Saturday, 26 November 2016

I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." — 1 Corinthians 9:22 C.H. Spurgeon


Paul's great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, 
but to save. 
Anything short of this would have disappointed him; 
he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. 
Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? 
Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? 
Blood-red will our clothes be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved.

 Paul knew the ruin of man's natural state, and did not try to educate him, 
but to save him; 
he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. 
To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. 
His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. 

To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. 
He became a servant to all men, 
toiling for his race, 
feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel. 

He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice;
he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, 
he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. 
If he might save some he would be content. 
This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. 

Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? 
Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? 
If not, why not? 
Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? 
Where is our tenderness? 
Where our love to Christ, if we seek not His honour in the salvation of men?
O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Don't Suffer Shipwreck by A.W. Tozer


This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.... —1 Timothy 1:18-19

Yet the ministry is one of the most perilous of professions. The devil hates the Spirit-filled minister with an intensity second only to that which he feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred is not difficult to discover. An effective, Christ-like minister is a constant embarrassment to the devil, a threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best arguments and a dogged reminder of his coming overthrow. No wonder he hates him.
Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of God is a strategic victory for him, so he rests not day or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for the ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only paralyzes its victim, for I think that Satan has little interest in killing the preacher outright. An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the preacher's dangers are likely to be spiritual rather than physical, though sometimes the enemy works through bodily weaknesses to get to the preacher's soul. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 90-91.
"Lord, the battle is intense and the enemy is strong. I pray for every one of my fellow-servants this morning, especially those who may be close to succumbing. Give Your great grace and victory today. Amen."

Monday, 24 October 2016

Failure and Success: Co-workers, Not Competitors - A.W. Tozer

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.—Colossians 1:18

It is too bad that anything so obvious should need to be said at this late date, but from all appearances, we Christians have about forgotten the lesson so carefully taught by Paul: God's servants are not to be competitors, but co-workers....
A local church, as long as it is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot entertain the psychology of competition. When it begins to compete with another church, it is a true church of God no longer; it has voided its character and gone down onto a lower level. The Spirit that indwells it is no longer divine; it is human merely, and its activities are pitched on the plane of the natural....
The Holy Spirit always cooperates with Himself in His members. The Spirit-directed body does not tear itself apart by competition. The ambitions of the various members are submerged in the glory of the Head, and whatever brings honor to the Head meets with the most eager approval of the members.
We should cultivate the idea that we are co-workers rather than competitors. We should ask God to give us the psychology of cooperation. We should learn to think of ourselves as being members in particular of one and the same body, and we should reject with indignation every suggestion of the enemy designed to divide our efforts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Roger Forster: Friends Forever



I have known of Roger since the late 1970's when he came over from London to preach in a hotel in Belfast. He preached with the power of God and had a great impression upon me as a teenager. He had been for many years an itinerant evangelist but then had started church planting and has continued doing this until the present time. He exudes humility, fun and a Christ likeness so unlike many leaders involved in the charismatic stream of the British Church. He also teaches Church history and apologetics.

Some Character Traits of Paul, the Apostle BY WAYNE JACKSON



The renowned German scholar, Adolf Deissmann, once declared: “There is no single person since Nero’s days who has left such permanent marks on the souls of men as Paul the New Man.” He noted that the grand apostle of Christ, “rising from the mass of the insignificant many” is “still molding the world at the present moment” (1957, viii).

F.F. Bruce stated that he had spent more time studying the works of Paul than any other writer of antiquity. He further commented that Paul’s epistles are more “richly rewarding” than that of any other writer—either ancient or modern (1977, 15). He observed as well that “no single event, apart from the Christ-event itself, has proved so determinant for the course of Christian history as the conversion and commissioning of Paul” (1977, 75).
James Stalker, a close student of Paul, would write that the apostle was “one of the most influential teachers of mankind, multitudes in every century adopting from him their way of conceiving all the greatest objects of human concern” (Hastings 1926, 155).
Even Lyman Abbott, a radically liberal scholar, conceded: “The literary history of the world furnishes no parallel to the influence exerted by the writings of Paul, except such as is afforded by the history of the Bible in which those writings are found” (1898, 1).
In a lovely little volume on church history that I devoured following my own conversion more than half a century ago, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut described Paul as a “tireless traveler,” “indomitable worker,” “church founder” [i.e., many local congregations], and “theologian” (1954, 35). He was all that and more. Aside from Christ himself, no other historical figure has been so benevolently imposing.
In this article I would like to call attention to some character qualities of this Christian gentleman whose historical footprints will never be erased as long as our planet endures. The short list I have chosen to survey is by no means exhaustive—merely illustrative.

Persistent

Sir William Ramsay was a devout student of Paul. He traced the steps of the noble missionary throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, and today’s New Testament student is indebted to his research in numerous particulars.
In assembling an approximate chronology of the apostle’s labor, Ramsay calculated that Paul was converted around A.D. 34, and likely was executed at Rome about A.D. 67. If this dating is fairly accurate, the apostle’s earthly life and labors spanned some thirty-three years.
In the December 1956 issue of the National Geographic Magazine, there appeared an article, as I recall, under the title, “In the Steps of Paul.” The author or authors, who had done considerable research on Paul’s travels, estimated that his missionary endeavors consumed some twelve thousand miles, some by ship on the mighty Mediterranean Sea, and also across its “arms”—the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. In addition, hundreds of miles were traversed by land. He visited approximately fifty cities in his evangelistic endeavors (McRay 2003, 11).
Yet within the thirteen epistles known to have been written by Paul, and penned over an era of maybe just under twenty years, there is no complaint of fatigue, no whimpering at the hardships, no disappointment expressed of having been “crucified with Christ,” or of wasted years, or lack of family, wealth, or fame—just adulation. There was the simple joy in serving his Lord, and for the blessed hope of life to come. Paul was a “stick-tight” who could not be budged from his resolute course.

Patient

The thought of Paul’s patience may not readily enter one’s mind due to his more dominant qualities that easily engage one’s attention. But patience is there—if one looks for it.
When the militant persecutor of Christ was brought to the Lord by means of the gospel (see the accounts of his conversion in Acts 9, 22, and 26), he was informed that he would be an instrument of mercy to “all men,” especially to the Gentiles (9:15; 22:15; 26:17). “Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles par excellence, so much so that the church became predominantly Gentile by the end of the first century” (Ferguson 2005, 37).
The militant apostle was scarcely dry from his immersion when be began his preaching to the Jews of Damascus (Acts 9:20), with no apparent success entered into the record. It was at this point that many believe Paul made his journey into Arabia, which consumed, at the very least, portions of three years (cf. Galatians 1:17). What transpired during those years is passed over in complete silence (no editorial emendation to satisfy our curiosity—an evidence of the credibility of the Galatian epistle). Perhaps this was a time of meditation, preparation, and communication with his Savior—maybe even a course in “Patience 101”!
Later Paul would return to Damascus where persecution by the Jews awaited him, and forced his flight to Jerusalem. Here again the Jews sought to kill him (Acts 9:29). But as he prayed in the temple, the Lord appeared to him and told of the immediate plan to send his apostle “far hence unto the Gentiles” (22:21). Some of the Jerusalem saints escorted Paul to Caesarea and dispatched him to Tarsus of Cilicia (some 225 miles to the northwest), where he would spend almost a decade doing mission work among the folks of his native land (cf. 9:30).
It is not unreasonable to assume that Paul’s earlier training contributed to the amazing patience he exhibited in his letters to fledgling churches, whose problems he attempted to address.
All younger preachers could well benefit from some education in patience.

Courageous

It is scarcely necessary to argue the case for Paul’s courage, and this quality cannot be passed over in silence.
It is unrealistic to imagine that Paul was never afraid. In Corinth the Lord spoke to his apostle in a night vision, cautioning: “Be not afraid” (Acts 18:9). The force of the Greek expression is: “Stop being afraid.” Courage is not the absence of fear; it is doing what is right even when you are afraid!
On the initial missionary campaign with Barnabas (Acts 13:4ff), these brothers came to the city of Lystra in Asia Minor. There they encountered a man who had been crippled all his life. By God’s power Paul healed the man, and the crowds that witnessed the event were enthralled, attempting even to worship the apostle and his companion. But the brothers restrained them. Mere humans are not proper objects of worship.
Presently, though, a confederation of Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and stirred up the fickle multitude. Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city, and left for dead. According to the Jewish Mishnah (Sanhedrin 6:1-4), a stoning victim was substantially stripped of his clothes, thrown from an elevated place twice the height of a human person, positioned with his heart upward, and huge rocks were then dropped (or thrown) upon him until he was dead (Arnold 2002, 276; Boismard 1992, 209). The vicious mob at Lystra “supposed” Paul was dead and obviously left the site. But the apostle “rose up” (a hint, perhaps, of a miraculous recovery). The following day he and Barnabas left the city, proceeding toward Derbe some sixty miles to the southeast.
Apparently they worked in Derbe for some time, for “many disciples” were won for the Lord. Presently, however, they determined they would return to Antioch of Syria, from where they had begun their gospel adventure. They might well have taken a more direct route, thus avoiding the dangerous cities visited earlier. But no, they would revisit the churches previously established—even the deadly Lystra—in order to confirm the disciples and exhort them to continue in the faith (14:22). What courage this required on the part of the battered apostle. Never mind though; the cause of Jesus was paramount.

Humble

While many character traits of Paul readily come to the student’s mind, likely humility is not the first of these. But the humble Pauline disposition clearly is there for the perceptive reader.
After Paul and Barnabas had completed their missionary campaign in Asia Minor, they settled for a while in Antioch of Syria. Presently, certain men from Judea arrived. Incredibly, they were teaching a “Judaistic gospel,” namely that unless one submits to the Hebrew rite of circumcision, in addition to the fundamentals of the gospel, he cannot be saved (Acts 15:1).
This doctrine, so adverse to the message that Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed in their previous preaching, required a response. There was much “dissension and questioning” about this issue, and the peace of the church was in jeopardy. A suggestion thus was made that the two missionaries, in the company of several other brothers, should proceed to Jerusalem and inquire there of the “apostles and elders” about this matter (v. 2). Hence the investigative party was dispatched to the holy city.
Now here is a question of interest. Why did not Paul interject himself into the initial discussion by demanding: “Listen, there is no need for a deputized group to consult with Jerusalem. I myself am an apostle of Christ, and not a whit behind any of the others [cf. 2 Corinthians 11:5]. I am perfectly capable, therefore, of settling this issue on my own. Circumcision will not be required!”
But the sensitive apostle knew this was a volatile situation. If the Christians at Antioch felt the need of consulting the broader band of apostolic authority, Paul would not insist on thrusting himself to the forefront. The larger cause of Jesus was more important on this occasion than his own ego. He would humbly recede into the shadows for the moment, that the gospel might not be damaged. This was not the last time that this gracious servant of Christ would yield in a matter of expediency for the sake of his kinsmen in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:12).

Uncompromising

To suggest that Paul was the epitome of humility is not to affirm that he was a pushover and a compromiser of truth. Far from it!
When Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1), some misguided members of the congregation there secretly brought in “false brothers.” These propagators of error attempted to bind the law of Moses as an appendix to the gospel. They sought to deprive the Jerusalem Christians of their legitimate “liberty” in Christ and bring them into the bondage of the Mosaic regime. Some clearly wanted to demand that Titus, a Greek, submit to circumcision. But Paul, and those who supported his leadership, would not stand for this defection from the truth. They refused to yield to the heretical clique—even “for a moment” (v. 5, ESV; cf. Danker et al. 2000, 1102).
On another occasion, when Paul was in Antioch (of Syria), Peter arrived on the scene. Having learned of a previous episode in which Peter had yielded to Jewish prejudice and withdrew from Gentile association, refusing to share in common meals with them, Paul chastised the wayward apostle. He wrote: “I resisted him to the face because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11). Other Jews, and even Barnabas, had been caught up in this “dissimulation” (v. 13). “Dissimulation” derives from the Greek, hupokrisis—the basis of the English, “hypocrisy” (cf. ESV).
Paul would not have the truth compromised and the cause of Christ endangered by weak church members who gave in to social pressure. This unpleasant situation does have a couple of happy footnotes. Paul will later commend the support of Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6), and Peter would write of “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Peter 3:15). No grudges held!

Yielding

While we admire Paul for his backbone of steel in doctrinal matters, no one should draw the erroneous conclusion that he was stubborn and non-pliable at the expense of honest souls who were struggling to grow in knowledge and practice of the truth.
When coping with a stubborn, anti-Paul faction within the church at Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1ff), the apostle was forced to defend himself against malicious charges hurled against him. A portion of that defense is found in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the gospel’s sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof.
A concrete example of this accommodating disposition on the part of the grand apostle is found in Acts 21:17-26. In that context, Paul did not hesitate to “purify” himself in the temple in order to ameliorate the Jerusalem Jews and create a friendlier environment for the spread of the gospel in the holy city. For a more detailed discussion of this incident, and an analysis of some of the alleged problems associated with Paul’s activity, see my discussion elsewhere (Jackson 2005, 270-276).

Ethical

Paul was not one of the many whose practice is inconsistent with their teaching. He diligently strove to “take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17).
In Rome, during a two-year span of house arrest—awaiting his case to be heard before Caesar—Paul came in contact with a man whose name was Onesimus (the name means “profitable”). Onesimus was a slave who had fled from his master, Philemon, a Christian in the city of Colosse (cf. Colossians 4:9). Onesimus had made his way to the refuge of the crowded imperial city.Apparently the vagabond had wronged his master in some fashion—perhaps taking money from him, or rendering some other form of evil (cf. Philemon 18).
Somehow, likely under the Hand of Providence (v. 15), the servant had come into contact with the noble apostle to the Gentiles, and Paul converted him (v. 10). He thus became a “slave” of Jesus Christ! But that was not to be the end of the matter. While Onesimus had received pardon from the Lord, he still had a moral obligation to his master, Philemon. And Paul was conscientious to see that this responsibility be fulfilled.
Accordingly, the apostle prepared a short letter to Philemon (to be delivered by Onesimus). Paul begged Philemon to forgive this wayward soul who had been so “unprofitable,” but who now has been transformed into a precious, profitable treasure (v. 11). He asks that Onesimus might be received, just as Paul would be, should he make the journey (v. 17). He gently reminded his friend that he was indebted to him as well (v. 19).
Many would complain that Paul should never have sent the fugitive brother back to a life of servitude, but two things must be borne in mind: first, it was the “ethical” thing to do, given the social and legal situation of the day; second, Paul had every confidence that Philemon would receive Onesimus not merely as a servant, but as a brother in Christ (v. 16)—and that would make all the difference in the world!

Forgiving

Finally, there is this character trait that scarcely can be ignored. In his final epistle to Timothy, Paul writes: “At my first defense no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge” (4:16). I have discussed this text in my book, Before I Die—Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus, and for convenience sake, reproduce that material here.
First, there is the matter of the historical context. What is meant by “my first defense”? The term apologeia clearly seems to refer to a legal proceeding. But what defense? That is by no means a fully settled question. While a few have argued that the phrase alludes to the apostle’s earlier two-year confinement in Rome (Acts 28), most scholars are persuaded that the reference is to a preliminary trial in connection with Paul’s present imprisonment.
In A.D. 64, a week-long fire had engulfed the Imperial city. The emperor Nero was rumored to have set the blaze to cover his own ineptness as an administrator. He maliciously blamed Christians for the catastrophe, and Christianity became an “illicit religion.” Paul’s arrest is believed to have taken place a couple of years following these events. It appears the apostle had been brought to trial initially, but was cleared of a preliminary charge. It is likely, however, that another allegation was pending, and he was waiting for a second trial phase—from which he expected no deliverance. His looming fate seems fairly certain in his mind (2 Timothy 4:6).
Second, it is clear that when this valiant brother was brought before the authorities in the initial segment of his trial procedure, no one—available and in a position to do so—was willing to stand with him. It may be that he had sent forth an appeal to brethren for character witnesses, but, for fear of their lives, many had “turned away” from him (cf. 1:15; 4:16). Where were those of the Roman church who had traveled out so joyously to meet the apostle when he first approached the seven-hill city (Acts 28:13-15)? Had many of these been martyred already? Certainly no assistance could be expected from the “anti-Paul” faction in Rome (cf. Philippians 1:15ff).
Third, the most amazing thing about this circumstance is Paul’s attitude with reference to those who “forsook” him. He wrote: “. . . may it not be laid to their account.” “Account” (logizomai) is a commercial term, used metaphorically; it signifies here “to place on one’s record.” Clearly, he is referring to afinal settlement at the Judgment (cf. 1:16-18). Amidst the mystery of this passage, a few facts seem plain. (a) Paul was not petitioning God to ignore a willful, arrogant disdain of divine law, pursued with no inclination of repentance. (The verb is in the optative mood; it does involve a wish, a request.) Such a view would disregard other passages of emphatic import (Luke 17:3; Acts 8:22; 1 John 5:16). Within this same context the apostle refers to Alexander, of whom he says, “the Lord will render to him according to his works.” [The King James rendition, which makes this a wish, does not have the best textual support.] There was no petition for mercy on behalf of such a one.
On the other hand, it seems that Paul did consider the neglect on the part of some as one of human weakness, rather than overt rebellion. Fear can cause one to panic under extreme conditions, which might not be the case under less stressful circumstances. It does appear that in this situation, the apostle at least sees the possibility that God will extend mercy on account of the human element (see Psalm 103:13-14). Perhaps he might extend grace to those who have not been as valiant as they could have been ideally. This text, therefore, may not only be a commentary upon the forgiving spirit of Paul, it may also underscore the mercy of the One who knows the true character of our hearts (2007, 294-296).

Conclusion

What a spiritually rewarding experience it would be to have a complete “album” of “character snapshots” of Paul, the apostle who has forever left his image upon the world. We can learn much from this remarkable man; may we exert the courage and energy to apply ourselves to his schoolroom of instruction.
REFERENCES
  • Abbott, Lyman. 1898. The Life and Letters of Paul the Apostle. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Arnold, Clinton E. 2002. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Boismard, M.E. 1992. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 6. David N. Freedman, ed. New York, NY: Doubleday.
  • Bruce, F.F. 1977. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • Danker. F.W. et al. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
  • Deissmann, Adolf. 1957. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History. New York: Harper & Bros.
  • Ferguson, Everett. 2005. Church History—From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Hastings, James, ed. 1926. Dictionary of the Apostolic Church. Vol. 2. Edinburgh, Scotland: T.&T. Clark.
  • Hurlbut, Jesse Lyman. 1954. The Story of the Christian Church. Philadelphia, PA: John C. Winston Co.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 2005. The Acts of the Apostles—From Jerusalem to Rome. Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 2007. Before I Die—Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus. Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications.
  • McRay, John. 2003. Paul—His Life and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
Acts 9; Acts 9:20; Galatians 1:17; Acts 9:29; Acts 18:9; Acts 13:4; Acts 15:1; 1 Corinthians 11:5; 1 Corinthians 9:12; Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 9:6; 2 Peter 3:15; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Acts 21:17-26; Romans 12:17; Colossians 4:9; Philemon 18; Acts 28; 2 Timothy 4:6; Acts 28:13-15; Philippians 1:15; Luke 17:3; Acts 8:22; 1 John 5:16; Psalm 103:13-14
CITE THIS ARTICLE
Jackson, Wayne. "Some Character Traits of Paul, the Apostle." ChristianCourier.com. Access date: September 28, 2016. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1385-some-character-traits-of-paul-the-apostle

Early Church History Timeline

Early Church History

First Era of Persecution

64

Nero Burns Rome

70

The Destruction of Jerusalem

81

Domitian Persecution Begins

98

Trajan Persecution Begins

100

Justin Martyr Is Born

108

Martyrdom of Ignatius

117

Hadrian Persecution Begins

130

Conversion of Justin Martyr

130

Irenaeus Is Born

138

Antoninus Pius Persecution Begins

150

Clement of Alexandria Is Born

153

Justin Writes First Apology

155

Martyrdom of Polycarp

155

Tertullian Is Born

160

Justin Writes Dialogue with Trypho

161

Marcus Aurelius Persecution Begins

165

Martyrdom of Justin

178

Irenaeus Is Bishop of Lyon

178

Celsus Writes True Reason

185

Iraneaus Writes Against Heresies

185

Origen Is Born

189

Clement of Alexandria Begins to Write

193

Septimius Severus Persecution Begins

197

Tertullian Begins to Write

200

Cyprian of Carthage Is Born

211

Caracalla Persecution Begins


http://www.historytimeline.org/early/first_era_persecution.php

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Chapter 2 --In Spirit and truth OR The True Worshippers (Andrew Murray)


The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for such doth the Father seek to be worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24
THESE WORDS OF JESUS TO THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA ARE His first recorded teaching on the subject of prayer. They give us some wonderful first glimpses into the word prayer. The Father seeks worshippers: our worship satisfies His loving heart and is a joy to Him. He seeks true worshippers, but finds many not as He would have them. True worship is that which is in spirit and truth. The Son has come to open the way for this worship in spirit and truth, and teach it to us. And so one of our first lessons in the school of prayer must be to understand what it is to pray in spirit and in truth and to know how we can attain to it.
To the woman of Samaria our Lord spoke of a threefold worship. There is first, the ignorant worship of the Samaritans: 'Ye worship that which ye know not.' The second, intelligent worship of the Jew, having the true knowledge of God: ' We worship that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews. And then the new, the spiritual worship which He Himself has come to introduce: `The hour is coming, and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.' From the connection it is evident that the words `in spirit and truth do not mean, as is often thought, earnestly., from the heart, in sincerity. The Samaritans had the five books of Moses and some knowledge of God: there was doubtless more than one among them who honestly and earnestly sought God in prayer. The Jews had the true full revelation of God in His word, as thus given; there were among them godly men, who called upon God with their whole heart. And yet not `in spirit and truth,' in the full meaning of the words. Jesus says, `The hour is coming, and now is:' it is only in and through Him that the worship of God will be in spirit and truth.
Among Christians one still finds the three classes of worshippers. Some who in their ignorance hardly know what they ask: they pray earnestly, and yet receive but little.Others there are, who have more correct knowledge, who try to pray with all their mind and heart, and often pray more earnestly, and yet do not attain to the full blessedness of worship in spirit and truth. It is into this third class we must ask our Lord Jesus to take us; we must be taught of them how to worship in spirit and truth. This alone is spiritual worship; this makes us worshippers such as the Father seeks. In prayer everything will depend on our understanding well and practising the worship in spirit and truth.
'God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth.' The first thought suggested here by the Master is that there must be harmony between God and His worshipers; -such as God is; must His worship be. This is according to a principle which prevails throughout the universe: we look for correspondence between an object and the organ to which it reveals or yields itself. The eye has an inner fitness for the light, the ear for sound. The man who would truly worship God, who would find and know and possess and enjoy God, must be in harmony with Him, must have the capacity for receiving Him. Because God is Spirit, we must worship in spirit. As God is, so His worshipper.
And what does this mean? The woman had asked our Lord whether Samaria or Jerusalem was the true place of worship. He answers that henceforth worship is no longer to be limited to a certain place: `Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father.' As God is Spirit, not bound by space or time but in His infinite perfection always and everywhere the same, so His worship would henceforth no longer be confined by place or form, but importance. How much our Christianity suffers from this, that it is confined to certain times and places. A man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church or in the closet,spends the greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he prayed. His worship was the work of a fixed place or hour, not of his whole being. God is a Spirit: He is the Everlasting and Unchangeable One; what He is, He is always and in truth. Our worship must even so be in spirit and truth: His worship must be the spirit of our life; our life must be worship in spirit as God is Spirit.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.' The second thought comes to us is that this worship in the spirit must come from God Himself. God is Spirit: He alone has Spirit to give: It was for this He sent His Son, to fit us for spiritual worship, by giving us the Holy Spirit. It is of His own work that Jesus speaks when He says twice, `The hour cometh,' and then adds, `and is now.' He came to baptize with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit could not stream forth until He was glorified (John 1.33, 7.37, 38, 16.7). It was when He had made an end of sin, and entering into the Holiest of all with His blood, had there on our behalf received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.33), that He could send Him down to us as the Spirit of the Father. It was when Christ redeemed us, and we in Him had received the position of children, that the Father sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry, `Abba, Father.' The worship in spirit is the worship of the Father in the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Sonship.
This is the reason why Jesus here uses the name Father. We never find one of the Old Testament saints personally appropriate the name of child or call God Father. The worship of the Father is only possible to those to whom the Spirit of the Son has been given. The worship in spirit is only possible to those to whom Son has revealed the Father, and who have received the spirit of Sonship. It is only Christ who opens the way and, teaches the worship in spirit.
And in truth. That does not only mean, in sincerity. Nor does it only signify, in accordance with the truth of God's Word. The expression is one of deep and Divine meaning. Jesus is `the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth: `The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: Jesus says, `I am the truth and the life: In the Old Testament all was shadow and promise;Jesus brought and gives the reality, the substance, of things hoped for. In Him the blessings and powers of the eternal life are our actual possession and experience. Jesus is full of grace and truth; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth;through Him the grace that is in Jesus is ours in deed and truth, a positive communication out of the Divine life. And so worship in spirit is worship in truth; actual living fellowship with God, a real correspondence and harmony-between the Father, who is a Spirit, and the child praying in the spirit.
What Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, she could not at once understand. Pentecost was needed to reveal its full meaning. We are hardly prepared at our first entrance into the school of prayer to grasp such teaching. We shall understand it better later on. Let us only begin and take the lesson as He gives it. We are carnal and cannot bring God the worship He seeks. But Jesus came to give the Spirit: He has given Him to us. Let the disposition in which we set ourselves to pray be what Christ's words have taught us. Let there be the deep confession of our inability to bring God the worship that is pleasing to Him; the childlike teachableness that waits on Him to instruct us; the simple faith that yields itself to the breathing of the Spirit. Above all, let us hold fast the blessed truth-we shall find that the Lord has more to say to us about it-that the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God, the revelation of His infinite Fatherliness in our hearts, the faith in the infinite love that gives us His Son and His Spirit to make us children, is indeed the secret of prayer in spirit and truth. This is the new and living way Christ opened up for us. To have Christ the Son, and the Spirit of the Son, dwelling within us, and revealing the Father, this makes us true, spiritual worshippers.
Blessed Lord! I adore the love with which Thou didst teach a woman, who had refused Thee a cup of water, what the worship of God must be. I rejoice in the assurance that Thou wilt no less now instruct Thy disciple, who comes to Thee with a heart that longs to pray in spirit and in truth. O my Holy Master! do teach me this blessed secret.
Teach me that the worship in spirit and truth is not of man, but only comes from Thee; that it is not only a thing of times and seasons, but the outflowing of a life in Thee. Teach me to draw near to God in prayer under the deep impression of my ignorance and my having nothing in myself to offer Him, and at the same time of the provision Thou my Saviour, makest for the Spirit's breathing in my childlike stammerings. I do bless Thee that in Thee I am a child, and have a child's liberty of access; that in Thee I have the spirit of Sonship and of worship in truth. Teach me, above all, Blessed Son of the Father, how it is the revelation of the Father that gives confidence in prayer; and let the infinite Fatherliness of God's Heart be my joy and strength for a life of prayer and of worship. Amen.

Chapter 1--Lord, teach us to pray or The Only Teacher (Andrew Murray)


This is the first chapter of Andrew Murray's great little book 'Teach us to pray'. May the Lord bless you and teach you, as you read and meditate upon it. Andrew Kenny

And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, that when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1
THE DISCIPLES HAD BEEN WITH CHRIST, AND SEEN HIM pray. They had learnt to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public, and His secret life of prayer. They had learnt to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer-none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, `Lord, teach us to pray.' And in after years they would have told us that there were few things more wonderful or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer.
And now still it comes to pass, as He is praying in a certain place, that disciples who see Him thus engaged feel the need of repeating the same request, `Lord, teach us to pray.' As we grow in the Christian life, the thought and the faith of the Beloved Master in His never-failing intercession becomes ever more precious, and the hope of being Like Christ in His intercession gains an attractiveness before unknown. And as we see Him pray, and remember that there is none who can pray like Him, and none who can teach like Him, we feel the petition of the disciples, `Lord, teach us to pray,' is just what we need. And as we think how all He is and has, how He Himself is our very own, how He is Himself our life, we feel assured that we have but to ask, and He will be delighted to take us up into closer fellowship with Himself, and teach us to pray even as He prays.
Come, my brothers! Shall we not go to the Blessed Master and ask Him to enroll our names too anew in that school which He always keeps open for those who long to continue their studies in the Divine art of prayer and intercession? Yes, let us this very day say to the Master, as they did of old `Lord, teach us to pray.' As we meditate we shall find each word of the petition we bring to be full of meaning.
'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeblest child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed at its disposal. It is the very essence of true religion the channel of all blessings, the secret of power and life. Not only for ourselves, but for others, for the Church for the world, it is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is on prayer that the promises wait for their fulfilment the kingdom for its coming, the glory of God for its full revelation. And for this blessed work, how slothful and unfit we are. It is only the Spirit of God can enable us to do it aright. How speedily we are deceived into a resting in the form, while the power is wanting. Our early training, the teaching of the Church, the influence , of habit, the stirring of the emotions-how easily these lead to prayer which has no Spiritual power, and avails but little. True prayer, -that takes hold of God's strength; 'that availeth much, to which the gates of heaven are really opened wide-who would not cry, Oh for some one to teach me thus to pray?
Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones, who specially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not enter it with the petition, Lord! it is just this we need to be taught! O teach us to pray.
'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, us, Lord. We have read in Thy Word with what power Thy believing people of old used to pray, and what mighty wonders were done in answer to their prayers. And if this took place under the Old Covenant, in the time of preparation, how much more wilt Thou not now, in these days of fulfilment, give Thy people this sure sign of Thy presence in their midst. We have heard the promises given to Thine apostles of the power of prayer in Thy name, and have seen how gloriously they experienced their truth: we know for certain. they can become true to us too. We hear continually even in these days what glorious tokens of Thy power Thou dost still give to those who trust Thee fully. Lord! these all are men of like passions with ourselves; teach us to pray so too. The promises are for us, the powers and gifts of the heavenly world are for us. O teach us to pray so that we may receive abundantly. To us too Thou hast entrusted Thy work, on our prayer too the coming of Thy kingdom depends, in our prayer too Thou canst glorify Thy name; 'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, us, Lord; we offer ourselves as learners; we would indeed be taught of Thee. 'Lord, teach us to pray.'
'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, we feel the need now of being taught to pray. At first there is no work appears so simple; later on, none that is more difficult; and the confession is forced from us: We know not how to pray as we ought. It is true we have God's Word, with its clear and sure promises; but sin has so darkened our mind, that we know not always how to apply the Word. In spiritual things we do not always seek the most needful things, or fail in praying according to the law of the sanctuary. In temporal things we are still less able to avail ourselves of the wonderful liberty our Father has given us to ask what we need. And even when we know what to ask, how much there is still needed to make prayer acceptable. It must be to the glory of God, in full surrender to His will, in full assurance of faith, in the name of Jesus, and with a perseverance that, if need be, refuses to be denied. All this must be learned. It can only be learned in the school of much prayer, for practice makes perfect. Amid the painful consciousness of ignorance and unworthiness, in the struggle between believing and doubting, the heavenly art of effectual prayer is learned. Because, even when we do not remember it, there is One, the Beginner and Finisher of faith and prayer, who watches over our praying, and sees to it that in all who trust Him for it their education in the school of prayer shall be carried on to perfection. Let but the deep undertone of all our prayer be the teachable- that comes from a sense of ignorance, and from faith in Him as a perfect teacher, and we may be sure we shall be taught, we shall learn to pray in power. Yes, we may depend upon it, HE teaches to pray.
'Lord, teach us to pray.' None can teach like Jesus, none but Jesus; therefore we call on Him, `LORD, teach us to pray.' A pupil needs a teacher, who knows his work, who has the gift of teaching, who in patience and love will descend to the pupil's needs. Blessed be God! Jesus is a this and much more. He knows what prayer is. It is Jesus, praying Himself, who teaches to pray. He knows what prayer is. He learned it amid the trials and tears of His earthly life. In heaven it is still His beloved work: His life there is prayer. Nothing delights Him more than to find those whom He can take with Him into the Father's presence, whom He can clothe with power to pray down God's blessing on those around them, whom He can train to be His fellow-workers in the intercession by which the kingdom is to be revealed on earth. He knows how to teach.Now the urgency of felt need, then by the confidence with which joy inspires. Here by the teaching of the Word, there by the testimony of another believer who knows what it is to have prayer beard. By His Holy Spirit, He has access to our heart, and teaches us to pray by showing us the sin that hinders the prayer, or giving us the assurance than we please God. He teaches, by giving not only thoughts of what to ask or how to ask, but by breathing within us the very spirit of prayer, by living within us as the Great Intercessor. We may indeed and most joyfully say, `Who teacheth like Him?' Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray. He did not speak much of what was needed to preach well but much of praying well. To know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man. Not power with men; 'but power with God is,the first thing. Jesus loves to teach us how to pray:
What think you, my beloved fellow-disciples! would it not be just what we need, to ask the Master for a month to give us a course of special lessons on the art of prayer? As we meditate on the words He spake on earth, let us yield ourselves to His teaching in the fullest confidence that, with such a teacher, we shall make progress. Let us take time not only to meditate, but to pray, to tarry at the foot of the throne, and be trained to the work of intercession. Let us do so in the assurance that amidst our, stammerings and fears He is carrying on His work most beautifully. He will breathe His own life which is all prayer, into us. As he makes us partakers of His righteousness and His life, He will of His intercession too. As the members of His body,as a holy priesthood, we shall take part in His priestly work of pleading and prevailing with God for men. Yes, let us joyfully say, ignorant and feeble though we be, `Lord, teach us to pray:
Blessed Lord! who ever livest to pray, Thou canst teach me too to pray, me too to live ever to pray. In this Thou lovest to make me share Thy glory in heaven, that I should pray without ceasing, and ever stand as a priest in the presence of my God.
Lord Jesus! I ask Thee this day to enroll my name among those who confess that they know not how to pray as they ought, and specially ask Thee for a course of teaching in prayer. Lord! teach me to tarry with Thee in the school, and give Thee time to train me. May a deep sense of my ignorance, of the wonderful privilege and power of prayer, of the need of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of prayer, lead me to cast away my thoughts of what I think I know, and make me kneel before Thee in true teachableness and poverty of spirit.
And fill me, Lord, with the confidence that with such a teacher as Thou art I shall learn to pray. In the assurance that I have as my teacher, Jesus, who is ever praying to the Father, and by His prayer rules the destinies of His Church and the world, I will not be afraid. As much as I need to know of the mysteries of the prayer-world, Thou wilt unfold for me. And when I may not know, Thou wilt teach me to be strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Blessed Lord! Thou wilt not put to shame Thy scholar who trusts Thee, nor, by Thy grace, would he Thee either. Amen.