known was the simple expression “The Way”. It referred primarily to a way of living, not a way of thinking. Christianity, on the mission-fields where Paul’s work was done, meant first and foremost (as it still means on the Church’s mission-fields, and ought indeed to mean everywhere) a new quality of life, a life in Christ, God-given, supernatural, victorious.

When Celsus at a later day parodied the Christian preachers, putting on their lips the parrot-cry “Only believe, only believe,” shifting the emphasis from a life to be lived to a system to be credulously submitted to, he knew himself that it was parody, the exact reverse of the truth. The first century mission Churches in Asia and Europe made headway precisely because they confronted the world with a way of life, and not with a speculative system. The situation Paul was addressing demanded a great simplicity. And that is what the apostle offered ­ the simplicity of Christ, the life in Christ.

It was faith in Christ, not faith in any creed or articles about Christ, that was “the master-light of all his seeing.” Men do not gamble with their lives, nor stake their souls, on abstract truths and systems; but a great love is different. They will do it; Paul did it, for that.

Historical data and reminiscences you can rationalize: a living Lord you can only proclaim. There must, of course, have been considerable difference, both of matter and of manner, between the apostle’s preaching and the letters which he wrote; but let us not forget that he, Paul, was a preacher first and a writer second. And both spheres ­preaching and writing ­were ruled by one great fact­ the fact of a living, present Lord; and by one all-decisive experience ­ the experience of union and communion with Him. This was the apostle’s calling. This was his sole vocation and concern. This it was for which he had been born. He came to bring, not a system, but the living Christ.

Dag 11

CHRIST OUR LIFE – Ruth Paxson

CHRIST Jesus was made like us that we might be made like Him. In the incarnation there was the union of Deity with humanity that in regeneration there might be the union of humanity with Deity. When the Holy Spirit begat in the believer a new nature He opened the door to a living, organic union between Christ and the Christian which will exist through the ages upon ages to come. Christ and the Christian are eternally one. The exalted Christ lives now to bestow upon us in all of its fullness His own triumphant, joyous, holy life.

To be a Christian is nothing less than to have the glorified Christ living in us in actual presence, possession and power. It is to have Him as the Life of our life in such a way and to such a degree that we can say even as Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” (Philippians 1:21) To be a Christian is to grow up into Christ in all things: it is to have that divine seed which was planted in our innermost spirit blossom out into a growing conformity to His perfect life. To be a Christian is to have Christ the life of our minds, our hearts, our wills, so that it is Christ thinking through us, loving through us, willing through us. It is increasingly to have no life but the life of Christ within us filling us with ever increasing measure.

But I can hear some modern Nicodemus say, “How can these things be?” How can I live such a life in my home where I receive no sympathy nor help but rather ridicule and scoffing, and where I have for so long lived a sinful and a defeated life? How can I live a truly consistent Christ-life in my social circle where there is scarcely a person who ever gives Him a thought and where His name is never mentioned? How can I live “in the Spirit” in a place of business where I am surrounded by those living altogether “in the flesh” and where the very atmosphere seems surcharged with evil? How can I even learn to live the life more abundant when my membership is in a thoroughly worldly church where little is given to feed and strengthen my spiritual life?

As we are in Christ in the heavenlies so is He in us on earth. CHRIST IN US can live this life anywhere, and that is what He longs to do. This truth our Lord gave in His last conversation with His disciples on earth. He had told them that He was going away from them and they were wondering how they could ever be true disciples apart from Him. The burden of this last conversation was to assure them He would be with them in a spiritual presence far more real and vital than the relationship they had with Him up to that time. The same life that was in Him as the Vine would flow through them as branches.

John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”

It was likewise the burden of our Lord’s high priestly prayer on that last night.

John 17:23, 26, “I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
“I in them” – these three simple but significant words close the prayer with that little inner circle in which He breathed forth the passionate desire of His heart for His own on down through the centuries. Now as well as then, it is the consuming desire of Jesus Christ to reincarnate Himself in the Christian.

The apostle Paul in the revelation given him laid hold upon this precious, glorious truth and it is woven into the warp and woof of his experience, his preaching, and his missionary service. “Christ lives in me” was the very acme of his personal spiritual life.

Dag 12

THE EVER-INCREASING CHRIST – Chip Brogden

“When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Matthew 17:8

When we SEE an ever-increasing Christ Who is destined to fill all things, then we will be delivered from smallness and narrow-mindedness. We do not overcome a thing by focusing our attention and directing our energies against that THING. “Things” will keep us busy from morning until night, and from night until morning.

May God deliver us from “things” and show us His Son! We must learn to keep the focus of our heart on the Lord Jesus Christ, Who MUST increase [John 3:30]. Then there is no room for “things” anymore. They are simply swallowed up in Victory.

Dag 13

THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO GOD’S INTENTION – Arthur Katz

We all suffer from an inadequate view of the Church. We have allowed the world to relegate us, as the Church, to some kind of Sunday afterthought, a kind of Christian cultural requirement that somehow serves the purposes of those who can obtain some benefit from it. The world does not see us as any more important than many other institutions that serve the purposes of men. We need, however, to have our understanding opened to an apostolic way of considering what the Church is according to God’s intention.

It would not be unfair to say that the Church of today is essentially an aggregate of individualities; we sit alongside each other, but we are not yet “together” in the biblical sense of that word. We do not yet constitute that wholeness or completeness. We do not yet reflect the genius that is in the Godhead itself, where the Son does everything for the Father, likewise the Spirit for the Son, and the three are One. When we come to that kind of corporateness, the principalities and powers of the air will know it; but God first needs to reveal to us how deep-seated our individualism, self-will and rebellion are.

The powers of the world are increasing, captivating the souls of men, rooting them in time, and blocking from their consideration the things that are eternal. We cannot come to freedom from this evil influence by ourselves alone. Separation from the world is so painful, and those evil powers are so pervasive and strong. And it is only through the support, the encouragement, the prayer, the wisdom, the counsel of others and the atmosphere that we generate together as the community of God’s people that we can live and maintain that freedom without again being sucked back into the power of the world. Community or life together is one of God’s main provisions to resist and to overcome those powers. The sons and daughters of God are those who overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, and there is no place more conducive for being or becoming this kind of people except in such an intensive community setting.

There is not a living soul whose life is, or will be, totally free from deception. Our lives need to be submitted to the examination of God through the brethren in Christ. It is a painful revelation, but rather that pain now than the unspeakable pain of learning at the Judgment Seat of Christ that we were living a delusion. We may have thought ourselves to be spiritual, while all along we were far removed from authenticity and reality. The Lord is not going to indulge our romantic or wistful view of what we think true spirituality is. His gracious provision, therefore, is community life in which the true condition of our heart, and the things that would not otherwise have been understood, have the greatest possibility of being revealed to us!

The quality of our fellowship with the Lord vertically cannot be any better or more authentic than our fellowship with the saints horizontally. We cannot have the one independent of the other, and we cannot have the one out of proportion to the other. How many of us think that we can, and love to be solitary and isolated saints, having some kind of imagined and euphoric relationship with God privately, but hardly having any patience at all for the saints who are His Body? How can we cherish the Head more than the Body, and how can we honor the Head outside of the Body? The Lord has fixed it like that-the vertical and the horizontal beams of the Cross-and the one is in exact proportion to the other. It saves us from exactly that soulish thing we would love to indulge, namely, isolation, separateness and privatistic living. God has called us to fellowship, and we are not going to see resurrection power and authority if we are not related in the Body authentically. God will not let us ‘get by’ with a supposed and imaginary vertical relationship with the Resurrected and Ascended One independent of an actual and existential one horizontally in His Body.

Dag 14

TRIUMPH THROUGH WEAKNESS – Austin Sparks

Although He was weak when He was nailed to the cross, He now lives by the power of God. We are weak, just as Christ was. But you will see that we will live by the power of God, just as Christ does. (2 Corinthians 13:4 CEV)

One of the most damaging things in the realm of God’s work, a thing which eventually leads to shame and confusion and much sorrow, is Natural Soul Force projected by strong-willed, determined, aggressive Christians who have not come to a spiritual state where they are able to discriminate between stubborn indomitableness, personal determination and resolution, and which is altogether another thing: spiritual grace in endurance, perseverance, and Divine in-strengthening. The Lord has often to break the former to make place for the latter. Do not talk about Paul’s wonderful will to go through. Let Paul talk to you about the Lord’s wonderful grace to continue.

Whenever a man or a woman really recognizing the truth that Calvary means the end of “I” commits himself or herself to the Lord to work it out, the flame of the sword will come round to the point where that “flesh” would seek to enter into the realm where the first Adam no longer has any standing. The features of a personal strength of will are hardness, coldness, death, resentment of interference, suspicion of rivals, intolerance of obstructers, detachment, independence, secretiveness, heat, etc. While spiritual strength is always marked by love, warmth, life, fellowship, openness, confidence, and trust in the Lord… At the end, in the Revelation, the dragon, the whole power of Satan is overthrown by the Lamb. The Lamb is the synonym for weakness and yieldingness. Paul says of Christ that “He was crucified through weakness,” and, he adds, “we also are weak with Him.” Yes, but he also says, “by the Cross He triumphed.” Triumphed through weakness!

Dag 15

THE TEST OF SELF-INTEREST – Oswald Chambers

“If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Genesis 13:9

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.

Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. It would seem the wisest thing in the world for Abraham to choose, it was his right, and the people around would consider him a fool for not choosing. Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eye on God. “Walk before Me.”

Dag 16

FORGIVENESS – Ray Stedman

If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake. 2 Corinthians 2:10.

Paul expresses no hard feelings or recriminations nor exhibits an I-can-forgive, but-I-can’t-forget attitude. We often hear people speak about forgiveness in this way, and this attitude reveals a lack of understanding of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness, basically, is a promise that you make to three different individuals. This is true always, in every case of forgiveness.

First, it is a promise that you make to the individual who has offended you and now has repented, in which you are saying to him or her, I will not let my attitude toward you be governed any longer by this offense. It has been put aside. My treatment of you from here on will be as though this has never happened. It is a promise you make never to bring it up again. In marriage many problems go on for years because couples tend to go back and dig up the past, which is an indication that it has never been forgiven. Some mates don’t get hysterical; they get historical! That is the problem, and that creates a problem.

Second, it is a promise not to pass it on to anybody else. When a matter is forgiven, it is to be forgotten. Now it may be that everyone knows about the matter, because, as in this case in Corinth, it had been told to the whole church. But what it means is that nobody brings up the issue again or holds it over a forgiven person’s head or reminds him or her of it every time any further difficulty occurs. It is a promise to drop the matter, leave it in the past, and never bring it up to anybody again.

Third, and probably most important, it is a promise to yourself that when your memory goes back to it, as it will occasionally, you are not going to allow it to seize hold of your heart and make you angry all over again. The minute it comes back to mind, you put it aside as something that belongs to the past. You are not going to dwell on it. It is a promise, therefore, to repeat your act of forgiveness, no matter how often the memory comes up. That is what forgiveness is; and Paul is ready to do this.

The reason, of course, is because he himself has been forgiven. People tell me sometimes, I just can’t forgive in this case. The person has admitted her wrongdoing and has asked me to forgive her, but I just can’t do it. It hurt me too much. It is a revelation to me that the person who has been wronged has never realized how much he has been forgiven already. The basis for Christian forgiveness is always, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

Dag 17

PURIFIED SOULS – Arthur Katz

The most overlooked and neglected remedy for lovelessness is a large dose of truthfulness. However, simply accumulating more truths will not produce more love. Truths are of no value unless they penetrate the heart and make us more true. Love can only exist in an atmosphere of truth. In any other atmosphere, regardless of what words are spoken, love must of necessity be feigned and false. It is a delusion and a lie to believe that we can love or be loved truly, while not living truly. Peter implied as much when he wrote, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (I Pet. 1:22). Unfeigned love requires first a purified soul. That includes, but is far more than, informed intellect. Only by obeying the truth by the Spirit, and not just the intellect, can we be purged of every false and deceptive thing, until what flows out from us is unfeigned love for one another. Until truth has gone this deep, it is vain to expect or require fervent love. By this all men will know that we are Jesus’ disciples, by the love we have for one another (Jn. 13:34). Men will know because they will recognize a wholly different kind of love from what they have seen and known elsewhere, a love that is grounded in and issues from utter truth and reality. What we need to do is to frankly ask ourselves to what extent our love is in truth and to what degree it is no more than a correct doctrine or an outward sentiment.

Dag 18

A CHEAP SALVATION – A.W. Tozer

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness and handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Here again is seen the glaring discrepancy between Biblical Christianity and that of present-day evangelicals, particularly in the United States….

To make converts here we are forced to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We must assure our hearers that Christianity is now a proper and respectable thing and that Christ has become quite popular with political bigwigs, well-to-do business tycoons and the Hollywood swimming pool set. Thus assured, hell-deserving sinners are coming in droves to “accept” Christ for what they can get out of Him; and though one now and again may drop a tear as proof of his sincerity, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of them are stooping to patronize the Lord of glory much as a young couple might fawn on a boresome but rich old uncle in order to be mentioned in his will later on.

Dag 19

PAUL DID NOT MAKE A MISTAKE IN ACTS 17 – D.A. Carson

SOME HAVE TAKEN 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1 – 5 to suggest that the way Paul preached in Athens (Acts 17:16 – 31) was a mistake, and that by the time he arrived at Corinth, Paul himself had recognized his error. In the passage before us he tells us how he “resolved to know nothing” while he was with them “except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” So away with the quasi – philosophical preaching of the Areopagus address in Acts 17. Just stick to the simple Gospel. There are good reasons for rejecting this false reading:

(1) This is not the natural reading of Acts. As you work your way through that book, you do not stumble upon some flag or other that warns you that at this point Paul goofs. This false interpretation is achieved by putting together an unnatural reading of Acts with a false reading of 1 Corinthians 2.
(2) The theology of the Areopagus address is in fact very much in line with the theology of Paul expressed in Romans.
(3) The Greek text at the end of Acts 17 does not say that “a few men” believed, as if this were a dismissive or condemning assessment, but that “certain people” believed. This expression is in line with other summaries in Acts.
(4) In Athens Paul had already been preaching not only in the synagogue to biblically literate folk, but to people in the marketplace who were biblically illiterate (Acts 17:17). What he had been preaching was “the good news” (Acts 17:18), the Gospel.
(5) Transparently Paul was cut off in Acts 17 before he was finished. He had set up the framework in which alone the Gospel is coherent: one transcendent God, sovereign, providential, personal; creation; fall into idolatry; the flow of redemptive history; final judgment. He was moving into Jesus’ resurrection, and more, when he was interrupted.
(6) Paul was not a rookie. He had been through twenty years of tough ministry (read 2 Cor. 11), much of it before pagan biblical illiterates. To suppose that on this occasion he panicked and trimmed the Gospel is ridiculous.
(7) Acts 17 shows that Paul thinks “worldviewishly.” Even after 1 Corinthians 2, Paul still thinks worldviewishly: 2 Corinthians 10:5 finds him still striving to bring “every thought” into submission to Christ — and the context shows this refers not simply to isolated thoughts but to entire worldviews.
(8) 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 5 does not cast Paul’s resolution to preach nothing but the cross against the background of Athens (as if he were confessing he had failed there), but against the background of Corinth, which loved eloquence and rhetoric above substance. The apostle does not succumb to mere oratory: he resolves to stick with “Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Dag 20

EXCHANGED LIFE – W. Ian Thomas

Christian living is not a method or technique; it is an entirely different, revolutionary principle of life. It is the principle of an exchanged life” not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
This is all part of our Gospel – it is not the Gospel plus! We must not get our terminology wrong. To divorce the behavior of the Christian from the Gospel is entirely false and is not true to the Word of God, yet all too often such is the characteristic of gospel preaching.
I would like to explore with you what is the true spiritual content of our Gospel ­ not just heaven one day, but Christ right now! Christ in you, on the grounds of redemption ­ this is the Gospel! To preach anything less than this must inevitably produce “Evan-jellyfish” ­ folk with no spiritual vertebrae, whose faith does not “behave!”
Do you remember what James says in his epistle? “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (chapter 2:26). The “spirit” there means breath, and a body without breath is dead. Stop breathing ­ and folk will bury you! In other words, a living body breathes, and a living faith breathes, and a living faith breathes with divine action. A living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ. That is why the Lord Jesus, in John 6:29, said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.”
That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible calls “good works,” as opposed to “dead works.”
“Good works” are those works that have their origin in Jesus Christ – – whose activity is released through your body, presented to Him as a living sacrifice by a faith that expresses total dependence, as opposed to the Adamic independence (Romans 12:1-2).
It is only the life of the Lord Jesus — His activity, clothed with you and displayed through you, that ultimately will find the approval of God.

Dag 21

THE BODY OF CHRIST – Arthur Katz

The Body of Christ is an eternal masterpiece, and I do not think we have sufficiently appreciated God’s intention for it. We do not show the respect and esteem that the Body deserves. We seem rather to look at each other inadequately. This must have something to do, in part, with our inability to discern the Body, where there is a kind of matter-of-fact, lackadaisical attitude of disrespect. We do not esteem Christ in His people nor do we esteem the variety of God’s people with all of their inherent differences. We are selective, and are more responsive and partial to those who are like ourselves. We miss seeing, therefore, the fullness of Christ in His Body. It requires a revelation, and here again, we stand in danger of taking something very holy and making it a commonplace. We can glibly speak the phrase “The Body of Christ,” but does that mean we have a true understanding of it? For me, the revelation of the Body came out of the struggle with my own wife in trying to reconcile the Jew and the Gentile, male and female. There are multitudes of contradictions represented right there, but the glory of God is most revealed in the taking of two antithetical persons and making of them ‘one new man.’ It is in the antagonism, the friction, and the issues of reconciliation that one begins to glimpse something of the genius of what the Body is as a living organism. God desires that we become ‘one’ as the Son and the Father are one even in, and especially in, all of the diversity and differences. There is even a colossal friction between the different, legitimate callings within the Body of Christ, for example, the teacher and the prophet. A teacher sees things as “line upon line and precept upon precept.” He is very fastidious about the word of the Scriptures and rightly so but a prophet operates in a different way. He will employ the Scriptures, but sometimes he will go beyond its literal meaning, or seize on something as obscure as a ketchup label! This offends the teacher’s soul to the same degree that the prophetic soul is offended by what he perceives as the teacher’s narrower vision. God Himself has established these differences, knowing that there is going to be an inherent tension or antagonism. And so, if God will not do anything outside His Body, in any nation, in the concluding of His Last Days’ purposes, then we need to have a greater respect and esteem for this phenomenon of the Body of Christ. It is not to be mistaken for the institutional use of that word, or even in charismatic and evangelical churches where an institutional mentality and mindset often prevail. On account of the casual manner of our language and the lack of discerning the Body, we even talk now about unity in the Body of Christ as meaning some kind of ecumenical coming together of Catholics and Protestants, or different denominations coming to some common organizational agreement. I do not have a word sufficient to describe that distortion. It is certainly a caricature of the divine intention, and it stems from the error of mindlessly using the phrase “the Body of Christ.” The Body is a living organism in the intention of God, sacred and holy, and only in that form does it have a life that flows out from the Head to which it is joined. Such an authentic Body, unobtrusive and unrecognized by the world, has always been, and will always be, an object of collision and opposition to that which is institutional.

Dag 22

HIDDEN FAULTS – Ray Stedman

Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression (Psalm 19:12b-13).

“Forgive my hidden faults.” Is that your prayer? Do you know what will happen when you pray that way? You might think that God will take a sponge and wipe around inside you so you will not even know what those hidden faults were. But God does not do that. His way of dealing with hidden faults is either to send somebody to point them out to you or to bring them out through some circumstance in which you are suddenly confronted with what you have done or said and you find that it is ugly and you do not like it. That is the way God cleanses us from hidden faults. He opens up the secret places.

Usually he does it through other people because, as God well knows, we cannot see ourselves, but other people can see us. These faults are hidden to us but not to others. They see them very plainly. And we can see their hidden faults better than they can. You know that you can see the faults of somebody you are thinking about right now better than that person can. You say, I don’t see how that person can be so blind.Someone is thinking that very same way about you. That is why it is always proper to say, “Lord, cleanse me from hidden faults. Help me to see myself through the eyes of a friend who loves me enough to tell me the truth.”

Dag 23

TO MAGNIFY CHRIST – J.C. Ryle

We read that when John saw the state of mind in which his hearers were, he told them of a coming One far mightier than himself. He refused the honour which he saw the people ready to give him, and referred them to Him who had the “winnowing fork in his hand,”–the Lamb of God, the Messiah. Conduct like this will always be the characteristic of a true “man of God.” He will never allow anything to be credited to him, or his office, which belongs to his divine Master. He will say like Paul, “we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5.) To commend Christ dying, and rising again for the ungodly–to make known Christ’s love and power to save sinners, this will be the main object of his ministry. “He must increase but I must decrease,” will be a ruling principle in all his preaching. He will be content that his own name be forgotten, so long as Christ crucified is exalted. Would we know whether a minister is sound in the faith, and deserving of our confidence as a teacher? We have only to ask a simple question, Where is Christ in his teaching? Would we know whether we ourselves are receiving benefit from the preaching we attend? Let us ask whether its effect is to magnify Christ in our esteem? A minister who is really doing us good will make us think more of Jesus every year we live.

Dag 24

UNION WITH CHRIST IN HIS RESURRECTION – James S. Stewart

Only those who through Christ have entered into a vital relationship to God are really “alive.” Existence outside of Christ is not worthy of the name at all; for as compared with a soul that has seen everything in heaven and earth transfigured by a personal experience of redemption and has begun to live daily in the romance and wonder and thrilling stimulus of Jesus’ fellowship, the man who lives for the world and the flesh and has no knowledge of God is virtually dead. He does not know it; he thinks he is “seeing life”; he cannot guess the glory he is missing, nor realize the utter bankruptcy and wretchedness of everything in which he has put his trust.

Paul saw with piercing clearness that his life into possession of which souls entered by conversion was nothing else than the life of Christ Himself. He shared His very being with them. “Christ, who is our life: (Col. 3:4), cries the Apostle. He speaks of “the life of Jesus being made manifest in our body” (2 Cor. 4:10,11)

This life which flows from Christ into man is something totally different from anything experienced on the merely natural plane. It is different, not only in degree, but also in kind. It is a new quality of life, a supernatural quality. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “There is a new creation” ­ not just an intensification of powers already possessed, but the sudden emergence of an entirely new and original element ­ “whenever a man comes to be in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17 – Moffatt).

The Christian begins to live in the sphere of the post-resurrection life of Jesus. “Ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:13). His life is yours, Paul means. You do not need to wait “until the day breaks and the shadows flee away” before beginning to live eternally. In union with Christ, that glorious privilege is yours here and now. Risen with Him, you have passed out of relation to sin, out of the hampering limitations of this present order, out of the domain of the world and the flesh, into the realm of the Spirit, and into life that is life indeed. “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). “Reckon yourselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).

Dag 25

THE TEST OF SELF-INTEREST – Oswald Chambers

“If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Genesis 13:9

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.

Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. It would seem the wisest thing in the world for Abraham to choose, it was his right, and the people around would consider him a fool for not choosing. Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eye on God. “Walk before Me.”

Dag 26

THE COSMIC CONTEXT OF OUR FAITH – Arthur Katz

Eph. 3:10-11 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,

The world thinks that it was created for itself. It thinks that it can have its great cities, its commerce, its trade, its culture, and all of the things that men celebrate. The world sees the church as a ‘Sunday thing’ that society is willing to allow to exist, as long as it does not bother mankind and the things that are important to themselves. This is contrary to what God says. The church itself does not see this, but rather sees herself as established to provide men with certain blessings by meeting their needs. That is a grotesque distortion, and is not the purpose for which God has established the church. Church is not something that panders to men; it is not something institutional that has been established to requite the interests of men by establishing programs and services. The church at large, even in its best forms, has regrettably come to that pitiful condition, exactly for the absence of the knowledge of the eternal purpose of God for the church. In fact, until we identify with the eternal purpose of God, and look to the fulfilling of it, we never will meet the needs of men. Once we see this, we begin to realize that our jobs and careers are all secondary, the merest provisions from God, in order to keep body and soul together. Why is the church so itchy and always wanting to find something to do? Why must it always have a program, or something to justify its existence? Perhaps the answer lies in that it does not see its existence in any other terms but in meeting the needs that are immediate and about them. It has not seen what would have given it its security and foundation in God, namely, the taking up of the eternal purpose. It would have freed it from the necessity and the itch to do and perform. I cannot say enough to register this upon our spirits. If this does not find a place in our hearts and understanding, we are crippled in our service for God, as well as our knowledge of God. We need to understand the cosmic context of the entire faith itself, and that there is a drama of a moral and cosmic kind that has had its inception from the beginning, and is moving toward its conclusion. And the final drama is to be fulfilled by the church itself. Since the church does not float in the air, but has its being on the earth, God created the earth in order that, through the church, a certain demonstration could be made. In other words, our whole view of creation has got to be related to our whole view of redemption. God did not create all things in order that we could enjoy the benefits of the earth, although it has been given to be enjoyed. His purpose is that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be demonstrated to the principalities and the powers of the air. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the eternal purpose of God for creation, and for the church. The church that chooses to be ignorant of the eternal purpose of God, and does not give itself to that purpose as the first and foremost purpose for its being, is, by that selfsame thing, not the church. The church that is indifferent to the eternal purpose of God, let it be however impressive in every other way, is not the church in any apostolic and prophetic sense, which is to say, in any authentic sense. In order to be the church that is the church in truth, we must embrace the eternal purpose of God, even though we do not see any practical consequence for doing so. In fact, we will find that God’s purpose does not in any way serve our purposes. It does not aid mankind, or seem to alleviate any present ill in the world. It is altogether a mystery of a demonstration to be made to the principalities and powers of the air. The church that is willing to make this demonstration is thereby making known the manifold wisdom of God. This is in itself the wisdom of God.

Dag 27

DEEPER KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS – Octavius Winslow

Aim to get your mind filled with enlarged and yet expanding views of the glory of Christ. Let it, in all the discoveries it affords of the Divine mind and majesty, be the one subject of your thoughts, the one theme of your conversation. Place no limit to your knowledge of Christ.

Ever consider that you have but read the preface to the volume, you have but touched the margin of the sea; stretching far away beyond you, are undiscovered beauties, and precious views, and sparkling glories, each encouraging your advance, inviting your research, and asking the homage of your faith, the tribute of your love, and the dedication of your life.

Go forward, then! The glories that yet must be revealed to you in a growing knowledge of Jesus, what imagination can conceive, what pen can describe them! You shall see greater things than these, is the promise that bids you advance. Jesus stands ready to unveil all the beauties of His person, and admit you into the very arcana of His love. There’s not a chamber of His heart that He will not throw open to you; not a blessing that He will not bestow upon you; not a glory that He will not show to you.

You shall see greater things than you have yet seen—greater depths of sin in your fallen nature shall be revealed—deeper sense of the cleansing efficacy of the atoning blood shall be felt—clearer views of your acceptance in the Beloved—greater discoveries of God’s love—and greater depths of grace and glory in Jesus shall be enjoyed. Your peace shall flow like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of sea. Sorrow shall wound you less deeply; affliction shall press you less heavily; tribulation shall affect you less keenly: all this, and infinitely more, will result from your deeper knowledge of Jesus.

Ah, wonder not that the apostle exclaimed, Doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.

Dag 28

DECLENSION IN PRAYER – Octavius Winslow

And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. Matthew 21:22

Draw near, then, seeking soul, with boldness; not the boldness of a presumptuous, self-righteous man, but that of one chosen, called, pardoned, and justified. Draw near with the lowly boldness of a child—with the humble confidence of a son.

Dear are you to your Father. Sweet is your voice to Him. Precious is your person, accepted in His Beloved. You can not come too boldly—you can not come too frequently—you can not come with too large requests. You are coming to a King, that King your Father, that Father viewing you in His beloved Son.

Oh, hang not back. Stand not afar off. He now holds out the golden scepter, and says, Come near; what is your request? Come with your temporal want. Come with your spiritual need. Ask what you will, it shall be granted you. I have an open hand, and a large heart. Is it your desire—Lord, I want more grace to glorify You. I want more simplicity of mind, and singleness of eye. I want a more holy, upright, honest walk. I want more meekness, patience, lowliness, submission. I want to know more of Jesus, to see more of His glory, to feel more of His preciousness, and to live more simply upon His fullness. I want more of the sanctifying, sealing, witnessing, and anointing influences of the Spirit? Blessed, holy desires! It is the Spirit making intercession in you according to the will of God; and entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, the Lord will fulfill the desires of your heart, even to the half of kingdom.

Dag 29

REPROOF AND CORRECTION IN LOVE – T.A. McMahon

All Scripture is profitable for reproof. Contrary to popular Christian self-esteem teachings, a biblical reproof is beneficial both for the individual and for a body of believers. Paul publicly reproved Peter, who, because of a fear of men (Gal 2:12), was undermining the faith of some believers by withdrawing from the Gentiles and compelling them to live under Jewish law (2:13-14). It’s interesting to note that Peter did not respond by complaining bitterly that Paul’s public correction denigrated his ministry or caused a loss of support. In fact, as Peter reflects upon his “beloved brother Paul[‘s]” teachings he commends them for their wisdom and value to the church.

Peter rebuked Ananias and Sapphira. As a result, the early church was infused with a wholesome fear of God and His holiness. Examples found continuously throughout the Scriptures demonstrate the value of reproof for the conviction of sin and erroneous teaching which otherwise might have gone unheeded, leading to the destruction of the faith of some.

All Scripture is profitable for correction. Designed for the benefit of believers, this teaching of God’s Word is very much out of favor among today’s church leaders. It’s astounding that page after page of the Bible involves some form of correction, yet any such application among Christians is generally avoided or viewed as emotionally harmful, “negative” and “unloving.” On the contrary, correction is biblical and necessary. When it is a work of the Holy Spirit, which it must be to be fruitful, it is the most loving of ministries! The psalmist writes, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head (141:5).”

Jesus was continually correcting: Peter, Thomas, His other disciples, the Jewish leaders, the multitudes, individuals who came to him, the woman accused of adultery as well as her accusers, the two on the road to Emmaus, the seven churches of Revelation, and on and on. His words in Hebrews may not be popular today but they cannot be denied: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him: For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…” (Heb 12:5-6). Much of the New Testament is corrective in nature. It teaches us what to correct and how to go about it.

Exhortation to discernment is not without certain occupational hazards, both for us and for those with whom we communicate. We must examine our hearts
constantly to make sure we are ministering according to the instructions of 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to
everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the
truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. ” Falling short of such an approach can
open the way for the very antithesis of what we desire: self-righteousness, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, legalism, and “bashing” persons or ministries rather than
shedding light on their unbiblical teachings and practices. Nevertheless, as we continue to apply biblical correction to our own personal lives as well as our public
outreach, His grace will help us avoid such pitfalls and enable us to speak the truth in love.

Dag 30

SANCTIFICATION IS FORGETTING ABOUT YOURSELF – Tullian Tchividjian

Martin Luther defined sin as “mankind turned inward.” And sadly, the way many of us think about sanctification is terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our failure and brooding over our spiritual successes. In short, we spend way too much time thinking about ourselves and what we need to do and far too little time thinking about Jesus and what he’s already done. And what I’ve discovered is that the more I focus on my need to get better the worse I actually get – I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my performance over Christ’s performance for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective. This is the opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.

Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on “how he was doing.” Anytime our natural fixture on self is rattled, shaken, turned from itself to that Man’s blood, to that Man’s cross, the devil runs!

When we stop narcissistically focusing on our need to get better that is what it means to get better. When we stop obsessing over our need to improve, that is what it means to improve!

Dag 31

REVISITING LEADERSHIP AND DISCIPLESHIP – Albert Theron

Matthew 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Leaders are not the centre of the church, Christ is, and leaders are meant to facilitate this reality. Leaders are supposed to lift up Christ by a consistent gospel proclamation and a focused equipping of the saints. When Jesus came to this earth he changed everything, including mankind’s way of looking at leadership. The renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2) is supposed to include the way we look at leadership. Leaders must, as it were, send out the gospel in front of them so that Jesus may be seen, as they remain in His shadow as servants of the saints and the church (1 Cor. 4:1). It is completely consistent with the New Testament to say that leaders are meant to lead ‘in the shadow of Jesus’. The moment a leader or leaders step out of that shadow they step into the light and press Jesus into their shadow. This is a travesty and a shame. Consider a very significant fact that has received little attention in church history. In every single instance that Paul wrote a letter to a church he addressed it to the whole church and not to a leader or leaders. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus were written to apostolic co-workers, not to churches. This is even more striking when we consider the fact that almost every one of those churches were experiencing crises at the time of Paul’s writing and yet he did not address his letters to the elders. When he wrote the Philippians he starts his letter by saying ‘to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons’. Note that he did not say and the overseers and deacons, but the saints with the overseers and deacons. This is highly significant and it indicates that a local church is comprised of one group, saints with elders and deacons, not three groups. Jesus said in Matthew 23:8 ‘One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers’. Yes, there are teachers and leaders in the church, but they must serve as fellow brothers who teach and lead in the shadow of Jesus, the true Teacher and Leader. Furthermore, elders are under-shepherds and Jesus alone the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (1 Pet. 5:2-4). The shepherds in a local church should never view themselves as ‘above the sheep’. They themselves are sheep in the fold of the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 16), albeit sheep that lead other sheep by following closely behind the Shepherd.

Additionally we have to radically alter our ecclesiastical approach from merely teaching people, to making disciples of them. The priesthood of all believers means precious little if we do not actively pursue this as our main mandate (Mt. 28v19). We have to make it our single aim to train every single disciple to love and study the Word, to be a self-feeder, to demonstrate the Word by transformed living, and to share the Word with others in this same way, i.e. teaching them to be disciples! We have to move from giving people fish to teaching them how to fish and how to teach others to fish. We have to hand the church back to the saint. The church does not belong to leadership and saints are not meant to ‘remain ignorant so that the leaders can be perpetual feeders’. Vision is not the sole prerogative of leaders, it is meant for every single member of the Body of Christ. Read Ephesians and Colossians and note Paul’s prayers for the saints if you doubt this. The letters of the New Testament were primarily written to saints, not leaders. New Testament leadership is radically Christ-centered and utterly member-aimed (see Mt. 23:8-12)! It aims consistently and persistently to attach saints to Christ as their ultimate leader and to equip saints to be disciple makers. It is time for us to stop paying lip service to the belief in the priesthood of all believers and begin to actually apply it in the practical life of our churches! This is a mega paradigm shift in the context of current church practice and it is urgently needed in the church. God’s plan is simple and meant to be utterly pervasive; every member equipped, every member in the Word, every member radically Christ-centered and animated by the gospel and every member a disciple maker. Unless we have this specific aim, we are missing it completely and wasting precious time, even with all our church programs, meetings, committees, training courses, etcetera ad nauseam!