ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE
IN THE WAY OF LIFE
The Passage is Narrow, the Glory is Great
Sermon Rev. Dr. Robert E. Donaldson - 5th in series
Here is a Sermon from PART of the
preceding large Aerial Encounter,
which signifies the possibility of considering smaller excerpts.
through dangerous waters of confusion to the clear sight of the ocean vastness
of the truth.
1)THE CRANIAL CHRISTIAN and the Danielic Depth-
Superficial virtuosity can lead some into professorial chairs where their foolish faithlessness becomes a curse to the church which should never have called them; a trap to the local congregation, perhaps blinded by verbal facility.
Knowing all 'the answers', few of the questions, those afflicted with this disease are likely to fall for, or become part of the Corinthian syndrome of II Corinthians11 where Paul rebuked the Church for its terrible tendency to accept ANYTHING from usurpers such as those who would bring in a "new Jesus" or "another Jesus", "another Gospel" with "another Spirit". Such appears the way of much twentieth century churchianity (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, pp. 864, 904ff.; 743-744,750A-E).
Pressing consequences include:
disloyalty, treachery, betrayal of the faith once delivered,
plausible combination with
the exotic, despotic, erotic or theologically neurotic,
clamour, spiritual mutation,
restlessness and a diffuseness resulting from spiritual cataracts.
Nil-faith nostrums abound and philosophy protrudes like bulging eyes.
This pathetic pathology is to be carefully distinguished from Danielic Depth, where in long humiliation before the Lord (Daniel 10), a Christian learns to eat meat and to help in its provision for others. Thus Daniel was noted for being enabled in the area of "an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles and explaining enigmas" - Daniel 5:12 - cf. Ephesians 1:17-19 ("the eyes of your understanding being enlightened"). The spirit and the understanding in reality GO TOGETHER, each bowed before and lifted up by the hand of the Lord (Isaiah 66:2).
2) THE DOMINANT CHRISTIAN or the Encouraging
Servant of Christ - Matthew 18:1-5, -28, Mark 9:33-37.
Recall also the express case of much unappreciated Diotrephes (III John
9-10), one of whom it was said: "who loves to have the pre-eminence among them" and "does not receive us".
Glory appears so to have tainted his wings that he found an apostle unacceptable. Many nowadays would not say, admit or even perhaps conceive this to be their fault, but to lead is one thing, to shove another; and to push preconceived ideas is as far different from exhorting to righteousness which may indeed be done with passion, that the one may lead to anti-apostolic glamour and the other to a return to the faith.
Health and happiness in Jesus Christ acknowledges ONLY God as Lord, and it is HE who is the LORD Jesus Christ who said, "Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I say!" - Luke 6:46. With "leadership" of a carnal, worldly, self-important type, agreements can be broken, the covenant of Christ can be slighted and a head-full of exalted rubbish can replace the fact that even Christ did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). The Gentiles, said Christ, love to domineer, "yet it shall not be so among you" (Matthew -26).
To help, exhort Biblically, share vision of service, encourage in the right walk, supervise affairs with zeal and personal modesty, this is the right side of the dominance which so appeals to the peoples, as Jesus indicated, and the apostle John showed. How sad that diseases of the spirit can foil the wonders of teamwork of the faithful; but the facts are plain and the way must be chosen so that neither is the stimulus of supervisory saintliness lost nor is the dominance of carnal presumption gained.
3)THE FOOT-DRAGGING CHRISTIAN - Isaiah 35:3, Hebrews 12:4,12, Isaiah 42:3.
"Encourage!," says Isaiah, "the exhausted, strengthen the feeble!" and again, of the Messiah, "A bruised reed will He not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish" (NASV). Beaten and bruised Himself, He does not abolish the bruised, but rather heals - in Hebrew, the words are specifically similar in 42:3 and 42:4 - for HIM who gives, and for us (cf. Hebrews 4:15-16, 2:17-18)! Foot-dragging may come from a problem in the area of the spine, and strengthening is called for; or from exhaustion, and refreshing is needed.
Where slowness to perform the will and word of God is however based in rebellion or obstinacy, the case is different and through deviousness can quickly degenerate into apostasy. Nevertheless, the children of God are to be cured from weariness and weakness, even David once feeling "ready to halt", and the Messiah has a tenderness which is an elixir through which His strength flows (Isaiah 40:10-11, John 8:1-12, 21:11-19).
As for being a bruised reed, at times the signal changes. You become more pressed like crushed berries, producing the juice of humility in the framework of Christian service to God and man.
In all this, God does not forsake His people, but encourages them as they are made white, as Daniel puts it, and purified, strengthened and moulded, given more grace as is for the lowly in mind and meek in spirit. Look at the encouragements given to Daniel (Ch.10), to Paul (Acts 18:9-11, II Corinthians 12:9-10), and to Christians who suffer for Him who sent them (I Peter ).
Consider Isaiah 40:1-3, where a people have come through to trust in the Lord after a bleak beginning, and Psalm 37:2 where you are taught to rest in the Lord, and to "delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart".
So work, but do not put your trust in your works (John 9:4), but in Him who gives you the call to serve Him (Psalm 40:4, Proverbs 3:4-5); pray, but do not trust in your prayers but in Him who can answer them (Ephesians 3:19-20).
"Therefore strengthen your hands which hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame my not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews -14). And be with those who are "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" - Hebrews 12:2.
4)THE CIRCULAR QUAY
CHRISTIAN - John 10:9. Notice here that in
This reminds us of the fact that ONCE you HAVE entered that door which is CHRIST by faith as in John 10:9, THEN you belong to Him and WITH HIM go in and out and find pasture. HE is Circular Quay in this parable, and TO Him those who are His go, in order to find IN HIM the next destination, step, event in their journeys, and to GO AND DO IT (Luke 17:8-10). The ocean reminds us of the pure joy in serving the Lord and the ferries of the potent power available to those who are in Him and work and live for Him (Ephesians 1:19).
So with holiness have help, in help have service, in service have strength and in strength have a journey in the peace of Him who MADE the seas and works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). Never forget that, and if you are His, trusting in His blood - symbol of substitutionary sacrifice for believers, in His power by which His body was raised physically from the dead (Romans 10:9, Luke 24:39), then what have you to fear! Fear God and love the Lord, for in Him is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4).
If you would like to turn to the case of pathology more deeply, seeing through many distortions the truth as it is in Christ Jesus and according to the word He has given, you may care to turn to the pilgrimage piece, On Stand-by or in Flight?