HT: Buddy Lewis
“When God shall be pleased to give unto the people who are called by his name, in a more abundant manner, ‘pastors after his own heart, to feed them with knowledge and understanding,’ when he shall revive and increase a holy, humble, zealous, self-denying, powerful ministry by a more plentiful effusion [outpouring] of his Spirit from above, then, and not until then, may we hope to see the pristine glory and beauty of our religion restored unto its primitive state and condition.”
John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1979), VII:195.
“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.