Friday, December 07, 2007

Beyond politics

I've written (and plan to write more) about responsible Christian citizenship and stewardship in the culture in which one lives.

But Spurgeon's evening thoughts for today sound an excellent, salutary, vital reminder:

“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
— 1 Corinthians 9:22
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 skirts 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
(Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, December 7, PM reading)

8 comments:

Stefan said...

Dan, this piece is so utterly providential in its timing for me, that I am led to wonder if he is using you to teach me a lesson. Praise the Lord for his mercy!

One of our pastors reminded me last night that at the end of the day, the most important thing—nay, our very duty and calling as Christians—is that the lost hear the Gospel, and thereby come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Are we bearing witness to Christ and helping to bring the full number of the elect to salvation? All our debates and discussions—no matter how vital they may be for the health of the church universal—are secondary to this.

I'm also struck by how similar this one devotion from Spurgeon sounds like every page Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. (And wouldn't you know it, Chambers was a protege of Spurgeon!) Although Chambers was rock solid in his theology—the Doctrines of Grace shine through on every page of his devotional—nevertheless, every single one of his 366 devotions is not about theological arguments—not a single one!—but about Christian servanthood. Delivering the one truth that can bring the lost man or woman to redemption and eternal life. To borrow a word from you, the very example of his work is a salutary lesson for us.

(Chambers even helped to lead me to salvation, along with The Passion of the Christ, a group study of Hebrews, and a sermon series on Romans 9 to 11. I won't go into all the details here, but God providentially used all those sources to save this one-time atheist Jew. And for what purpose are we saved? So that we too might serve God as our saviour did—and in the example of Paul, out of gratitude for the unmerited mercy God has extended to us!)

By the way, Chambers' devotion for October 25th, on 1 Corinthians 9:22, says this in part:

Paul's whole heart, mind, and soul were consumed with the great purpose of what Jesus Christ came to do, and he never lost sight of that one thing. We must continually confront ourselves with one central fact—"...Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

May we always remember that. May all we do be for the glory of God!

Stefan said...

Please forgive me, Dan, but just a few more thoughts.

By the grace of God, I just finished reading through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation yesterday, and now I have to wrestle with the question, "What next?" What do I do with everything I've just read? Your post today is the answer.

Not all of us are called to preach or be missionaries, but we are called to be witnesses to Christ in our lives, and to help those with other gifts, so that all of us, each in our own way, can serve the Gospel, all for the glory of God.

And please excuse me for this excursus, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention one more thing God used to break me down, bring me to repentance, and justify me: learning of the amazing story of Edith Stein, an early 20th-century atheist Jew who moved in the highest European intellectual circles. She found salvation in a life of obedience to Christ, even unto suffering and death. She is now a Catholic saint, but there is no doubt in my mind that she was also a born again believer.

As we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift of all on Christmas day—the incarnation of Christ—let us praise the Lord for His unmerited grace, and may He have mercy on us all.

Soli Deo gloria!

Rob Mellen Jr. said...

This is indeed a timely message to all Christians as we enter the 2008 political season. I am a huge fan of CH Spurgeon and have always found his devotions, sermons, and other writings extremely insightful. As Christians we must get beyond waging proxy wars in the arena of electoral politics and realize that no matter who wins the next election, he or she will not advance the cause of Christ one iota. It may be good to live in a moral society but I'd rather live in a righteous society. That can only happen when the gospel of Jesus Christ is shouted from the rooftops and men's hearts are pierced and our Father sprinkles them with the precious blood of Christ.


SDG

Jay said...

Not even getting politics involved, it's hard to preach God's Word sometimes, period. Personally, I can find sometimes that I am so concerned about my own relationship with God that I ignore the fact that many friends of mine do not know Him.

I have a lot of friends who do not know Christ, and many have felt burned or neglected by their respective churches growing up. It's hard for me to witness to them, because though I would love to say what I have to say plainly, I do not want my poor evangelism skills to burn any more bridges... Let alone the fact that I often want to keep friendships intact.

Perhaps this will become easier as I get older. For now, I will speak of the grace of God whenever I can, but I will work harder to be a living apologetic for that grace to the best of my ability.

Carlo said...

Jay,

Sharing the gospel will not get easier as you get older. Satan will do anything and everything (within the providence of God) to keep the gospel from being preached.

You mentioned your concern with your own relationship with God. That is exactly what our flesh and what Satan wants to dwell on. Satan and the flesh whisper in the ear and say things like, "pul-leaze, you want to share the gospel after what you just did, or what thoughts or you just thought etc. etc. etc. Don't let that hold you back.

Being a living apologetic is a good thing, but people will not be saved apart from hearing the propositional truths of the gospel message.

If you're concerned about evangelism skills, check with your church to see if they have an evangelism training program. There are a few good ones (evangelism explosion, way of the master and two ways to live). Going through an evangelism program will at least give you the minimum set skills to be able to say what needs to be said.

The key thing to remember is despite one's evangelism skills, no one is saved apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Trust me, you can be as good or as bad with evangelism skills, and the Lord uses everyone to gather His elect.

Jay said...

Why thank you, Carlo. Very good thoughts and advice. God bless!

Carlo said...

No prob Jay. Hang in there...

David said...

Responsible Christian citizenship and stewardship should never be separated from the gospel. If the gospel isn't central to our approach to politics, something is seriously wrong. We need to do more to encourage Christians to pray for political candidates and leaders, as well as partner with ministries that seek their salvation and maturity in Christ. Capitol Ministries (www.capmin.org) is one ministry that is doing excellent work in this area.