There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Doctrines In Dormancy

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." John 5:39-40

"We could take up everything there is about Christ as doctrine, as teaching, but that is not what we are after. That is not what the Lord is after at all. It is Christ Himself. He Himself is the living, personal embodiment, the personification of all truth, of all life and the Lord's purpose and will for us is not to come to know truth in all its manifold aspects, but to know the Person, the living Person in a living way, and that the person being imparted to us, and we being incorporated into the Person, all the truth becomes living truth rather than merely theoretical or technical truth." T. Austin Sparks "The School of Christ"

"Christianity is a living and divine reality. It is not a set of doctrines, however true; a system of ordinances, however imposing; a number of rules and regulations, however important. Christianity is far more than any or all of these things. It is a living, breathing,speaking, active, powerful reality- something to be seen in the every day life- something to be felt in the scenes of personal, domestic history, from hour to hour- something formative and influential- a divine and heavenly power introduced into the scenes and circumstances through which we have to move, as men, women, and children, from Sunday morning to Saturday night. It does not consist in holding certain views, opinions, and principles, or in going to this place of worship or that." C.H. Mackintosh "The Assembly of God"

We must be very careful that we do not take our doctrines and separate them from the One they are found in. We cannot take our doctrine as a static thing in exclusion of Jesus Christ. When we do this we create lengthy systematic theologies but have little or no life to back them up with. Our creed should be seen in our deeds.

Take for instance the doctrine of hell. There is right now a plethora of material on this subject. But while we fundamentalists profess to believe in a literal, eternal hell, do we really? We will criticize Rob Bell, but I am afraid that we don't truly believe in hell. If we did it would affect us profoundly. If hell is real to us, and not just an article in our statement of faith, it would shake us up. The revivalist preacher Duncan Campbell was given a vision by God of hell. He did not walk away from this vision the same man. His daughter thought that he would go insane, for a true understanding of what hell is affects a person.

Or take another example the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We fight tooth and nail to preserve the authenticity of Christ's Resurrection but we live as if He is still in that grave. You will tear the cults up because they do not believe in Jesus as the Bible teaches, but neither do we. If Christ is truly alive than that truth will have visible, powerful impact on our daily life.

Be careful that you do not have doctrines in dormancy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Favorite Book of This Year: In Light Of Eternity

As I think back on the many wonderful books that I have read this year, one stands out above the rest. Earlier this year I got a copy of Mack Tomlinson's "In Light of Eternity: The Life of Leonard Ravenhill".  I knew this would be an incredible read. I have long admired the ministry of Leonard Ravnehill. Ever since my father and I read his "Meat for Men" I have been encouraged and challenged by the messages of this man.

I knew very little about Ravenhill's life, so the history of his long worldwide ministry was a blessing to learn about. He was a man on fire for Jesus Christ. He had a burden for revival and consecrated Christian living. He was also a godly, caring husband and father. His sermons are like gasoline. They remind me of Amy Carmichael's lines, "Make me thy fuel, flame of God."

We need men with unction from heaven above. Men like John the Baptist, with a burden and a message. Ravenhill was a burning and shining light in his day and though he is dead he lives on. A new generation of Christians are becoming acquainted with and convicted by the life and messages of Leonard Ravenhill.

If you are looking for an anointed read get this book, "In Light of Eternity".

What were the books used of God in your life this year?

Knowing God and Knowing About God

It is easy to become doctrinally sound, but remain spiritually hard. Our structure may be sturdy and strong but inside the walls echo back of our lifelessness. We are like a tree that  appears healthy and strong, but on the inside is hollow. We can spout off creeds and statement of faith's, but do we really know the God behind the paper.

God is love, but do we only know this because we have read it?

God is holy, but do we only know this because the preacher said so?

Christ is a friend to those who follow Him, but have you felt the warmth of His hand in yours?

He will guide those who seek Him, but far to often we prefer God being a co-signer to our plans. We like enough of God to get us to heaven, but we wouldn't want Him to intrude upon our daily existence. We like to go to church because its the right thing to do. We like to sing songs of praise because it makes us feel good. We listen to sermons for inspiration. We pray because God has much to offer. But all the time we go through the formalities we keep God at arms length. We like to know about Him, not know Him.

But the essence of Christianity is not merely knowing about God, not having a right theology, and not reciting the catechism. The foundations of Christianity are found rooted in a vital, real relationship with the God of the universe. This is eternal life. It's not meeting God in Heaven someday and strolling down golden streets with Him. It is knowing God right now in the daily grind of life. It is walking with Him down the streets of your town. It is talking with Him in your garden. It is seeing His majesty and power in a radiant sunset. We don't have to be laid in a casket to meet God, we can and must know Him right now.

Eternal life doesn't start when you physically die, it actually begins when you pass from death to life spiritually.

"This is eternal life that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
John 17:3

"Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and the memory merley, like other branches of learnng, but i srecieved only when it possesses the whole soul and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart." John Calvin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

C.H. Mackintosh On What A Christian Is

From C.H.M.'s Miscellaneous Writings Vol.3

"A Christian is one whose sins have been forgiven, who possesses eternal life, and knows it; in whom the Holy Ghost dwells; he is accepted in and associated with a risen and glorified Christ; he has broken with the world, is dead to sin and the law, and finds his object and his delight, and his spiritual sustenance, in the Christ who loved him and gave himself for him, and for whose coming he waits ever day of his life."

The Gospel Is Bigger Than That

The man on the platform was preaching. It was a Gospel concert and he was taking time out of their program to offer salvation to those in the crowd. But after a mere five minutes of talking, he asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes while he asked if anyone wanted to become a Christian. This was startling to me.

How could he ask if anyone wanted to be saved? They had no idea what they needed to be saved from. How could he ask if anyone wanted to become a Christian? He hadn't even told them what a Christian
was. How could he offer salvation? He hadn't even talked about sin, judgement, repentance or the law.

I felt like standing up on my bleacher seat way in the back of the crowd and shouting, "The Gospel is bigger than that!"

In our day we have naively believed that John 3:16 is the sum total of what the Gospel is all about. We have reduced the Gospel to Jesus dying for us so we can go to heaven. We've whispered into the ears of the world for decades now, that salvation is just a prayer. We've only told them of love and not judgement. We've preached of heaven and not hell. We've told them to come just as they are, but when they leave they remain just as they came. We 've taught them to regret their sin, not repent of it.

Our Gospel is far to small!

I found Noah Webster's definition of the Gospel in his 1828 dictionary very interesting and far more biblical than the one many evangelists give today:

"Gospel- The history of the birth, life, actions, death, resurrection, ascension and doctrines of Jesus Christ; or a revelation of the grace of God to fallen man through a mediator, including the character, actions, and doctrines of Christ, with the whole scheme of salvation, as revealed by Christ and his apostles."

You see the Gospel doesn't fit on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. We cant reduce it, we must not diminish it. The Gospel is not any one single verse it is the entire Word of God. It is the whole counsel of God. It is God's revelation of who He is and His plan to redeem mankind. Jesus wasn't plan B, the Gospel was in Genesis.

Let us not pilfer the Gospel and offer the world little bits and pieces of truth. Let's offer this world the true Gospel, a fuller, bigger truth than we have been offering.