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Patience, Progress and Living in Christ

Challenging ? yes, but also a Lively Affair!


In this Chapter, our concern is practicality. Spirituality with practicality is the theme. How does one firstly, be sure one is IN the Lord, and then as OF the Lord, serve Him with gladness, gentleness, courage, boldness, virtue, vigour and truth ? How and where does one show patience and gentleness, but when boldness and the faith to move mountains, even when they are erupting ? The workability of the Christian faith is one of its marvels. If it is easy to win a race, this too is easy. If it is easy to mess about instead of running, then this is hard. Endure hardness, says Paul to Timothy; but also he says this (II Tim. 4), after vast experience of the power of God, the grace of the Lord and the energies of serving Him, which HE supplies, which we see below.


v          “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.


v          “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.


v          “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”



Here is practicality. Paul is in a war, but his heart is in peace. Paul is completing his work, but his life is enthralled with the will of the Lord. He has overcome, has been delivered and will be; for God never fails. His work is safe (and just HOW SAFE it has been, still read, still acted on, still thrilling millions as the Lord who gave the inspiration, also gives the illumination to His people who read these apostolic words from the first).


Today, we shall use once more the questions practically put in order to elaborate for more, the sort of responses from the Bible which practical questions, not least in the church, arouse. Below is a slightly revised and excised letter, which in this way, more can share.




In the name of the Lord Jesus.


Thank you for your reply. It is good that you are considering things in this way and that you have reached a resolution on basics.





Recently, when I was about to pray about something, it seemed as if something met me asking, Are you sure you really want to know and do what the Lord wants in this ?


 It was challenging, since the One concerned, for whom one lives, is Himself, and God over all; as He says, one must forsake ALL (Luke 14:27ff.) to follow Him (not excepting this or that); and He is so inventive, imaginative and pure that the reality is this, life with Him reaches to the heart. Nevertheless, since His principles are WRITTEN, there is no danger. His word is very pure.


Accordingly, as the prayer situation was coming before me, I did not hesitate in my response to this challenge: YES, I DO want to do whatever it is that the Lord wants in this matter. That was the reply of my heart. Whatever was His wisdom and desire, for this outcome, it was this and not another thing that I desired. “Lord, all my desire is before You… For in You, O LORD, I hope…” (from Psalm 38).


In peace, therefore, on that occasion, my prayer continued. Indeed, peace profound and personal is something that “garrisons” the heart as one brings every matter to Him in faith and follows Him (Philippians 4:6-7)! It is so easy, if one is not careful, to have inhibitions of the heart that limit; but God is express in condemning this, for in Psalm 78:41-42, we read without admiration, that “yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power…”


v          It is intensely interesting that it was a failure to work with, believe, harness the fact that God has power, which led to the children of Israel ‘limiting’ Him. David saw this fact so very clearly (Psalm 62:11), and he applied it in faith (Psalm 57:2). That is one of the advantages of intense difficulty: he HAD to! At one stage, thousands of soldiers with an angry king, Saul, were on his trail!


Of course, the failure to enter the promised land at the outset (and HOW different their history would have been if they had only done this), this was a prime example of this sort of failure (Numbers 14). The place for their rest was there for the taking; God had led them in marvellous and mighty ways to that point; yet when their very desire was exactly in front of them, they jibbed, sidestepped, faltered, desired NOT to proceed, indeed REFUSED!


On the positive side, we read of Jesus declaring this, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour” – John  12:26.  Again, He states, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him” (from John 7:17-18)


Speaking then biblically, as we are on this theme now, this is one of the great criteria in deliverance: there is available to faith in Him, through the Redeemer of His appointment, Jesus Christ, both the hand and the wisdom of the living God, according to the promises of His written word, which is His, so that His hand going with His mouth, He provides stably, surely and wisely.


On this, see further II Peter 1:1ff., where is found the assurance of the “great and precious promises” allowing Christians to live in this present world, escaping the corruption through lust, and being processively conformed to the divine character as desired by the Lord, so that they might walk as children of light. In fact, this whole chapter of II Peter could repay enormous study at this point. It is God with whom we are dealing, and who is dealing with His children; and His ways He declares for us. They are very wonderful.


Now a little clarification. When you say that people do not rebel against God, but against others who try to convince of their definition of God, of their thoughts on large families, on dancing and the reasons against, on musical instruments being wrong in church and so on, I think maybe I understand what you intend. However, people like the man whom Christ called ‘a devil’, Judas, into whom the devil’s deadly guile and evil entered, gripping him in its graceless power (John 13:27, Matthew 26:24-25, John 6:70), so that Christ said of him earlier, “one of you is a devil”: these do rebel. Indeed, rebellion is one of the chief defects in mankind without Christ (Ephesians 4:17-19, Romans 1, Ephesians 2:15).


You possibly mean, however,  that within the sphere of our current thought, namely churches which demand this or that or insist on the other out of their own minds and thoughts, merely, it is not a question of rebellion against God but against man, when people grow weary of these directions and dictations, often improper. It seems this is so, what you have in mind; and this is therefore what we look at.


Yes, alas, many are those who say or have said, young ladies in the choir must not wear lipstick, or be free to do so, and so have squalled; or that nobody should ever dance, or that dancing should be perfectly free in church grounds, and so contend with each other; or that the church should not have Christmas celebration, or Easter celebration and so on, or that it MUST, and on each side seek to make it appear that God said this; and so contend.


To be fair, some of them probably actually think this or that is deducible from the Bible, when it is not so; yet often they just have this animated certainty, based on some sort of spiritual perception, and ground down into what can be almost a Pharisaic addition to the Bible: MAKE it say what they want, or rather seem to do so!. That in turn can alienate others, who in this case, if the church simply adopts some one of these ideas, without showing biblical ground or explanation, can rebel against the church’s lurches, but not really against God. This, I think, is your thought.





It is true that offence can readily be caused in such ways. Indeed, to take an example, I have recently met some of this sort of anti-Christmas talk, the concept that it is spiritually offensive to recognise this season at all in the church; and there is much more like it. Permit me here to add a small section from the preface to one of my sermons, which will show that this sort of simply exclusive approach to Christmas is not really biblical, likewise insisting that it is necessary to derive ANY approach for a CHURCH from the Bible, if you want to be a faithful biblical church, not some romancing para-religionist body.



Excerpt from the preface to the Sermon, on the topic of Christmas (slightly adapted for our present purpose) …


Many regard this simply in a fourfold fashion:


1)    It is A DAY chosen to honour Christ whose birth is thus paraded before the world, our very dates being related to it.


Hence it is a rewarding opportunity to be relished, for us.


2) It is a SEASON with the same opportunity, in which many are more than usually willing to consider the things of Christ. As in fishing, try to seize your opportunities.


3) It is a day utilised by others too, making it mere occasion for gain. So however is water used by many differently; but we deem it wise to drink it. Don’t follow fashion, but use what is there for Him!


4) It is day some for various reasons prefer not so to use: they are biblically quite free to disregard it. The actual day of Christ’s birth is not known, though early estimates included a December time as one possibility.


There is no reason why we should not at least give emphasis to Christ’s birth at this season, just as at Easter, we may concentrate on His passion which really did occur in that season! Such a use of that time of the year for such a phased concentration on Christ’s death and redemption, is not necessary, but it can be expedient.


 End of Excerpt


In this way, such potentially contentious issues as Christmas are simply dealt with on the BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE (Romans 14:6ff.), that


Ø     “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;

and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Ø     “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Ø     “But why do you judge your brother ? or why do you show contempt for your brother ? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


Ø     “For it is written, ‘As I live, says the LORD,

Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God,’

“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or cause to fall in our brother’s way.”


This is given merely as an illustration of the fact that such issues as DO NOT HONOUR CHRISTMAS or even recognise it, or DO HONOUR CHRISTMAS and have it featured in the church, things that can cause offence and stumbling, have a simple biblical resolution IF ONLY people are willing to follow it. You do not force it, but you encourage it as expedient and permissible; if it causes offence you seek to wait and to prevent needless heartbreak on the part of those not yet mature in the faith sufficiently to understand. Some of these things can arise because there has been inadequate clear Bible study in a church.


One has to be willing to STUDY what God says in the Bible, and then apply it in the love of Christ for the good of His body, the church, for the advancement of His kingdom and as an opportunity to show the love which is shed abroad in Christian hearts (Romans 5:5). That is where we come back to II Peter 2, recommended for careful study above. If these qualities which Peter mentions in II Peter 1:5-10, such as


Ø       faith,

Ø       virtue,

Ø       knowledge,

Ø       self-control,

Ø       perseverance,

Ø       godliness,

Ø       brotherly kindness,

Ø       love:


if these be in focus, and if the heart is abiding in Christ, here is opportunity, not for scandal, but for spirituality, not for offence, but for joy in mutual understanding.


It is NOT important whether this or that day, when it is NOT specifically mentioned in the Bible, be used to glorify God in some way, according to an individual’s conscience; though it may be important to the individual. That is a private matter. When however some vast and historic thing like Christmas and its honouring in the church arises, it is necessary to remember I Corinthians 8:11. If someone is new or weak in the faith, not versed, then that one may be offended by some quite normal and correct action; and though one can see how wrong is that person’s confusion, yet one does not press ahead, if the thing is merely an option, lest this one person, in weakness of faith/understanding,  be needlessly offended.


This on the other hand shows the need for strong and adroit biblical teaching, with vigour; for the more is covered for the more, the less is the likelihood of ignorance leading to misconstruction and so to offence. That, it is like preventive hygiene!


But one may say, Surely we would not forego a Christmas service for the sake of someone who is merely ignorant, and has not considered all the biblical elements ? We might for a person who was part of us, really involved in the church. If the knowledge of some one person (who for all that is important to the Lord) is yet too small, for why press something non-essential before he/she can take it. In parallel, if someone has a weak ankle, let us wait a little before the next hike, if that person is to be included! Of course, in the meantime, we should be looking for strengthening exercise for the ankle, and perhaps some physiotherapy, in the form of pastorally aided bible study.


Indeed, we would try to overcome the weakness early, so that the soul gaining in knowledge, could see the spiritual perspective and the issue thus become soon enough, a thing of the past leaving all the freer, like someone whose ankle having healed, is now ready for vigorous action!


On the other hand, those pressing FOR a Christmas service might be reminded IN THE INTERIM (if such becomes necessary for some new or uninformed believer) that the essence is not the day, but the way. IT IS useful as a season, and a church carefully instructed might avoid both the hideous commercial exploitation, the gross delusion of using it to worship with idolaters, and yet have a Christmas service, or instead, a series of related addresses, USING the opportunity to make the most of the interest engendered.


Thus you see in such an issue (taken, let me repeat, merely for an illustration of the TYPE of thing you have in mind), there is a real challenge to be prudent, loving, thoughtful, understanding, and in showing these qualities, there is a sort of lubrication of the body of Christ, an anointing with kindness which is likely to be a splendid exercise in the sort of thoughtfulness and kindness which is so vital an ingredient where love is actually present (as defined in I Corinthians 13, in many of its ways). Love should be so present that it SEEKS outlet, the heart instead of grudging the exercise, relishing the opportunity!




to the point


From this we see at least three things in answer to ‘spin bowling’ if you like, to contentious issues.


v          You have to study and find out what the Bible actually says on the topic.


v          Secondly,  you are wise to have intensive Bible study throughout the church, in any case, as a general and conscientious method of operation, so that more and more of such things are seen in the light of biblical principles in advance, as well as for the blessing of soul in an understanding which relating as it does to Christ, is like a deepening of friendship, and delightful in this setting (Psalm 133). 



v          Then again, thirdly, you have to be loving and thoughtful, concerned and considerate, as if it were your own little toe which had been stumped on the door in passing and which was, therefore, for the time being, a little … vulnerable.


This is needed, without in any way making it an excuse for adventure CONTRARY to what is demonstrably written, such as having other gods, loving this world, being self-assertive and so on. I John 5:1-2 tells us that it is WHEN we obey God that we really love the brethren. Cut off the source, of spoil the connection and there is diminution in supply! A church must walk carefully, in grace to each other, boldly, in obedience to the Lord.


It seems good, then, to look at the sort of thing you mention first, in apparent isolation for the question of your concern, Where could I attend a church without carnal impositions ?


As we do this, another aspect comes to light from the cases you have cited in listing them the better to define the issue (and it is good that you did!). Have 12 children … was one of your cases. Yes, that might be the sort of Romanist case, the Pope himself having recently gone to receive acclaim from the Italian Parliament, and a standing ovation, before telling them that more babies are needed.


In Time magazine some years ago, there appeared a very short letter on this sort of topic. The person writing it felt the pope must either be evil or a fool, for in proclaiming the concepts of Romanism which lead to more children, he was making a world overburdened severely with population growth, to have yet more of it. Was he, in other words, trying to make Romanism more significant by having Romanists have more Romanist babes, in order to have more world to dominate ? or did he just not think ?


One was a little surprised that Time published that letter. The point however includes a strong principle.


Rome teaches –

(see pp. 1032-1088H, SMR, my trilogy, available, with page numbers from the counter provided, from the margin at webwitness.org.)


-        that it is altogether necessary to salvation to be subject to the “Roman pontiff”. What a bleary theory is that!


In biblical fact, it does not matter what this or that person says; for this is what they have written in the Council of Trent, and it is to this among other traditions, that they insist you accept, as recently as in Vatican II. Here, if you like, is a premier example of your disliked imposition of traditions, insistences, impositions. Here is one of its best example of all. It is all forbidden, and so to add to the word of God (Proverbs 30:6) is to make a travesty of Truth, which does not appreciate it. ONLY GOD is the Rock (Psalm 62:1,2,6, II Samuel 22:31-33, Deuteronomy 32:15,30-31, Isaiah 26:4 (where “everlasting strength” is given for “rock of ages”, I Corinthians 10:4, 3:11).


Quite simply Matthew 23:8-10 INSISTS that CHRIST ONLY is the teacher, the master, and that ALL the rest are brothers. If there is one thing on which Romanism insists (it is not catholic, that is “universal”, for Christianity is Catholic, while Romanism is localised), it is this priority and pre-eminence of the papacy. For all but incredible examples, see SMR pp. 912ff.!


Some other bodies, called churches, like to insist on this and that, as you exemplify in the NO MUSIC case, or PSALMS ONLY for singing, without the least chance of proving such a thing from the Bible, where it is greatly focused (as in the last Psalms cf. Questions and Answers 13.html).


People can SAY, Oh how bad are many hymns, let us keep to the Psalms only! but not with biblical warrant. YOU CAN say that it might seem best to limit to these; but again, it would be a huge and unseemly imposition. You could more wisely be MOST careful in checking the teaching of various hymns, as one denomination I know of seems to have done, and thus seek to avoid needless offence by MODERATE action; and as well, make sure that you do sing some of the Psalms as well.


In this way, for many people, there is met, first, concern about false teaching in much modern church music; secondly, concern for giving voice to praise in the inspired scriptures; and thirdly and at the same time, allowance for the liberty of the Spirit (“where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” – I Cor. 3:17), in giving sound new music, true to the scripture, and yet enthusing and evocative in our present contemporary situation.


This brings up a further biblical principle in this sort of situation. BE MODERATE. While you must roar like a lion with boldness when the biblical faith is concerned, we need to be perceptive and careful as far as mutual understanding is concerned. Thus, when the case is that a person is dealing with merely his or her own predilections, preferences or those of some group in the church, then one needs to “bear one another’s burdens,” and take good care of each other.


To illustrate this, we could take one case a little further.


Some are sensitive to one sort of error (say, modern hymns which OFTEN but not always have errors of doctrine), and some to omission (from singing of the glorious psalms). In seeking to be helpful to all, and to the spirit of the scripture, then, BOTH have psalm-singing AND be careful about the teaching in other hymns; but have both these features, wisely considerate and carefully embracive.


If anyone wants to BAN modern hymns altogether, since this is a constant church matter, it would be necessary for that person to SHOW, to prove that this is what the bible teaches. After all, it does not require much understanding, once the moderate course is adopted, to know that if you want to EXCLUDE all modern hymns from singing in public worship, you need some WARRANT from scripture in order to do so, in the church that belongs to the LORD.


Since this sort of position has often been tried, but appears impossible to be established from the Bible, with only various urgings being presented, the point remains that being careful of just grounds of offence, to remove them, on the one side, as also on the other, appears the loving and unpresumptuous approach. This is at least the spirit of the approach where sensitivities and desires are present, but the word of God does not clearly direct on some point. God has made major things clear, indeed, all He wishes in His word; but He often leaves areas of freedom, which are a marvellous opportunity to show Christian grace and maturity. They test the mind, try the heart and enable growth as people work out their salvation in fear and trembling, God working in them both to will and to do (Philippians 2).


ALL need to realise that LOVE is more important than satisfying a mere preference; and SO is the Biblical teaching. So long as what it clearly says is honestly done, there is room for wise moderation and careful concern in the areas of freedom.


Also, of course, a church should assuredly be considering how BEST to reach those who do not know Christ, and not merely to satisfy itself. In this, it must first as children of God, follow the word of the Father, in the Bible; and knowing this is the best strategy, for God is of illimitable wisdom, then consider how to love where the word of God does not actually give direction, though in ALL things, it does direct in this … to love one another (I John is full of this emphasis)!


This brings up yet another biblical principle. One should EXPLAIN to people, in any given church, WHY there is, say in this case, an inclusion of psalms and carefully checked modern hymns. Unreasonable people are not what one seeks! (II Thessalonians 3:2).  It is good to be reasonable.


A careful approach in such an issue*1, then,


Ø     allows liberty of the Spirit,

Ø     vets misleading teaching in modern hymns available for selection, and

Ø     includes proven music from the Psalmist,

Ø     giving thus all three aspects their place.


It is NOT that one HAS to do it this way; it is, in such an instance, a moderate, a careful, a thoughtful way of seeking to avoid needless offence and to avoid excluding the Bible itself from one’s singing.


Of course, as teaching grows in a given church, so the dispute area should fall. It is when TRADITION (whether Romanist or other) is allowed free reign, that deadly evils arise. Thus Christ directly challenged the most religious people saying this:


“This people honours Me with their lips,

But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”


THAT appears to be exactly the problem you find! Indeed, He went further:

“All too well you reject the commandment of God,

that you may keep your tradition.”


Here is the very worst of the issue: the case where people quite frankly have and maintain their own traditions BECAUSE they are traditions, or despite the fact that they do not at all derive from the Bible; or again, merely suggest that it MIGHT be scriptural and IN THEIR OPINION, that is good enough.




And Rejoicing in Him who is the Truth


In fact, nothing should be bound AS IF from the Bible, if it is only very likely that this matter is what the Bible means. GOD SAYS what He wants, and we must both be sure we put our minds to doing it, and that we do not (inadvertently or otherwise) add to it, or take from it (cf. Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32). IF God wanted something, HE is well able to make it clear (cf. Proverbs 8:8). If however the case should merely be one likely interpretation, among others, then one is bound to keep not to this, but to what is QUITE SURE in the Bible, lest one add. (I sometimes refer to this as the nuclear meaning, what is the nucleus.)


What is HIS, is contradistinct, not available for tinkering, tampering or merchandise (cf. II Corinthians 4:2-5, Galatians 1).


You can imagine two children, say in their ‘teens, rather lazy, who have been left by their parents, who are going out for the evening. Mother tells them to do the washing up, before going to bed. Dad said, “Have a good time, kids!” – it is Mother who has requested the washing up.


One youngster says to the other, “We should obey dad and not do the washing up, for whoever heard of having a good time while washing up!” The other, though at first thinking that the DIRECT statement, “WASH UP please,” was clear, began to be tempted into trying to combine the two statements in this interesting seeming way: result, they frankly rebel, while making, even to themselves, some ‘case’ that they were doing only what was right by watching TV, and enjoying themselves.

In fact, their love to their mother might have been sufficient to make it a pleasure to help her in this way!


Now we are ready to come back to the problem about WHICH CHURCH. Some revision and care is first needed, to be certain of your current place; and it will do no harm to make doubly sure, as when a pilot taking off from the airport.


First, then, make sure of your own place in the Lord: having


repented heartily of all sin (Luke 13:1-3), and


trusted in Him (John 6:40, 8:24, Psalm 2:12),


received His death in your stead personally, since it is applicable only to those who so receive it by faith (John 6:50-54,60-62, 1:29, Isaiah 53:3-6), and being clear that your heart is


assured of His identity (John 6:40), not some unkown god but God as man, come for our salvation (John 8:58, 5:19ff.),


as of His resurrection (Romans 10:9, Luke 24:39-42), so that even death need not terrify you (Hebrews 2, Luke 24, Romans 10:9); and relying on Him,

and then called, believing on His name, for His salvation,

being bent to following His word (cf. John 14:26, I Peter 1:8-12, II Peter 1:16-21, 3:16, Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6).


Then His Spirit is in the heart by faith (Romans 8:9, I Corinthians 12:13).  Look at the beautiful case of Stephen (Acts 6:8, and Acts 7).


These things are all involved, but ensure in the end that you do TRUST IN Him and TRUST HIM (Hebrews 11:6, 4:14-15, 7:25, 6:19-20, I Thessalonians 5:9-10), Jesus Christ … the same today, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Like Moses, one must go as “seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). One does not of course trust in one’s faith, but in its object, who made the visible from the invisible, since the visible is purely temporal, while He is eternal. WE, the universe and all, are what is WRITTEN in matter and life, mind and that gigantic novel that contains all. It is essential as the pages turn, to watch the author. It is in His light that we see light (Psalm 36:9, 97:11, 27:27:1, 43:3).


There is an excellent and very old work by one Bonar, that I shall plan to tell you about, if you are interested; for he tends to specialise on this aspect of the light of the Lord in one’s walk with Him. It is published by the Banner of Truth Trust. But let us continue, meanwhile with our topic.


In this way, you or any believer receives FROM HIM at once, salvation (Acts 2:37-39, John 6:50-54) and certainty comes within it, as one follows His word (John 10:27-28). As one obeys Him, there is POWER to do it (Acts 5:32), and note the boldness of spirit of Peter and John at that time, as shown in Acts 529-31!


One fault which was apparently a specialty of many who in Christ’s day on earth resisted His grace, is this, that some believed the Bible but DID NOT FOLLOW IT TO FIND HIM! It is for such, like a sign-post, and they may rightly honour it, and speak of it as utterly correct; but they omit one thing, going to its destination, Christ, by faith, that is, coming in actual living faith to receive HIM in His work of redemption and in His actuality. The work of Christ in redemption is finished (Hebrews 9), and what has to be sure is that one has received Him as Saviour, and so this work, without blemish, sufficient and eternal (John 10:27-28).


The omission, however, what is it like ? It is like someone interested in going to the Rocky Mountains. You can easily see them in the middle distance, looming in unutterable grandeur. Ah! he says, a coming to one point in the road, a sign post! He considers its elegance, its accuracy, makes geometrical estimations and sits content at its foot. One thing only does he omit: to FOLLOW it to its destination so that he actually SEES the Rockies, intimately, being there, for himself! Then he could tell others where they are.


Christ spoke of this (John 5:39-40). You will not come to ME, that you may have life, He declared to many.


God knows what He has GIVEN to man, both in life on the Cross, and in word in the Bible, so that when a person trusts in Him, he does not re-write history or give Him his own version of His word! But neither does he fail to trust in HIM, the living and available God whose standing orders and whose lively promises are thus for anyone who receives Him in faith. The believer should be conservative (of the word of God, delightedly receiving it – Psalm 119:110-111,144,160), and adventurous (with the Lord of the Word, doing His will with confidence and conviction, asking and receiving wisdom according to promise).


In our little illustration, let us give it a better ending in such terms, then.


It is as if the children decided that on the ONE HAND, mother DID say to wash up, no doubt about it; and on the OTHER hand, Dad did not want them to have a good time, so they relaxedly and in good spirits, knowing they are loved, and loving their parents in turn, both do the duty clearly stated, and do it in the same spirit in which it was meant.


Ø     It is then, these basics clear, that a person may, as a Christian, duly ASK Him for wisdom, FULLY expecting to get it (James 1:5-8). You can ask for it in this, that He show you how to fulfil the scriptural requirement, not to forsake the gathering of yourselves together in worship (Hebrews 10:25) and the biblical example (cf. I Corinthians 16:2 and Acts). Then you can EXPECT that He will, in His own way, ANSWER you by SHOWING you where to go.


Where things are thus, it is important that one does not PRESCRIBE HOW or precisely when this will occur, or in what method this wisdom will come, for who is the Lord’s counselor! (Isaiah 40:14) and who is he who directs the Spirit of the Lord! but simply trusting Him as a righteous, just and loving Father, one WAITS on Him, until the thing has been made clear.


How EMPHATIC is the Psalmist on this point (cf. Psalm 27:14, 40:1).


You might be led to try some churches which SAY they follow the Bible, and quietly taste; and if it looks as if this is so, and if they are not sects*2, long exposed as folly, or liberal and not even pretending to follow the Bible, not Romanist, the oldest of the sects, but free from the dominion of man, of flesh: then you may find your answer.


On the other hand, you may need, again quietly, so that your own reflections and if need be, careful questions can be answered, to try another church, or even several. Always, you are visiting. Why not ?


v          “Test all things…” is biblical advice (I Thessalonians 5:21). Notice what that says next:

v          “Hold fast what is good!”


So trying are our times (it is not too vexatious to be ‘tried’ when the power of God is available in the challenge!), in terms of subtle evasions, distortions and contortions by false prophets as Christ predicted (Matthew 24:24) and so great is the evil (as in Matthew 24:12), that the effort to find a church is greater than at some other times.


Delirious daubs instead of the true picture of Christ as Lord, Saviour and teacher, counselor and the very effervescence of life and power for His work, these have become a matter of course.


Clear thinking, clear teaching and clarity of biblical basis are at a premium, relatively hard to find; but not extinct for all that. Neo-evangelicalism changes the DOING from the SAYING, so that while the one MAY be correct (decreasingly so as this movement becomes bolder with the word of God, to grasp it and deploy it strangely), the application is likely to be stunned by culture shock, and not to look too different from this world.  Neo-orthodoxy simply changes the meaning of phrases to another, a revisionism par excellence.


Multiplied errancies surge on the scene, each with its imaginative vacuities. This is now, the great season for fun fair follies before the return of the Lord; such it was to be; such it is*3.


Never mind, “as thy days, so thy strength”: was one of the biblical blessings (Deuteronomy 33:25), and meeting trial IN Christ is infinitely different from attempting to meet it without Him! In fact, there is ground for rejoicing, for as all the required attestations that the return of the Lord is ‘near’ (Luke 21:28) are so pressing in upon us, there is intense joy in this realisation. Christians rejoice in the knowledge of Christ now, but what then! (I Peter 1:8, II Peter 1:19).


Near, His return! Deliciously so, but we do not know just how near. We are told that we cannot know WHEN, but should know when it is near (Acts 1:7ff., Luke 21:28)! As so often, there are unbiblical extremes. Some affect to know nothing, while others try to tell us just when! Each is excluded by the word of God. Near is enough, and it is near when the set criteria appear, as now (Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8). It is like Christmas holidays when one is at school: how exciting, they are near!


Could I suggest you might find SMR pp. 520-524 helpful ?


When you are ready to reply, please do not forget to help by letting me get the feeling of the situation further; and thus advising me of your city or country would be helpful.


May the Lord graciously assist you in this, that in rest and much assurance, you may walk with Him (cf. I Thessalonians 1:3-5). His are unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8), and delightful in the Lord is His disposition to share. See also Proverbs 3:13ff., 8:18, I Corinthians 13. Wisdom shines like a flashing shaft, and it points to love, which issues in turn from the heart of the true God, who is to be found where He is, by Him whom He has appointed (cf. Acts 17:31, John 3:16,19), that door which is integral to the house, the Lord, Jesus Christ! (John 10:1-10).


In Christ,


Robert Donaldson                     

for World Wide Web Witness Inc.






You may be interested to check a list of a number of such issues, and a reference to the needless divisions they can cause, through extremism in one direction or another, instead of SIMPLY adhering to what the scripture actually says. Then one can gain the richness that is there, not the rush that ignores, foolishly following philosophy to some desired end. That peril, like the capitulation of Israel to elements of surrounding cultures, already under the judgment of God, is, as it has been,  one of the chief to recognise and eschew.


This listing is found in Tender Times for Timely Truths (TTT) Ch. 2,  at http://webwitness.org.au/ttt2.html


The unity that counts is regarded in Acme, Alpha and Omega – Jesus Christ, at (same prefix) aaa9.html and in TTT Ch. 8.  This last chapter looks at the realm of satanic schemings, the flack directed at the air force of truth. What delirious daubs has the devil splotched down in the interests of death, with the appearance of life! He is the arch-deceiver from the first, the consummate liar to the last (cf. John 8:44)!





On this, you could if you will, look up Things Old and New, Chs. 7-10 and its Appendix.




Cf. Matthew 24:24, II Timothy 3, II Peter 2; and see The Biblical Workman, Appendix III, and Light of Dawn Ch. 2, Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8, Acme, Alpha and Omega – Jesus Christ, Ch. 8, News 121, 122.