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—No Undercover Christians

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.

No Undercover Christians

     The illustrations our Lord uses are all conspicuous—salt, light, and a city set on the hill. There is no possibility of mistaking them. …  

     “You are the salt of the earth.” Some modern teachers seem to think our Lord said, “You are the sugar of the earth,” meaning that gentleness and winsomeness without curativeness is the ideal of the Christian. Our Lord’s illustration of a Christian is salt, and salt is the most concentrated thing known. Salt preserves wholesomeness and prevents decay. It is a disadvantage to be salt. Think of the action of salt on a wounded, and you will realize this. If you get salt into a wound, it hurts, and when God’s children are amongst those who are “raw” their presence hurts. The man who is wrong with God is like an open wound, and when “salt” gets in it causes annoyance and distress and he is spiteful and bitter. … How are we to maintain the healthy, salty tang of saintliness? By remaining rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. …  

     “You are the light of the world.” Light cannot be soiled; you may try to grasp a beam of light with the sootiest hand, but you leave no mark on the light. A sunbeam may shine into the filthiest hovel in the slums of the city, but it cannot be soiled. … Thank God for the men and women who are spending their lives in the slums of the earth, not as social reformers to lift their brother men to cleaner sties, but as the light of God, revealing a way back to God. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

God wants you to be His salt and light in the world. Are you willing to do that? 

Salt preserves, but it also stings as it does so. Some people will lash out at you for being salt in their presence, but keep on loving them with the love of Jesus. 

Light guides, but it also reveals unpleasant things. Some people will lash out at you for revealing sinful things, but keep on loving them with the love of Jesus. 

Don’t let the hostile reaction of people send you “underground.” Keep being conspicuously, unmistakably God’s salt and light in a world that is in desperate need of cleansing and illumination! 

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. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 29

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.

Jeremiah 29

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 29.] 

     The great message of the prophets is that evil and tyranny are there by the permissive will of God, there is never any room for thinking that these things happen by chance (cf. Isaiah 45:7). Never tie God up in His own laws; He is never guided by precedence. If a prophet is more concerned with logic than with loyalty to God, he will always mislead. … 

     We have no control whatever over external history; God has, and as saints we have to wait in patience wherever we are placed in the providential order of tyranny. …  

     Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage…. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Jeremiah commands the people to obey God’s order in the dust and dirt of captivity. When we become rightly related to God we are loosened from everything around us, and the danger is to imagine we have to get out of the world. Our Lord did not pray that His disciples should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept from the evil. It is nothing but unmitigated cowardice to get out of the world; we have to remain unspotted in the midst of it. “Do you mean to tell me I can live a holy life there?” If you cannot, the grace of God is a fiction. External surroundings make no difference to our inner life, but our inner life makes a telling difference on our surroundings (see Philippians 2:15). … 

     Our problem is not one of proportion: how much worldliness can I live in? but of spiritual insight which will enable me to live a holy life in the midst of worldliness, looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises. 

From Notes On Jeremiah

Christians living here on earth are truly “temporary residents” or “aliens and strangers,” as Peter calls us. As such, we sometimes feel a bit perplexed about the evil all around us and how we’re supposed to respond to it and to the Earthlings who question us about it. 

Chambers reminds us that God is not surprised by the evil, nor is He surprised where we are. All of these things are under His sovereign control. 

We are not to give in to evil, compromise with evil, or even try to pretend that evil doesn’t really exist. We are to live with our eyes fixed on Jesus regardless of our evil surroundings. This is the only way we will shine like stars in our evil world, and point the way for Earthlings to have a relationship with Christ for themselves. 

Shine on! 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 27-28

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.

Jeremiah 27-28

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 27-28.] 

     God does not act according to His own precedents, therefore logic or a vivid past experience can never take the place of personal faith in a personal God. … God is constantly stirring up our nests that we may learn that the only simplicity there is is not the simplicity of a logical belief, but “the simplicity that is in Christ” [2 Corinthians 11:3]. … 

     Never try to explain God until you have obeyed Him…. The only bit of God we understand is the bit we have obeyed. … Never be surprised if there our whole areas of thinking that are not clear, they never will be until you obey (John 7:17). …

     We never gain any knowledge by intellectual curiosity, but only as a relationship of simplicity to God is it maintained. In John 9 Our Lord was dealing with religious teachers who had known God’s way in the past but they were blind to His ways in the present. … Our Lord’s phrase “blind leaders of the blind” was used of those who built their teaching as to how God would act in the future on their knowledge of how He had acted in the past, instead of on a personal knowledge of God. …  

     We have to keep in unbroken touch with God and give every soul the same freedom and liberty before God as God gives us. …

     No silence is so profound as the silence that falls on a soul that has quenched the Spirit of God by concentration on religious convictions. … Our only safety is in concentration on God with nothing between.

From Notes On Jeremiah

God is infinitely creative—He never has to repeat Himself. For proof, just look at the billions of unique snowflakes! 

We must be very careful not to say, “God, You worked just like this last time so I expect You to work exactly the same way this time.” Let God be God; let Him do what He knows is best to do. Don’t tell God how He’s supposed to work, and don’t teach others to interact with God the same way you have interacted with God. 

Let God be God—unique, inimitable, creative, sovereign, omnipotent, personal—with you and with others. 

11 Quotes From “Notes On Jeremiah”

Oswald Chambers gives us some unparalleled insights into the Book of Jeremiah. This is a must-read for serious students of the Bible. Check out my full book review of Notes On Jeremiah by clicking here.

“Very few of us understand why clouds of darkness come. It is God trying to get us into line with the prophets and apostles. It is the Holy Spirit seeking to bring us into the place of vicarious intercession, and we nearly always misunderstand it and say, ‘I must have sinned,’ or ‘I must get out of this, I have got the blues.’” 

“We do not need a new Gospel; what we need is the old truth re-stated to hit the things that are wrong today.” 

“Few of us realize the power God has given us to grip on the threshold of the mind as in a vice the things that ought not to be there.” 

“The Cross of Jesus Christ is not a martyrdom, it does not procure salvation; it is the only salvation.” 

“Beware of ever saying to yourself, ‘God’s law is not exactly binding to me, I am under grace.’ To be under grace should mean that we can fulfill the law of God gracefully.” 

“Prosperity that does not spring from a godly motive is the external sign of having forsaken God.” 

“We cannot answer God’s call collectively (John 6:68-70). Never get disturbed out of hearing God’s voice by saying other people have not heard it.” 

“Human nature hates God’s message that there is a bad tendency inside that has to be plucked out, and unless it is it will damn us.” 

“Jesus Christ’s salvation is the destruction of the sinner in the man, not of the man.” 

“The measure of my misery when I turn from God is proportioned to my knowledge of Him when I walked with Him.” 

“Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Old Testament prophets are inseparable from one another, for in the Person and the teaching of our Lord all that the prophets taught is in part fulfilled, and will be completely fulfilled.” 

Every week I post longer passages from Oswald Chambers’ books in my “Thursdays With Oswald” feature. 

Notes On Jeremiah (book review)

Oswald Chambers always gives me unique perspectives on passages of Scripture—even ones that I thought I already knew quite well. He does this again as he dives deep into one of the major prophets in his book Notes On Jeremiah.

These Notes are really his lecture notes from his classes at the Bible Training Institute. Once again, these classes were cut short by the outbreak of The Great War (what we now call World War I), so we only have his brilliant insights through Jeremiah chapter 29. 

Chambers himself noted, “The conception of these studies is that man must look higher for the source of life and salvation than the experience of life. … Jesus Christ is the only One Who can throw light on the prophecies of Isaiah, and He is the only One Who throws any kind of light on the acute suffering and amazing misery of this prophet [Jeremiah].” 

Indeed, many of Chambers’ lectures start with “the experience of life” that most of us have had (or are having at present), and then he tries to take us both higher and deeper. Using Jeremiah’s prophesies like a searchlight, Chambers shows how these Old Testament words find their ultimate relevance and fulfillment in the dazzling Advent of Jesus Christ. 

Jeremiah was prophesying in the darkest days of Judah, just before the city was overthrown by the Babylonians. In the face of this darkness, Jeremiah shines out a light of Ultimate Hope. This is a valuable resource for Christians today who are living in sin-darkened days.

If you are looking for a great companion resource for your Bible reading time in Jeremiah, please add Notes On Jeremiah to your library. 

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