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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Unique Work and Servanthood of Christ

Let us, then, spend a few minutes in looking at His unique work and service. I think it is impressive to note that this section begins with the glorious end to which God is moving. "Behold, My Servant ... shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high" (52.13). It is always good to get the end right into view at the beginning, and see how it is all going to work out. All this tragedy of chapter 53 (Isaiah), all this terrible story - how is it going to end? Well, here God begins with His end. He says: "This is how it is going to end: before I tell you all about the course of things, which might terribly distress and depress you, I will tell you how it is all going to end. This Servant, Whom I am going to describe in His Person and His Work, in the end shall be exalted, shall be high, shall be lifted up!"

Of course, this word immediately carries us over to those great passages in the New Testament, such as Acts 1 and 2; Philippians 2:8-10 "He became obedient unto death ..." God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knew should bow ..."' and Hebrews 1:3 "He ... sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ..." That is not how it is going to end; that is how it has ended! And that is how the terrible story is introduced. It is all found n this repeated phrase of two words? "He shall..." 'He shall be exalted ... He shall be lifted up ... He shall be very high ... He shall see the travail of His soul ... He shall be satisfied.' It is established from the beginning. That is vindication; that is the Arm of the Lord! Let all this transpire - nevertheless, the Arm of the Lord will see to it that it leads to a glorious end. Before anything happens - before the Cross, before the rejection - it is established in the counsels of God: "He shall ..."

And if you and I come into the true spiritual principles of Christ's service, that is exactly how it will be with us. God will see to it that that is how it will be with us. God will see to it that that is how the end will be. "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:17). "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12).

Having notes how this matter is introduced, let us now look at the story of His unique servanthood.

His Vicarious Sufferings

There are eleven expressions in chapter 53 which describe the vicarious character of the sufferings of the Servant of the Lord.

1.  He bore our griefs.
2   He carried our sorrows.
3.  He was wounded for our transgressions.
4.  He was bruised for our iniquities.
5.  The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
6.  By His stripes we are healed.
7.  The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
8.  For the transgression of My people was He stricken.
9.  Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.
10. He shall bear their iniquities.
11. He bare the sin of many.

It is very instructive to notice the three words, used here, descriptive of what He bore. The three terms are: "iniquity," "transgression" and "sin." If you turn to the Book of Leviticus, chapter 16, you will understand what Isaiah was talking about, and what the Holy Spirit, through Isaiah, was pointing to.

"He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins: and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses ..." (Lev. 16:16).

"And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins". Here we have our three words of Isaiah 53.

"And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness".

"For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord".

"And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make atonement for the children of Israel because of all their sins once in the year".

Here in Isaiah, then, we have the work which corresponds to the work of the scape-goat. That term fits into this chapter so perfectly. This suffering Servant is the scape-goat, bearing iniquities, transgressions, sins, and driven out into the wilderness into desolation.

What are we to conclude from this as to the Arm of the Lord, in relation to His service.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Arm of the Lord: Related to the Cross")

Wisdom Enters

When wisdom enters your heart, Proverbs 2:10 NKJV

I love how the writer uses both positive and negative statements to enforce the truth. Let’s take a closer look. Read Proverbs 2:10-15

On the positive side we see the benefits of wisdom being knowledge, discretion and understanding. Knowledge becomes pleasant to our soul. Have you ever shunned a learning opportunity? Maybe because we didn’t have wisdom in our hearts that made knowledge seem pleasant to us. Next we see discretion will preserve you. I love this one because I know the value of discretion after having lived through many years without it. Lastly we see understanding will keep you. Knowledge of truth, discretion, and understanding consequences will deliver us from many bad choices in life.

Now let’s look at the negative statements wisdom guards us against. Wisdom will deliver us from the way of evil. If we have wisdom we won’t go near anything evil. Again discretion steps in to prevent us from following that way. Knowledge and understanding kick in to remind us there is a way that seems right to man but ends in death. Wisdom delivers us from the man who speaks perverse things. It enables us not to tolerate or hang around those who use vulgar, obscene, irreverent, disrespectful, and evil speech. Wisdom also guards us from those who leave the path of righteousness. This speaks of preventing us from stumbling when a believer backslides or walks away from the Lord to walk in the way of darkness. Wisdom will keep us from rejoicing in doing evil or delighting in perversity as we learn to hate what God hates. Have you ever hear someone bragging about their late nights of partying, hang-overs and pre-marital sexual experiences? They delight is doing evil. So to cap it off all these negative ways are crooked and devious. But wisdom will guard you if you allow wisdom into your heart.

We’ve looked at the positive benefits of wisdom and the negative elements that occur when wisdom is missing. We should have a good, clear picture of the importance of wisdom in the life a believer. How about you? Have you asked wisdom into your heart?

Father God, hallow be your name, your will be done. Jesus you are the Son of God who died for my sins that I might have life in you. Enable me to ask you into my heart today that I might be filled with wisdom to walk the path of righteousness until the day you take me home. In Jesus’ name I ask this.  Amen.

~Think On It~

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Principles of the Revealing of His Arm

Now we come back to our initial question: What are the principles upon which the Arm of the Lord will be revealed? As I have said, we think we are very familiar with the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. But when we read it, we are usually so taken up with those vividly descriptive words concerning the sorrows and the sufferings and the sin-bearing of the One Who is in view, with the Person and the experiences of this suffering Servant of Jehovah, that we almost entirely lose sight of the tremendous significance of that fundamental opening question: "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" And yet the whole chapter would have very little value and meaning but for that question. Think about it again: Supposing all that is described there - His sufferings, His sorrows, and His sin-bearing - had taken place, and then the Arm of the Lord had not been revealed on His behalf, what was the value of it all? It has happened - but where is the vindication? What is the verdict of God upon it?

For, although the content of the chapter is so tremendous, and so overwhelmingly moving in its tragedy, it all relates to this one thing: "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" The answer is" To that very One Who is described here in such vivid detail. The Arm of the Lord is revealed to the One Who, with such fullness and such pathos, is here brought into view, as the object of all this tragedy, affliction, misunderstanding and misrepresentation. it is to that One that the Arm of the Lord is revealed.

The prophet is viewing the reaction of the whole world, Israel and Gentile alike, to the report, the proclamation. "Who has believed our report?" he asks. "Who has believed the message that we have proclaimed?" It is all looking on to the day of the Son of Man. The messengers have gone out; the proclamation has been made - and what a proclamation it was! It was made on the Day of Pentecost; it went out from Jerusalem into all the regions round about. But - who believed it? What was the reaction to it, from Israel and the Gentiles. The prophet, in his wonderfully vivid, inspired foreknowledge of, and insight into, the reactions of the world to the message of the Gospel, asks the question, and answers it in the whole chapter. But he asks also: "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" The world has so reacted; the vast majority have refused and rejected the message; they have put a totally false construction upon the afflictions of the Suffering One. Nevertheless, it is to this One that the Arm of the Lord is revealed; it is alongside of this One that Jehovah stands.

The Servant of the Lord

And that leads us to the whole comprehensive context of the question. The wider context takes us back to chapter 42:1 "Behold My Servant, Whom I uphold; My chosen, in Whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles," and so on. But that phrase, "Behold My Servant," brings us also to the immediate context of our chapter 53. There ought, in fact, never to have been a break between 52:13 and 53:1, for this whole section really begins at verse 13: "Behold, My Servant shall deal wisely, He shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high." We are thus brought into the wider context of the servant of the Lord, and of what real service to the Lord is? that is, what is that service that the Lord vindicates, what is that servanthood that the Lord stands by. You and I are surely very much concerned with that, to be those to whom the Lord can say: "Behold My servant, whom I uphold" - and "whom I uphold" is only another way of saying: 'to whom I show My mighty Arm,;

Now, this term, Servant of the Lord," is used by Isaiah in a three-fold way.

In the first place (chapter 41:8; 44:1, 2, 21), he uses it of Israel: Israel is called 'the servant of the Lord,' raised up to serve Him in His great purposes in the midst of the nations. But Israel failed the Lord as a servant, tragically failed.

Then, out of the midst of Israel, God raised up One, His Messiah, His Anointed One, and transferred the title to Him "My Servant, Whom I uphold ... I have put My spirit upon Him" ... "Behold, My Servant ... He shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. It opens up a very profitable line of study, if you care to follow it, for you find that Isaiah 52, 53 is quoted no fewer than eleven times in the New Testament, these very words being transferred to the Lord Jesus. For instance Matthew 8:17 says: "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah"; then he quotes from Isaiah 53 in relation to the Lord Jesus. One might say that the whole New Testament can be bracketed into Isaiah 53, and into this title "The Servant of the Lord," His Person and His work.

The third way in which Isaiah used the title 'Servant of the Lord' is in a collective or plural way of faithful believers. In chapter 54:17 (compare also 65:13, 14) the faithful people of the Lord are given this very title, "the servants of the Lord." There is, therefore, a sense in which you and I come within the compass of this great Divine vindication.

But here we must pause to make a fundamental distinction: the distinction between the unique servanthood, the unique work of the Lord Jesus, and that which relates to others. This must ever be born in mind. For Isaiah 53 sets forth that unique servanthood of Christ, that unique work of Christ in which no one else shares at all. And, thank God, no such sharing is necessary! He has fulfilled it all Himself, alone. We shall follow that through in a moment more closely. But, while it is true that we do not in any way share in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, or come into this vicarious service, nevertheless we do come into a service, and a service that is based upon the same spiritual principles as His. That is very important: for it is upon those principles that the Arm of the Lord is revealed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with #1 -"The Unique Work and Servanthood of Christ")

Protecting New Believers

We have been talking about the devil's attack on newborn babes in Christ.  This is something we can expect.  But what are the reasons for it? 

Look at Isaiah 59:15-16, as it provides us with a clue,

So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.

I want you to think about that.  Truth fails, and the person who departs from evil makes himself a prey, in the same way that a lion looks at a wounded gazelle as prey. 
To me this is a picture of what happens to some new believers.  They depart from evil (get saved) and suddenly it seems like everything is going wrong for them.  And God is not pleased about it!

Where it says He "wondered " literally means He was astonished that there was no intercessor.  This means that there was no one praying.  That is why they became prey!
If we do not pray for those who turn from evil, then they will become the prey of the devil.  We have a responsibility to intercede for people who come to Christ.  It puts up a barrier of protection around them.

Paul wrote to the Colossians about this when he said, Praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ.  Paul didn't just pray for them before they were saved, he also prayed for them after they were saved. 

Oh, may God not wonder in our day, "Where is the intercessor who should be praying for the new babes in Christ?"  

Let's take our responsibility seriously and pray for those who have newly come to the faith.

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Meaning of the Arm of the Lord # 2

The Vindication of A Course Taken

Now, I find that the first thing that is meant by the Arm of the Lord on behalf of His people is this: it means the vindication of the course that they have taken. If you turn to your Bible with that in mind, you will find how much there is that gathers around it. You will agree that it is a very important matter, that the course that we have taken should be proved at the end to have been the right one. There could be nothing more terrible and tragic than that, having taken a course, and given ourselves and all that we have to it, poured out our lives in it and for it, we should find at the end that we have been wrong, and that the Lord is not able to vindicate the course that we have taken. It is plainly of the utmost importance that the course that we have taken should, in the end, receive the Divine approval - that over against everything, in spite of everything, from men and from demons, God should be able to say: "That man was right!"That, after all, was the vindication of Job, was it not? How much that man met of misconstruction and misrepresentation! But in the end God said, "My servant Job is right"; and it is no small thing to have God say that. In Isaiah 53 it is that: the vindication of a course taken, in spite of everything. And that 'in spite of everything' amounts to a good deal in that chapter, does it not? - an overwhelming weight of contradiction and misunderstanding; but, in the end, the Servant is vindicated; God says He was right. "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" To that One - to that One!

That thought runs everywhere through the Bible, in relation to all the great men of faith, as they walked with God. What a difficult way they went! But in the end, God said, not in word only, but in very, very practical vindication, 'He was right, he was right.' That is the meaning of the Arm of the Lord. That is what I want when I ask for the Arm of the Lord: 'O Lord, that I may take such a way with You that, in the end, You may be able to stand by that way and say: He was right.' Do you want that? There is no value in anything that does not work out like that.

The Abiding Fruit of a Life

A second thing that I see to be the meaning, or evidence, of the Arm of the Lord, is in the abiding, spiritual fruit of a life. In Isaiah 53:10 we read: "He shall see His seed" - that is, His abiding spiritual seed; the life that was in Him now perpetuated and established, indestructible, in new forms of expression. Of what value is it if, when we have lived our lives here, and done our work, and have gone, that is the end of everything? - a memory, growing more and more indistinct, fading into the past? It may be true to that very depressing verse that some people like to sing:

"Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day"

but that is pessimism to the last degree! That ought not to be our heritage. It ought not to be true of any servant of the Lord that he is "forgotten," "born away," "passed out, nothing left, a vapor. No, "He shall see His seed." The Arm of the Lord on behalf of any true servant of the Lord ought to mean that, when the form of service and expression, the vessel and the framework, which were only temporary, have gone, there is something intrinsic, indestructible, that goes on and ever on, and will be found in Heaven, abiding for eternity. That is the Arm of the Lord! That is the vindication of life, and that is what you and I covet, is it not? Surely, that is the only thing to justify our having lived at all! Not that we did all kinds of things, and that there was much to show even while we were here, but that, when we are gone, the work goes on, there is a seed that lives on - an imperishable spiritual seed.

That is what the Bible means by 'the Arm of the Lord.' It is the Lord giving His seal, the Lord involved in things. The Arm of the Lord establishes what is of Him, as something which cannot be destroyed. Do you not want the Arm of the Lord in that way? We all desire that there should be spiritual fruitfulness, spiritual increase, no stagnation, no end, but a going on. We can see that, can we not, in the case of all the true servants of the Lord - that the Lord came in after they had gone, and stood by their ministry. He stood by Jeremiah when Jeremiah was gone: "that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation ..." (2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2). Paul has ministered to the seven churches in Asia, and now Paul is gone; but the Lord comes back to the seven churches to vindicate the ministry of His servant (Acts 19:10, 26; Revelation 1-3). That is the Arm of the Lord - that He does not allow what has been of Himself in any servant's life to perish. It is established. (Compare also what is said of Samuel, in 1 Samuel 3:19 and 28:17).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "The Principles of the Revealing of His Arm")

Walk the Walk

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked

-First John 2:4 (King James Version)

You and I can "talk the talk" all we want, but the question is, are we "walking the walk?" I've taught numerous times about the fact that the faith we claim to have in Jesus is proven by the way we live our lives. Anyone can claim to be a saved, born again Christian, but the proof is in the pudding!

We read in First John 2:4, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." What John is teaching us here is that if we claim to be of Christ, if we claim to be a saved, born again Christian, we must walk as Jesus walked. If we claim to be a saved, born again Christian, we must not continue to live in the same sins day in and day out. There has to be a change.

Paul spoke about this in Galatians 5:16-25, " This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Paul is writing about our lives before Christ, and how we should be living them after Christ. He says, in verse 24, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." The term "crucified the flesh" means that we have killed the desire for sin, we have turned from sin and onto God. Have you done that? 

~Think About It~

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Meaning of the Arm of the Lord

Having considered something of the meaning of the phrase 'the arm of the Lord,' and seen that it indicates the support, the upholding, the strength of the Lord, given to those who are wholly in line with His purpose, let us now ask the question: What does the Word of God show to be a real implication of this support or upholding of the Lord? What is in our minds when we think of having the Lord's support?

What Does the Arm of the Lord Imply?

We all want to have His support, His upholding, His strength. To have the Lord with us, alongside of us, with all His gracious and infinite power exercised on our behalf, is, after all, the most important thing in life, not only for us as Christians individually, but for the Church, and for the whole work of the Lord. But have we really thought as to what we mean by this? What do we expect? Is it just the bare support of the Lord, to get us through, to carry us over, to see that we do not collapse on the way? When we see somebody standing fearfully by the side of the road, afraid to step out and cross, we sometimes proffer an arm: we say, "Let me give you an arm and see you over" - an arm! Well, the arm is a support; it helps to the other side. Is that all we want from the Lord? We do not always speak about the Arm of the Lord; we often express it in other ways. We ask for grace; we ask for sufficiency; we ask for many other things; but it is all included in the Arm of the Lord. What is it that we are really seeking?

Now, what does the Word of God show to be the meaning of this support, this Arm of the Lord? Before I answer that question, let me pause to say that this is a matter of the most far-reaching importance and application. I am not at this time at all concerned with merely giving Bible studies. There is a very great practical background to all that is presented here. There is coming daily into one's life an almost continuous, unbroken demand for help in the problems of Christian lives, the problems of churches, the problems of Christian relationships; sometimes it seems almost day and night, without cessation. And letters are continually coming - sometimes very long letters - from assemblies of God's people in different places, telling of the deplorable conditions in those assemblies, with all their frustration, limitation, disappointment, even deadlock and defeat, and asking for counsel and advice as to what is to be done. It is over against this background of real and urgent need that these messages are presented. I want to stress that there is something very practical in this.

For after all, it just amounts to one thing: Where is the Lord? Just that: Where is the Lord? where shall we find the Lord? How are we going to know the Lord is unreservedly with us? And that contains this further serious question: How far is the Lord able to support this and that - to come in and undertake, to show His power, show himself mighty? That really is the heart of the whole matter. Is there a limitation upon the Lord, that He cannot do these things, because of certain obstacles? It is of supreme importance, then, that we should know and understand the ground on which the Lord will show His mighty Arm in these days, on behalf of His people, on behalf of His Church, on behalf of His work. 

When, therefore, we ask the question: What does it really mean for the Arm of the Lord to be revealed? we find in the Word of God two or three things, holding a very large place there, in many forms of expression, which answer that question. But first may I pause again to say, in parenthesis, that the message of Isaiah 53 is the answer to everything! Perhaps we think we know Isaiah 53; perhaps we could even recite it. I venture to suggest that we know very little about that chapter. It is the most comprehensive chapter in the whole Bible. If we were able to read it with real spiritual comprehension, we should find that, in that one chapter, all our questions are answered; all our needs are met; all our problems are solved! The Bible is comprehended by Isaiah 53, and in what follows I am keeping within the compass of that chapter.

`T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Vindication of a Course Taken")

They said, the Lord hath need of him - Luke 19:34

Oh, could I hear Thee say as much of me, my blessed Lord! Here, where two ways meet, I have been standing long, waiting for a purpose worthy to fill my soul, and task the powers that are, as yet, only in the first burst of young life.
Thou needest much and many in Thy great redemptive work. The boat to cross the lake; the line to catch the fish; the bread and fish to feed the crowds; the baskets to gather up the fragments; the chalice to hold the wine; the dish to hold the sop; the little child to be the text for Thy sermon; the clay for the blind man's eyes; the tender women to minister of their substance; the apostles to preach Thy Gospel. Canst Thou not find a nitch for me also?
Thou requirest undivided loyalty. - Born of the Virgin's womb, laid in death where man's dust had never come, Thou must have a colt on which none had ever sat. I cannot give Thee a heart which has never known another; but I profess to Thee that there is no rival now. Thou mayest have all. Thine is the Kingdom.
Thou requirest patience and humility. - But these, also, Thou hast taught. I have waited patiently till this glad hour, and am quieted and humbled like a weaned child. No longer do I seek great things for myself. It is enough for me to be and do anything, if only Thou shalt be glorified.
Thou requirest, perhaps, but one brief service. - To serve Thee always with increasing fervor would be my choice; but if Thou needest only one brief, glad hour of ministry, like that the good Ananias did to Thy Church when he ministered to Saul, then be it so. To prepare for it, and revert to it, would be my satisfaction in having lived.

~F. B. Meyer~

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Need of the Revealing of the Arm of the Lord

Among His Own People

Later, we are going to ask the question: What will be the principles upon which the arm of the Lord will be revealed, at any time, for any people, or against any situation? For the moment we confine our attention to the fact of the very great need for the revealing  of the arm of the Lord in our time. That need exists, firstly, very strongly and urgently among the Lord's own people. Indeed, it becomes a personal and individual matter. It is of very great consequence whether the Lord can stand with each one of us, individually - stand alongside of us with His power and with His might; show His arm on behalf of you and of me, personally. It is of tremendous importance whether the Lord can commit Himself to you and me, and say, 'I can be with that man, I can be with that woman, with My strength. I can put My power alongside of them.'

Again, it is a very important thing whether the Lord can put His power behind us as local companies of His people - whether He can stand with us in strength, and say: "This is something I am going to look after; this is something that I am going to defend; this is something for which I am going to exercise My power: I am with this; I am in this." That is an ultimate question. What is the good of anything at all - all our striving, all our teaching, all our expenditure of time and energy - if the Lord is not with us, not free to exercise His power, to show Himself mighty on our behalf?

And what is true for the individual, and for the local companies, is true for the people of God in this world. For the entire people of God are involved in this world situation, and nothing but the arm of the Lord can save them. Only one thing can meet this present need and situation among the Lord's people, and that is, that He should make bare His arm; that there should be the "lighting down" of His mighty arm.

In The World

But if that is true in these three senses among His own people, what about this world, this iniquitous, evil world? Perhaps it is just there that we sometimes get nearest to having our greatest controversy with the Lord. I confess that, as I have moved over great ranges of this world, and seen things, sometimes the question has arisen in my own heart: "Oh Lord, how can You bear to allow this to go on? How can You, being in the position that You occupy, tolerate this?" I am not exaggerating. In a few hours from London I could show you something that would so horrify you as to make you cry out, 'Oh, God, bring this creation to an end soon!' The evil, the suffering, is such that nothing but the arm of the Lord can meet it.

This is a word for the hour, and we are going to ask this question, and seek to answer it, as far as possible, later. What are the principles upon which the arm of the Lord will be revealed? For we must recognize that that arm is, in a sense, governed; its baring is conditional. There are times when the arm of the Lord is, as it were, paralyzed; it is bound, it cannot move, it is not free. It was the cry of the prophet that He was like a bound man in the midst of His people, unable to move (Jeremiah 14:9). There are principles, spiritual laws, which govern the arm of the Lord. And whether it be our own personal need of the arm, or the need in local companies, or in the Church, or in the world, we must understand the ground upon which the Lord will exercise the might of His arm; the conditions upon which He will lift it, stretch it out, and perform His mighty acts.

As I have said, I am not answering that question immediately; that will come later. For the present I just want to bring into view the whole matter of the need of the arm of the Lord to be revealed. I want you to be gripped afresh by that need. This word was exercising me for many weeks, especially as I moved about in the Far East: "Arm of the Lord, awake!" (Isaiah 51:9). How great is the need for the arm of the Lord in this many-sided world situation. It could be put in other ways: Oh, that the Lord would do something - really do something! If the Lord would bring upon His people in these days a new sense of this need for the revealing of His arm, and move us,firstly to send up a cry, and then to get into line with those laws which govern the moving of His arm, this message will have been worth while, of very real consequence.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Need of A Heart-cry")

Mayan Prophecy for 2012

Question: "What is the year 2012 Mayan prophecy?"

The ancient Mayans, in their “Long Count” calendar, had December 21, 2012, as the end of the calendar. This “end” of the Mayan calendar leads to many different interpretations. Some see it as nothing more than a reset, the beginning of a new cycle. Others see it as the date for the end of the world (or at least some type of universal catastrophe). So, what is the Mayan Long Count calendar, and does it have any relation to the end of the world?

The Mayans developed their own calendar (The Long Count) ca. 355 B.C. They were able to use their observations and mathematical prowess to calculate the future movements of stars across the sky. The result was that the Mayans discovered the effect of the earth’s wobbling as it spins on its axis. This wobbling rotation causes the stars’ movements to drift gradually in the sky (an effect called “precession”) in a 5,125-year cycle. The Mayans also discovered that once every cycle the dark band at the center of the Milky Way (called the “Galactic Equator”) intersects the Elliptical (the plane of the sun’s movement across the sky).

During the year of the intersection, the sun reaches its solstice (a brief moment when the sun’s position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer) on December 21 for the Northern Hemisphere and June 21 for the Southern Hemisphere. At that time, the solstice occurs at the same moment of the conjunction of the Galactic Equator with the Milky Way. The year this occurs (in relation to our Gregorian calendar) is A.D. 2012, and happened last on August 11, 3114 B.C. With Mayan mythology teaching that the sun is a god and the Milky Way is the gateway to life and death, the Mayans concluded that this intersection in the past must have been the moment of creation. Mayan hieroglyphs seem to indicate that they believed the next intersection (in 2012) would be some sort of end and a new beginning of a cycle.

All the so-called “Mayan prophecies of 2012” are nothing more than wildly speculative extrapolations, based on the yet-uncertain interpretations by scholars of Mayan hieroglyphs. The truth is that, apart from the astrological convergence, there is little indication that the Mayans prophesied anything specific regarding the events in their distant future. The Mayans were not prophets; they were not even able to predict their own cultural extinction. They were great mathematicians and accomplished sky watchers, but they were also a brutally violent tribal people with a primitive understanding of natural phenomena, subscribing to archaic beliefs and the barbaric practices of blood-letting and human sacrifice. They believed, for example, that the blood of human sacrifices powered the sun and gave it life.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that would present December 21, 2012, as the end of the world. The Bible nowhere presents the astronomical phenomena the Mayans pointed to as a sign of the end times. It would seem inconsistent of God to allow the Mayans to discover such an amazing truth while keeping the many Old Testament prophets ignorant of the timing of the events. In summary, there is absolutely no biblical evidence that the 2012 Mayan prophecy should be considered a reliable prediction of doomsday.

Also included in the ancient Mayan prediction that December 21, 2012, would be the end of the world are the following theories: our sun is a god; the sun is powered by the blood of human sacrifice; the creation moment occurred at 3114 B.C. (despite all evidence that it happened much earlier); and the visual alignment of stars has some significance for everyday human life. Like every other false religion, the Mayan religion sought to elevate the creation instead of the Creator Himself. The Bible tells us about such false worshipers: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25), and “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). To accept the Mayan 2012 prophecy is also to deny the clear biblical teaching about the end of the world. Jesus told us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Contagious Joy

Contagious Joy

1 John !:1-4

Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.” When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma in order to share the good news with others. Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone. The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of. When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, “I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”

When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together. Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness. And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have. In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.

Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent. It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image. As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be “fruit” of His indwelling presence.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

To Whom the Arm of the Lord is Revealed # 2

Common Features

Now you will notice that many of these instances have certain features in common.

Firstly, there was the exalting of world powers against God: the lifting up of the head on the part of the powers of this world against the Lord and against His anointed.

Secondly, there was the involvement of the Lord's glory and the Lord's purpose, through conditions of weakness or apostasy among His own people. It was not to the Lord's glory to have Israel in Egypt. After the covenant that the Lord had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it was altogether contrary to the revealed purpose of His heart, that He should have the sons of Israel in bondage in Egypt, giving their strength to the powers of evil. It was entirely contrary to the glory of God to have Israel in Babylon; it was dishonoring to Him ad contrary to His revealed intention. How often it was like that - that the Lord revealed His arm because of a condition among His own people.

And then, thirdly, there was a cry from within on the part of an instrument of intercession. There was Moses, in touch with God right from the inside in relation to that situation in Egypt; there was Daniel, and a few others with him, right on the inside of the situation in Babylon, crying to God; there were those prayer meetings recorded in the Book of Acts - the cry of the elect to be avenged. This was a feature common to the intervention of God again and again - a cry from the inside.

Some questions arise in relation to all this in our own day. Is there a situation in our time which corresponds to these situations, in that threefold connection? Is there a connection like that today? I think the answer is obvious. Are world powers lifting up their heads against the Lord? Was there ever a time when the throne of God was more challenged by world powers than today? Is there a condition in Christianity which brings much dishonor to the Lord? Is the Lord's true testimony today involved in a spiritual state which is contrary to His revealed mind? The answer again is self-evident. It is impossible in these days to move about this world without meeting these two things and being almost overwhelmed by them. The tremendous force of evil that is set against God! You feel it, you meet it, it comes out at you everywhere. And if that is distressing, without exaggeration even more distressing is the state in Christianity generally, which is such a contradiction to what God has revealed as to His purpose. Sometimes you are almost compelled to say that the greatest enemy of Christianity is - Christianity! I am speaking, of course, very generally. The honor and glory of God is deeply involved today in a condition among His people which is very dishonoring to Him. These two conditions undoubtedly obtain today.

What about the third feature? Is there a cry from the inside? It is difficult to say much about this - perhaps Yes and No. There is a growing sense within the heart of many children of God that things are not right - a real sense that this is not what the Lord meant; and there is, I believe, a cry deep down in many hearts for some changing of the spiritual condition among His people. With all the very general satisfaction with so little, there is here and there a cry, even a discerning and understanding cry, born of a conviction that the Lord meant something other for His Church than this. This could never answer to God's standard! It may be that this consciousness is stronger and its expression greater than we are able to assess. The Lord must have it, if He is to be able to do anything; but even if it is only a Daniel and three or four others in Babylon, that is enough for Him. I would lay great emphasis upon this last point: the urgent need of a deepened, strengthened cry to God. I come back to that again presently.

Will the Lord Again Reveal His Arm?

These three things, then, surely do obtain today. Is it not therefore time that the arm of the Lord should once more be revealed? "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Have we in the Scriptures anything to justify an expectation that, at the end, the arm of the Lord will again be revealed, as on these former occasions? Is there something that would support our prayer and our expectation? Surely there is much! For instance, on the day of Pentecost Peter quoted from the prophecies of Joel; but he broke off the prophecy before he finished it. And the fulfillment of the prophecy on that day also stopped at a certain point: it stopped at the outpouring of the Spirit. Peter said: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). But Joel's prophecy, from which Peter quoted at some length, did not have its complete fulfillment on that day. If you look again at Act 2:19-21`, you will see that some mighty things were included in that same prophecy, which were suspended on the Day of Pentecost for a later day. Those things are held in reserve for another time.

Again, you remember the incident when the Lord Jesus, returning from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit, went to Nazareth and entered into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16-19). The roll was handed to Him, and He opened it at Isaiah 61, and began to read. But at a certain point, before He had finished the prophecy, He stopped. At the words" "... the acceptable year of the Lord," He broke off, and sat down. He did not finish with: "and the day of vengeance of our God"; He left that part of the prophecy unread. That is suspended; that has yet to be.

Then we have a passage such as Matthew 24, from verse 29 onwards, pointing to what will happen at the end, at the day of the coming of the Lord. It is full of the marks of the baring of the arm of the Lord, the intervention of God at the end time. It is impressive, is it not, that some of the statements in that passage are identical in language with the reminded of Joel's prophecy. These things have not all been fulfilled yet; they are suspended for a later  day.

And what are we to say about the Book of the Revelation? Whatever interpretation you accept of that Book, historicist, futurist, or whatever it might be, you cannot get away from the fact that it all focuses upon the Day of the Coming of the Lord. It is full of interventions of God - in the life of the Church, in the life of the nations, and in the kingdom of darkness. Yes, I think there is much in the Word that would justify an expectation that,at the end, there is going to be a very great revealing of the arm of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

A More Excellent Name

"He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee'? And again, 'I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me'?" (Heb. 1:4-5).

In our culture, the names we pick for our children don't have much connection with the child's character. But in the Bible, God chose specific names that related to some character quality of the individuals who bore them.

The writer of Hebrews was well aware of that when He asked this rhetorical question: "To which of the angels did [God] ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee'? and again, 'I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me'?" quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Of course, the answer is no angel.

The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to that He was eternal God with God. Presenting Jesus as the Son is God's analogy to help us understand the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.
Christ became a Son in two different ways. First, He was not a Son until He came into the world through the virgin birth (Luke 1:35; 3:22). But second, His sonship came to full bloom in His resurrection (Rom. 1:3-4).

The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would come as a Son. In the New Testament He came as a Son in His virgin birth and was declared to be the Son by His resurrection from the dead. Don't ever get trapped into the heresy of those who claim that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. For a temporary period of time, He set aside what was rightfully His and humbled Himself to become a Son for our sakes.

Suggestion for Prayer:

  • Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.
  • Praise Him that He became Man to redeem you.
For Further Study:Read Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:3-4 noting the reason that Christ can be considered God's Son.

~John MacArthur~

Monday, December 24, 2012

To Whom Is the Arm of the Lord Revealed?

"Behold, My servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at Thee: So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12)

The Situation and the Need

The word "arm" is used symbolically many times in the Scriptures, to signify that upon which man relies for strength and support. The arm represents the person: sometimes the person is in weakness, and his arm is described as being weak: sometimes it is in strength. The arm is the symbol of the person, or sometimes of the people or the nation, but always indicating the state of strength or weakness. This phrase, therefore, "the arm of the Lord," when used in relation to men or nations, implies the giving of His strength and support to that which is according to His mind, the showing of Himself in power on behalf of it.

To whom, then, will the Lord show Himself in power? To whom will the Lord "make bare" His arm (Isaiah 52:10):  "To whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?"

Biblical Examples

Now, while in the Bible there are very many incidents in which the arm of the Lord is shown, there are particular occasions characterized by this phrase. For instance, in the bringing of Israel out of Egypt we find repeated reference to the baring of His arm, the stretching forth of His arm. That incident is so often referred to as being an outstanding occasion of the Lord's showing of His arm, the 'lighting down of His arm' (Isaiah 30:30). To bring them out, the arm of the Lord was 'revealed.' If you read and consider that whole story of God's dealings with Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of His people, you find that it is all gathered up in this: it was the revealing of the arm of the Lord. Of course, it is but an illustration - the emancipation of an elect people from the kingdom of this world and of darkness; but, for that, the arm of the Lord is revealed.

Again, take Israel's deliverance from Babylon: that was another occasion when the arm of the Lord was revealed. How often was it so regarded: the arm of the Lord, stretched out over Babylon, brought down her rulers and overthrew her forces, in order to bring the people back from captivity (Isaiah 43:14). And again, that was symbolic - the recovery of a pure testimony among the Lord's people, a testimony that had been lost. If the question is asked: "To whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" or in another tense: "To whom will the arm of the Lord be revealed?" - the answer is there: it is for that purpose, in relation to that.

But it is in the raising of Jesus, and in His exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens, that we surely see the supreme example of the revealing of the arm of the Lord. And in those succeeding early days of the Church, how wonderful was this revealing of the arm of the Lord! In the events narrated in those first chapters of the Book of the Acts, we see His arm stretched out again and again. When they were suffering persecutions, a few met together for prayer, and they prayed: "Grant unto Thy servants... boldness while Thou stretchest forth Thy hand ... and that signs and wonders may be done..." (Acts 4:29-30). Herod came under the impact of that arm; Saul of Tarsus came under its same impact; many things happened, in many places, because the Lord was revealing His arm.

And before we are at the end of the New Testament, the whole of the nation of Israel has met the arm of the Lord. It was revealed in the complete overthrow and scattering of Israel as a nation, and so thorough was the overthrow that her original integration has never yet been recovered. More still - Rome unleashed all her forces against the Lord and against His anointed, but mt the arm of the Lord, and was completely destroyed, ceased to be an empire and a nation. There are just a few examples in history of the revealing of the arm of the Lord, in answer to this question: "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "Common Features")

O Think of Eternal Fire!

(James Smith,  "The Sinner's Doom!" )

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!" Matthew 25:46

WHO shall go away into everlasting punishment? 
Every unbeliever. 
Every soul that leaves this world without a new birth. 
Every one who does not sincerely love Christ. 
All who do not experimentally know God.
All who not practically obey the teachings of our Lord Jesus. 
Every prayerless person. 
Every immoral person. 
Every one who lives and dies an enemy to God. 

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!"
To be driven away from God forever. 
To dwell with devils and damned souls. 
To be shut up in the prison of Divine justice
To suffer directly from the wrath of God. 
To endure the lashings of an enlightened conscience. 
To be scourged with the most bitter reflections. 
To be tormented by Satan, who now deceives and misleads them. 
To be filled with black despair. 
To be plunged into a lake of fire and brimstone. 
To be punished in every faculty of the soul, in every sense and in every member of the body. 

But how long will this punishment continue?

It must be so, for SIN, which is the cause of punishment--will continue. Punishment has never converted a soul to God yet--and never will. The punished will go on sinning, and sin will require the continuance of punishment. 

It must be eternal, for GOD who punishes is eternal. He is the eternal God. 
He will live forever, and while He lives--He will hate sin; and 
while He hates sin--He will punish the condemned sinner. 

It must be eternal, for the WORM that inflicts the most exquisite part of the punishment is so. "Their worm never dies, and the fire never goes out!" Conscience will ever live--and the fire will forever burn. 

It must be eternal, for . . .
  the CHAINS that bind them are everlasting (Jude 6); 
  the PRISON is blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13); and 
  the PUNISHMENT is the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7). 

It must be eternal, for the SENTENCE is. It cannot be repealed--for it is just. It dooms every impenitent sinner to depart from God, from hope, from ease, from happiness, from Heaven--and to go "into everlasting fire!"

Dear reader, think of these things! O think of eternal fire! O think of hopeless despair! And think that you may now escape these, for Jesus is able to save you! Look, look then to Jesus! Fly, fly this moment to His arms! Fall, fall at His feet, and seek and obtain everlasting life! But if you will not, I assure you that you shall surely perish--and perish justly, too!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Supreme Vocation # 5

Daniel Was Deliberate

In prayer such as Daniel's, there are four things to be taken account of. First of all, he was deliberate. The angel said to him, when at length he arrived: "From the first day that thou didst set thine heart..." "Thou didst set thine heart." There is a man gathering up all the loose folds of his interests, and girding to concentration on this one thing. "Thou didst set thine heart." If (to anticipate for a moment) we are to fall into the train of the Apostle Paul and his brethren, and take up that which particularly relates to this present age, to bring it through to consummation by prayer, it will not do for us to be diffuse and scattered. There will have to be a setting of ourselves to this thing; it is very practical. Whether it be in our own individual life of prayer with God, or when we come together for prayer as a company, smaller or larger, representing the Church and God's eternal purpose concerning it, we shall have to come in this min, deliberately setting ourselves to this thing. 'We are set, we are committed, we are gathered; we know what we are after. Like Daniel, we have seen, and what we have seen of God's thought has become a pattern, a body; and we set ourselves.' God characterize all our prayer times by this feature of the man beloved, precious to God, that which God approves.

Daniel was Persistent

Then Daniel was persistent. The angel said: "From the first day ...", and Daniel himself, describing it, said that this engaged him wholly, utterly, for twenty-one days. It is something to pray about the same thing continuously for twenty-one days! How we just ask the Lord for a thing, and leave it there, perhaps in a false notion of faith. Here is an example of the opposite. Daniel was persistent. He did not let go, he would not let go; he held on until the thing was done. Let us take his example and lay it to heart. Very, very great issues are bound up with such prayer.

Daniel Was Abandoned

Daniel was abandoned. "From the first day that thou didst set thyself ... to humble thyself ..." Daniel again described it like this: "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth." Here is a man abandoned; not allowing indulgences, distractions, other interests, secondary things; just abandoned.

Daniel Was Conclusive

And finally he was conclusive. Daniel stood for and would take nothing less than a verdict. The angel said: "I am come for thy words' sake." He had spoken, and he would take no other answer in this matter from God - yes, but because he knew so deeply that this was what God wanted. Effectual prayer demands such conviction, such assurance, such knowledge. If we do not know what the Lord wants, then we do not know how to pray. But if, as Daniel had, we have made the discovery by revelation through the Word of God, that is tremendous strength. We must be there to pray in this way.

The object was of such importance to God that satan fought it until he could fight no more. It is something to take note of, when satan fights. It is very significant and indicative when hell rises up and is provoked by the object which is in view. And whatever may have been in Daniel's case and Daniel's time, there is a counterpart of this in our own time. The counterpart of this, in this present dispensation, is, in the first place, Paul and his brethren, who understood what God eternally intended in regard to the Church, who abandoned themselves to that with such abandonment, who travailed and who prayed, and through whose travail and prayer there was given to the Church its charter for the whole dispensation. But that charter is passed on to us - to you, to me - for it is the same dispensation, and what was characteristic of them must be characteristic of us, if we are to come to that place of superlative value to the Lord where, not only as accepted in the beloved One, and beloved for Jesus' sake, but because of our cooperation with God in the thing that is deepest in, and nearest to, His heart, He is able to say: "O man ...!" It may be to individuals; it may be to companies just as well. Man is a collective term as well as an individual term. "O man greatly beloved."

We are in the consummation of this dispensation, and it is necessary to know what God is going to have, what He has set His heart upon, and to be with Him in it. The Lord give us a heart for that.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

Faith Versus Reason

1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

The first battle between faith and human reason took place in the garden of Eden. Spurred on by the lies of the serpent, Eve began to look at her situation from a purely logical perspective and decided she was being cheated by God out of something good. Her faith faltered as "reasonable" thoughts of self-interest filled her mind.

I am not saying that the way of faith is never logical, but by operating only on the basis of reason, a conflict with the Lord is inevitable. The reason is that His instructions and actions don't always appear reasonable from a human perspective. Although Isaiah 55:8-9 describes God's thoughts and ways as higher than man's, many people judge divine ideas to be lower than human intelligence.

Paul emphasizes this when he points out that God's choices are illogical by the world's standards. His message of salvation seems foolish, and His messengers appear weak and unimpressive. In an age that thrives on recognition, admiration, and importance, a person who believes the Bible is considered a weakling in need of a religious crutch to cope with life. While this description is given in derision, it's actually quite accurate. Recognizing their helplessness, believers lean on Christ so He can raise them to stand with Him in righteousness.
That day in Eden, sin and self-importance entered the human heart. But all the worldly wisdom that fuels our pride is nullified by God. He is looking not for great and impressive people but for weak, humble servants who can boast only in Christ. The Savior alone is their strength and wisdom.

~Charles Stanley~