WE MUST BE CLEAR ABOUT RIGHTEOUSNESS – Watchman Nee
Without righteousness, no one can see God. Hence, righteousness is a basic item in the Christian life. The matter of righteousness involves the means by which we come to God every time we approach Him. If a Christian has not settled this matter, he does not have a solid foundation. A Christian who has doubts about righteousness cannot come to God with assurance. Many Christians desire to grow, and they would like to go on in God’s way. But one of the reasons they go back and forth is that they are not clear about righteousness. Righteousness is a simple matter, yet it is foundational. Brothers and sisters, if we are not clear about righteousness, we cannot go on in peace; we will always have trouble. Hence, we must be clear about the matter of righteousness.
We are often not sure by what means we can come to God. We think that our good behavior is our righteousness and that we come to God by good behavior. Some brothers and sisters think that if their behavior is good and they do well from morning to evening, they have righteousness that day. But if their behavior is not perfect, they have a problem with righteousness. The brothers and sisters who have this kind of thought take righteousness as their conduct.
When God opens our eyes, we will see that our righteousness before God has nothing to do with our conduct; it is something else. God’s light is like a knife to us; it divides our righteousness from our conduct. Formerly, we thought that when we came to God, our conduct was our righteousness. But now we see that when we come to God, Christ is our righteousness. Our righteousness is no longer our conduct; our righteousness is Christ. Thank the Lord that before God, our righteousness is Christ. Our conduct can improve, but our righteousness cannot improve. Our conduct is not perfect, but our righteousness is always perfect. Our righteousness is Christ, and we can come to God through Christ. Our conduct is not blameless, but praise the Lord, our righteousness is blameless because our righteousness is Christ.
We have to know that Christ as our righteousness is the greatest salvation. God has settled the matter of righteousness for us, and our position before God is secured. Brothers and sisters, we should have good behavior, and we should behave well. We should serve God more, and we should be diligent and bear the cross. But we have to realize that while our conduct can improve again and again, our righteousness before God cannot improve anymore. The means by which we can come to God today is the same means by which we can come to Him ten or twenty years from now. Our righteousness before God is not our own conduct; it is Christ. If a man does not have the revelation to see that Christ is his righteousness, he will not be able to come boldly before God. If he sees that his righteousness is a person, that his righteousness is Christ, he will be bold in approaching God. Brothers and sisters, we must remember that when we come to God, our righteousness is not our conduct. Our righteousness is not a thing; our righteousness is a person—Christ.
ONS VERKONDIG NIE ONSSELF NIE”, OF DOEN ONS? – Albert Theron
“Maar, terwyl ons in liefde die waarheid betrag, in alles sou opgroei in Hom wat die Hoof is, naamlik Christus, uit wie die hele liggaam — goed saamgevoeg en saamverbind deur die ondersteuning wat elke lid gee volgens die werking van elke afsonderlike deel in sy mate — die groei van die liggaam bevorder vir sy eie opbouing in liefde.” Efesiërs 4:15-16
Elke boek van die Nuwe Testament verkondig helder en duidelik die blye boodskap dat Jesus alleen meer as voldoende is vir alles wat ons ooit sal nodig hê vir tyd en ewigheid. Dit is die enigste basis vir dissipels van Jesus om in vrede, vreugde, vryheid en oorwinning te leef in ‘n gevalle wêreld. Juis daarom is die satan se strategie altyd om op subtiele maniere hierdie boodskap te ondermyn en ons te probeer oortuig dat ons iets moet byvoeg, dat Jesus alleen nie genoeg is nie. Die waarheid is egter dat Jesus plus enigiets altyd lei tot die byvoeging minus Jesus. As ek iets wil byvoeg by Sy volkomenheid sit ek op die ou end nie met meer nie, maar met veel minder, eintlik met niks! Wat dan van Jesus plus die gemeente? Dit is sekerlik ‘n legitieme byvoeging?! Net hier stel satan een van sy slimste sette teen die kinders van God in werking.
Die Nuwe Testament leer dat die gemeente uit Jesus en op Jesus, as die Rots, gebou word; nooit dat die gemeente as ‘n plus by Hom gevoeg moet word nie. Enige gemeente of federasie van gemeentes wat aanspraak maak op ewige lewe of finale outoriteit asof dit die eksklusiewe domein is van genoemde gemeente of gemeentes is besig om iets by Jesus te voeg en ondermyn in werklikheid die koninkryk van God. Selfs al is dit met die beste motiewe denkbaar. Die gemeente gee nie vir Jesus lewe nie, Jesus gee die gemeente lewe. Die gemeente ondersteun nie vir Jesus nie, Jesus ondersteun die gemeente. Die gemeente gee nie vir Jesus outoriteit nie, Jesus gee die gemeente outoriteit. Dit is nie ons programme, planne en wonderlike organisasie wat Jesus se invloed laat toeneem nie. Dit is Jesus wat deur Sy eie wysheid en krag volgens Sy volmaakte wil rig en bestuur, die gemeente wat Hom alleen gehoorsaam. Die lewe is nie in ons nie, dit is in Jesus. Die salwing is nie ons besitting asof ons in onsself die wonderlike gesalfdes is wat vir almal kan lewe en rigting gee nie. Jesus is die Gesalfde Een en daar is net werklik ‘n salwing wat seën bring wanneer ons aan Hom vashou en uit Hom bedien. Ons moet leer om fyn te luister na wat gemeentes regtig probeer sê, want gemeentes wat hulleself en/of hulle leierskap probeer promoveer is gesaai oor die landskap. Daarenteen is gemeentes wat ten doel het om mense aan Jesus alleen te verbind en in Hom by volwassenheid te bring, so skaars soos hoendertande. Die apostel Paulus het die standaard vir leierskap en gemeentes baie duidelik gestel in 2 Korinthiërs 4 vers 5, “Want ons verkondig nie onsself nie, maar Christus Jesus as Here, en onsself as julle diensknegte om Jesus wil.”
WE ARE BECOMING WHAT WE LOVE – A.W. Tozer
We are all in process of becoming. We have already moved from what we were to what we are, and we are now moving toward what we shall be. The perturbing though is not that we are becoming, but WHAT we are becoming; not that we are moving, but TOWARD WHAT we are moving. Not only are we all in process of becoming; WE ARE BECOMING WHAT WE LOVE. We are to a large degree the sum of our loves and we will of moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most. Our loves changes, molds and transforms us. What we love is therefore not a small matter to be lightly shrugged off; rather it is of present, critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we shall be, and so predicts accurately our eternal destiny. Loving the wrong objects twists and deforms the life and makes it impossible for that life to image the Lord Jesus Christ. This furnishes in part a rational explanation for the first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” To become like God is and must be the supreme goal of all moral creatures. This is the reason for their existence, and apart from this reason there can be no excuse found for existence. (Thus the hopelessness of our day.) While perfect realization to the Divine image awaits the day of Christ’s appearing, the work of restoration is now going on. There is a slow but steady transmutation of the base metal of human nature into the gold of Godlikeness effected by the faith-filled “gaze of the soul at the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
A TOP-DOWN RELATIONSHIP – Tullian Tchividjian
The foundational notion behind every world religion except Christianity is humanity’s ascent to God. They are all, to one degree or another, bottom-up religions; they require believers to work their way up into a relationship with the divine, however that idea is understood. Believers can attain salvation only by trying harder. Everything depends on individual effort. In contrast, the foundation of Christianity is God’s gracious descent to humanity. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis added). Christianity is not a bottom-up religion but a top-down relationship: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis added). God descended to us in the person of Jesus Christ because we could not ascend to him. In Jesus, God physically came into our world to rescue us from the penalty, power, and eventually the presence of sin.
MOENIE VERGEET NIE! – Albert Theron
“’Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.” Hierdie ysingwekkende woorde uit ‘n populêre rolprent van ‘n paar jaar gelede laat ‘n mens diep dink oor die verantwoordelikheid van elke generasie om nie kosbare dinge te laat verlore gaan nie.
“Neem jou net in ag en wees terdeë op jou hoede, dat jy die dinge nie vergeet wat jou oë gesien het nie, en dat hulle uit jou hart nie wyk al die dae van jou lewe nie; en jy moet dit aan jou kinders en jou kindskinders bekend maak.” Deuteronomium 4:9
“Want hy by wie hierdie dinge nie aanwesig is nie, is blind en kortsigtig, en het die reiniging van sy vorige sondes vergeet.” 2 Petrus 1:9
Dit is verstommend om te sien hoe maklik ons die verlossingswerke van God en die geestelike lesse wat Hy ons geleer het, kan vergeet. Ons word so maklik ingesluk deur die beelde en klanke van die sintuiglike wêreld en die eise van die onmiddellike. Dissipels van Jesus is reeds regverdig verklaar in Christus en afgesonder vir God, maar om teen ‘n wêreldse kultuur in te beweeg is nie iets wat sommer net vanself gebeur nie. Sonder ‘n intense fokus en ‘n diep toewyding van hart dryf ons maar net saam met die korrupsie en vervallenheid van ons kultuur en tydgees en vergeet ons dat ons gedurig moet rekening hou met die onsigbare geestelike werklikheid. Dit is een van die redes waarom ons so dringend nodig het om die Bybel op te neem en met aandag te lees en dit wat ons leer sonder versuim oor te dra aan die jonger geslag. Dit moet veral gebeur terwyl jou kinders nog in jou huis is. Daarna word dit al hoe moeiliker. Tensy die jonger generasie by die ouer generasie die heerlikheid van Christus sien en oorneem, gaan dit verlore en word weggewaai deur die winde van tyd en omstandigheid. Dit gebeur so maklik. Moenie vergeet nie!
WAT IS JOU GROOTSTE VREUGDE? – Albert Theron
“Die Here is die deel van my erfenis en van my beker; Ú onderhou my lot. Die meetsnoere het vir my in lieflike plekke geval, ja, my erfenis is vir my mooi.” Psalm 16:5-6
As koning van Israel het Dawid sekerlik alles in die natuurlike gehad wat ‘n mens kan begeer op hierdie aarde. Sy materiële “erfdeel” was ongetwyfeld besonders indrukwekkend, maar Dawid se hart was nie gerig op dit wat mens met jou sintuie kan waardeer nie. Hy het baie goed verstaan dat volhoubare vervulling net op een plek te vinde was. Sy erfenis was nie vir hom al die dinge wat mens kan bymekaar maak op aarde nie. Sy erfenis was ‘n Persoon. Die Here was sy erfenis, sy vreugde, sy lewe en sy finale bestemming. Waarop is ons harte gerig? As ons Jesus se naam bely, moet ons saam met Dawid kan sê “die Here is die deel van my erfenis”. Anders is daar iewers groot fout.
THE LORD MY REFINER – Octavius Winslow
“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” Mal. 3:3
It would be fatal to his purpose did the smelter and refiner leave his post while the liquid mass was fusing and seething in the furnace. But there he patiently sits, watching and tempering the flame, and removing the refuse and the dross as it floats upon the surface of the molten ore. So Christ sits as a Refiner; and with an eye that never slumbers, and with a patience that never wearies, and with a love that never chills, and with a faithfulness that never falters, watches and controls the process that purifies our hearts, burnishes our graces, sanctifies our nature, and impresses more vividly His own image of loveliness upon our soul. If He places you in the fire, He will bring you through the fire, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” But sweet and soothing is the truth that the believer is not alone in the fire. The Refiner is with us as with the three children passing through the burning furnace kindled by the king. The Lord will have us polished stones; and as some believers are more rusty and some more alloyed than others, they need a rougher file and a hotter furnace. This may account for the great severity of trial through which some of the Lord’s precious jewels are called to pass. Not less dear to His heart are they for this; it is said God had one Son without corruption, but no son without correction; for “though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” Look up, my soul, your Portion is your Refiner. Be still, humble, submissive. The knife is in a Father’s hand, the flame is under a Savior’s control.
SY AKTIWITEIT, ONS BESKIKBAARHEID – Albert Theron
“Dit is die Gees wat lewend maak, die vlees is van geen nut nie…” Joh. 6:63
Dit is net die Gees van God wat lewe kan gee en slegs deur Sy aktiwiteit groei die koninkryk op aarde. Jesus alleen is die deur tot die volheid van die Gees. Ware geloof in Jesus is ‘n bevestiging van my oortuiging dat ek nie uit myself die hand van God in beweging kan bring nie. Die Vader stuur Jesus om die weg voor te berei vir die volle aktiwiteit van die Gees. Die Gees verheerlik Jesus en bring sodoende die koninkryk binne die bereik van geloof wat weer die deur oopmaak vir verdere aktiwiteit van die Gees. So groei die koninkryk en op geen ander manier nie. Mag alle ander planne, programme, menslike idees en misplaaste godsdiensywer geheel en al tot niet gaan, want dit staan net in die pad van God se Meersterplan.
SANCTIFICATION – Kendell Easley
For many Christians, sanctification is an outdated word that conjures up uptight old ladies shaking their heads in disapproval of everything joyful or fun. While the word “sanctification” may not be capable of rehabilitation in English, the meaning behind the term is utterly important for Christian disciples. Sanctification simply means becoming Christlike in character. And if someone is not becoming more Christlike, it is problematic whether he or she has truly believed. In the epistles, a frequent designation for all believers is “saints” or “holy ones” or “sanctified ones” (Rm 1:7; Php 1:1). Sainthood is not limited to an upper tier of more pious believers; rather, all Christians are already set aside for God and are becoming more virtuous as they grow in godliness. Sanctification (spiritual growth) is the complement to regeneration (spiritual birth). At the new birth, God gives one a new heart that desires to know and love Him, longing for obedience to Him, and willingness for worship and prayer. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of regenerate persons enabling “both to will and to act for His good purpose” (Php 2:13).
GELOOF ANTWOORD “DIT IS WAAR” – Albert Theron
“Want ons wandel deur geloof en nie deur aanskouing nie.” 2 Kor. 5:7
Die Woord sê ‘jy is ‘n nuwe skepsel in Christus’. Geloof antwoord ‘dit is waar’, selfs al voel dit nie vir jou so nie. Die Woord sê jy is ‘dood vir die sonde’. Geloof antwoord ‘dit is waar’, selfs al lyk dit nie nou so nie. Die Woord sê ‘jy is meer as ‘n oorwinnaar in Christus’. Geloof antwoord ‘dit is waar’, selfs al skree jou emosies ‘mislukking’! Die Woord sê jy sit ‘saam met Christus in hemelse plekke’. Geloof antwoord ‘dit is waar’, selfs al voel dit vir jou of die gevalle aarde jou vashou en oorweldig. Die Woord sê jy ‘het die volheid in Christus’. Geloof antwoord ‘dit is waar’, selfs al voel jy so leeg soos ‘n welsynsblikkie by Pick ‘n Pay. Neem enige “in Christus” waarheid in die Woord en antwoord ‘dit is waar’, want God sê so. Dit is die begin van die deurbrake in jou lewe.
THIS IS CALVARY! – Jessie Penn-Lewis
“He saved others, Himself He cannot!” (Mt. 27:42). This does not mean that He had not the power and the resources for saving Himself. On the contrary, He had the power, but would not use it! To save others when it means no cost to yourself is within the scope even of fallen creatures; but to “save others” and refuse to save yourself when you have the power to do it – this is divine. He cannot “save Himself” because it is contrary to the divine nature to save self at the cost of others’ loss. “Himself He cannot!” Wondrous words, spoken in mockery, and by the lips of sinners crucifying their Saviour. Even in the temptation in the wilderness this law of His life was revealed. Later on He fed others, but in the wilderness He could not, because He would not, feed Himself. He could draw upon all the power of the Godhead to bless others, to feed others, to save others, but as concerning Himself, nothing! No using of divine resources to save Himself one moment’s pang of hunger; one word less of scorn; one stroke less of the scourge, and smiting with the hand. Even so must the child of God be conformed to the image of the Son, to show forth His divine character, as the Son revealed the express image of the Father. “He saved others, Himself He cannot . . .” is the law of the life of Jesus, and must be the law of the life of every follower of the Lamb. To have the power to save yourself, and refuse to use it, because thus others cannot be saved, is the life of Jesus manifested in those He has redeemed. To pour out your life for others who reject and misjudge you, when you need not, this is Calvary! To have the power to save yourself and not use it, because it means loss to others, this is Calvary!
THE DANGER OF THE “GOOD” THINGS – A.W. Tozer
Paul knew something that many Christians still have not learned—that the human heart is idolatrous and will worship anything it can possess. Therein lies the danger of the “good” things. We have surrendered evil things, bad things, but we hold on to the good things and these we are prone to worship. Whatever we refuse to surrender and count but loss we will ultimately worship. It may be something good, but it gets between you and God—whether it be property or family or reputation or security or your life itself. Jesus warned us about our selfishness in grasping and hanging on to our own lives. He taught that if we make our life on earth so important and so all-possessing that we cannot surrender it gladly to Him, we will lose it at last. He taught that plainly, and He also warned us about trusting earthly security rather than putting our complete confidence in God. We all want a guarantee of security, but we didn’t get that idea from the Apostle Paul. He was hardly ever secure as far as the things of this life were concerned. He said he died daily. He was always in difficulty, whether with the governments of this world or with the stormy elements on the sea.
GELOOF (IS) GEHOORSAAM – Albert Theron
“Deur die geloof het Abraham, toe hy geroep is, gehoorsaam weggetrek na die plek wat hy as ‘n erfenis sou ontvang; en hy het weggetrek sonder om te weet waar hy sou kom.” Heb. 11:8
Op alles wat God in Sy Woord sê, antwoord geloof “dit is waar”! Dit is die fondasie van Bybelse geloof. Maar ‘n fondasie is nie net daar om mooi te lyk of te beïndruk nie. ‘n Fondasie is bedoel om op gebou te word en hierdie bouwerk het in geestelike terme alles te doen met gehoorsaamheid. God openbaar homself aan ons as die mees betroubare Persoon in die heelal. Daarom kan ons sy Woord glo. Ons geloof is eerstens in wie Hý is, dan kan ons met groot vrymoedigheid en vreugde onwrikbaar glo en bely wie ons ín Hom is. Net vanuit daardie plek van innerlike sekuriteit word gehoorsaamheid ‘n werklikheid. Hierdie gehoorsaamheid is ‘n geloofsgehoorsaamheid en is iets heeltemal anders as ek wat probeer om uit die krag van my eie wil ‘n getroue dissipel te wees. Abraham het “gehoorsaam weggetrek na die plek wat hy as ‘n erfenis sou ontvang”, want Hy het vertroue gehad in die Een wat hom geroep het en hy het geweet dat sy eie identiteit onlosmaaklik verbind was aan die wese en karakter van ‘n enige en almagtige God (Deut. 6:4). Abraham se lewe was nie net ‘n voorbeeld vir ons nie, maar ‘n oproep tot dieselfde soort geloof wat moet lei tot dieselfde sóórt gehoorsaamheid, al verskil die detail van ons lewens en gehoorsaamheid in baie opsigte van syne.
HE IS A LIVING GOD – Paul Washer
Those of you who really enjoy theology, those of you who really want to know the truth, be careful about this one thing, that just because in the name of the Spirit so many wrong, very wrong men are doing all sorts of horrible things in the name of the Spirit, don’t you reject the work of the Spirit because you don’t want to be like them. The true work of the Spirit has nothing to do with what those men do. But there is a work of the Spirit. There is a tarrying and being alone with God. Young men, you get caught up in so many things, theology, caught up in evangelism, caught up in street preaching, caught up in doing all these things. I wish you would get caught up in your closet. I wish you would go into your closet and dwell there, cry out to God, meet with Him. He is a living God. I have heard believers say this. ‘Oh, I wish I lived back in the times of the old covenant when God really manifested himself.’ What? The end of the ages is come upon us. We live in the days of the Messiah. These are the last days when the Spirit of God is poured out on all flesh. And yet God doesn’t move. God doesn’t speak. But we do have this book. No living God, no guidance, no power, a book. Now, please do not think I am trying to say anything against the Word of God. The Word of God is our standard. Without the Word of God we have nothing. Everything that happens in our lives must conform to the Word of God, but if you take Christianity and you simply reduce it down to propositional truth in a book, you have missed the point. You have done just what the Pharisees had done. They did not understand the power of God. He is a living God and you must know him. You must seek him out.
GELOOF OFFER ALLES – Albert Theron
“Toe sê Hy: Neem jou seun, jou enigste, wat jy liefhet, Isak, en gaan na die land Moría en offer hom daar as brandoffer op een van die berge wat Ek jou sal aanwys.” Gen. 22:2
“En Hy sê vir almal: As iemand agter My aan wil kom, moet hy homself verloën en sy kruis elke dag opneem en My volg.” Luk. 9:23
“Ek vermaan julle dan, broeders, by die ontferminge van God, dat julle jul liggame stel as ‘n lewende, heilige en aan God welgevallige offer dit is julle redelike godsdiens.” Rom. 12:1
Geloof antwoord “dit is waar” op die rykdom van al die verlossingsvoordele wat sonder verdienste deur die Vader op ons uitgestort is in Christus. Geloof is oorweldig deur so ‘n groot liefde. Geloof weet dat daar geen einde is aan die barmhartigheid en genade in die Vaderhart van God nie. Geloof is onomkeerbaar beïndruk deur hierdie Vader van onse Here Jesus Christus. Dáárom offer geloof alles en doen dit met ‘n oorgawe wat totaal onverstaanbaar is vir die wat nie glo nie. Aan die ander kant is ‘n halfhartige offer ‘n aanduiding van ‘n onvoldoende geloof.
OFFERING LEFTOVERS – Francis Chan
God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best. From the beginning of time, He has been clear that some offerings are acceptable to Him and others are not. Just ask Cain, upon whose offering God “did not look with favor” (Gen. 4:5). For years I gave God leftovers and felt no shame. I simply took my eyes off Scripture and instead compared myself to others. The bones I threw at God had more meat on them than the bones others threw, so I figured I was doing fine. It’s easy to fill ourselves up with other things and then give God whatever is left. Hosea 13:6 says, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled threeminute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumpled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor. Fetch, God! “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD. —Malachi 1:8 (NASB). The priests of Malachi’s day thought their sacrifices were sufficient. They had spotless animals but chose to keep those for themselves and give their less desirable animals to God. They assumed God was pleased because they had sacrificed something. God described this practice as evil. Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God’s point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one who matters), they’re evil. Let’s stop calling it “a busy schedule” or “bills” or “forgetfulness.” It’s called evil. God is holy. In heaven exists a Being who decides whether or not I take another breath. This holy God deserves excellence, the very best I have. “But something is better than nothing!” some protest. Really, is it? Does anyone enjoy token praise? I sure don’t. I’d rather you not say anything than compliment me out of obligation or guilt. Why would we think God is any different? Two verses further on in Malachi, God says, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you, … nor will I accept an offering from you” (NASB). God wanted the temple gates shut. The weak sacrifices of the laidback priests were an insult to Him. He was saying that no worship is better than apathetic worship. I wonder how many church doors God wants to shut today.
MEEKNESS – John MacDuff
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
“I am meek and lowly in heart.” Matthew 11:29.
In great minds, there is often a beautiful blending of majesty and humility, magnanimity and lowliness. The mightiest and holiest of all Beings that ever trod our world — was the meekest of all. The Ancient of Days — was as the “infant of days.” He who had listened to nothing but angel-melodies from all eternity, found, while on earth, melody in the lispings of an infant’s voice, or in an outcast’s tears! No wonder an innocent lamb was His emblem, or that the anointing Spirit came down upon Him in the form of the gentle dove. He had the wealth of worlds at His feet. The hosts of heaven had only to be summoned as His retinue. But all the pageantry of the world, all its dreams of carnal glory, had, for Him — no fascination. The Tempter, from a mountain-summit, showed Him a wide scene of “splendid misery;” but He spurned alike the thought and the adversary away! John and James would call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village; He rebukes the vengeful suggestion! Peter, on the night of the betrayal, cuts off the ear of an assassin; the intended Victim, again, only challenges His disciple, and heals His enemy!
Arraigned before Pilate’s judgment-seat, how meekly He bears nameless wrongs and indignities! Suspended on the cross — the execrations of the multitude are rising around Him — but He hears as though He heard them not; they extract no angry look, no bitter word — “Behold the Lamb of God!” Need we wonder that “meekness” and “poverty of spirit” should stand foremost in His own cluster of beatitudes; that He should select this among all His other qualities for the peculiar study and imitation of His disciples, “Learn of Me, for I am meek;” or that an apostle should exhort “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ!”
How different the world’s maxims — and His! The world’s maxim — “Resent the affront, vindicate honor!” His maxim — “Overcome evil with good!” The world’s maxim — “Only let it be when for your faults you are buffeted, that you take it patiently.” His maxim — “When you do well and suffer for it, you take it patiently; this is acceptable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:20). Reader! strive to obtain, like your adorable Lord, this “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which, in the sight of God, is of great price.” Be “clothed” with gentleness and humility.
WE MUST NOT INSIST ON “PERFECTION OR NOTHING” – Francis Schaeffer
I am not to set myself at the center of the universe and insist that everything bend to the standards that I have set upon my own superiority. I am not to say, “I must be thus,” and if it is not thus, there is nothing but psychological despair. Some people are totally caught in this, but all of us have something of it within ourselves, swinging pendulum-like between conceit and despair. This is true not only in the psychological area, of course; it is true in all the relationships of life. One does not have to have had much pastoral experience to have met married couples who refuse to have what they can have, because they have set for themselves a false standard of superiority. They have set up a romanticism, either on the romantic side of love or the physical side, and if their marriage does not measure up to their own standards of superiority, they smash everything to the ground. They must have the ideal love affair of the century just because they are who they are! Certainly many of the multiple marriage and divorce situations turn upon just this point. One couple refuses to have less than what they have set as a romantic possibility, forgetting that the fall is the fall. Another may want sexual experience beyond what one can have in the midst of the results of the fall. You suddenly see a marriage smashed—everything gone to bits, people walking away from each other, destroying something really possible and beautiful— simply because they have set a proud standard and refuse to have the good marriage they can have. We wait for the resurrection of the body. We wait for the perfect application of the finished work of Christ for the whole of man. We wait for this, but on this side of the fall, and before Christ comes, we must not insist on “perfection or nothing,” or we will end with the “nothing.” And this is as true in the area of psychological problems as it is in all other areas of life.
MOOIER, SLIMMER, STERKER EN RYKER – Albert Theron
Die wêreld is gedurig besig met ‘n kompetisie om uit te vind wie die mooiste, die slimste, die sterkste, die rykste en die mees talentvolle is. Dit is ‘n kompetisie waaraan dissipels van Jesus nooit hoef deel te neem nie.
“Laat niemand dan op mense roem nie, want alles behoort aan julle; of dit Paulus is of Apollos of Céfas of die wêreld of lewe of dood of teenswoordige of toekomstige dinge — alles behoort aan julle.” 1 Kor. 3:21-22
As jy ooit minderwaardig voel omdat jy jouself met ander mense vergelyk, stop vir ‘n oomblik en dink oor wat jy in Jesus ontvang het. As alles in werklikheid reeds aan jou behoort, is daar geen prys, prestasie, roem of rykdom op hierdie aarde wat iets daarby kan voeg nie. Ware rykdom word gevind in ‘n lewe wat die liefde van Jesus vertoon en onbaatsugtig gee van jouself. Sonder hierdie liefde is ons niks en het ons niks, selfs al is die hele wêreld vreeslik beïndruk met ons (1 Kor. 13:1-3).
VOLMAAKTE OMSTANDIGHEDE OF VOLMAAKTE WIL? – Albert Theron
“En word nie aan hierdie wêreld gelykvormig nie, maar word verander deur die vernuwing van julle gemoed, sodat julle kan beproef wat die goeie en welgevallige en volmaakte wil van God is.” Romeine 12:2
Die wêreld is gedurig op soek na die volmaakte omstandighede, daardie ontwykende plek van onbeperkte bevrediging waar daar boonop niks onvoorspelbaar kan gebeur nie. Dit is in werklikheid ‘n soektog wat nooit op hierdie gevalle planeet suksesvol kan wees nie. Daar is nie een of ander verlore kaart na hierdie Shangri-La nie. Wat ons wel kan vind is die volmaakte wil van God. Dit vind ons net “in Christus”, Hy in wie “alle dinge stand hou” (Kol. 1:17). Dit is ‘n plek van vrede en blydskap te midde van omstandighede wat soms baie vêr van volmaak is! Hierdie plek vind ‘n mens net as jy éérs jou rug gekeer het op die wêreld se futiele soektog na volmaakte omstandighede.
Wat van jou? Soek jy dalk God se wil én volmaakte omstandighede? Miskien dink jy God se wil ís volmaakte omstandighede op hierdie aarde. Dit is nie wat die Bybel leer nie. In die hier en nou is daar wel innerlike vrede en blydskap binne God se wil. Om in die voetspore van Jesus te volg is die mees geseënde lewe denkbaar. Boonop is daar baie kosbare beloftes van volmaakte omstandighede in die “nuwe hemel en aarde” (2 Pet. 3:13) waarheen ons oppad is. Moenie twee paaie probeer loop nie. Gee liewer jouself oor aan God se volmaakte wil. Dit is die pad van wysheid wat Jesus toeganklik gemaak het vir alle mense.
THE EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY ABLE GOD – Arthur Gove
I find great comfort in realising that the God in whom I put my trust really is and will always be the exceeding abundantly able God. I think of what He did for His people Israel. When they came to the impassable Red Sea, He made a way for them. When they were confronted by the mighty obstacle of Jericho, He made the walls fall flat. Note that He did not just take out a stone or two for them to crawl through, but brought the whole mighty wall down to ground level so that they could go straight up before them. He was exceeding abundantly able then. And later, when Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and prayed, “Please send the fire”, the Lord’s reply was so wonderful that His fire not only burned up the inflammable elements but even burned the things that would not burn. We must not confine our petitions for the burning of what is capable of being burnt, but expect Him to burn what cannot be burned. Then the next prophet, Elisha, proved in the case of the widow who had nothing in her house, that God is still the same. It was not only that in her hitherto empty house the oil flowed, but that in fact it overflowed. He has always been the exceeding abundantly able God.
And what shall we say of New Testament days? Nobody but God could have fed the five thousand, but as if that were not enough, He provided twelve baskets over from the fragments left behind. When the disciples could catch nothing He did not intervene just to give them a fish or two, but gave them such a catch that the nets began to break, and the boat to sink, so that they needed to call in their partners in order to cope with the abundance. My encouragement is reinforced by the reminder that the Lord works in this way: “according to the power that works in us”. God has given us His Holy Spirit to make Christ real and regnant in our lives and to be to us the pledge of His limitless power. How can we be so discouraged or disheartened with such an exceeding abundantly able God?
HOLINESS SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST – Kevin DeYoung
I see a growing number of Christians today eager to think about creative ways to engage the culture. It’s not hard to find Christians fired up about planting churches and kingdom work. You can even find lots of believers passionate about precise theology. Yes and Amen to all that. Seriously. There’s no need to tear down what is good and true just because something else good and true may be missing. Jesus commended the churches in Revelation where they were faithful and then challenged them where they were in spiritual danger. I have no interest in making anyone feel bad for being passionate about Bach, bass fishing, or Herman Bavinck. There are a hundred good things you may be called to pursue as a Christian. All I’m saying is that, according to the Bible, holiness, for every single Christian, should be right at the top of that list. We need more Christians on our campuses, in our cities, in our churches, and in our seminaries who will say with Paul, “Look carefully then how you walk” (Eph. 5:15). Is it possible that with all the positive signs of spiritual life in your church or in your heart, there is still a sad disregard for your own personal holiness? When was the last time we took a verse like, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:4) and even began to try to apply this to our conversation, our movies, our YouTube clips, our television and commercial intake? What does it mean that there must not be even a hint of immorality among the saints (v. 3)? It must mean something. In our sex-saturated culture, I would be surprised if there were not at least a few hints of immorality in our texts and tweets and inside jokes.
SKUIF JOU FOKUS NA DIE ONSIGBARE – Albert Theron
“Want ons ligte verdrukking wat vir ‘n oomblik is, bewerk vir ons ‘n alles oortreffende ewige gewig van heerlikheid; omdat ons nie let op die sigbare dinge nie, maar op die onsigbare; want die sigbare dinge is tydelik, maar die onsigbare ewig.” 2 Kor. 4:17-18
Van aardse heerlikheid na hemelse heerlikheid, van die sigbare na die onsigbare, van die tydelike na die ewige. Dit is die oproep van hierdie twee kragtige verse en dit is super-aktueel, omdat ons lewe in ‘n tyd waar alles gaan oor die hier-en-nou. In vergelyking met die meeste ander mense sou ons sekerlik nie Paulus se verdrukking beskryf het as “ligte” verdrukking nie! Hier is net ‘n kort uittreksel uit sy lewe: “Drie maal is ek met stokke geslaan, een maal is ek gestenig, drie maal het ek skipbreuk gely, ‘n nag en ‘n dag het ek op die diepwater deurgebring— dikwels op reis, in gevare van riviere, in gevare van rowers, in gevare van my volk, in gevare van die heidene, in gevare in die stad, in gevare in die woestyn, in gevare op see, in gevare onder valse broeders; in arbeid en moeite, in slapelose nagte dikwels, in honger en dors, dikwels sonder ete, in koue en naaktheid. Behalwe dit alles my daaglikse bekommernis, die sorg vir al die gemeentes” (2 Kor. 11:25-28). Hoekom beskryf hy dan sy verdrukking as ‘n “ligte verdrukking”? Want Paulus se oë was nie op die sigbare en die tydelike gerig nie, maar op die ewige. Paulus het te alle tye die heerlikheid van Christus aanskou (2 Kor. 3:18). Hoe lyk dit met my en jou? Paulus was ‘n mens net soos ek en jy. As hy in geloof kon uitstyg bo sy omstandighede deur sy fokus te skuif na die onsigbare en die ewige kan ons ook. Geloof leef hier op aarde al in die lig van die hemelse heerlikheid, want geloof word nie beweeg deur die sigbare nie, maar deur die ewige Woord van God. Boonop sien geloof daar is ‘n veel groter heerlikheid wat kom en skenk ons sodoende ‘n onuitspreeklike blydskap te midde van die moeilikste omstandighede denkbaar.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE IN CHRIST – Andrew Murray
To be in a room means to have all that there is in it at your disposal, its furniture, its comforts, its light, its air, its shelter. To be in Christ, to abide in Christ, is not a matter of intellectual faith, but a spiritual reality. Think who and what Christ is. Consider Him in the five stages that reveal His nature and work. He is the incarnate One, in whom we see God’s omnipotence united perfectly in the divine and human nature. Living in Him we are partaking of the divine nature and of eternal life. He is the obedient One, living a life of entire surrender to God and perfect dependence on Him. Living in Him our life becomes one of complete subjection to God’s will and continual waiting upon His guidance. He is the crucified One, who died for sin and to sin that He might take it away. Living in Him we are free from its curse and dominion. We live, like Him, in death to the world and our own will. He is the risen One, who lives forever. Living in Him we share His resurrection power and walk in newness of life, a life that has triumphed over sin and death. He is the exalted One, sitting on the throne and carrying on His work for the salvation of men. Living in Him His love possesses us, and we give ourselves to Him to be used in winning the world back to God.” Being in Christ, abiding in Him, means the soul is placed by God Himself in the midst of this wonderful environment of the life of Christ. We are given up to God, in obedience and sacrifice, filled with God in resurrection life and glory. The nature and character of Jesus Christ–His attitudes and affections, His power and glory–these are the elements in which we live, the air we breathe, the life in which our life exists and grows.
‘N SKITTERENDE BELOFTE – Albert Theron
“En Ek sal my Gees in jul binneste gee en sal maak dat julle in my insettinge wandel en my verordeninge onderhou en doen.” Eseg. 36:27
Esegiël sien vooruit na ‘n tyd wat sou kom waarin die Gees van God ‘n werk binne-in mense sou doen ver bo wat enige mens uit sy eie krag, vermoë of inspanning kon vermag. Moet ons nog wag vir daardie tyd om aan te breek of leef ons reeds in die era waarin ons met vrymoedigheid hierdie belofte vir onsself kan toe-eien? Luister wat sê Paulus vir die gelowiges in Filippi:
“Want dit is God wat in julle werk om te wil sowel as om te werk na sy welbehae.” Fil. 2:13 (OAV)
“Want dit is God wat julle gewillig en bekwaam maak om sy wil uit te voer.” Fil. 2:13 (NAV)
Beleef jy ‘n gewilligheid en bekwaamheid om God se wil te doen? Miskien probeer jy om dit in jouself op te wek in plaas van om te gló dat Christus die gewillige en bekwame Een in jou is. Die nuwe verbond werk van binne af buitentoe. Leun geheel en al op die lewe en krag van Christus in jou en jy sal ‘n gewilligheid en bekwaamheid ontdek wat jou sal verras en ‘n heerlike vryheid en vreugde in jou lewe sal bring.
HE HAD A RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT HIMSELF – Austin Sparks
Every teacher has his subject. Some teach theology, and others teach science, or philosophy, or art, or engineering, or various other things. What is the subject of the Lord Jesus? (I would like to send you to your rooms to put your answer down on a piece of paper, and I think it would be very interesting if I were to read out all the answers later on!)
However, the answer is: Himself. He is His own subject. Jesus was always the subject of His own teaching. He related everything to Himself. He said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6): “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14): “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48): “I am the door” (John 10:9): “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). He is His own subject. He spoke about many things, but He always related them to Himself. He said very much about His Father, and we may come to see something of what He taught about Him, but He always related the Father to Himself and Himself to the Father. He said: “I and the Father are one” (John 14:9). He spoke much about the Holy Spirit, but He always related Him to Himself. He said much about man, but He always related man to Himself. His own favourite title for Himself was ‘Son of man’. He said much about life, but He always related it to Himself and never thought of life apart from Himself. He said much about light, about truth and about power, but always in relation to Himself. He was His own subject of teaching.
But we are going to see that Jesus brought in a complete revolution in this way of teaching Himself. There is no doubt whatever that Jesus created a revolution. Of course, some people would not have it, for it was too revolutionary for them. But others said: “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46 – A.V.). And it is said of Him that “He taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). He brought in a complete revolution, but He did it by bringing Himself into view by what He said about Himself. He was always talking about Himself, and He is the only one in this world who has a right to do that. We are here today because He had a right to talk about Himself.
So the one business of disciples is to know Him, and to do what He called His disciples to do: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came to bring heavenly knowledge in His own person, and in His person we come into heavenly knowledge. It is not just what He says: it is what He says He is.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND EGYPT – C.H. Spurgeon
Surely, in that last day of destruction, when the world is overwhelmed with fire, it will be because the Church of God shall have degenerated and the distinctions between the righteous and the wicked shall have been broken down. The Spirit of God, wherever He comes, does speedily make and reveal the difference between Israel and Egypt—and in proportion as His active energy is felt, there will be an everwidening gulf between those who are led of the Spirit and those who are under the dominion of the flesh.
The possession of the Spirit will make you, my hearer, quite another sort of man from what you are now, and then you will be actuated by motives which the world will not appreciate, for the world knows us not because it knew Him not. Then you will act, speak, think and feel in such a way that this evil world will misunderstand and condemn you. Since the carnal mind knows not the things that are of God—for those things are spiritually discerned—it will not approve your objectives and designs. Do not expect it to be your friend. The Spirit which makes you to be of the seed of the woman is not the spirit of the world! The seed of the serpent will hiss at you and bruise your heel. Your Master said, “Because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hates you.” This is a separating Word of God, this. Has it separated you?
IS ONS BEKWAAMHEID WERKLIK UIT GOD? – Albert Theron
“Nie dat ons uit onsself bekwaam is om iets as uit onsself te bedink nie, maar ons bekwaamheid is uit God, wat ons ook bekwaam gemaak het as dienaars van ‘n nuwe testament, nie van die letter nie, maar van die gees; want die letter maak dood, maar die gees maak lewend.” 2 Kor. 3:5-6
“En toe hulle die vrymoedigheid van Petrus en Johannes sien en verstaan dat hulle ongeleerde en eenvoudige manne was, was hulle verwonderd en het hulle as metgeselle van Jesus herken.” Hand. 4:13
Een van die belangrikste vrae wat ‘n dissipel van Jesus ooit kan vra is: “Wat gee my vertroue en vrymoedigheid om te getuig van Jesus, mense te bedien wat Hom nodig het en om te kan praat en deel te neem tydens die samekomste van die gemeente?” Anders gestel, “wat is die basis van my vertroue dat ek bruikbaar kan wees vir die Here in bediening?” Is dit my welsprekendheid? Is dit dalk my geleerdheid? Is dit my titel? Is dit my legitimering of die vertroue wat ander mense in my stel? Is dit my aansien in die gemeenskap of die statuur van my ouers? Is dit my sterk of charismatiese persoonlikheid? Is dit my jarelange ervaring of mensekennis? Is dit my “people skills”. Elkeen van bogenoemde benaderings tot bedieningsvertroue sal in Bybelse terme op ‘n bepaalde punt faal en geestelike steriliteit en onvrugbaarheid tot gevolg hê. Dit is onvermydelik. Paulus was ‘n hoogs geleerde en begaafde man wat in natuurlike terme baie gehad het om op terug te val, maar luister bietjie wat sê hy van sy bediening in Korinthe: “Ek was ook by julle in swakheid en in vrees en in veel bewing; en my rede en my prediking was nie in oorredende woorde van menslike wysheid nie, maar in die betoning van gees en krag” (1 Kor. 2:3-4). In die finale analise is al wat saak maak my vertroue in Jesus en my gevolglike gehoorsaamheid aan Sy stem. Wanneer Jesus jou roep vir ‘n spesifieke bediening, wanneer Hý jou dring om te praat, te bedien of te getuig, en jy gehoorsaam Hom in kinderlike afhanklikheid, is Hy verantwoordelik vir die wysheid, die krag en die vrug. Dit is dus nie soseer jou bediening nie, maar Sý bediening deur jou wat van belang is. Dit is die enigste soort bediening wat tel in die hemel en egte vrug dra op die aarde. Ons het gans te veel krukke om op te leun en alternatiewe planne om op terug te val vandag. Tyd om in geloof alles oor te gee in Jesus se hande en die resultate aan Hom toe te vertrou. As jy nie slim, begaafd, geleerd, welsprekend, “belangrik” of in menslike terme bekwaam is nie, vertrou Jesus en gehoorsaam Hom net in kinderlike afhanklikheid. As jy wel slim, begaafd, geleerd, welsprekend en bekwaam is, doen dieselfde, want dit is in elk geval net Jesus in en deur jou wat jukke breek en geestelike deurbrake bring. Die Vader seën gehoorsaamheid aan Jesus!
ALTOGETHER BEYOND NATURAL POWER – Austin Sparks
When we are dead that is the end of all our ability to do anything. Jesus had to let it be known [in the case of Lazarus] that death really is death, and means that the situation is beyond man’s resource to do anything. It is altogether beyond natural power and natural hope. Jesus took very great care to see that that was how things were and that people knew it. That is why He stayed two days where He was, and then took another two days before He got near the place at all. He let this whole situation go beyond human hope, and He did that quite deliberately because He was teaching the disciples a spiritual lesson: that death is death and only God Almighty can do anything when it is like that. No one but the Lord can do anything. Now, while this was a sign in the case of Lazarus physically, behind the sign there is a great spiritual meaning. Presently Jesus will be dead, and when that happens only God Almighty can do anything about it. There is no more future unless He comes into the situation. No natural power can do anything at all. That, dear friends, is what union with Christ in His death means. You know from Romans 6 that we have been “united with him in the likeness of his death” (verse 5), and Paul said elsewhere: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). What does it mean to be united with Christ in His death? It means to be put into the position where there is no hope whatsoever for anything unless the Lord does it. When Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ” he added: “No longer I, but Christ”. No longer ‘I’! What a big ‘I’ that was with Saul of Tarsus! He was just one big ‘I’ – ‘I’ in natural strength. See him in his persecuting of the church! He put forth all his mighty strength. And we all know about the great ‘I’ of his wisdom. Saul of Tarsus was a man of considerable natural wisdom and he had much natural knowledge. He was a man of mighty zeal and enthusiasm – a very big ‘I’. Now that very big ‘I’ says “I have been crucified and it is no longer I”. It is no longer natural strength, natural wisdom and understanding, nor natural zeal and enthusiasm, and whatever more there was of ‘I’. It is no longer ‘I’ – ‘I have been crucified with Christ, and there is nothing more possible unless it is the Lord’. Oh, the Church has not learnt this lesson yet! We can read the Letters to the Romans and to the Galatians, but it is as it was with Israel. It is said that they read the Scriptures every Sabbath, but they were perfectly blind to what they were reading. Look at the tremendous lot of ‘I’ there is in Christianity, although we have Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 in our hands!
JESUS IS ONS TEENWOORDIGE MENTOR – Albert Theron
“Gaan dan heen, maak dissipels van al die nasies, en doop hulle in die Naam van die Vader en die Seun en die Heilige Gees; en leer hulle om alles te onderhou wat Ek julle beveel het.” Matt. 28:19
‘n Dissipel is ‘n leerder, ‘n lewenslange leerder. Die oomblik wat ek ophou leer, hou ek op om ‘n dissipel te wees. Die groot onderwerp waaroor ons voortdurend meer moet leer, is Jesus self! “Sodat ek Hom kan ken en die krag van sy opstanding en die gemeenskap aan sy lyde terwyl ek aan sy dood gelykvormig word” (Fil. 3:10). Paulus sê hier in Filippense 3, sodat ek Hom “kan” ken. Die oomblik wat ek dink ek ken Jesus nou en kan aanbeweeg na ander onderwerpe verras Hy my weer en openbaar iets dieper van Homself. Elke moontlike teologiese onderwerp kan slegs vanuit Jesus ten volle verstaan word. Min dinge is belangriker in ‘n dissipel se lewe as om gedurig in gedagte te hou dat jou ware Leermeester Jesus Christus is en dat Hy jou volle aandag te alle tye eis. Hy wil jou lei en leer. Hý is die goeie Herder van Psalm 23 en Johannes 10, nie mense nie. Hy is deur Sy Gees te alle tye teenwoordig in jou en by jou. Die Gees openbaar Jesus aan ons sodat ons Hóm in alles kan volg. Menslike mentors en leraars mag nooit Jesus vervang as ons Mentor en Leermeester nie. Hulle kan hoogstens die weg wys na Hom en ons geloof in Hom versterk deur Hom te verkondig. Ons is nie dissipels van mense in ‘n absolute sin nie, maar net van Jesus self. Jesus het nie opgevaar na die hemel en ons in die hande van menslike mentors en leraars gelos, sodat ons van hulle totaal afhanklik moes word nie. Jesus is nie afwesig nie. Hy is nou hier by ons en ons is te alle tye Sý dissipels, selfs al het ons die beste moontlike menslike leraars wat ons help om ons geloof in Hom te plaas.