Pondering Truth In Christ
What is the goal of the Christian faith? It's quite clearly stated in the passage included.
There is also the admonition to "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Can’t you see for yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you - unless you actually fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Maybe a needed wakeup call.
People have all sorts of self concocted smorgasbord do it yourself man-made religion today, including errors ancient and trendy. Church leaders and pastors often do not seem to address this for the most part. (Another story for another day.)
Maybe it's time to consider the whole counsel of God according to HIS word.
Pray for discernment.
Pray continually for the Holy Spirit.
Everybody loves to hear "Jesus loves me". And while this is true, He loves us enough to not leave us dead in our trespasses and sin, but wants to restore us spirit, soul, and body to what He intends us to be - the bearers of His own radiant likeness in a world under the domain of darkness.
This understanding seems lost in the 21st century church of name it and claim it and other psycho-Babylon “best life now” ideas. But if we are going to move through times of tribulation, such gems of ancient truth need to be remembered and embraced.
Italicized below is from T. Austin-Sparks: The On-High Calling - Chapter 6
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"We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8 ESV)
The Lord Jesus said 'I am the true Vine,' and it was prophesied of Him that He would tread the winepress alone. The Cross was His winepress. How He was pressed in the Cross! He was crushed and broken, but out of that breaking has come the Life which you and I have, and which so many in all the nations have received. That is true, in a measure, of His Church. It was out of the breaking and crushing of the Church that the Life came to the world. And that is true of every member, every branch of the vine. If we are to fulfill this true, living ministry, it will only be through suffering, through the winepress, through pressure and through breaking. Paul said: "We were pressed out of measure, above strength" (2 Corinthians 1:8 – A.V.) – but what Life has come out of that man's pressure! It is like that. We are not talking about preaching and Bible teaching, but about this great ministry of Christ giving His Life through us. It may be passed on to others through preaching, or through teaching, or through living, but if it is His Life it will come out of experiences of suffering. A preacher or a teacher who has never suffered will never minister Life.
Well, this may not seem a very pleasant outlook, but it is true. The best doctors and nurses are those who know something about suffering themselves. Some are just professional, treating you as a case – you are just case number blank. But, ah! there are others who treat you as a person, a human being, who care for you. If you ask why, you may find that they have a background of suffering themselves. They know just a little of what you are going through. We have read in the Letter to the Hebrews: "We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are... He is able to succor them that are tempted" (Hebrews 4:15, 2:18). He has been the way of the winepress and we have received the benefit."
I would only offer this from my own perspectives, as to what this is producing in us, and the long term big picture view behind it, which gives meaning to all suffering.
"And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God." Romans 8:17-19.
And - "And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" Hebrews 6:5-7.
No new wine is made without grapes being crushed, grapes -“fruit” - rightly cultivated and pruned which grows from the Vine.
From T. Austin Sparks, a recent email: "Why must Christians who have the knowledge of the Scriptures in the letter, run about here and there to seek advice from others on matters which vitally affect their own spiritual knowledge? I do not mean that it is wrong to get counsel, wrong to know what other children of God of experience think or feel about matters. But if we are going to build our position upon their conclusions, we are in great danger. The final authority and arbiter in all matters is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the anointing."
My thought on this is, it depends on who you're going to for advice. And do you know the Voice of the Shepherd well enough to not get the wool pulled over your eyes by deceiving religious spirits?
This brought to mind Ecclesiastes 12:11-13. "The words of the wise are like goads, and the anthologies of the masters are like firmly embedded nails driven by a single Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this is the whole duty of man."
This is certainly the case, but there needs to be some balance in this. I've seen people go off in their own direction, thinking that all they need is "Jesus and me," (yours truly being one case) and wind up more or less shipwrecked and off course, leaving behind the Scriptures.
There is also a place for being in the body of Christ, with access to the wisdom of the truly wise such as the ancient Fathers, and those manifesting saintliness (Christlikeness) who have long walked in the Lord - which we should respect, cherish, and seek. That's because this is no cake walk and we need all the knowledgeable help we can get.
Today everybody writes books, makes DVDs, has a You Tube channel, and so forth. But how much of that is life sustaining Wisdom? These are 21st century forms of the "many books," in other words, as Ecclesiastes mentions. Everybody is thinking he has something to say, when the wiser course might be to watch, pray, and learn to listen - the "Right to remain silent."
I see this as the balance of having the Scriptures as our map, and the Holy Spirit within as the "HGPS", the "Holy Ghost Positioning System." Both should agree and confirm each other, providing discernment and direction. And we should welcome those who became holy and wise long before us, and seek such counsel, since it's easy to become tripped up by personal pride, and fall headlong into error, especially in today's spiritual climate where just about anything goes.
"Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall." 1 Corinthians 10:11,12.
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be over past. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”
Sometimes God will draw our attention to the most amazing truth while in His Presence in prayer and meditation on His Word. There are times - sometimes long stretches of time - where we wonder if God is really involved at all in our life or in the outrageous affairs of humanity. We drift along on edgy faith, when all of a sudden, He will let us know He’s right here right now - because we simply need to know it.
The foregoing was the focus of prayer and meditation time this morning, yet rather than going into any sort of deep exploration of it, my attention was drawn to a pattern in the Psalms of the King who was after God’s own heart. There are three things present in the Psalms: Supplication - bringing our issues before the Lord; Affirmation - where the supplicant affirms, based on God’s promises and his experiences with them, that the Lord will answer and intervene; and Praise - a continual flow of gratitude and thanksgiving in the confident tone of the psalmist’s prayerful songs - no matter what the circumstances, and before the needed divine intervention occurs.
It was then that I realized that the first letters of these words make up an acronym: “SAP”: Supplication. Affirmation. Praise. I also felt strongly prompted to do a search on the word “sap,” in terms of maple trees and how they produce the sap that is made into sweet, delicious maple syrup.
This begs the question, that if I’m “frozen” in circumstances, but I’d really like to be a prayer warrior like the King was, and have victory, how do I “get the SAP running”, so to speak?
As I read along I was profoundly delighted at what was revealed. It became obvious that God has always used nature to reveal His ways. But before we get to that, we may want to notice that as David cried out to the Lord about his very real and very serious problems, we see him always affirming right behind that, without a doubt, that the Lord would answer and save. In faith he got the SAP running and never doubted that God would move on his behalf - as Soon As Possible (SAP again!) - from God’s perspective, timing, and at His leading.
Likewise we upon whom the culmination of the ages has come in Jesus Christ, the Messiah the Son of God, ought therefore all the more confidently call out and draw near to God, as we affirm His answer even before it materializes, giving Him the praise and glory due His name.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds throughChrist Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
We can rejoice in His ever present presiding over all things. In so doing - and then in gratefulness moving with the Holy Spirit by faith (our “sacrifice" of praise!) - we confidently and successfully not only resist the evil one, but send him packing. Out with the bad, in with the good! (And a note of caution: faith is often not about feelings.)
According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, temperatures above 32℉ cause positive pressure within the wood of the maple tree. It is the pressure within that makes the SAP flow!
When we are under pressure, that’s the time to stop pouting and start praying. In fact, we should get into the pattern of praying without ceasing whether or not we’re under pressure. That way we’re in the habit when the going gets rough. May the Holy Spirit cause us to see the pressures of our life in this light of prayer at all times - sometimes pressures are the wakeup call from God to get the SAP flowing. Now there’s a lesson about King David’s kind of praying!
Did he have pressure? The Psalms are his prayer hymnal about that very thing. We can also read his story in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2:11.
The Psalms are still the very best and most relevant “prayer hymnal” for the people of God under pressure to pray today as they were then. Especially when we may feel tongue tied in our praying - the “frozen chosen.” So we can bring on the SAP through Supplication, Affirmation, and Praise - in concert with Israel’s foremost king and songwriter!
This is just my thought, but it seems like the Sugar Maple might be a very good Tree of Life symbol. We can rejoice that His intention toward us is “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
How sweet it is! “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” Psalm 34:8,9.(
You can read all about maple trees and sap here: https://www.massmaple.org/about-maple-syrup/how-sugar-maple-trees-work/ )
These are some of the most mind and life transforming truths ever communicated by God our heavenly Father through His Apostle Paul: Ephesians 2:4-10 and Colossians 3:1-5. This is the truth that will set us free. Free to be what God would make of us.
What do these passages show us?
We died to transgressions in which we were once dead. Ponder that. A reality.
We are spiritually with Christ in the heavenly places, seated there by God the Father himself. A reality.
We are His workmanship, created anew through Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension. A reality.
He created us new in Christ Jesus to walk in His good works. A reality.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:4-10.
Since this is so, we keep seeking the things above where we are raised up in Him. Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.
The promise: “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:9-13.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11.
Look up, learn by heart, and pray according to Ephesians 1:15-23 and Ephesians 3:14-21! The Holy Spirit answers these prayers by implanting in our inner being the vision God has for us in Christ Jesus. As He answers, we can begin to see, to perceive, to comprehend.
It’s what we must have - His vision for us!
“Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. A servant cannot be corrected by words alone; though he understands, he will not respond.” Proverbs 29:18,19. Book learning of religious facts or history - even though we understand and give mental assent to it - is insufficient to bring any lasting change; words alone do not correct God’s servants. There must be a divine vision - a revelation - to the inner being, supernaturally imparted by the Holy Spirit, to commence this work of making real on earth what is in Heaven.
We set our mind on the truth that is above - not on the earth, in spite of what goes on here on earth. We are in the world but not of it, radically so.
We have already died in Christ and our new life is hidden with Christ in God! So our business is to be about manifesting on earth, through faith, what already is in heaven.
Not only are we in Christ, but He is in us - “the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints. to whom God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Colossians 1:26-28.
When Christ our very life appears, we too will be revealed with Him in glory.
Therefore we are to regard ourselves and our bodies dead to sin - immorality, passion, evil desire, and greed. These are idolatry.
"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. Col 3:1-5.
We are dead to the old Adam nature which has been supplanted by that of the new Adam Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, is available to all. Praise God for this magnificent plan, vision, and gift of salvation.
“It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28,29.
See Acts 2. This is how it looks when what is in Heaven is made real on earth!