No good Life can possibly be in us, but by the Word, Life, and Spirit, of God having a Birth in us. And from this Birth alone it is, that the free, genuine Works of Goodness flow forth with the Freedom of the Divine Life, wherewith the Spirit of God has made us free; loving and doing all manner of Good, merely for Goodness-sake; virtuous in all kind of Virtue, purely for Virtue-sake: Then we are the natural true Children of our Heavenly Father and do the Works of Heaven with a cheerful and willing Mind. Then it is, that we are good in the manner as God is good, because it is his Goodness that is born in us; we are perfect as he is perfect, we love as he loves, are patient as he is patient, we give as he gives, we forgive as he forgives, and resist Evil only with Good as he does. – William Law
Vital Christian experience is so simple: Christ’s will is your will. You are only Christian to the extent that this is true; you are not one inch further than that in spite of all your professions. The word “Christian” means “Christ’s man,” and whenever your will diverges from His will, then at that point you are not His man. You belong to Him only when you think as He thinks and loves as He loves and will as He wills. When you accept His commandments as the principle of your life, His example as the pattern to follow, and His providence, whether is seems to be for good or ill – when you accept thankfully all that is sufficient for your need, then you are His man. – Alan Redpath
CHEAP GRACE IS THE mortal enemy of the church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacrament; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without costs. It is said that the essence of grace is that the bill for it is paid in advance for all time. Everything can be had for free, courtesy of that paid bill. The price paid is infinitely great and, therefore, the possibilities of taking advantage of and wasting grace are also infinitely great. What would grace be, if it were not cheap grace?
Cheap grace means grace as doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby confers such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be set free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.
Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways.
I have been pushing “embrace the process” to my family and friends this year. What do I mean by that? Simply put: the Christian path to maturity is a process, and it takes time, so embrace how it works out in your life. Do not rush God; He is not in a hurry and His timing is perfect. Submit to the will of God and let Him do the work in you.
Read the following from Andrew Murray concerning James 1:4 concerning our goal (Christian maturity) and our action plan (wait for the work to be completed by yielding to the Holy Spirit and His time schedule).
But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4, HCSB)
Perfection (maturity) is a seed. The life, given in regeneration, is a perfect life. Through ignorance and unbelief the soul may never get beyond knowing that it has life, and remain unconscious of what a wonderful, perfect life it has.
Perfection (maturity) is a seed. It is a blessed hour when the soul wakens up to know this, and with a perfect heart yields itself to appropriate all that God has given. The perfection of the perfect heart, a heart wholly yielded to seek God with all its strength, is again a seed, with infinite power of growth and increase.
Perfection (maturity) is a growth. As the Christian awakens to the consciousness of what God asks and gives, and maintains the vow of a wholehearted surrender, he grows in his sense of need and his trust in the promise of a Divine life and strength, until all the promises of grace come to a focus in the one assurance. “The God of all grace will Himself perfect you”; that faith which was the fruit of previous growth, becomes the new seed of further growth. Perfection now develops into something riper and mellower. The overshadowing Presence of Him who perfects, rests continually on the spirit, and the whole character bears the impression of heavenliness and fellowship with the Unseen. The soul makes way for God, and gives Him time to do His work; the God of Peace, perfecting in every good thing, gets entire possession. The soul rests in the rest of God.
This is not the work of a day. Perfection (maturity) is growth.
Man is the creature of time, and is under the law of development. In the kingdom of heaven it is as in nature, from the seed first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. There is nothing at times that appears more mysterious to the believer than the slowness of God.
True faith recognizes the need of time, and rests in God. – Andrew Murray
But solid food belongs to those who are full age (spiritually mature), that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles (the baby stuff) of Christ, let us go on to perfection (Hebrews 5:14; 6:1).
It is the desire after holiness, the tender conscience that longs above everything to discern good and evil, the heart seeks only, and always, and fully to know and do the will of God, that marks the perfect (spiritually mature). The man who has set his heart upon being holy, and in the pursuit after the highest moral and spiritual perfection exercises his senses in everything to discern good and evil, is counted the perfect (spiritually mature) man. We read of God’s perfecting Christ through suffering. Perfection is that perfect union with God’s will, that blessed meekness and surrender to God’s will, which the Father wrought in Christ through His suffering. We read of Christ’s learning obedience, and so being made perfect. This is the true maturity or perfection, the true wisdom among the perfect, the knowing and doing of God’s will. – Andrew Murray
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. There for let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Philippians 3:12-17)
The mark of perfect, as set before us in Paul and all who are thus minded, is the passionate desire to be yet made perfect. This looks like a paradox. And yet what we see in our Master proves the truth of what we say: the consciousness of being perfect is in entire harmony with the readiness to sacrifice life itself for the sake of being yet made perfect. It was thus with Christ. It was thus with Paul. It will be thus with us, as we open our hearts fully and give God’s words room and time to do their work…. To count everything loss for perfection in practice, is the surest proof that perfection in principle has possession of the heart…. And so Paul uses expressions which all tell us how what he already had of Christ was but a part. He did know Christ, he had gained Christ, he was found in Him, he had apprehended in wonderful measure that for which Christ had apprehended him. And yet all these things – of knowing Christ, of gaining Him, of being found in Him, of apprehending that for which he was apprehended – he speaks as of what he was striving after with all his might: “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead;” “I press on to the goal, unto the prize.” It is of all this he says: “Not that I am already made perfect. Let as many as are perfect be thus minded.” Paul had known Christ for many years, but he knew there were in Him riches and treasures greater than he had known yet, and nothing could satisfy him but the full and final and eternal possession of what the resurrection would bring him. For this he counted all things but loss; for this he forgot the things that were behind; for this he pressed on to the goal, unto the prize. He teaches us the spirit of true perfection. A man who knows he is perfect with God; a man who knows he must yet be perfected; a man who knows that he has counted all things loss to attain this final perfection; such is the perfect man. – Andrew Murray
There is an ever-increasing number who cannot forget that God means what He speaks: “Be perfect,” and who regard themselves as under the most solemn obligation to obey the command. The words of Christ: “Be perfect,” are to them a revelation of what Christ is come to give and to work, a promise of the blessing to which His teaching and leading will bring them. They have joined the band of like-minded ones whom Paul would associate with himself; they seek God with their whole heart; they serve Him with a perfect heart; their one aim in life is to be made perfect, even as the Master…. Fear not to take your place before God with Paul among the perfect in heart. So far will it be from causing self-complacency, that you will learn from him how the perfect has yet to be perfected, and how the one mark of the perfect is that he counts all things loss as he presses on unto the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. – Andrew Murray
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Every defilement, outward or inward, in conduct or inclination, in the physical or the spiritual life, must be cleansed and cast away. Cleansing in the blood, cleaning by the word, cleansing by the pruning knife or the fire – in any way or by any means – but we must be cleansed. In the fear of the Lord every sin must be cut off and cast out; everything doubtful or defiling must be put away; soul and body and spirit must be preserved entire and blameless. Thus cleansing ourselves from all defilement we will perfect holiness…Beginning with the perfect childlike heart, pressing on in the perfect way, clinging to a perfect Savior, living in fellowship with a God whose way and work is perfect, let us not be afraid to come to God with His own command as our prayer: Perfect Holiness, O my Lord! – Andrew Murray
We are made holy in Christ; we are saints and holy ones. The call comes to us to follow after holiness, to perfect holiness, to yield ourselves to the God who is ready to sanctify us wholly. It is the knowledge of what God has done in making us His holy ones, and has promised to do in sanctifying us wholly, that will give us courage to perfect holiness…It is God’s dwelling in us that makes us holy; that gives us not only the motive, but the courage and the power to perfect holiness, to yield ourselves for Him to possess perfectly and entirely. It is God’s being a Father to us, begetting His own life, His own Son within us, forming Christ in us, until the Son and the Father make their abode in us, that will give us confidence to that it is possible to perfect holiness, and will reveal to us the secret of its attainment. – Andrew Murray
Stop considering the world precious with the result that you love it, and the things in the world. If anyone as a habit of life is considering the world precious and is therefore loving it, there does not exist the love possessed by the Father in him. Because everything which is in the world, the passionate desire of the flesh, and the passionate desire of the eyes, and the insolent and empty assurance which trusts in the things that serve the creature life, is not from the Father as a source but is from the world as a source. And the world is being caused to pass away, and its passionate desire. But the one who keeps on habitually doing the will of God abides forever. – John the Apostle (1 John 2:15-17; An Expanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest)