CONNECTION BETWEEN THE WORD AND PRAYER – John Piper
The Word of God inspires prayer. This means that the Word commands us to pray, and makes promises to us of what God will do if we pray, and tells us stories of great men and women of prayer. Jam. 5:16-18 does all three. First, “Pray for one another so that you may be healed.” There’s a command from the Word. Second, “The [effective] prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” There is the encouraging promise. Third, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.” There’s a story to inspire us. So the Word inspires prayer by telling us to do it (like a doctor telling us what’s good for us) and promising us good things if we will do it, and telling us stories to encourage us in our weakness. Second, the Word of God informs prayer. This means that the Word tells us what to pray and becomes itself the content of our prayer. When you know the mind of God in his Word, you pray the mind of God in your prayers. For example, in Acts 4:24-26, the early church prayed like this: “They lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them [see Exo_20:11], who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David your servant, said [quoting Psa_2:1-2], ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.’ ” This is the way powerful saints have prayed throughout history. O may the Lord fill our payers with the great purposes and promises of God that we learn from his Word. The Word informs prayer. Third, the Word incarnates prayer. This means that prayers are often invisible and concealed in the soul and in the closet and in the church. But their effect is to be in the open in the lives of other people and among the nations. How does that happen? God usually advances his purposes in world evangelization and personal transformation and cultural reformation by direct encounters with the truth of his Word. The Word incarnates our prayers. Prayers become effective through the truth getting into people’s ears and minds and hearts. People don’t just start believing on Jesus because you pray for them. T hey need to hear about Jesus. “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). “Pray for us that the Word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you” (2 Thes. 3:1). Prayer empowers the Word and the Word incarnates prayer. Saints don’t just become more holy because someone prays that they will. They need to see the truth: “Sanctify them in the truth. Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). Cultural slavery to injustice and greed and dishonesty and sexual immorality does not just change because we pray for it. The agent of reformation is the truth: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Prayer must be incarnated in declarations and demonstrations of the truth.
Ware outoriteit in die gemeente van Christus – Albert Theron
Die afgewaterde woorde en werke van vormgodsdiens is dikwels totaal gestroop van alle ware outoriteit. Daarom is dit uiters belangrik vir dissipels van Jesus om die kwessie van outoriteit in gemeentelewe reg te verstaan en onderskei. Outoriteit in die Nuwe Testament is altyd ‘n gedelegeerde kwaliteit wat vloei vanaf dié Outoriteit, naamlik Christus die Hoof van die gemeente (Kol. 1:18). Ware outoriteit gaan nie in die eerste plek oor posisies en titels nie, maar oor leiers se verhouding met Jesus en dit wat hulle dan gevolglik verteenwoordig. Let net kortliks op vier aspekte van ware outoriteit in die Nuwe Testament. Die pre-eminensie (‘pre-eminence, not just prominence’) van Christus in my hart, gesindhede, woorde, en bediening, die plek wat sy Woord (die Skrif) in my hart, lewe en bediening beklee, die sensitiwiteit vir sy Gees wat oomblik-vir-oomblik in my werk, en die ruimte wat ek maak vir sý liefde as die praktiese gevolg van die werking van sy Persoon, sy Woord, en sy Gees in my binneste. Die Persoon van Christus, die Woord van Christus, die Gees van Christus, en die liefde van Christus verleen vir my ware outoriteit in gemeentelewe. Sonder al vier hierdie kwaliteite toenemend teenwoordig in my lewe en bediening beteken die mees prominente posisie en titel niks nie en het ek nié ware outoriteit in die koninkryk van God nie, want ek verteenwoordig dan net myself en nie die lewende Christus nie.
AN INBORN SENSE OF PURPOSE AND DESTINY – Austin Sparks
You see, this is very closely in keeping with this letter to the Hebrews, because it is this very sense of destiny that is being spoken of in relation to men right back from Abel onward. The whole caravan, as we have called it, from Abel, Enoch, Noah, and right on. These men had in them this sense of the hand of God having come upon them with an object, for a purpose. And it was that sense of destiny which enabled them on the one hand, to leave the world behind, its affairs and its interests and its possessions, and on the other hand, to go patiently on, patiently on through the years. They were men who had seen something; they had seen something! “Abraham saw My day”, said the Lord Jesus, “Abraham saw My day” he rejoiced to see it. They had seen something, Abraham had seen something that this world could never give the answer to: a city and a heavenly country. No matter how much they possessed of this earth, that never answered to it; they had seen something that still kept them going. Moses saw something, yes, he saw the God of Israel, and he saw the pattern of the things in the heavens, but he saw more than that. He saw more than that!
What a tremendous suggestion is found in this: “accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than of Egypt”. “The reproach of Christ”! He had seen something that could never find its answer in the types and the figures and the symbols of the whole earthly representation, he had seen something heavenly! And so all these men had seen something, you see, and that seeing was bound up with this sense of being called and of destiny, and it kept these men going. Of Moses it says “He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible”. He had seen something, and he endured… he endured! They endured, and what was the power, the thing, that girded them to endure, to suffer, and to die, still in faith, not having obtained? It was this something in them that was a part of them, not something they had taken on, but something that was inborn: a sense of purpose, God-appointed destiny. Yes. The letter to the Hebrews gathers that all up and says, “Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run…” Let us run (as they ran) “the race with patience”. Let us lay aside every weight, and the so-easily besetting sin: that doubt, that doubt – that’s unbelief, as the context shows. Lay it aside… run with patience. Girded by this same wonderful seeing, sensing, knowing we are called, we are chosen, we are related to some tremendous destiny.
CURIOSITY’S URGE FOR WISDOM – Watchman Nee
After being tempted Eve gave her verdict. To begin with, the tree was good for food.” This is the “lust of the flesh.” Eve’s flesh was the first to be stirred up. Second, “it was a delight to the eyes.” This is “the lust of the eyes.” Both the body and her soul were now enticed. Third, “the tree was to be desired to make one wise. “This is “the pride of life.” Such desire revealed the wavering of her emotion and will. Her soul was now agitated beyond control. It no longer stood by as a spectator but had been goaded into desiring the fruit. How dangerous a master human emotion is! Why should Eve desire the fruit? It was not merely the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, but also curiosity’s urge for wisdom. In the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, even of so called “spiritual knowledge,” activities of the soul often can be detected. When one tries to increase his knowledge by doing mental gymnastics over books without waiting upon God and looking to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his soul is plainly in full swing. This will deplete his spiritual life. Because the fall of man was occasioned by seeking knowledge, God uses the foolishness of the cross to “destroy the wisdom of the wise.” Intellect was the chief cause of the fall; hence, in order to be saved one must believe in the folly of the Word of the cross rather than depend upon his intellect. The tree of knowledge causes man to fall, so God employs the tree of folly (I Peter 2:24) to save souls. “If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (I Cor. 3:18-20; also see 1:18-25).
DODELIKE SOSIALE DRUK – Albert Theron
“Maar tog het selfs baie van die owerstes in Hom geglo; maar ter wille van die Fariseërs het hulle dit nie bely nie, om nie uit die sinagoge geban te word nie. Want hulle het die eer van die mense meer liefgehad as die eer van God.” Joh. 12v42-43
Hierdie is van die hartseerste verse in die hele Bybel. Dit is amper ondenkbaar dat ‘n mens jou ewige bestemming kan oorlaat aan die wisselvallige en dikwels skynheilige standaarde van dit wat populêr en aanvaarbaar is in jou gemeenskap. Hier gaan dit nie net oor die sekulêre wêreld nie, maar veral oor dit wat populêr is in godsdienstige kringe. Sosiale druk is een van die mees effektiewe wapens wat satan gebruik om mense in sy mag te hou. Om Jesus te volg beteken dat jy moet sterf vir ‘wat sal die mense sê’ en doen wat jy in jou hart weet die waarheid is. “Want elkeen sal sy eie pak dra.” Gal. 6:5
OUR UNION WITH CHRIST IS TRINITARIAN – Marcus Peter Johnson
To say that our union with Christ is Trinitarian means that by virtue of being incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ, we participate in the life, love, and fellowship of the Trinity. Because the Son is one with the Father, our being joined to the Son means we are joined to the Father. And because the Spirit exists as the bond of communion between the Father and Son, he brings us into that communion by uniting us to Christ. This staggering biblical revelation forms the personal foundation for all the benefits that constitute our salvation. In the words of Jonathan Edwards: “There was, [as] it were, an eternal society or family in the Godhead, in the Trinity of persons. It seems to be God’s design to admit the church into the divine family as his son’s wife”.
DIE HEILIGE RUIMTE – Albert Theron
“Maar heilig die Here God in julle harte…” 1 Pet. 3:15a
“But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord.” 1 Pet. 3:15a (GNT)
Daar is ‘n heilige ruimte in die wese van elke mens wat deur God self geskep is. Ons is deur God ‘kunstig geweef in die moederskoot’ (Ps. 139) op so ‘n manier dat ons ‘n binnewêreld het wat in werklikheid onder ons eie bestuur staan. In daardie heilige ruimte wat die Bybel ‘die hart’ noem word al die groot besluite van jou lewe geneem. God verwag van ons om daardie binnewêreld rein te hou en reg te bestuur onder die invloed van Sy Gees. Daarom gee Hy ons die opdrag ‘Bewaak jou hart meer as alles wat bewaar moet word, want daaruit is die oorspronge van die lewe’ (Spr. 4:23). Pasop wat jy toelaat om in te kom in die heilige ruimte van jou hart! Jou hele lewe en toekoms hang daarvan af. Maak seker dat net dit wat ‘waar, eerbaar, regverdig, rein, lieflik, en loflik’ (Fil. 4:8) is daar ‘n tuiste kry. Onder leiding van die Heilige Gees kán jy jou eie hart bestuur, want Gód sê jy kán. Lees ook Matt. 12:34-35 en 15:18-20.
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF RELIGION – Titus Chu
Because of his religious nature, Saul had been sliding lower and lower. His religious nature caused him to offer without God (1 Sam. 13). Next, his religious nature caused him to feel he could make up for it by offering what God had condemned (1 Sam. 15). Then, Saul’s religious nature brought him to the point that he only cared for the continuation of his own monarchy (1 Sam. 18, 20). Finally, his religious nature brought Saul to the point that he sought advice from a ghost through a witch (1 Sam. 28)! We now see someone far from the presence of God. Religion can degrade us to such an extent that we even get involved in things such as this. Once we get involved with religion, we have no idea how far it will eventually take us from God. This is why I refuse to compromise when I see anything coming in that might become a substitute for Christ, regardless how good or necessary it may seem. Though it be called a “top truth,” a “top ministry,” or even a “top oneness,” if the believers are not brought to Christ Himself, it is vanity. Anything that is apart from Christ Himself cannot result in what is according to God’s heart. The only thing that will be produced out of such things is another denomination.
DISCIPLES OF JESUS OR OF OURSELVES? – Martin and Deidre Bobgan
Christ-centered ministry aims at making and encouraging disciples in the faith. However, over the past 35 years the word “discipling” has taken on baggage that Jesus never intended. Discipling became a relationship in which one person was the discipler (one-up) and the other was the disciple (one-down). In this relationship the disciplers often took a great deal of authority over the disciples to the point of telling them what to do and making their decisions. Counseling has certainly taken on some of this unbiblical form of discipling, as counselors (one-up) often exercise authority in their counselees’ lives (one-down), as they often make decisions for them, and as they directly or indirectly tell them what to do. Quite often such counseling-discipling makes people disciples of their counselors. Christ-centered ministry works against such dependence and encourages people to be dependent on Christ rather than on another person. In fact, Christ-centered ministry works to free people to walk with Christ, to take their problems to Him instead of to other people, and to be so connected to the Body of Christ that they are both giving and receiving the life of Christ.
DO NOT COUNT HEADS – Austin Sparks
It is equally true in experience that when people begin to take hold of the blessings of the Lord, the answers to prayer that the Lord has given, and rejoice in them in the flesh and make a great thing of them, as though they were the supreme things, or when they begin to take hold of the work of the Lord and the success of the work of the Lord, and make everything of the success, counting heads and so on, it is not long before the spiritual life shows itself to be very shallow. The disciples were in danger of something like that when they came back from their first taste of the work of the Lord apart from Him. They said: “Even the demons are subject unto us.” This is a natural rejoicing in the blessings of the Lord, and the Lord said: “…rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you…”. In other words He was saying: Do not make a great deal of the success of your work; your glorying must be that your names are written in heaven.
FAITH IS THE EAR THAT LISTENS FOR GOD – Andrew Murray
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; He awakens morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned.” (Isa. 1:4.)
Thus speaks the prophet of himself as a type of the Lord Jesus. Thus speaks the Lord Jesus. Thus every believer may, and must speak, for all shall be taught (Isa. 54:13 ; John 6:45).
And how does God teach His children? “He awakens morning by morning; he awakens my ear to hear as the learned.” What God does is to arouse the ear-the faculty of listening. He teaches the soul to be quiet and listen to His voice. Much speaking and little listening, much prayer and little waiting, bring but little blessing. Faith is the ear that listens for God. The soul that waits quietly and is willing not only to pray, but (what is more important) to listen faithfully to what God is saying to the heart through His Spirit, will in truth be taught of God.
It is especially in the morning that God awakens the ear. He begins early in the day. He wants to be the first.
He awakens “morning by morning: He awakens my ear.” The Lord knows that we need fresh manna every morning. It is only by the daily renewal and repetition of our lesson that we are truly taught of God.
Soul! Let God awaken your ear each morning to listen to Him.
UIT DIE SKAT VAN DIE HART – Albert Theron
“Die goeie mens bring uit die goeie skat van sy hart goeie dinge te voorskyn, en die slegte mens bring uit die slegte skat slegte dinge te voorskyn.” Matt. 12:35
Met betrekking tot die evangelie is die Bybel duidelik dat álle mense onder die mag van die sonde is (Rom. 3:9-19) en daarom presies dieselfde behoefte het aan redding in Jesus. Wedergebore mense het ‘n nuwe natuur en Christus self leef in hulle. Maar dit onthef hulle nie van die verantwoordelikheid om wys om te gaan met dit wat in hulle hárte aangaan nie. Dit wat jy bedink en toelaat om te groei in jou hart word uiteindelik wat Jesus noem ‘n ‘skat’ in jou hart. Daardie ‘skat’ bepaal jou gesindhede, jou woorde, en jou dade (Spr. 4:23). Maak seker dat jy jou gedagtes rig op die waarhede wat betrekking het op jou nuwe lewe in Christus (Kol. 3:1-4), en jy kan verseker wees dat daardie ‘goeie skat’ binne-in jou veel lieflike vrug sal dra (Gal. 5:22).
AFFLICTED WITH A CHRONIC SMALLNESS – Chip Brogden
Most Christians do not understand the meaning of “preeminence,” and even those who do, find it difficult to articulate it as God’s Purpose for Christ, or even understand the ramifications of such a preeminence upon themselves, the Ekklesia, the world, and all Creation. That is not meant as a criticism, but as a statement of fact. Their vision penetrates no further than their own little world. The entire object of their faith is to make things more bearable for them here on earth. God is there to save them, heal them, and provide for them. Heaven is something to sing about and a place to look forward to, but it is not a present reality and the object of their affection here and now, or something to be demonstrated and brought to bear upon earth’s “reality.” Church exists to get them through from one meaningless week to the next. The ministry exists to keep them propped up and pumped up. We are afflicted with a chronic smallness. Our God is too small, our Jesus is too small, our perception of Heaven is too small, our idea of church is too small, our concept of following Jesus is too small. Without a vision we are a small, petty, trifling people. May God give us the revelation of Christ! Oh God, give us that vision of Him! If we are illuminated to see Him then we cannot remain small any longer. He is God’s Answer for smallness. This Testimony is a boundary-breaking thing, an overshadowing thing, an expansive and increasing thing: “Of the increase of His Government and peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7a). Not only will there be no end of His Kingdom, but there will be no end of His increasing! Oh God, we cannot fathom that! We cannot comprehend that! It cannot be contained. We cannot take it and fit it into our program. We have to find a way to fit into it, and not the other way around.
DIE WOORD EN DIE HART – Albert Theron
Die saad van God se Woord is inderdaad goeie saad en het dieselfde effek op elke hart wat dit met kinderlike geloof ontvang. Daar is niks fout met die saad nie, maar is ons harte sag en ontvanklik? Wat leer die volgende tekste ons oor die regte hartsgesindheid t.o.v. die Woord?
1 Thes. 2:13 “Daarom dank ons God ook sonder ophou dat, toe julle die woord van God ontvang het wat deur ons verkondig is, julle dit aangeneem het nie as die woord van mense nie, maar, soos dit waarlik is, as die woord van God wat ook werk in julle wat glo.”
Jesaja 66:2 “Want my hand het al hierdie dinge gemaak, en so het dit alles ontstaan, spreek die HERE. Maar op hierdie een sal Ek let: op hom wat arm is en verslae van gees, en wat bewe vir my woord.”
Lukas 8:15 “En wat in die goeie grond val—dit is die wat, nadat hulle gehoor het, die woord in ‘n edele en goeie hart hou en met volharding vrug dra.”
NEW RESOURCES IN CHRIST – Austin Sparks
Our resources are new resources — they are in heaven. That is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians that God has chosen weak things, the foolish things, the things which are not… that by them He might bring to naught the wise, the mighty, the things which are. Why did God appoint it so? Because it is not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit… and to show that there are powers, energies, and abilities for His own which transcend all the greatest powers and abilities of this world. That is the history of God’s people… and that is where so many people go wrong. Men of the world look upon Christians and, for the most part, do not think much of them. They measure them by the standards of the world and say: “Well, they are rather a poor lot; their caliber is not much!”. But that is God’s way, and the world never can measure that. Nor can that be done by human wisdom, strength, or ability at its greatest. God has chosen weak things for that. Why? Simply because weak things, in their dependence, are the best instruments — the best means — of allowing God to show that such works are not of any human sufficiency at all… but all of Himself. Please do not take comfort from the fact that God has chosen weak things and foolish things… and say: “Well, I am that — and therefore it is all right!” The point is: Are you, in God’s hand, bringing to naught the mighty and the wise? Is it not a case of our resting back on our weakness and our foolishness and our nothingness… and our saying: “That applies to me; that is all right; that is all that matters!” That is not all that matters. The thing that matters is that I — being weak — may know resurrection union with Christ in all His might and power; and, in that union with Him, mighty spiritual things should be done through me. That is the positive side. We may know the Lord in a personal and inward way. We may draw upon the Lord’s resources in a personal and inward way. All that the Lord has is available to us inwardly. Heaven is no longer closed when we are united with Christ on the ground of His atoning work.
OUR VITAL UNION WITH CHRIST – Marcus Peter Johnson
The Scriptures reveal that we stand in a vital, “life-giving” relation to Christ that exceeds any relation of mere external or peripheral influence. Christ is the source of our life and activity as a vine is to its branches, so that apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15); he is our sustenance as living bread and water (John 4 and 6); he is our resurrection and life (John 11); and he is our eternal life in his own being (John 5). Paul writes that “it is no longer I who live , but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2: 20), and further, that our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is [our] life appears, then [we] also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3: 3– 4). Our union with Christ is “vital” because Christ is our life. Furthermore, the union we have with Christ is organic in that we are integral elements of a living wholeness. We are actually joined to one another in Christ. Each believer is described as a part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12: 27), and believers as a whole are described as “members” (or limbs and organs) of Christ’s body (Eph. 5: 30). The church exists (in a reciprocal but subordinate fashion) for and through Christ as he exists in and for the church. As such, Christ is the head of the church, “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1: 23). As members together of one Jesus Christ, believers make up an organic unity in which each member belongs to all the others (Rom. 12: 5). We function properly only in reciprocal relationships, so that we may “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4: 15). Christ is both the source of our life and the source of our relational dependence.
‘N RADIKALE VERANDERING VAN PERSPEKTIEF – Albert Theron
“In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.” Gen. 1:1
“Want in Hom [Christus] is alle dinge geskape wat in die hemele en op die aarde is, wat sienlik en onsienlik is, trone sowel as heerskappye en owerhede en magte — alle dinge is deur Hom en tot Hom geskape.” Kol. 1:16
“Om die volheid van die tye te reël, met die doel om alle dinge wat in die hemele sowel as wat op die aarde is, onder een hoof in Christus te verenig.” Efes. 1:10
Dit is normaal en natuurlik vir ons om na die lewe te kyk vanuit ons eie plekkie op die aarde en binne die ruimte van ons subjektiewe waarnemings en sintuiglike versameling van inligting. Die boodskap van die evangelie maak egter ‘n appél op ons om ‘n radikale verandering van perspektief te ondergaan. Die Vader draai as’t ware ons oë weg van onsself met die evangelie (soos ‘n pa wat met tederheid sy seuntjie se kop in die regte rigting draai) en rig ons visie op Sy Seun wat sentraal staan in die skepping en die nuwe skepping (Kol. 1:15-20). Ware geloof is nie soseer om Christus deel van mý lewe te maak nie as wat dit is om te sien dat Hý in werklikheid die middelpunt van alles in die geskape heelal is en dan my hoof te buig onder Sy heerskappy en sentraliteit in alles. Gevolglik is my hele lewe vorentoe as dissipel ‘n voortdurende aanpassing van perspektief, om die magte en kragte teë te staan wat heeltyd my eie ek soos die aarde se swaartekrag in die middel van alles wil intrek en dit te vervang met ‘n visie van die werklikheid: Jesus op die troon en sentraal in alles!
THE OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE CROSS – Bill Freeman
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth.” Colossians 3:4-5
Our minds must be renewed with the revelation of the objective cross in order that we could experience the subjective working of the cross. These two aspects are connected in Colossians 3:3 and 5. In verse 3 the objective aspect is given: “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” That is the fact, and nothing can change it. Our feeling cannot change it. The atmosphere cannot change it. Whether we believe it or not, it still remains a fact. Disbelief cannot eradicate it. The fact is the fact. We died. This is the objective cross.
Then in verse 5 we see the subjective side: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth.” This is the subjective working out of the cross. So the two sides of the cross are revealed in Colossians 3: “You died” in verse 3, and “put to death” in verse 5. We put to death our members which are on the earth because we died. The objective truth is that we were crucified with Christ. But now subjectively we need to apply this and experience it.
By knowing the truth, you know exactly how to relate to yourself. You know how to relate to your reaction. You know how to relate to that ugly thing rising up in you. You are not looking at it, being anxious about it, or hoping that it will somehow disappear. You are not in that false kind of realm, wishing for a change. Once you have seen the fact that your old man was crucified, that you died, then when that reaction rises up in you—when you feel it, when you sense it—you know your position with it. You know exactly how to relate to it. You say, “That is not me anymore. That thing died, and right now I am going to put it to death.” This is faith. This is the exercise of our spirit of faith. This is being clear and knowing what the truth is. So we can see how crucial it is for us to know the facts of this revelation from the Word—that our old man was crucified. It is good to declare it. It is good to announce it and then to apply the subjective working of the cross by the Spirit.
VERLOSSING IN PAAIEMENTE? – Albert Theron
Ons dink soms oor ons verlossing soos lenings wat ons by ‘n hemelse bank kry. Ons moet net hoop ons vang die bankbestuurder op ‘n goeie dag as daar nou rêrig ‘n krisis is. Dan gebruik ons maar weer die verlossingskrediet (sal later terug betaal ) . Die waarheid is egter dat ons IN CHRISTUS alles ontvang het wat ons vir hierdie lewe en die ewigheid nodig sal kry. “Immers, sy goddelike krag het ons alles geskenk wat tot die lewe en godsvrug dien…” (2 Pet. 1:3). En wat meer is, jy hoef dit nie terug te betaal nie! Jy moet net leef daaruit, uit Hóm in der waarheid. Jesus self is die somtotaal van alles wat die hemel het om te gee en jy is IN HOM en Hy in jou. “In dié dag sal julle weet dat Ek in my Vader is, en julle in My, en Ek in julle” (Joh. 14:20). Het jy oorwinning nodig? Dit is in Hom. Blydskap? In Hom. Vrede? In Hom. Sagmoedigheid? In Hom. Selfbeheersing? In Hom. Wysheid? In Hom. Die Vader gee nie verlossing in paaiemente nie. Hy het sy Seun gegee en ons het niks meer nodig nie. Ons moet net groei in kennis van Hom en leer om uit verhouding te leef. “Maar julle moet toeneem in die genade en kennis van onse Here en Saligmaker, Jesus Christus.” 2 Pet. 3:18
VAIN REGRETS – Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Let us then lay this down as a principle. We must never for a second worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us. It is a waste of energy. If you can do nothing about a situation stop thinking about it; never again look back at it, never think of it. If you do, it is the devil defeating you. Vague useless regrets must be dismissed as irrational. My friend, stop dwelling on them! Quite apart from Christianity, it is a foolish thing to do, it is a sheer waste of energy and a waste of time. But let us go further and realize that to dwell on the past simply causes failure in the present. WhIle you are sitting down and bemoaning the past and regretting all the things you have not done, you are crippling yourself and preventing yourself from working in the present. Is that Christianity? Of course it is not. Christianity is common sense and much more–but it includes common sense. ‘Ah’, but you say, ‘I can hear that in the world.’ Well, if you can, hear it and act on it! Our Lord Himself has said that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. He commended the unjust steward and I am simply doing the same thing. The world from its standpoint of common wisdom is perfectly right in this matter. It is always wrong to mortgage the present by the past, it is always wrong to allow the past to act as a brake upon the present. Let the dead past bury its dead. There is nothing that is more reprehensible, judged by common canons of thought, than to allow anything that belongs to the past to cause you to be a failure in the present. And this morbid concern about the past does so. The people I am describing are failing in the present. Instead of living in the present and getting on with the Christian life they are sitting down bemoaning the past. They are so sorry about the past that they do nothing in the present. How wrong it is.
DECREASING FOR HIS PURPOSE – Oswald Chambers
He must increase, but I must decrease John 3:30
If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, “You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him.”
Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. “. . . the friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness-at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.
Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).
* Please observe the context of what Chambers is saying here very carefully lest you misunderstand him completely. The context is the responsibilty in termsof all New Testament ministry and leadership to lead people to Christ and to continue to point to Christ until they are completely dependent on Him, not on us. In this context we may at times have to stand back and watch circumstances and situations grow worse in someone’s life, all the while pointing to Christ of course and praying for them to see His Lordship, until they cry out to Him. (AT)
NEEM MEKAAR VOLLEDIG EN HARTLIK AAN – Albert Theron
“Neem daarom mekaar aan, soos Christus ons ook aangeneem het, tot heerlikheid van God.” Rom. 15:7
As ons almal presies dieselfde was en dieselfde smake, voorkeure, afkeure, styl, gawes, en temperament gehad het, sou daar nie eers ‘n nodigheid gewees het vir hierdie vers nie. Die waarheid is egter dat ons dikwels uiterlik baie van mekaar verskil, al is ons as dissipels van Jesus innerlik gekonstitueer met die lewe van Christus en daarom wesenlik een. Daarom is dit nou maar net eenvoudig ‘n feit dat daar geen geseënde en vrugbare gemeentelewe kan wees as ons nie leer om mekaar met al ons verskille en skete volledig en hartlik aan te neem net soos Christus in Sy oneindige genade óns aangeneem het en Sy liefde sonder perk op ons uitgestort het nie. Dit beteken geensins dat ons nie op die regte tyd en plek met wysheid relevante kwessies kan aanspreek nie. Maar leer om aanvaarding van medegelowiges in Christus te kweek in jou hart totdat dit ‘n pragtige tuin van genade word wat seën en vrede bring oral waar jy gaan. Daar is net iets aan ware aanvaarding van mekaar in Chrtistus wat ons harte oopsluit en intieme verhouding moontlik maak soos niks anders dit kan doen nie.
HIS TRIUMPH IGNITES OUR JOY – J.B. Stoney
A won heart is not necessarily a satisfied heart. But I believe if a heart is truly won by Christ it never will be satisfied without Him. No heart that is won is ever satisfied but in the company of the one who won it. Absence does not “make the heart grow fonder”. You only discover in absence what you have gained in presence.
There has been a good deal said about being personally occupied with Christ, but you will not be occupied with the Deliverer until you have deliverance. How could Jonathan be occupied with David the deliverer before he saw the head of Goliath in his hand? Then David becomes his object.
The Lord Jesus Christ has removed every single thing out of the way; there is now nothing to bar your access to the Father. He has removed sin, and the darkness of divine wrath, but there must be more than this. You cannot get into Psalm 23 until you have learned the Lord in Psalm 22. How can you lie down in green pastures unless you see first that He has removed everything out of the way which could come in to disturb you there? Praise comes out as I look at the One who is triumphant. “The Lord has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea”!
IEMAND WAT ONREG KAN DRA – Albert Theron
“Moenie teen mekaar sug nie, broeders…” Jak. 5:9a (OAV)
“Moenie oor mekaar kla nie, broers…” Jak. 5:9a (NAV)
As gevolg van die sondeval erf ons almal by ons ouers die instink van haastige oordeel. Dit is ‘n totaal spontane menslike reaksie op ons omgewing om onsself op te stel as regters en dan alles wat leef en beef onder die loep van ons superieure insig te bring. Gevolglik is dit so maklik soos asemhaal vir ons om die gewoonte te kweek om bý mekaar te sug en kla óór mekaar. ‘Het jy gesien wat hy gedoen het!’ ‘Het jy gehoor wat sy gesê het!’ Dit is spontaan, natuurlik, en maklik, maar die Woord sê dit is ‘vleeslik’. Jakobus sê ons ‘moenie’, selfs al voel ons hoe geregverdig in ons oordeel. Net hier lê die knoop, natuurlik. Ons oordeel, sug, en kla ómdat ons voel ons is reg en die ander verkeerd. Maar dissipels moet ‘onreg kan dra’. Waar daar mense is, sal daar onreg wees. Ons kan of natuurlik reageer en oordeel, kla, en sug, of ons kan ons harte deur die Gees instel om onreg te dra en dan eerder te bid vir ander en hulle gebreke voor die Vader te bring. Miskien ontdek ons dan sommer in die proses dat ons self nie altyd honderd persent reg optree teenoor ander nie.
“En ’n dienskneg van die Here moet nie twis nie, maar vriendelik wees teenoor almal, bekwaam om te onderrig en een wat kwaad kan verdra.” 2 Tim. 2:24 (OAV)
“‘n Dienaar van die Here moenie rusie maak nie. Inteendeel, hy moet vriendelik wees teenoor almal, bekwaam om ander te leer en iemand wat onreg kan dra.” 2 Tim. 2:24 (NAV)
OUR OLD MAN WAS CRUCIFIED – William Newell
The matter of which we are told to take note here is the great federal fact that our old man was crucified with Christ. Perhaps no more difficult task, no task requiring such constant vigilant attention, is assigned by God to the believer. It is a stupendous thing, this matter of taking note of and keeping in mind what goes so completely against consciousness,—that our old man was crucified. These words are addressed to faith, to faith only. Emotions, feelings, deny them. To reason, they are foolishness. But ah, what stormy seas has faith walked over! What mountains has faith cast into the sea! How many impossible things has faith done! Let us never forget, that this crucifixion was a thing definitely done by God at the cross, just as really as our sins were there laid upon Christ. It is addressed to faith as a revelation from God. Reason is blind. The “word of the cross” is “foolishness” to it. All the work consummated at the cross seems folly, if we attempt to subject it to man’s understanding. But, just as the great wonder of creation is understood only by faith: (“By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God,”—Heb. 11:3) so the eternal results accomplished at the cross are entered into by simple faith in the testimony of God about them. No, it is no easy or light thing that is announced to you and me, that all we were and are from Adam has been rejected of God. Scripture is not now dealing with what we have done, but with what we are. And really to enter spiritually into the meaning of this awful word, Our old man was crucified, involves, with all of us, deep exercise of soul. For no one by nature will be ready to count himself so incorrigibly bad as to have to be crucified! But when the Spirit of God turns the light upon what we are, from Adam, these will be blessed words of relief: “Our old man was crucified.” Now here is the very opposite of the teaching of false Christianity about a holy life. For these legalists set you to crucifying yourself! You must “die out” to this, and to that. But God says our old man, all that we were, has been already dealt with,—and that by crucifixion with Christ. And the very words “with Him” show that it was done back at the cross; and that our task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about this crucifixion ourselves. The believer is constantly reminded that his relation to sin was brought about by his identification with Christ in His death: Christ died unto sin, and the believer shared that death, died with Him, and is now, therefore, dead unto sin. This is his relationship to sin—the same as Christ’s now is; and believing this is to be his constant attitude. Difficulty there will be, no doubt, in taking and maintaining constantly this attitude: but faith will remove the difficulty, and faith here will grow out of assiduous, constant attention to God’s exact statements of fact. We are not to go to God in begging petitions for “victory,”—except in extreme circum stances. We are to set ourselves a very different task: “This is the work of God, that ye believe” We may often be compelled to cry, with the father of the demoniac, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!” But it is still better to have our faces toward the foe, knowing ourselves to be in Christ, and that we have been commanded to reckon ourselves dead to sin, no matter how great and strong sin may appear. Satan’s great device is to drive earnest souls back to beseeching God for what God says has already been done! “Our old man was crucified with Christ.” This is our task: to walk in the faith of these words. Upon this water God commands us to step out and walk. And we are infinitely better off than was Peter that night, when he “walked on the water to come to Jesus”; whereas we are in Christ. And our relationship to sin is His relationship! He died unto it, and we, being in Christ Risen, are in the relationship Christ’s death brought about in Him, and now to us who are in Him: whether to sin, law death, or the world.
AN INFINITY OF WONDERS – Miles Stanford
When we received the Lord Jesus as our Savior and thus were born into Him as our life, all that He is and all that He has became ours. Justification (His righteousness) was perhaps all that we could apprehend at the time, but that was only the beginning of an infinity of wonders into which we are to enter, now and throughout eternity. Because of our grace-given position in the Heir, we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). All is held in trust for us in Christ, our new position, and becomes our condition as we are taken forward, step by step, in faith. When we are able to receive and appreciate the benefits of the riches of Romans chapters One through Five, then He is free to take us into the reality of the wealth of Romans chapters Six through Eight. When we are firmly established in the positional truth of Christ dying for our sins and rising again for our justification (Rom. 4:25), then we are prepared to see our position and enter into the benefits of our having died and risen with Him (Rom. 6:5).
VAN HEERLIKHEID TOT HEERLIKHEID IN CHRISTUS – Albert Theron
“As julle dan saam met Christus opgewek is, soek die dinge daarbo waar Christus is en aan die regterhand van God sit. Bedink die dinge wat daarbo is, nie wat op die aarde is nie. Want julle het gesterwe, en julle lewe is saam met Christus verborge in God. Wanneer Christus, wat ons lewe is, geopenbaar word, dan sal julle ook saam met Hom in heerlikheid geopenbaar word.” Kol. 3:1-4
In hierdie kosbare Skrifgedeelte wys Paulus ons op vier dinge wat waar is van elke wedergebore persoon en maak dan ‘n appél op ons om op grond daarvan sonder versuim en sonder onderbreking twee dinge te doen. Die vier dinge is die waarheid van jóu stand in Christus, ongeag hoe lank jy al gered is of hoe vêr jy geestelik gevorder het. Jy ís saam met Christus opgewek, jy hét saam met Hom gesterwe, jou lewe ís saam met Hom verborge in God, en meer nog Christus self ís jou lewe. Dáárom staan jy onder ‘n vreugdevolle verpligting om die ervaring van die hemelse werklikhede in Christus te soek met alles wat in jou is en te bedink met die oog op ‘n intieme verhouding met God gevul met ‘n toenemende hemelse heerlikheid (2 Kor. 3:18). Terselfdertyd moet jy ook bewus bly van die onbeskryflike heerlikheid wat jou deel sal wees wanneer Jesus ‘geopenbaar word’ (v.4). Toenemende heerlikheid nou en onoortreflike heerlikheid wanneer Jesus verskyn! Dít is jou erfdeel. Of jy bewus is daarvan of nie, hierdie vier werklikhede ís voor God die realiteit van jou nuwe identiteit in Christus. Die vraag is egter of jy dit glo en dáárom die heerlikheid in Christus soek, bedink, en verwag.
CONFRONTING CHURCHY BUSYNESS – James Fowler
What is the message that Jesus had for the church in Ephesus [Rev. 2:1-7]? He identified Himself as “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1). The risen Lord Jesus is indicating that He is the One who has divine authority. “All authority is given to Me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). He is the One who controls the Church. “He is the head of the Body, the church” (Col. 1:18). “He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23). The work of the Holy Spirit in the church is the work of the Spirit of Christ. He walks among the churches. In the old covenant God had said, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My People” (Lev. 26:12). The living presence of the Lord Jesus is to be the dynamic action of God in the churches. He is not just an object of belief or assent.
Why does Jesus identify Himself like this to the Ephesians? Because *religion has this haughty tendency to think that they are in control, that authority is invested in their hierarchical leaders, that they are the ones who “run the business,” and that they will do whatever is necessary to be successful in such “churchy busyness” (despite how contrary it might be to God’s business).
* ‘Religion’ used here in the sense of 2 Timothy 3 verse 5: ‘having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.‘ (A.T.)
DIE KAR VOOR DIE PERDE ‘EVANGELIE’ – Albert Theron
Ons glo, dáárom het ons lief, daarom is ons ywerig om goed te doen aan ander, daarom bid ons, daarom sing ons, daarom praat ons met mekaar oor Christus en die koninkryk, daarom praat ons met ongelowiges oor die Goeie Nuus van Jesus se vleeswording, kruisiging en opstanding. Dit is geloof wat die ‘wandel deur die Gees’ moontlik maak en só ‘n wandel bring oorwinning, dit ís oorwinning (Gal. 5:16)! Die Bybel sê nie ons moet oorwin en dan kan ons ‘deur die Gees wandel’ nie, maar juis andersom. Ons leef soms in ‘doen, doen, doen’, ómdat ons daardeur die oorwinning van die Gees wil bewerkstellig. Dit is fataal vir jou geestelike lewe. Pasop vir die kar voor die perde ‘evangelie’! Die ware evangelie werk verstommend anders as ons menslike idees. Dit is die evangelie wat die dryfkrag is vir die lading, die lading kan nie die evangelie dra of produseer nie.
MEDITATING UPON WHAT WE HAVE HEARD – C.H. Spurgeon
One of the first things I would recommend to you is, “frequent meditation”. See if you cannot more often get a quarter of an hour all alone, that you may sit down, and turn over and over again the love of Christ to you. Remember that souls grow more by meditation than by anything else. The cattle go round the fields, and crop the grass; that is like hearing the Word. But, afterwards, they lie down in a quiet corner, and chew the cud; that is like meditating upon what we have heard. Get a quarter of an hour, if you can, to masticate and digest the Word. “A quarter of an hour!” says someone; “why, I could not get five minutes!” I would not be hard with you, dear brother, but I do you think could; days can sometimes be lengthened out, either at one end or at the other. If you cannot extend the day at the night end, cannot you pull it out at the morning end? Is there not a possibility of a little saving of time at some hour during the day? You will do none the less work for allowing time for meditation and prayer. Our old proverb says, “Prayer and provender hinder no man’s journey;” and I believe that prayer and meditation hinder no man’s work. Do try to get a little time to think about your soul. What, so much time to be occupied with this dusty, sinful world, and so little time to be devoted to that which relates to heaven! So much time to be employed concerning food, and drink, and clothes, and so little time to be given to thoughts of our precious Savior and all his loveliness! Do get a little time alone, beloved, for that will help to keep you right. You would not forget your Master’s love nearly as much as you presently do, if you would secure more time for meditation upon it.
BUT WE SEE JESUS – Andrew Murray
We see not yet all things subjected to man, but–we see Jesus crowned with honour and glory. Blessed contrast! The right knowledge and use of this antithesis is the secret of the life of faith. We see not yet all things subjected to Him–how exactly this expresses the disappointment and failure which is often the experience of the believer when his first joy and hope begin to pass away. He finds that sin is stronger than he knew; that the power of the world and the flesh and self are not yet made subject to him as he had hoped. At times it is as if he feels that the promises of God, and the expectations they raised in his heart, are vain. Or else, if he acknowledge that God is indeed faithful to fulfil them, the way for one who is as weak as he is, and in his circumstances, to obtain these promises is too hard. The promises of God, to put all things in subjection to us and make us more than conquerors, are indeed most precious, but, alas, ever again the bitter experience comes–man sees not yet all things subjected to him. Blessed the man who knows, then, in living faith to say: But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour. Blessed the man who knows to look away from all that he finds in himself of imperfection and failure, to look up and behold all the perfection and glory he finds in Jesus! Yes, blessed the man who finds his delight and his life in meeting every disappointment and every difficulty with the blessed; But–we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour. This is all I need! This satisfies the soul, and gives it peace and joy and strength.