Monthly Archives: July 2012

J. Hudson Taylor: A Soul Exercised Toward Faith

A Few Morsels of Wisdom from J. Hudson Taylor:

“How important to learn… to move man, through God, by prayer alone.”[33]

“He gives the very best to those who leave the choice with Him.”[44]

Speaking of his co-laborer, William Burns: “His whole life was literally a life of prayer, and his whole ministry a series of battles fought at the mercy-seat.”[70]

Mr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor writing of their father’s journals:

“For these unstudied pages reveal a growing intimacy with God and dependence upon Him. Faith is here, and faithfulness down to the smallest detail. Devotion is here and self-sacrifice, leading to unremitting labor. Prayer is here, patient persevering prayer, wonderfully answered. But there is something more: there is the deep, prolonged exercise of a soul that is following hard after God. There is the gradual strengthening here, of a man called to walk by faith not by sight; the unutterable confidence of a heart cleaving to God and God alone, which pleases Him as nothing else can.”[107]

“The secret of faith that is ready for emergencies is the quiet, practical dependence upon God day by day which makes [Christ] real to the believing heart.”[1oo]

_______

[1] , 107.

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An Explicit Gospel

Excerpts from Matt Chandler’s book entitled Explicit Gospel:

“We carry an insidious prosperity gospel around in our dark, little, entitled hearts.” (31)

“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.” (211)

“Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the dos and don’ts of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s ‘Done!’” (221)

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A Functional Faith

A Functional Faith (James 2:14-26)

On my parents’ property, there used to be a large apple tree between their house and our playhouse. Every year, tons of unpicked apples would fall to the ground and begin to soften and decay. My brothers and I would often use those half-rotten apples to play baseball, and found great pleasure in throwing them at each other and crushing them with our bats. There was nothing quite like the moment when smelly apple particles and brown juices went flying through the air—You just hoped you didn’t get any of it in your mouth. It was hours of fun for boys who never minded getting a little dirty.

You know, the interesting thing is that my parents never had to tell me that was an apple tree. I had observed it on my own. Somewhere in my early days of growing up, I had learned the characteristics of an apple: how it looked, smelled, and tasted (and I often enjoyed consuming them). But, Mom and Dad never told me that we owned an apple tree. I discovered that on my own through observing it’s fruit. I recognized it had apples growing on it, so it couldn’t be a peach or pear tree but had to be an apple tree. I knew this without putting much thought into it—it just seemed rather simple and obvious. And, it turns out… biblical.

Jesus uses this metaphor to describe the character of a person’s heart. In Matthew 7:15-20 he says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” 

What? You will recognize them by their fruits? Apparently, we are called to be fruit inspectors, because it is by the fruit of someone’s character that we recognize the nature of their heart. Good fruit, good heart. Bad fruit, bad heart. The basic idea is that our lips and our lives indicate whether or not God’s grace has gripped our hearts. The health of the fruit reveals the health of the tree. 

This week, we’ll be studying James 2:14-26 where James addresses “faith and works,” and teaches us that saving faith in Christ leads to transformation. It’s a fruit-bearing faith that leads to good works. In other words, true faith in Christ is functional—it is a faith in Christ that leads to Christlike action. Recently, I preached at Christ’s Covenant Church on the topic of: examining our faith by evaluating the fruit of our lives.

You can read the sermon here and listen to it here.

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