Friday, 25 July 2008

Where is the Lord Taking Us?

Where is the Lord Taking Us?

Some years ago, as I was seeking to understand and praying about what the Lord was doing with us in separating us from the institutional church, I got the picture above. It may help some of you, as it enlightened me, as to the direction in which Father was taking us.

The upper part of the first section of the picture represents the existing situation where churches are enclosed in denominational walls and divided from each other. In the lower part I tried to illustrate the word from the Lord which initiated our move out. As I explain in the first part of “My Search for the Church” that word was that if we wanted Church Father’s way our ways would have to die and be buried so that He might resurrect it according to His will. Perhaps now I would add a picture of some simply escaping over the walls to look for a better way.

In the second section is reflected what is the experience of many when they come out. They find themselves very alone and isolated. Why should this be? In Hosea 2:14-20 is the key. In that passage the prophet describes a wilderness experience in which he acts with great compassion and love to win the soul to a deep intimacy with Himself. It concludes with the moving words, “And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” With that threefold vow the believer is bound to His Lord in love and is drawn to know Him in an experience deeper and more real than ever before. We must not fear that wilderness, but gladly permit the Lord to have his way.

In the third section I see little groups, twos and threes of these wooed believers informally coming together to interact in fellowship together whether in homes, around the meal table or somewhere in the open air or a restaurant. They are not in any religious organization. As expressed by Zechariah they are “Villages without walls.” When they are together their conversation is about the Lord. The prophet Malachi pictures such groups in 3:16-17, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another; the Lord heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and thought on His name. They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act.”

In the fourth section we see God’s ultimate purpose as all these villages are bound together, not with the ties of institutions, but in a living body. No humanly devised walls now separate. The only wall is the presence of God around the whole as expressed again in Zechariah 2:5.and He alone has the glory within.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Untheological devotion

As I mentioned in my last blog I am rereading Andrew Murray’s enriching commentary on the letter to the Hebrews in which he expounds the astounding greatness and wonder of our Lord Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done and all that He now is for us as our high priest in heaven. As I read I find myself again and again lifting my heart in worship and thanksgiving for so great a Saviour.

Some time ago I noted in my diary a comment from one of Handley Moule’s studies in Scripture. He says we must “Beware of an untheological devotion” On that I wrote the following:

True devotion only springs from knowledge of God and from an understanding in the spirit of the revelation of Christ in the Scriptures. Such theological devotion has a firm foundation. It is not based on mere sentiment or emotion. To grasp, for example, the soaring theology of Colossians 1:15-20 is to fall down in worship of the glorious one revealed there. I fear that much of the weakness of believers today is due to Moule’s “untheological devotion”. Lacking a solid base devotion tends to evaporate when the emotions subside and there is no excitement to fuel it.

A few days later in my reading of a book by P.T. Forsyth written in the early 1900s I found this which is equally relevant for today. “We are living in a time when spirituality without a positive content seems attractive to many minds. And numbers may grow of those favouring an undogmatic Christianity which is without apostolic or evangelical substance, but cultivates a certain emulsion of sympathetic mysticism, intuitional belief and benevolent action”

Only today in a weekly Christian publication in New Zealand is an article lamenting the neglect of the Scriptures by Christians. The article states that research has shown that in this country only 11% of Christians read the Bible daily and 13% weekly.

I am reading also a fascinating biography of William Tyndale the man who, at the cost of his life gave us the Scriptures in English in the 16th. Century. His God-given passion was that every ploughboy in England would have the word of God in his own language. The church of the day branded him a heretic, banned his translations and he had to flee England to the continent, where he was hounded and hunted by his ecclesiastical enemies until they finally found him and burned him at the stake. But his work was done and his translations were the food of those who led the Reformation in England. What a debt we owe to that courageous man. He knew where the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ was to be found and he knew that in the Scriptures was the key to true devotion. May we never neglect this treasure.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Keep Pressing on!

I recently came across this quote from the great Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan,

“Time is flying. The sun is westering. I want the last lap to be the lap of a man who never forgets that he is a servant of Jesus Christ, taking orders from Him, doing His work and, what is very important reporting to Him only.” To that I found myself saying,” Amen!”

Currently I am rereading that wonderful study of the Epistle to the Hebrews by Andrew Murray entitled “The Holiest of All.” What a spiritual feast it is! Here I found confirmation of Campbell Morgan’s words. In 3:14 the author says, “We are God’house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope firm to the end.”

In 3:14, “We share in Christ if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.”

In 6:13-14, “We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realising the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith & patience inherit the promises.”

No wonder the writer also exhorts us to “Run with perseverance the race that is set before us” The race we run is not a sprint but a marathon. May we all be encouraged to press on, so that, at the last we may be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”