THINKING AND WILLING ARE ETERNAL

The following is an extended quote taken from “An Appeal” by William Law.

Thinking and willing are eternal, they never began to be. Nothing can think or will now, in which there was not will and thought from all eternity. For it is as possible for thought in general to begin to be, as for that which thinks in a particular creature to begin to be of a thinking nature: therefore, the soul, which is a thinking, willing being, is come forth or created out of that which hath willed and thought in God from all eternity. The created soul is a creature of time and had its beginning on the sixth day of the creation; but the essences of the soul, which were then formed into a creature and into a state of distinction from God, had been in God from all eternity, or they could not have been breathed forth from God into the form of a living creature.

And herein lies the true ground and depth of the uncontrollable freedom of our will and thoughts: they must have a self-motion and self-direction, because they came out of the self-existent God. They are eternal, divine powers that never began to be, and therefore cannot begin to be in subjection to anything. That which thinks and wills in the soul is that very same unbeginning breath which thought and willed in God, before it was breathed into the form of a human soul; and therefore it is, that will and thought cannot be bounded or constrained.

Herein also appears the high dignity and never-ceasing perpetuity of our nature. The essences of our souls can never cease to be, because they never began to be: and nothing can live eternally, but that which hath lived from all eternity. The essences of our soul were a breath in God before they became a living soul. They lived in God before they lived in the created soul, and therefore the soul is a partaker of the eternity of God and can never cease to be. Here, O man, behold the great original and the high state of thy birth, here let all that is within thee praise thy God, who has brought thee into so high a state of being, who has given thee powers as eternal and boundless as His own attributes, that there might be no end or limits of thy happiness in Him. Thou begannest as time began, but as time was in eternity before it became days and years, so thou wast in God before thou wast brought into the creation: and as time is neither a part of eternity, nor broken off from it, yet come out of it; so thou art not a part of God, nor broken off from Him, yet born out of Him. Thou shouldst only will that which God willeth, only love that which He loveth, co-operate and unite with Him in the whole form of thy life, because all that thou art, all that thou hast, is only a spark of His own life and spirit derived into thee. If thou desirest, inclinest, and turnest to God, as the flowers of the field desire and turn towards the sun, all the blessings of the Deity will spring up in thee; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost will make their abode with thee. If thou turnest in towards thyself, to live to thyself, to be happy in the workings of an own will, to be rich in the sharpness and acuteness of thy own reason, thou choosest to be a weed, and canst only have such a life, spirit and blessing from God as a thistle has from the sun.”

TRUE MEMBERSHIP IN CHRIST’S CHURCH By William Law

“Educated people within the church have given us what they call the marks of the true church. However, whether a person is educated or uneducated, the only proof that he can have as to his own membership in Christ’s church is his being dead to all sin and alive to all righteousness. This cannot be more plainly stated than in these words of our Lord: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). Surely the servant of sin cannot at the same time be a living member of Christ’s body, a new creature who dwells in Christ and has Christ dwelling in him! It is absurd to suppose that a man born again from above is still under a necessity of continuing to sin. Christ has said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (v36). Truly, if Christ has come to live in you, then a true freedom from all sin has been given to you.

Now, if this freedom from sin is hindered and cannot come to pass in the fathful follower of Christ, can it be because both the willing and working of Christ in man is too weak to overcome that which the Devil wills and works in him? Certainly not! Yet, this absurdity–and even blasphemy–is implied in the very common doctrine that teaches that the Christian can never be done with sinning as long as he lives. If Christians continue to believe this absurdity, they will also continue to live sinfully, without caring whether or not they are doing God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. They will have no concern about being pure, as Jesus who called them is pure, nor will they care to walk as He walked.

The only Christian known to Scripture is the person whose every action is that of a saint. If the saint of Scripture were not a man who shunned all evil and was holy in all his behavior, there would be no real difference between the saint and the carnal man. Preachers and writers comfort halfhearted Christians by telling them that God does not require a perfect, sinless obedience, but that He accepts the sincerity of our weak endeavors instead. Here, if ever, the blind lead the blind.

Paul, comparing the way of salvation to a race, said, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?” (1 Cor. 9:24). Now if Paul could see into the truth of the matter, then they must be blind who teach that God accepts everyone who runs in the religious race and that He does not require that anyone obtain the prize. Paul saw that the sincerity of our weak endeavors is, indeed, quite different from the required perfection of our lives. God accepts our weak attempts at perfection; that is, He bears with them. But He does not do so because He seeks or requires no more. Rather, He bears with them because through them we are moving toward the perfection that He absolutely requires. This perfection is the fullness of the stature of Christ in us, and it is what Paul said is the new creature who obtains the prize.

Paul was saying something that Christ had said in different words: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). In this verse, our best endeavors are called for and are therefore accepted by God. Yet, Christ added, “For many…will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (v. 24). Why is this? It is because Christ Himself is the one Door into life. Christ said that people strive, and Paul called them runners in a race. Christ called Himself the one Door of entrance, and Paul said that only one receives the prize. That one, who alone obtains the prize or who alone enters through the right door, is that new creature in whom Christ is truly born. Only Christ in us can be our hope of glory.”

 

Taken from “You Will Receive Power” by William Law

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

All actions proceed from thought. The heart generally represents the spirit in scriptural terms. As Jesus said it is “out of the heart” that all manner of evil proceeds. He showed it as the first cause or generator of action.

1 Peter 1:13 (KJV) Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The loins of your mind speak of the reproductive part of the soul, which is feminine. It is able, like a womb, to receive the seeds of thought, which are spirit. We are instructed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:11 to “not be ignorant of Satan’s devices.” Devices is from the Greek word noema which means “thoughts.” So we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s thoughts. We are to have discernment and test the spirits to see if they be of God. For Satan, who is a spirit, would like to “impregnate” our mind with his thoughts. And the Bible tells us that when sin is conceived it brings forth death, just as it did in Adam and Eve.

This is an excerpt from “The Cross in the heart of God” by Don Godfroy

FOR LOVE

The following is an excerpt taken from “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones

“No other motive would or could make him do what he did except one–love. Neither self-interest, nor wisdom, nor knowledge, nor pity, nor anything else could make him become Incarnate–except love. “I wouldn’t do that for a million,” said a wealthy visitor as he watched a missionary nurse wash the sores of a leper. “Neither would I,” replied the nurse. But she would do it for love.”

THE GOSPEL OF THE GOD WHO IS LOVE

  “Supposing I have accepted this Bible revelation of God as a fact, and the revealed facts are these: God in Himself is nothing but love: we humans are created in His image so that the true ground of our being is the God who is love: but, in the misuse of our freedom, we have turned our backs on our true being in Him, and have been caught up in the illusion of independence and self-loving selves: God has regained us for Himself by becoming one of us as Jesus the Christ: Jesus, as God in the flesh and representing the human race who have their being in Him, by the predetermined plan of God, accepted a death at our hands.

   This death, in our stead, has removed the inevitability of our “death” (everlasting separation from the God of our being), has cleansed away the guilt of our sin-life (continual breakings of the law of love), and has delivered us from “the wrath to come” (the unavoidable effect of our rebellion against the love-law of the universe). Raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the resurrection was the evidence that all that had to be done in our stead has been done; therefore, we can regard ourselves in God’s sight as those who are without sin, justified, righteous in Christ’s righteousness.

   But also this death, as being we who died on that cross, has cut us off from the spirit of self-centeredness, that false god which had immersed humanity in his great delusion, for death is separation of a body from its spirit: and this resurrection, it being we who were buried with Him and raised with Him, was the Spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of love, the God who is that Spirit joining Himself to us, removing the hindrance (the false possessor) to our discovering Him as the God of our being.

 

Taken from Norman Grubb’s “The Spontaneous you”

 

DOUBT IS NOT UNBELIEF

Doubt is not the opposite of faith, nor is it the same as unbelief. Doubt is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief so that it is neither of them wholly and it is each only partly. This distinction is absolutely vital because it uncovers and deals with the first major misconception of doubt—the idea that we should be ashamed of doubting because doubt is a betrayal of faith and a surrender to unbelief. No misunderstanding causes more anxiety and brings such bondage to sensitive people in doubt.

The difference between doubt and unbelief is crucial. The Bible makes a definite distinction between them, though the distinction is not hard and fast. The word unbelief is usually used of a willful refusal to believe or of a deliberate decision to disobey. So, while doubt is a state of suspension between faith and unbelief, unbelief is a state of mind that is closed against God, an attitude of heart that disobeys God as much as it disbelieves the truth. Unbelief is the consequence of a settled choice. Since it is a deliberate response to God’s truth, unbelief is definitely held to be responsible. There are times when the word unbelief is used in Scripture to describe the doubts of those who are definitely believers but only when they are at a stage of doubting that is rationally inexcusable and well on the way to becoming full-grown unbelief. Thus the ambiguity in the biblical use of unbelief is a sign of psychological astuteness and not of theological confusion.

So it is definitely possible to distinguish in theory between faith, doubt, and unbelief (to believe is to be in one mind, to disbelieve is to be in another, and to doubt is to be in two minds). But in practice the distinction is not always so clear-cut, especially when doubt moves in the direction of unbelief and passes over that blurred transition between the open-ended uncertainty of doubt and the close-minded certainty of unbelief.

But the overall thrust of the biblical teaching on doubt is plain. A variety of words are used but the essential point is the same. Doubt is a halfway stage. To be in doubt is to be in two minds, to be caught between two worlds, to be suspended between a desire to affirm and a desire to negate. So the idea of “total” or “complete” doubt is a contradiction in terms; doubt that is total is no longer doubt, it is unbelief.

Of course, we may call our doubt “total doubt” or charge it with being unbelief. But only if our purpose is to stop doubt short and see that it does not become unbelief. When the father of the demoniac boy cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” he was condemning his own doubt as unbelief. But Jesus, who never responded to real unbelief, showed by answering his prayer and healing his son that he recognized it as doubt. The distinction between doubt and unbelief, though not hard and fast, is valid and useful. Its importance, however, is not that we know when doubt becomes unbelief. Only God knows that, and human attempts to say so can be cruel. But it means that we should be clear about where doubt leads to as it grows into unbelief.

Excerpt from “God in the dark” by Os Guinness

Jim Fowler-Religion thrives on false guilt

Religion thrives on false-guilt. It is the manipulative tool that religion uses to motivate people to try harder to reach the impossible standards of perceived perfect behavior, allegedly generated by human will-power. Often regarding the conscience as an independent regulator, guilt feelings are regarded as a sign that God is disappointed, disapproving, and angry at man’s failure to measure up to His expected behavior norms. God’s “frown of disapproval” in our conscience is alleged to evidence that God is holding us accountable and is acting punitively against us because of our failures. The preacher often berates the people for their sin, and the people in the pew masochistically delight in such chastisement and condemnation for failing to live up to the legalistic regulations, commending the preacher for another “good sermon” that “cut to the bone” of their consciousness. There is certainly no “rest” in this repetitive scheme of religion, striving to perform according to prescribed and perceived standards.
Christians have often been taught that their sins have been forgiven (Col. 2:13), and they have been “washed whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7; Isa. 1:18). When Christians do not accept God’s forgiveness as an established attitude, they might continue to suffer restlessness from the guilt and condemnation of past sins, saying, “I believe God has forgiven me, but I just cannot forgive myself.” What audacious arrogance to think that we should hold ourselves to higher standards than God’s standards, or to suggest that God was wrong or ill-advised in forgiving us. These Christians need to quit deifying themselves, accept God’s forgiveness, forgive themselves as God has forgiven them, and enjoy His life and sufficiency.

Jim Fowler