This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
Evidence Of Christian Maturity
One of the first evidences that anyone is a child of God is that he hates with a perfect hatred and seeks to live a holy, Christlike life. …
I bless God that I have learned to have very little respect for the vision of the man with the measuring line. When I see an angel with it, I am glad enough; but when I see a man with it, I tell him that he must give me a warrant from God and show me how he is to know the elect by any other method than that laid down by our Lord Jesus Christ: “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). …
He who truly grows in grace does not say, “Dear me! I can feel that I am growing; bless the Lord! Let’s sing a hymn. ‘I’m a-growing! I’m a-growing!’” I have often felt that I was growing smaller; I think that is very probable, and a good thing, too. If we are very great in our own estimation, it is because we have a number of cancers, or foul gatherings, that need to be lanced, so as to let out the bad matter that causes us to boast of our bigness.
From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon
Some Dos and Don’ts for Christian growth:
This 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?”
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.”
“Alas! is it not often true that our work comes between us and Jesus? What folly! The very work that He has to do in me, and I for Him, I take up in such a way that it separates me from Christ. Many a laborer in the vineyard has complained that he has too much work, and not time for close communion with Jesus, and that his usual work weakens his inclination for prayer, and that his too much intercourse with men darkens the spiritual life. Sad thought, that the bearing of fruit should separate the branch from the vine! That must be because we have looked upon our work as something other than the branch bearing fruit. May God deliver us from every false thought about the Christian life. …
“The relationship between the vine in the branches is such that hourly, daily, unceasingly there is the living connection maintained. The sap does not flow for a time, and then stop, and then flow again, but from moment to moment the sap flows from the vine to the branches. And just so, my Lord Jesus wants me to take that blessed position as a worker, and morning by morning and day by day and hour by hour and step by step, in every work I have to go out to just to abide before Him in the simple utter helplessness of one who knows nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing. … If I am something, then God is not everything; but when I become nothing, God can become ALL.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender (emphasis added)
Promotion by Rick Renner is a book to help both ministry and for-profit business organizations make better personnel decisions. You can read my full book review by clicking here. The following are a few quotes I highlighted.
“When choosing people for promotion, it’s important to understand that nothing is more important to God in the life of a leader then his heart. The heart takes first place over gifts, talents, education, and everything else.”
“A person who is satisfied with little will never achieve much. On the other hand, a person who has a desire for excellence will never be satisfied with a low level performance in his or her life.”
“Any person who does just the required minimum should never be considered for leadership. … So be very careful not to over-spiritualize the selection process when choosing leaders. Don’t ignore telltale signs in a candidates natural life that alert you to a lack of desire.”
“It’s normal for people to occasionally misunderstand. But when staff members misunderstand their leader’s instructions 99% of the time, something is wrong with the way that leader is communicating with those under his authority. His followers cannot be wrong all the time.”
“You should not look for a candidate free of problems, but for one who knows how to turn to God and manage life’s challenges according to Scripture.”
“Never forget that when you’re a leader, the most important pulpit you’ll ever possess is the testimony of your own personal life.”
“You’re never going to find a perfect person. … So never forget to let mercy triumphs over judgment. But if your peace is disturbed because of things you see occurring in a potential leader’s life, don’t ignore what is bothering you. Pay attention to what your spirit is telling you. Perhaps he or she is the right leader, but it isn’t the right time yet. It’s better to be slow and sure then to move forward without the inner conviction that you’re on the right track.”
“You may have a more visible position than others do during this earthly life, but your value to God for eternity is no different than anyone else in His Body.”
Oswald Chambers said it even more succinctly: “satan counterfeits the Holy Spirit.”
It’s true that whenever there is an authentic move of the Holy Spirit, satan will try to pervert it or counterfeit it. He wants Christians disempowered, so he will do all that is within his power to get us off track, especially in regard to the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That’s why Scripture tells us, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, NLT)
Did you know that the Secret Service―who is tasked with tracking down those who counterfeit U.S. currency―spends more time studying authentic currency than they do counterfeit currency. Why is that? Because there are many ways to make a counterfeit bill, but only one way to make the genuine article! So these agents spend so much time handling and studying the authentic, that they can spot a fraud in a split second.
If we are going to test everything related to the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to focus on all of the counterfeit displays, but simply get to know the authentic. Here are six authenticating proofs we can look for to know the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our lives is genuine.
When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. (John 15:8, AMP)
Notice in the first Pentecostal church how the Spirit-baptized Christians just did ministry whenever and wherever (see Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37). They didn’t form committees or discuss strategies; they just did what needed to be done to make Jesus known.
Things bother us now that didn’t bother us before, because we don’t want there to be anything in our lives that strains our relationship with God (see Galatians 5:16-25).
In Acts 4:8-13 the religious leadership was astounded at how Peter and John showed spiritual maturity beyond their training. The Holy Spirit helped them to pull out and apply Scripture to the circumstances they faced.
In Acts 16:6-7, we see the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and his companions from preaching the gospel. He was directing them to the perfect time and place for their ministry. This reminds me of the Old Testament promise: “Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a Voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Don’t worry about trying to study the fakes. Get to know the authentic move of the Holy Spirit, and you will have no problem knowing what a genuine move of the Spirit looks like!
In John 15, Jesus uses a Greek word that gets translated in the English as remain fifteen times. If anyone uses a single word that many times, you know it must be important. The same Greek word is also translated in and last in this same passage. The word means:
The big idea Jesus is trying to convey here is connectedness. So I’m asking myself, Is my life so connected and reliant on Christ’s life, that it is nearly impossible to perceive two? Do we look and operate like one? Is my life completely sustained by His life? When people look at me, can they tell I am remaining in Jesus?
This same Greek word is translated living in (John 14:10) when Jesus says, “It is the Father living in Me, Who is doing His work.” When we see Jesus, we see the oneness — the remaining — between Father, Son, and Spirit.
This same remaining oneness is possible for me because of the promise of a Helper. Jesus said the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) would be with you (John 14:16). This is the exact same Greek word. The word is used again in the following verse: He lives with you and will be in you.
The Holy Spirit helps me look more and more like Jesus. He helps me remain. He develops the oneness.
I want to remain more deeply, more “onely,” that God may be glorified in the lasting fruit that my remaining will allow Him to produce.
I love John Wesley’s commentary on this verse in the Gospel of John —
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you. (John 15:16, Amplified Bible)
From John Wesley’s Notes On The Bible:
Leading others to an eternity with Jesus, bearing fruit that lasts forever, and having complete union with Christ in prayer. Wow! What amazing privileges followers of Jesus can have!