Tag Archives: Faith

Does God Always Heal Those With Faith?

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV)

Does God Always Heal?

Many in today’s church would argue that yes, God will always heal the person who has faith. There is a tendency within these circles to blame a lack of healing on a lack of faith. But is healing so entwined with faith? It is true that Jesus performed many works of healing, and it is often the case that He praised those He healed for their great faith. (See Luke 7:1-10 for example.)

Yet it is not always the case that those healed possessed great faith. There are numerous examples where Jesus heals those who had little or no faith. See the subsequent verses in Luke 7, where the widow’s son was raised even though neither he nor his mother expressed any faith.

So if God heals those with or without faith, can it be equally true that God denies healing to some despite their great faith? Our opening passage written by the Apostle Paul gives the striking and authoritative answer to this: yes, God does deny healing to some, and it is not for any lack of faith on their part that he does so.

“By His Stripes We Are Healed”

One of the most often quoted verses in Scripture to support the claim that those with faith are always healed is this verse from Isaiah: “By His stripes we have been healed.” I want to briefly look at this because, on face value and taken out of context this does seem to plainly state that Jesus has healed us if we put our trust in Him. But let us look at the context:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:5-6

Here we can see that when the Holy Spirit, speaking through Isaiah, says that “we are healed”, the whole passage is referring to Jesus taking upon Himself our sins, our iniquity. The first three lines of verse 5 are about His bearing our sins, and then comes the line on healing. Then the whole of verse 6 deals with how we have all sinned and how He has borne our iniquity. It would therefore be the most compelling case that this phrase, “And by His stripes we are healed,” is not an out of place declaration of physical (or mental) healing, but rather fits in well as a statement of our healing from sin.

The Danger of the “Always Healed” Doctrine

The idea that those with faith are always healed can, in fact, be dangerous and cause much discouragement to Christians who are taught such and yet do not experience the healing that they want. The teaching that you simply need more faith and you will get the healing you want can bring those who do not experience such healing to question their own faith: do I really believe? Am I really a man (or woman) or faith? Does God actually love me? What’s wrong with me that God doesn’t heal me? Or, for those with a penchant for expressing faith: “I believe I am healed,” whilst walking around with a broken leg.

Paul didn’t believe the “always healed” doctrine. He heard clearly from God that his own ailment, a messenger of Satan no less, was not going to be taken away from him. God said to Paul that “My grace is sufficient for you.” Did Paul lack faith? Clearly he did not, but would go great strides by faith and was the most prolific writer of the New Testament.

Why Suffering?

I want to close this post with a few reflections on how God uses suffering. If we believe that sometimes God allows us to suffer rather than be healed, we must at least start to address why there is suffering in the Christian life. This is a huge topic in its own right, and I do not pretend to have all the answers, but we can make some points.

Firstly, we are, as Christ’s followers, called to partake in His suffering. We are called blessed when we are persecuted and slandered, because Jesus was persecuted and slandered. The Apostle Paul says we should be “conformed to His death”. (See Phil 3:9-11.)

Then, God will often use suffering to bring about a greater good than that which can be achieved by constant well-being. Our illnesses may enable us to become more compassionate and sympathetic to others who are suffering. We may find that poor health brings us more time, and with that greater time to spend in prayer. We may find that certain sins are able to be overcome because we experience God’s discipline through sickness.

There are many other ways in which God can use suffering, and we must always bear in mind that God’s ways are so high above our ways that we cannot hope to comprehend the fullness of His wisdom this side of eternity. But what is clear, and something I hope I have been able to relate a little, is that God does both allow and use illness and does not always desire to heal everyone who has enough faith.

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Jesus – The Name Above All Names

Jesus, the Name Above All Names

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we say that Jesus has been given the name above every name, what do we mean? Well, perhaps another question may be “what is a name”?

What is a name: part 1 – Identity.

Firstly it was the task of Adam to name every creature on earth. Every creature was brought to Adam and he gave to each one its name. So when we look at creation, Adam (and, by extension, man) has given a name to everything. Man loves to give things names even today. And so, in Creation, everything has a name. The sun is named, the moon is named, the cow and the sheep are named. Man has even given a name to the full sum of all created things: the Universe.

But the Name of Jesus is above every one of these. Jesus is above, beyond and infinitely superior to every other thing in existence, and above, beyond and infinitely superior even to the whole of Creation itself! It is truly an awesome God we serve!

What is a name: part 2 – Reputation.

Secondly, a “name” can be our reputation. We can often say “he made a name for himself or herself”. We can have a good name, meaning we are highly esteemed, or a bad name, meaning infamy. Xerxes has a great name. Alexander has a great name. Mohammed has a great name. Confucius has a great name.

But Jesus has the Name above every other name. His reputation, His worth, is far above, beyond and infinitely superior to every other name – there is no-one as purely and truly of eternal good reputation as Jesus.

What is a name: part 3 – Authority

I wanted to end on this point: a “name” can mean authority. We can do things “in the name of the UK” or “in the name of the President of the USA” etc. When we legitimately do things “in the name of” someone or something else, it means we have been given the authority with which that name is associated. And the ultimate, supreme authority is that of Jesus the King of Kings.

The Name of Jesus is the Ultimate Authority, and it is above, beyond and infinitely superior to every other name, whether of angels or demons, principalities or powers. There is ultimately nothing that can permanently and effectively disobey the greatest authority, the greatest Name, the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

(This post originally appeared on the Google+ community, The G+ Reformed Fellowship Church.)

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PRISM – A Danger to Democracy, but Christians Need Not Fear

Liberty is under threat but we need not fear.

Liberty is under threat but we need not fear.

The scandal of the US intelligence agency, the NSA, allegedly accessing and storing vast swathes of information on the citizens of the world, even including US citizens, is the nightmare of those with serious concerns for both civil liberties and democracy itself.

The whistleblower, Edward Snowden, himself said that the Prism project, which it is suggested has direct access to data held by most of the big Internet companies, presents an “existential threat” to democracy.

The intention of this post is to show that whilst these revelations do matter greatly, we as Christian believers need not fear.

Do Prism and the other revelations matter?

Simply put: yes. It matters a great deal. Remember that democracy isn’t simply a vote every four or five years, it is a living, breathing expression in which there is, by its nature, a friction between the will of the people and the will of the rulers. Rulers will always seek more power – very often with the best of motives. Yet it is the duty of citizens to resist power grabs by the government. Turkey – currently experiencing mass unrest – is a demonstration of an immature democracy where the ruling party, on 50% of the popular vote, has enacted and continues to pursue policies which are detrimental to half the population and is now claiming that “democracy only happens at the ballot box”. No, it does not. If it did then most liberal democracies would now be run by dictators.

Democracy happens when concerned citizens voice their disquiet over certain policies and developments, led by a free press and the comfort of knowing that the rule of law is respected – journalists and judges are often the first to be targeted by oppressive regimes. If the press and judiciary are neutered then democracy is on its last legs. This neutering can be done by the secret intelligence agencies (which often lack morality of even basic standards) having huge amounts of information on their errors of judgement (possibly made when in their teenage years) which then allows blackmail and intimidation to take place on a large scale.

The revelations matter in many other ways, yet I do not want to debate that here but rather say why you, if you are a Christian believer, should not fear because of these intelligence gathering systems.

God is Sovereign and Protects His People

God is a Sovereign Lord. (Habakkuk 3:19). Although the details of how man’s choice and God’s sovereignty so wonderfully interplay may bring disagreement on some doctrines by Christians, none can argue that God is not the Almighty, All-Powerful Lord of all creation. We can have full assurance that ultimately God is in control. The US President has to take orders from the King of Kings. The secret services have to obey the Lord of Lords. Neither the US nor any other nation has the freedom to ultimately go against the will of God. In fact, reading over the details of the Book of Revelation and any particular standpoint on matters of eschatology, the over-arching theme of Revelation is the Victory of God and His Sovereignty over those who oppose him.

If God is sovereign, then we can have peace and not fear. Romans 8 tells us that we need not fear, that we need not worry or be distressed at the trouble in the world. God works things for our good. If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, in all things we are more than conquerors through Christ who saves us.

God is Sovereign and it is His justice and mercy that shall prevail.

God is Sovereign and it is His justice and mercy that shall prevail.

Fear God, not man

It is not often preached on now, but Jesus Himself has told us to fear God. Why? Part of the reason is that He should be feared. He can cast your soul into eternal hell. Will He? That depends on whether you believe in His Son Jesus Christ or not. But the truth is that He can. Does that not make you fear Him? As a child fears his father when he comes to discipline him, so we should fear God and cry for His mercy continually.

But there is another reason we should fear God. It is because when we realise that God has power over us to cast us into eternal punishment of helfire then we can realise with the many saints and martyrs before us that nothing man can do compares to the power God has, and so because we fear God yet also trust Him we have no reason to fear man, who once he has killed the body can do no more to us.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:28-31

We have Jesus’ peace and are told not to fret

We are told by Jesus that we need not fear and that He has Himself given us His peace. He says in John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Because Jesus has given us His peace we can rest with full trust in Him. We need not be dismayed even though terrible things come to pass. Jesus was to be crucified and the disciples would be fearful, yet Jesus here reassures them that they need not fear, for His peace – the peace that enabled Him to go to the Cross without resisting – has been given to them, and to us.

Many of the psalms also speak against worry and fretting. Psalm 49 gives us a picture of the poor and oppressed compared to the rich and powerful, and the Psalmist assures us that the wicked will perish and be no more. We need not worry if we trust Jesus, for He will defend us and destroy the wicked.

I, um…er….a friend of mine hasn’t always been well behaved on the web…

Yes, I am close to that particular friend too. He gets around a bit, here’s what I try to tell him:

We have all made some pretty big mistakes in our lives. None of us have been perfect, none of us were born sinless. We have made possibly some great errors of judgement and some pretty grotesque sins. For those of us who have used computers and the internet a lot, many of these errors of judgement (and in some cases our sins) are now preserved on the web. Prism means that these are likely to be stored indefinitely not only on particular corporations’ data treasure trove, but also be in the hands of the US government.

That you may have done something wrong is not, however, to be a reason to fear. Although the sins or errors of judgement may be grave, you are, if you believe in Christ as your Lord and Saviour, forgiven. Yes, there may be consequences to sins committed or indiscretions you have allowed. Yet! Those consequences will be determined by God – it is He that is King of Kings and the Lord over every President – and the decision is not simply in the hands of depraved intelligence agencies and power-hungry politicians. If and when you will need to face consequences for your past actions is determined wholly by God, and we can trust in Him as our loving Father that when and if those consequences come, the ultimate fruit will be for our benefit. (Rom 8:28)

Pray for those in authority

Even though the US government has apparently over-stepped its mandate, and the US constitution, in setting up PRISM, and is allegedly guilty of serious human rights abuses, we should still seek to honour those in authority and pray for them. We are told to pray for the leaders not just that they get elected or unelected, but that God would guide their decisions whilst in government. We must be praying for our own governments and for other governments in the world, that Christians – and others – may be able to live peaceably and quietly in our lands.

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Faith in God’s Deliverance

I had hoped to write this post over the weekend, and knew that as I was intending writing on this subject of “Faith in God’s Deliverance”, I should expect to get resistance in writing it – and I did! I have just been through a few days of intense difficulty and not without doubting and falling short. We are all works in progress and none of us has yet been perfected.

However, this is still an important subject: how we can have the utmost faith in God and that He will work for our deliverance. Even when we cannot see this, even when we are plagued with doubts, we can, deep inside, trust God and in due time He will bring us out of that time of trial. There are so many examples in God’s word of His saints going through truly awful times. Sometimes, as in the case of David, the examples include times of falling and even sin, sometimes times of despair as in the case of Jeremiah, and sometimes simply horrific events occurring with no apparent rhyme or reason such as in the story of Job.

God is Our Shield

God is our shield and will deliver us out of our trials.

Psalm 44 gives us a picture of how the Psalmist dealt with the very dangerous and destructive times that he and the nation of Israel were going through: he remembered God’s working in the times of his fathers and declares his faith that God will perform that work again to restore Israel. It is this trusting in the past works of God, trusting that He is still actively working for your benefit now, and trusting in the time of future working by God for the eventual deliverance, that enables one to persevere in faith.

It is also in this Psalm that we see the lot of the Christian saints – not one of earthly success, wealth and power, but one of self-sacrificial service:

Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. – Ps. 44:22 (see also Romans 8:36)

We are called to suffer but not to be cast away. God will preserve us through trials, and we can reassure ourselves that God is indeed with us even as we battle through our trials. (See Josh 1:9, Matt 28:20).

We will be tempted to sin, we will be tempted to turn our backs on God (Job found temptation came his way even from his wife), as we move along this pilgrimage of closer union with God through suffering. At such times we must remember to “submit ourselves to God and resist the devil” (paraphrased from James 4:7), and once the time of trial has passed we can see a great joy and a wonderful blessing, knowing that God has worked a work in us which could not have been performed any other way.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

– 1 Peter 1:6-7

God will sometimes allow us to suffer and yet we can have full assurance that we will never be crushed or cast away, and even if the deliverance we have faith for and which we long for does not come in our lifetime, it is no less real for that, and so we can not only live by faith when we are awake but also die in faith when it is our time to fall asleep.

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Humility, not Pride, Is Needed

Human nature tends to be selfish. Our focus tends to be on ourselves, our wants and needs. We tend to think that our view, our opinion, is not only right but that it is our duty to win converts for our view. No, not everyone by any means thinks that people are longing to be corrected out of their “error” –  some are indeed self-less and wonderfully blessed to not be made to stumble in these ways – yet many others who do not fall at the first point are so happy in their own error that they will not seek to convert anyone and will immediately shut down any conversation that could see them being challenged themselves. I am not immune from both of these faults myself.

The Way of Love and Sacrifice

The "Humbling Door" at the Church of the Nativity. Humility is a much needed virtue. Image courtesy of Backpack Foodie/Flickr

The “Humbling Door” at the Church of the Nativity. Humility is a much needed virtue. Image courtesy of Backpack Foodie/Flickr

Jesus, on the other hand, shows a far greater way: the way of love and sacrifice. The Apostle Paul in Philippians outlines the way of Jesus and how we too should follow in this pattern:

Therefore if  there  is  any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any  affection and mercy,  fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let  nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:1-8

We must be ruled by Christ as our King, and He (having through the Holy Spirit inspired all Scripture), is our shining example – we should walk in love, and love is not proud or arrogant, but rather seeks the good of others before the good of itself.

In walking in humility we must acknowledge our own faults, sins and failings. We should not boast in any good deed but only boast in the Cross of Christ. We must esteem others better than ourselves. We must act and have the attitude that everyone else is due respect before us – and we must respect them and honour them as Christ would. (That does not mean we should shy away from discussing matters where we have knowledge, but we should not do so from a position of arrogance or disrespect, but be always bearing in mind that we are not yet perfected.)

Now some may say that “my sins are not as serious as his or hers!” Yet do you not know that it is only by the grace of God that you have not committed the wickedness which you so despise in another? The old saying goes “but for the grace of God go I.” The real issue that all have is not the particular expression of sin, but our sinfulness itself. It is our sinfulness that lies at the root of our problems with individual sins – and our sinfulness needs to be put to death – O how wonderful that Christ died to put to death our sinfulness! So? Can you boast of how little you’ve let sin impact on your life? Even if you’ve never murdered, committed adultery or robbed, unless you know the crucified and risen Christ then your heart is blackened with sinfulness just as severely as the murderer.

So, perhaps we could boast in our good deeds? Yet, without Christ, our good deeds are worthless and not really good at all. And if we have Christ, then it is His work in us, and not our own righteousness.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away. – Isaiah 64:6

Christ the Leveller

Jesus Christ is the great leveller of human relations. God is no respecter of persons: whether you have riches, status, position, power, ability or any other thing which man regards as a measure of success – God does not look upon such things as being deserving of favour. God shows mercy to whom He will – we can claim no credit ourselves but if we would come to Christ without regard for our position of success or lack of success then He will welcome us and receive us.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13

Will you receive Christ as your Lord and Saviour? If you already know Christ, would you be willing to seek God – His Kingdom and His righteousness – rather than your own purposes and will?

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Eternally Blessed, and Firmly Secure

We have real and eternal security in Christ. (Image courtesy of SXC.hu.)

We have real and eternal security in Christ. (Image courtesy of SXC.hu.)

Eternal security is such a foundational part of the Gospel message. Although the evangelical saying of “once saved, always saved” is perhaps simplistic and certainly not a phrase that is in the Bible, the message behind it is very true.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul writes:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew,  He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,  that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Note how in this passage Paul shows that from God’s foreknowing us and predestining us comes the time when He calls us. When He called us He had already decided in His Sovereign will that He would save us. And especially note the last stage: “these He also glorified.” (v.30). In God’s sight we have already been glorified. There is no shadow or feathering here – the glorification we shall experience as God’s children is a certainty, so much of a certainty that God speaks of it in the past tense.

Peter also speaks of the great security we have in Christ. In 1 Peter 1:3-5 he writes:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

(Emphasis mine.)

Our inheritance isn’t one which moths and worms can eat away or one which a robber can come and steal away. Our inheritance is sure – it is certain, and if any would doubt and think that the inheritance is there but whether we are given it or not depends on our performance note what I have emphasised in verse 5: we “are kept by the power of God.” Is God’s power limited in any way that we could choose or otherwise cause this word to be of none effect? Of course not! God’s power is infinite and Almighty, and it is that power which keeps us.

Some may say, “what if we sin”? Sin is exceedingly wicked and profoundly displeasing to God. Jesus says on more than one occasion to those He has forgiven: “go and sin no more”. Sin is repugnant to God. The Apostle John writes about sin in 1 John chapters 1 and 2, and he writes this book so that we might not sin. Yet he is also aware that we do all fall short from time to time, and even says to those who think themselves to be sinlessly perfect that they are deceiving themselves.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2

We can indeed to be assured of salvation if we truly belong to Christ, and we shall never be left to fall away. Yet we must, indeed, be sure that we belong to Christ in order to have this assurance, and if we doubt that we truly belong to Him we must seek after Him even more so that we may be sure, for if we are deceived that we are saved when we are not, then we are in great danger.

But for those who are earnestly seeking after God, note what God says to the saints (not the whole world, but those who are seeking God’s Kingdom and Righteousness):

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

God will keep us, lead us, guide us. We can fully place our trust in Him and in the redeeming work of the Blood of Christ. We need not fear the future, neither fear the past, but we can trust in the present, trust for the future, and have that which is in the past forgiven. It is an amazing grace!

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The Practice of the Presence of God

God’s Presence is with us Always – Image courtesy of SXU/fotoviva

I am currently reading through The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and it is a profoundly inspirational book.

Although not compiled by Brother Lawrence itself it provides a great insight into his practice of seeking constant communion with God. It details his methods and practices and gives a good inspiration to fulfil the words of the Apostle Paul when he states that we are “to pray without ceasing”. Brother Lawrence seems to have mastered this during his religious life.

A word of warning, though – it appears that Brother Lawrence was devoutly attached to the Romanist Church and the monastic life, and there are aspects of both that make me, as an evangelical Christian, somewhat uneasy.

Yet the descriptions in this book, through a series of conversations and a series of letters, give a good impetus to me to seek to be in greater and closer communion with my God and remain in fellowship with Him.

Brother Lawrence’s view is quite profoundly stated in the opening section of this book:

[He] related that we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s Presence by continually conversing with Him. It was a shameful thing to quit His conversation to think of trifles and fooleries. We should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of God which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him

It is too often in the Christian life that our minds wander from a sense of God – yet Brother Lawrence, after many years of struggle with sin and condemnation, seems to have found that by constant prayer he was able to enjoy a peace and joy that is truly the mark of the Holy Spirit working in us.

Brother Lawrence did have times when this conversation slipped, and also had times when upon a reflection after tasks had been done had found himself to have fallen short. In such instances he advises: “Without being discouraged on account of our sins, we should pray for His grace with a perfect confidence, as relying upon the infinite merits of our Lord.”

Brother Lawrence would confess his sins and shortcomings and then think upon them no more as he returned to his conversation with God.

So much can be learned from this book and from Brother Lawrence’s experience and practice and I would thoroughly recommend it to your reading.

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Putting the Poor in Their Rightful Place

A short while ago I wrote a blog post saying that we should not place the poor as equal to the Lord – we should not base our doctrine on our relationship with the poor but rather on our relationship with Christ.

Run down housing

We must love the poor and provide for them

Yet it is also important to say what the proper regard of the poor should be. In Matthew 25 Jesus Himself identifies Himself with the poor:

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ – Matthew 25:37-40

Jesus makes clear that if we love Him we will love the poor – if we truly love Him we will consider the poor and give to them, because it is primarily with the poor which Jesus identifies Himself. He is the outcast, the rejected, the oppressed. He is the Man of Sorrows.

We should regard others before ourselves and be interested in the welfare of others before our own welfare – now that is a continuing challenge to me and I am sure to many – for it is through loving our brother whom we can see that we demonstrate that we are capable of loving Jesus whom we do not see. If we neglect the poor we are, effectively, neglecting Jesus. Whilst our doctrine must be based on our relationship with Jesus, the application of that doctrine should effect in us a compassion towards the poor.

Psalm 112 speaks of the nature of the righteous:

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.

– Psalm 112: 4-10

Do not neglect the needy. And do not neglect the Lord.

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Aspiring to greatness? Or for Jesus’ Name to be Honoured?

The following post I have directly purloined from a fellow blogger.  I do not usually do this, but it is just too good not to re-share.  Indeed, Arthur Sido, who wrote this, took it himself from a fellow blogger.  It is just superb.

Aspiring to be a nobody

Loved this from Dave Black yesterday regarding the desire to raise up leaders.

Personally, I’m not all that eager to raise up a new generation of leaders. I want to raise up a new generation of butlers and scullery maids. A generation of nobodies who are content to be obedient to the simple teachings of Jesus. A generation of Christ-followers who die to family, fame, fortune, success, patriotism, and the American Dream. A generation of Dietrich Bonhoeffers who realize that “when Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die.” I want to raise up a generation of men and women who give without counting the cost, who deny themselves, who willingly take the cross as the path of union with Christ, in whom there is no trace of triumphalism, who put their lives at Christ’s disposal with unconditional surrender, who place Christian allegiance over their national allegiance, who act as though they were part of an upside-down kingdom, who die to all claims of the self-indulgent life, who refuse to lionize success or repudiate pain, who “share in suffering as good soldiers of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3), who stand high and lift their drooping heads because the Son of God inhabits their lives in the power of His resurrection. We cannot all be seminary grads or professional ministers. But we can all be engaged in fulltime Christian ministry. We can all bring others to faith in the Savior. We can all be devoted to prayer. I am concerned not so much with raising up a generation of leaders but with training a generation of men and women who are consumed with a passion to understand Christ better and make Him known. This does not invalidate the educational enterprise. It gives it purpose.

I just liked that a lot. The best word in that entire paragraph? “Content”. If only we were content I think we would see so much more zeal for Kingdom work.

What is missed in so many circles is the utterly Biblical sense in which the true leaders in the church are universally the servants, the nobodies. Not only do we miss this, we tend to go in just the opposite direction. We raise men up, we elevate them, ordain them, exalt them. We buy their books and listen to the talks and attend their conferences. We cleverly drop their names and post their quotes on Facebook and Twitter. If they are dead, that is even better! I believe more each day that those who we will see as “great” in the Kingdom of Heaven will be people we never heard of or those we know but rarely paid attention to.

We don’t need more leaders, we need more nobodies!

 

Credit: Arthur Sido @ The Voice of One Crying in Suburbia

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We the People of God – Our Citizenship is of Heaven

We are a People once not a people, but now the People of God
As Christians we cannot be separated by politics, culture, locality or language. We are One Body, and our first and foremost loyalty should be to God and then to each other

We cannot, seriously, be consumed in a system that pits Christian against Christian. Yes, we will sometimes (maybe often) disagree in areas where political, cultural or ideological views are divergent, and possibly all three to the extent that much of our political and ideological view is coloured by our cultural heritage. But we must not let that hinder the work of the Gospel nor let it hinder our love for one another.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous theologian, died in the concentration camps. His loyalty was not firstly to his government nor his nation. His loyalty was to God, and he died for an attempt to bring WWII to a speedy end. In that way he showed more love to the many British and American Christians that were suffering in the battle against Hitler. Was he a traitor? No, because his primary nationality, his real citizenship, was heavenly, not German.

In our disagreements over whether the political left or the political right; the capitalist or the socialist; the libertarian or the anarchist are correct or more correct, we must be careful that we do not lose sight of the undeniable fact that we are of the same eternal Kingdom and we belong to God and to each other, and not to the systems of this present world.

Taking self-profession as sufficient and not a cause for argument over doctrinal and practicable ideologies, President Obama is the brother of former President Bush, and they (and we) are a nation of God, not of the world.

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