What It Means to Accept Christ #AWTOZER

February 26, 2016
What It Means to Accept Christ #AWTOZER
A FEW THINGS, FORTUNATELY only a few, are matters of life and death, such as a compass for a sea voyage or a guide for a journey across the desert. To ignore these vital things is not to gamble or take a chance; it is to commit suicide. Here it is either be right or be dead. Our relation to Christ is such a matter of life or death, and on a much higher plane. The Bible instructed man knows that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that men are saved by Christ alone altogether apart from any works of merit. That much is true and is known, but obviously the death and resurrection of Christ do not automatically save everyone. How does the individual man come into saving relation to Christ? That some do we know, but that others do not is evident. How is the gulf bridged between redemption objectively provided and salvation subjectively received? How does that which Christ did for me become operative within me? To the question “What must I do to be saved?” we must learn the correct answer. To fail here is not to gamble with our souls: it is to guarantee eternal banishment from the face of God. Here we must be right or be finally lost. To this anxious question evangelical Christians provide three answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” “Receive Christ as your personal Saviour,” and “Accept Christ.” Two of the answers are drawn almost verbatim from the Scriptures (Acts 16:31, John 1:12), while the third is a kind of paraphrase meant to sum up the other two. They are therefore not three but one. Being spiritually lazy we naturally tend to gravitate toward the easiest way of settling our religious questions for ourselves and others; hence the formula “Accept Christ” has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many. Though undoubtedly an occasional serious-minded penitent may find in it all the instruction he needs to bring him into living contact with Christ, I fear that too many seekers use it as a short cut to the Promised Land, only to find that it has led them instead to “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life. For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had “accepted” the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son had “accepted” his father’s forgiveness and stayed on among the swine in the far country. Is it not plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it? Allowing the expression “Accept Christ” to stand as an honest effort to say in short what could not be so well said any other way, let us see what we mean or should mean when we use it. To accept Christ is to form an attachment to the Person of our Lord Jesus altogether unique in human experience. The attachment is intellectual, volitional and emotional. The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost and soon his heart is enjoying the exquisite sweetness of His fellowship This attachment is all-inclusive in that it joyfully accepts Christ for all that He is. There is no craven division of offices whereby we may acknowledge His Saviourhood today and withhold decision on His Lordship till tomorrow. The true believer owns Christ as his All in All without reservation. He also includes all of himself, leaving no part of his being unaffected by the revolutionary transaction. Further, his attachment to Christ is all-exclusive. The Lord becomes to him not one of several rival interests, but the one exclusive attraction forever. He orbits around Christ as the earth around the sun, held in thrall by the magnetism of His love, drawing all his life and light and warmth from Him. In this happy state he is given other interests, it is true, but these are all determined by his relation to his Lord. That we accept Christ in this all-inclusive, all-exclusive way is a divine imperative. Here faith makes its leap into God through the Person and work of Christ, but it never divides the work from the Person. It never tries to believe on the blood apart from Christ Himself, or the cross or the “finished work.” It believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole Christ without modification or reservation, and thus it receives and enjoys all that He did in His work of redemption, all that He is now doing in heaven for His own and all that He does in and through them. To accept Christ is to know the meaning of the words “as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17) . We accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future. If this is what we mean when we advise the seeker to accept Christ we had better explain it to him. He may get into deep spiritual trouble unless we do. #BORNAGAIN #REGENERATION #NEWCREATION #INCHRIST #BORNOFGOD #BORNOFHOLYSPIRIT

Spiritual Things Must Be Spiritually Discerned #AWTOZER

February 11, 2016
Spiritual Things Must Be Spiritually Discerned #AWTOZER
THEY WHO THINK ON HEAVENLY THINGS are forced by their psychological structure to use mental raw material borrowed from the earth. And this is certain to show up in their thinking. Even the Bible, to be understood by its readers, must condescend to tell of eternal things in the language of time. It must explain the celestial by means of the mundane. So we find in the Scriptures birds and kings and sheep and soldiers acting as interpreters for Almighty God. Grapes and lilies, gold and stubble, corn and cattle, rain and stars all are used by the Holy Spirit to carry our minds across the vast chasm that separates the spiritual from the material. Doubtless the constant use of figures drawn from our familiar world to express religious ideas leaves a residuum at the bottom of our minds which in some measure gives color if not form to our theology. We struggle to understand spiritual things by comparing them to natural ones; then little by little those natural things become identified with the spiritual completely and the spiritual suffers greatly as a consequence. One task of the illuminated Christian teacher is to internalize worship and raise the religious concepts of church people above the figures and allegories that enabled them to grasp those concepts in the first place. The figure is the box in which the shining jewel is carried; but it is surprisingly easy to mistake the box for the jewel and look for nothing more. Christianity is the religion of the heart. It searches for and finds the man under his wrappings. The gospel reaches the man far in where there is nothing to distinguish him from any other man. Whether he is dark or red or white matters not at all; whether he is a Stone Age aborigine in a grass hut or a civilized white man in an air-conditioned office he is the same man underneath, and it is for that man that the Spirit keeps up His persistent search. It would appear obvious enough once we think of it that the image of natural objects treasured in the mind tends to impede the flight of our souls upward into God. Illustrations which, by their very definition, should let in light, if used often and objectified by the artist’s brush, become opaque at last and actually shut out the light they were intended to admit. A familiar example may help me to make my point. The psalmist David, in the most beautiful hymn in the world, teaches us to think of Christ as our Shepherd. The Lord Jesus carried the idea further and talked tenderly of His sheep and of Himself as the Shepherd who should lay down His life for them. The artists took up the idea and depicted Christ as a real shepherd and their work has become so fixed in the minds of Christians that when our Lord returns many of them will be secretly disappointed if He is not carrying a crook in His hand and a woolly lamb under His arm. In this instance what is intended to assist our understanding, to lift our imagination, to put poetry and music into our hearts, has by our blindness become instead a positive hindrance to our knowledge of Christ. Worse, it has given us not only an inadequate but an erroneous picture of Him. We try to visualize Him and the only image that projects onto the screen is that of an idealized shepherd of the Near East, an image which I am certain Paul and John would never recognize. Paul declared that he knew Christ after the flesh no more, and the same John who had recorded the words of Christ concerning the sheep and the shepherd, when he saw Him as He now is fell at His feet as dead. Always the Church has been tempted to think of God by the use of images and forms, and always when she has so done she has fallen into externalism and spiritual decay. Some of the greatest books apart from the inspired Scriptures have been written to call the church back to a purer view of God. Miguel de Molinos, in his Spiritual Guide, insists that prayer is “an ascent or elevation of the mind to God.” “God is above all creatures,” he says further, “and the soul cannot see Him nor converse with Him if she raise not herself above them all.” The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing says, “Look the loath to think on aught but Himself. So that naught work in thy wit or in thy will, but only Himself. And do that in thee is to forget all creatures that God ever made and the works of them… let them be and take no heed of them. This is the work that most pleaseth God.” I think it may be said with a fair degree of accuracy that all the great devotional theologians of the centuries taught the futility of trying to visualize the Godhead. Molinos warned against every effort of the intellect to image God forth. “She ought to go forward with her love,” he says of the Christian’s soul, “leaving all her understanding behind. Let her love God as He is and not as her understanding says He is, and pictures Him.” The teaching of the New Testament is that God and spiritual things can be known finally only by a direct work of God within the soul. However theological knowledge may be aided by figures and analogies, the pure understanding of God must be by personal spiritual awareness. The Holy Spirit is indispensable. (See John 14:1 to 16:33 and First Corinthians 1:18 to 2:16.)

Resisting the Enemy by A.W.TOZER

February 8, 2016

CHAPTER 26 Resisting the Enemy

SOMEDAY THE CHURCH CAN RELAX her guard, call her watchmen down from the wall and live in safety and peace; but not yet, not yet.  All that is good in the world stands as a target for all that is evil and manages to stay alive only by constant watchfulness and the providential protection of Almighty God. As a man or a nation may be in deepest trouble when unaware of any trouble at all and in gravest danger when ignorant that any danger exists, so the church may be in greatest peril by not recognizing the presence of peril or the source from which it comes.  The church at Laodicea has stood for nineteen hundred years as a serious warning to the whole church of Christ to be most watchful when no enemy is in sight and to remain poor in spirit when earthly wealth increases, yet we appear to have learned nothing from her. We expound the seven letters to the churches of Asia and then return to our own company to live like the Laodicean church. There is in us a bent to backsliding that is all but impossible to cure.  The healthiest man has enough lethal bacteria in him to kill him within twenty-four hours except for one thing— the amazing power of the human organism to resist bacterial attack. Every mortal body must fight its internal enemies day and night. Once it surrenders its hours are numbered. Quite literally it must fight or die.  The reason for this is that the human race inhabits a fallen world which is in many ways hostile to it. Nature as well as man is fallen; and as sin is normal human powers gone astray, so disease results from microscopic creatures once meant to be useful to men but now out of hand and perverted. To live, the body must resist these invisible enemies successfully, and considering our high vulnerability and the number of our enemies it is wonderful that any of us manages to live beyond his childhood.  The church lives in a hostile world. Within and around her are enemies that not only could destroy her, but are meant to and will unless she resists force with yet greater force. The Christian would collapse from sheer external pressure were there not within him a counterpressure sufficiently great to prevent it. The power of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, not optional but necessary. Without it the children of God simply cannot live the life of heaven on earth. The hindrances are too many and too effective.  A church is a living organism and is subject to attack from such enemies as prey on living things. Yet the figure of the human body to stand for the church is not adequate, for the life of the body is nonintelligent, whereas the church is composed of moral beings having intelligence to recognize their enemies and a will to enable them to resist. The human body can fight its enemies even while it is asleep, but the church cannot. She must be awake and determined or she cannot win.  One enemy we must resist is unbelief. The temptation is strong to reject what we cannot explain, or at least to withhold belief till we have investigated further. This attitude is proper, even commendable, for the scientist, but wholly wrong for the Christian. Here is the reason:  The faith of the Christian rests down squarely upon the Man Christ Jesus who declares that He is both God and Lord. This claim must be received by pure faith or rejected outright; it can never be proved by investigation. That is why Christ’s appeal is directed to faith alone. The believer thinks, it is true; but he thinks because he believes, not in order that he may. Faith secures from the indwelling Spirit confirmation exquisitely perfect, but only after it is there without other support than Christ Himself.  Another enemy is complacency “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion.” The contended Christian is not in danger of attack, he has already been attacked. He is sick and does not know it. To escape this we must stir up the gift of God which is in us. We must declare war on contentment and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Again there is self-righteousness. The temptation to feel morally pleased with ourselves will be all the greater as our lives become better. The only sure defense against this is to cultivate a quiet state of continual penitence A sweet but sobering memory of our past guilt and a knowledge of our present imperfections are not incompatible with the joy of the Lord; and they are of inestimable aid in resisting the enemy.  The fear of man brings a snare, said the prophet, and this enemy, too, must be defeated. Our whole modern world is geared to destroy individual independence and bring all of us into conformity to all the rest of us. Any deviation from the pattern, whatever that pattern may be at the time, will not be forgiven by society, and since the Christian must deviate radically from the world he naturally comes in for the world’s displeasure. If he surrenders to fear he has been conquered, and he dare not let this happen.  Other enemies may be identified, such as love of luxury, secret sympathy with the world, self-confidence, pride and unholy thoughts. These we must resist with every power within us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

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