Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Using The Sword

In my spare moments, I have been working on making a knife. I think that it is going to be nice when it is finished. The blade is of fine Swedish steel. It is very sharp, and should hold its edge. I am making a walnut handle for it that I believe will balance the blade nicely and be easy to grip. But, I am not deceived about the use of this knife. No matter how well the knife is made, it will be next to useless in the hands of the inexperienced. A well trained chef prefers a good knife, of course, but can do more with a mediocre knife than a novice could do with the finest cutlery. We tend to blame the knife when we have difficulty carving our turkey, but the real problem may often be with the person using the knife rather than with the knife itself.

The word of God is compared with a sword in a couple of places (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). The word is said to be capable of great things, yet many people, even many Christians, do not seem to believe that the word is capable of much in their lives. The problem is not with the sword but with the inexperience of the ones attempting to wield it.

If you have a knife, a sword, or any sharp tool, learn to use it. Learn to use it or you might as well get rid of it. The finest of blades is more a hazard than a help in the hands of the inexperienced.

Ditto with the Bible. It can do, it has done, great things in the hands of those who know it well. But in the hands of those who have never taken the time to understand it, those who just take up a verse here or there with little thought or understanding, the Bible is not helpful. Get to know the sword of the spirit. You cannot use it if you are not familiar with it. And you dare not wait till the evil one storms your house to learn its use. Then it will be too late to learn how to use it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Greater Works

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

Have you ever pondered John 14:12? If Jesus had not said it, I might question it. How can it be that we ("whoever believes in me") will do greater works than he did? He walked on water. He fed the multitudes. He raised the dead. How can it be that we will do anything that even remotely compares, let alone anything greater?

He is not talking about any of us as individuals acting on our own. I never have, I never will, do anything that remotely compares to his mighty deeds of power. Nor have you; nor will you, acting on your own power. But empowered by the Holy Spirit and acting as a part of Christ's body, we should be regularly participating in deeds as great and even greater than any accomplished in Christ's earthly ministry. That may sound ridiculous but don't blame me; I did not write John 14:12.

It is as his church proclaims the gospel that people are saved, not merely from physical but from spiritual death. It is through his church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known, not just to the earthly rulers in Jerusalem but to the "principalities and powers in heavenly places" (Eph 4:10). It is to obedient members of his body that he grants his Holy Spirit to enable these deeds (Acts 5:32; 1 Cor 12:13). It is not his earthly physical body, but his living spiritual body, the church, that is "the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph 23).

Do you participate in the doing of the greater works? Are you an active member of the body that accomplishes this, or are you just a spectator, dead weight, a tagalong? We were destined for greater works. Let's do them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Called For What?

Most people make a little "small talk" before they come to the point. But occasionally one has the frustration of dealing with a person who seems unable to get past the small talk and come to the point. They do not seem interested in knowing why we phoned or came by. They act as if we could have had no other purpose than the reciting of pleasantries. They ramble on about the weather, the ball team, or their aches and pains. It never seems to occur to them to ask, "Why did you call?"

The Lord has called us, but he did not call us to make small talk. He did not call us to get our advice, on matters big or small. He has called us to be saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2). That is the goal of his call.

To be a saint is to be holy. In fact the NIV uses the word holy, rather than saint, in 1 Corinthians 1:2. To be holy, to be a saint, means to be a person set apart for the Lord's special use.

Think about what this means, and about what it does not mean.

He did not call us to merely be saved from the consequences of our sin. He wants us to be saints. He did not call us just to gather a people who would sit around and praise him once a week. He wants us to be holy. He did not call us so that we could go on living just like everyone else, and yet somehow end up in heaven at the end of life. No, he wants us to be different, separate, holy. A special people for his special use.

I do not like to make a call, especially a long-distance call and then have the other party keep the conversation from getting to the point of the call. When God called us, it was costly. Let us not frustrate the purpose of his calling. He called us to be his special, holy, people. Let us honor the purpose of his calling.