“Yes, But …”

Last Sunday was Pentecost in both the Eastern and Western portions of the Church. On that occasion, almost 2000 years ago, the promised gift of the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the disciples. By this gift, they were able to do the impossible: to know/participate in – be one with – the living truth; to witness to the living truth – Christ Jesus – throughout the world; and do the promised “greater things” spoken of by Jesus (see Lk. 1.34 & Jn. 14.12). Yesterday, in the Eastern Church, was “All Saints.” The feast includes both the celebration of the witness of those who have gone before us and surround us with the living record of their witness in the world and the greater things that the Holy Spirit accomplished through them; and the sober exhortation to “lead a life worthy of the calling” with which we too have been called (see Eph. 4.1; Phil. 1.27; Col. 1.10; 1 Thess. 2.12).

So, now the same question that was put to the disciples of the first century is put to us. The question is not about “how.” The how is the power of the Holy Spirit. The real question is not “Does Jesus will it?” because we know he does (Mk. 1.41).

The real question is “do you and I will it?” Are we willing?! Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America, years ago taught me the American adage, “You get out of it what you put into it,” is really true in the spiritual realm. God has put – invested – everything into our salvation. Are we willing to put everything into it also?! Are we willing to invest ourselves completely in our own salvation?

Oswald Chambers has something to say to us on this subject.

Wisdom, let us be attentive!
“Yes – But …!” – “Lord, I will follow Thee; but . . .” Luke 9:61
Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely. “Yes, but – supposing I do obey God in this matter, what about . . . ?” “Yes, I will obey God if He will let me use my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.” Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worth while, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense. At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest – May 30
–Fr. Thomas

The “Now-ness” of the Resurrected Life in Christ Jesus

For those of you who receive “Gleanings,” the Upward Call newsletter, you will remember that the subject of my Easter edition was, “The ‘Now-ness’ of the Resurrected Life in Christ Jesus.” In this post, I would like to offer a “P.S.” to it.

The great English divine, Charles Spurgeon, in his classic work, “Morning and Evening,” for the evening of May 14, speaks directly to this subject of the “now-ness” of new life in Christ Jesus. Today’s evening reading is based on Hebrews 12.22-29 that reads:

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”

Here is Spurgeon’s reflection on the phrase, “made perfect” in verse 23:

“Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs—the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate—experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which he has begun; and he shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death?’ shall get rid of sin and death—that I shall have no evil things to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? Oh, happy hour! may it be hastened! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I even claim perfection in myself. Then my spirit shall have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire. Methinks I long to die to receive that last and final purification which shall usher me into heaven. Not an angel more pure than I shall be, for I shall be able to say, in a double sense, ‘I am clean,’ through Jesus’ blood, and through the Spirit’s work. Oh, how should we extol the power of the Holy Ghost in thus making us fit to stand before our Father in heaven! Yet let not the hope of perfection hereafter make us content with imperfection now. If it does this, our hope cannot be genuine; for a good hope is a purifying thing, even now. The work of grace must be abiding in us now or it cannot be perfected then. Let us pray to ‘be filled with the Spirit,’ that we may bring forth increasingly the fruits of righteousness.”

The now-ness of the resurrected life is the work of the Father in and through Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son, and the life-creating and consummating Holy Spirit that proceeds from Him.

Notice, in the passage from Hebrews, the resurrected life is a work of “shaking” and “burning.” The Son shakes our false foundations and the Holy Spirit consumes our impurities. The foundation and structure of the resurrected life is Truth and the content of this life, is purity of heart, mind, and deeds.

We know that it is the will of God the Father that we be perfected in the very life of His Son, Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit that proceeds from Him.

My brother or sister, this is your joy and gladness!! I assure you, God is willing. Are you?!

Fr. Thomas