Encouraging the Spirit’s Mind Control

Guest Article-By Dr. A. W. Tozer

The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

Why does the gospel Christian of today find the reading of great books almost beyond him? Is the intellectual capacity of the evangelical of today inferior to that of his spiritual progenitor of two hundred years ago?

The answer to the first question is somewhat complicated, but the second can be answered easily and correctly with an emphatic No. Intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another. We are as smart as our forefathers. Any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort.

The major cause of the decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellectual; it is spiritual. To enjoy a great religious work requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have experienced. The early Christian Fathers, the mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied and none but the God-enamored can come.

Rather than climb the mountain we choose to dig our shallow caves a few feet above the floor of the valley. Our spiritual moods and emotions are degraded. We eat and drink and rise up to play. We take our religious instruction in the form of stories, and anything that requires meditation bores us. And writers and publishers contribute to our delinquency by providing us with plenty of religious nothing to satisfy our carnal appetite.

O ye Americans, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged! “Give attendance to reading” (1 Timothy 4:13, KJV).

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

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Only Two?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a church that meets all the guidelines we have been considering? What do you do if you can’t find one that you can attend and join? The first approach is possibly finding one that’s quite close to the criteria. If it’s quite close, God may be able to use you to help influence it to come closer still. However, what if you can’t find any that are close at all? Stop attending church? Absolutely not! Put up with a poor one? No! Carefully seeking God’s guidance, look for a strong, committed Christian that lives reasonably near you. See if he and/or she is concerned to have a strong church in your area. Meet for prayer, Bible study, fellowship and seek to have God’s mind on being used to “birth” a new church. A good and growing Bible Study has often been the means of bringing a sound church into existence. Jesus, in Matthew 18:20 reminds us that things can be done with only two (or three) who are His, when they come together: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” “Jesus is Here,”-By Haldor Lillenas offers lyrical insights on this wonderful reality: “When two or three together meet in Jesus’ holy name, there He is near their souls to greet, to set their souls aflame. His promises are verified to all who but believe, and ev’ry soul is satisfied, who Christ their Lord receive. Jesus is here, Jesus is here, softly the whisper now falls on the ear, worship Him now, tenderly bow, Jesus our Savior is here.” Selah! Some cautions are needed before doing this. Don’t do this over a secondary doctrine. Don’t do it to satisfy a personal agenda. Do it only if you are sure of God’s leading and if it’s to bring a sound ministry into being. Seek counsel from someone who has been really used of God in this way. Proceed slowly and thoughtfully and with much prayer and heart searching.    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

What Church?-5

Thinking back over the last four posts, suppose you find a church that measures up fairly well to the guidelines we suggested. What comes next? Think about the people. In this church, are the members impacted by what they hear and see? It is possible to have just enough Christianity to be inoculated against the real thing! All things considered, there should be excitement over new discoveries in Scripture, involvement in missions, sharing one’s faith, joyfully giving to God’s work, and  an increase in Godly living. Even in trials, there can be joy. In Acts 13:52, it was said of those disciples under persecution that: “….the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” In Acts 2:46-47, the disciples were zealously engaged in fellowship: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Remember the truth of these two stanzas from, “How Firm a Foundation“-Attributed to George Keith: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled? Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.” Selah! What if you can’t find a church that even comes close to these guidelines? Can that be a blessing? Stop by tomorrow when we hope to look into that situation.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

What Church?-4

In determining which local church with which to assemble, we need to distinguish between two kinds of sharing God’s Word. One way of sharing is giving out information and understanding. This is more like a lecture than preaching. It might be proper for a Bible Study, but not suitable to the pulpit. If knowledge and information are starting points in the message, that might be useful. However, if it stops there, it is not sufficient! Let me illustrate: imagine wood in the fireplace. It is combustible, will release heat, and glows when ignited. But its purpose is not realized until it is set on fire. A preacher isn’t ready to preach until the Word is set on fire. In Psalm 39:3, the Psalmist exclaimed: “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: (then) spake I with my tongue.” This should be the kind of experience that a preacher of the Word of God should have in the pulpit. I’m not talking about natural excitement or self-generated emotions. I have in mind a dependence on the Holy Spirit’s enabling to convey God’s message from His Word through His human instrument. Let God’s voice through His messenger impact the hearts and minds of preacher and people. “O Spirit of the living God, Thou light and fire Divine,  descend upon Thy church once more, and make it truly Thine.  Fill it with love and joy and power, with righteousness and peace; till Christ shall dwell in human hearts, and sin and sorrow cease. Blow, wind of God! With wisdom blow until our minds are free from mists of error, clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to Thee. Burn, winged fire! Inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal, to preach to all thy great good news, God’s glorious commonweal.” (From: “O Spirit of the Living God, Thou Light and Fire Divine“- By Henry Hallam Tweedy). Selah! To be a Spirit-used vessel through which to channel God’s Word is a huge responsibility and a marvelous blessing. Use the trust wisely! It’s for His church!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

What Church?-3

Pastors’ methods of sharing the Word of God vary. Sometimes, a verse or short passage is used like a “heading” to whatever the particular pastor wants to say about some subject. Sometimes, it is actual teaching. Some pastors teach the text and that can be helpful. I consider the best method to be expository preaching (at the very least, a pastor should use expository preaching on the text). Expository preaching is verse by verse (usually book by book) content studied, understood, explained, illustrated, challenged and applied. With the Spirit’s illumination and enablement, the one hearing God’s Word should realize that he or she is being impacted by God’s voice speaking to his or her heart and mind. The Psalmist explains: “The entrance of thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130). Our hearts must be motivated and our wills set to listen, learn and apply. If we are not doing this and we know Jesus in a personal relationship as our Lord and Savior, we will experience conviction for not having ears to hear. Stop ignoring, pay attention and obey. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). “Speak, Lord, in the Stillness,” a hymn by E. May Grimes should be our plea, both pastors and people. “Speak, Lord, in the stillness while I wait on Thee; hushed my heart to listen in expectancy. Speak, O blessed Master, in this quiet hour; let me see your face, Lord, feel your touch of power. For the words You speak, Lord, they are life indeed; living bread from heaven, now on my spirit feed! All to You is yielded,  I am not my own; blissful, glad surrender, I am yours alone. Fill me with the knowledge  of your glorious will; all your own good pleasure in your child fulfill.” Selah! We have a holy assignment: preach, teach and listen to the whole counsel of God!        Ron

What Church?-2

What should we look for in a local assembly (local church) before we think about joining it? (Don’t seek a perfect church; it’s a hopeless time-waster)! Having said that, does the church you are considering believe the Bible is the wholly inspired and inerrant Word of God? Does it believe without reservation the basic doctrines of Scripture (Deity of Jesus, Virgin Birth, Trinity, Substitutionary Atonement, etc)? Does it teach and preach God’s Holy Word? If so, does it do it in a mechanical or academic way? Or, is it done in the power of the Spirit? When Jesus shared God’s Truth with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:32 records their realization: “….Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Does the church you are considering preach and teach in a way that your heart is excited by what you hear and realize? Do you sense that you have been spoken to by God? “The Bible Stands,” By Haldor Lillenas, speaks of the impact the Bible should have on us: “The Bible stands like a rock undaunted ‘mid the raging storms of time; its pages burn with the truth eternal, and they glow with a light sublime. The Bible stands tho’ the hills may tumble, it will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble; I will plant my feet on its firm foundation, for the Bible stands, the Bible stands.” Selah! The church’s method of teaching and preaching the Bible will be our focus tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

What Church?

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we belong to His church, the Spiritual Bride of Christ. Nevertheless, this church usually functions in local churches. In Hebrews 10:24-25, Scripture enjoins us to: “….consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some (is); but exhorting (one another) and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” With what local church are we to assemble? This requires some serious thought. Most towns and cities have more than one church and some have many churches. How do we choose one with which to assemble? We can join a local church by connection (we have family or friends there), by convenience (It’s handy to where we live) or by conviction (we are in agreement with their doctrine and teaching). I want to spend two or three days on this subject. I hope to furnish some guidelines for choosing what local church to attend and join. This is a wonderful excerpt from  S. J. Stone’s hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation.” He wrote: “The church’s one Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation, by water and the Word; from Heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy Bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died. Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy Name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.” Selah! Mr. Stone wrote this hymn about the Spiritual Bride of Jesus (the “invisible” church). With what local church do we want to involve the Bride of Christ?    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com