Saturday, December 15, 2007

Acceptance Is Not By Condition

First of all, we must consider the area in which we are not accepted by God, nor ever can be. It is only natural for us to feel that our spiritual walk and service make us acceptable to our Father. We imagine that it is our responsibility (with His help) to live and serve so faithfully and fruitfully that He will approve of us, and therefore continually and abundantly bless us. We are making the natural mistake of depending on condition, instead of position, for our acceptance.

Important as it is, service is often a condition-centered detriment in the lives of many zealous believers. When service is given predominance over fellowship with and growth in the Lord Jesus, doing, instead of being, takes over in the life. Fellowship and growth must ever take precedence over service and activity, otherwise spiritual declension sets in.

In this reversal of God's order for us, the heart seeks satisfaction and a sens of acceptance through production (law), instead of reception (grace). Bible study and prayer, as well as one's outlook, become almost exclusively service-centered. Instead of life bringing forth service, service becomes the life. Thus, as long as the service goes well, the servant is happy and feels accepted. But once the service wanes, or fails to produce results, all else falls with it. We are to be sons, not servants. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son..." (Gal. 4:7).

In time, we begin to realize that there is something very wrong with this entire concept. We become aware that our walk and service are less and less acceptable, even to ourselves. In seeking to do rather than to be, attempting to give out more than we take in, our condition becomes barren and carnal. We have been depending on self to do what only Christ our life can do; the farther we move on this tangent, the more active and malignant the self-life appears to be.

What the condition-centered believer does not realize is that God Himself is causing this shattering revelation of self. He takes us into situations and relationships that finally cause us to face up tot the fact of our failure as Christians—our nothingness, our total unacceptability in ourselves. Not until we understand that in our flesh there "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), can we rest in our position of complete acceptance in the Lord Jesus, just as we are. To abide in Christ, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the believer's positional privilege and responsibility. Love functions according to its nature, not according to the quality of its object.

The believer who is not abiding by faith in the acceptable One, but who is relying on his personal condition for acceptance, is hopelessly handicapped in the matter of fellowship, growth, and service. He is entangled in the self-effort of working to improve his condition, and is inevitably cast down in utter defeat. How can a defeated, depressed, self-centered Christian enjoy fellowship with the Father, or be at peace with Him? Yet, devastating as this Romans 7 trek is, it is our Father's preparation of us in order that we may shift our reliance and faith from our condition in ourselves, to our position in Christ. "...not I, but Christ..." (Gal. 2:20).

From The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford; Zondervan Publishing House, 1983; pages 91-92.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Abba, Thou Art There

While meditating on Psalm 139 and Psalm 63:6-8, I was moved to write a song. I believe it is from the Lord, for I have never found it easy to put together words that rhyme and convey the desired message.

Abba, Thou Art There

All my thoughts Thou knowest, all my ways canst see
Whether walking justly or full selfishly.
Thou, my Father guardest with Thy hand so strong
With wonder I will praise Thee as I walk along.

Whither from Thy Spirit can I ever go?
Furthest, deepest reaches—Thou my place dost know.
Though the billows hide me, cause me to despair,
Still Thy hand doth hold me, reaching even there.

Abba, Thou art there so close beside me!
Though the night surrounds me it's not dark to Thee!
I will Thee remember in my darkest hour,
Think on all Thy goodness and Thy loving pow'r.

Search me in my heart, my anxious thoughts please know;
Often they're not proper, faithlessness they show.
Lead me in Thy truth and guide me in Thy way
Till I'm come to glory in Thine eternal day.