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    Out of Context

    As I queued up to board my flight, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned and received a warm greeting. “Elisa! Do you remember me? It’s Joan!” My mind flipped through various “Joans” I’d known, but I couldn’t place her. Was she a previous neighbor? A past coworker? Oh dear . . . I didn’t know.

    Sensing my struggle, Joan responded, “Elisa, we knew each other in high school.” A memory rose: Friday night football games, cheering from the stands. Once the context was clarified, I recognized Joan.

    After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found…

    His Birth and Our New Birth

    His Birth in History. “. . . that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

    The Drawing of the Father

    When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself.

    Experience or God’s Revealed Truth?

    We have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. —1 Corinthians 2:12

    My experience is not what makes redemption real— redemption is reality. Redemption has no real meaning for me until it is worked out through my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me beyond myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I…

    Redemption— Creating the Need it Satisfies

    The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him… —1 Corinthians 2:14

    The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who…

    “Not by Might nor by Power”

    My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power . . . —1 Corinthians 2:4

    If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people …

    The Law and the Gospel

    The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy.

    The Secret of Spiritual Consistency

    God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . —Galatians 6:14

    When a person is newly born again, he seems inconsistent due to his unrelated emotions and the state of the external things or circumstances in …

    Faith or Experience?

    …the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. —Galatians 2:20

    We should battle through our moods, feelings, and emotions into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus. We must break out of our own little world of experience into abandoned devotion to Him. Think who the New Testament says Jesus Christ is, and then think of the despicable meagerness of the…

    Intimate Theology

    Do you believe this? —John 11:26

    Martha believed in the power available to Jesus Christ; she believed that if He had been there He could have healed her brother; she also believed that Jesus had a special intimacy with God, and that whatever He asked of God, God would do. But— she needed a closer personal…

    The Trial of Faith

    If you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you. —Matthew 17:20

    We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock…

    Faith

    Without faith it is impossible to please Him… —Hebrews 11:6

    Faith in active opposition to common sense is mistaken enthusiasm and narrow-mindedness, and common sense in opposition to faith demonstrates a mistaken reliance on reason as the basis for truth. The life of faith brings the two of these into the proper relationship. Common sense and faith are as different…

    Substitution

    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. —2 Corinthians 5:21

    The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was “madeto be sin….” Our…

    Justification by Faith

    If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. —Romans 5:10

    I am not saved by believing— I simply realize I am saved by believing. And it is not repentance that saves me— repentance is only the sign that I realize what God has done through Christ Jesus. The danger here is putting the emphasis on the effect, instead of on…

    Coming to Jesus

    Come to Me . . . —Matthew 11:28

    Isn’t it humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things about which we will not come to Jesus Christ. …

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