T Austin-sparks on Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Go back to the place where, for the time being, the Lord has put you, where He has called you to live your life and do your work in all the trial and difficulty and suffering of it, and do not strain to get out of it. Do not lose the present value of it by always living mentally or hopefully in a time when you will be out of it, but go back there and recognize that if you are the Lord’s, if you love God and are called according to purpose (as you are if you are in Christ), God is seeking to do something with you and in you by means of the conditions of your present situation. You will only defeat God’s end if you try to get out, and will fail to recognize and accept what He is seeking to do. I can think of few things more regrettable and grievous than that we should look back upon any part of our life and have to say, “I might have realized some great purpose of God in that period of my life if only I had taken another attitude toward it than the one I did take; I was chafing, impatient, all the time looking for a way of escape; I was rebellious, living in another mental world of my own creating, in which I would do and be this and that; and I missed all that God intended at that time.” I say, there can be few things more grievous than that.

So we must go back to the sphere and conditions in which the Lord has placed us, with this attitude – God has a thought which relates to me as one of His Own; and that thought is, that through the conditions and sufferings of my life He should develop in me the features of His Son. On the one hand, the features of the old creation may be seen to be more and more terrible and horrible, as I recognize them in myself; but over against that God is doing something which is other than myself, not me at all. He is bringing into being Another, altogether other, and that is His Son. Slowly, all too slowly; nevertheless something is happening. That sonship is not very much manifested yet, but it is going to be manifested. What God has been doing will come out into the light eventually – conformity to the image of His Son; “that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” So we look out upon the people of God on the earth amongst whom we are included, and we have to adjust our ideas as to why we are here. There may be things to do, but God is far more concerned with the being than with the doing, and we have to learn all over again what service is.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: Conformed to the Image of His Son

Revelation 2:18-29 Thyatira

Rev 2:18  And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 

Rev 2:19  I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 

Rev 2:20  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 

Rev 2:21  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 

Rev 2:22  Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 

Rev 2:23  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 

Rev 2:24  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 

Rev 2:25  But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 

Rev 2:26  And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 

Rev 2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 

Rev 2:28  And I will give him the morning star. 

Rev 2:29  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 

Verse 19 gives the impression that all is well with this church.  But we quickly find otherwise. First the commendation, or praise, then that which needs to be corrected because the Christ will not ignore the faults; a lesson which we all need to take careful note of. …Hello…

Like the saints in Pergamos, the believers tolerated sin in the church.  In Pergamos the false teachers were compared to Balaam and Balak. Here the false teacher is compared to Jezebel, the proponent of idolatry and immorality. Idolatry and immorality usually go together, and Jezebel personifies both (1st Kings 16:29-34; 21; 2nd Kings 9:30-37) The teaching was being spread that self-indulgence was better than self-discipline and more.

The story of Jezebel’s reign is the story of the quick corruption and utter downfall of the Kingdom of Israel.  Idol feasts were followed by “chambering and wantonness” and corruption spread rapidly among the youth of Israel.  In a like manner a love of talk about forbidden things was setting in, regard for the law was being weakened; audacity was taking the place of reason and conservatism.

Notice, however, the angel of this church is not charged with teaching this doctrine but with tolerating it. 

The church ruler seems to have had an inadequate sense of the authority of law.  Both he and the church are charged with neglect of duty. The woman called herself a “prophetess” and the thinking may have been “Who knows but that God may be speaking through her notwithstanding all that is suspicious in her teaching?”  even the “judge not” thing may have come into play.  The strong of Christian character may not be prone to succumbing but that does not negate their responsibility to their fellow believers in the Christ.

Not everybody in the fellowship was guilty of sin, and the Lord did not warn them.  Instead, He encouraged them to hold to the truth and be faithful.

The minister was not charged with sharing the doctrine but with tolerating it; both he and the church were charged with tolerating it and warned of their neglect of duty.  Doubtless, he bore with her because she was a woman.  The gracious tolerance of a strong man often takes this form. It is very hard for such a one to assert himself at all; most hard where self-assertion seems most easy.  Next the woman called herself a prophetess.  Here comes in regard for the freedom of prophecy; the very inspiration of the Church was a hindrance.  After all, who knows whether God is not speaking by her, notwithstanding all that is in suspicion in her teaching that was contrary to scripture.

The appeal to reality.  Nothing is more needed than occasional plain speech about the foulness which lurks in much that professes to be an enlarged spirituality.  They who encourage display of the peculiar charms of womanhood and seek to advance public causes by constant speech of things which nature and piety tell us should be held in strict reserve, degrade the women they supposedly seek to emancipate and brutalize the man. A corrupt doctrine will lead to a corrupt life.  Creed and conduct have vital connection with each other, a very vital connection indeed.

— The above is an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Pastor Ward Clinton. See some of my books here

Revelation 2:1-7

Rev 2:1  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 

Rev 2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 

Rev 2:3  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 

Rev 2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 

Rev 2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 

Rev 2:6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 

Rev 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. 

pastorwardclinton.com

Ephesus is the type of a strenuous Church. There is something singularly masculine in the first part of the description. “I know thy works”—that is, thine achievements; not thy desires and purposes and aspirations, not even thy doings, but thy deeds. This Church in its severe self-discipline affords a welcome contrast to the easily-excited populace amid whom they lived, rushing confusedly into the theatre and shouting for two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The patience of the Church is twice mentioned; the second time it is patience not as a feature of the workman, but the patience of him who can suffer, and suffer in silence. And this virtue has a threefold delineation—patience, endurance, fortitude. “Thou hast patience, and thou didst bear for My name’s sake, and thou hast not grown weary.” There is another mark of the masculine character in Ephesus, a noble intolerance of evil—“thou canst not bear bad men.” And with this intolerance is the power to discriminate character, the clear judgment which cannot be deceived—“thou didst try them which call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false.” There is no surer mark of a masculine nature than this keen insight into pretentiousness, and fidelity of rebuke. There is so much good in this church that we are surprised to discover that they had left (not lost) their first love.  The honeymoon was over (Jer 2:2).  No amount of separation, sacrifice, or service can make up for your lack of love for the Lord.

It is love in its largest sense which the Church once had and now has lost; the love of God animating piety undoubtedly, but no less certainly the love of men making service sweet. Nor is it the feeling alone which has changed, it is not that love as a sentiment is lost; but love in its far reach has gone, kindliness and tender consideration and disregard of self, the grace that suffers long and is kind, that beareth all things, hopeth all things, believeth all things. The toilsomeness, the endurance, the stern self-judgment, the keen discrimination of character, are obvious; but the spirit that rises above toil or sweetens toil, the grace to woo and wed, has fled. We can understand the history only too well. Life has many sore trials, none sorer than this—that virtues which are unexercised die out, and that the circumstances which call for some virtues and give occasion for their development seem to doom others to extinction. The Christian character cannot live by severity alone. There were two demands which the Church at Ephesus had forgotten—the demand for completeness of Christian character, never more urgent than when the times are making us one-sided; the demand of God Himself for the heart. There must be impulse in His people if they are to continue His people; there must be love in all who, not contented with doing “their works,” desire to do the work of God.

The warning of the fifth verse must have been very surprising to the angel of the Ephesian Church. The Church seemed to be so efficient. Its works had been so hard, and yet they had been done. Its achieve-merits were patent. Especially its service in the cause of truth was conspicuous; the Church had not lost its zeal, its candour, its piercing vision. Ephesus warns us against the perils of the Puritan temper; it warns us also against the stoical temper, with its tendency to a not ignoble cynicism, of which some of our gravest leaders in literature have been the exponents. Puritanism plus love ham accomplished great things, and will do yet more; for a masculine tenderness is God’s noblest gift to men. But Puritanism, when the first love is lost, drags on a sorrowful existence, uninfluential and unhappy; its only hope being the capacity for repentance, which, God be praised, has never failed it. Perhaps the most solemn part of the message is that in which the Lord Himself declares—“I am coming; I will shake thy candlestick out of its place.” The Lord can do without our achievements, but not without love. He can supply gifts unendingly, can make the feeble as David; but if love be wanting He will shake the noblest into destruction, and remove them out of the way. There is one striking word immediately following this warning, a word of commendation; it is the only one of the messages in which a word of commendation does come in after the warning has been uttered, and it is a commendation of feeling. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest,” etc. Hatred is hardly the feeling we should have expected to be commended: but it is feeling, and any feeling is better than apathy or stolidity. Where men can feel hatred, other feeling may come; love may come where men have not reduced themselves to machines like an “Ebenezer Scrooge”.

The word “Nicolaitans” means “conquer the people.”  Apparently, a group in the church lorded it over the people and promoted a separation of “clergy” and “laity” (see Matt 21:20-27; 22:1-12) The priest hood was set up by God, but its purpose is not to “lord it over” the people but to serve and produce high quality disciples of the Christ.  Some of the priests and pastors started out good but lost their way somewhere along the pathway.  Ephesus had too little of what so many have too much of—sensibility, passiveness, willingness to receive, to be made something of, to be quiet and let the Blessed One save them who had long been striving, and of late so ineffectually, to serve Him. Good as strenuousness is—and of human virtues it is among the chief—even better is the responsive spirit. Why was the one we call St Paul given a vision when none of the other priests, as far as we know, in his day given one?  Much of the reason likely had to do with his sincerity and earnestness to do the will of God coupled with a responsive spirit that none but God was able to see during the time when he was a persecutor of those called Christians.

— A preview from my forthcoming book on the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. – pastorwardclinton.com

God’s Word Imparts Strength

Keep this Book of the Law on your lips: meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

God’s word imparts strength and courage. When we base our lives on His instructions and believe that what He tells us is true, we can have confidence to face great challenges, knowing He is with us. As you might have noticed, God does not usually remove obstacles from our lives, but He helps us as we walk through danger and trouble. In Joshua 1 we are given three keys to success: Obedience, faith and courage. We will need all three of these in great measure as we walk through the difficulties that lie ahead of us.

Progressive Sanctification

God’s purpose is that each Christian should press onward in the life of holiness aiming at final perfection, like a runner in a race. God has made provision for each Christian to be a “perfect” runner.  In running a race, it is half the battle to make a good start.  And in the Christian race, it gives a tremendous impetus to the believer if he starts and continues with a clear, steady faith in Christ for full deliverance from sin.  What is the greatest hindrance to a Christian starting and continuing in this glorious race?  Surely it is indwelling sin.  But praise God, as we shall show, we may be set gloriously free from this indwelling, entangling hindrance, we may be made perfectly whole and clean within and filled with the blessed Holy Spirit. This is “Perfection the True.”  Thus we can, through grace, fulfill the command, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1, 2) – Brockett

The unchristian world that walks by sight and not by faith and knows not the dignity of the Christian nor what the Christians are entitled to.  The Christian is favored by heaven and will be an inhabitant of that place where the unchristian as well as the antichristian person cannot go.  The unchristian and the antichristian alike will see Jesus with His frowns, the terror of His majesty and vengeance but the true Christian will see His smiles, the glory of His majesty, His beauty.  The impure will be terrified by His purity.  Those who hope to live with Him must strive to be more pure.  “It is the hope of hypocrites, and not the sons of God that makes an allowance for the gratification of impure desires and lusts.” – Matthew Henry

The work of the Holy Spirit in the progressive sanctification of the newborn soul is indirect: in opening the heart to receive the truth, the instrument of purification; in giving vigor to the spiritual life; in strengthening the will to resist temptation, and in diminishing the power of evil habits. It is repressive of depravity rather than totally destructive. 

The entire eradication of the propensity to sin is by the direct and instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit responsive to a special act of faith in Christ claiming the full heritage of the believer. It is in reference to this distinctive act of the Sanctifier that it is noted by an eminent expositor “that in the New Testament we never read expressly and unmistakably of sanctification as a gradual process.” This is said in view of the almost universal use of the aorist tense of the verbs to sanctify and to cleanse. – Dr. Daniel Steele

An excerpt from my soon to be released book “Jesus the Christ made a statement,” Pastor Ward

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart is what our Lord said, He didn’t say pure in the head; men may have pure notions and impure hearts.  It was not in the hand, or action, or in outward conversation only.  The Pharisees were outwardly righteous before men but, we are told, inwardly they were full of impurity.  It is in the heart that we are to be pure.  Ever since the failure of Adam, the heart of man has been “naturally” unclean and it is not within our own power to make it clean or to be pure from sin.  Too many people stop right there just like John Calvin did. 

Now, “The Bible is a holy book and woe to the man that would make it a minister of sin!” – Dudley Kidd.

 Many people do carefully give consideration to the command of God, “Be ye holy, even as I Am holy….”  With such a command coming from our Creator, it seems that there should be a way for it to occur.  Guess what; Scripture reveals there is! 

The preventatives against sin are not in us but in God.  Either the doctrine of God as related by the Apostle John, or the practice of sin must be abandoned; they are incompatible with each other.  The ones who are wise will seek to find it while the foolish ones will not and they will tend to merely rely on the “lamp oil” they already started out with, initial sanctification.  Even they who’ve experienced the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit tend to find themselves desiring and following after ever more purity of heart, life, thought, and conversation; so happy and blessed they are for they shall see God, in this life and in the one to follow. – Ward Clinton, an excerpt from my book “Jesus the Christ Made a Statement.”