14 Quotes From “Studies In The Sermon On The Mount”

Oswald Chambers has unlocked the Sermon on the Mount for me like no other Bible commentator has before—deeply and practically. Check out my full book review by clicking here. I have already shared numerous passages from this book in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” series, but here are some other quotes that caught my eye as well. 

“Beware of placing our Lord as a Teacher first instead of Savior. That tendency is prevalent today, and it is a dangerous tendency. We must know him first as Savior before His teaching can have any meaning for us, or before it can have any meaning other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. … If Jesus is a Teacher only, then all He could do is to tantalize us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near. But if by being born again from above we know Him first as Savior, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.” 

“The disadvantage of a saint in the present order of things is that his confession of Jesus Christ is not to be in secret, but glaringly public. It would doubtless be to our advantage from the standpoint of self-realization to keep quiet, and nowadays the tendency to say—‘Be a Christian, live a holy life, but don’t talk about it’—is growing stronger. Our Lord uses in illustration the most conspicuous things known to men—salt, light, and a city set on a hill—and He says, ‘Be like that in your home, in your business, in your church; be conspicuously a Christian for ridicule or respect according to the mood of the people you are with.’” 

“Our Lord goes to the root of the matter every time with no apology. Sordid? Frantically sordid, but sin is frantically sordid, and there is no excuse in false modesty, or in refusing to face the music of the devil’s work in this life. Jesus Christ faced it and He makes us face it too. Our natural idea of purity is that it means according to obedience to certain laws and regulations, but that is apt to be prudery. There is nothing prudish in the Bible. The Bible insists on purity, not prudery.” 

“All our righteousness is ‘as filthy rags’ unless it is the blazing holiness of Jesus in uniting us with Him until we see nothing but Jesus first, Jesus second, and Jesus third. Then when men take knowledge of us, they will not say that we are good men, that we have a wonderful whiteness, but that Jesus Christ has done something wonderful in us.” 

“The Spirit of God comes through the different writers with the one steady insistence to stir up our minds (Philippians 2:5; 2 Peter 1:12-13). … Unless we learn to think in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, we will drift in our spiritual experience without thinking at all. The confusion arises when we try to think and to reason things out without the Spirit of God.” 

“Jesus does not use the illustration of the birds and the flowers by accident, He uses it purposely in order to show the utter unreasonableness from His standpoint of being so anxious about the means of living. Imagine the sparrows and blackbirds and thrushes worrying about their feathers! Jesus says they do not trouble about themselves at all, the thing that makes them what they are is not their thought for themselves, but the thought of the Father in heaven. A bird is a hard-working little creature, but it does not work for its feathers, it obeys the law of its life and becomes what it is. Jesus Christ’s argument is that if we concentrate on the life He gives us, we will be perfectly free for all other things because our Father is watching the inner life. We have to maintain obedience to the Holy Spirit, Who is the real principle of our life, and God will supply the ‘feathers,’ for are we not ‘much better than they’?” 

“We enthrone common sense as Almighty God and treat Jesus Christ as a spiritual appendage to it.” 

“At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements are those of a fool; but bring them to the bar of faith and the Word of God, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God.” 

“No man is born with character; we make our own character. When the man is born from above a new disposition is given to him, but not a new character; neither naturally nor supernaturally are we born with character. Character is what a man makes out of his disposition as it comes in contact with external things. A man’s character cannot be summed up by what he does in spots, but only by what he is in the main trend of his existence.” 

“The Holy Spirit does reveal what is wrong in others, but His discernment is never for purposes of criticism, but for purposes of intercession.” 

“Prayer is not only asking, it is an attitude of heart that produces an atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural, and Jesus says, ‘everyone who asks receives.’” 

“Fasting is much more than doing without food, that is the least part, it is fasting from everything that manifests itself-indulgence.” 

“When we are saved by God’s grace, God puts into us the possibility of not sinning, and our character from that moment is of value to God. Before we were saved we had not the power to obey, but now He has planted in us on the ground of Redemption the heredity of the Son of God, we have the power to obey, and consequently the power to disobey. The walk of a disciple is gloriously difficult, but gloriously certain. On the ground of the perfect Redemption of Jesus Christ, we find that we can begin now to walk worthily.” 

“Never trust the best man or woman you ever met; trust the Lord Jesus only. … We are never told to follow in all the footsteps of the saints, but only in so far as they have obeyed God.” 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Leap Of Faith

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Leap Of Faith

     Suppose Jesus tells you to do something that is an enormous challenge to your common sense, what are you going to do—hang back? If once your nerves are in the habit of doing anything physically, you will do it every time, until you break the habit deliberately; and the same is true spiritually. Over and over again you will get up to what Jesus wants and turn back every time when it comes to the point, like a man balking a hurdle, until you break the habit and abandon resolutely. Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts in Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man in exhibits in his life. If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on a leap, and in the spiritual world Jesus Christ demands that we risk everything we hold by our common sense and the leap into what He says. Immediately we do, we find that what He says fits on as solidly as our common sense.

     Following Jesus Christ is a risk absolutely; we must yield right over to Him, and that is where our infidelity comes in, we will not trust what we cannot see, we will not believe what we cannot trace, then it is all up with our discipleship. The great word of Jesus to His disciples is Abandon. When God has brought us into the relationship of disciples, we have to venture on His Word; trust entirely to Him and watch that when He brings us to the venture, we take it. …  

     It is not only wrong to worry, it is real infidelity because it means we do not believe God can look after the little practical details of our lives, it is never anything else that worries us. Notice what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in—the devil? No, the cares of this world. That is how infidelity begins. It is ‘the little foxes that spoil the vines,’ the little worries always. The great cure for infidelity is obedience to the Spirit of God. Refuse to be swamped by the cares of this world, cut out nonessentials and continually revise your relationship to God and see that you are concentrated absolutely on Him. … 

     At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements are those of a fool; but bring them to the bar of faith and the Word of God, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Wow, I don’t think I can add anything else to that! Except to repeat Chamber’s words: “If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on a leap.” 

Do you trust God enough to take a faith leap beyond your common sense? 

Thursdays With Oswald—Becoming Carefully Careless

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Becoming Carefully Careless

     Faith is our personal confidence in a Being Whose character we know, but Whose ways we cannot trace by common sense. … Common sense is mathematical; faith is not mathematical, faith works on illogical lines. …  

     To have faith tests a man for all he is worth, he has to stand in the common-cents universe in the midst of things which conflict with his faith, and place his confidence in the God Whose character is revealed in Jesus Christ. …  

     Most of us are pagans in a crisis; we think and act like pagans, only one out of a hundred is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God. …  

     Jesus does not say, “Blessed is the man who does not think about anything”; that man is a fool; He says, “Be carefully careless about everything saving one thing—your relationship to God.” … Many people are careless about what they eat and drink, and they suffer for it; they are careless about what they put on, and they look as they have no right to look; they are careless over property, and God holds them responsible for it. Jesus is saying that the great care of the life is to put the relationship to God first and everything else second. Our Lord teaches a complete reversal of all our practical sensible reasonings. Do not make the ruling factor of your life what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, but make zealous concentration on God the one point of your life. … Jesus Christ says, “Reverse the order, get rightly related to Me first, see that you maintain that as the great care of your life, and never put the concentration of your care on the other things.”

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It does seem illogical from our human perspective to not think about the basics of life first and foremost, but Jesus is clear and consistent in His message to us that God should be THE priority. Seek Him first and all the other things fall into place. Be “carefully careless” about everything except your relationship with Jesus! 

Don’t be a pagan atheist in a time of trial. Don’t be that 99 out of a hundred that abandons God when times are tough. Instead, be that “one out of a hundred [that] is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God” no matter what the circumstances are! 

How Our Faith Is Perfected

“God’s promises and His provision do not lift us from the world of common sense and everyday trials, for it is through these very things that our faith is perfected.” —Lettie Cowman, in Streams In The Desert

Thursdays With Oswald—Popular Christianity?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Popular Christianity? 

     Take the popular idea of Christianity and compare it with the patience of the saints, and you will see where we are. Popular Christianity says, “We must succeed.” … We are determined to be successful, but the Apostle Paul says we are called upon to be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). …  

     The way worldly sagacity argues is—Pay men back in their own coin, if you have been deceived, deceive in order to get your rights—“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” You cannot do that if you are a saint. We must practice the expressed love of God and behave among the unseemly as the children of God. There is no test on earth to equal it. There is unseemly laughter at the saint—“Where is your success? what have you done? what is the good of missionary enterprise?” … 

     We do not need Jesus Christ and the Bible for the ordinary common-sense standpoint, and if in a crisis we act according to common sense we do not express the love of God. … 

     The test for the saint is not common sense, but “Is this is what Jesus Christ stood for?” 

From The Saints In A Disaster Of Worldliness

Standing true to Jesus Christ and the Bible is never popular.

So the question is—Do I want praise from men, or “Well done” from my Savior?

4 Essential Qualities To Be An Effective Leader

November 5, 1920

General John S. Mallory
15 University Place
Lexington, Virginia

My Dear General Mallory,

Last summer during one of our delightful rides I commented on the advice I would give a young officer going to war, based on my observation of what had constituted the success of the outstanding figures in the American Expeditionary Forces, and you asked me to write out what I had said. A discussion with Fox Conner this morning reminded me of my promise to do this, so here it is.

To be a highly successful leader in war four things are essential, assuming that you possess good common sense, have studied your profession and are physically strong.

When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.

When evening comes and all are exhausted, hungry and possibly dispirited, particularly in unfavorable weather at the end of a march or in battle, you must put aside any thought of personal fatigue and display marked energy in looking after the comfort of your organization, inspecting your lines and preparing for tomorrow.

Make a point of extreme loyalty, in thought and deed, to your chiefs personally; and in your efforts to carry out their plans or policies, the less you approve the more energy you must direct to their accomplishment.

The more alarming and disquieting the reports received or the conditions viewed in battle, the more determined must be your attitude. Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack.

I’m certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success. Few seemed equal to it in this war, but I believe this was due to their failure to realize the importance of so governing their course.

Faithfully yours,

George C. Marshall
Major, General Staff
Aide-de-Camp [emphasis mine]

12 Quotes From “The Shadow Of An Agony”

the-shadow-of-an-agonyIn The Shadow Of An Agony, Oswald Chambers explores how we should process the hard events of our lives which seem to totally rock our neat and orderly world. Check out my book review by clicking here, and then enjoy a few quotes from this book.

“If Jesus Christ were only a martyr, His Cross would be of no significance; but if the Cross of Jesus Christ is the expression of the secret heart of God, the lever by which God lifts back the human race to what it was designed to be, then there is a new attitude to things.”

“The agony of a man’s affliction is often necessary to put him into the right mood to face the fundamental things of life. The Psalmist says, ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I have kept Thy Word.’ The Bible is full of the fact that there has to be an approach to the holy ground. If I am not willing to be lifted up, it is no use talking about the higher heights. … No man can do wrong in his heart and see right afterwards. If I am going to approach the holy ground, I must get into the right frame of mind—the excellency of a broken heart.”

“Jesus Christ did not come to give us pretty ideas of God, or sympathy with ourselves; He came from a holy God to enable men, by the sheer power of His Redemption, to become holy.”

“No man is the same after an agony; he is either better or worse, and the agony of a man’s experience is nearly always the first thing that opens his mind to understand the need of Redemption worked out by Jesus Christ.”

“The attitude of the Bible to the human race is not a common-sense one. The Christian aspect deals with the a specimen of a human race which is a magnificent ruin of what it was designed to be. Supposing the view of the Bible to be right, to whom it is it ‘up to’ to right the wrong? The Creator. Has He done it? He has, and He has done it absolutely single-handed. The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh. God has undertaken not only to repair the damage, but in Jesus Christ the human race is put in a better condition than when it was originally designed.”

“We have been taken up with creeds and doctrines, and when a man is hit we do not know what to give him; we have no Jesus Christ, we have only theology. For one man who can introduce another to Jesus Christ by the way he lives and by the atmosphere of his life, there are a thousand who can only talk jargon about Him.”

“The New Testament view of a saint is a more rugged type. You and I are a mixture of dust and Deity, and God takes that sordid human stuff and turns it into a saint by Regeneration. A saint does not mean a man who has not enough sin to be bad, but a man who has received from Jesus Christ a new heredity that turns him into another man.”

“Our guide as to what emotions we are going to allow is this—What will be the logical outcome of this emotion? If it has to do with sin and satan, then grip it on the threshold of your mind and allow it no more way. You have no business to harbor an emotion the outcome of which you can see to be bad; if it is an emotion to be generous, then be generous, or the emotion will react and make you a selfish brute.”

“When I receive the Spirit of God, I am lifted not out of reason, but into touch with the infinite Reason of God.”

“Any fool will give up wrongdoing and the devil, if he knows how to do it; but it takes a man in love with Jesus Christ to give up the best he has for Him.”

“Churchianity is an organization; Christianity is an organism. Organization is an enormous benefit until it is mistaken for the life.” 

“The stupendous difference between the religion of Jesus Christ and every other religion under heaven is that His religion is one which brings help to the bottom of hell, not a religion that can deal only with what is fine and pure.”

Every Thursday I share a section of the current Oswald Chambers book I am reading, in a series called “Thursdays With Oswald.” If you would like to be notified when these posts go live, just enter your email address in the box on the right, and then click “Sign me up!”

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