HT: Thabiti Anyabwile
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth.'” Jeremiah 1:7
Every one of us has a counter-argument to the call of God. “No, Lord. I am only a _________.” But what God said to Jeremiah he says to you: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). You don’t define yourself. God does. And he never has a trivial thought. He’s not capable of it.
God also said, “To all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7-8). You have been sent into this world by God. You have a mission. He handmade you for it. He is with you every day to deliver you. Do not be afraid.
To fulfill your destiny, you don’t need to mimic someone else’s identity, someone who seems to matter more than you do. The you that you are by creation and redemption in Christ – that basic you is not fundamentally a problem; that you is fundamentally a strategy.
Being who you are is a privilege from God. Trust him. Rise up, speak, serve, move, contribute, as only you can. In the great plan of God, this is your moment.
“The Old Testament is an incomplete book; it is revelation developing towards a climax. There is the constant prediction of a ‘day of the Lord,’ a consummation, a unique revelation of the power and glory of God. . . . This hope is expressed in terms of the past, yet exceeds anything experienced in the past. There is to be a new David, but a greater than David; a new Moses but a greater than Moses; a new Elijah or Melchizedek, but one greater than those who stand out from the pages of the old records. There is to be a greater and more wonderful tabernacling of God, as his presence comes to dwell in a new temple. There is to be a new creation, a new Israel, redeemed, revived, a people made up of those to whom a new heart and a new spirit are given that they may love and obey their Lord.
Old Testament prophecy . . . needed only the coming of the One in whom all the prophecies of the Old Testament would be fulfilled, in whom all those themes of hope in the Old Testament would be gathered up and realized, the Fulfillment and the Fulfiller. . . .”
Francis Foulkes, “The Acts of God,” in G. K. Beale, editor, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? (Grand Rapids, 1994), pages 364-365.
HT: Dane Ortlund.
“In 1951 and 1952 I faced a spiritual crisis in my own life. I had become a Christian from agnosticism many years before. After that I had become a pastor for ten years in the United States, and then for several years my wife Edith and I had been working in Europe. During this time I felt a strong burden to stand for the historical Christian position, and for the purity of the visible church. Gradually, however, a problem came to me—the problem of reality. This had two parts: first, it seemed to me that among many of those who held the orthodox position, one saw little reality in the things that the Bible so clearly says should be the result of Christianity. Second, it gradually grew on me that my own reality was less that it had been in the early days after I had become a Christian. I realized that in honesty I had to go back and rethink my whole position.
We were living in Champery at the time, and I told Edith that for the sake of honesty I had to go all the way back to my agnosticism and think through the whole matter. I’m sure that this was a difficult time for her, and I’m sure that she prayed much for me in those days. I walked in the mountains when it was clear, and when it was rainy I walked backward and forward in the hayloft of the old chalet in which we lived. I walked, prayed, and thought through what the Scriptures taught, as well as reviewing my own reasons for being a Christian.
As I rethought my reasons for being a Christian, I saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist and that Christianity is true. In going further, I saw something else which made a profound difference in my life. I searched through what the Bible said concerning reality as a Christian. Gradually I saw that the problem was that, with all the teaching I had received after I was a Christian, I had heard little about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives. Gradually the sun came out and the song came. Interestingly enough, although I had written no poetry for many years, in that time of joy and song I found poetry beginning to flow again—poetry of certainty, an affirmation of life, thanksgiving, and praise. Admittedly, as poetry it is very poor, but it expressed a song in my heart which was wonderful to me.
This was and is the real basis for L’Abri. Teaching the historic Christian answers, and giving honest answers to honest questions, are crucial. But it was out of these struggles that the reality came, without which a work like L’Abri would not have been possible.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, Complete Works (Westchester, 1982), III:195-196.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” Proverbs 10:9
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13
The word “integrity” is the key word in Proverbs 10:9. A secure walk is not a matter of clever politics but of personal integrity. But what is integrity? This Hebrew word suggests completeness, wholeness, fullness. So, no compromises, and no breaches or gaps or refusals in the face of duty, but rather, saying Yes to the Lord moment by moment. There is a completeness to our life in Christ, with no compartmentalization. The Lord gives all, and he claims all. When we yield all, we walk securely.
Proverbs 10:9 reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-13 and the whole armor of God, and “having done all.” So yesterday I tweeted: “No short-cuts, no half-way Christianity, will stand.” In our age of the ironic inversion of our true grandeur, I do not accept the mocking erosion of who I am as a knight in the service of the King.
What then does that resilient Christianity look like, at least for me? As I thought it through, I came up with a checklist for whole-armor Christianity, as I work out my own salvation:
1. Union with Christ, his centrality in my story, with his complete all-sufficiency for all my need today.
2. Utter loyalty to the whole Bible, with apologetics but without apology.
3. Prayerful dependence on God’s wisdom and power, treating God as real moment by moment.
4. Honesty, openness, confession of sin, enjoying forgiveness in Christ as my constant reality.
5. Full authorization as a husband, father and pastor, accepting no diminishing of my offices but fulfilling my roles with a whole and joyful heart.
6. Readiness to suffer and die at any time in the course of my service.
7. Sincere and costly commitment to the true good of everyone within my influence.
Walking in this integrity, I walk securely, fully armed against the schemes of the devil, entirely equipped to serve my family and my church in a full-orbed way.
In thinking through how to promote the cause of real, biblical revival, Jonathan Edwards urged prayer and fasting, first and foremost. But he also pointed out that prayer, while vitally important, is less personally costly to us than “moral duties, such as acts of righteousness, truth, meekness, forgiveness and love towards our neighbor, which are of much greater importance in the sight of God than all the externals of his worship.” Our hearts before God are the essence of true faith, Edwards agreed. But costly acts of sacrifice, service and advocacy for others are more directly opposite to our natural selfishness and are, therefore, more striking in the sight of God. He cited Luke 3:1-17 and how John the Baptist called the people to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” and thus prepare the way of the Lord. Then Edwards wrote:
“If God’s people in this land were once brought to abound in such deeds of love, as much as in praying, hearing, singing, and religious meetings and conference, it would be a most blessed omen. Nothing would have a greater tendency to bring the God of love down from heaven to earth, so amiable would be the sight in the eyes of our loving and exalted Redeemer, that it would soon as it were fetch him down from his throne in heaven, to set up his tabernacle with men on the earth and dwell with them. I do not remember ever to have read of any remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, that continued any long time, but what was attended with an abounding in this duty.”
Jonathan Edwards, “Thoughts on the Revival,” in Works (Edinburgh, 1979), I:429.
True revival is not a private religious joyride. It is a divine power for change, starting with us Christians who not only pray but also act generously and boldly for the sake of others.
We are accustomed to the biblical message that we should trust God. But here is another — smaller and subordinate, but still important — category: that God would trust us. If we are not faithful (pistoi) with money, which is unrighteous and not worth much, who will entrust (pisteusei) to us the true riches of spiritual wealth and power? In other words, if we can’t handle cheap things wisely, why would God put far more precious things into our hands?
I wonder if we have connected these dots: our prayers for revival, and our use of money. We cannot buy the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18-20). But how we use our money is one indicator, in God’s sight, of our maturity and wisdom and readiness and trustworthiness with greater things, like revival. Francis Schaeffer:
“The ‘true riches’ [of Luke 16:11] obviously have nothing to do with money. To have spiritual power to overcome the awfulness of the post-Christian world — that is true riches. The church is constantly saying, ‘Where’s our power? Where’s our power?’ Jesus’ statement here gives us at least part of the answer. We must use money with a view to what counts in eternity. If a child cannot take his father’s money, go to the store, purchase what is requested and return home with the change, it does not make sense for the father to increase his allowance. So since . . . the money we handle is not our own, if we do not bring it under the lordship of Christ, we will not be given the greater wealth of spiritual power.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, “Ash heap lives,” in No Little People (Downers Grove, 1974), page 266.
Can we in this generation be trusted with the glorious powers of revival? God assesses us not only by listening to how we pray and plead but also by looking at how we spend and give.