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Archive for July, 2019

The Power of Grace

July 16th, 2019

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood the grace of God. (Col. 1:6)

The faith of the church in Colosse had reverberated throughout the ancient world, but it was not their faith that had primarily transformed them. It was the gospel itself, the grace of God in Christ Jesus. They had heard it and had believed it, and had acted accordingly, but it was God who through the gospel had given them life, and He deserved the credit.

There will always comes time when our faith will fail, when the most impressive Christian we know will stumble. Read the biblical record and you see that all, except for Jesus Himself, failed along some line. Moses and David had their anger, Peter had his fears, John his pride, Thomas his doubts, Paul his impatience, but they each stood upon the grace of God and trusted in God, not in themselves.

Our failures should disturb us, and we must confess them daily, but we must also keep them in their proper places. Our faith is never the platform of our salvation, it is never the foundation, but rather it is Christ Himself. We return to Christ, not to some memory of how we used to be, but to the living Christ, who, like the Master artist He is, places us back on His easel and continues to work on us further, painting the picture of the Father’s love across our hearts.

All the spiritual power that comes into our lives comes through faith in God. It does not generate from within, rather it is spiritual and divine in origin. As we depend on Him, as we trust in Him, we have the continual flow of His life in us. This is the point that Paul stressed to this church in Colosse, and one that we should take home to our own hearts. God gives life and understanding and He transforms our souls.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have full endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)

Colossians

To Know Christ

July 1st, 2019

I want to know Christ … (Philippians 3:10)

The heart of Paul’s religion is union with Christ. This more than any other conception — more than justification, more than sanctification, more even than reconciliation — is the key which unlocks the secrets of his soul… Paul beheld Christ summoning and welcoming him in infinite love into vital unity with Himself. (James Stuart Stewart, Man in Christ, p. 147.)

There are many and various streams of thought in the subject of faith and religion. Sub-topics, such as mysticism, ethics, morality, faith in the heart of man, and even epistemology, hope, and theories of consciousness and identity are all common in every philosophy and religion, whether Christian or not. It is not unusual for a lay person to see the common ideas that religions share and assume that they are all, therefore, actually the same. 

But this would be a great mistake in regard to Christianity, for the hallmark of the Christian faith is no mere sub-topic or philosophical footnote. Rather the “stand alone” factor of Christianity is Christ Himself and our union with Him is the essential Christian experience. This transcends all other considerations.

Take mysticism, for example. Every religion has this element in it. Every type of religious faith begins with the assumption that there is truth and realities in the universe that stand beyond man’s consciousness. So, therefore, this faulty logic goes, all religions are the same. 

That is like saying that since all forms of government recognize man’s need for governance, they all are, therefore, the same. It is the fault of making a category equal to an ethic or an acceptable value. We see a stronger example of this faulty thinking in the subject of art: since art is man’s attempt to express himself, therefore, anything that someone calls art is acceptable. But what if someone’s “art” is to murder? Can we sanction that kind of art? Again, a category does not equal an ethic nor does it automatically assign a moral value to something just because, in a general way, they share the same category of identity along some line.  

The Christian Faith Is a Call to Intimacy with Christ

The centre of Christianity is Christ, and the hallmark of all experience is to know Christ. Christian faith is not a general belief in a general God. It is a specific belief in a personal God, of whom Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnation, and who continues to exist by His Spirit. He calls us to believe, repent, and follow, and thereby to be united with Him. 

This means that through the simple reading of the Gospels, Christ Himself emerges to the reader’s heart, calling him to faith and trust, resulting in intimacy. This intimacy is not some fantasy of imagination, like someone imagines themselves bonding with Tom Sawyer because he read the book. Rather this is a personal call from Christ Himself. 

The exercise of the Christian faith is not merely to go about doing your duty. As important as morality and duty are, the heart of the Christian expression of faith is intimacy with Christ. We follow Him as we do our duty. He leads us in paths of righteousness. So take time with Christ today. Speak to Him. Read His Word with Him beside you and within you. Reach our to Him as He reaches out to you.  

Philippians