Monday, June 12, 2017

What Is Greatness?

Pastor Jack Maxwell and I were on our way to our Thursday morning Bible study when our conversation turned toward the subject of baptism. He said that he had been baptized in the Jordan River and went on to note that this stream - saturated with Biblical significance - was really not much more than a rivulet.

That immediately started me thinking for our discussion topic that morning was the calling of the Twelve as recounted in Mark’s Gospel. Men of whom it would be said “they have turned the world upside down.” Yet at their calling not one of them was of any particular significance - actually quite the opposite. 

Many are the appellations of the Jordan River as a mighty torrent on par with the River Nile. Yet in reality it is only a meandering stream. The reason we regard it in overflowing terms is that it serves the purpose of God. “And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” Joshua 3:17  It was the door - opened by the Lord -  into the covenanted promised land. 

Another geographical feature replete with Biblical import is Mount Zion. What makes Zion great? “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King.” Psalm 48:2  Geographically speaking Zion is no great lofty mountain - but only a small hill within the confines of Jerusalem. What makes it great is the purpose of God - elect and chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. 

The Die of God

So it is with the called people of God. Great men of God or men of a Great God?  It is when a man or woman is struck by the sovereign die of God that they become great for the indelible image that is now impressed on them is that of the person of the Firstborn of many brethren. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power.” Hebrews 1:3 

The chosen of God are perpetually upheld by the word of His power! As Charles Spurgeon writes: “He bought us, sought us, brought us in, and has so far wrought us to His image that we shall be fought for by Him with all of His might.”

Returning to our discussion passage for the morning: “And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.” Mark 3:13.  There was no hesitation for the call was irresistible - even on the one who “is a devil.” 

Notice the efficacy of the call . . .   “not according to their will, works and merits, but according to the sovereign will and grace of Christ, who chose them, and not they him:” John Gill.  From John’s Gospel: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13 KJV  It is the sovereign will of God that does prevail against all of the tests of time - an immutable rock: “For their rock is not as our Rock,...” 

I Chose You!

Looking again to John: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16  Relationship with God the Father is initiated by the Son - it is sustained by Him - and it culminates in Him. No other foundation exists for lasting fruitfulness. 

He doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29  From Paul’s bequeathment to his young disciple: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,...” 2 Timothy 1:9 (12)  

The Reformed Evangelical theologian D. A. Carson writes: We are not chosen because we are choice - we become choice once we have been chosen.  “For we are his workmanship (God's masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 Once this revelation dawns in our hearts, purpose becomes birthed in us.

Toby Mack has written in his testimony song: 

When love broke through
You found me in the darkness...
My chains are broken 
And it all began with You 

The Son prays to His Father: “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” John 17:12 In making sure that all of His elect were secure His intercession continues: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;” 17:20 

Soli Deo Gloria

As we draw to a summation, we see that the object of all of this is Soli Deo Gloria - To the Glory of God Alone. For the sound of the will of man - the hammer, chisel or any other iron tool - cannot be heard at the site of the building of the Temple of God: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 ESV 

Paul dashes all possibility of pretense with these words: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-29 KJV

It has been said of Paul that he “descended into greatness.” From the dust of the Damascus road God would lift Him up as His herald: ‘But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”’ Acts 9:15 

For a postscript: 

Even the lowly ass (donkey) becomes mighty when the Lord chooses to speak through it. “But (Balaam) was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” 2 Peter 2:16 KJV  “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam,...” Numbers 22:28 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For He Must Reign...! (The Eschatology of the Reformers)

Recently - not sure of the process - I was arrested by these for words: “For He must reign.” I then found myself in the grip of knowing I must delve into the anticipatory laps of eternity’s great flood tide. 

“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” 1 Corinthians 15:25

The culmination of this covenant promise is expressed no where more fully than in Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome. “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21

In Hope

Let us be assured by that two word clause in the midst of this passage: “in hope.” “The one thing which takes out the sting from this impoverished and degraded condition is Hope.” Charles Ellicott 

Some versions use the word earnest instead of anxious - for an earnest has been given as a pledge that futility has not the last word. “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5 

The Reformers

In 2017 we stand on the eve of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Reformed Theology is also know as Covenant Theology. When God Himself makes a promise - a covenant - it remains inviolate until it is fully accomplished. 

A theological word for what we are dealing with here is eschatology which could be defined as a perspective on last things.  Yet, we cannot look toward last things without looking back to first things - else we lose our bearings. 

Concerning the eschatology of the Reformers one author notes: “The eternal purpose of God concerning all things is viewed in connection with God's eternal covenant of grace with His people in Christ, a covenant that embraces all of creation too. Christ, the Head of the church and creation and the Mediator of the covenant, is at the center of God's eternal purpose with all things. All that God has done in the past, is doing in the world now, and will do yet in the future is for the realizing of His covenant plan in Christ. The end (goal) to which all things are leading is the realization of God's gracious covenant of redemption in Christ. When the end comes in the return of Christ, God's covenant will be complete.” We might add, this is the consummation or the summing up of all things in Christ. 

The Reformers knew nothing of our current late great fascination with a left behind escapist mentality. This schema has its roots in the 19th century - far removed from the robust eschatology of the 16th or even the glorious vision of the 4th century’s Augustine of Hippo. Indeed, the contrast is stark. 

Covenant Promise

There is nothing that has happened in the eons of time that has abrogated the covenant promise for His creation - although the attempts have been frequent and legend. Not even the capitulation of the first couple to the wiles of the serpent - for with the resultant consequences also came the eternal hope into which Paul was surely gazing: “He will crush your head,.”   

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 It is not possible for the creature to eternally corrupt the creation of the Incorruptible. For what God witnessed, he witnessed to Himself - for man created from the dust of the earth had not yet received the breath of life. “...since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,...” Hebrews 6:13b Thus the promise is unconditional for it is grounded on the faithfulness of God alone - the believer’s confident perseverance begins and ends here.

Not Annihilation 

His plan for all of creation is not annihilation but transformation. “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”  Genesis 9:16-17 An everlasting covenant initiated and maintained by God Himself remains eternally immutable - impervious to prevarication. 

This is the blessed hope and the singular purpose of the church. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23

There can be no greater motivation than to be incorporated into God’s purpose by the means of Sovereign Grace. And with that comes an incumbent responsibility to husband all of God’s creation - not to disdain it. An erroneous view of eschatology may cause us to abdicate our God ordained responsibility and thus invalidate the legitimacy of our witness. 

White-Hot Passion

The fire of God is His white-hot passion for His bride - the wife of the Lamb. One whom Christ will present to Himself without spot or wrinkle. Metaphorically speaking it is heat and pressure that serves to accomplish this glorious transformation.

His plan is one of purification not destruction. For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.”  Malachi 3:2-3 everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean,  Numbers 31:23 

The purpose of the bow is for God to remind Himself of the covenant His has established on behalf of His creation. “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.” Genesis 9:14-15

All Things New 

Grounded in the perspective of the beginning of time we gaze forward to the culmination: And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  Revelation 21:5-6

When the Sovereign Lord says, “It is done.” we may rest in the assurance that it is done indeed. His eternal covenantal plan stands the tests of time only becoming more exquisite to the praise of His glory and grace.  

“Creation longs for His return, 
When Christ shall reign upon the earth; 
The bitter wars that rage 
Are birth pains of a coming age. 
When He renews the land and sky, 
All heav’n will sing and earth reply 
With one resplendent theme: The glories of our God and King!”1

From the Fifth Sola of the Reformation: 

“Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone!”


1 Keith and Kristyn Getty with Stuart Townend - “Creation Sings The Father’s Song.”  These modern hymnists compose from the  theological foundation of the Reformers.  


Friday, November 4, 2016

Innocent blood cries out!

“They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” Psalm 106:38

Matthew Henry: “Our case is awful when the outward church is considered. When nations professing Christianity, are so guilty as we are, no wonder if the Lord brings them low for their sins. Unless there is general and deep repentance, there can be no prospect but of increasing calamities. The psalm concludes with prayer for completing the deliverance of God's people, and praise for the beginning and progress of it. May all the people of the earth, ere long, add their Amen.” 

For a person who desires to be the Chief Executive of our nation and at the same time declares, “An unborn person has no rights” is nothing less than reprehensible.  No greater violence can be imagined then the ripping of a living conscious innocent human being from the supposed safety and security of his or her mother’s womb.  When I contemplate such a heinous atrocity, the only way I can describe the feeling is one of sheer anguish.  

John Calvin writes: “For the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

I have no doubt that at the moment of conception, that my children, although lovingly nourished and protected by the body of their Mom, possessed a body of their own. Every fiber of her being desired to protect that virtuous body being formed within her own - and could not conceive of doing violence to that precious child.  The prophet speaks, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;...” Jeremiah 1:5 

From a letter published within the last few days by a coalition of Black Pastors concerning the upcoming presidential election: “Particularly relevant is the innocence of the unborn child. The Bible places an extremely high value on human life and particularly on the lives of the innocent who are under the special protection of God. Those who take the life of the innocent violate a key biblical principle as well as a fundamental principle of natural justice.”

Can any nation - even this nation - who may by a majority vote give acquiescence to this dreadful crime, escape the fate of ancient Judah who were carried away into captivity because the walls of Jerusalem were filled with the shedding of innocent blood?

For innocent blood cries out to the Lord for vengeance. “The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.” 

I will lay it waste;
            It will not be pruned or hoed,
            But briars and thorns will come up.
            I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”

      For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel
            And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
            Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
            For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
Isaiah 5:6-7 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Can that which is lost find itself?



"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

How often we glibly remark something such as this, “He found God.” The last time I checked God wasn’t lost. “no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Romans 3:11 

Must it be said that even while we were not looking for Him He found us? “For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God.” Psalm 86:10  From my friends in the African-American Church I often hear this declaration: “He is God all by Himself!”

The prophet announces this all-consuming passion of the Father for His chosen ones. "As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.”  Ezekiel 34:12

What role does the lost coin have in being returned to the purse? It must be sought by the One longing for its return, fetched from its forlorn place of estrangement and deposited securely in the pouch which is so near His bosom.  

Paul, who was not only not looking for the Savior, but was violently opposing Him {“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”} later writes. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” Colossians 1:13 The commentator Charles Ellicott expounds: “Delivered” is “rescued,” properly applied to dragging [italics added] a person out of battle or the jaws of danger.”

This deliverance is with, by and through the sole prerogative of God alone in the Son of His love. He is able to deliver those who have no power to deliver themselves.  “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6  Who determines the time but the Father in Christ our Lord alone? 

“In Him we were also chosen as God's own, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything by the counsel of His will,...” Ephesians 1:11 

For another metaphor:

Is it possible to birth yourself? Or even cooperate in the process? It does not depend on the will of the child - nor even that of the mother. There is something - or in the spiritual Someone - that transcends all of human frailty. Concerning the children of God: “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13 “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth,...” James 1:18 

And we might add - once the process is initiated, can it be aborted?  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

In this truth lies our confidence and our supreme motivation to love and good deeds. “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works,...” Hebrews 10:23-24 

And from a modern hymn:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”

Solus Christus - In Christ Alone 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Love Is A Choice - Really?

“Love is a choice.” This is a common evangelical mantra.  When we hear it spoken we all nod our heads in benign acquiescence. Yet, we would just as knowingly assert that God is love and the ability to love emanates solely from Him.

I had been musing on this seeming inconsistency when I just heard these words on the radio.

“Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, 
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move. 
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are, 
and make me love you as I ought to love.”

The hymnist equates the love for God with the coming of the Spirit of God. His desperate, but eternally effectual plea is, “make me love you as I ought to love.” This plea is effectual for it is totally congruent with the pantheon of covenantal love. 

The apostle who’s only response to the divine unction was, “Who are you Lord?” writes “...God's love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 He would also maintain, “For who is able to resist his will?" Romans 9:19


He is the one who suddenly found himself embraced in the strong cords of divine love on that road to Damascus. A love so sure that he was held forever secure in its unyielding grasp.  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 

The love of God - even the love for God - is a gift, not a reward. We can only give to God what He has given us to give to Him. There is no other acceptable offering. 

If love be a matter of man’s fickle choice then the worth of the object must take its central place. It is only the love that proceeds from God that is truly capable of loving without merit being its raison d’etre

Our hymnist continues...

Teach me to love you as your angels love, 
one holy passion filling all my frame: 
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove; 
my heart an altar, and your love the flame. 

This psalmody is wholly congruent with the testimony of scripture. ‘Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."’ Galatians 4:6 ‘We are His children, not by the exercise of our will, but by the will of God.  “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”’ John 1:13 Notice that we are His sons by the exercise of His will and the subsequent result is the coming of the Eternal Spirit - not before. 

Would there be an inherent ability to love - then we might possibly be able to will ourselves to love, i.e. make a choice.  If the futility of such transcends our abilities, our gaze and our petition must intrinsically be toward the One of whom is its beginning and its fulfillment. Thus the exhortations to love which are a aplenty in the Word of God.

Paul also writes: “For the love of Christ constraineth us;...” 2 Corinthians 5:14 Sometimes I just love the old language. This one predates the King James, for it is from the Geneva Bible - the Bible of the Reformers. Their note on this verse is “Wholly possesses us.”  It is they - who in their day and to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude - delivered the church from slavish legalistic fealty into the glorious liberty of the children of God. More recent translations put it this way: “For Christ's love compels us...”  I remembering reading a commentator once who said it like this: “controls like a fever.”  When one is in the grip of an intense fever, he is under the control of something that is decidedly outside of his self-will.

This effectually drives the final nail into the coffin of vain boasting. And the believer is thus made the beneficiary of a hope that does not disappoint. “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 GSB 

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 NIV 

Our love for God - and our subsequent love for one another - has its genesis in God Himself. Thus it is this ability - when all other giftings and attributes pass away - which will remain.

Turning to another hymnist - Charles Wesley:

God only knows the love of God!
O that it more were shed abroad
in this poor longing heart!

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

“I Chose You!”

Recently I was receiving encouragement as I read a post from a Christian acquaintance when my eyes fell upon this words:  “If you will allow Him..”  Astounded I queried, “Allow Him!?”  Who could possibly be addressed here? Certainly not the One who is “upholding all things by the power of His word,...”  

And then it got worse: “if you will just give Him a chance....” Once again, “A chance!?” Can the Sovereign purpose of our Eternal God be reduced to chance? Weymouth translates Romans 8:28: “Now we know that for those who love God all things are working together for good--for those, I mean, whom with deliberate purpose He has called.”  It is impossible for deliberate purpose and chance to coexist. Or can chance engender purpose? May it never be! The purposed of God are born not according to the will of the flesh, but according to the mandate of God. “Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” James 3:11 

denial of the power

Yet these statements are no mere anomaly.  Modern evangelicalism is rife with such words as these.  My concern is that we are - whether inadvertently or with intentionality - holding onto a form of godliness rather than being gripped by immutable purpose. The inevitable consequence being the denial of the “power thereof.” The result being chronic and systemic ineffectualness. 

Can such a gospel - if it could even be called so - have any power unto perseverance and fidelity? Christ addresses this issue authoritatively:  "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16  Prevarication must yield each and every time to absolute verity. 

“These words plainly teach us that our salvation comes only from the favour and gracious goodness of the everlasting God towards us, and of nothing that we do or can deserve.” Geneva Bible - Notes

intercessory confidence

Herein is our intercessory confidence - by this means and this means alone can we approach the Throne of Eternal Providence: “I chose you!” May this truth grasp us to the core of our being and cause us to soar from the doldrums of finite conception and enter into the courts of eternal intent.  For He has caused us to be accepted in the Son of His Love (Ephesians 1:6) - and at the consummation we will be presented to the Lamb by our Faithful Father as the reward for His suffering. 

Volition is in the hands of the Progenitor - and in He alone. “who works all things after the counsel of His will,” Ephesians 1:11 Herein is rooted our confidence and herein we receive the nourishment that yields lasting fruitfulness. And thus all to the praise of His Glory! “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:19 

The “Apostle of the Heart Set Free” writes: “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Ephesians 3:11-12 

eternal abundance

There is only one type of soil that is capable of grasping and nourishing the precious seed of eternal abundance - it is that which has been plowed, tilled and furrowed by the Great Husbandman.  "Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." Mark 4:8 Lest we succumb to the allure of deism or the “the man upstairs” phantasm it is also He who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Turning once again to our Savior’s words to His disciples - not to them alone - but also to those that will believe according to their word (John 17:20): "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go...”

So we go!

Solus Christus - By Christ Alone

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Slippery Slope.....

While Nancy and I were heading up the interstate to spend Christmas Day with our kids she began to recount to me a Christmas Eve conversation she had with them while I had otherwise been occupied with the grand-kids.  They recounted contemporary instances of ministries that had been born in the favor and nurture of God, but had later descended into financial and sexual misconduct - and maybe even worse the manipulation and exploitation of their adherents. 

We were reminded of something we once heard from John Wimber: “When a movement begins to denominate it begins to die.”

The Down-Grade

In his later life Charles Spurgeon became embroiled in a slippery slope that has come to be known as The Down-Grade Controversy. He suggested that denominations often "got on the downgrade" when they abandoned a system of theology which emphasizes God's sovereignty in salvation in favor of one which makes human will the decisive factor. 

How does this happen? And why is it so oft repeated? It suddenly occurred to me that it is the result of the abdication of the guiding principle contained in the following verse.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. Romans 9:16

Clear Warning

This verse should sound the clear warning clang of the buoy - or reveal the fog piercing beam of the lighthouse - that warns the ship when it is nearing the treachery of the hidden reefs. For the abandonment of this truth results in shipwreck indeed. 

Our modern Evangelicalism - indeed even all of Christendom - has largely lost sight of the great effectual certainty of this verse.  The result is that our witness to a watching world has lost its vibrant relativity. Even though we may mouth the signal Gospel truth - not by works - our attitudes and our actions indicate that our confidence lies elsewhere. 

Although my musings as an “Evangelical Agnostic” address our current construct - there is nothing new to this dilemma for Paul himself wrote: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

Clarion Call

This is a clarion call to diligence.  The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to be diligent to enter into the Sabbath rest of God - not one day only, but a continual lifestyle. There is no lack of subtleties awaiting as little foxes to rob our vines of the sweet fruit of pure devotion to the One who has declared that He would finish what He has begun in us.  

While on a fruit metaphor, we must be reminded: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain,...” John 15:15 If we become severed from this principle we may maintain a facade of fruitfulness, yet in reality a close inspection will reveal no ripe nourishing fruit.

When an individual leader or a whole movement loses its connecting life-flow to the mercy of God they or it then begin to project on others their own sense of inadequacy and even failure. As Paul wrote to the Church at Colossae, these machinations then have no value whatsoever: “but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” 2:23 NIV The watchwords of Christ Himself are then trodden underfoot: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,...” 

A Ringing 

I was given an illustration once while ministering to leaders in Uganda on the subject of religious deception. Once while deer hunting I decided to use a .44 Magnum revolver. As I lined up my sights on a deer and dropped the hammer the resulting blast was felt on my face and caused a ringing in my left ear that remains there until this day.  May Christ’s resounding authoritative shout on the Cross - “It is finished!” - drown out all seductions that would seek to lure us from the purity of devotion.  And set before our eyes a vision of the white-hot mercy of God. 

For it is we the children of God “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13