Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Monthly Archives: July 2009

Is Postmodernism a Myth? (Sean McDowell)

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Is Postmodernism A Myth?

Sean McDowell

 

In the early 1990s interest in postmodernism exploded in the church. Books widely appeared as bestsellers and conferences featured seminars about doing ministry in a postmodern world. While people disagreed about exactly what was meant by “postmodernism”-and they still do!-there was considerable agreement that the world was leaving the modern era behind and wading into the unknown waters of the postmodern matrix.

 

In Postmodern Youth Ministry, for example, Tony Jones argues that postmodernity is the most important culture shift of the past 500 years, upending our theology, philosophy, epistemology (how we know things), and church practice. It is an “earthquake that has changed the landscape of academia and is currently rocking Western culture.” (p. 11). Thus, to be relevant in ministry today, according to Jones and other postmodernists, we must shed our modern tendencies and embrace the postmodern shift.

 

For the longest time I simply accepted that we inhabit a postmodern world and that we must completely transform our approach to ministry to be effective today. But that all changed when I had the opportunity of hearing philosopher William Lane Craig speak at an apologetics conference not too long ago. “This sort of [postmodern] thinking,” says Craig, “is guilty of a disastrous misdiagnosis of contemporary culture.” (“God is Not Dead Yet,” Christianity Today, July 2008, p. 26). He argues that the idea that we live in a postmodern world is a myth. This may strike you as awfully bold. How can he make such a claim?

 

For one thing, says Craig, postmodernism is unlivable and contradictory: “Nobody is a postmodernist when it comes to reading the labels on a medicine bottle versus a box of rat poison. If you’ve got a headache, you’d better believe that texts have objective meaning!” (Reasonable Faith, 2008, p. 18) Craig speaks to tens of thousands of (mostly non-Christian) college students around the world every year and his conclusion is that we live in a cultural milieu that is deeply modernist. Reason, logic, and evidence are as important today as ever (although he’s careful not to overstate their importance, too).

 

Postmodernism and Apologetics

 

But this is not all Craig has to say! In the introduction to Reasonable Faith, Craig provocatively claims, “Indeed, I think that getting people to believe that we live in a postmodern culture is one of the craftiest deceptions that Satan has yet devised” (p. 18). Accordingly, we ought to stop emphasizing argumentation and apologetics and just share our narrative. Craig develops this idea further:

 

And so Satan deceives us into voluntarily laying aside our best weapons of logic and evidence, thereby ensuring unawares modernism’s triumph over us. If we adopt this suicidal course of action, the consequences for the church in the next generation will be catastrophic. Christianity will be reduced to but another voice in a cacophony of competing voices, each sharing its own narrative and none commending itself as the objective truth about reality, while scientific naturalism shapes our culture’s view of how the world really is (p. 18-19). 

 

In a personal email, Craig relayed to me that he believes postmodernism is largely being propagated in our church by misguided youth pastors. While he meant the comment more to elicit a smile than to be taken as a stab in the back, I can’t help but wonder if he is right.

 

If our culture were so profoundly postmodernist, why have the “New Atheists,” as Wired magazine dubbed them, been so influential? Popular writers such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins have recently written bestselling books attacking the scientific, historic, and philosophical credibility of religion in general and Christianity in particular. Their writings have wreaked havoc on many unprepared Christians. If our culture were postmodern their challenges should have fallen on deaf ears.

 

Postmodern Youth

 

While studies show that youth are significantly relativistic when it comes to ethics, values, and religion (e.g., Soul Searching, by Christian Smith, Oxford Press, 2005), they are not relativistic about science, mathematics, and technology. When discussing morality and religion, I have heard many young people say things such as say, “That’s just your truth. I have a different truth.” But I have never heard a young person say this about a claim in the realm of science or math. Modernists believe that science is the sole purveyor of truth while religion and ethics belong in the private, subjective sphere. It seems to me that the thinking of young people is more influenced by modernism (and specifically naturalism) than postmodernism.

 

Nevertheless, there does seem to be some postmodern influences in our culture. There is a latent cynicism about knowing truth, a deep suspicion of authority, and an awareness that bias affects people more profoundly than we would like to admit. But ultimately I think Craig is right-the claim that we live in a postmodern culture has been greatly exaggerated and oversold to (and by) the church.

Notes on Shaping History by Prayer and Fasting (Derek Prince book)

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CHAPTER 6: Fasting Intensifies Prayer

I. Christ’s Teaching and Example

a. Emphasizes motive and warns against religious ostentation for the sake of

impressing people. (Matt. 6:1-18)

b. Fasting is endorsed by Christ’s own example – Luke 4:1-2.

i. When Jesus went into the wilderness, He was already

ii. After fasting, He returned in the

iii. Fasting was the final phase of preparation through which He had to pass,

before entering into His public ministry.

II. The Practice of the Early Church

a. Fasting was a vital part in Paul’s ministry – Acts 9:9; 2 Cor. 6:3-10; 2 Cor.

11:23-27;

b. Early Church fasted individually and COLLECTIVELY – Acts 13:1-3; Acts

14:21-23

i. As a result, they received direction and power from the H.S. for

decisions or tasks of special importance.

III. How Fasting Works

a. Fasting helps a Christian to receive direction and power from the H.S.

b. It’s a form of mourning, in one sense.

i. Mourning is not self-centered remorse or hopeless grief.

ii. It’s a response to H.S.’s prompting to share in God’s grief over sin and

folly of humanity – 2 Cor. 7:10.

c. It’s a means to humble and chasten oneself.

i. Rightly practiced, fasting brings both soul and body into subjection to the

H.S. – 1 Cor. 9:27

ii. Fasting deals with barriers to the H.S. – self-will and insistent, selfgratifying

appetites of the body. (Gal. 5:17).

1. Fasting changes people, not God.

2. Breaks down barriers in man’s carnal nature that stand in way of

H.S.’s omnipotence.

3. With barriers removed, H.S. can work unhindered in His fullness

through our prayers.

d. Four Requirements in 2 Chron. 7:14:

humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear

from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

full of the H.S.power of the H.S.if my people, who are called by my name, will

i. Humble themselves.

ii. Pray.

iii. Seek His face.

iv. Turn from their wicked ways.

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e. Fasting will never change the righteous standard of God. If something is outside

the will of God, fasting will never put it inside the will of God – e.g.) David’s

fasting to save his son after he committed adultery (2 Sam 12).

f. Fasting is neither a gimmick nor a cure-all.

Fasting is not a substitute for any other part of God’s provision. Conversely, no other part of God’s provision is a

substitute for fasting (117).

Kenyon and the Holy Spirit

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E. W. Kenyon and the Holy Spirit
Pastor Joe McIntyre

Those of you who have read my book will be familiar with the fact that some were in disagreement regarding Kenyon’s view of receiving the Holy Spirit. Since he received the Holy Spirit in 1897, many years before the Pentecostal movement began, speaking in tongues was not the issue of controversy it later became. But for Kenyon, there were three issues (at least) surrounding the receiving of the Holy Spirit that were more important than whether one spoke in tongues or not.
Kenyon wanted people to receive the Person of the Godhead known as the Holy Spirit rather than focus on an experience or a gift. When Kenyon invited the Holy Spirit to fill him in 1897, he was at a crisis in his life and in his health. He was struggling with submitting to the complete lordship of Christ. When he yielded, the Holy Spirit came in and for Kenyon this meant lordship. (He was also instantly healed.) Jesus’ lordship was to be worked out and walked out practically by learning to submit to the indwelling Holy Spirit. His congregation immediately noted the difference in their pastor.
Kenyon thoroughly investigated the Pentecostal movement when it emerged and was delighted with what he recognized as a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. Eventually, however, he observed that many of the Pentecostal movement’s participants glowingly testified of receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, but had no testimony of consistent victory in their lives.
He observed that they majored on His coming n but forgot that He was still there! He saw this as dishonoring the Holy Spirit, Who had graciously come to indwell them.
When the Pentecostal movement first broke forth, Kenyon noted, the meetings and the movement were dominated by a glorious sense of the love of God. Love prevailed in a fresh way in the initial days of the movement…the Jesus kind of love. But when love waned, all that was left was tongues to distinguish what had previously been an awe-inspiring outpouring of God’s presence and love. Kenyon was convinced that it was the love that caused the miracles of healing and other profound manifestations that were evidenced in the early days of the Pentecostal revival.
He eventually became somewhat disillusioned with the emphasis on experience and the lack of sound Bible teaching, and he therefore majored on recognizing the continuing ministry of the Indwelling One, relying on the Word more than experience and walking in love. The constant flow of healings and miracles that accompanied Kenyon’s ministry would seem to validate the importance of this emphasis on recognizing Who is in us, majoring on faith in God’s Word and walking in love.
In these glorious days of fresh outpourings of the Spirit, I think we can readily see the application. Let us seek to honor the Indwelling One and yield our lives totally to Him.

Some Mighty Facts (E W Kenyon)

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Some Mighty Facts

by E.W. Kenyon

There are some things Eternal Life has given us. If we realized what we were in Christ and knew that we had the ability to be what God says we are, our lives would be transformed in a week.
    We do not understand what Redemption and the New Creation have made us.
    We do not realize what we are to the Father’s heart and what He is to us.
    Most of us are theological Christians instead of Bible Christians.
    We have theological experiences and are ever attempting to square the Word with those experiences.

 
         We have been taught there is no truth beyond our creed. We lock our people in a creed, making them prisoners of the theories of men born a hundred years ago. The Creed Christian is not a Bible Christian.
    Each creed must have the Bible translated to fit it.
    We have discovered a Christ who is greater than the creeds, a Redemption that is greater than the creeds, a New Birth that bursts the bonds of creedal Christianity and sets the prisoners free.
    We are discovering a type of Christianity that is better than the creeds, better than anything to which the creeds have given birth.
    The creeds, beautiful though they may be, are largely born of Sense Knowledge.

You Are Redeemed

    Romans 3:24: Through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to show His righteousness.
    Our Redemption, our Redeemer, is Christ. No one can rob you of your Redemption.
    If you take Christ as your Savior, He becomes your Redemption. You become independent of man.
    Your Redemption was God’s own work, and He Himself is satisfied with what He did in Christ.
    Eph. 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.
    Eph. 1:7: In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the redemption of our trespasses.
    If you have your Redemption, you are Redeemed.
    Your Redemption was through the blood of Jesus Christ
    You have the remission of your trespasses.
    Notice first, you have your Redemption in Christ. It is through the blood of the Son of God.
    You have remission from all that you ever did before you became a Christian.
    This Redemption is according to the riches of His grace.
    It is a perfect, a complete Redemption. It is not a beggarly Redemption, but a vast God-sized Redemption that glorifies God and glorifies Christ and honors every man who embraces it.
    Col. 1:13 14: “Who delivered us out of the authority of darkness.” That is Satan’s authority. If we are delivered out of his authority, he can no longer reign over us.
    Yet the great body of the Church is living under the dominion of the adversary as though it had never been Born Again. What is the matter?
    The creed to which we have subscribed has no actual Redemption in it. It has robbed the Church of its own Redemption by setting stakes of limitation.
    Col. 1:13: “Who delivered us out of the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the son of his love!” He delivered us out of the authority of Satan, and He translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His Love.
    Put it in the first person. You are the one who has been delivered. You are the one who has been translated into God’s kingdom and family. In Christ you have your Redemption, the remission of everything that you ever did.
    It gives you the Nature of God and takes out of you the nature of the adversary.
    The New Birth settles the problem of your sin nature. All you ever did is wiped out. All you ever were has been destroyed.
    You are now an actual child of God just as Jesus was in His earth walk. You have the same standing that Jesus had, because Jesus is your standing. He has become your righteousness. God Himself becomes your standing.
    Romans 3:26: “That he might himself be righteous, and the righteousness of him that hath faith in Jesus!” (Lit. trans.)
    You have faith in Jesus as your Substitute. So God has become your righteousness.
    When you believe this, you will come out of bondage and weakness and failure into the fulness of this new Life in Christ.
    You are the sons of God. You are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. You are redeemed.
    I Cor. 6:20: “For ye were bought with a price.” Why do we become the slaves of wrong teaching, the slaves of Sense Knowledge? That price was the blood of Christ.
    There is no joint ownership between Christ and the world. You either belong to the devil or you belong to Christ. Christ purchased you with His own blood. I Pet. 1:18, 19: “Knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.”
    It is the blood of the lamb without spot. You stand before the Father now a redeemed one, without condemnation. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, redeemed you.
    Every claim of justice has been paid. Jesus met the demands of justice and satisfied them. You are free.
    I Cor. 7:23: “Become not the bondservants of men!” That means that we are not to become the bondservants of the theories of men or the creeds of men. “Men” here means the man who walks in the senses. You crown Jesus as the Lord of your life. There is no other bondage but the bondage of love.
    John 8:36: “If therefore the son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” You are free from Satan’s dominion. You are a New Creation, a child of God. You have been redeemed from the hand of your enemy. You are to take this fact seriously. You are to order your life accordingly.
    Romans 6:14: “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Satan was defeated by your Master. That defeat stripped him of his ability to take you captive without your cooperation.
    The two phases of Christ’s ministry in Redemption are: Jesus paying the price of your Redemption, and defeating your enemy and setting you free.
    Col. 2:15: “Having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it!” He triumphed over the adversary. He defeated the enemy. His triumph was your triumph. That battle was your battle. He was not fighting for Himself.
    Hebrews 2:14: “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” He set you free. You are free. You are redeemed by God Himself.

You Are A New Creation

Next I want you to notice that you are a New Creation. This truth has never been given its place.
    All we have been taught was that God forgave us our sins and that by a second work of grace, sin was eradicated from us. But if we did wrong ignorantly or knowingly we had to be justified again. That justification permitted us to be justified with the devil’s nature in us.
    Another view is that God was unable to take out Satan’s nature when He gave us His Nature; so that when we were Born Again we had God’s Nature and the devil’s nature in us. We warred against the old nature in us. They said that we would be free when we died. Satan is the author of death. That would make Satan your savior. Far be the thought!
    All this teaching belongs to Sense Knowledge’s interpretation of the Word.
    Spiritual things are spiritually understood. I Cor. 2:12: “That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
    The first thing that is given to you after Redemption is a New Nature. II Cor. 5:17 must ever stand as the key to this wonderful truth: “Wherefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all these things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.”
    You are a New Creation. The devil’s nature has been taken out of you. God’s Nature has taken its place.
    You are reconciled to the Father. You are brought into fellowship with the Father. Everything you were before, stopped being. All you were in Satan stopped being.
    The old things of weakness and failure are passed. This New Creation has no memory of the past creation. You are newly born. You are a new species. You are a New Creation in Christ Jesus.
    The Jew was blood-covered because his nature was antagonistic toward God. We are not blood-covered. We are made New Creations. We are cleansed by the blood. We need not be covered. We can stand free of sin-consciousness in His presence. just as Jesus did in His earth walk.
    The Holy Spirit has given birth to us. We are born of God. James 1:18: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” I John 4:4: “Ye are of God, my little children.” Eph.2:10: “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.”
    All this drives us to this conclusion: that this New Creation is something that God Himself has wrought, and that we are just what He says we are-the very sons of God.
    Romans 6:6 tells us that the man of sin is done away in the New Creation: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him. that the body of sin might be done away that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin.” The sin nature is gone. So many of us have tried to get rid of this old nature. We did not know that it was put away.
    The thing called the Adamic nature is spiritual death which has possession of our spirits. When we are made alive, made New Creations, that nature is done away.
    We are tempted, and in our babyhood state do foolish things. That is because our bodies have never yet been brought into subjection to our spirits. Desire may dwell in your physical body, but it is not sin until you have consented to an act that is forbidden in the Word. There is nothing wrong in your body. Sin lived in your spirit and in your mind. It does not abide in your body.
    When it says “sin in the flesh” it means sin in the senses. It is when your senses have gained the dominion over your spirit and mind.
    Romans 12:1, 2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this age; but be ye transfigured by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
    He desires that these senses shall be dedicated to Him after we are Born Again. It is an unseemly thing for your senses to rule your mind and your spirit. You know that if you have a sore foot that that foot rules all the rest of your body. That disease has gained the mastery so that your spirit and your mind become absolute slaves to the pain in the foot. The same thing is true if you have an unclean appetite, a habit. That habit gains the mastery over your whole being, if you do not hold it in subjection.
    The thing you should say to that foot is, “By His stripes, you are healed. In the Name of Jesus become well!” (from Isaiah 53). You say to the habit that has gained the mastery over your body and mind, “You have no right to hold dominion over me any longer. In the Name of Jesus Christ, depart!”
    You will be free.
    There is only one place for sin to actually reside, and that is in our spirits. Our spirits have been recreated. The sin nature has been taken out. I John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren!” Satan’s nature is gone. God’s Nature is in us. This New Creation is of God. We know that we are His own.
    Nothing will cripple one so quickly as to deny this truth. Nothing will establish you and build your faith as quickly as to confess it. Confess it in your heart first. Confess it out loud in your room. Say it over and over again: “I am a child of God. I have God’s Nature. I am the righteousness of God in Christ!” Say it until the words become familiar to your spirit. Say it until your spirit and your words agree, until your whole being swings into harmony and into line with the Word of God.
    That miraculous passage in Hebrews 5:13 says, “For everyone that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe!” They have never sounded the depths of righteousness. They do not know what it means to have God justify them and to have a standing with the Father just like Jesus’ standing. They do not seem to grasp the significance of the reality of the New Creation.
    That New Creation is a part of God. It has partaken of God’s Nature. It has been made out of righteousness and holiness of truth. The New Creation is not a man-made thing. It is not a mental thing. It is a thing of God. Just as the angel said in Luke 1:35: “That holy thing that shall be born shall be the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit has given birth to you and you are one of the holy ones of God.
    You are that separated thing that belongs absolutely to the Father. You are now His very child. You can say, “My Father!” He whispers, “My child!”
    Romans 8:15: “For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” This is your continual confession of your relationship to Him and His to you. That will build faith into you.
    Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus!” God is your Father, your Protector, your Caretaker, and your Lord. You are in His family. Take your place. Play the part of a son.
    Let the world hear your confession. Every time you confess your sonship rights and your sonship place, you defeat the adversary. Sickness has no dominion over you. Disease has no dominion over you. Want and hunger and need have no dominion over you. You are now in the family of plenty.
    You are in the family where you lie down in green pastures and you are led by streams of sweet water. Your soul is restored from calamity, fear, and doubt; and fellowship and communion with Him is quiet and beautiful. You are walking, now in the paths of righteousness, taking advantage of your righteousness. You are doing the works of a righteous man. You are praying the prayers of a righteous man. James 5:16: “The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.”
    You are praying for the sick. You are casting out demons. Mark 16:17,18.
    You are living a life of victory because you are the righteousness of God in Christ.
    This in part is what Eternal Life gives us in Christ.

This page Copyright © 2001 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.

Was Kenyon Plagiarised?

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PLAGIARISM OF E. W. KENYON BY KENNETH E. HAGIN?

In his book A Different Gospel, author D.R. McConnell goes to some length to show that Kenneth Hagin plagiarized the writings of E. W. Kenyon. Some have contacted the office of Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society quite irritated about this situation. So what is our response?

First of all, it must be noted that Kenneth Hagin, to the best of my knowledge does not actually write his books. What I mean by this is that his books are for the most part transcriptions of his speaking ministry. Someone transcribes the taped messages and then they are edited and put into book form. Those who are preachers understand that it is impossible to stop and credit everyone who influenced your message while you are preaching. As someone who has been preaching and teaching for around 20 years, I shudder to think what would happen if I were called upon to remember each author or speaker who had influenced any given message I teach.

Anyone listening to me preach who was familiar with E.W. Kenyon would recognize many of his ideas in my preaching. The thoughtful listener would also recognize many other influences in my speaking ministry. This would be confirmed by my personal library of books and tapes. 

One respected Charismatic leader, who has since gone on to be with the Lord, said of E.W. Kenyon that he was often quoted, yet seldom footnoted. Many people have absorbed his phrases and echoed his ideas. I have heard Kenneth Hagin personally testify to the fact that many of the phrases he has used and ideas he has taught, he heard from some other preachers before he ever heard of E.W. Kenyon. It is quite possible that they were quoting Kenyon and using his material and Kenneth Hagin didn’t know the original source. Liking the sound of the phrases, Hagin added them to his preaching vocabulary.

Hagin has noted that he has an almost photographic memory. Reading or hearing something once was all that was necessary for him to recall it verbatim. Every preacher wishes he had this ability! Most of us remember what we can but seldom remember where we heard it. But most preachers have no need to become paranoid about someone chastising us for quoting another author or preacher in our messages and being accused of plagiarism either! Brother Hagin has not been so fortunate.

A second thought that bears on this subject: All of those ministers who worked with Kenyon used his terminology and catchy phrases. It’s would be hard to imagine him being offended by this. People enjoy Kenyon’s writings because he had a unique way of stating things that grabs our attention. People seldom imitate boring speakers! Kenyon would probably be delighted to find that so many are using his phraseology today. In his day he sent forth many ministers that he trained in his churches and Bible schools who preached essentially his message. A father in the faith is blessed when his children imitate him, not angered.

A third point: Kenneth Hagin published a book titled The Name of Jesus. The book was taken from tapes of a seminar where he taught through Kenyon’s book The Wonderful Name of Jesus. He credits Kenyon both on the tapes and in the introduction to the book. He worked, through his editor, with Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society and had the complete approval of Ruth Kenyon Housworth (Kenyon’s late daughter) for the book when it went to print. Hagin’s ministry has always maintained a good relationship with Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society. One of Kenyon’s books is used in the curriculum at Hagin’s Rhema Bible Training Center.

We consider Kenneth E. Hagin to be a great man of God. If E.W. Kenyon were here today, he and Hagin would probably be good friends. And from his vantage point in heaven, Kenyon is probably delighted that Kenneth E. Hagin has been so successful in getting the message of faith, so dear to Kenyon’s heart, out to so many in the world in this generation. 

If Kenyon himself wouldn’t be bothered about it all, why should anyone else?

The Peace of God (A J Gordon)

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The Peace of God

by A.J. Gordon

“And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” — Ephesians 2:17.
    “Think not I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword,” says Jesus. And how can we reconcile the words with those now before us? Evidently by remembering that He brings peace by the sword; conversion comes through conviction, healing through wounding, the peace of God through the word of God, which is ” quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit.” When Christ crucified is preached, and we see how He was wounded for our transgressions, it must bring contrition if the Spirit applies the word, and we shall be pricked in the heart as they were on the day of Pentecost. But the risen Christ appears, preaching peace to those who have been convicted and slain by His word and His cross. And to such let our text speak to-day. Observe, first, that —

 
   

I. The peace which Christ preaches is the result of His conflict and victory on the cross

In the passage from which my text is taken, it is first said that Christ “made peace,” and then that He “preached peace.” And this is very important to be noted. He did not make peace by declaring it; He declared it because He had made it. Men often put words before deeds, and promises before performances; but Christ never does. His work stands ever as the solid background of His word. What He promises to us is always backed and buttressed by what He has performed for us.
    Now, I think the great mistake which superficial readers of the New Testament make about the gospel is, that they do not recognise the antecedent relation of Christ’s work to His gifts and promises. The scheme of salvation which they deduce from the Scriptures is deficient in this, that it lacks perspective, if I may say so; like a Chinese picture, in which all the objects are in the foreground, with no relief of darker shades and deeper lines, so that they see Christ’s peace and pardon as the prominent things in the gospel, without seeing the cross, the punishment of sin, the battle with death, and the bloody victory over the powers of darkness, which constitute the groundwork of this peace.
    Why cannot God pardon sin, and give the sinner peace, it is asked, without the intervention of atonement? When your child has offended, and is sorry, and asks forgiveness, you do not feel obliged to require one of the other children to stand as substitute for him, and to receive the chastisement that belongs to him, before you can consent to pardon him; and why should God require such a condition? Well, perhaps the family is not a perfect picture of the universe. There may be holy spectators to the scene of human guilt to whom it may be needful to make an exhibition of God’s hatred of sin. There may be other worlds than ours which have heard of God’s ancient decree, ” The soul that sinneth it shall die,” and before whom a righteous God must show Himself true to His word.
    There is much of mystery about the punishment of sin, as there is about the origin of sin. We do not profess to solve the mystery. But, since human relationships have been referred to, we do assert that in the dealing of man with man it is constantly found impossible to forgive and remit the penalty of wrong-doing. When a man in the highest circles of society has committed forgery, and confesses his crime, and is deeply penitent, declaring that he did it under the pressure of overwhelming and well-nigh irresistible temptation, why cannot the governor pardon him at once? Ah! there is the sanctity of law, which he is sworn to protect; there are the claims of justice, which must be vindicated; there is public sentiment, watching with its hundred jealous eyes, which he dare not defy. Hence, however deeply the heart of the chief magistrate may be touched at the sorrow of the offender and the distress of his family, he cannot, he dare not pardon him. And so I take the question which is often asked, and asked with an assurance which implies that it settles the whole controversy, “Is God less merciful than man?” I answer, No! He is infinitely more merciful. He can pardon where man can only punish. He can make heaven’s doors swing open to men whose prison doors we dare not open. He can accept men in the other world whom we have been obliged to swing out of this world on a gallows. Ay; man can be merciful where the claims of justice do not forbid; but only of God can that magnificent thing be said, that He is “just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
    To come back now to the point which I am emphasizing. The thing which we want as sinners is peace with God. And I say to you now, with the fullest confidence in the truth of what I utter, that that peace may be yours, on this very day, and at this very hour, if you will accept it. It is not a peace which is fenced about by hard conditions. It is not a peace that has to be wrung from God’s hand by any prolonged toil and agony of soul. It is yours, if by the simplest exercise of faith you will receive it. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    But, while this is all true, it is equally true that, on Christ’s part, that peace is at the cost of unutterable toil and conflict. Pluck the fruit of peace with God, O sinner! — it is ripe and ready to drop into your soul at the gentlest touch of faith. But, oh, forget not that the only tree in the universe that yields that peace is the cross of Christ. And that tree is a tree of life to us only because it was a tree of death to Christ. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations, only because He was punished there “by whose stripes ye were healed.” It gives peace to the world now, only because there the Captain of our salvation fought with death and conquered for us. And this is the answer we would make those who object to the terms of peace which we propose, on the ground that they make no demand for heroic endeavour on our part; that they lay no necessity on us for spiritual effort and toil; that they call for surrender instead of conflict and valour. Yes; but there was conflict enough on the part of the Redeemer to purchase that peace for us. If it is a free gift to us, it was costly enough for Him.
    When Caesar had bestowed a rare present upon one of his friends, the recipient of the gift said to him, “This is too costly a gift for me to receive.” — “But it is not too costly for me to give,” said the Emperor. The peace of God may be too costly a gift for us to receive, for the mere taking of it; but it is not too costly for Christ to give. He earned it, if we are not required to earn it. He paid enough for it, though it is without money and without price to us. No, we are not mistaken in saying that peace is proclaimed from the cross of Christ, and that it can come to you through a single look at that cross. But let us go around to the back side of the cross and study the awful conflict that was behind this front of blessed peace. We shall find that each benediction that is offered to us is rooted in the exceeding sorrow of Him who for our sakes was made a curse. We shall find that each thread in that robe of righteousness that is put on us was wrought by His bleeding toil who was made sin for us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” And thus we shall learn anew that Christ preached peace to us only because by His death He had conquered peace for us. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It costs us only faith to be justified. “Being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” It cost Christ His own blood to justify us. “My peace I give unto you,” says Jesus. — Nothing for us to do but simply to take it. “Having slain the enmity by the cross, so making peace,” that is what it cost Christ to give us peace. And that great price must always be kept before us, lest we lightly esteem our peace. And, more, it must be always kept before us, that we may be assured of the solid ground on which that peace rests.
    Have you ever noticed as bearing on this point that inimitable description of Christ’s first announcement of His peace after His resurrection? If an ambassador were to go to a rebellious people, carrying the tidings of peace, he would be likely first to announce the proclamation of peace, and then to show them the written documents and credentials to support it. So did Jesus. He had just risen from the dead. “And at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, then came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He showed them His hands and His side.” Yes, Thou mighty ambassador from God! These were the proofs and credentials of Thy peace! These scars of Thy conflict are our security. These marks of Thy passion are our title-deeds of peace; these nail-prints and spear-marks are our certificates to assure us that Thy ransom was accepted when Thou didst offer up Thyself without spot unto God. Here, then, O believer, is the ground on which your assurance rests. Christ’s conflict, waged for us, and waged to the end, is the present and eternal security for our entering into peace. And when that gentle benediction is let fall upon your heads, “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” remember that that benediction rests upon the accomplished and eternal fact that ” the God of peace hath brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of the Everlasting Covenant.”
    Observe again, that —

II. The peace which Christ preached has its security now in the person of Christ on the throne

For in this connection we find it said not only that He “made peace,” but that “He is our peace.” This, you see, refers to His person, as the other expression refers to His work. And this again corresponds with what is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews in regard to Christ’s present office, — He has gone “into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us;” not to do for us or to die for us any more, but to appear for us, to present Himself to God on our behalf. Since, then, He Who is our peace is there, our assurance of faith depends not upon that clear, discriminating inlook by which we can say, “I see where I stand,” but upon that penetrating and unclouded uplook by which, with the dying Stephen, we can say, “I see Jesus standing at the right of God.”
    Understand what I mean. It is the external fact that gives value and certainty to inward experience, and not vice versa. If you are a believer, you have “Christ in you the hope of glory;” but Christ in you is but the appropriation and realization of that unchanging fact of Christ for you on the throne. Therefore no inner experience is of any value which does not come to us as the apprehension and transcript of this outward reality. And to fix your faith on Christ within you as the basis of your assurance were like the astronomer pointing his telescope to the reflection of a star in the water, instead of pointing it to the star itself in the heavens.
    I am not disparaging Christian experience, or undervaluing the testimony of consciousness for establishing the believer’s peace; only it is not sufficient of itself. Feeling may be the reflection of feeling, emotion the reflection of emotion, all beginning and ending in the heart itself. One, by too habitual attention to his frames and feelings, can turn his soul into a whispering-gallery for echoing, and resounding his own emotions, instead of making it, as he ought, an oratory for receiving and recording communications from the Lord. There is no authority in feeling. There is no infallibility in consciousness. The “I am” and the “I say” of our Lord are our final appeal, and ever must be. And it is faith’s supreme office to transform that which is true for us in Christ into something true, and living, and real, in our own experience. It strikes the revealed and indisputable fact of what Christ is, and reasons down to what we are by virtue of our union with Him through faith. “As He is, so are we in this world,” says John. And we are not to reverse God’s method, and in searching for peace to gather up the hints and intimations which we find in our own hearts, and frame them into an assurance. We are to grasp the great central fact of Christ our peace, and rest in it as the end of all controversy, — no longer trying to make peace or to keep peace with God, but letting the peace of God that passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
    Have we sufficiently noticed how the Scriptures, in seeking to assure us of our standing as Christians, take our eyes away from ourselves and carry our vision always up to the risen Lord upon the throne? Hear Paul. “Who is he that condemneth?” And what follows as the ground of his exulting challenge? Does he appeal to the testimony of an unwavering personal conviction? Does He bring forward the evidence of a clear conscience? No. “Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God.” He knew not simply that he had believed, but he knew whom he had believed. And the sight of His radiant, glorified form above, was for him the end of all controversy. He knew that God’s eye, resting on His Son, saw an adequate reason for the salvation of every believing soul, and he rested and riveted his eye upon the same object, and challenged the world to shake him from his confidence.
    There stands our Redeemer, preaching peace, not by what He says, but by what He is. O brethren, it is not the eloquence of fervid speech and pathetic intercession by which He pleads our cause. “He is our peace.” The ineffaceable wounds of His passion and His obedience unto death are sufficient. His scars are our security; His crucifixion marks are our credentials. He need not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets of the New Jerusalem. He, He Himself, is there, and that is enough. And from all the tumult and perplexity of a troubled conscience we may lift up our eyes to Him, saying, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at Thy right hand I shall not be moved.” I am persuaded that it is at just this point that we most frequently pervert the simplicity of the gospel. We want to believe because we feel, when God wants us to feel because we believe, and to believe because of what Christ is and has done. Our faith should rest on His word, as His written or spoken word rests upon Himself, the living Word.
    Now, it seems to me that when it is said of Christ that “He is our peace,” it is an expression that comprehends all else that is said about Him. For in His glorified person we have a “summary of His whole redemptive work. The scars of His vicarious woe, still visible on His body, are the perpetual reiteration of His atonement; the unchanged and unchangeable human form which He for ever wears is the archive in which all He has done and suffered for us is treasured up. Think of that sublime definition of Himself which He gives from the throne: ‘I am He that liveth and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore.’ — ‘Was dead’ points backward to the cross and the sacrifice, never to be forgotten and never to lose its power in all the endless years. ‘Alive for evermore’ tells of the glorified life to which the Master taught us to fasten our hope, when He said, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ All past, present, and future are contained in this definition. Let us see, then, how it meets our needs. I stand looking towards the throne, guilty and trembling, and asking the question, ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place?’ And the answer comes, ‘He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.’ I look at my hands, and they are unclean. The stain of countless wrong-doing is upon them. I look at my heart; it is all impure. The gilt of untold sinful thoughts and motives is there. And, no matter how long and how intently I look, the case grows worse and worse, and I get no comfort. But from self I look up, and “‘Lo, in the midst of the throne’ there stands ‘a Lamb as it had been slain.’ I know Him; I accept Him; I believe in Him; and I am at peace. For this is He that was dead. By His death we have the blood that cleanseth from all sin. And through this blood I have clean hands and a pure heart. I stand no longer afar off, smiting on my breast. I hear the summons, and I obey it: ‘Having, therefore, brethren, bo1dness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw nigh with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.'”
    This is what a look of faith towards Him, who is “our peace,” can do for us. And this is what I mean by Christ’s glorified body containing in itself a summary of His redemptive work. He comprehends all His past in His present living personality. We drop our former years one by one, and they perish. He gathers up all the years of His redeeming toil and travail spent on earth, and lives them in perpetual offering in heaven. As the tree gathers up all the growths of successive summers, and contains them in its trunk, so Christ, in His ever-living person, is all that He ever has been, and preserves all for our redemption that He has ever done. I see peace written in His cross, written in His blood, written in His words; but in His exalted and enthroned person I read it as in a living word that sums up all other expressions in one, “For He is our peace.”
    See, then, O believer, how every question concerning your peace with God is answered there. Did Christ die for your sins, proffering to God His own blood as the price of your redemption? How know you that the price has been accepted? There is the receipt in the throned and glorified One above. Did Christ conquer death and the grave for you? How know you that that conquest is complete? There is the indisputable evidence of it, the Victor returned from the conquest, having “led captivity captive.” There is no question touching our peace that is not answered there.
    And now this peace is preached “to you which are afar off, and to them which were nigh,” that is, to both Gentiles and Jews. We Gentiles were once afar from God, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus are we not only “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” — as nigh as the Jew ever was, — but as members of that “new man,” taken from both Jew and Gentile, we are brought into a nearness to God which the Jew knew nothing of. We are brought into His very presence-chamber, where we can speak to Him face to face, and hold with Him direct and unhindered communion; “for through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
    Such, O believer, is your heritage. And now let this peace of God rule within you, making you strong and victorious in all your conflicts with temptation, while you wait for the day when “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.”

This page Copyright © 1999 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.

Wisdom for the Last Days (Creflo Dollar)

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Wisdom for the Last Days

Creflo Dollar

Believers have an edge over the world that enables us to be successful, prosperous and productive, even in the midst of economic crisis. There is no question the world system, with its institutions and ways of doing things, is failing. Financial bailouts and rescue plans cannot change this fact. However, the Word of God is your guarantee of security in the midst of hard times. Now, more than ever, is the time to plug into the promises of God and remain focused on Him.

The Kingdom of God is a higher system that supersedes the world’s system. It is a system that has an abundance of resources, wisdom, and assistance available for you. While the world is talking about recession and existing on fear, you can tap into the infinite and unlimited resources of Heaven to get your needs met at any time, no matter what is going on around you.

One of the things God has made available to Christians is His wisdom. Wisdom is knowing what to do when you do not have the answers through your own natural ability. Wisdom is based on revelation knowledge that comes from God.

As it pertains to financial security, a key to making sure your needs are met on a consistent basis is to tap into the wisdom of God where your money is concerned. Practical advice is just as important as the spiritual side of things. Since so many people struggle in the area of finances, it makes sense to pay attention to some basic tips to maximize your finances in the midst of economic instability.

1.Be a giver.

When you give from a pure heart, trusting God to meet your needs, you are guaranteed a harvest. Seedtime and harvest is a spiritual law that will work for anyone who will get involved. Being a giver is the way to prosper in the Kingdom of God. Instead of being one who hoards your finances out of fear, be willing to keep an open hand. This way, God can bless you in the same way you bless others.

2.Be frugal in your spending.

I am not saying you should not buy anything you like or desire, but allow God to direct your spending habits instead of buying things on impulse. Consider those things you absolutely need right now versus the things you can do without. Allow God to bless you with the desires of your heart at the right time. Do not spend money you do not have or live beyond your means. This is a principle of good stewardship which qualifies you for your next level.

3. Stay out of debt.

Debt is part of the world’s system, particularly when you find yourself using credit cards to pay your bills, buy items you cannot afford, or acquire things on credit to keep up appearances. A good rule of thumb is, if you cannot pay your credit card bill off every month, you should not buy things on credit. Only use the plastic if absolutely necessary, and if you know you have the cash to pay the bill. Do not take on any debt right now if you can avoid it and work diligently to pay off existing debt.

These three simple keys can help you tremendously during the difficult times in which we live. By adding the spiritual with the practical, you will access the supernatural power of God to transform your finances!

Scripture References

Matthew 6:33
Luke 6:38
Luke 12:42
Romans 13:8

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