Truth Is The Source Of Freedom

“The university has traditionally been a unified place (Latin unum) where faculty and students gather in order to discover truth (Latin veritas). A generation ago, college was expected to be a place of freedom, particularly for expression of and engagement with different—even disagreeable—ideas. Sadly, recent events and numerous statistical surveys reveal that such days may be over. Today, many on university campuses expect to be protected or shielded from speech and ideas that could be deemed offensive, even if the free speech rights of others—as well as the pursuit of truth—are sacrificed in the process.

“The current climate, in which people are forcibly prevented from sharing ideas, has arisen because the Culture of Confusion has mistaken autonomy for freedom. In a post-truth culture, where preferences and opinions are elevated over facts and truth, anything that challenges our preferences, even if a challenge is laced with facts, is deemed offensive and oppressive. The Western contemporary concept of freedom is all about the ability to do, feel, and say whatever one wants, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. But this isn’t freedom—it’s autonomy (which literally means being a law unto one’s self). Freedom operates at its best within the confines of truth. The pursuit of autonomy is the root of the post-truth mindset that fuels the current Culture of Confusion. If each of our personal preferences is celebrated without truth as our guide, if we are all ‘laws unto ourselves,’ confusion is inevitable in at least three important ways.

“First, the culture seems to have lost its ability to reason—to think and act clearly and wisely. When feelings are vaunted over facts in the quest for autonomy, reason dies in the process. If the facts get in the way of unrestrained autonomy, then the facts will have to be ignored and any opposition will be silenced.

“Second, the Culture of Confusion has lost its moral accountability. If it’s true that ‘man is the measure of all things,’ as Protagoras proclaimed centuries ago, then we make the rules, not God. If there is no God to help us, then we have to help ourselves. There are atheists who claim that the ‘better angels of our nature’ will result in us reaching a rough agreement about moral values. But history has shown us that it’s only a short leap from secular humanism to self-worship and supreme authority. Moral clarity shows us the objective truth beyond our preferences. And we have to mold our desires and preferences to the truth’s boundaries. Because we don’t want to conform, moral clarity has become the vice of the day, and moral confusion the virtue.

“Third, in striving to go from bearing the Imago Dei (with accountability to God) to Deus Homo (with accountability to no one), we have lost what it means to be human and to value other human beings. When we become the measure of all things, then we determine which humans are valuable and which ones are not, meaning our sense of objective human value is lost in the process.

“There is a fundamental difference between limitless individual autonomy and true freedom. The Bible opposes the former and champions the latter (James 1:25; 2:12). The book of Judges demonstrates this well. Each time the people’s thirst for autonomy landed them in trouble, God sent a judge—a person who took his authority from God—to guide the people. But they rejected God’s authority time and again in favor of their personal sovereignty until the resultant chaos became too much. When we jettison truth as our guide, we will end up with autonomy and then chaos, but not freedom. Each one of us, individually in our hearts, needs to search for the source of freedom—truth.” —Abdu Murray, Saving Truth

Thursdays With Oswald—What “Religious” Things Perplex You?

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.

What “Religious” Things Perplex You? 

     If we are perplexed over the question of sanctification, or about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we ourselves are the reason why we are bothered. God has written a Book, and the phrases “sanctification” and the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are His, not man’s; why do we not go to Him about it? 

     We are the reason why we do not go; we dare not go. If we honestly ask God to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire, anything that happens is His answer, and some appalling things happen. If we accept the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, are we prepared to ask God to fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost in our body? If we are, watch the consequences—that friendship must go, that book, that association, everyone of them must decay off like a lightning flash. 

     If anyone has a difficulty in getting through to God, it is never God who is to blame. We can get through to Him as soon we want to, there is nothing simpler.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

I believe Chambers’ line of reasoning goes like this:

  • God has revealed His full will in the inspired words of Scripture.
  • The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible can illuminate our hearts.
  • We don’t have insight because we either don’t ask for it [James 1:5], or we don’t really want to hear the truth [James 4:3].
  • Asking for help while posturing ourselves to obey will quickly bring clarity—“Jesus Christ’s life must work through our flesh, and that is where we have to obey. So many go into raptures over God’s supernatural salvation, over the wonderful fact that God saves us by His sovereign grace (and we cannot do that too much), but they forget that now He expects us to get ourselves into trim to obey Him” (Oswald Chambers).

13 More Quotes From “Notes On Ezekiel”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersHere are some more quotes from Oswald Chambers’ book Notes On Ezekiel. My book review is here, and my first set of quotes from this book is here.

“We are too shallow to be afraid of God. … It requires a miracle of grace before we believe this, consequently we are foolishly fearless, but when the grace of God lifts us into the life of God we fear nothing and no one saving God alone. … Confusion arises when we do not see God as Almighty.”

“God will put us in circumstances where we have to take steps of which we do not see the meaning, only on looking back do we discern that it was God’s will for us.”

“We are always on the wrong line when we come to God with a pre-occupied mind because a pre-occupied mind springs from a disloyal heart: ‘I don’t want to do God’s will, what I want is for God to give me permission to do what I want to do.’” 

“What God burns is not weakness, not imperfection, but perverted goodness.”

“Every part of our human nature which is not brought into subjection to the Holy Spirit after experiencing deliverance from sin will prove a corrupting influence.”

“We all have the sneaking idea that we are the favorites of God—‘It’s alright for me to do this, God will understand.’ If I as a child of God commit sin, I will be as sternly dealt with as if I were not His child.”

“Don’t tie God up in your own conceptions, or say too surely you know what God will do. … The sovereign purposes of God work out slowly and inexorably, but ever be careful to note where God’s sovereignty is at work among men in matters of history and Time, and where it is at work in matters of eternal destiny. Beware of allowing your memory of how God has worked to take the place of present vital moral relationship to Him.”

“When I have been using ‘the sword of the Spirit’ in a spirit of indignation against another, it is a terrible experience to find the sword suddenly wrested out of my hand and laid about me personally by God. Let your personal experience of the work of God’s Spirit instruct you at the foot of Calvary; let the light of God riddle you through, then you will never use the Word of God to another, never turn the light of God on him, without fear and trembling.”

“Liberty is the ability to obey the law of God, with the power to live according to its demands; license is the unrestrained impulse to traffic against the law of God. … The seal of immorality is that I do what I like; the seal of freedom is that I do what God likes.”

“If the Holy Spirit is obeyed the stubbornness is blown out, the dynamite of the Holy Ghost blows it out.”

“Pride in its most estimable as well as its most debased form is self-deification; it is not a yielding to temptation from without, but a distinct alteration of relationships within.”

“I may suffer because of the sins of my progenitors—I am never punished for them.”

“In dealing with Bible experiences we must ever make allowance for the miraculous, which never contradicts reason, but very often does contradict common sense. The miraculous transcends reason and lifts it into another world than the logical one, consequently spiritual experience is something I have lived through, not thought through.”

The Help Of Humility

HumilityJesus was talking to His disciples about what was ahead for Him, and they responded in an all-too-typical way: “They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant” (Mark 9:10).

There are times that Jesus interrupts His disciples’ musings with a question like, “What are you talking about among yourselves?” But in this instance, He kept quiet.

Why?

I think Jesus likes for us to ask Him for help.

There is a certain level of pride that says, “I can figure this out all by myself.” This pride leads to ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear (we tend to fear what we don’t know), and fear leads—more times than not—to poor choices.

“They didn’t understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it” (v. 32). This fear probably led to their confusion in between the time of Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection.

Think about it, we have two choices:

  • Confusion → Pride → Ignorance → Fear → Poor choices
  • Confusion → Humility → Answers → Boldness → God-honoring choices

Oh, for the humility to ask for God’s help when I am confused!

Eat A Cookie

If you are going through a difficult place in your life … or if you are trying to process an event that doesn’t make much sense … or if there is a painful memory that makes you wonder, “Where was God in that?” … check out this short video clip:

Now, go eat a cookie and know that God IS working out something good.

Mixed Signals

The Methodist church by my house has a marquee that faces a busy expressway. Today as I drove by I read their latest message: “Pay attention to your destination, not your speed.”

“Hmmm,” thought, I wonder how the police department feels about that?”

No sooner had the thought passed through my head and I saw the flashing lights of a police officer with a car pulled over on the shoulder! I can almost imagine the driver’s frantic plea to the officer, “But, officer, the church back there told me…!”

This humorous scene reminded me of two quotes —

  • “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” — Francis of Assisi
  • “Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” — Dwight L. Moody

May the “signs” of our lives never send mixed signals to the people “reading” us.

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