Jan 4, 2010
by Wintley Phipps
Jan 4, 2010
by Wintley Phipps
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a
Somewhere, sometime, someone said, “You gotta dance with the girl who brought you.” It is used today as a caution against switching priorities, values, methods, strategies, or goals. It is a call to remembrance, a warning against giving in.
And it applies to the Christian life. The “girl” who brought us to the dance of salvation is named Grace. Christians are committed to the idea that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) but sometimes forget that we must live by grace as well. This was a serious problem in the early churches of Galatia. Paul took the believers to task for “turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). They had begun with the Spirit of grace but were reverting to the laws of flesh. It’s an easy temptation to which many succumb. We find ourselves thinking it is all up to us when God doesn’t come through on our timetable.
The Protestant reformers in the sixteenth century said it best: sola gratia—by grace alone. Don’t abandon the grace of God in midstream. His grace is always sufficient.
Let no excess of suffering drive us away from the throne of grace, but rather let it drive us closer to it. Charles H. Spurgeon
While under house arrest, Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians. The apostle could receive visitors but couldn’t travel. Despite living in a home, Paul was more than likely chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day. Moreover, because he knew that a trial was years away, these were his living conditions for the foreseeable future—perhaps for the rest of his life.
Under such circumstances, Paul might have thought to ask the Lord to release him. After all, God had called him to preach, to disciple believers, and to reach the Gentiles. But he was stuck in Rome, unable to plant new churches or visit those whom he was nurturing by letter. Besides being unjust, the imprisonment was keeping him from important work. Surely, if anyone had a right to gripe, it was Paul, who had endured persecution, shipwreck, and beatings for the gospel. Yet he never once complained. His letter to the church at Philippi is filled with rejoicing, as focusing on God let him live above his circumstances (Phil. 4:8).
The more we talk and complain about a situation, the worse it looks, until the problem looms larger in our mind than our faith does. Conversely, carrying challenges straight to God keeps matters in perspective. The Lord is bigger than any hardship. On His strength, we rise above the difficulty.
Problems can look so big and unwieldy that they distort our perspective. God invites us to live above our circumstances by fastening our eyes on Him. The trials of this life shrink when compared to our loving, powerful Lord, who exercises His might in defense of His people.
“Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” (Psalm 139:21-22)
Once a conscious choice has been made to reject God’s truth and love, an individual begins to hate God and the people of God. The Scriptures are replete with these insights, but two references should suffice to establish the teaching—“they that hate the righteous shall be desolate” (Psalm 34:21) and “the bloodthirsty hate the upright” (Proverbs 29:10).
Don’t be surprised at the hatred of godly issues and people. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).
Perhaps more alarming than the widespread evidence that many are running full-tilt into the “broad way” leading to destruction (Matthew 7:13) are the few who have found the “strait gait” leading to eternal life and yet continue to remain indifferent to the crisis of evil surrounding our country, our churches, and our families.
Would God that our leaders would have the same passion the psalmist felt when he wrote, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law” (Psalm 119:53). Perhaps it is time that we each feel something of the godly sorrow that caused “rivers of waters [to] run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law” (Psalm 119:136) or sense an ache when we “beheld the transgressors, and [were] grieved; because they kept not thy word” (Psalm 119:158).
As our text notes, “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me” (Psalm 101:6). HMM III
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. —Colossians 3:16
Religious entertainment has so corrupted the Church of Christ that millions don’t know that it’s a heresy…. They don’t know that it’s as much a heresy as the counting of beads or the splashing of holy water or something else. To expose this, of course, raises a storm of angry protest among the people….
One man wrote an article as an exposé of me. He said that I claimed that religious entertainment was wrong and he said, “Don’t you know that every time you sing a hymn, it’s entertainment?” Every time you sing a hymn? I don’t know how that fellow ever finds his way home at night. He ought to have a seeing eye dog and a man with a white cane to take him home!
When you raise your eyes to God and sing, “Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,” is that entertainment—or is it worship? Isn’t there a difference between worship and entertainment?
The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment. That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today the heresy of religious entertainment. SAT006-007
Lord, help me to be aware of the dangers of religious entertainment and fill me to overflowing with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to Your glory! Amen.
For it pleased the Father… by him to reconcile all things unto himself… whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 2:19-20)
If we are humble and sincere Christians, this should be one of the most welcome thoughts we have ever considered: the work of Christ in redemption will achieve ultimately the expulsion of sin, the only divisive agent in the universe!
When that is accomplished, God’s creation will once more realize the unification of all things. We who are men and women, though redeemed and regenerated, are submerged in time; therefore we properly say that prophecy is history foretold and history is prophecy fulfilled. But in God there is no “was” or “will be” but a continuous and unbroken “is.” In Him, history and prophecy are one and the same. God contains past and future in His own Being.
It is sin that has brought diversity, separation, dissimilarity. Sin has introduced divisions into a universe essentially one. We do not understand this, but we must let our faith rest on the character of God.
The concept of the unity of all things is seen in the Scriptures. Paul said that God will reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth or in heaven!
Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare; if we build the wall, he labors to cast down the stones; if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict”, everywhere Satan hinders us. He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavors to hinder the completeness of our personal character. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”