TheLaw of the Spirit

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

We speak about natural laws. What are natural laws? Take the law of nourishment. Provided that law is complied with, honored; and at the right time the body is given what it needs, not more, not less; the law of nourishment deals with that and quite spontaneously works out in development, growth, to express itself in various ways. It is the working of a natural law spontaneously. You do not sit down with the law, and watch it, and worry about it. What you do is to feed yourself, and leave all the rest to the law. If you violate the law you know all about it, but acting rightly in relation to the law you will not be fretting all day long about the law of nourishment, you will simply be taking your meals and getting on with your work. The result is that you are able to work, able to go on; you are nourished.

The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ is like that. It is a law of Life, and it works out in a practical way when respected and honored. It works out spontaneously in certain directions. It has its own results quite naturally. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ is that law by which we become aware. That is the simplest way of putting things. The Lord Jesus knew that at a certain time He could not act, could not speak; He had no movement of the Spirit in quickening, no Life to do so at that time; in His spirit there was no movement of Life; the law was not active in the positive way. But when the Father, Who knew what was required in speech or action, saw that the time had come, He did not bend down and speak with an audible voice into His ear, and say, “Now is the time! Say this! Do that!” He simply quickened Him inwardly. The law of Life became active in that direction, and He knew by an inward quickening what the mind of God was. That is what Paul means when he says, “The mind of the Spirit is Life.”   TAS

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The things which are seen are temporal —2 Corinthians 4:18

How strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that are unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water, he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim; but he cannot do both. if the bird is going to fly it must keep away from the fences and the trees and trust to its buoyant wings. If it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.

God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead and then take God for the whole work. When he looked away from himself and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able also to perform.

This is what God is teaching us. He has to withhold encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His work real in fact as well as faith.

Let us look only to Him today to do what/ He will choose in the way He will choose.

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Of God…or Not?

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8 )

Man has constructed his own interpretations of Christianity and of truth, brought in his own systems and has confused things so much that you really do not know, unless you have clear discernment such as Nehemiah had, what is of God and what is not of God. There are multitudes of good, honest, sincere Christian people who really are in the most awful fog as to what is of God and what is not of God religiously. Man’s religious systems have brought about that confusion and multitudes of honest people believe with all their heart that the thing that they are in is of God, and it is just possible for them to get such an awakening to see the whole thing was man-made and not of God at all; “…much rubbish.” Paul was one of those. Reflect upon his past life, privileges, and inheritances which he at one time believed were so utterly and absolutely of God for him, and that he really was in God’s will. He came to a time when he said: “The things which were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ… for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ”; and yet he was so devoted to all that as a traditional religious system in which he at one time was living as out from God, which had now become merely an outward thing of forms and external laws. He believed, nevertheless, that it was all of God until the light shone, until he saw that in comparison with the fullness of Christ it was refuse. It is a strong word that he uses; the word he uses is “stuff to be flung to the dogs.” Saul of Tarsus throwing his Judaism to the dogs! He did it when he saw Christ. You can never come out of the rubbish until you see Christ.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the fullness of Christ and you will find things which have gripped and held you become as mere refuse, stuff to be flung to the dogs. There was much rubbish in the place which once represented a clear line of division between what was of God and what was not of God; confusion, mixture. I shall not attempt to apply that more thoroughly. The Lord will have to show us by revelation what the rubbish is, but there is the simple statement and it contains a truth, and you and I will really have to ask the Lord to show us even in religious matters, where man ends and God begins, or where God ends and man begins, so that we shall be delivered from everything that man has imposed or added upon what is of God, and we shall be able to get right down to foundations, the rubbish being removed: and there is a very great deal of ecclesiastical rubbish about in these days that must go. That is a real difficulty in recovering the full testimony of the Lord Jesus.   TAS

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Waterless Springs and Mists Driven by a Storm

 

by Mike Ratliff

4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:4-13 (NASB) 

God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but even in that God is still Sovereign. Creation is cursed and God has not yet culminated this age when He will restore it to its proper relationship with Him. However, He has sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. At the cross, He redeemed them. However, in life here on planet Earth they must still live in this fallen world. Jesus warned His Apostles and us about what this life would be like for His people on this cursed planet from the birth of the Church until the culmination of the end of this age.

4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:4-14 (NASB) 

Notice that from the beginning of the Church just a few days after Jesus spoke these words that it would come under attack from many false Christs or false prophets. History reveals that Gnosticism was a large problem for the early Church. Ever since, the genuine or invisible Church has been just a remnant within the visible Church. Nothing has changed in that area. It seems that for every rock solid Christian leader there are 10 or 20 charlatans leading multitudes astray. Either that or the Pharisees take over churches then lead the people into being religious zombies. Liberalism tries to marry Christianity to the world and its ways. And in all of this, men assume control and remove God’s Sovereignty from Him. At least they think they do. All of these things are just various forms of unbelief.

Therefore, it is imperative that we know how to recognize false prophets and deal with them according to God’s will. Fortunately, God gave us the Apostle Peter who wrote 2 Peter Chapter 2, which gives us their characteristics and methods.

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NASB) 

Look at the vast numbers of people flocking to hear the social gospel espoused in seeker sensitive churches. If you do not believe that money is not part of that movement then you haven’t been paying attention. Why do they want such huge churches with continuous flows of new people coming into? They say to reach the world for Christ, but they don’t preach the gospel there. They get people to come to church by appealing to their flesh then give them half of the gospel that is NOT THE GOOD NEWS preached by our Lord and His servants. Instead, it is a gospel of another Jesus who wants to meet everyone’s felt needs. God has their judgment prepared for them.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 2 Peter 2:4-11 (NASB) 

This is puzzling to me. If these are men of God then how is it that they can pervert the Gospel and not have any fear of God who does judge the wicked?

12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 2 Peter 2:12-16 (NASB) 

Notice that these people are very busy and are deceivers. They appear to most people to be legitimate, but they have forsaken the right way and have gone astray. Some Christians believe that we shouldn’t point out these things about “other Christians.” Why?  I contend that we must warn our brethren about all false teachers while giving these people a chance to repent. However, if they do not then we must keep warning all who will hear.

17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:17-22 (NASB) 

False teachers and preachers are like springs without water or clouds that promise rain, but just blow by. They make boasts of fulfillment for their followers, but are powerless to make it happen. Over the last several years I have had many encounters in the blogosphere with many I would put in the group with these. It is amazing to me how puffed up they are with their philosophies and theories. Their logic seems solid and airtight to them, but the truth from God’s Word always makes shambles of their castles of air. Their problem, however, is that they then refuse to bow the knee to the Lord. They reject all absolutes and the ability for anyone to know the truth.

I agree that sort of lifestyle is fun and perhaps exciting. It is the best of both possible worlds. You get to call yourself a Christian and still be a libertine. After all, God loves us just the way we are and just wants us to be happy…right? The problem is that it is an illusion that evil men who call themselves Christians believe that they can have the maximum number of followers if they promise Heaven on Earth to those who want to let Jesus into their lives just enough to feel good about themselves and continue to come to their “church” while bringing all their friends to do the same thing. Don’t worry about that obedience stuff. That is just that old Puritan mind game garbage to keep you from having any fun.

Those who have jumped ship and gone after these false prophets are dogs that have returned to their own vomit and pigs that have returned to the hog wallow. As I stated earlier, the genuine, invisible Church is just a remnant of the visible Church. The remainder is dogs or pigs. They may be very religious. They may look good, but their treasure is not in Heaven. It is in their religion. The genuine Christian is one who has received Christ as their most precious treasure as they were saved by grace through faith. They don’t consider Jesus as fire insurance or some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card. Instead, God has regenerated their hearts. They are new creations sealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is their all-in-all. He is everything to them. For their sake, and for those Elect who may be in the grips of these false prophets we must continue to point out the springs without water and rainless clouds to the brethren. At the same time we must point everyone to the Saviour and give them the Good News. Come soon Lord Jesus!

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Abiding

When one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:16,17)

Liberty from what? Well, if we turn to the Lord, and are occupied with Him in the way we have indicated, the Holy Spirit sets us free. It may be you are struggling, striving, fighting, wrestling, praying, pleading, longing, yearning, asking the Lord to set you free from condemnation, free from fear, from those paralyzing bonds in which Israel was when the glory appeared. Do you want to be free from fear, from dread, from terror, from condemnation? What are you doing to get free? There is one simple, direct way, namely, to be occupied with the Lord, to turn to the Lord. Get Christ as God’s satisfaction in your view, and cease trying to satisfy God yourself. Faith in Christ is all God’s requirement. How deeply true were His words, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” “Abide in Me. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” That is only figurative language, which means be occupied with Him, set your mind on Him, dwell in Him, rest in Him, abide in Him; or, as Paul would say, “Gaze on Him, behold Him,” let Him be the object of your occupation, and the Spirit will make you free.

More than that, this beholding of Christ means that the Holy Spirit changes you into God’s likeness: “Beholding… we are changed.” It is not said, “Beholding, we begin to change ourselves,” and we embark upon self-transformation with all its struggle, and conflict, and battle. We are changed by the Lord the Spirit. Be occupied with Christ, and the Spirit takes up the matter of transforming into His image. Be occupied with yourself, and you will see that the law of conformity to type operates. If you are the type, then you will conform to that type. If Christ is the type, then the Holy Spirit will conform to His likeness. Then this being occupied with Christ means that the Holy Spirit makes us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant. I do not think that ministry is such an onerous thing after all. We need to come back to the simplicity and the spontaneity of ministry. Be occupied with Christ, and the Holy Spirit will show you more and more in Christ with which to be occupied, and as He makes that livingly real, you will have something to give to others.   TAS

 

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The Parable of the Fisherless Fisherman

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo there were many fish in the waters all around where they lived. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year, those who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is, always to be a primary task of fishermen.

Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as, “‘Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and” A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The month for fishermen to fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.

These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however, they didn’t fish.

In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what was needed was a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different color lived. ..

Also the board hired staff and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.

Large, elaborate and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions to fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing.

Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish. Some spent much on study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing. Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.

Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home, they never fished. Like the fishermen back home, they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said that they wanted to be a part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.

After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s Central Board as a person having considerable experience.

Now it is true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen, yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master Who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”

Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct.

Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

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To Know the Lord

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23,24)

Why does not the Lord do this and that, which we think He ought to do? It is simply this soul-craving to have proof and demonstration; and this is why, if there is anything built up in Christian work which is obvious, big, impressive, where there is a great thing being organized and a great movement on foot and all is in the realm of something that can be seen, crowds of Christians flock after it; or if there are manifestations, things that seem to be clear proofs, the crowds will be found there. The enemy can carry away multitudes by imitation works of the Holy Ghost in the realm of demonstrations and proofs. We are so impressionable, we must possess; and that is exactly the same principle as that which governed the rulers. They were not prepared for the principle of the Cross to be applied in this way – an utter self-emptying, being brought to an end of everything but the Lord Himself….

What was the one thing the prophets were always talking about? It was about knowing the Lord. The thing that was lacking amongst the Lord’s people in the days of the prophets was the knowledge of the Lord. There were plenty of people who were prepared to have the Lord for what He could do for them, but as for the Lord Himself… ah, that was another matter. What is the Lord after with you and with me? Is He first of all wanting us to do things? The idea of what is of God today is chiefly associated with the things which are being done for Him, the work we are engaged in, and so on – that is, with what is objective and outward. But the Lord is not first of all concerned about how much we do. He is far more concerned that, whether we do little or much, every bit of it should come out of a knowledge of Himself. Any amount can be done for the Lord in Christian work and activities, just as you do other work, but it may not proceed from your own deep knowledge of God. The Lord is concerned above all else that we should know Him.  TAS

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