Thursdays With Oswald—Do You Pass The Tests?

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.

Do You Pass The Tests?

     In these verses [Matthew 7:15-20] Jesus tells His disciples to test preachers and teachers by their fruit. There are two tests—one is the fruit of the life of the preacher, and the other is the fruit of the doctrine. The fruit of a man’s own life may be perfectly beautiful, and at the same time he may be teaching a doctrine which, if logically worked out, would produce the devil’s fruit in other lives. It is easy to be captivated by a beautiful life and to argue that therefore what he teaches must be right. Jesus says, “Be careful, test your teacher by his fruit.” The other side is just as true, a man may be teaching beautiful truth and have magnificent doctrine while the fruit in his own life is rotten. We say that if a man lives a beautiful life, his doctrine must be right; not necessarily so, says Jesus. Then again we say because a man teaches the right thing, therefore his life must be right; not necessarily so, says Jesus. Test the doctrine by its fruit, and test the teacher by his fruit.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Yes, we should test our teachers and preachers by: (1) the fruit of their life, and (2) the fruit of their doctrine. But all Christians should also make sure our own lives pass the same test. 

Chambers goes on to share these thoughts—

“It is appallingly easy to pretend. If once our eyes are off Jesus Christ, pious pretense is sure to follow. … We have to beware of pretense in ourselves. It is an easy business to appear to be what we are not.” 

“If we say we are right with God, the world has a perfect right to watch our private life and see if we are so. … Fruit-bearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-5). … Jesus Christ makes publicity the test; He lived His own life most publicly (John 18:20). … It is God’s law that men cannot hide what they really are. If they are His disciples it will be publicly portrayed.” 

“God’s spiritual open air is the Bible. The Bible is the universe of revelation facts; if we live there our roots will be healthy and our lives right.” 

We need to always listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit when we ask, “Am I passing these two tests of true fruitfulness?” 

Thursdays With Oswald—We Must Do The Doing

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.

We Must Do The Doing

     Our Lord warns that the devout life of a disciple is not a dream, but a decided discipline which calls for the use of all our powers. No amount of determination can give me the new life of God, that is a gift; where the determination comes in is in letting that new life work itself out according to Christ’s standard. 

     We are always in danger of confounding what we can do with what we cannot do. We cannot save ourselves, or sanctify ourselves, or give ourselves the Holy Spirit; only God can do that. Confusion continually occurs when we try to do what God alone can do, and try to persuade ourselves that God will do what we alone can do. We imagine that God is going to make us walk in the light; God will not; it is we who must walk in the light. God gives us the power to do it, but we have to see that we use the power. God puts the power and the life into us and fills us with His Spirit, but we have to work it out. “Work out your own salvation,” says Paul, not, “work for your salvation,” but “work it out”; and as we do, we realize that the noble life of a disciple is gloriously difficult and the difficulty of it rouses us up to overcome, not faint and cave in. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble. …

     Things that are worth doing are never easy. … It is a noble life and a difficult life. God works in us to do His will, only we must do the doing; and if once we start to do what He commands we find we can do it, because we work on the basis of the noble thing God has done for us in Redemption.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It’s a simple question that all Christians should ask themselves—“Am I doing the doing?” 

It’s never, “Am I working for my salvation?” but it’s always, “Am I working out my salvation because of all that the Redemption has enabled and empowered me to do?” 

Thursdays With Oswald—Bridging The Unbridgeable Gap

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.

Bridging The Unbridgeable Gap

     When you read a book about life, life looks simple; but when you actually face the facts of life you find they do not come into the simple lines laid down in a book. An idea is like a searchlight, it lights up what it does and no more, while daylight reveals a hundred and one facts the searchlight had not taken into account. … To treat the Sermon on the Mount merely as an ideal is misleading. It is not an ideal, it is a statement of the working out of Jesus Christ’s disposition in actuality in the life of any man. … 

     No man is so labored as the man who has ideals which he cannot carry out. Jesus Christ says to such, “Come unto Me…and I will give you rest,” i.e., “I will ‘stay’ you, put something into you which will make the ideal and the actual one.” Without Jesus Christ there is an unbridgeable gap between the ideal and the actual; the only way out is a personal relationship to Him. The salvation of God not only saves a man from hell, but alters his actual life.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The words Jesus taught are more real than any other teaching anyplace. In another book, Chambers notes, “Jesus Christ’s view is that the Christian religion has been tried and abandoned, but never been tried and failed.” How true! 

But we cannot try to live out Christ’s words in our own strength. Trying to live this way will result in frustration and abandonment. Instead, Jesus reminds us that we are to be yoked to Him. We are to be as connected to Him as a branch is to its vine. The branch doesn’t beg and plead for the life-giving sap to flow into it, but simply as it abides it cannot help but receive all of the nutrients the vine supplies. 

So too with us as Christians. Don’t try to do Christian things—just abide in Jesus and you cannot help but have a new outlook, a new strength, and new fruit of the Spirit blossoming from your life! 

Unmistakable

…I tell you before it comes… (John 13:19)

Jesus made His passion, crucifixion, and resurrection unmistakable. 

He told us the Scriptures that He would fulfill (v. 18). 

He told us the details of His crucifixion and resurrection (v. 19).

And He received the “stamp of approval” from His Father (vv. 31, 32).

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, was arrested by the religious leaders, condemned by Pilate, crucified by Roman soldiers, and resurrected three days after His death, no one should have been surprised because Jesus made it unmistakable! 

Jesus also told us how to make our belief in all He did for us unmistakable too—“By this will all know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (v. 35). 

Q—How unmistakeable is my belief in Jesus Christ? 

A—It’s directly tied to how evident my love for others is!

No Spiritual Gains Without Pains

“Sanctification, again, is a thing which depends greatly on a diligent use of scriptural means. When I speak of ‘means,’ I have in view Bible-reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God’s Word, and regular reception of the Lord’s Supper. I lay it down as a simple matter of fact, that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification. I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them. They are appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace to the soul, and strengthens the work which He has begun in the inward man. Let men call this legal doctrine if they please, but I will never shrink from declaring my belief that there are no spiritual gains without pains. I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible-reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays. Our God is a God who works by means, and He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without them.” —J.C. Ryle

Poetry Saturday—Christ In Me

What would it be like? To have Christ within?
To have my voice, but Him speaking.
My steps, but Christ leading.
My heart, but His love beating
in me, through me, with me.
What’s it like to have Christ on the inside?

To tap His strength when mine expires
or feel the force of heaven’s fires
raging, purging wrong desires.
Could Christ become my self entire?

So much Him, so little me
that in my eyes it’s Him they see.
No longer I, but Christ in me. —Max Lucado

13 Quotes On The Gospel Of Luke

J.C. Ryle has given us a wonderful commentary on the Gospels in his Expository Thoughts On The Gospels. Check out my full book review here, and then enjoy a few quotes from Ryle’s insights on the Gospel of Luke.

“Lay firm hold on Bible promises. It is of the deepest importance to our peace to do so. Promises are, in fact, the manna that we should daily eat and the water that we should daily drink as we travel through the wilderness of this world.” 

“Christ’s loving kindness to His people never changes and never fails. It is a deep well of which no one ever found the bottom.” 

“There is not enough of a missionary spirit among Christians. It should not satisfy us to be safe ourselves. We ought also to try to do good to others. All cannot go to the heathen, but every believer should strive to be a missionary to his fellow man.” 

“No man shall ever be a loser in the long run by deeds of self-denying charity and patient love. At times he may seem to get nothing by his conduct. He may appear to reap nothing but ridicule, contempt, and injury. His kindness may sometimes tempt men to impose on him. His patience and forbearance may be abused. But at the last he will always be found a gainer.” 

“Have we the word of Christ’s promises? Then let us rest on it and fear nothing. Let us not doubt that every word that Christ has spoken shall be made good. The word of Christ is a sure foundation. He that leans upon it shall never be confounded.” 

“How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it, we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred. Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it.” 

“We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. The thing is impossible and the attempt is mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ’s steps and let the world say what it likes. Do what we will we shall never satisfy it or silence its ill-natured remarks. It first found fault with John the Baptist and then with his blessed Master. And it will go on caviling and finding fault with that Master’s disciples so long as one of them is left up on earth.” 

“Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall. To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge. It often leads to untoward consequences. We must make time occasionally for sitting down and calmly looking within, and examining how matters stand between our own selves and Christ. The omission of the practice is the true account of many a backsliding which shocks the church and gives occasion to the world to blaspheme.” 

“Let us beware of allowing traditions, old preconceived notions, unsound interpretations, or baseless theories in religion to find a root in our hearts. There is but one test of truth: ‘What says the Scripture?’” 

“The kindness of a Christian towards others should not be in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth. His love should be a practical love, a love which entails on him self-sacrifice and self-denial, both in money, and time and trouble. His charity should be seen not merely in his talking but his acting—not merely in his profession but in his practice. He should think it no misspent time to work as hard in doing good to those who need help as others work in trying to get money. … Such brotherly love the world may not understand. The returns of gratitude which such love meets with may be few and small. But to show such brotherly love is to walk in the steps of Christ. … What are we doing to help those who are troubled in mind, body, or estate? There are many such in this world. There are always some near our own door. What are we doing for them? Anything, or nothing at all? May God help us to answer these questions! The world would be a happier world if there was more practical Christianity.” 

“Never let us forget that to be content with sitting in the congregation and hearing sermons, while we bear no fruit in our lives, is conduct which is most offensive to God.” 

“Let us endeavor to live daily in the sight of a holy God. So living, it will matter little how much we are ‘watched’ by an ill-natured and malicious world. Let us exercise ourselves to have a conscience void of offense toward God and man, and to do nothing which can give occasion to the Lord’s enemies to blaspheme.” 

“An idea appears to prevail in some men’s minds that true religion may be separated from common honesty, and that soundness about matters of doctrine may cover over swindling and cheating in matters of practice! Against this wretched idea our Lord’s words were a plain protest. Against this idea let us watch and be on our guard.” 

You can read Ryle’s quote on The Gospel of Matthew here, and on the Gospel of Mark here. 

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—Christianity In The Actual And Real Life

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.

Christianity In The Actual And Real Life

     A man cannot take in anything he has not begun to think about, consequently until a man is born again what Jesus says does not mean anything to him. The Bible is a universe of revelation facts have no meaning for us until we are born from above; when we are born again we see in it what we never saw before. We are lifted into the realm where Jesus lives and we begin to see what He sees (John 3:3). 

     By “Actual” is meant the things we come in contact with by our senses, and by “Real” that which lies behind, that which we cannot get at by our senses (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18). The fanatic sees the real only and ignores the actual; the materialist looks at the actual only and ignores the real. The only sane Being whoever trod this earth was Jesus Christ, because in Him the actual and the real world one. …  

     When we are born from above we begin to see the actual things in the light of the real. …

     Deliverance from sin is not deliverance from conscious sin only, it is deliverance from sin in God’s sight, and He can see down into a region I know nothing about. By the marvelous Atonement of Jesus Christ applied to me by the Holy Spirit, God can purify the springs of my unconscious life until the temper of my mind is unblameable in His sight. …  

     Everything Jesus says is impossible unless He can put His Spirit into me and remake me from within…. When a man is born from above, he does not need to pretend to be a saint, he cannot help being one. …

     There is only one way in which as a disciple you will know that Jesus has altered your disposition, and that is by trying circumstances. … The proof that God has altered our disposition is not that we persuade ourselves He has, but that we prove He has when circumstances put us to the test.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The truths that the Bible declares are real truths, but they need to be lived out in the actual life of a Christian. Jesus is the only One who has ever done this, but by His Atonement applied to our actual lives by the Holy Spirit, we can begin to live this way as well. 

In order to live out real truths in actual life, we have to experience actual life—all of the ups and downs, the victories and defeats, the temptations succumbed to and the temptations overcome—in light of real truth. In every experience, the Holy Spirit can sanctify us. I like to think of that word sanctification like this: saint-ification. If I will allow Him, the Holy Spirit can bring out actual saintly qualities in my life. 

The more I allow Him to do this, the more saintliness is seen in my actual life. As Chambers reminds us, then we don’t have to pretend to be a saint, but we cannot help but be an actual one! 

Thursdays With Oswald—How To Understand And Apply The Scriptures

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.

How To Understand And Apply The Scriptures

     In order to understand the Sermon on the Mount, it is necessary to have the mind of the Preacher, and this knowledge can be gained by anyone who will receive the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13; John 20:22; Acts 19:2). The Holy Ghost alone can expound the teachings of Jesus Christ. The one abiding method of interpretation of the teachings of Jesus is the Spirit of Jesus in the heart of the believer applying His principles to the particular circumstances in which he is placed. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” says Paul, “that you may prove,” i.e. make out, “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” [Romans 12:2]. …

     Every mind has two compartments—conscious and subconscious. We say that the things we hear and read slip away from memory; they do not really, they pass into the subconscious mind. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring back into the conscious mind the things that are stored in the subconscious. In studying the Bible never think that because you do not understand it, therefore it is of no use. A truth may be of no use to you just now, but when the circumstances arise in which that truth is needed, the Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance [John 14:26]. … 

     We do not hunt through the Bible for some precept to obey…but we live so in touch with God that the Holy Spirit can continually bring some word of His and apply it to the circumstances we are in. … The teaching of Jesus Christ comes with astonishing discomfort to begin with, because it is out of all proportion to our natural way of looking at things; but Jesus puts in a new sense of proportion, and slowly we form our way of walking and our conversation on the line of His precepts: Remember that our Lord’s teaching applies only to those who are His disciples.

From Studies On The Sermon On The Mount

What Chambers says about the Sermon on the Mount is true of any biblical passage we read: we need to have the Holy Spirit’s help to understand it and apply it to our unique life setting. 

Think of this—the same Holy Spirit who inspired the biblical writers is the exact same Spirit who will assist you in understanding that Word! Before I read the Bible I often pray: May the Spirit who inspired this Word now illuminate my mind to understand it and obey it. 

Try that prayer yourself and see how God’s Word is opened up to you. 

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