"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS SERIES - Part 3

by A.M. Kisly

* This series is used with permission by the writer, QUEK KOH CHOON.

Part 3
WHAT DO WE TRANSMIT AND COMMUNICATE IN LIFE?

Our lives are an open book to everyone around us. People watch and observe us to see whether or not our profession of Christianity matches the way we conduct our lives.

A.W. Tozer gives a wonderful description of what the Christian life ought to be transmitting to the world around us. In his writing called, That Incredible Christian, he says:

The current effort of so many religious leaders to harmonize Christianity with science, philosophy and every natural and reasonable thing is, I believe, the result of failure to understand Christianity and, judging from what I have heard and read, failure to understand science and philosophy as well.

At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. The truth of the cross is revealed in its contradictions. The witness of the church is most effective when she declares rather than explains, for the gospel is addressed not to reason but to faith. What can be proved requires no faith to accept. Faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstrations of laboratory or logic.

The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man's fallen reason is to try the impossible, and if persisted in must result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity.
But let us bring the whole matter down from the uplands of theory and simply observe the true Christian as he puts into practice the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Note the contradictions: The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here. Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.

The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary. That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.

He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most.

He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

The paradoxical character of the Christian is revealed constantly. For instance, he believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation. He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God's presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.

He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and Lord of all lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing. He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God's eye and that for him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame.

The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country with that intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray "O God, give me Scotland or I die."

He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of his Heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent about it.

The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed pessimist and an optimist the like of which is to be found nowhere else on earth.

When he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act all nature and all the world of men. He rejects every human hope out of Christ because he knows that man's noblest effort is only dust building on dust.

Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world the resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last and the Christian waits the consummation. Incredible Christian!
This next part is dealing with what we are imparting to others, especially to the lost soul.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:13-16:
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
What are we imparting in our words and in our lives? Are we taking our roles as salt of the earth and light of the world seriously? Are we indeed worthy ambassadors of the Lord Jesus?

Let's begin with Part 3 in this series, Living In The Last Days:


WHAT DO WE TRANSMIT AND COMMUNICATE IN LIFE?

As we live in the last days, we should be acutely aware of our calling to be good witnesses for the Lord and indeed one aspect of our witness would be in the area of what we transmit and communicate in our daily living. Whether we like it or not, what we transmit and communicate in life would affect others, either positively or negatively. Others are watching how we live our lives, the values we hold and the choices we make day by day. Every action or reaction, every word we utter - all these are being observed and evaluated - there is transmission all the time and we are communicating even without our realizing it.

Let us ponder over what Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 4:9-10. Although Moses was addressing the Israelites, the principles are applicable to us too. The Israelites were specifically instructed to make known to their sons and grandsons the ways and deeds of God and they were to teach their children to remember and to honor the Lord God. Here we see the special responsibility of parents to communicate and to transmit the truths and teachings of God to their children and subsequent generations. Even for those who are not parents, the principles are still applicable as they have the responsibility and privilege to nurture and to help spiritual children regarding the ways of God. Those who are older and wiser in the Lord should help the younger and the more inexperienced to grow in their knowledge of God and His ways. In this manner, the responsibility of communication and transmission applies to all, parents and non-parents alike.

It is interesting to take note that in this passage in Deuteronomy, the first thing that was highlighted to the Israelites was for them to take care of their own lives and to keep their souls diligently. This must take precedence before there can be any process of transmission and communication. After all, what is it that one can transmit spiritually if there is no substance for any form of transmission? So it is that many Christian parents today for example may be concerned for their children's moral and spiritual development and yet, in terms of their own lives and spiritual reality, it is truly lacking. Many of God's children may be critical of other believers and may desire to help them to grow spiritually and yet, for their own lives, there is very little substance and stature for any meaningful communication and transmission of life. One needs to pay attention to one's own life and development first before proceeding to communicate and to transmit. One must be in a position to minister, otherwise, one has virtually nothing that is truly helpful spiritually and eternally to transmit and communicate. So as we look at the subject of transmission and communication, we must first take a look at the subject of giving priority to our own development. We must learn, grow and consolidate in order to be effective for the Lord. This is a continual process. Learning, growing and consolidating - they are taking place all the time and at the same time as we grow and learn, we are also communicating and transmitting.

Let us take a closer look at the subject of transmission. As we grow spiritually and continue to learn and to consolidate, we would then be in a position to transmit positive values and life. The process of transmission may go on even without words being uttered. The way we live our lives, our values and our responses may all be caught by others observing our lives. We would remember how the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them to pray and in all probability, they must have observed the prayer life of the Lord which prompted them to desire to learn to pray. The Lord's prayer life affected them positively as they lived together with Him in close quarters. So it is for us too - we can affect others positively, especially those who are in a position to observe our lives closely. Such situations may take place in the context of family life, between parents and children and also in work and school situations, among colleagues and friends. It is helpful to take note that what we transmit should be an outflow from a life that is real and not just a front which we conveniently set up to impress. Putting up a front can cause serious damage in the long run, not just to the recipient but to the one who seeks to impress.

Ponder over what Paul told Timothy and Titus in 1 Timothy 4:11-12 and Titus 2:7-8. Basically, we ought to be good examples to those who believe in our words, our deeds and our actions. If we do that, then positive transmission would follow. Failure in any major area may result in our transmitting something which may actually stumble others. Many non-Christians have expressed their unwillingness to consider the gospel of the Lord Jesus primarily because of the negative example of one or more believers. To them, if being a Christian means being like this particular believer, then they would rather not consider Christianity. The key phrase in transmission is REALITY AND WHOLESOMENESS OF LIFE. There may be those who look at our lives and say - a Christian ought to be joyous and be at peace and yet they see so much anxiety in our lives. Then there are those who recognize that a Christian should be loving and caring and yet what they see in us basically is selfishness and self-centeredness. It is no wonder that they do not wish to be like us. What are we indeed transmitting in our lives? Of course, we are aware that there may be those who are stumbled by us even though our lives are generally wholesome. Even the Lord Jesus, who was the perfect man on earth, encountered various ones who claimed to be stumbled by Him. We are not referring to such categories but to situations where the stumbling is due to the failure of God's children.

What about the subject of communication? What do we communicate to others, particularly in these last days? Here of course, communication in general would mean more than just the words we utter and in some ways, communication and transmission overlap each other. But in this context, we would be looking basically at communication with regard to the words that we say. As the Lord provides opportunity, what do we communicate? Let us be careful that we do not go around communicating without wisdom and prudence. I remember clearly, when I was a student, how various ones in the university hostel shared with me that they were very put off by Christians who went around knocking on their doors at odd hours and rattling on insistently to them, like a robot, some standard Christian cliché they called the gospel, even though they were politely told that there was no interest to hear. To these hostelites, this so-called communication of the gospel was a nuisance and the Christians who did it were looked upon as insensitive and overbearing personalities. Some patients who were rather ill in hospital have also complained how they were very angry with Christians who kept coming and telling them that they were going to hell.

Here, we need to recognize that to a certain extent, the gospel message in itself can be offensive because of the truths contained in it; I am not advocating that we should not share the gospel but I am concerned as to the approach and manner of sharing and communicating. Certainly, we need much wisdom, prayerfulness and the Lord's guidance to communicate the gospel with love and with God's enabling.

What are we communicating as we share the gospel? What is the wholesome approach? Are we just collecting statistics or are we prayerfully looking to God to communicate LIFE? Do we depend on our method or on the Holy Spirit of God?

As God's children, what are we really transmitting and communicating in our lives?
"But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

We see here how Paul and his co-workers communicated the gospel. They imparted and transmitted not just the gospel but also their own lives. The lives transmitted were characterized by blamelessness, uprightness, holiness and tenderness, gentleness and sacrificial love. In contrast, what are we imparting in our words and in our lives? Are we taking our roles as salt of the earth and light of the world seriously? Are we indeed worthy ambassadors of the Lord Jesus?


Also read:  
Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 4 , Parts 5-6 , Parts 7-8

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