“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

My Photo
Location: United States

A person God turned around many times.

Friday, April 28, 2017

That practical word, “How”

I would be, dear Savior, wholly Thine;
Teach me how, teach me how;
I would do Thy will, O Lord, not mine;
Help me, help me now.
Wholly Thine, wholly Thine,
Wholly Thine, this is my vow;
Wholly Thine, wholly Thine,
Wholly Thine, O Lord, just now.

Teach me how. Practical godliness. Have you ever heard of the phrase? It used to be thrown around in Adventism when we were a movement. The words, “Practical godliness” are akin to the phrase, “the science of salvation”.

We have often looked at practical godliness as the way a Christian should live. And the Christian life is part of the definition of practical godliness. But if we don’t have the whole definition, then living like a Christian ends up in works-oriented religion and even humanism, or as some have termed it, a social gospel, a religious social-reform movement. This is what the purpose-driven life is all about. But, an earthly oriented  purpose driving me instead of reconciliation with God driving me always ends up in driving down a dead end. Jesus was not there.

“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so…. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jer. 5:31,6:14).

Do we have peace with God? Is our hurt, “the chastisement of our peace” (Isa. 53:3), healed? Isn’t peace with God and the love of the truth the true indicator of whether or not God is with us? “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36). The promise is the Spirit of grace, “the very God of peace” (Isa. 53:3).

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1).

It’s this peace that Satan fears most. When a person has peace with God, and when Oh how he loves His Law (!), then he becomes one of the sons of God, a son of thunder, and he breaks down the gates of hell and sets the captives free. But how can we have that peace with God?

“How should man be just with God? If he will contend with Him, He cannot answer him one of a thousand.” (Job 9:2,3). Jesus doesn’t have to answer anyone. But He loves to answer all who have been humbled by conviction of their sins. “Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly; but the proud He knoweth afar off.” (Ps. 138:6).

“How?” How to be saved? What must I do to be saved? How can I be just before God? How can I have a right standing before the Most High? Why don’t I have constant communion and peace with God? Why doesn’t He answer my prayers? These were the questions that plagued Job and the second Saul. But, they didn’t plague the first Saul. With the first Saul, his relation to God was not up for question by him. It was kingly business as usual. “Unpardonable sin? No worry, I’ve got it covered. The good Lord would never do that to me!”

“And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt Thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But He answered him not that day.… And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul.” (1Sam. 14:37,52).

But, what about me? Could I be doomed with that king poisoned by the forces of darkness?

“And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” (1Sam. 28:6).

That was a scary situation. No word of the Lord because the Lord had left the king. The king was no longer the specially privileged, holy leader who had been appointed by the Lord. Rather he was only a common sinner now.

“And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons.” (1Sam. 16:1).

Why did Jesus not answer Saul? Because He had rejected him. But, why would Jesus be that way? Didn’t He promise that “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37)? But, was Saul coming to Jesus? Obviously not.

Remember that there was the caveat, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” Saul wasn’t coming to the Father. This we will see in the next post.

Saul wasn’t coming to God first, therefore He wasn’t coming to Jesus any more, and therefore all that Jesus could do was make it painfully apparent that His rejection of Saul had taken place. What did Saul do to recapture his salvation? Would he admit that he wasn’t right with God somehow? Would the self-sufficient, politely proud king come to terms with the chastisement of his peace and crumble into a thousand humbled pieces before God and His Son? No, he wouldn’t. Did he cry out to Jesus with all his soul like blind Bartimaeus did?

“And [Bartimaeus] cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Luke 18:38,39).

No, Saul accepted the painful silence, as stressed out and in anxiety as he was. Do we do the same? Why should we endure such misery when we could be healed? Because of sin, pride. We don’t like the connotation and conclusion that comes with the silence from heaven. Like hormones coursing through our bodies, self-sufficiency courses through our sinful wills.

“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Rom. 7:20,21). For some reason, the second Saul’s thought process went the other way from the first Saul. The second Saul concluded that the problem wasn’t with God, but with himself. He saw himself full of sin, and this led to his repentance.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Now we are getting very practical. Repentance is the first step in practical godliness. There really needs to be a class in Adventist schools at every grade level called, Practical godliness 101. It might also be called, Applied Lab for Salvation. It would spare us a world of grief and much wasted time in the Christian life. It would also make us wiser than the world.

There are steps that we must take before we can be stepping into the holy footprints of Jesus. And until we take those early steps we will never come to conversion, but will be cut off from Jesus. Until we take those steps we remain under the dominion of Satan.

So let’s get practical. Peter describes a train of steps that happen after conversion.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2Pet. 1:5-7).

Notice that all of this follows faith. So, if a person doesn’t have a faith relationship with God through Jesus at conversion then all of Peter’s ladder will not lead to greater salvation. Yet, many have missed conversion and peace with God, and have endeavored to keep all of the above “commandments”. But, if faith has not been born in the heart, then keeping the commandments do not lead to everlasting life.

But, what about Jesus’ words, “I know that [the Father’s] commandment is life everlasting” (John 12:50)? His Father’s commandments were life to Jesus because He was right with God. This is not disputed. From day one of His incarnation into Mary Jesus was right with God. And that is how He could keep His Father’s commandment. That is how He could be justified by His works and receive eternal life from His obedience. For every moment of Jesus’ existence, “the Spirit [was] life because of righteousness.” (Rom. 8:10) (And let us remember that eternal life was the Hebrew way of quantifying abundant life—by using time, i.e. eternal.) Therefore, as abundant life starts when Jesus can commune with our hearts, likewise eternal life starts today for all who have fallen on the Stone and whose hearts and self-wills have been broken.

All the good works in the world cannot save the soul who, like Saul, will not do the first works that lead to conversion. Only by being just before God, in right standing with Him, can our works be acceptable to the great Judge. For Saul, the heart was missing. The soul was dead. Therefore, his works were dead. Works without faith is dead. Or, as Morris Venden called it, it is “fighting the battle where the battle isn’t”. Our battle must be in the first works that lead us to repentance and restoration to the God of righteousness. Righteousness must come from faith. And when we have open communion with God through Christ, and we have His Spirit, then our works are life-giving. We can add works to our faith, starting with virtue. Only open communion with God through Jesus can cause the Christian life to be a life-giving, health-giving adventure. But, oh, the many long, empty lives suffered who have tried to climb Peter’s vertical ladder without help from above! That is certainly fighting the wrong battle.

Multitudes have been battling their dungeons and dragons in the dark, assuming that God is with them and in their works, but reaping His chastisement of their peace and having no certainty of salvation. Surely Satan will burn for a long time for getting people wrapped up in the futile effort to be moral before God, imagining to have peace with Him, without first being converted in the heart! The world has been “shut up unto the faith.” (Gal. 3:23). But, we must also remember the human component in this formula for being lost: “My people love to have it so.” (Jer. 5:31). Self-sufficiency is pleasurable and satisfying to the sin-filled heart. And Satan does everything he can to keep us self-preserving, keeping us from appearing weak in the eyes of others (and so, very far away from repentance), self-protected from any ridicule and character assassination as a weakling until our hearts are permanently covered with a thick wall of self-sufficiency and misery. The devil know that when we are weak then we are strong.

More on the How in the next post.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home