Thursdays With Spurgeon—Faultless

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.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Faultless  

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25) 

     I would rather turn to the blessings of which Jude speaks. He seems to ascribe in this doxology three blessings, at least, to the power of the Lord Jesus. The first is the ability to keep you from stumbling, and for this, I am sure, the highest praise is due when you consider for a moment the dangerous way. In some respects, the path to heaven is very safe. It is so as God made it. But in other respects, there is no road as dangerous as the road to eternal life. It is beset with difficulties. … One false step (and how easy it is to take that if divine grace is absent), and down we go! …  

     Only Christ has the power to take us into heaven. … Christ preserves His people though they have offended God and daily provoke His justice. And He does more, for He presents them to the King of kings in the high court of heaven itself! …  

     We proceed to notice the condition in which the saints are to be when presented—they are to be faultless—for our Lord never stops short of perfection in His work of love. … Our Savior will carry His people through this life, safe from falling, and He will present them, how?—faultless! … The righteousness of Jesus Christ will make the saint who wears it so fair that he will be positively faultless! Yes, perfect in the sight of God!

From Christians Kept In Time And Glorified In Eternity

Reading these stirring words from Charles Spurgeon, I cannot help but recall the equally stirring lyrics of this Edward Mote hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
O may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand

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4 Ministries Of Healthy Churches

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In the Foreword to my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, Dick Brogden observes, “God plucked David from the sheepfold. God chose a sheep to be a shepherd. And though we all are stupid sheep, when God plucks us out of obscurity to serve others, we can have the humble confidence for as long as we are asked to lead that God has chosen us. That confidence both faithfully drives us to our knees and fearlessly propels us against our giants. It is good to be a sheep; it is good to be an under-shepherd. Just remember you are stupid, chosen by the Wise One, and as long as you serve as a shepherd, you and your flock will be safe.” 

How true it is that all of us are sheep. The role of the shepherd is to care for the sheep and create a healthy environment for them. The role of healthy sheep is to reproduce more sheep. In this, both shepherds and sheep are ministers—we all minister to those God has placed around us. 

God calls all Christians to be ministers. The Church is the sheepfold that equips us, but then we must go out to minister in a way that will bring lost sheep to a personal relationship with Jesus. 

Our foundational truth statement about church ministry says: A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the fourfold purpose of leading the Church in evangelism, worship, sanctification, and compassion. 

(1) Evangelism. When we looked at the foundational belief about the Church, we noted that it’s not either-or—evangelism or discipleship—but it’s both-and. Christians are being the Church when they are intentionally living in a way that makes Jesus known (Matthew 10:1, 7-8; 28:18-20). 

(2) Worship. We shouldn’t have the mindset of, “Let’s go to church to meet with God.” Instead, we need to live in a way where we are always abiding in God’s omnipresence. This worship-centric lifestyle empowers our evangelism, changes our hearts, and fuels our compassion (John 4:23-24; Romans 12:1; Acts 2:46-47). 

(3) Sanctification. Remember that we are all in-process of becoming saints (I like to remember this by calling it saint-ification). We need each other to do this, which is why God gives gifts to bring out Christ-like maturity in us (Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16). 

(4) Compassion. Compassion is feeling turned into action. This opens the door for evangelism, creates more opportunities for worship, and matures Christians (Mark 6:34-37; Luke 10:33; Acts 2:45).  

Notice that each of these ministries are interdependent with all the other ministries. 

In a blog post nearly 10 years ago, I questioned: “How do we know if our church is successful?  The apostle Paul uses two words to help answer these questions: Quality and Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 3:13, 4:2). 

So here are two important questions we need to ask ourselves: (1) Am I doing quality work? (2) Am I faithfully doing my work? 

To help answer those questions, I like this thought from Leonard Sweet’s book I Am A Follower: “The most important metrics we must rely on, the crucial ‘deliverables’ we can present, must focus on the newly formed lives of the disciples we are making, the followers who are following Christ into a place of serving Him by serving others. The most important measure of our faithfulness to Christ must be the extent of transformation into the living image of Christ Himself. … The quantifiable fruit of our church is not found in the number of people we can gather on a weekly basis. What counts is what is happening in the lives of those who have gathered. 

These are questions we should all ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us: 

  • What is happening in my life? 
  • Am I telling others about Jesus? 
  • Am I worshipping God so consistently that everyone can see it? 
  • Am I maturating as a saint and am I helping other saints mature? 
  • Is my faith seen in my compassionate actions? 

Our individual answers to those questions will determine the success of our individual churches, which will ultimately determine the effectiveness of the global Church of Jesus Christ. I hope you will take some time to consider these questions for yourself. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series exploring our foundational beliefs, you can access the full list by clicking here.

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My Theme Song

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… my hands … my mouth … my lips … my heart … my head … my words … my eyes … (Psalm 141) 

David’s all-in attitude toward God reminds me of the words of Jesus: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). 

Clearly, David wants God to have full access—no part of his life is exempt from God’s lordship:

  • hands lifted in worship
  • mouth and lips free from ungodly words 
  • heart not drawn to unrighteousness 
  • head receptive to godly correction 
  • words always well-spoken and God-pleasing 
  • eyes fixed steadfastly on God 

This is also what the Holy Spirit wants to do for me in the process of sanctification: Bringing me into the place where no part of my life is exempt from His lordship. This reminds me of the words of an old hymn, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” 

May this ever be the theme song of my life! 

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Maturing Reactions

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Jesus lived out the example of wholly healthy growth. The way Dr. Luke records it, the pinnacle of Christ’s health (and our health too) is seen in our relationships with other people.  

Why is relational maturity at the peak of the pinnacle? How else could you know whether you truly have mental, physical, and spiritual health unless it’s put to the test? And the ultimate test is how we react when we’re caught off guard. Our so-called Freudian slips can reveal an area of immaturity. C.S. Lewis reminds us that the suddenness of the provocation that caused the slip didn’t create our immature response, but it actually revealed what is really inside our hearts. Surely our unplanned reactions are a better indicator of our spiritual maturity than our planned actions! 

Jesus told us that our “slips” reveal what’s really inside (Matthew 15:19), but are these really unknown to us? If we’re really honest, how many times do we think unpleasant things without saying them or doing them? The Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth—knows so well what’s on the inside (Psalm 139:1-4). 

When we experience one of these slip ups, the devil loves to pounce! Paul calls it “sin seizing an opportunity” (Romans 7:7-11). But even as sin pounces, Paul assures us, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). 

What is the “therefore” there for? After the “therefore” the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Adoption reminds us we are in Jesus and children of God, and the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Intercession help us pray perfect, childlike prayers. So what comes before the “therefore” must be something that makes us feel unworthy, distant, and condemned. 

Paul explains that “we died to sin” (Romans 6:2). That word “died” means to be separated from one thing which brings about the destruction of the other thing. When we are separated from God by our sin we are dead, when are separated from our sin by God we are alive. At that moment of salvation, we stand before Almighty God justified—just as if I’d never sinned. That is irrevocable: God will never go back on that, we will never slip away from His grace. But that moment of salvation also begins a lifelong process of sanctification—or as I like to say it saint-ification. 

Remember that pyramid of growth Jesus demonstrated for us? Paul says, “I myself in my mind am a slave (Romans 7:25). The mind is where the Spirit of Truth begins His maturing, saint-ifying process in us. As our minds are transformed, then our bodies and our mouths can live out a Christlike lifestyle (see Romans 12:1-2). It’s this mind and body transformation that matures our spiritual health, which is then revealed in our relationships with others.  

Notice that it is after we have been through this transformation of mind, body, and spirit that Paul tells us the standard for God-honoring living. This is where we see even our unplanned reactions becoming more and more Christ-like (Romans 12:9-21). We cannot live out this Romans 12 mandate solely on our own willpower. We aren’t trying to become self-made people, but instead, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to make us transformed saints. Transformed saints that are known by their unplanned Christlike reactions. 

This is why I keep stressing for Christians to not stop at salvation, but to press on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can access the full list by clicking here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Security

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.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Security 

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation (Psalm 62:2).

     I do not reckon that is salvation that regenerates me and then puts me in such a position that I may fall out of the covenant and be lost. I cannot call that a bridge that only goes halfway over the stream. I cannot call that salvation that does not carry me all the way to heaven, wash me perfectly clean, and put me among the glorified who sing constant hosannas around the throne. … 

     Do I live to God a holy life? It is not I, but Christ who lives in me. Am I sanctified? I did not sanctify myself. God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me.

From God Alone The Salvation Of His People

 

A few months ago I began designing a series of graphics under the heading, “Says who?” I took some of the lies of satan and put them side-by-side with the truth from God’s Word. 

When God is our Savior, we are secure. The devil would love to make us think that our salvation is hanging by a thread, that we have to work harder to make sure we don’t miss out, that a single sin can disqualify us from God’s favor, and a hundred other lies. But they are all just that: lies! 

We have to learn to capture each of these thoughts, and if they are thoughts that don’t align with God’s Word, then we need to confront them with the truth. I have found it very helpful to speak these truths out loud. To see some of the ways I suggested thinking differently about the devil’s lies, check out this post on reversing your thinking.

As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” You don’t have to earn your salvation or make your position secure—your salvation has been paid-in-full and you are perfectly secure! Now what you owe to Jesus is to allow Him to take you safely home. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Talking Back To Your Old Family

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.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Talking Back To Your Old Family

     When a man is adopted into a family and comes thereby under the regime of his new father, he has nothing whatever to do with the old family he has left behind and he is released from subjection to those whom he has left. And so, the moment I am taken out of the family of satan, the prince of this world has nothing to do with me as my father and he is no more my father. I am not a son of satan; I am not a child of wrath. 

     …When the law comes to a Christian with all its terrible threats and horrible denunciations, the Christian says, ‘Law! Why do you threaten me? I have nothing to do with you. I follow you as my rule, but I will not have you to be my ruler. I take you to be my pattern and mold, because I cannot find a better code of morality and of life, but I am not under you as my condemning curse.’ …  

     If one man adopts another child into his family, he cannot give it his own nature as his own child would have had. And if that child whom he will adopt should have been a fool, it may still remain so. He cannot make it a child worthy of him. But our heavenly Father, when He comes to carry out adoption, gives us not only the name of children, but the nature of children, too. He gives us a nature like His well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

From Adoption

Charles Spurgeon was called “the prince of preachers” for good reason! His word pictures are so biblically-accurate and so easy to recall, that anyone can grasp the concepts he shares from the Scripture. I have two takeaways from this portion of his sermon: 

First, we need to talk back to our old family. The name “satan” means accuser: he accuses, condemns, slanders, and does his best to separate. When a Christian has been adopted into God’s family, there is no condemnation for the one who now calls God, “Abba Father” (see Romans 8:1-17). 

This is where we need to call out satan’s lies. I mean literally call them out. We need to talk back to the devil and tell him the truth, just as Spurgeon said in his example of talking back to the Law. Let me say it again: literally speak the truth out loud. The devil needs to hear it and your own ears need to hear it too: “I am no longer subject to your jurisdiction. You have no say over me any longer. I am a child of God. My sins have been forgiven and forgotten; therefore, there are no grounds left for any condemnation!” 

Second, we need to talk back to our old nature. After being adopted into God’s family, the Holy Spirit undertakes a process to conform us to the image of Jesus. This process is called sanctification, but I like to call it saint-ification. 

This is where we call out what we used to be. And, again, I challenge to literally speak these words out loud. Don’t say, “I’m so impatient,” but tell yourself (out loud!), “I am becoming the patient saint Jesus wants me to be.” Don’t say, “I’ll never get this right,” but tell yourself, “I am learning more and more about Christ’s nature with each attempt.” Talk back to these old habits from your old family, and tell them about the new saintly habits the Holy Spirit is developing in you. 

The book of Revelation tells us that the saints overcame the slanderous devil by the blood of Jesus and by the words of their testimony. Speak out those life-affirming words every time that slanderer tries to make you forget into whose family you have been adopted!

Poetry Saturday—Trinitie Sunday

Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud,
    And hast redeem’d me through Thy bloud,
    And sanctifi’d me to do good;

Purge all my sinnes done heretofore:
    For I confesse my heavie score,
    And I will strive to sinne no more.

Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
    With faith, with hope, with charitie;
    That I may runne, rise, rest with Thee. —George Herbert

10 Quotes From “Cultivation Of Christian Character”

J. Oswald Sanders has given us a short but powerfully effective book for developing more Christlikeness in each and every Christian. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“In a word, spiritual maturity is Christlikeness.” 

“Christ set the standard in everything. He was never petulant, always calm; never rebellious, always obedient; never fearful, always courageous; never vacillating, always resolute; never pessimistic, always cheerful; never subtle, always sincere; never grasping, always generous; never acting from expediency, always from principle. He is the pattern of spiritual maturity.” 

“So then our spiritual maturity or immaturity is seen in the manner in which we react to the changing circumstances of life. … It has to be learned. Is it not striking that it is recorded of Christ that ‘though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:8-9)? He alone was fully mature. The rest of us are ‘going on to maturity.’ In all of us there are some expressions of our personality in which we react immaturely instead of as mature men of God.” 

“The highest manifestation of spiritual maturity is love. We are only as mature as we are mature in love.” 

“God forbid that we should ever cease to love the gospel in its simplicity, but we must not be content to stay there. We must go on to appreciate increasingly the gospel in its profundity.” 

“There is a place for a constructive contending for the faith. The church has degenerated sadly since Pentecostal days and the servant of the Lord has an important part to play in its revival.” 

“It is possible to get to heaven without living a consecrated life, but the journey there will be barren and disappointing, since consecration is the doorway to undreamed-of joy. Neglect it, fail to seek it, and life will be greatly impoverished. Welcome it, and life becomes inexpressibly enriched.” 

“When we dedicate our lives to God, He consecrate us to His service. We dedicate our lives to Him that He may work His will in us. He consecrates us to Himself that He might make us holy.” 

“It has been suggested that in consecration we bring our lives to God as a blank sheet of paper with our names signed at the bottom. Confident of His love, we invite Him to fill in the details as He will.” 

“It is a life separated to the glory of God. Inherent in the word ‘consecration’ is the idea of separateness. There must of necessity be separation from sin if there is to be separation to God. … The consecrated Christian hates evil, but he has a passion for the right and for the glory of God and Christ. He tests all his actions by the one standard, ‘Is this for the glory of God?’ He will do anything, suffer anything, if only God is glorified. Nothing is too costly to give to the Master.” 

Turning From Moral Folly To Wisdom

“The man who says, ‘I want to go to heaven, but I don’t want to live a pure life; I want to be free to continue with my present life. I will change a little and do better, but I have no desire to be pure,’ or the man who says, ‘I want to escape hell and make heaven my home at last, but I have no particular desire to cease to live as I have lived’ is deceiving himself. You are hearing the language of a moral fool. This is not the language of wisdom, but the folly of the damned. … 

“The penitent man wants to be changed. If you are still sufficiently in love with yourself and all you want is a little improvement, I see no possibility of faith approaching your heart. Unless a man comes to Christ seeking to be a different person, to be humble, meek, and self-effacing, he is not coming to Christ at all. Unless we hate evil and love righteousness, at least to the degree we are able at the moment, we are still in the bonds of iniquity and the enemies of righteousness. … 

“Join me in this prayer: “Oh, I want to be other than what I am. I want to be different. I want to change. I am not satisfied. I want to believe in Thee, and trust in Thee, and throw myself boldly on Thee, and I want to be made like Thyself. I do not want only to escape hell, I want to escape sin. I not only want to go to Heaven at last, but I want to have Heaven in my heart now. I not only want to dwell with the redeemed, I want to be like the redeemed here on earth. I want to be another kind of person.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom of God

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! 

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