Narrow is the Way that Leads to Life

Gauguin_-_D'ou_venons-nous_Que_sommes-nous_Ou_allons-nousWhere Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The painting was created in Tahiti, and is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

This blog seeks to let the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament answer these questions,  though primarily “Who are we in Christ?” Jesus asks two questions; namely,  “Which person are you of the two?” and “Where are you going of the two places?” Your identity determines your destiny. The main question is one of identity.

At the end of His sermon on the mount (Matthew 7) He calls for a decision by setting a clear, uncompromising contrast between two identities; one enters the narrow path with a smaller crowd and ends up with life in the end. She bears good fruit and is authentic. She withstands the torrents of trials and death itself because she heard and put into practice Christ’s words. The other identity is that of one pretending to be some one they are not (a wolf in sheep’s clothing). She takes the broad path with the large crowd, bears bad fruit, and doesn’t put into practice the Gospel. She is not known by Christ, and at last she is like a house that ended in a big crash.

On the one hand, there are those who use God to get something from Him and others. On the other hand, there are those who receive Christ’s acceptance, forgiveness, and His righteousness. They get Christ, then use everything to love Him and others.

You must want and receive Jesus in exchange for everything else – your good works, your reputation, and yourself. For the saddest words of separation are spoken to those who say: “I lived did all these good things my whole life for your Name. Why don’t You accept me? Did we not . . .?” Jesus, nevertheless, said: “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

Have you placed all your trust in Christ? Do you trust He lived a perfect life of goodness in your place? Do you trust that He paid the penalty you deserved by dying in your place? Do you trust He rose again and won the victory over death? Have you put His words into practice? Have you repented of your entitlement-mentality that Christ owes you something for your good works? Do you know He loves you? Lovers make great knowers.

How to Fetch a True Knowledge of Yourself – John Calvin

“Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves” (Institutes, 1.1.1). In other words, we never attain to a true self-knowledge until we have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into ourselves. Calvin’s assumption was that: “As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods” (Institutes 1.1.1). IMG_1710

It is possible to have a false knowledge of yourself, which is overly inflated without a true knowledge of Christ.

Calvin argued that one could not truly know God without knowing oneself and that one couldn’t truly know oneself without knowing God. Calvin acknowledged the obvious dilemma in saying, “which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern” (Institutes, 1.1.1). He resolves his dilemma: “[T]he knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, [but we must] treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.”

Why begin with knowing God? Because when we behold God rightly through His Word, “what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence.” For “men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God (Institutes 1.1.1).”

One of Blaise Pascal’s thoughts (Pensees) on this says: “The man who knows God but does not know his own misery, becomes proud. The man who knows his own misery but does not know God, ends in despair. The Incarnation shows humanity the greatness of their misery by the greatness of the remedy they required.”

Once the remedy of the Gospel is applied and poured out on us by the Holy Spirit, we are given a new identity in Christ. As we behold Christ by faith, the Spirit transforms us to higher degrees of glory (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

The surprise result of this, however, is that visions of Christ’s beauty humble a believer without degrading him or her, and they exalt a believer’s identity without inflating his false self (cf. Charles Hodge).

Swap your actual face? It’s a popular Now on phones, etc.

One day your face will radiate with the likeness of the Face of another; namely, Jesus Christ. Changing your face is going to take place by one degree of Glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), but you’ll never stop being you. IMG_2595

God loves your face on you. What if He didn’t? Now technology allows us the fun of making it otherwise, but however funny we make it you were meant to bear God’s image a unique way. Your face matters to your Father in Heaven, who gave you your face. You will be changed into the likeness of Christ as you gaze at His beautiful Face.

On the Internet you can see how to do this, and it is popular: MAJOR CHANGES MADE

  1. Easy Face Cropping Process. Now cropping marker can be rotated, resize in X and Y direction differently.
  2. Save Faces: All face is save in Face Store, which can be used while Swapping Faces from Face Store
  3. Multiple Swap: You can choose any face from anywhere and can swap multiple faces in other pic
  4. Edit Cropped Faces: You can edit cropped faces to adjust with photo accordingly
  5. UI is changed “entirely” (visually) now using Material Design
  6. All Bugs Removed

Do you want a beautiful, radiant face? Gaze upon Christ’s Face.

The truth is, as the hymn-writer wrote, “How did His visage (face) languish!” on the cross, but now shines in brightness and beauty above.

 

 

 

A Poem for the Holy Spirit

A Plea for the Holy Spirit

by Robert Davis Smart

Love Witness of my Father’s Rights,

Counseling Messenger divine;

Come in power from Ascension Heights,

Tabernacle through weakness and thorny pine.

 

Send forth the eternal word,

The word of sovereign grace;

That all may know their bleeding Lord

Has risen to sit in that highest place.

 

My tongue and voice are yours to preach

My soul, it deeply groans and painfully aches;

Make it weep for every one I long to reach,

That revival glory may come with holy quakes.

 

Then when all are holy hushed,

When Christ’s blood has been applied;

Over the door posts of shame once blushed,

Promise us Your presence, Christ be magnified.

The Doctor’s Prescription for Regret

Whatever rules you, that is your functional idol for those moments. One of the most nasty idols of the heart is the idol of regret. We suffer under regret because we face the powerlessness to fix, take back, undo, or change our past. The lie of evil prompts the “replay” button with the assumption that only one small thing needed to happen to have avoided all the mess.

100_2829 This is a rendition of Peter’s denial in Israel at the believed spot where it took place in the past. He is denying Jesus to a girl with a Roman soldier and another woman in the background. I imagine Peter overcame his regret by focusing on his identity in Christ at present, and not on what he once was.

We often loose control in midlife: Self-crucified between the two thieves—regret from the past and fear of the future—while stuck in the milieu of busyness of the present. Embracing your identity in Christ can rescue us from this out-of-control feeling. Evil says, “You’ve got yourself stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it” (no reference to U2 song), but the Gospel offers us life again, spiritual revival.

How does embracing your true identity in Christ at present help you with regret’s nasty rule about yesterday? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Doctor,” advised in his classic Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure that we turn away from what you once were by focusing on who you are in the present:

What matters first of all if you are a Christian is not what you once were, but what you are…’I am what I am’—whatever the past may have been. It is what I am that matters. What am I? I am forgiven. I am reconciled to God by the Blood of His Son upon the Cross. I am a child of God. I am adopted into God’s family, and I am an heir with Christ, a joint-heir with Him. I am going to glory. That is what matters, not what I was, not what I have been.” (p. 85-86)

Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (London: MarshallPickering, 1965)

Hypocrisy is Laying Aside Your True Identity for a False One – John Stott

As I sat at a memorial service in Wheaton for Rev. John Stott with Karen and our friends the VanGemeren’s, Michael Card was singing before Pastor Tim Keller came up to speak. Card sang about coming as we are to Jesus in worship by lifting up our sorrows and offering our pain – with honesty and in our true identity as sons and daughters of the Father. Michael Card’s “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows”

In Matthew chapter six Jesus teaches us to be honest with people and God, especially in giving alms, prayer, and fasting. John Stott, it seems to me, was the best expositor of scripture in the 20th century. Stott warns us against laying aside our true identity in Christ:

“Our good works must be public so that our light shines; our [Christian] devotions must be secret lest we boast about them.”  Practically speaking, we are to show what we are tempted to hide; we are to hide what we are tempted to show.

Stott defines what a hypocrite is:

“In classical Greek the hupokritēs was first an orator and then an actor. So figuratively the word came to be applied to anybody who treats the world as a stage on which he plays a part. He lays aside his true identity and assumes a false one. He is no longer himself but in disguise, impersonating somebody else. He wears a mask. Now in a theatre there is no harm or deceit in the actors playing their parts. It is an accepted convention. The audience knows they have come to a drama; they are not taken in by it” (italics mine).

Later Stott writes: “He is like an actor in that he is pretending (so that what we are seeing is not the real person but a part, a mask, a disguise), yet he is quite unlike the actor in this respect: he takes some religious practice which is a real activity and he turns it into what it was never meant to be, namely a piece of make-believe, a theatrical display before an audience. And it is all done for applause.”

We thank God for the life and ministry of John Stott.

John R. W. Stott The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978), Kindle Locations 2045-2046, 2049, 2051.

Prayer “Forces” US into our True Identity

Jesus teaches us to be ourselves, true sons and daughters, when we pray (“When you pray, pray like this.”). First, in our motives and assumptions. Our motives are not for self-honor and for self-congratulation. “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing” Meaning? Giving and prayer are not for congratulating ourselves with our own hands. Assumptions: We are heard and rewarded not on the basis of the intensity & passion of our words as it may be in proving to our employer we should be rewarded. We are rewarded by our Father, not by the Executive VP of our Employer ( “Your Father” sees and hears you. vv. 1,4,6,8).

How does a Dad reward his child? How does a love-based relationship with your Father change the way you pray? Chosen, held in arms since a baby, and your first word was: Abba! The truth is that all the authority, power, wealth, wisdom, and effort of our Father is channeled towards His children like any good father.

That is why your secret time ought to come before your public prayers. Sons and daughters spend time more in secret at home with their father than in the rest of their public life.

You express your sonship by the love you have for your Father. So, adoration & love are expressed first because we accept our identity and God’s before we ask for anything.

Hallow Your Name: the condition of being more important in reputation is to know that your reputation is all wrapped up in Your Father’s reputation, as Jesus prayed to the Father.

Your Rule or Kingdom: This has superiority as it does in a Father-son relationship we are seeking first of all (Matt. 6:33).

Your will: the main way the Father accomplishes His will is through your prayers (the son is given executive authority to petition his/her Father for it!!!!!!! Preferential treatment is given to sons and daughters. We are granted the right-of-way.

i.e. A modifier noun: right-of-way – the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another; a path or thoroughfare subject to a right of way. We have the legal right as a pedestrian, vehicle, or ship to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place. Note: The Holy Spirit is interceding for His good will in all things to work for our good (Rom. 8:26-28).

Then, present-past-future of sonship issues are requested – daily bread, past sins forgiven, and future deliverance from evil.

You know what we really need? A saturation of knowing & remembering our identity-honor and our family name, which brings rest from the pitiful perspective and burden that we must control everything for our good or well-being. Fasting declares: I will not be ruled by anything but my Father.

The secret to effectual Prayer is Christ & the word “Amen.” For in the Garden of Gethsenemie Jesus Christ prayed “Not My will, but Yours” (He guaranteed goodness). On the Cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Now in Heaven Jesus, “five bleeding wounds He bears received on Calvary,” prays “forgive them, Lord forgive they cry, nor let that ransomed sinner die” (John Wesley’s hymn).

“Amen” is the assurance of our identity in Christ and that our Father heard our prayers.