Thursdays With Oswald—Don’t Argue!

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.

Don’t Argue!

     The reason Paul tells Timothy not to argue [1 Timothy 4:7], and the reason he tells me not to argue, and the reason he tells you not to argue, is that we argue from our own point of view. We argue not for the truth’s sake, we argue to prove we are right. God grant that we may learn to take heed lest we get switched off on arguing. … 

     “Oh, the unmitigated curse of controversy! Oh, the detestable passions that corrections and contradictions kindle up to fury in the proud heart of man! Eschew controversy, my brethren, as you would eschew the entrance to hell itself. Let them have it their way; let them talk; let them write; let them correct to you; let them traduce you; let them judge and condemn you; let them slay you. Rather let the truth of God suffer itself, than that love suffer. You have not enough of the divine nature in you to be a controversialist.” —Dr. Alexander Whyte … 

     For example… “sanctification” is not a man’s term; it is God’s: “the baptism with the Holy Ghost” is not man’s conception, it is God’s, and when a soul begins to argue on these matters, remember, worker for God, it is the Holy Spirit they are arguing with, the Word of God they are haggling about. God grant we may not hinder those who are battling their way slowly into the light. …  

     “Heal me of this lust of mine of always vindicating myself.” —Augustine … 

     If we are living rightly with God, living holy lives in secret and in public, God puts a wall of fire round about us.

From Workmen Of God

How true it is that we argue not because we’re standing up for the truth, but because we want to prove that we are right! This is a tactic of the devil which keeps us focused on less important matters.

Our only line of defense needs to be something Oswald Chambers said earlier: “the Word of God, the Word of God, the Word of God, first second and last.” If we stick to the Word, people who want to argue aren’t arguing with us, but with God. That is an argument in which we never have to participate!

8 Quotes From “Workmen Of God”

Although written over 100 years ago, Workmen Of God is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today. I have shared longer passages from this book in my weekly series called “Thursdays With Oswald,” but here are a few other gems from this book. You can read my full book review of Workmen Of God by clicking here.

“We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the Word of God amongst them, and if the Holy Spirit is to apply the Word of God through us as workmen meeting not to be ashamed.”

“Men’s minds will always assent that Jesus Christ is right—why? Because Jesus Christ is Incarnate Reason. There is something in Jesus Christ that appeals to every man, no matter what condition he is in. If once Jesus Christ is brought into contact with the man, let that man seem to us dead and indifferent, destitute of anything like goodness—let him come in contact with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and you will instantly see that he can grasp something about Him in a way we cannot understand unless we know the Holy Spirit.”

“Unless your religion will go to the lowest and the worst and the most desperate case you know of, your religion is of no use.”

“Intercessory prayer for a backslider is a most instructive but most trying work for God, it will teach the worker that prayer is not only making petitions, but that prayer is breathing and atmosphere.”

“When the message you have to deliver, brother preacher, strikes straight home, don’t water it down just a little. Go straight for God if you come from Him. Neither for fear nor favor alter the message.”

“Love for men as men will never stand the strain. In order to catch men for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must love Jesus Christ absolutely, beyond all others. You must have a consuming passion of love, then He will flow through you in a passion of love and yearning and draw all men to Himself.”

“We need to live steadfastly in the presence of God so that when we are praised we don’t arouse the spirit of envy, the spirit that makes a man want to do something, not because he loves God, but because he wants to emulate us. … God grant we may see that the great need of every worker is a first-hand acquaintance with Jesus Christ which puts to death the spirit of ambition.”

“You cannot have holiness without a chaste physical life. Oh, the sapping power of God because of unchaste men and women who preached His Gospel.”

Workmen Of God (book review)

Oswald Chambers constantly tried to follow what Paul spoke to Timothy, “And these things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). In Workmen Of God, we have a collection of lectures Chambers is giving to those “reliable men” and women who were either already working in pastoral ministry or preparing to do so.

It’s amazing how Chambers could so effectively and specifically apply biblical principles to the audiences he addressed. For instance, some might think that those pastoring a local church and those ministering as a missionary would receive roughly the same sort of training. But a collection of Chambers’ lectures to those in missionary work (in his book So Send I You) has completely different ministry principles from the lectures he delivers to pastors in this book.

But in both books, we are privileged to read what Chambers’ friend and coworker Mary Hooker called “a wealth of spiritual vitamins.” She went on to say, “And now this latest book [Workmen Of God] goes forth, at a time when soul-sickness is more than ever rampant. The messages are full of spiritual discernment and diagnosis.”

If Chambers’ time was a time of rampant “soul-sickness,” how much more so do we need his insight today!

Indeed, Chambers talks to pastors about their work among those entrenched in their unbelief, those who are skeptical, those who are backslidden, those who are hypocrites, and those who have sick souls. He also challenges pastors on how to minister to themselves so that they are prepared to minister to any soul in which God brings them in contact.

Although written over 100 years ago, this book is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today!

Thursdays With Oswald—Passion For Souls

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.

Passion For Souls

     You hear people say that Paul showed his wonderful breath of mind, his culture and generosity, his gentleness and patience, by becoming all things to all men [1 Corinthians 9:22]. He did nothing of the sort; he said, “I am become all things to all men” for one purpose only—“that I may by all means save some.” He did not say, “I became all things to all men that I might show what a wonderful being I am.” There is no thought of himself in the whole matter.

     The phrase “a passion for souls” is a dangerous one; a passion for souls may be either a diseased lust or a Divine life. Let me give you a specimen of it as a diseased lust—“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15). … 

     But have we got clearly in our minds what the passion for souls as a Divine life is? Read James 5:19-20: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” … 

     God grant we may understand that the passion for souls is not a placid, scientifically worked-out thing, it compresses all the energy of heart and brain and body in one consuming drive, day and night from the beginning of life to the end—a consuming, fiery, living passion. … 

     God grant we may understand that the mainspring of our passion for souls must be a personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

From Workmen Of God

The root of our passion really does make a difference in our Christian activity. Is my passion to make converts so that people can say, “Look what a good guy he is”? Or is my passion to save a soul from death so that people can say, “Look what a great God He is”?

Fellow Christian, I pray our passion is always the latter.

Thursdays With Oswald—Dealing With Spiritually Stupid People

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.

Dealing With Spiritually Stupid People

     I would like you to notice what the word “stupid” means. It does not mean ignorant, but anything formed or done without reason or judgment. Ignorance is being without knowledge “and the times of this ignorance God winked at [‘overlooked’]” (Acts 17:30). Do distinguish between ignorance and stupidity! … 

     [Passages to consider—1 Samuel 26:21 [I have acted like a fool]; Titus 3:3 [at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved]; 2 Timothy 3:6-7 [silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with the burden of their sins and easily swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses]; and Hebrews 5:12 [you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word]]

     What are we to do when we come across stupid souls? Ignorant souls we can deal with, they need knowledge; the stupid soul does not need knowledge; the stupid soul needs to have the Word of God until it is worried by it. … 

     Never water down the Word of God to the understanding of your people. … “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The Word of God is “a lamp” and “a light,” but when people get off on the “stupid” lines, it is all instincts, impressions, vague ideas—“ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

From Workmen Of God

I know the word “stupid” seems like an inflammatory word, but don’t get distracted from Chambers’ pertinent point on account of this word. The Bible makes it clear that we will come across people who are stupid in regard to the things of God. Our course of action is not argument or persuasion, but—as Chambers says—“the Word of God, the Word of God, the Word of God, first second and last; no sympathy, no help, only the Word of God.”

Thursdays With Oswald—When You Can’t Do Anything To Help

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.

When You Can’t Do Anything To Help

     One of the first things a worker for God has to learn by experience is that strangely obvious lesson, that none of us can understand the cases we meet to work with. Then how can we work for the cure of them? Remember the first principles we laid down: By knowing Jesus Christ for ourselves experimentally, and then by relying on the Holy Spirit. …  

     In Goethe’s writings, in 1824 he writes: “I will say nothing against the course of my existence, but at the bottom of it has been nothing but pain and burden, and I can affirm that, during the whole of my seventy-five years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It has been the perpetual rolling of a rock that must be raised up again.”

     Robert Louis Stevenson said that three hours out of every five he was insane with misery. John Stuart Mill said that life was not worth living after you were a boy.

     This is not fiction, these are human facts. What does Christian Science do—ignores them! New Thought—ignores them! Mind Cure—ignores them! Jesus Christ opens our eyes to these facts, but here comes the difficulty: how am I to get Jesus Christ in contact with these sick souls?

In the first place, will you realize that you do not know how to do it? … If you get your little compartment of texts, and search them out and say, ‘I know how to deal with this soul,’ you will never be able to deal with it; but if you realize your absolute helplessness and say, ‘My God, I cannot touch this life, I do not know where to begin, but I believe Thou canst do it,’ then you can do something. …  

     God grant us the grace so to rely on the Holy Ghost, to so know our ignorance, so to get out of the way with our knowledge, that we will let the Holy Ghost bring the Majestic Christ face to face with the diseased, sick folk we meet. … God grant we may so rely on the Holy Spirit that we allow Him to introduce through the agony of our intercession…the Living, Mighty Christ! … Blessed be the name of God, there is no case too hard for Jesus Christ! …  

     God grant that we may be so centered in Him that He can use us in that wonderful way.

From Workmen Of God

How to help those in need:

  1. Admit that we can’t help them
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to help them
  3. Share only what the Spirit tells us to share
  4. Intercede in prayer for our friend

“God grant that we may be so centered in Him that He can use us in that wonderful way.” Amen!

Thursdays With Oswald—How God Prepares His Workers

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 God Prepares His Workers

     If the worker for God is going to go all lengths for God for the cure of souls, he has to allow God to examine to deep down the possibilities of his own nature. That is why it is hard to deal with the “two-faced.” That is why, Christian worker, God will take you through disciplines and experiences that are not meant for your particular life; they are meant to make you ready for God to send as He sent Nathan [2 Samuel 12:1]. … 

     Worker for God, before you go among the infirm, the sick, the subtle, the hypocritical, let God deal with you. A child cannot wield the sword of the Spirit; it must be wielded by one fed on strong meat, one who has been deeply dealt with and examined by God’s Spirit, in whom the last springs and possibilities of iniquity and wrong in his own nature have been disclosed to him that he may understand the marvel of God’s grace. …  

     God grant that we may understand that working for the cure of souls is not a babe’s work; it is a man’s work, requiring man’s power, grasped and transformed by God Almighty, so that God can get straight through the worker to the man He is waiting for. 

From Workmen Of God

Being used by God is no light, trivial matter. God wants to use you to reach those “He is waiting for.” But in order for you to “wield the sword of the Spirit,” you first have to allow God to strengthen and prepare you.

Are you willing to let God prepare you for His service? It will require us to pray, as Jesus did, “Father, not My will, but Yours be done.”

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