Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: sanctification

A simple question

The following paragraphs are quoted from By My Spirit, written by Jonathan Goforth.  I would like to add a simple question to what Mr. Goforth has written: In this age of leisure, why do so many of us struggle to find time for reading the Bible? 

During my student days in Toronto my one weapon, in the jails and slums, was the Bible. In China I have often given from thirty-five to forty addresses in a week, practically all of them being simply Bible rehearsals. In fact, I think I can safely say that, during the forty-one years that I have been on the foreign field, I have never once addressed a Chinese audience without an open Bible in my hand, from which I could say, “Thus saith the Lord!” I have always taken it for granted that the simple preaching of the Word would bring men to Christ. It has never failed me yet. My Chinese pastor, one of the most consecrated men I have ever met, was saved from a life of shame and vice by the first Gospel address which he ever heard me give.

My deepest regret, on reaching threescore years and ten, is that I have not devoted more time to the study of the Bible. Still, in less than nineteen years I have gone through the New Testament in Chinese fifty-five times. That prince of Bible teachers, Dr. Campbell Morgan, has declared that he would not attempt to teach any book in the Bible unless he had first read it over at least fifty times. Some years ago, I understand, a gentleman attended the English Keswick and was so fired with a zeal for the Bible that in three years he read it through twelve times. One would imagine, of course, that he belonged to the leisured class. On the contrary, however, he began his day’s work at the Motherwell steel plant at 5:30 a. m.

The Bible was not so neglected a Book when the great revivals of 1857-59 swept over the United States and Great Britain. Neither was it so neglected in Moody’s time. During the late Manchu dynasty, scholars were expected to know the classics of their sages off by heart. How do the scholars of so-called Christian lands measure up to that standard as regards the “World’s Great Classic”? It is nothing short of pathetic how so many, who come professedly to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in China, know so little of His Word. Thirty years ago the missionary ideal was to know the Bible so well that one would not have to carry around a concordance. Is the indifference to the Bible today on the part of so many missionaries due to the fact, perhaps, that they have discovered some better means with which to meet the needs of a sin sick world?

 

The faith once delivered to the saints

Jude 1:3 — Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Jude felt that he needed to send this exhortation to the saints of his day.  Almost two thousand years have passed and the need for this exhortation has not diminished with time.  This is not some quaint statement from a time long ago that is not applicable to our day.  This verse came to my mind this afternoon and as I meditated on it, it seemed that each of the words that I have highlighted are vitally important for those of us who call ourselves believers.

earnestly contend — The faith is under attack from all sides today.  We dare not think that if we ignore the attacks they will not affect us.  We need to mount a sustained defense of  the gospel.  That means seriously searching the Scriptures, calling on the Holy Spirit to help us understand their message and how it applies to every need and situation.  A Christian who is half-hearted about Bible reading and prayer will not be of much use in this battle.  One who relies on pat answers and catch phrases that no one else understands will not be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy, much less advance the cause of Christ.

for the faith — Let us be clear that it is the faith that we are defending, not a lifestyle, not a human tradition.  It is a relationship with God, based on the truth of His Word, the saving power of the blood of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.  Many saints in times past have given their lives rather than deny this faith.  It is still happening in some areas of the world and we have no guarantee that it will not be our turn some day.

which was once — There is not a new version of the faith for the twenty-first century.  We are the same kind of people as those who first received the faith, men of like passions, our needs are no different than theirs and the answer to those needs has not changed.  The only faith is the old faith given so long ago.

delivered — The faith has been given to us.  It is not the invention or imagination of long ago men who thought they were wise.  It is the gift of God to those who know in their heart that they are not wise enough to solve the great problems of life.

unto the saints — The faith was not given to the saints because they were holy.  In other words, it is not a prerequisite that we become holy in order to merit the faith.  It is the faith that makes us holy, the prerequisite is to feel our need of God and His salvation.  This faith is given to us as a gift, something that we do not merit in any way.  Our thankfulness for this saving faith moves us to be obedient to the giver of the gift.  Our thankfulness and obedience then allows the Holy Spirit to transform our lives so that we no longer live in the unholy ways of this world.  The gift of God is not given to those who still love the ways of wickedness.  Nor is it given to those who think they are better than the common run of humanity.  It is the confession of our weakness and unworthiness that allows the Holy Spirit to lead us in the ways of holiness.

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