Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

A Lack of Ambassadorship and Testimony Pt.3

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heavens-749570The Fear of the Lord

Our appreciation for the grace, mercy, power and holiness of our Lord brings our hearts to a position of great admiration of His person. There is joy in the heart of a believer who has seen and appreciated the majesty of the greatness of His perfection. With this retrospect comes a great humility! When we view God in such a light we begin our road to reverencing His glorious majesty. This reverence is what the bible reveals to us as the fear of the Lord.  It is the pinnacle of a heart that is truly faithful to its master and leads to the desire of Ambasadorship and a consistent testimony. There used to be a time when people who were believers would be consistently referred to as “God-fearers” (Gen.20:11) They were followers who were willing and eager to reverently bow the knee to their God. They had understood the words of wisdom from the book of proverbs as to: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7) and the ability to discover the knowledge from God flowed from it. (Proverbs 2:5) They were a people who “trembled at my word” (Isaiah 66:2) and had as their confidence this Godly fear (Job 4:6)

We feel that much of this special fear that is to be directed towards God has been lost and replaced by the desire to please men. Much of the Christian testimony has been taken much too lightly simply because we do not live in the fear of the Lord. This is exactly the way the unbeliever lives in light of his rebellion against the Majesty of Jehovah. (Psalm 36:1; Romans 3:18). These men unfortunately hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. (Prov. 1:29). What do I mean that we fear men rather than fearing God? Let’s face it, there are times when we are more occupied with how to bring people in to hear the gospel rather than the substance of the message itself. We live in a generation where we find pleasure in doing things that the unbeliever feels tremendously comfortable in associating with. There is the tendency to take something of the world and give it a “Christian” twist. We are, in essence, sugar-coating the pleasures of those who are not reverent towards the Lord. Some have spoken of this as our churches essentially feeding the goats rather than providing food for the sheep with a desire that the goats become sheep! This, in effect, brings much less relevance to the message of the Gospel and to the testimony of the believer. In order to live a life that is pleasing to God and continue to retain our testimony, we must pursue to cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) The gathering of Christians should always be striving to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) When our testimony becomes “soft” and our desire for holiness becomes “trivial” then we have not understood that it isn’t only the unbeliever who needs to “fear the Lord” but especially the believer. The fear of the Lord causes us to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13) and to “keep away from evil” (Proverbs 16:6; Nehemiah 5:15). Why? Because it results in being conscientious and careful not to offend God! It is walking with respect and reverence to His character and person with the mindset that He can be affronted even by His children. We are to place God as supreme in our reverence rather than fall in the trap of fearing men over Him. (Matthew 10:28)

There is another issue that arises from the lack of a true fear of God. There are exhortations in scripture that are taken much too lightly. This seems, in our experience, to be some unfortunate cause of concern. We read certain “warning” passages as if they are to be taken without true consideration. The attitude seemingly expressed is that we should try our best to accommodate these scriptures but because we are now redeemed by the blood that there is nothing to truly have any real concern. We forget that God blesses those who take Him seriously! It is to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2) and that there is judgment for those who do not take His words seriously. (Revelation 2 & 3)


Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 25, 2009 at 7:39 am

Posted in Discipleship

A Lack of Ambassadorship and Testimony Pt.2

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042The Sovereignty of God in Salvation

What causes a man to throw the entirety of his person and his life into a testimony for God? It is far from the mind of our average non-believer to be an representative even unto death for someone he cannot see, taste, hear, smell or touch. We must admit that this is not something that is natural for people to do. In order for there to be desire for ambassadorship, there needs to be something that happens to this individual. He needs an appreciation of the supernatural.

Over the past few years there has been a sudden revival in the understanding of the doctrines of grace. There have been many truths in this regard that have become prevalent in many popular modern day teachers.  Along with this surge has come a new interest in some of the “old” writers whose writings had the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation as a focal point to their theological writings has influenced many in a new appreciation for these ignored biblical truths. This resurgence however needs to grow tremendously before we can see a true effect on the state of Christians today and it is my prayer that it will.  When I speak of the sovereignty of God in salvation I am acknowledging the right of our God to choose to save whom he pleases and with whom He will spend eternity with. The scriptures raise our hearts to the sky in revealing to us of God’s purposes in saving a people unto Himself.  Paul affirmed this wonderful truth on many occasions in his writings. We read in Ephesians 1 that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6) These wonderful blessings are on the basis of God’s “kind intention” and “to the praise of the glory of His grace”. Paul also confirmed this right of God in his letter to the Thessalonians where he stated that we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13) We find the entirety of our salvation based upon God’s work in us that was established “before the foundation of the world”. God’s will is the true source of salvation even to the extent that He gave us the faith to believe on His Son! (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:9) since without His planned interference that no one would come to the Son. (John 6:44) Salvation is truly and fully of the Lord!

What we might consider now is how the sovereignty of God in salvation is relevant to the lack of passion in our North American Christianity today? The answer, in our opinion, is that we no longer view our God in an awestruck way. What truly stirs up our hearts with overwhelming appreciation is that we can essentially look at God, not as one who simply created a plan of salvation and left us who are dead and enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:1-4; John 8:31-34), but instead as the gracious God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is the God of unfailing power and of conquering purposes. He is the one who broke our rebellious will and produced everything that is ours without ANY help of the human will. He is the one who is accomplishing His purposes in all things and demands faithfulness of His people! Who are we to be thankful as His chosen people but live a life that is in accordance with His holy purposes with fervour and zeal to proclaim His precious name!

The truth is however that I have addressed this particular point as a means of introduction in order to build upon it. It should be carefully noted that simply because an individual holds to God’s Sovereignty in Salvation shouldn’t presuppose they are possessing Godly passion in their lives. There are many who hold to the doctrines of Grace who have fallen into the trap of the losing their enthusiasm for the gospel testimony and holiness. The thought expressed here is that it is an incredible boost to humble ourselves in subjection to our Lord when we see that everything that we are and possess is ours only by Sovereign grace!

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Discipleship

Lack of Ambassadorship & Testimony: Pt.1

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I am writing this post with the intention of addressing a subject that might be a little “over the top” for some people. It is a tremendously serious matter and my hope is that even though it might be a little difficult to appreciate in light of its nature that some might give it a chance. Regardless if you agree with my observations or not, I trust that the reader might gather at least some small exhortation from them. I want to mention also that my desire in posting these thoughts is neither to point the finger at any individual or group nor to elevate myself as “perfect” in this regard. I am certain that some will get this impression however it is not why I am writing. I am concerned about people and their testimony to their God as well as their witness to the world! It might be questioned from the beginning why everyone wouldn’t feel this is an important matter. The reason is that some have looked at this issue as quite simply trivial and they have felt I am being simply too serious in dealing with it. These thoughts are my opinion and I welcome and value some disagreement with my ideas.

I have for some time now examined my life as a man who struggles with the goal of attempting to please my God. I have strived at continuing to be consistent in my testimony towards others in relating, in an open way, the change that has occurred in me due to my salvation. I have tried to conform my life to be one that is honourable to the Lord in keeping with His wondrous holiness.  I have viewed over the years a gradual change in me in that my desires have been more conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus. Even though I will never be holy as God is holy, it is what I long for! All these things simply because I know that they are pleasing to Him! I know many individuals who share in this yearning and we wait patiently to see the day when we are glorified to finally have received a rest from our imperfections. What I have noticed in many circles in our Christian Society is that many do not share in my enthusiasm. I detect that many seem to have lost their “strive” at pleasing the Lord and appear content with their current state. Is it not the natural desire of those who are Christ’s to become holy as he is holy? Is it not our longing to be effective witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ both in our gospel efforts and in our everyday living?

I have been pondering the idea as to why in our society in North America that it seems Christians, even in some faithful gatherings, have become for simple terms “soft”.  What do I mean by this? I am implying that there is, in most cases, a mass amount of “comfort” and “prosperity” that has influenced my brothers and sisters. The result of this is a group that seems to have lost sight of the zeal that once made Christianity something that was a struggle to continue in. It is in effect not taking exhortations in scripture as appeals that should be engaged as a burden on the heart of the follower.  It is quite simply being passive towards our Ambassadorship as teachers, preachers and those who “live” the Word of God. One example would be if we took the time at reflecting back at a Christian during the first three centuries after the ascension of our Lord. Being a “Christian” was an association that would bring incredible suffering and in most cases the death of the individual. Even over the course of the last two thousand years, there have been many who have given their lives for the preservation of the gospel and the word of God. I am not stating that one needs to be persecuted to the extent that some of our forefathers in the faith did. The question is would I be willing to be persecuted even unto death for the gospel and the preservation of word? It is a question that I believe that everyone should be taking into consideration.  I honestly feel that, for the most part, if the majority who profess Christ took this question into account and answered honestly they would need to do so in the negative.

What about our everyday testimony to others? I trust we have had to ask this question to ourselves on many occasions. If my life is enveloped in the world then am I truly not of the world rather than of Christ? If my entertainment is exactly as the world, my language, my virtues, my ethics, my passions or even my general thinking, how am I different than the person who is not a Christian? My observation has been that too many have become “comfortable”.  I am not insinuating that all are “comfortable” to the same degree but let’s face it, more and more our generation and the one proceeding ours is growing less and less passionate about their faith than in any other generation. The question is: why is this happening? This is the main point I want to survey in this short writing. I thought I would share my point of view regarding this matter. I want to explore a few issues that I feel are relevant to the discussion and delve into them the best I can. Once again, my wish is not to point the finger at anyone but to ponder as to why this is the case. If anything I will certainly be learning a great deal about this grave situation and I hope it will cause me to raise my effectiveness as an Ambassador of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Discipleship