Prosperity, Posterity, Pilgrimage (pt 2)

Paradise Lost, and God’s Plan to redeem, re-establish and restore His Kingdom. First part of the program is to own the land.

This post on Prosperity, Posterity and Pilgrimage is a work in progress.  I need to convince myself in these meditations, and validate my conclusions. However not having any theological training, I resort to reading excerpts of best books in particular fields, using “cheat sheets” from reviews, synopsis, sample chapters in Kindle, or the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon books.  While my reading / search might not be exhaustive, I believe my conclusions have been made with prayer and due diligence and would satisfy my personal quest for meaning and relevance, giving sense and convictions for my faith to “go into the deep”.

And behold, this morning as I was reviewing the previous posting, the term ‘Paradise Lost” crept in!  I wonder whether anyone really is familiar with this ancient ‘dinosaur’ classic? I googled. Wow – John Milton published his ten poems / books in 1674.  The first is about Satan, aided by Beelzebub and Mammon sabotaging and stealing man’s paradise.  The former commonly known as lord of the flies (carrier of diseases) and the latter associated with the greedy pursuit of gain or wealth.  Did Milton had insights then that the temptation of Eve had to do with health and wealth?

God’s purposes cannot be thwarted!  He would and could redeem the paradise that was lost when Adam sold out to satan, and restore His Kingdom!

His Plan began with a person, then a plot (of land), and then a people!

And God would empower and enrich them to do so, with prosperity and posterity; and purposefully in the Progeny of Jesus to be the Redeemer of the corrupted and contaminated earth, and finally Redeemer of lost souls.

Graeme Goldsworthy, writing in ‘The Kingdom of God and the Old Testament’ said

we see nothing less than the promise of the king­dom of God. Abraham’s descendants are to be God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

It is Goldworthy’s recurring theme in his foundational Introduction to Biblical Theology – “According to Plan”

 

According to plan

God called Abraham and promised him a nation and a land.  This is getting exciting – I just found this in Wikipedia on Abraham –

“Abraham (Hebrew: אַבְרָהָם, ….

The narrative in Genesis revolves around the themes of posterity and land. Abraham is called by God to leave the house of his father Terah and settle in the land originally given to Canaan, but which God now promises to Abraham and his progeny. Various candidates are put forward who might inherit the land after Abraham, but all are dismissed except for Isaac, his son by his half-sister Sarah. Abraham purchases a tomb (the Cave of the Patriarchs) at Hebron to be Sarah’s grave, thus establishing his right to the land, …”

The contest for the land is still ongoing at this very moment. UNESCO robbed Israel of the Abraham’s legacy of Hebron see  http://www.timesofisrael.com/unesco-votes-to-declare-hebron-an-endangered-site/).  Clashes and attacks upon Abraham’s descendants break out almost every day over Mount Zion. Again it’s about land, and Jesus would return and set foot on Mount Olive and then in the Millennium, reign from Jerusalem.

The Old Testament has details of Abraham’s future generations and genealogies – in owning earthly real-estate for the eternal Kingdom – “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Gen 15:  18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land

Gen 26: And the Lord appeared to him (Isaac) and said, …. dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him.

Gen 35: 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

 The Land W Bruggermann

Walter Brueggermann said in ‘The Land – Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith” =

“… see that the Old Testament, in its theological articulation, was not all about “deed,” but was concerned with place, specific real estate that was invested with powerful promises and with strategic arrangements for presence in the place as well.  Once I had seen that much, then it was a ready development to see the dialectic in Israel’s fortunes between landlessness (wilderness, exile) and landedness, the latter either as possession of the land, as anticipation of the land, or as grief about loss of the land; it was on that basis … all aspects being referred to God of the covenant Torah” 

.. The land was one of the most vibrant symbols for the people of ancient Israel. In the land-gift, promise, and challenge-was found the physical source of Israel’s fertility and life, and a place for the gathering of the hopes of the covenant people. 

Within the entire Old Testament, there are more than 2700 references to land. According to Elmer Martens, “The term ‘land’ is the fourth-most frequent substantive in the Old Testament.”

Read Deut 8:7-18

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless theLord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

The Land is Mine

From a reviewer of “The Land”, by Norman Habel, he goes in depth in his study of the Israelite people’s relationship to the land, and discovers six ideologies of land and its meaning to the Israelite people in the Hebrew Testament.

The ideologies (partial) are as follows:

–  The Land as the Source of Wealth (for the nation)
–  God has conquered the land for Israel

–  Land assigned by God
–  Up to each tribe to subdue the land and claim it for God’s people
·  The Land as God’s inheritance
–  The land, ultimately, is God’s
–  The healing of the land is coming
–  God is owner of the land

God first dwelt in the landed holy tabernacle, from which He reveals Himself through the people He chose, before He could tabernacle in our midst, born in the land of Bethlehem, and then tabernacle in our very lives in the Spirit. Our lives are His real estate.

We are sojourners in this earthly land, pilgrims on the way home!

Prosperity and posterity must be understood as the promises and blessings given to the chosen people in the Old Testament as empowerment to occupy the land on God’s behalf at a particular period of His program.  Prosperity and posterity (wealth and health) is not as what the WOF proponents advocate!

 2 Cor 5: 1For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

“The Exodus Song”
This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

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End of Life instruction and 2 Pet 3:9

The Lord is …… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

My 82 year old widow sister, childless, was admitted to the hospital for the third time, after spending 12 days and then 16 days in the hospital and then transferred to a community hospital. The community hospital, after more than a week, called and informed that she has to be readmitted to the acute hospital for dialysis as they could not render proper treatment.

For the next two days, I noticed my sister was not on dialysis. I asked, and was told that there was a misunderstanding (by the community hospital?) whatever it meant.

Then a doctor called one afternoon. Mainly she asked what was my ‘end-of-life instruction” for my sister. I asked  – was this about the AMD? – silence. What was the prognosis? Was there something I need to know? No clarification. The silence was puzzling. So I said “let me think about it and pray about it”. She said she would call back for my decision in a few days.

I became unusually alarmed and alerted family members. That evening I visited my sister. She was alert and definitely it wasn’t terminal or life threatening.

The next morning, I was on the way for a meeting requested by a medical social worker (MSW). I prayed – “Lord, what is your leading – as I have to give a reply about the EOL instruction.” The impression was very strong and clear – ‘resist, until your sister believes in the Lord Jesus!’ I told the MSW and another doctor who sought me out and commented that the 1st doctor was not tactful as it alarmed me.

Unexpectedly again the 2nd doctor asked about the EOL instruction as I was only expected to respond in a few days. He explained about withholding resuscitation. So since he asked I replied – “No, I will not concede until my sister believes in Jesus”. Somehow, to the 1st and 2nd doctor, I became uninhibited about my faith. He said “So it is religious?” I asserted, and said a miracle could happen. But he countered that it would be a medical decision. I also countered – No, I know a little about medical conditions and would like to be contacted and consulted when the need arose. He then said something that it would be the ‘decision’ of senior doctors. I stood firm. He then went off.

Fifteen minutes later, he returned, and said that the 1st doctor had already spoken to my sister that morning and my sister gave her consent! “No, I discount that, as you know my sister has Alzheimer, and she could not have understood.” The 2nd doctor again reiterated that it would be a medical decision by senior doctors.

The good outcome was that I became vulnerable. Normally I will reach out to any who asked for help, but would myself refrain from asking for support. I had to humble myself. I turned to the church’s visitation team and my cell group – for prayer, for support and for my sister to trust in Jesus!

That evening, I became disturbed that they might not render proper due care for my sister! I began to write to the hospital, to the Ministry of Health, to my Member of Parliament who’s also the GPC chairman for Health, etc. Many thoughts and promptings flowed through my mind, which surprised me.

To both doctors, I had brought up the Advanced Medical Directive (see – https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/legislation/legislation_and_guidelines/advance_medical_directiveact.html)

In the absence of an AMD, I believe proper medical care is appropriate and should not be withheld. There are many safeguards e.g.

 You are not being forced into making the AMD.
 You are of sound mind.
 You understand the nature and implications of making an AMD.

 Validity
It is NOT compulsory. The AMD is valid only when it is made voluntarily. No one can force another person to make an AMD.
No one can make an AMD on behalf of another person, whether child or adult (even if the person is mentally incapable of making an AMD on his own)
 Coercion
It is the doctor’s responsibility to fully explain and discuss the matter with the person and to ensure that he/she fully understands what he/she is signing.
Forcing or misleading another person into signing an AMD is an offence punishable under the law.
If convicted, such a person can be fined and imprisoned and disqualified as a beneficiary.

The hospital called me as I had written. I mentioned my concerns. Why was I asked repeatedly for the EOL instruction? It was akin to the AMD which has many safeguards for the sanctity of life. I said my interpretation and impression was it looks like a Trojan Horse to bypass the AMD already in place. (I just googled and that EOL instruction is a type of a medical directive.)

I realized it is so subtle and insidious – the EOL instruction is a Trojan horse, unknowingly and ignorantly promoted to withhold resuscitation before a person comes to faith in Jesus. A work of evil, in this world of evil, dispensing words of evil against our Lord’s words of life!

Jesus said in John 10 “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

HALLELUJAH !!!!!! “The Lord is …… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Church members visited, witnessed (in dialects) and prayed for my sister, members whom I have never met or spoken to! On a second visit, after we prayed, a church sister prompted that I should lead my sister to ask Jesus into her life. My sister did so! All these years she was deep into Buddhism, and had resisted. The next evening, I asked her whether she knew what she did, and whether she wanted to be baptized. She assented!

Coincidence or Confirmation?

Two days after my sister prayed, the church’s devotional reading was titled “The Lord saw her, He had compassion on her,….” Indeed! Thank you Jesus!

I began to share with others how my sister had prayed to receive Jesus!

Oh, how I love to hear His story of Salvation, I like to tell the story … (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lelJPwbuFPQ)

Later I received a posting on the Trojan Horse. (https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/07/trojan-horse/).

Yes, for those who have threatening conditions or terminal illnesses and have yet to believe in Jesus, we must pray for their health and salvation, for their health to be extended until they repent and believe in Jesus rather than consider a EOL instruction not to resuscitate.

Make Disciples – but who am I?

 

To begin, an excerpt from Bob Diffinbaugh

“Apart from His sacrificial work on the cross, the most significant thing our Lord did upon the earth was to make disciples. Our Lord had written no books, He had built no organization; there were no physical structures or monuments left to commemorate Him. He had placed the future of His earthly work entirely in the hands of His disciples. Had they failed their task, humanly speaking, the church of Jesus Christ would not exist today.

In the last decade, discipleship has become a popular subject in Christian circles. The great difficulty is that when we use this term we frequently mean something entirely different from that denoted by the biblical term. For instance, we hear much talk about discipling others or being discipled. Being in close proximity to a great seminary, I have seen many young and enthusiastic theologs come and go …..

We almost completely fail to grasp the biblical concept of discipleship. It is interesting that we never find the term ‘disciple’ used with reference to the relationship between Paul and Timothy. As a matter of fact, we find the two primary terms for discipleship employed very frequently in the Gospels, sporadically in the book of Acts, and almost never in the rest of the New Testament. …… What was so important in the life and ministry of our Lord should be very clear to us today who wish to be known as His disciples.”

 

To repeat the quote above – “ What was so important in the life and ministry of our Lord should be very clear to us today who wish to be known as His disciples.”

 

But Who Am I?

How would I like to be defined?

A Disciple , a Christian, a Believer in Christ, or a Saint?

Which identity describes my blessedness?  How would God name me?

whoami

 

Does the term disciple best describe me? Does it allude to my intention or does it characterize my faith?

Does the term disciple suggest or hint of my noble pursuits?

Should my identity point to my intents and integrity as one who follows and learns from Jesus or should it point to my God Who set me apart, cleanse me, sanctified me and qualified me to be His ?

If the apostles were to write to a group of us, how would they address us?

Or does the term “saint” best describe the love of God and His sole initiative and awesome and amazing grace to set me apart and give me the gift of repentance and gift of faith to be incorporated into His glorious kingdom?

 

 

“Personal Commitment to Jesus. During Jesus’ earthly ministry the disciple was to “follow” Jesus, an allegiance to his person regarded as the decisive act, whether a literal or figurative attachment. Jewish disciples would follow their master around, often literally imitating him. The goal of Jewish disciples was someday to become masters, or rabbis, themselves, and to have their own disciples who would follow them. But Jesus’ disciples were to remain disciples of their Master and Teacher, Jesus, and to follow him only. Following Jesus means togetherness with him and service to him while traveling on the Way.”

(Michael J. Wilkins)

 

And lastly to quote Jerry Bridges again –

I believe grace motivates a person to obedience. I use Isaiah’s experience – the vision in Isaiah 6 – as a paradigm. At the conclusion of my sermon on Isaiah 6, I said that passage can be summed up in four words: God, guilt, grace, and gratitude. God’s holiness, our guilt, the gospel of God’s grace, and Isaiah’s gratitude is expressed. When God said, “Who shall I send?” Isaiah didn’t ask where he would go and what he would do. Instead, he answered, “Here am I.” And I believe that when we read of Jesus’ experience with the sinful women in Luke 7, we are seeing only the tail end of the story. The only way we can understand that story is to assume she had a prior encounter with Jesus and had become acutely aware of her sin and received his forgiveness. So now she comes out of gratitude to wash his feet. The parable of the debtor brings that out, of course. I define grace these days not just as unmerited favor. I say without guilt there’s no grace. So I define grace in this fashion: it is God’s blessings through Christ to the people who deserved his curse.

 

Thank you Heavenly Father for calling me and saving me, cleaning me up so that Your Holy Spirit can indwell me, and sealing Him in me, never to leave, and making me Your child – yes a saint, called, set-apart and sanctified.  Indeed You are Great, Good, full and overflowing with Grace to me!

Disciples are made, not born (according to a bestselling author.)

But Saints are Born, nod made!

 

Make Disciples (6) – who is the disciple

So Jerry Bridges emphasized that the imperatives for our sanctification follows our conviction of the indicatives of our salvation – to daily preach the Gospel to ourselves. I have shared often how every church should spend six months in a year to teach what it means to be saved; and we are saved by Grace, and sanctified by Grace.

 

“Performance is the default mode of every human”

We are ever so eager to prove ourselves, to show our commitment to obey, especially the great commission, and to recruit others (teaching them) to obey.  Even before the ten commandments were given to Moses, the Israelites committed to be obedient

Exodus 19: 8 “All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.”

Or in the NT,

Matthew 26:35 “Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.”

 

We are ever so eager to please our Lord! But can we truly please Him Who said all our good deeds are as filthy rags.

 

The Jewish people have categorized 613 commandments of God in the first five books of the Old Testament .  ((http://www.covenantpeaceministries.com/resources/Article+-+1050+New+Testament+Commands.pdf). )

And when I googled on indicatives and imperatives, the findings include “1050 New Testament Commands”    ( https://www.cai.org/bible-studies/1050-new-testament-commands  )

 

But I couldn’t find any literature of ‘indicatives in the NT’ (not that I know of)

We are drawn to the imperatives – as performance is the default mode of every human!

 

To contrast how vital it is to be a “disciple”, we highlight the 260 occasions the term is used in the NT (ESV) (72 in Matthew, 44x in Mark, 40x in Luke, 76x in John, 28x in Acts), compared to the 17 times the word “Christian” is assigned in Acts to followers of Christ, while the term  ‘believers’ is used  (18x)  and saints (61x) in the NT.

Surely it becomes persuasive and convincing to declare that God is looking for disciples as the term is so frequently used, rather than the term Christians or believers!

But then, if that is the case, had the apostles failed in making disciples since not many disciples were mentioned in the later period of the NT church?  Had disciples and discipleship faded away and groups are now trying to complete what the apostles failed to do?

 

So who is the disciple?  Continuing on my reading, I found the following resources helpful

 

“One of the best axioms in teaching can be expressed in this way,

Define your terms, then stick to your definitions.”

In considering the subject DISCIPLESHIP AND ITS DANGERS IN THE LAST DAYS, we must first define the term “discipleship”. What do we mean by discipleship? Here we are faced with a problem inasmuch as the term is not employed in any of the epistles of the New Testament.”

(The whole article can be found here    http://www.lifehouse.org/tracts/hgmdisipleshipanditsdangers.htm  )

 

And from  https://bible.org/seriespage/15-discipleship-its-definitions-and-dangers-matthew-231-12

The New Testament Definition of a Disciple

In the New Testament, the picture of a disciple is not as clear or simplistic as one might wish, for the terms, mathetes (disciple, learner) and akoloutheo(to follow) are used in a variety of ways.204

Not only did Jesus have His disciples, but so did John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14; 11:2; John 1:35,37, etc.), the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33), and even Moses (John 9:28).

There is great diversity among those who are identified as the disciples of Jesus in the Scriptures. John (John 6:60,66) uses the term ‘disciple’ to refer to those who are uncommitted, unbelieving followers of Jesus, motivated mainly by curiosity or impure desires. The masses who have come to faith and trusted in Jesus as their Messiah were also called disciples (John 8:30,31). Then, of course, the term was used particularly and most frequently of the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1, etc.) one of whom was His betrayer (John 6:70,71). Within the circle of the twelve was an inner circle of three: Peter, James and John (Luke 9:28). In the book of Acts, the word ‘disciple’ seems to be used synonymously with the term ‘believer’ (cf. Acts 6:1,2,7).

What is a disciple? I suspect that Mark summarizes it best in his gospel: “And He went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons” (Mark 3:13-15).

Who is a disciple of our Lord? Anyone who is deeply and personally committed to Jesus Christ by faith, who manifests the power and authority of our Lord, and who continues and extends His work.”

 

And from   https://bible.org/seriespage/2-understanding-meaning-term-disciple

 

DISCIPLESHIP AS A CALL TO FOLLOW JESUS

Discipleship is a call to be with, know and enjoy the Master. In this sense, the call to Biblical discipleship presupposes salvation, i.e., that a person has believed in Christ as Lord and Savior and continues to believe in Him. But discipleship is also a summons to follow Jesus and this is, at times, no easy matter. He demands exclusive, complete, and unflinching obedience to Himself. This is where his summons to discipleship is so radically different from Plato who stressed the freedom of the student from the teacher or even the Jewish religious leaders who focused more on the Torah and steered their disciples away from themselves. Jesus, on the other hand, pointed people to himself9 (and still does) and calls them to radical commitment to him. Jesus’ call to discipleship is a call to Christlikeness which includes at least three related facts: (1) the demand; (2) the added promise; and (3) the grace.

 

THE DEMAND

Jesus’ call to discipleship is an all-or-nothing summons, reaching into every area of our lives. It involves giving him preeminence over the closest of our human relationships and over the desires we have for our lives. In short, it involves becoming his servant in the world and giving your life to that end. Paradoxically we give up that which we cannot keep to gain that which we cannot lose. If we don’t, we lose all in the end (cf. Matt 16:25).

The cross was an instrument of death and well known to the Jews. The suffering was intolerable. But Jesus says we are to take it up and follow him. This will, in the nature of the case, involve self-denial. The one who picked up the cross-beam of his cross was headed down a one-way street, never to return.

The GRACE

The demand of Jesus’ call to discipleship is impossible for a human being, unaided, to fulfill. We must have resources to accomplish this kind of life. Those resources come directly from Christ and are promised to us if we abide in him. This is the point of Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-11ff. He told his disciples that even though he was departing the world, he would nonetheless carry on his life and ministry through them, his chosen ones (15:16). From John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:13-14 we know that his life would be lived in and through the disciples via the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16).”

 

 

 

 

 

Make Disciples (5) – more of Jerry Bridges

Kristen Wetherell, reporting on an interview with Jerry Bridges in 2016 wrote :-

If you’ve become discouraged by your Christian life; if you often feel the weight of condemnation; if you think God has a low opinion of you or is often frustrated by your efforts; if you believe your good works get you higher marks on his judgment scale, you need to preach the gospel to yourself!

Performance is the default mode of every human: thinking we have to do good works to please God (and even other people). Our identities have become wrapped up in our own accomplishments, the opinions of others, and even the spiritual disciplines we practice, rather than the once-for-all saving work of Jesus Christ.

Author Jerry Bridges wants us to remember the gospel by preaching it to ourselves on a daily basis.”

http://unlockingthebible.org/how-to-preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-an-interview-with-jerry-bridges/

 

So I need to preach the Gospel to myself everyday!  I must return to the Gospel of Grace, the power of God to sozo me totally.  My identity is not wrapped up in my performance and discipleship, not even my spiritual disciplines and service to make disciples!   (more of this in the next post – what does it really mean?)

 

And again from the previous post –

http://www.signetringministries.org/2009/10/25/breakfast-with-mr-bridges/

Bridges preaches and teaches Gospel-driven sanctification. The call of conformity to the image of Christ is given throughout the Scriptures. However, it becomes easy for us to become, in Bridge’s words, “duty-driven” rather than “gospel-driven.” To further define, we often see the pursuit of sanctification as something we must do to earn or remain in God’s favor. This thought may be a subtle thought in the believer’s mind. Yet, we still can fall into this erroneous way of thinking. Bridges clearly and boldly established that we are called to pursue conformity to the image of Christ because we are saved. We are totally pure in the eyes of God because what Christ has done on the cross. We are totally secure in the love of God because of what Christ is doing right now—interceding for us at God right hand. We are destined for the resurrection because of His promise to raise us up with Christ when He returns. These are the truths that should be spurring us on to good works, and causing us to pursue holiness.”   

 

Jerry Bridges influenced and impacted many – notable is his call to return to the Gospel of Grace.  Appended are articles and interviews by various people –

 

http://www.booksataglance.com/author-interviews/interview-with-jerry-bridges-on-his-autobiography-god-took-me-by-the-hand-part-2/

“Shortly after The Pursuit of Holiness was published a large evangelical church in our city asked me to teach it as one of the electives in a 10-week Bible study program. Preparing for these lectures forced me to go back to the book. Toward the end of the 10-week series I thought to myself, “There is not enough gospel in this book. ……. I spent the next 10 years thinking about the role of the gospel in the pursuit of holiness. Finally, in 1991, what began as the chapter I wish I had written became a full-fledged book entitled Transforming Grace. This was followed in subsequent years by two other books The Discipline of Grace and The Transforming Power of the Gospel.

 

with C.J. Mahaney

(http://www.cjmahaney.com/blog/an-interview-with-jerry-bridges/)

Jerry: Well, I preached the gospel to myself in light of the fact that I was coming here to teach and one of my favorite phrases, which is not a biblical phrase, but it is based on the Bible, is from the old hymn “Christ the Solid Rock.” This says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” And I just said to the Lord, “Lord, my hope for any blessing on my ministry today at The Pastors College is based on Jesus’ blood and righteousness. His death to pay for my sin, his righteousness imputed to me.”

CJ: Well, let me add my own recommendation. The Discipline of Grace is, I think, a must read and I recommend and have recommended for years that individuals read, in particular the first three chapters, although I commend the entire book, but the first three chapters every day for the rest of your life.

 

And from the Spurgeon Fellowship Journal

(http://www.thespurgeonfellowship.org/journal/int_sp09.pdf)

JB: So there was this barrenness, and I suspect it was due to the modernist/fundamentalist debate. They lost sight of the gospel and the fundamentalists took the theological and moral high ground, becoming very self-righteous. Of course, when you’re self-righteous, you don’t need the gospel because the gospel is only for sinners. Even though I’m a saved sinner, I am still a practicing sinner which means I must preach the gospel to myself everyday. But if you’re looking down your nose at other people then you don’t recognize your own need for the gospel. So that’s my suspicion; that is where it started. I was born in 1929 so I grew up in that era. The first 15 years of my ministry could be described as an “ought-to” ministry. I was always saying, “you ought-to do this.” Thankfully, by God’s grace, I recognized the error of my ways. Now I would like to describe it as a “want-to” ministry. I hope people “want-to” to obey because they have been motivated by the gospel.  

JB: I believe grace motivates a person to obedience. I use Isaiah’s experience – the vision in Isaiah 6 – as a paradigm. At the conclusion of my sermon on Isaiah 6, I said that passage can be summed up in four words: God, guilt, grace, and gratitude. God’s holiness, our guilt, the gospel of God’s grace, and Isaiah’s gratitude is expressed. When God said, “Who shall I send?” Isaiah didn’t ask where he would go and what he would do. Instead, he answered, “Here am I.” And I believe that when we read of Jesus’ experience with the sinful women in Luke 7, we are seeing only the tail end of the story. The only way we can understand that story is to assume she had a prior encounter with Jesus and had become acutely aware of her sin and received his forgiveness. So now she comes out of gratitude to wash his feet. The parable of the debtor brings that out, of course. I define grace these days not just as unmerited favor. I say without guilt there’s no grace. So I define grace in this fashion: it is God’s blessings through Christ to the people who deserved his curse.

AA: So we’re not un-meriting; rather, we are ill-meriting.

JB: Yes; we are ill-meriting and ill-worthy.

AA: Right!

AA: If you were asked to address a group of pastors in a conference setting and given complete freedom to preach your passions, what subjects would you address and why?

JB: Living by the gospel. I would eventually get into progressive sanctification but I would start with the gospel. At Sinclair Ferguson’s church I am going to preach on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. We are constrained by the love of Christ. I spent too many years preaching “ought-to” and that’s the way I lived. And I can recall one day when I was going through 2 Corinthians and the Holy Spirit arrested me with the phrase “Christ’s love compels me.” I asked myself, “What compels me?” And my answer was “duty.” Duty is a high virtue for me. I realized, however, that my sense of duty would not last a lifetime. I prayed, “God, will you begin to compel me by your love?” He led me back to the gospel. AA: It’s the performance treadmill you talk about in Transforming Grace, right? JB: Yes. But you see, the way to the cross is through our sin. We don’t need the cross until we see our sin. The gospel frees you up to be honest about your sin. Without the gospel you have to live in denial. Otherwise, you can’t take it. AA: You mean, as a self-righteous person? JB: Yes, as a self-righteous person you live in denial. But when you see the gospel and when you see that Christ really has died for your sin and you really have been forgiven, then it’s okay to be honest. When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin you don’t fight with it; rather, you say, “Okay Lord, that’s true. That’s the way I am. But thanks be to God for the gospel.

 

 

In March 2016, the Logos Bible Software blog put up a “in memory of Jerry Bridges – with a roundup of articles and quotes” –

https://blog.logos.com/2016/03/in-memory-of-jerry-bridges-a-roundup-of-articles-and-quotes/

The fourth great truth that I learned was the necessity of preaching the gospel to myself every day. I learned to look to Christ as my righteousness rather than to my own performance. Early in my Christian life, I had gone from one extreme, what I call self-effort — this is what the Bible says, so just obey it — to the opposite extreme — you can’t do anything, just trust Jesus to live his life through you. . . . I am responsible to deal with sin, I am responsible to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, but I am dependent on the enabling power of Christ through the Holy Spirit to enable me to do that.”

 

(Next – what does it mean to be a disciple)

Make Disciples (4) – Breakfast with Jerry Bridges

Jerry Bridges went to be with his savior in 2016, after working for nearly 60 years with the Navigators – THE disciple-making ministry.  In his lifetime, a few of his books became classics – The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness.  Less well-known are his other powerful books which steers readers back to the indicatives of the Gospel of Grace – Transforming Grace, The Discipline of Grace and The Gospel for Real Life. (I’ve highly given and recommended these 3 books to others to remind ourselves that it is all by HIS Grace, and not be MY discipleship.)

Jerry Bridges reminds me of the Navigators with the mission to “spread the Good News of Jesus Christ by establishing life-on-life mentoring—or discipling—relationships with people, equipping them to make an impact on those around them for God’s glory.”

Indeed not only a prolific writer, but one who is profound and perceptive – in the ways and workings of God! I am grateful and glad that the Lord has raised him to remind ‘disciples’ and ‘disciple-makers’ that we must anchor our efforts and energy on Jesus, and the Holy Spirit Whom He sent, lest we lose sight of Jesus and His good news of grace, the power to sozo us in all ways, always.

 

Appended below is a Ryan Habbena‘s account of his breakfast with Jerry Bridges, followed by excerpts from J Bridges’ books.

 

Bridges preaches and teaches Gospel-driven sanctification. The call of conformity to the image of Christ is given throughout the Scriptures. However, it becomes easy for us to become, in Bridge’s words, “duty-driven” rather than “gospel-driven.” To further define, we often see the pursuit of sanctification as something we must do to earn or remain in God’s favor. This thought may be a subtle thought in the believer’s mind. Yet, we still can fall into this erroneous way of thinking. Bridges clearly and boldly established that we are called to pursue conformity to the image of Christ because we are saved. We are totally pure in the eyes of God because what Christ has done on the cross. We are totally secure in the love of God because of what Christ is doing right now—interceding for us at God right hand. 

http://www.signetringministries.org/2009/10/25/breakfast-with-mr-bridges/

 

From “Transforming Grace”

The grace of God is one of the most important subjects in all of Scripture. At the same time it is probably one of the least understood.

The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “well” is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance.

Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way.

Here is a spiritual principle regarding the grace of God: To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life.

 

From “The Discipline of Grace”

.. the day when your spiritual disciplines are all in place and you are reasonably satisfied with your Christian performance. Have you thereby earned God’s blessing that day? Will God be pleased to bless you because you’ve been good? You are probably thinking, Well, when you put it like that, the answer is no. But doesn’t God only work through clean vessels? To which I reply, “Let’s assume that is true. How good then do you have to be to be a clean vessel? How good is good enough?”

When one of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 2236-39).

Using Jesus’ response to the Pharisee as a standard, how good has your good day been? Have you perfectly kept those two commandments? If not, does God grade on a curve? Is 90 percent a passing grade with God? We know the answers to those questions, don’t we? We know that Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And we remember that James wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).

The point of this good-day-bad-day comparison is this: Regardless of our performance, we are always dependent on God’s grace, His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath.

 

(I am like the Ethiopian –  Acts 8 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him”

Jerry Bridges is my Philip!

Make Disciples (3) – the Imperative

In June 2016, I joined in the discussion that grace preachers did not major on the imperatives of our faith (https://wwwpilgrim.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/indicatives-and-imperatives/).  And a few days ago, I was stirred to re-visit this issue of imperatives and indicatives, associating it with discipleship and disciple-making.

This time round, I discovered that there had been much discussion on this; and it was way beyond what I know and expected.  Previously, it was like picking up a camera and and viewing this scene (scenario of indicatives and imperatives) without any focus. And as I searched and surfed on this (wow, the conversations on the I&I are awesome), my vision is beginning to sharpen (yes – beginning, still to be brought to sharp focus) on this.

So I asked myself, are the two “greats” – The Great Commandment and The Great Commission indicatives or imperatives?  I also asked others. The answer was clear.

And many movements and groups have been founded and formed to motivate and mobilize believers behind and around the Great Commission.

 

The great gospel imperatives to holiness are ever rooted in indicatives of grace that are able to sustain the weight of those imperatives. The Apostles do not make the mistake that’s often made in Christian ministry. [For the Apostles] the indicatives are more powerful than the imperatives in gospel preaching. So often in our preaching our indicatives are not strong enough, great enough, holy enough, or gracious enough to sustain the power of the imperatives. And so our teaching on holiness becomes a whip or a rod to beat our people’s backs because we’ve looked at the New Testament and that’s all we ourselves have seen. We’ve seen our own failure and we’ve seen the imperatives to holiness and we’ve lost sight of the great indicatives of the gospel that sustain those imperatives. Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry.”Sinclair Ferguson

https://pjcockrell.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/become-who-you-are-indicatives-imperatives/

 

So in view of what Ferguson wrote, (and many others out there); have we in our love and dedication to our Lord, and to the lost;  launched off correctly, or cruised on correctly, with the indicatives anchoring and driving our imperatives?

And if the imperative to make disciples has been our motive and motivation, would it have been a case of the flesh (effort and works) striving to please God, and unconsciously building on a wrong foundation?  When I was in such a disciple-making ministry, indeed there was a sense of superiority that came the involvement in the DM activities –  more spiritual, more disciplined …. .

And now I can echo with Jared Bumpers (http://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/indicatives-and-imperatives) how my moralistic (no, a superior self-righteous feeling of being different from the average church member) have set me apart from the others – a clear demonstration of self-righteousness –

“By focusing on the imperatives, the preacher (disciple maker?) unwittingly fosters a false sense of self-righteousness.”

 

Please don’t get me wrong. The exposure and training in the DM ministry has helped me to know more of the scriptures and pushed me to different and diverse situations in working out my faith. There is much merit in such ministries founded on the imperatives.

Could it have been better?

No it would have been right and authentic and proper if I had been nursed, nurtured and nourished first on the indicatives rather than the imperatives – like the Great Compassion of God in loving me, the Great Commitment of Jesus to be with me, the Great Certainty that Jesus is my Life and my Liberty, how my Great Captain and Commander is rolling out His purpose in Jesus, His plan to redeem man and accept man as a bride for the Bridegroom, and His program through the ages, and the future to fulfill all things in His Son, in Whom He is well pleased.