Saturday, April 19, 2014

This Mighty Redeemer

Our lesson happens to be perfect for Easter. Andrew Murray is making a strong point here (he loves to do that). He calls it “the secret of the life of faith.” I must say it has certainly changed mine.

My faith is not new or weak, nor am I backslidden as Murray suggests. However, I have recently been stretched beyond every imaginable limit in my body, soul, and spirit. Just when I thought I could not bear another ounce of pressure the suggestion Murray brings appeared to me as a life raft.

It is as simple as this: “We see not yet all things subjected to man, but we see Jesus crowned with honor and glory" (Hebrews 2:9). When you are at the end of your rope, look to Him on the throne. See His crown; the glory fills you with everything you lack.

The following excerpt is titled “We See Jesus Crowned with Glory and Honor” from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

The Epistle is about to expound to us the great mystery, why the Son of God was made a little lower than the angels. It was that, by the grace of God, He might taste death for every man, and so open up again the entrance into God's presence and favor. The necessity and meaning of His sufferings and death it will present to us in three different aspects.

The first (v. 10), that in suffering and death Christ Himself must be made perfect, so that as our Leader He might open up to us the path of perfection, and prepare that new nature, that new way of living, in which we are to be led to glory.

The second (14, 15), that through death, making propitiation for sin, He might destroy the devil, with his power of death, and give us a perfect deliverance from all fear of it.

And the third (16-18), that in what He suffered, He might be made a merciful and faithful High Priest, able to secure our perfect confidence, and to give us the succor we need.

But before the writer thus unfolds the meaning of Christ's humiliation, he first points to His glory. It is this which constitutes the excellency of the New Testament, which gives our faith its power of endurance and victory; we see Jesus now at the right hand of the Majesty of God.

Let us hold this fast as the chief thought of the Epistle, as the one great lesson the Hebrews, and all feeble backsliding Christians, need: Jesus, who suffered for us; Jesus who in His suffering as our Leader, opened a way to God for us; Jesus who sympathizes with us—this Jesus is crowned with honor and glory. To see Him is to know that we have all we can need.

Would you, my reader, give more abundant heed to the great salvation? Would you experience how completely Jesus is able to save? Do you long for just as much of the love and the presence, the holiness and the joy and the power of God in you as there is in Jesus for you?

Here you have the secret of it all! Amid all sin and weakness, all darkness and doubt, all failure and perplexity, hold fast this one truth, engage in this one exercise of faith: We see not yet all things subjected to man, but we see Jesus crowned with honor and glory. This gives peace, and victory, and joy unspeakable.

And if you would know how thus ever to have the heart turned to Jesus, remember, He came to save His people from their sins. It is the heart that is weary of itself and its sins, that fully accepts the fact of the utter corruption and the utter helplessness of all that is of the old nature and of self, that will find itself attracted with strong desire to this mighty Redeemer. In such a heart Jesus, the crowned One, will not only be a distant object, but, by the Holy Spirit, an indwelling presence.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crowned With Glory And Honor

“For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. But we do see Jesus — made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone — crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.” 

For the past three months, I have been scouring the system set up for the elderly in this country. The learning curve is enormous (ginormous), and nobody plays by the same rules. You have to be very careful about every detail. Mismanagement is the norm, and it is all profit driven. If they find out there is little in it for them, they will blow you off like dust in the wind.

Integrity is rare. It does not matter if it is a hospital, a rehab, or a home health care agency, you must constantly advocate for the safety and care of your loved one. My blood boils at times, and I am tempted to become angry. 

Thankfully, this lesson speaks directly to my heart. As a character in the book, I am living this study. The following excerpt titled “We See Jesus Crowned With Glory And Honor” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

What a glorious contrast! We see not yet all things subjected to him, that is, to man: but—what is far better —we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. When we look round upon this world, with all its sin and misery, it does indeed not appear as if man was destined to be higher than the angels, and to have dominion over all the works of God's hands.

But when we remember that Jesus became Man, that He might taste death for all men, and that He, a Man upon the throne, now lives as our Surety, our Redeemer, and our Head, it is enough if we see Him crowned with glory and honor. In that we have the pledge that He will one day bring man to that glory and honor too. In that we have the assurance that He is using all that glory and honor even now on our behalf. We see not yet all things subjected to man, but —we see Jesus crowned with honor and glory. Blessed contrast!

The right knowledge and use of this antithesis is the secret of the life of faith. We see not yet all things subjected to Him — how exactly this expresses the disappointment and failure which is often the experience of the believer when his first joy and hope begin to pass away. He finds that sin is stronger than he knew; that the power of the world and the flesh and self are not yet made subject to him as he had hoped.

At times it is as if he feels that the promises of God, and the expectations they raised in his heart, are vain. Or else, if he acknowledge that God is indeed faithful to fulfill them, the way for one who is as weak as he is, and in his circumstances, to obtain these promises is too hard. The promises of God, to put all things in subjection to us and make us more than conquerors, are indeed most precious, but, alas, ever again the bitter experience comes—man sees not yet all things subjected to him.

Blessed the man who knows, then, in living faith to say: But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. Blessed the man who knows to look away from all that he finds in himself of imperfection and failure, to look up and behold all the perfection and glory he finds in Jesus! Yes, blessed the man who finds his delight and his life in meeting every disappointment and every difficulty with the blessed: “But— we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor.” This is all I need! This satisfies the soul, and gives it peace and joy and strength.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Work Done Within Us

“He [Jesus] came and proved what the life of man was meant to be—how humility and subjection to God were the sure path to glory and honor. He came and glorified a life of humiliation as the training school for the exaltation to the right hand of God; fulfilling man's destiny in Himself as Son of Man, He, as Son of God, fulfilled it for us too.” Andrew Murray

My friend in the valley is a giver in every sense of the word. I watched him give nearly everything he had to others in need. He did not even have a decent chair to sit in, until now. However, he has fallen through the cracks of society. His income is too high to qualify for aid, but too low to pay for the care he needs. His body and mind are a crippled shell of his former self.

However, what Murray emphasizes in this lesson about humility and subjection to God not only solidifies what God has already shown me in my own life, it gives me hope for my friend. Because even though he has a heart of gold, his heart is missing its chief ingredient, Jesus. But as a broken man he is in the perfect position to receive all that Christ has to offer.

Andrew Murray taught me the most about humility when I studied the Beatitudes. His way with words continues to astound me. The following excerpt titled “The World Made Subject To Man, Not To Angels” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

It was by His union with us in our life in the flesh, by His identifying Himself with our nature, that Jesus was able to claim and to work out and enter into possession of the glory God had promised to man. It is by our receiving His nature, and identifying ourselves with Him in this life on earth and in heaven, that what He has achieved for us can really become ours.

Let us here, at the very outset of our Epistle, get well hold of the truth that what Christ does for us as our Leader, our Priest, our Redeemer, is not anything external. All that God works in nature in heaven or on earth, in the stars or in the trees, He does from within, by laws that pervade their whole existence.

All that Adam wrought in us is from within, by a power that rules our inmost life. And all that Christ does for us, whether as Son of God or Son of Man, is equally and entirely a work done within us. It is when we know that He is one with us and we with Him, even as was the case with Adam, that we shall know how truly our destiny will be realized in Him. His oneness with us is the pledge, our oneness with Him the power, of our redemption.

Thy destiny, O man, is to sit with Jesus on His throne. Live as one preparing for it. Cultivate a royal spirit. Abide in Him: He will abide in thee.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Destiny Of Man

“For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:

‘What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
 You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:5-9

I am exhausted. My journey through the valley with my friend has been especially rough this week. Thankfully, Andrew Murray does an amazing job of teaching this lesson. We do not have to miss a beat in our study even though I can barely participate. I hope you find this as fascinating as I do.

The reference to the Psalm here is from Psalm 8. The following excerpt titled “The World Made Subject To Man, Not To Angels” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

As the Son of God Christ is more than the angels. As the Son of Man Jesus is more than the angels too. He was indeed, as man, made a little lower than the angels, and yet, because to man the world to come, of which the Spirit of Christ in the prophets spoke, had been made subject, he had a place of honor and dominion greatly excelling them. Not only the divinity but the humanity of Christ will prove how. infinitely superior the new dispensation is to that which was given by the ministry of angels.

For not unto angels did He subject the world to come, that world to which the Psalm looks forward, the kingdom of the Messiah, the kingdom of heaven upon earth. The Psalm does not speak directly of the Messiah, but of man and his destiny. But it is applied most justly to the Messiah, because in Him the Psalm and man find the fulfillment of what is promised.

The Psalmist first speaks of man's littleness and the wonder that God should notice him. What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that Thou visitest him? He then points out how high the place is which man occupies. His nature is little less than divine. Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honor. And universal dominion is assigned to Him. Thou didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.

Our Epistle points out how this promise, though not yet true of man, has received its fulfillment in Jesus. Now we see not yet all things subjected to man, but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. What was true of man in promise, we see fulfilled in Jesus: what we see in Jesus, will be made true of man.

What wonderful thoughts the Psalm suggests. How glorious is the destiny of man! Created in the image of God, he was to bear God's likeness in this too, that as king he was to be ruler of all. The whole world to come was made subject to him.

Man has received from God a life, a nature, a spirit, capable of partaking of His own life and spirit. His will and His holiness, capable of likeness to and fellowship with Himself, even to the sitting on His throne, and sharing with Him the dominion over all creation. What a destiny!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Great Salvation

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, 
lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, 
and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, 
which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, 
and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 
God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, 
with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” 
Hebrews 2:1-4 New King James

Modern versions of this first verse have watered it down to mean pay close attention. However, if you study the definition of earnest, you find words like serious, intense, deep, heartfelt, and strong. This is why I love to use older versions of the Bible, and older teachers, as well.

Because of the magnitude of this subject, I cannot bring myself to omit much of Andrew Murray’s lesson. Therefore, I apologize for the length of this and the prior post. I am in the process of moving my dear friend (in the valley) out of his home of 25 years and into a senior facility. I have little strength for anything else. I am thankful for the focus of our study to keep me dependent upon God for my every need.

The privilege we have to live as free people is hinged upon our responsibility to give God, as Murray says, “a corresponding wholeheartedness.” “Nothing less will satisfy God; nothing less in the very nature of things will satisfy us because nothing less than man’s more abundant heed is capable of receiving God’s more abundant grace.”

In the previous post, we left off where Murray begins to describe this great salvation. The following excerpt is titled “The Danger of Neglecting so Great a Salvation,” from Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All:

And wherein does the greatness of this salvation consist? In this that it comes to us from and through THE TRIUNE GOD; the Holy Trinity is revealed as combining to work out this salvation for us. Listen. “So great salvation, which having at the first been spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard.” Christ the Son, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His substance, it was He in whom God spoke to us; it was He, the Redeemer, God and King, who Himself first preached the kingdom which He established when He effected the cleansing of our sins, and sat down on the right hand of the throne.
So great salvation! First spoken by the Lord, God also bearing witness both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers. God the Father Himself set His seal from heaven on the preaching of the word. The existence of His church is His standing sign and wonder, the proof of His divine power. Not to take heed, to neglect the great salvation, is nothing less than despising God Himself.
God also bearing witness, by distributions of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will. Not only did God bear witness to the great salvation by signs and wonders and powers, but above all by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. The Holy Spirit is God come to dwell on earth, to strive and plead and testify in the hearts of men. There is no fellowship with the Father but through the Son, and no fellowship with the Son and His salvation, but through the Holy Spirit in us. 
Let us enter the study of Christ’s person and work in the Epistle in this faith. Yes, this is the greatness of the great salvation— in its offer THE THREE-ONE God comes to us. The Lord preached, the Father bore witness, the Holy Spirit came as the power of God to work. What a salvation! What sin to neglect it! May God reveal to us, as we study this Epistle, the glory of the so great salvation, that we may indeed more abundantly take heed to it.
To know the Son who speaks and reveals the Father; to know the Father to whom, and whose love, the Son brings us in; to know the Holy Spirit with His wonderful gifts of grace and power; to be restored to the image and fellowship of the Holy Trinity: this is salvation.
Let every thought of the glory of Christ, and of God, and of the Spirit, and of the great salvation leave this one impression: Take more abundant heed to what you hear! Meet God’s abounding grace with abounding desire to listen and believe.
To the preaching of Christ and the apostles God bore witness. If this was needful then, how much more now, at this long distance from those days of heavenly joy and power. Ask, for the study of the Word in the Epistle, that God bear witness of the Holy Ghost. Claim and expect it. Without this, even the teaching of the apostles by Christ Himself availed little.
Once again. This is the greatness of salvation; the everlasting Father in His love speaks to me Himself in the Son. The Son shows and brings and gives me all the Father speaks; and l have the Holy Spirit in me, fitting me to hear and know and possess and enjoy all that the Father in the Son speaks and gives. Let us, above all, hold this fast that there is no divine witness, or assurance, or experience of the salvation Christ effected, except as the Holy Spirit, which came from heaven, communicates and maintains it within us. Let us, therefore, take more abundant heed to the Holy Spirit in us, in whom the Father and the Son come to us.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Purpose Of His Heart

“We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3 HCSB

We are moving on to a new chapter in Hebrews, as well as a new section in our study of Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All. Here is the opening to “The First Warning”:

THE first chapter has set before us the divine glory of Christ the Son, in whom God hath spoken to us in these days. In the second the humanity and the humiliation of Jesus are to be unfolded. Ere the writer proceeds to this, he pauses to sound a note of warning. He reminds his readers of the greater responsibility and greater danger in case of neglect, which greater privileges bring, and to urge them to take more earnest, more abundant heed to what God is speaking in His Son.

We all know what duty is, and that of a danger. However, how many of us consider what it means to be privileged. Here are several definitions to help us recall: A right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most. An exemption to free from certain obligations or liabilities.

Another definition that I love is to enjoy the privileges of a free people. We are privileged because of what Christ has made available to live as free people. How many of us are? Murray is determined to make it clear.

The following excerpt is titled "The Danger of Neglecting so Great a Salvation,” from Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All:

In what God speaks and does, it is all with the desire to show to us more abundantly, in full and overflowing measure, what the purpose of His heart is. It is for this He speaks in none less than His own Son. He has a right to claim that we meet Him with a corresponding whole-heartedness, and give more abundant heed to what He speaks.

Nothing less will satisfy Him; nothing less, in the very nature of things, will satisfy us, because nothing less than man's more abundant heed is capable of receiving God's more abundant grace. It is the lack of this taking more earnest heed, the lack of intense earnestness, giving God and religion the first place and the best powers of our life, which is at the root of the feebleness and sickliness of the Christian life. God is speaking to us in His Son, therefore we ought to take more abundant heed.

Lest haply we drift away—and perish more surely and more terribly than those who sinned under the Old Testament. There the word spoken, with its threatening, was steadfast, and every transgression was punished. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? The gospel does not, as so many think, lessen—it increases our danger. lt does not diminish, but will terribly intensify, the soreness of the punishment in those who neglect it.

Oh, let us sound out the warning: it is not only positive enmity or open sin that will be punished. No, simply "not taking earnest heed," just "drifting away" unconsciously with the current of worldliness and halfhearted religion, "neglecting" to give the great salvation that supremacy, that entire devotion which it claims,—it is this which will render escape impossible.

And why? How can we show men that it is right and meet that it should be so? And what is the motive that will stir men to take heed? The answer is in the one word: “So great salvation.” The insight into the more abundant glory, the divine, the all-surpassing greatness of this salvation, is what will compel men willingly and joyfully to give up all and buy this pearl of great price.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

In The Father's Presence

Now to which of the angels has He ever said:
Sit at My right hand
until I make Your enemies Your footstool?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out
to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?

My mind is consumed. Each moment of the day, I think of what my friend needs next. I can hardly read or write. Even if I turn to another source of noise (any media), I can hear little else. His life is like a runaway train (he loves trains). I am the only one who can stop it.

He is changing so. He hardly remembers a thing (even my name). And the man who used to be the sweetest thing to me is often now harsh. I am determined to see him through. My main concern is when he reaches his end he will come to know Christ.

In chapter nine of our study of Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All, we find our opening text:

This is the Son in whom God speaks to us. The word, “Sit thou on My right hand,” is spoken in our hearing and in our behalf. In that word we have concentrated all God's speaking. See, He says, how l have exalted Him, your Brother, your Surety, your Head, to My right hand, in token of My perfect acceptance of His work; your perfect admittance to My presence and the enjoyment of all the power of the heavenly life; your full participation, in your inmost being, of what the kingdom of heaven is. Sit thou on My right hand: let the word enter and master all our heart and life.
Through all the chaos in my life right now, the presence of the Lord and His provision through Word and Spirit envelopes me. With peace and joy, He rises to meet every need. As Murray says, “God is the hidden ground of all existence and has the power to enter all and fill it with Himself.” No matter where you are in life, He offers you the same.

Our reading today contains a powerful Scripture prayer, one you will want to remember always. It is titled, “The Son on the Right Hand of God” from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

To gaze upon the heavenly Christ in the Father's presence, to whom all things are subject, will transform us into heavenly Christians, dwelling all the day in God's presence, and overcoming every enemy. Yes, my Redeemer, seated at God's right hand—if l only know Him aright and trust Him as able to save completely—He will make me more than conqueror.

lf we would obtain this blessed knowledge of our Lord, and the blessed life in the experience of His power, Scripture has a prayer for us (Ephesians 1:17-22), that we will do well to pray often:

"That the God of our Lord Jesus would give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ, when He made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies."

Let us pray for this spirit of divine illumination; let us study and adore the strength of God's might that lifted Him to the throne; and let us believe joyfully, that that power works in us every day to lift us up and enable us to live as those who are set with Him in the heavenlies. And let us sing without ceasing: Praised be God for such a Savior!