June 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
We are inclined to read right over the richness of language that Paul uses in the introductions to his epistles. Modern man is unfortunately accustomed to casual greetings; formalities required to structure a letter rightly- verbiage given to make way for fleeting conversations. But Paul did nothing casually. Every thought and prayer was calculated through the wisdom of the cross and centered upon the eternal purpose of God. He was led by the Spirit for the penning out of the choicest statements, “like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Not a syllable was haphazardly given. Every thought was articulated with great care, “seasoned by grace.”
It is to our detriment that we glide indifferently over the surface of any Biblical text, rather than pausing before it with reverent expectation. The Word is “living and active,” and we need to wait upon it prayerfully, lest we miss out on the sustenance it provides.
In this opening verse of Romans Paul is giving to the saints a description of his position and office. It is not something to be relegated to either “title” or “function.” This is cosmic language. He is coming out of the gate as only apostles can, giving description of his consciousness as a “sent one.”
Paul had been fastened to a “heavenly vision”; bound to living message; chained to the Lion of Judah, and he had no desire to be freed from that glorious imprisonment. This is precisely the reason why apostolic servants are foundational to the faith of the Church. They have been formed at the hand of the Potter and thrust into the nations as ambassadors of His own character and wisdom. But we need to be cognizant of the fact that the apostolic call was not given to make Paul into an aloof figure in an ivory tower. His foundational role was meant to bring all who are “saints by calling” into the same kind of communion and inward abandonment that was his own portion.
“‘Slave of Christ Jesus’ is patterned on the familiar OT phrase ‘slave,’ or ‘servant,’ of Yahweh. The phrase connotes total devotion, suggesting that the servant is completely at the disposal of his or her Lord.” -Douglas Moo (NICOT, Eerdmans)
Seeing through an apostolic lens, Paul envisaged himself as being in chains for the Gospel (Eph. 6.20), for the “hope of Israel” (28.20), for Jesus Christ Himself (2 Tim. 2.8-9).
To be so “enslaved” was to be “free indeed,” and this produced in Paul a life of communion and intercession which fitted him to serve as one “set apart for the gospel of God.” If we would cling to a lesser kind of abandonment, we may find ourselves engaged in a plethora of ministerial activity, but we will not share in the glory that belongs to the bond-servants of Jesus Christ. We may be taken up with many labors, but we will not enjoy the light of the apostolic faith. There is a “ministry of the interior” that binds us to the altar of God, welds our hearts to a radical jealousy for His glory, and conjoins our souls with His own. We are not bond-servants merely because we suffer externally. We are bond-servants in the Pauline sense when our interior life is like unto Jesus’ own experience as the pattern Son. “I only do what I see My Father doing…”
Secret communion becomes for us a “joy unspeakable,” and intercessory engagement becomes our most cherished labor when we are inwardly abandoned to Jesus Christ. Paul was intimately acquainted with this reality, and if a display of the “manifold wisdom of God” would come through the Church in these last days, so also must we be.
“Am I fulfilling this ministry of the interior? There is no snare, or any danger of infatuation or pride in intercession, it is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit whereby the Father is glorified. Am I allowing my spiritual life to be frittered away, or am I bringing it all to one centre- the Atonement of my Lord? Is Jesus Christ more and more dominating every interest in my life? If the one central point, the great exerting influence in my life, is the Atonement of the Lord, then every phase of my life will bear fruit for Him.
….What is the greatest factor of power in my life? Is it work, service, sacrifice for others, or trying to work for God? The thing that ought to exert the greatest power in my life is the Atonement of the Lord….Am I abiding? Am I taking time to abide?” -Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, June 7th)
We are not to gauge our spirituality through endless cycles of human assessment. The examination of our faith which Paul encourages has only to do with discerning whether or not we are “living, moving, and having our being” on the ground of the Atonement. That is to ask, “What is the character of my interior life?” Am I abiding in His life? Am I weighed down with the cares of this world, or am I living inwardly as a “bond-servant” of Jesus Christ? Am I itching to find approval from men, or is the Lord Himself the one “before Whom I stand”? Am I frivolous and distracted by the synthetic lights of this age, or am I walking tenderly as one pierced by the life which is “the Light of men”?
Until my earthbound perspectives are leveled by the Cross, I cannot live as His bond-servant. But if I abide in the One Who bears the scars of that great Atoning work, I share in the very life of the age which is to come. If I am “crucified with Christ,” it is His own resurrection life that works “in me.” Am I conscious of that reality, or is my interior life congested and blurred by the “form of this world”? We need to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The nations do not need a greater volume of sentimental religionists. The world is not perishing for want of novel methodologies. A million warm bodies with missiological opinions may fail entirely to set forth a true witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But a company of weak souls, gripped with a vision of the worth of Christ, living cruciformly, abiding in His Life- these will be His bond-servants, “set apart for the Gospel of God.” They shall fulfill “the ministry of the interior,” and by His “great grace,” a witness will be given, “even to the remotest part of the earth.”
“…God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son…” (v. 9)
May 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
The believing soul finds its truest and deepest solace in a single-eyed view of the throne of Majesty. Men may break their backs in grand pursuits, the nations may rage against God’s elect, but the true saint will have his sights fixed on the Lord. His “soul waits in silence for God only…” Hans Joachim Kraus puts v. 1 in this way: “Toward Yahweh alone is my soul at peace; from him help comes to me.”
The nature of life this age is reckless, chaotic, and mechanical. It lacks the organic character of God’s kingdom, which is ever brimming and bursting with “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This world system militates against the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ,” and we need to follow in the train of the ancient singer, who waited for God only, and thus could not be greatly shaken.
Dear saint, is there an “only” in your waiting upon God? Surely the powers of darkness have been masterful in the way of distracting the Church and pulling her away from this Davidic condition. We would wait on God for the fulfillment of our ideals and plans; we would wait upon Him as a display of religious propriety. But David had an “only” in his waiting. He had been stripped of any semblance of confidence in the flesh, even confidence in royal flesh. He was not waiting for a new and coveted title. He was not chasing feverishly after greater recognition from men. He was not leaning upon any crutch, whether crafted of brittle timber or the finest of golds. For the psalmist, whose eyes had been blinded to the world and whose lips had been touched with the fire from the altar, every crutch to lean upon in this age was made from dust, and could not sustain his faith. He refused any longer to lean upon them.
“My soul waits in silence for God only…”
There is something to be said for the depth of the psalmist’s waiting. It is not merely a case of carving out a few moments for a devotional time. His “soul” is waiting upon God. In this Hebraic expression the entire man is seen as being laid out before the throne of Grace. The crutches have been kicked out. The inward reservations and temporal dependencies have diminished. His “soul waits in silence for God only.” He has been brought to the holy ground of faith, and the planting of his feet there, though he is yet in a posture of waiting, is for the psalmist the very experience of salvation itself. The superfluities, verbosities and rituals have been burned up in the heat of that singular fixation upon the God of his salvation. He “soul” waits. This is the bedrock of prayer; the foundation of a true obedience.
There is yet something glorious to note with regard to the nature of the psalmist’s prayer. His soul “waits in silence.” When at once we have come to the place where our musings, anxieties, ambitions, and even our own heady prayers have withered in the light of His countenance, then it is that we have joined David in the character of authentic faith. It is one thing to sit silently. It is a gift of God for the soul to wait “in silence for God only.” That is a priestly inheritance; the state of sonship. To be so engaged in grace that the soul itself is silenced before the God of glory, having nothing to prove, nothing to earn, nothing to establish, nothing to accomplish. You have passed through the outer courts and the company of men, and by God’s goodness, settled before His throne with an eye for nothing less than the King of Israel Himself. It is that place to which Mary of Bethany came.
You cannot come to this place so long as you cling to a man-centered faith. But when you pass from a humanistic kind of waiting to this place of priestly abandonment, which is the essence of Jesus’ Son-to-Father prayers in the Gospels, then it is that you behold the Lord as your “rock” and “salvation,” and then it is that you “shall not be greatly shaken.”
We are tossed to-and-fro by the opinions of men, by self-absorbed introspection, and by the powers of the air only because we have not been found in this Davidic place. We needn’t be affected by the strangehold of self-consciousness, for the Gospel of grace delivers us from man-centered distortions, and brings us to the ground of the eternal Kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteousness, sabbath rest, and sanity. To seek after glory from men is to live in a perpetual state of deception, but to wait in silence for God only, that is liberty to the uttermost.
“Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath.” (V. 9)
The psalmist was deeply cognizant- through great weakness- of the truth that “power belongs to God,” that “lovingkindness” was the Lord’s, and that He recompenses “a man according to his work.” He was set in the place of waiting, where God Himself is known as the “stronghold” of the faith. We do well to follow his simplistic pattern; to forsake all seeing after the flesh; to flee from the plague of seeking glory from men; to believe and wait upon God only. This is the essential characteristic of Gospel experience, the peace of quiet confidence in the righteousness of God. This is the “life” that is “the light of men.” This is the reality that will come to Israel at the Day of the Lord, when the Millennial Era has its resplendent commencement. This is the truth that must be taken “to the Jew and to the Gentile” in this age; to every kindred, tribe, and tongue, until the glorious Day of His appearing.
Go into the inner-room then, dear saint. Kick out the crutches. Shed your human introspections. Cease forever this panting after approval from men. Find your Rock and Salvation in the place of waiting upon God only.
“Little children, flee from idols.” −1 Jn. 5.21
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” -Jn. 15.11
March 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Along the way, I’ve seen His hand,
Upon the Potter’s wheel I’ve known,
The press that causes me to stand,
In “grace and truth” from heaven shone… In righteousness not my own.
I’ve been in studies tall and wide,
Rubbed shoulders with great, learned men;
With coveted books on every side,
As mysteries opened again and again… As holy truths came crashing in.
I count each portion a privilege,
With gratitude I receive each part;
And still my soul stands on the edge,
With simple yearnings for His heart… That He alone would own my heart.
I long to walk with the Chief Shepherd,
Through lands that know not His great Name,
To spread abroad His precious Word,
To pray and labor for His fame… To pray and labor for His fame.
There is no cost too great to pay,
No sacrifice to measure out,
There is no reason left to stay,
When tens of millions walk about… In tombs of sin they grope about.
When my dull heart catches a glimpse,
Of Christ my treasure and my friend,
Possessing nothing makes most sense,
That I might love Him ’til the end… That I might fear and love Him then.
I have no claim upon this life,
No case to plead, no rights to clutch,
There is no place for fear or strife,
Just let me know His kindly touch… To be at rest within His touch.
And when my frame shall meet its end,
However it comes, ’twill be all Grace,
For then the veil of dust shall rend,
And I shall look upon His face… Oh, I shall see Him face-to-face.
(Photo courtesy of Sarah Racine, at sarahracine.com)
November 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
We who have been born from above must luxuriate long in this reality: That Christ is “not ashamed” to call us His “brethren.”
Self-consciousness and a sense of entitlement come with the Adamic territory. We are quite naturally given to what one of my mentors used to call “navel-gazing,” or to put it otherwise, making ourselves the center of all things. We feel it to be quite an innocent and even necessary thing to “take care of number one”, especially when we have yet to encounter the revelation of our depravity, the crisis of the Cross, and the holiness and power of the Atoning work of Jesus Christ.
The “Accuser of the Brethren” Contrasted With the One Who is Unashamed of the Brethren
The Gospel devastates my humanistic naivete and reveals that my heart is itself a “factory of idols” (Calvin). God’s own righteousness and mercy come cascading upon me, and I find myself moved to repentance, believing upon the Son, quickened to newness of life. In Paul’s apostolic vernacular, I become a “new creation.”
Yet and still, there lingers in my mind and heart the propensities that belong to creatures of the fall. If I am not making it my aim to “abide” in the Lord, I will lapse into a train of thought that is unbecoming of one who has been “seated with Christ in heavenly places.”
We need to recognize the need for “renewing” our minds, not merely in a Church service, but in the moment-by-moment matters of life, otherwise our own perceptions will fasten themselves to the “accuser of the brethren,” and our consciousness of the Atonement will be diminished. A casual profession of faith will not free us from the foray of distorted, unheavenly thoughts. It requires a wrestling against demonic pressure; a grappling against all of our carnal perceptions.
We need to pierce through the veil of the world in every context of life, and to look upon the crucified and exalted One. The one who refuses to “contend for the faith,” and who treats the Gospel as a religious preference or a superfluous detail of life, will never learn to live above the accusation of the enemy. It requires an earnestness and a faith that is every bit God-given, but not bestowed upon those who are “complacent in Zion,” unwilling to engage in holy conflict.
We need to be cognizant of the fact that the “accuser of the brethren” has not yet been cast down, and that the “principalities and powers of the air” are still in places of heavenly influence, ever seeking to blur and distort our vision of “Christ, and Him crucified.” If they can coax us into self-absorption, a sense of entitlement, or any posture of heart that issues from “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” they will have triumphed. There is indeed an “accuser of the brethren,” and we need to be able to say with Paul that we are “not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2.11)
The Cross of Jesus Christ, which is the flashpoint of God’s self-disclosure in history, is the cure-all for every Adamic ill. Not only does it break “the power of cancelled sin” and “set the prisoner free,” as glorious as that is, but it brings us into vital communion with the One Whom Jesus called the “righteous Father.” This communion has its foundation in the fact that on the basis of the Atonement, “He is not ashamed to call” “those who are sanctified” “His brethren.” Hear Adolph Saphir on this:
As the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, ‘Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to me;’ and as in the epistles of John, we are taught that we are of God, and the seed of God abideth in us. What a wonderful brotherhood is this, rooted in the mysterious election of eternal love! Christ, the only begotten of the Father, and we who by nature are children of wrath and disobedience, are eternally and indissolubly united with Him. Therefore He is not ashamed to call us brethren. As it is said also in the 22nd Psalm, in which the sufferings of Jesus upon the cross and His exaltation are described: ‘I will declare Thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I sing praise unto Thee.’ Notice how literally that was fulfilled; for it was immediately after His resurrection, and in reference to this Psalm, that Jesus said, ‘Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ The risen Saviour, as the first-born among many brethren, hastens to declare the name Father unto His disciples, and to assure them, that He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are both of one.
…Is not His atonement upon Golgotha most glorious in the sight of God? It is Jesus Who is our representative and spokesman.
(Adolph Saphir, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition, Vol. 1, pp. 146-7; Chicago, IL, 1902)
Oh, dear saint, is “not His atonement upon Golgotha most glorious in the sight of God?” “Where are your accusers?” What is your petty self-assessment? Are you buckling under the weight of another man’s opinion (or your own heady self-evaluations), as if they coincide with the “testimony of Jesus”? If you are in Christ; if you are walking “in the light”; if you would “rather endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,” you have been set apart unto Him, and He is not shamefaced with regard to His identification with you.
End now the suffocating cycle of seeking a name among men. End now the comparing of your own life with others. End now the envy and all other inward contentions. Be done with the “sin which so easily entangles” your heart. Lift your soul heavenward, and behold Him! “Bask in His beams,” as McCheyne once charged his people. Consider! The Lord of Glory Himself is not ashamed to call you His brother. Oh, dear saint, let not this truth elude your heart. He calls you His own, and He is enough.
June 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
1. His Supremacy Through Redemption (1-8)
The apostle rejoices to hear of redemption- the spread and increase of Gospel fruit- in Colossae. It has taken hold of those who were bound in fear, bitterness, and hatred, and produced a new community centered on Jesus Christ, and marked by His vital love.
2. His Supremacy Through Reconciliation (9-23)
The apostle unpacks the glories of reconciliation, which have to do with cleansing, inheritance, and a new mode of “Kingdom being,” a walk of faith that goes beyond personal religious experience, producing a community which manifests His reconciliatory wisdom and grace together. This is the direct result of the Body’s vital connection with the Head Himself, Whose pre-eminence is ever increasing in their gatherings and day-to-day living. The community’s vital connection with the Head is what brings about the demonstration of His supremacy in their secret, familial, and corporate life.
The same wisdom that He demonstrated perfectly and ultimately at the cross (death which results in the release of Life), is to be reiterated and reemphasized through the Church itself. This the apostles demonstrated before the congregations (“you saw what manner of men we were,” “poured out as a drink offering,” “death works in me, so life in you”), and they called the saints to follow suit.
“As Head of the Church He is in an organic relationship, for the Church shares His very life, just as the limbs share a common life with the head. He is, further, the directing and controlling power to which the limbs must submit. Indeed that which gives them their unity as a body, and enables them to function purposefully, is the control of the Head. So true unity and effective endeavour in the body of Christ are due, not to a reorganization of the members, but to a renewed obedience to the divine Head.
….He is the beginning in relation to the Church. This refers not only to His being first in time, but also to His being the very fount of the Church’s life.
…. The purpose of God is that the Son who is eternally supreme may, in the realm of time and in the sphere of revelation, become pre-eminent. This pre-eminence is to be as wide in scope as it is possible to be. He is to be supreme in all respects, and at every point. Lord of creation and Lord of His Church, He must be Lord in the lives of His own, with a sovereignty which brooks no rival.” (Tyndale NT Comm. on Colossians & Philemon, H.M. Carson)
The glorious work of reconciliation occurs only upon the foundation of Jesus Himself, but it is the fruit of the work of the Cross and the power of the Spirit, on the paths of PRAYER (In secret, in abiding life, and with the saints), TRUE FELLOWSHIP (“…and those who believed were together“), and PROCLAMATION (“they gave themselves to the apostles teaching,” “I will meditate on Thy Law…”).
3. His Supremacy Through Proclamation (24-29)
The proclamation of Jesus Christ’s supremacy cannot be given without the glory of redemption (which creates the community), and the ever-increasing work of reconciliation (which matures and enriches the community).
His supremacy is proclaimed when His Kingdom and His worth are “walked out” in a manner “worthy of the Lord” in the real life experience of the saints. (“Christ in you, the hope of glory…”)
It is also proclaimed through foundational teaching/preaching, speaking the truth to one another in love within the community, and declaring the glorious Gospel of the cross to those who are still in darkness.
A community of believers founded upon Jesus Himself, devoted to prayer, proclamation, and true fellowship must aim for the same reality that the apostle was after; namely, “that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” And “that we may present every man complete in Christ.”
This requires a “labor” and a “striving”, but it is “according to His power, which mightily works within” the Church as it once worked within Paul. It is thus a great glory, pulsating with Divine life, and putting His supremacy and worth on display, not merely through organizations, but through the people of God themselves.
June 24, 2012 § 4 Comments
- True preaching has almost diminished in modern times because prayer has diminished. When prayer decreases, all true proclamation becomes extinct. In prayer the preacher is fit to proclaim eternal realities, and the people of God are fit to receive them. If you stifle prayer, the giving and receiving of God’s Word become an impossibility.
- Preaching has almost diminished because the Church and its ministers are no longer preoccupied with the glory of God. When the Church and those who are called to establish it are occupied with the fading lights of this world, there will be no hunger for God and no savoring of His Word. This diminishes a value for the Scriptures in the Church, and all true preaching is paralyzed by worldly distraction.
- Preaching has almost diminished because we’ve lost a value for the gift of speech, and the Church has mostly lost its prophetic distinction in the world. The Church is the only entity in the earth that bears the stewardship of proclamation, and if we have lost the value for it, there will be no bearing witness of Jesus’ glory to Israel or the nations.
- Preaching has almost diminished because we’ve catered to a generation that is too undisciplined to still its heart and too smug to listen for the voice of God. Our preachers and congregations are mostly distracted by technology, entertainment, and the praise of men, and have failed to function in their distinctive priestly calling as men of prayer and of the Scriptures. This lethargy has passed on to the saints at large, and has produced a generation of undisciplined, purposeless, self-satisfied Church-goers.
- Preaching has almost diminished because we have forgotten that God’s choice is to speak through flesh and blood, not through machinery. We have not seen to the formation of foundational servants, but to the carrying out of impressive programs. We have mastered the art of performing services, but we have scarcely seen incarnational preaching, where men speak, “as it were, the utterances of God.” “God anoints men, not methods.” –EM Bounds
- Preaching has almost diminished because we have had in mind the preservation of our ministries rather than the salvation of men and the building up of the Church. We have had little concern for foundational doctrine and have been dull to eternity. True preaching becomes irrelevant and old hat to the Church that has left its first love, for it is only when the people of God have a vital affection and honor for the Lord Himself that His Word becomes their treasure.
- Preaching has almost diminished because our conception of God is too small, and many do not see Him or His purposes as worthy of the time, energy, and labor that foundational proclamation requires both of the speaker and the hearers. When we see Him as He is, glorious and worthy of supreme attention, those called to proclaim Him will catch fire inwardly, and a fresh eagerness for the Word will grip the people of God. Life-giving, convicting, heart-lifting proclamation will increase in the Church, our vision of Christ will become fuller and richer, and we will be empowered to set Him forth as witnesses in these last days.
March 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
There is something glorious and almost transcendent about a well-trained and fine-tuned orchestra in concert. The stringed instruments, the wind instruments, the keys and percussion all functioning together in the quiet introductions, the mounting crescendos, and the climactic bursts of sound seem to speak more to the issues of history and mankind than most modern songs. (I commend Beethoven’s 7th symphony, 2nd movement as a personal favorite.)
One of the remarkable characteristics of an orchestra’s Conductor is that he has an acute ear for every note and tone that is to be struck in the piece, and he is jealous for it to be sounded precisely according to the proper design. We need to be cognizant of the fact that our great Conductor and King is looking for us to “live, move, and have our being” in a particular manner, one that reflects His own character and government, and this is only accessible to those who are joyfully given to abiding in Him. There is a certain tone, a particular orderliness, a certain symphonic unity that ought to be conveyed in our lives, and it is not based upon culture, background, or societal relevance.
It is a heavenly intonation and inflection, bearing the Lord’s own timbre and resonance, and you, dear saint, are one of His prized instruments. The way that we speak and listen, the way that we steward money, time, and relationships, the way that we carry ourselves as those who “are made manifest” before the Conductor; these are the issues of the Kingdom.
It is not a matter of pleasing an audience, for indeed, if we lose sight of the Conductor’s purpose and desire, things get distorted and disorderly. Ungainly notes and rhythms find their way into the piece.
If we cease to have as our “master ambition” the good pleasure of God Himself, immediately we fall prey to self-consciousness, performance-oriented obedience, and the fear of man. When we look past the Conductor and unto the audience, and the “notes” we strike in life take on an awkward and man-centered expression. All at once we disappoint the desires of our Master, and fail to convey His Kingdom to the “audience.”
We need to be able to say with Elijah, “The Lord, before whom I stand,” with Abraham, “Here am I,” and with Paul, “…we are made manifest to God…”
Unless the Lord has the whole man, lock, stock, and barrel, there is no sending. -Art Katz
There is human gusto enough in each of us to muster up a smile and a “God bless you” once or twice a week in meetings. But to emanate and transmit the heavenly notes- that is, the very wisdom and power of Jesus Christ- in the low points, the crescendos, and the climaxes of life? This requires our being apprehended by the “master ambition” of laboring to “be pleasing to Him.”
It is arduous work to keep the master ambition in front.
…. Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.
Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being ‘approved unto God’ may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Mar. 17th selection
If our ambition is anything less or other than “pleasing Him,” we will be the culprits in sounding off in a way that He has never intended, and the world will be able to tell. There is a demonstration of God yet waiting to be made through a people. It is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” substantial glimpses of the King and His Kingdom in and through the day-to-day affairs of the saints. We cannot afford to function as a “noisy gong” or a “clanging cymbal,” loveless, lifeless, and robotic. We cannot afford to be pulled and tugged by the “approval of the audience.” Rather, we are called as “instruments of righteousness,” which is to say, witnesses to His resurrection life. We are not mere tools for ministry, but those who belong to Him; instruments indeed, but not in the clinical, dispassionate sense. We are sons and bond-servants before the Master who is also the Father, and it is through that remarkable union that His “manifold wisdom” is displayed among the nations.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us… – 2. Cor. 5.20a
I shall sleep in Christ; and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with His likeness. Oh, for arms to embrace Him! Oh, for a well-tuned harp! -Last words of Samuel Rutherford