Tag Archives: Spiritual Prostration

Am I Saved?

I can’t think of a more important question than this one. I hope that this article might be of some assistance to you in answering it.

The correct answer to each question in this list should not be hard to figure out but that is not the point. Instead, use them to search your soul for honest answers. If you put in this effort, I think what you get in return will be well worth the effort.

Lastly, if you need any help understanding what is intended in these questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.


  1. Do you see Christ as your only hope for salvation from sins?
    Saving faith is having “believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son” (1 John 5:10b). True and saving faith not only accepts God’s way of salvation but utterly rejects all other ways. Faith despises the notion that we might somehow work our way into God’s favor. Faith delights that it must rest and trust in God alone. A good way to remember this is to use FAITH as an acronym for: Forsaking All I Take Him.

    An example of this type of faith—one that delights in God’s way of saving and rejects all others—can be seen in Brainerd’s conversion story:

    My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to that degree, that I had no thought (as I remember) at first about my own salvation, and scarce reflected there was such a creature as myself.
    Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt him, and set him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at his honor and glory, as King of the universe. I continued in this state of inward joy, peace, and astonishment, till near dark, without any sensible abatement; and then began to think and examine what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed in my mind all the evening following. I felt myself in a new world, and every thing about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do. At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties, or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole soul would now have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ. (Source)

  2. Do you sin? Are you a sinner?

    If so,

    Rejoice! To know that you are a sinner is a small miracle. In some very real way, the Holy Spirit has already started a work in you.

    If not,

    The Bible says that; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that; “if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Sin is being less holy than God is. Are you as righteous as God? As loving as God? As patient as God? If not, you have a problem because God cannot accept anything less than perfect holiness. No matter how small these shortcoming might seem to you, they are huge to God and soon they will separate you from him entirely.

  3. Do you hate all of your sins and wish fervently that you could quit them?

    If so,

    Let your soul be comforted. Do you think it is possible to universally hate sin but by the acting of God in your life? As the Psalmist, you have begun to love God’s standard for righteousness. This is a great sign of conversion. A small caution: do not place all of your assurance herein. Many who know not God will say that they hate sin (yet not with a full view of sin and with full honesty).

    If not,

    Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is no hope for holiness at all. You are like Saul who lost his inheritance in keeping the best possessions of the Amalekites for himself. Without an absolute hatred of sin as sin, what business do you have cleaning up some particular part of your life? Do you hold onto some sin in tenderness, calling it sweet names? Remember, the sin that you are holding onto, Christ bled and died for the sake of it, so set yourself against it as the Father set himself against his Son as a result of it.

  4. Is there any sin that you are not willing to forsake if God would grant you the power to forsake it?
    This is another way of asking the last question. Say there was a big red button which when pressed would completely eradicate the possibility of you ever sinning again. Is there anything that would make you hesitate to press such a button?

    Do you believe God grants saints that power in Christ? Verse List

    Have you been making use of it?

    If so, you should often be gaining great victories over your sin, which should help provide you with great assurance that you are born of God.
  5. Do you feel that everlasting misery is due to you for the sake of your many sins?
    Those that would be free of the filth of sin must labor to feel the shame of it. Ezra (Ezr 9:6) and Jeremiah (Jer 3:25) knew to be ashamed before God. Fill yourself with a due regard for the just penalties of your sin. Do you realize that every moment you are not in hell is a charitable gift from God? This ought fill your soul with all manner of remorse and gratitude. This is true regardless of whether you are a Christian or not. God requires us to abide in this state to the furtherance of his grace in our lives (Eze 16:63). Paul assumes that this shame is a part of the Christian experience (Rom 6:21). How can you expect to achieve victory over sin if you purposely forget what you are commanded to remember (Eph 2:12)? Paul calls himself the chief of sinners and a debtor to all. This is what the Spirit taught Paul and what the Spirit will teach you if indeed you are sealed with him.
  6. Do you now live in the willful practice of any known sin?

    If so,

    First rejoice that God has revealed this sin to you. Your heart is not so hardened as to have been completely handed over to your own lusts. Second, confess your sin and your inability to stop. Set faith to work in the promises of God. He knows your sin. He knows you do not have any power over it in yourself. He is a gracious God and will condescend to help you if you turn your plight over to him. Yet for all the hope offered here there is also a warning. 1John 3:9 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” One of the greatest mistakes men make is to think it is possible to be born again and to continue willfully sinning. These two are incompatible.

    If not,

    Either you are living in great power or in great ignorance. This can be a hard area: keep a watchful eye on your soul.

  7. Are you able to turn to God and call him Father even in your sinful state?
    It is easy for all humanity to imagine a smiling deity when life is going well. Yet those who dwell in Christ have something more: in the midst of sinning, a Christian can feel the pleasure of God—for he knows that God’s pleasure does not result from sinlessness but from imputation.
  8. Do you serve God merely (or primarily) to save yourself from damnation?
    One born again sees godliness as a high reward in itself. Oh to be holy, oh to be like God, oh to be able to keep his commandments: these are the pinings of a softened heart. Were there no hell and no heaven, a Christian’s desire for righteousness would not be slackened in the least. Think of Christ who we are called to be like. Did he act righteously merely to avoid the wrath of God? If you are not like Christ in this way, be cautioned, it is very unlikely that your heart has been knit to his.

    This is one great difference between believers and those that have not faith. Fear of the consequents of sin, with an apprehension of some advantages which are to be obtained by a sober life and the profession of religion, do steer and regulate the minds of unbelievers, in all they do towards God or for eternity; but the minds of believers are influenced by a view of the glory of the image and likeness of God in that holiness, and all the parts of it, which they are called unto. This gives them love unto it, delight and complacency in it, enabling them to look upon it as its own reward. And without these affections none will ever abide in the ways of obedience unto the end. —John Owen

  9. Do you have a radical habitual holiness so that often you find the work of following God’s law easy when once it was hard for you?

    This may be hard to understand. Those who pretend to be Christians try to act like God and through practice eventually find themselves developing habits that seem consistent with righteousness. Christians on the other hand are given a habit with which they are able to act a holiness not of their own making. Pretenders desire some favor with God and so try on moral uprightness to get what they desire. Christians desire holiness itself. This is very related to hating sin as sin. The sinfulness itself is what the Christian hates. Likewise, the holiness itself is what a Christian loves.

    As an example: It is not so hard for a Christian to keep the Sabbath because he loves keeping it—it is a joy. That it leads to good results is only icing on the cake, for even if it led to bad results, the Christian would still enjoy keeping it.

    Another way to describe it is in connection with original sin, which is also called indwelling sin. Just like indwelling sin whispers sweet calls to the sinner to come and taste of its fruits and drives a man to distraction with various lusts, so too does this habit (aka indwelling grace) prompt a Christian towards righteousness. It gives holiness a sweetness and an appeal. Where many men can spend time day-dreaming about cars or women, a Christian might find himself daydreaming about helping the poor. The mind starts mulling over the things of God. Hence David says that he meditates on God’s law both day and night and that he is consumed with a desire for it.

    Owen explains it this way:

    There is wrought and preserved in the minds and souls of all believers, by the Spirit of God, a supernatural principle or habit of grace and holiness, whereby they are made meet for and enabled to live unto God, and perform that obedience which he requireth and accepteth through Christ in the covenant of grace; essentially or specifically distinct from all natural habits, intellectual and moral, however or by what means soever acquired or improved.

  10. Can you say, as David, that you delight in God’s law?
    The Hebrews have several words for the roaring of a lion:

    • Sha’ag is the lion’s roar in seeking prey (Psa 104:21)
    • Naham his cry when seizing it (Pro 19:12)
    • Hagah his growl defying any effort to snatch from him his prey (Isa 31:4)

    The point is that in Psa 1:2, David compares righteous men to lions who hagah (meditate) on the word of God. The image is that they fiercely guard it while the gnaw on it. Not so the wicked. In Psa 2:1, the wicked hagah (plot) on vanities. Which are you more possesive of, the things of God or the things of this world? What is your default state? What do you spend most of your time thinking about?

    If you ask him to, God will help you change from one kind of man to the other. However, if you are like most peope, instead of throwing yourself to God alone for help, you will feel convicted to use your own willpower to try to be more Godly. This seldom works. Only the Holy Spirit can change you from one type of man to the other. Learn to set faith at work in Christ for the conversion process and you will begin to become such a man.

  11. Can you turn to the fountain that has been opened unto all holiness?
    “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness (Zec 13.1).”

    We defile ourselves every day, and if we go not every day to the “fountain that is open for sin and for uncleanness,” we shall quickly be all over leprous. Our consciences will be filled with dead works, so that we shall no way be able to serve the living God, unless they are daily purged out. … When a soul, filled with self-abasement under a sense of its own defilements, applies itself unto Christ by faith for cleansing, and that constantly and continually, with a fervency answering its sense and convictions, it is in its way and proper course. I am persuaded no true believer in the world is a stranger unto this duty; and the more any one abounds therein, the more genuine is his faith evidenced to be, and the more humble is his walk before the Lord. —John Owen

  12. Do you despise all this world has to offer as dross and dung in comparison to the riches offered in communion with Christ?

    Would you be certain whether you are converted or not? Now let your soul and all that is within you attend. Have you taken God for your happiness? Where does the desire of your heart lie? What is the source of your greatest satisfaction? Come, then, and with Abraham lift up your eyes eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and look around you; what is it that you would have in heaven or on earth to make you happy? If God should give you your choice, as He did to Solomon, or should say to you, as Ahasuerus to Esther, ‘What is thy petition, and what is thy request, and it shall be granted thee?’ what would you ask? Go into the gardens of pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there, would these satisfy you? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose you may carry away as much as you desire. Go to the towers, to the trophies of honour. What do you think of being a man of renown, and having a name like the name of the great men of the earth? Would any of these, would all of these satisfy you, and make you to count yourself happy? If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.”
    —Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven

  13. Will you be content for all eternity to dwell on the holiness of God?

    Where there is true grace, there is an insatiable desire of more. —Andrew Bromhall

    Some wonder if they will be bored in heaven. It is impossible for those who know what Christ tastes like to ask such a question. Some evidence a similar type of ignorance of Christ by being bored here on earth. If you find yourself with nothing to do for several hours, is it possible for you to commune with God during that time and thus be more happy than if you were distracting yourself with games or entertainment? If you willfully refuse to enjoy Christ now, how do you hope to enter into heaven which will be the perfecting of that experience (Joh 17:3)?

  14. Is there any duty you are unwilling to perform for the sake of Christ?
    Is there anything God is not allowed to ask of you? Is there anything he could ask that you would not do? Abraham demonstrated his faith with his willingness to sacrafice his own son. Our faith must be of the same type as his.
  15. Have you taken the everlasting joy of God for your chief happiness in this life and the next?

    Can you truly say, that you have so far taken the everlasting enjoyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the most of your heart, of your love, desire, and care; and that you are resolved, by the strength of Divine grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather than hazard it; and that it is your daily, and your principal business to seek it? Can you truly say, that though you have your failings and sins, yet your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is to please God, and to enjoy him for ever; and that you give the world God’s leavings, as it were, and not God the world’s leavings; and that your worldly business is but as a traveller’s seeking for provision in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take for your home?

    …[If not]…

    I much fear that you are yet a stranger to the Christian life. For if you we’re a Christian indeed, and truly converted, your very heart would be set on God and the life to come, and you would make it your chief business to prepare for everlasting happiness; and you durst not, you would not, live in any wilful sin, nor in the neglect of any known duty.
    Alas! what have you done? how have you spent your time till now Did you not know that you had a soul to be saved or lost; and that you must live in heaven or in hell for ever; and that you had your life and time in this world chiefly for the purpose of preparing for another? Alas! what have you been doing all your days that you are so ignorant, or so unprepared for death, if it should now find you? If you had but as much mind of heaven as of earth, you would have known more of it, and done more for it, and inquired more diligently after it, than you have done. You can learn how to do your business in the world; and why could you not learn more of the will of God, if you had but attended to it? You have neighbors that could learn more, that have had as much to do in the world as you, and who have had as little time. Do you think that heaven is not worth your labor? —Richard Baxter

  16. Do you feel more loved by God because he makes much of you, or because, at great cost to himself, he frees you to enjoy making much of him forever?
    From John Piper:

    Is the deepest basis of our joy God’s greatness or our greatness?
    Am I more satisfied praising him or being praised?
    Am I God-centered because of his surpassing value, or am I God-centered because he highlights my surpassing value?
    Would it be heaven to me to see God or to be God?

    The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

Hopfully, as you have been working though these, one of two things has been happening: 1- Either you have found great comfort and assurance that the God of heaven has implanted in you his Holy Spirit as a seal of your salvation, or 2- you have begun to realize that you have no solid evidence for believing that you have been converted. If this second thing has been happening, please don’t give up hope. Turn to God for mercy. Seek him with all that is in you and he will reveal himself to you (Jer 29:13). If one soul is rescued from presumption into genuine faith as a result of this article, all the work and prayer will be well worth it.

A Slave for Christ

Leonard Dober wondered if Jesus had thought the cross too much; then he remembered Jesus’ prayer in the garden ended, “Not my will, but yours, Father.” Leonard’s task seemed impossible, but he was pursuing God’s will and not his own.

Leonard Dober determined that God’s call to him was to reach slaves in the Virgin Islands. He planned to reach these men and women by selling himself as a slave and working alongside others each day while sharing Jesus’ love with them. The thought of being a slave frightened and sickened him. He dreaded the treatment he would receive. “But Christ was willing to die on the cross for me,” he thought. “No price is too high to serve him.”

It wasn’t the slave masters who were Dober’s harshest persecutors, but rather fellow Christians. They questioned his call to minister to slaves and ridiculed him as a fool for his plan. But Dober would not be dissuaded. He arrived in the Virgin Islands late in the 1730s.

When he became a servant in the governor’s house, he feared that this position was too far removed from the slaves to whom he had come to minister. So he left and moved from the governor’s house to a mud hut where he could work one-on-one with slaves.

In just three years, Dober’s ministry included more than thirteen thousand new converts.

Jesus freaks. That’s what the world calls those whose faith seems a bit radical. Odd. Extreme. Dober was an eighteenth century “Jesus freak”—a free man who chose to live as a slave in order to win them to Jesus. He was willing to do whatever it took to squeeze the last ounce of devotion from his heart in service to Christ. For Dober, that meant a specific plan that made sense to no one but him. Have you been written off because of your freakish refusal to go along with the majority rule? If God has called you to do something radical for him in your family, church, or community, you must obey. Let others call you crazy, but may Jesus find you committed.


The preceeding was taken from the VotM blog and can be found in the book: Extreme Devotion. As to why Dober desired to live this way, here is the man explaining his own reasoning:

Since it is desired of me to make known my reason, I can say that my disposition was never to travel during this time, but only to ground myself more steadfastly in my Savior; that when the gracious count came back from his trip to Denmark and told me about the slaves, it gripped me so that I could not get free of it. I vowed to myself that if one other brother would go with me, I would become a slave, and would tell him so, and what I had experienced from our Savior: that the word of the cross in its lowliness shows a special strength to souls. As for me, I thought: even if helpful to no one in it I could still give witness through it of obedience to our Savior! I leave it to the good judgment of the congregation and have no other ground than this I thought: that on the island there still are souls who cannot believe because they have not heard.

The Wounded Soul

It takes a wound. This wounding must be done by God. He has a way of striping our souls bare and exposing the depths of what we are. We all fear—deep down—that we are failures. The wounding comes when we see the truth of these things. The one wounded freely acknowledges that everyone ought hate him. Until now, he has feared that his family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers would discover unspeakable shame in himself. He has hidden this fear, but now the full force of it comes and he is undone. All of his hopes and dreams are for nothing. All of his desires are for things that he either wont get, or that aren’t worth getting anyway. He falls into utter despair. He is cut to the quick. From this wound, there is no recovery.

Such despair is essential to the conversion process. Heretofore, the source of a man’s dreams, joys, hopes, and delights has not been God. He has always feared, “maybe I am of no use to anyone.” Now he knows that this is completely correct. When God speaks, you can’t say nice things back to him. You lay as one slain. This is the gospel: we can’t save ourselves, only God can.

John Bunyan said:

Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think … It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving. … Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion must be let in with a wound; to stick it on to the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound.

The Christian life not only starts in this manner, but it continues in the same. God hands the knife over to us and tells us to keep cutting. We are to put ourselves utterly to death in order that he might live in us. Yet our sinful hearts do not die easily. We strive for success in ministry. We want everyone to see how Godly we are. We are willing to do many things for God but there are things that we hold back, things we believe we will care for better than he would.

Instead, toss everything on the alter, and watch while God destroys it all.

Christians, when they are acting as Christians are untouchable. What will you say to a man that freely abides in such despair. Will you turn his friends against him? Will you destroy his property? Will you attack him physically? He already gave up on all of these things long ago. Christ is now his rock. He cares not what man can do.

Most people will spend their entire lives running from such an experience as this. The unconverted are not alone in avoiding God, we who know God spend much of our time in the same pursuit.

Some verses

What Is Owed Us?

Like everything else in Christianity, communion is never owed to the Christian. There is a large temptation when seeking after God, to think, “If I do this particular thing, then God will owe me his presence.” The older, wiser Christian learns that this is wrong fairly quickly, but then often gets stuck in a more mature version of the same thought: “If I do this particular thing, with the right attitude, then God will owe me his presence.” This is just as wrong as the first thought.

How long will it be, until we learn the truth of the words, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

The beginning of that phrase says this, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I often mistakenly look at this as a commandment that can be followed. If I abide in God, then I will be able to do things. So I must first abide in God. That must be something I, in my own power, am able to do. If not in my own power, then there must be something that I can do, that God will always reward by drawing near to me. In my experience, there is no such thing. Instead, the words, “Apart from me you can do nothing” apply even to our abiding with God.

What must we do then? Apply the principle taught in 2Tim 2:24-25(ref). We read our Bibles, we pray, we do everything we can to humble ourselves and exult in the Lord. Yet even in all of that, God will likely never draw near if we say to ourselves; “Look at what a good job I am doing.” Instead, say to yourself, “God may perhaps grant me repentance.” It is not owed for our service, but God delights to give it, so we wait on it, we look for it around every corner.

Then, so often, it comes. It comes unexpectedly: in my experience, always unexpectedly. Joy floods in.

God, may we have this attitude in everything we do, that we will, in humility, run hard after you, saying all the while, “God may perhaps grant repentance.”

A Seeker's Prayer

I was ministering to someone and wrote this prayer for her. I had hoped to write it as a prayer that someone who was seeking God could pray as a non-Christian (what her state seemed to be) but would also be appropriate for her if she already knew God.

Oh God most high and holy, I understand
    that you are worthy to be praised with my every breath,
    and loved with all the love that I am able to offer
        and more besides.

Occupy the throne of my heart,
Take full possession of my life
    and reign supreme in me.
Tear aside every sin in my life
    and make yourself my highest love.
Don't allow my vile passions and lusts
    to resist your Spirit in this work
Show me your mighty power in this way
    and make me yours forever.

I am learning what it means,
    that I am dead in my sins and iniquities.
I have done so many things that I know are grievous to you.
    More than that, I have not loved you as I should:
        with all of my heart, soul, and mind.
I confess all of these sins before you.
I come to you knowing
    that I have no right, of myself, to do so;
    but that you have purchased my right
        to make this request to you
    you welcome poor sinners
        to come to you and find rest and freedom.
So I ask:
    please free me from my sins,
    please give me rest in you.

I understand that your son, Jesus Christ,
    has died to save wicked people, like me, from their sins.
He took on the sins of the world,
    that hopeless sinners might be declared righteous and holy.
Help me to understand,
    that righteousness is hid with Christ on high;
    that I am not more righteous when I am living rightly
    nor am I less righteous when I am living sinfully;
    but if I trust in my own good behavior,
        I am completely wicked before you;
    but if I trust in Christ,
        I am as righteous as you are
            because I trust in your holiness
                applied to me on the cross.
            and this righteousness is the same
                yesterday, today, and forever.

Then teach me to live on you
    and to live for you.
Guide me down paths of righteousness
    that I might live all of life for your namesake.
Teach me how to live as Christ lived,
    that I might resemble you.

I throw myself to your care.
I know that I cannot save myself,
    I have tried and only found failure.
Great God in heaven, save me.

Combating a New Arminianism

The Arminianism of our day is decidedly not the Arminianism of centuries ago. Anyone who has studied the Five Articles of Remonstrance knows this. Yet we argue against Arminianism today according to the old arguments and paradigms.

The new root of Arminianism seems to be this: coming to God for salvation counts even if it is done sinfully. By this, the Arminian undermines all of reformed thought. The modern Arminian says, it may be true, that we are so sinful as to make us unable turn to God sinlessly, but God is glorified in us as we believe in Him, even if that belief is itself not a perfectly sinless one.

I bring this up not to show how we can better argue against heterodoxy (though that is important) but as this is something all churches need to think about (reformed and non alike).

Our churches are full of men who believe that going to church, singing, praying, tithing even if done partially sinfully, even if done lazily or routinely, is acceptable before the Lord. God HATES sinful sacrifice (Prov. 15:8). We see it in giving (Acts 5:3), in communion (1 Cor. 11:29), in prayer (Prov. 28:9), and in the feasts and festivals (Isa. 66:3).

Rather, we should offer up pure and perfect worship before him. How? By faith. Do you not know that the blood of the lamb can cover our sinful worship so that it is holy and acceptable before God Almighty? Believe this. Rise thyself up to faith in your worship or it does not count, just like praying the sinners prayer for fire insurance does not count.

How are we any less Arminian when we follow their same principles in our day-to-day lives? We try to rouse ourselves to the work of worship as if it was the work that God finds acceptable, just like the Arminian sees himself as rousing himself up to the act of faith. I claim that such acts are an abomination. What God finds acceptable is not the part of worship that we give (Acts 17:24-25, Mark 10:45, Psa. 50:9-12, 1 Cor. 10:26), but the part of worship that we receive.

To make sense of this, look at Andrew Fuller’s combat against Sandemanianism. Sandeman (1718-1771) asserted that faith must not be a work, for then we would be saved by works. Sanderman’s faith thus had no activity to it, it was instead a passive persuasion of the truth.

To combat this, Fuller introduced an analogy of a magnet:

Whatever holiness there is in [faith], it is not this, but the obedience of Christ, that constitutes our justifying righteousness. Whatever other properties the magnet may possess, it is as pointing invariably to the north that it guides the mariner; and whatever other properties faith may possess, it is as receiving Christ, and bringing us into union with him, that it justifies. -Andrew Fuller

Just like that magnet there is a part of faith that makes it saving, and that part is not to be found in us. A humble and receiving faith is that which saves. But that does not mean there is no part for us to play in our faith. Faith that saves is always working (Gal. 5:6), even though it is not the working part of faith that saves.

Now worship, like faith, must act. It must act love. Yet, also like faith, our acting is not that which makes it good and acceptable before God. Left to itself our actions are an abomination before him. Holiness can only be found in our actings as they are covered by the blood of Him who was slain. This blood is not our gift to God, but His gift to us. Thus, even though worship acts, holiness is not to be found in the acting and working but in the receiving.

Stated another way, worship should never be passive, but it is the passive part of worship that is pleasing to God. Love should never be without work, but it is the non-working part of love that fulfills the command. We are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is never alone.

We cannot add to the holiness that we have in Christ.

A brief history of Fuller’s fight with Sanderman can be seen here.

Take Not Thy Holy Spirit from Me

Psalm 51:11

11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. (ESV)

David’s cry to not have the Holy Spirit taken from him is a confusing psalm to us. How can a man after God’s own heart be in such doubt over losing the Holy Spirit? We interpret such psalms as spiritual weakness, we say to ourselves, “see even the best of us get down.” Surely, there is a truth to seeing such in these psalms, but I’ve been learning to see them in a different way as well.

When you live past the edge of your comfort zone in Christ you learn how dependent on the Holy Spirit’s work you really are. I’ve learned lately that without God’s help, I’d fall away from the faith very quickly. I find myself having crises where I want to leave the faith, where I want to stop loving God. I’ve been finding that these crises aren’t a mark of unchristian behavior as much as they are a mark of a healthy spiritual weakness. In a life heated by the fires of suffering, which is the fruit of faith, our shortcomings and our dependence upon God rise quickly to the surface. Such utterances are the cry of the poor in spirit as our weaknesses are smelted out of us.

If your Christianity and your walk are of the sort that you can mostly do it on your own power, it is not much of a Christian walk. However if you are living so far past your own comfort zone that there is no way you can get through a moment without His sustaining grace, you are probably walking by the Spirit much more fully. David was one such man of God. Without God’s grace, David knew he would fall, he would trip, he would go headlong, he would drown. Say it however you want, but David needed God in a way we typically do not.

Live such lives! Let God craft for you such a lifestyle as forces you to pray these psalms regularly. Lord Jesus, how can I encourage men to live this type of life: the type that cannot be lived according to our own strength?

Knowing God

It seems to me as if this subject is one of the most important ones in our religion. Piper’s, Owen’s, Edward’s, Tozer’s (and I’m sure a host of other authors’) most famous books are about the subject. It is what the Christian life is all about and we know very little about it.

I can get up in the morning, and go about my day doing everything right. I can love my wife and daughter, get my work done, be loving and helping towards my neighbors, go to church and do a myriad of other right Christian duties and completely miss out on walking with the Lord that day. I think most Christians realize this on some level or another. Then there is another day when I am walking with him and it doesn’t really matter what else I do, because I’m walking with my Lord and knowing Him. I’m content, not because of what I’m doing but because of who I’m with. I end up doing all the same things but I’m doing them as one who is walking with God. Externally, the two days often look very similar, but internally, they feel and are very different. We as Christians need to be striving less after the law and more after God.

If we do this, we will find the law, but if we search for God through the law, both are so often denied us.

For example, one of the secrets of the Christian life is contentment. And we try to put on this contentment like a garment and wear it around as is our duty to do. But this is wrong and does not lead to Godliness. Instead of a self built contentment, put on God. Learn to NOT be content unless you are wearing Him like a robe and then you will find contentment in feast and in famine. Is it not this way with all of our duties? Is there any one Christian duty we can just do on our own? Or is every duty best accomplished by striving after God and beholding Him, and as we do so, we are transformed from one stage of glory to the next.

We sing a line in a song “when strivings cease” and I think it appropriate. The majority of our strivings are wrong. We strive after holiness in the workings of the law, we strive after possessions and security and happiness in them. We strive after respect. We strive with our brothers. We strive against man. We need only strive after God! All other striving is vanity. Furthermore, our striving after God is almost more of a giving up than a striving. The soul striving after God finally says to itself, “enough!” if God will not comfort me, then I will have no comfort. If God will not save me, then I will have no salvation, for there is salvation in no other. There is nothing I can do to recommend myself to God, no service that He has need of that I can perform. In all of my experience, it is in that moment of giving up my soul to God that I unexpectedly find Him.

Now is any of this true? Can it be backed up with Scripture? It can certainly be backed up by great Christian men’s experience but that matters very little compared with God’s word.

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Philippians 2:12

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

John 15:5

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (ESV)

We are to be grafted into the vine. Unless we our violently and wholly wrought to the vine, the sap will not flow from it to us. And without that sap we can do no good. We can in no way be righteous or holy. Our first duty therefore is to make that connection secure. That is how we work out our salvation is it not? I would like to hear another theory as to how we can work out salvation without this. We have much more hope outside of God and His power than we ought.

Refuse … REFUSE I SAY … to live one moment without the presence of God. Seek him … SEEK HIM. So often I find myself thinking that I don’t feel God’s presence right now, but I will finish my present engagement and then seek him. And before I know it, it is the end of the day and I have lived a day foreign to the presence of God. Oh may I never live such a day again, may I never live one such moment as to be separated in my heart from my Abba Father. What is worse, those days can turn into weeks, months, and years. Many of us know from personal experience what it is to be called back to communion with God after such a prolonged absence. Be afraid of this withdrawal and live so that it may never happen. Be at peace with him all your days by being in communion with his presence always. Let us never say, this one thing is worth a separation from his presence. No sin, no activity, no person, yea such holy activity as reading the Word of God and prayer are not worthy of themselves without this application of His presence in them, by them, and for them. Nothing is worth having without him, nothing is worth doing without him (Psa. 73:25).