Why do men come to different positions?

Someone asked a very good question the other night and I have spent a bit of time thinking about “Why do men come to differing positions on God’s Word?” I believe the answer is two-fold: They differ in what they know, and they differ in what they do with what they know.

  1. They differ in what they know, because . . .
    • Ignorance
      • Depraved Blindness – they have never considered it.
      • Apathy – they don’t care if they know or not
      • Hard heartedness – they don’t want to know
      • Time / Interest / Skills – Differing investments in what it takes to know
    • Differing basis for their knowledge
      • Personality – they conform their knowledge to what a charismatic individual has instructed
      • Theological System – they conform their knowledge to a system.
      • Self – logic, deduction
      • Bible – they conform their knowledge to what the Holy Spirit reveals the Bible to teach, historically, grammatically, literally.
    • God has not revealed a certain truth
      • Because of a believer’s current maturity
      • Because of divine judgment
  2. They differ in what they do about what they know, because . . .
    • They are willfully disobedient
      • A person walking in this way in not a believer
    • They are motivated by differing sources
      • Pragmatism – One’s own reason and rationale supersedes God’s
      • Legalism – Attempt to merit God’s favor
      • Pride – Attempt to merit Man’s favor
      • Love for God & desire to glory Him – Attempt to bask in God’s grace and behave in a manner that best reflects those rays.
    • They live in and/or come from differing cultures
      • Weaker brother
      • Cultural ignorance coming from apathy or depraved blindness.
      • We need not only have knowledge of what God tells us but we need to have an understanding of the culture in which we live so that we can faithfully apply those truths to our own lives. For example, God does not address the use of the internet but the Word contains principals that guide us. For us to make that application we need to have prayerfully considered what challenges the internet poses.

Another application from Taylor’s example

As I considered Hudson Taylor’s experience in giving his half-crown (as I described in my previous post) I was struck with a second application.

Matthew 22:36-39  36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.  39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

If we are to love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind where does the love for one’s neighbor come from? The answer is that we are to love with the love that we have for God. We love them because God “so loved the world” and we love them because we desire to glorify Him. Taylor’s example illustrates this truth. This realization should transform our evangelicalism and our approach to missions. It should change our perspective of our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John2:7-11).

The Cost of Discipleship – A Half-Crown

Mark 8:34-36 4 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

While listening to the following passage from Hudson Taylor’s biography I was struck with the parallels between the passage and the previous text.

At Hull my kind employer, always busily occupied, wished me to remind him whenever my salary became due. This I determined not to do directly, but to ask that GOD would bring the fact to his recollection, and thus encourage me by answering prayer. At one time, as the day drew near for the payment of a quarter’s salary, I was as usual much in prayer about it. The time arrived, but my kind friend made no allusion to the matter. I continued praying, and days passed on, but he did not remember, until at length, on settling up my weekly accounts one Saturday night, I found myself possessed of only a single coin–one half-crown piece. Still I had hitherto had no lack, and I continued in prayer.

That Sunday was a very happy one. As usual my heart was full and brimming over with blessing. After attending Divine service in the morning, my afternoons and evenings were filled with Gospel work, in the various lodging-houses I was accustomed to visit in the lowest part of the town. At such times it almost seemed to me as if heaven were begun below, and that all that could be looked for was an enlargement of one’s capacity for joy, not a truer filling than I possessed. After concluding my last service about ten o’clock that night, a poor man asked me to go and pray with his wife, saying that she was dying. I readily agreed, and on the way to his house asked him why he had not sent for the priest, as his accent told me he was an Irishman. He had done so, he said, but the priest refused to come without a payment of eighteenpence, which the man did not possess, as the family was starving. Immediately it occurred to my mind that all the money I had in the world was the solitary half-crown, and that it was in one coin; moreover, that while the basin of water gruel I usually took for supper was awaiting me, and there was sufficient in the house for breakfast in the morning, I certainly had nothing for dinner on the coming day.

Somehow or other there was at once a stoppage in the flow of joy in my heart; but instead of reproving myself I began to reprove the poor man, telling him that it was very wrong to have allowed matters to get into such a state as he described, and that he ought to have applied to the relieving officer. His answer was that he had done so, and was told to come at eleven o’clock the next morning, but that he feared that his wife might not live through the night. “Ah,” thought I, “if only I had two shillings and a sixpence instead of this half-crown, how gladly would I give these poor people one shilling of it!” But to part with the half-crown was far from my thoughts. I little dreamed that the real truth of the matter simply was that I could trust in GOD plus one-and-sixpence, but was not yet prepared to trust Him only, without any money at all in my pocket.

My conductor led me into a court, down which I followed him with some degree of nervousness. I had found myself there before, and at my last visit had been very roughly handled, while my tracts were torn to pieces, and I received such a warning not to come again that I felt more than a little concerned. Still, it was the path of duty, and I followed on. Up a miserable flight of stairs, into a wretched room, he led me; and oh what a sight there presented itself to our eyes! Four or five poor children stood about, their sunken cheeks and temples all telling unmistakably the story of slow starvation; and lying on a wretched pallet was a poor exhausted mother, with a tiny infant thirty-six hours old, moaning rather than crying at her side, for it too seemed spent and failing. “Ah!” thought I, “if I had two shillings and a sixpence instead of half-a-crown, how gladly should they have one-and-sixpence of it!” But still a wretched unbelief prevented me from obeying the impulse to relieve their distress at the cost of all I possessed.

It will scarcely seem strange that I was unable to say much to comfort these poor people. I needed comfort myself. I began to tell them, however, that they must not be cast down, that though their circumstances were very distressing, there was a kind and loving FATHER in heaven; but something within me said, “You hypocrite! telling these unconverted people about a kind and loving FATHER in heaven, and not prepared yourself to trust Him without half-a-crown!” I was nearly choked. How gladly would I have compromised with conscience if I had had a florin and a sixpence! I would have given the florin thankfully and kept the rest; but I was not yet prepared to trust in GOD alone, without the sixpence.

To talk was impossible under these circumstances; yet, strange to say, I thought I should have no difficulty in praying. Prayer was a delightful occupation to me in those days; time thus spent never seemed wearisome, and I knew nothing of lack of words. I seemed to think that all I should have to do would be to kneel down and engage in prayer, and that relief would come to them and to myself together. “You asked me to come and pray with your wife,” I said to the man, “let us pray.” And I knelt down. But scarcely had I opened my lips with “Our FATHER who art in heaven” than conscience said within, “Dare you mock GOD? Dare you kneel down and call Him FATHER with that half-crown in your pocket?” Such a time of conflict came upon me then as I have never experienced before or since. How I got through that form of prayer I know not, and whether the words uttered were connected or disconnected I cannot tell; but I arose from my knees in great distress of mind.

The poor father turned to me and said, “You see what a terrible state we are in, sir; if you can help us, for GOD’S sake do!” Just then the word flashed into my mind, “Give to him that asketh of thee,” and in the word of a KING there is power. I put my hand into my pocket, and slowly drawing forth the half-crown, gave it to the man, telling him that it might seem a small matter for me to relieve them, seeing that I was comparatively well off, but that in parting with that coin I was giving him my all; what I had been trying to tell him was indeed true–GOD really was a FATHER, and might be trusted. The joy all came back in full flood-tide to my heart; I could say anything and feel it then, and the hindrance to blessing was gone–gone, I trust, for ever. – Hudson Taylor, vol 1

How often we want to clutch to our “half crown” of a life when God requires full surrender. God is confronting me with such a decision in my life and I praise him for his grace in pressing this truth into my heart. How relatively insignificant are the demands he makes.

1 Chronicles 29:13-16 Ringing in my ears

I have had the privilege of being instructed by some of the most gifted preachers in modern fundamentalism.  I have been blessed, instructed, and rebuked as God has skilfully used these willing men as tools in His hands. Yesterday, after over twenty year of faithful service, one such man, Dan Labieniec, preached his final service at my church. God has sovereignly determined to move Pastor on to another place of service. During this final service, preached from Heb 12:1-3, the following passage kept ringing in my ears. It is a fitting tribute to Pastor’s labor and God’s manifold blessing:

“Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. 14 “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. 15 “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.

God Be Praised!