Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reflections on "My Utmost" -- March 20 "Friendship With God"

"Friendship with God"
So begins the March 20 page from "My Utmost for His Highest"
I have often commented that Chambers spent too much time teaching us to look at ourselves, and not enough time looking at Jesus, who is the Author and Finished of Faith (Hebrews 12: 2).
The central theme of all Scripture is Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified, for His death in the Cross permits us to be made righteousness, sanctified, redeemed, and made wise through Him (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? — Genesis 18:17
Often, Chambers draws life lessons out of the Old Testament, which is commendable, yet we today live under a better covenant with better promises:
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." (Hebrew 8: 6)s
Its Delights. This chapter brings out the delight of real friendship with God as compared with occasional feelings of His presence in prayer.

All of Chambers' talk about feelings becomes problematic for people. Feelings always speak of self, yet walking by faith depends on the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 2), which we receive as we read His Word.

 To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith.

Yikes, here we go again with the modern understanding of Christ. We are so close to God, that John could write:

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgmentl because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

We have received the Spirit of adoption, which cries within us "Abba, Father -- Daddy!" (Romans 8:15)

When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.

"When you are rightly related to God. . " What! We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Chambers is way off on this point.

This whole thing about the "Spirit checking us" does make sense, but how do we establish this wonderful truth? The Bible is the best guide at all times:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:15, NIV)


"20But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." (1John 2: 20)

and also

"27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2: 27)

What does the Holy Spirit teach us and inform us about above all things? Jesus!:

"12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16: 12-15)

"you are God’s will"

This phrase caused great bondage for me, not freedom, as there was often the sense that whatever I wanted was not the best, or worse, the plunging sense of doubt which would rock every decision.

Such self-centered positing in fact operates contrary to the Word of God:

"12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2: 12-13)

He works in us! He grants us knowledge of His will through His Spirit, which brings us peace and grants us discernment in all matters. "I" am not the will of God, for I am dead in my flesh, but alive unto God through Christ (Romans 6: 11-12; Colossians 3: 1-3)

One has to wonder whether Chambers was reading his Bible first and foremost, or was making more of "His Utmost" instead of "His Highest".

Its Difficulties. Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He was not intimate enough yet to go boldly on until God granted his desire, there was something yet to be desired in his relationship to God. Whenever we stop short in prayer and say – "Well, I don’t know; perhaps it is not God’s will," there is still another stage to go. We are not so intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as He wants us to be – "That they may be one even as we are one." 

The last verse is John 17: 21. How can we attain a greater understanding of God's intimacy for us? The next few verses can explain:

"22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17: 22-23)

Wow! We have received the same glory as Jesus! God the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus, too.

 Think of the last thing you prayed about – were you devoted to your desire or to God? Determined to get some gift of the Spirit or to get at God? "Your Heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." 

That quoted verse is Matthew 6: 8, yet once again, if Chambers had gone further, he would have also mentioned:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6: 33)

Jesus made this statement while ministering to His people Israel under the Old Covenant. When His blood was shed, Jesus enacted the New Covenant, which accords to us His own righteousness (2 Corinthians 5: 21), a gift which God wants us to keep receiving through His Son (Romans 5: 17).

The point of asking is that you may get to know God better. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Keep praying in order to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.

Chambers need to advance an expansive understanding of Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13: 8). He needed to expound on His fullness, outside of time and space, beyond self and others. He need to expound the crucial importance of righteousness and grace. We can know the Father, certainly, but knowing the Son, who is from the beginning, defines a father in the Body of Christ (1 John 2: 12-15)

Like many pastors and thinkers of the late eighteen hundreds, the emphasis was too existential, too psychological, too man-centered. The more that we permit the Bible to interpret the Bible, the more that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the more that we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord in our lives.

It's all about Jesus our righteousness, redemption, sanctification, and wisdom. Chambers gave away a grand and foolish assumption when he wrote "We are not so intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was."

Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of the Father, and so are we! (Ephesians 2:4-6)

How much better acquainted can we get?!

We have more than friendship with God, as Abraham had. We are now sons of God (1 John 3: 1-3), and we are transformed from glory to glory as we look upon Him (2 Corinthians 3: 18)

Preachers and teachers of the Word of God need to reveal Jesus Christ and all His wonder and loveliness, not ourselves, not principles, not precepts, but the very Person of Jesus, a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18: 24)!

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