No Other Stream

No Other Stream“Although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for its eyes looked straight into her’s for a moment and then turned away– as if it knew her quite well and didn’t think much of her.

‘If I run away, it’ll be after me in a moment,’ thought Jill. ‘And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.’ Anyway, she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, and she couldn’t take her eyes off it.

How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

‘If you’re thirsty, you may drink.’

They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken.

Then the voice said again, ‘If you are thirsty, come and drink,’ and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking.

Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in a rather different way.

jesus-christ‘Are you not thirsty?’ said the Lion.

‘I’m dying of thirst,’ said Jill

‘Then drink,’ said the Lion.

‘May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

‘Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?’ said Jill.

‘I make no promise,’ said the Lion.

‘Do you eat girls?’ she said.

‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

‘I daren’t come and drink,’ said Jill.  i-am-the-way-the-truth-and-the-life-christian-message-card-copy

‘Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion.

‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’

‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (New York: Harper, 1953), 21–23.

 

“No Other Stream!”

“Although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for its eyes looked straight into her’s for a moment and then turned away– as if it knew her quite well and didn’t think much of her.

Continue reading ““No Other Stream!””

You Really Want to Become Like Christ?

I once heard the following story and found it very interesting.  A man asks the LORD, “What’s a million years to you?”  The LORD answers, “A second.”  The man then asks a follow-up question, “So then, what’s a million dollars to You?”  To which the LORD responded, “A penny.”  With a big smile on his face the man came back with a third question, “LORD, could You please give me a penny?”  The LORD responded “Wait a second!”   Continue reading “You Really Want to Become Like Christ?”

Mining For Gold: What I Have Learned From Reading Christian Biographies

It was Dr. David Martyn Lloyd Jones who said:  “Nothing is more profitable, after the reading of the Bible itself and books that help us to understand it, than the reading of biography or autobiography of a great Christian man (or woman)” – parenthesis added.  There is certainly great wisdom in that because it is Scriptural.  Hebrews 13:7 tells us:  “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” 

I commend to you the following essay entitled, “Mining For God:  What I Have Learned From Reading Christian Biographies” by Steven J. Cole.

Here is a brief summary of the essay.  Cole writes:

It’s a gold mine available to all but mined by few.  The pressures of our fast-lane lives crowd out the time for settling down with the greats of the past.  What can they teach me about problems I face?  Plenty!  I’ve found that the mine is rich and worth the effort many times over.

Then he goes on to talk of four specific ways that reading Christian biographies has helped him.  I will just give you the points and some excerpts of what Cole himself says:

HERITAGE:  Christian biographies give me a sense of my place in the Christian drama

Reading Christian biographies has helped me appreciate my spiritual roots.  It helps me put our times and my particular circumstances in perspective.  It makes me realize that I am carrying the torch handed to me by those who went before, and that I must hand it off intact to those who come after me.

MODELING:  Christian biographies give me great examples to follow

We learn by watching models who “flesh out” Christian principles in their daily lives.  When I was younger in the faith, I wanted someone to disciple me.  I tried several different men, but it never seemed to work out the way I had hoped.  But in a very real sense, I have been discipled by some of the greatest Christians who have ever lived, by reading their biographies.

SPIRITUALITY AND DOCTRINE:  Christian biographies give me theological perspective and balance

We are all limited by the fact that we are creatures of our time and culture.  We tend to view issues from the grid we almost unconsciously absorb from the theological and social climate in which we come to Christ and begin to grow.  It’s as if we’re born in the forest and start walking, not quite sure where all the various trails come from or lead to.  Reading Christian biographies is like climbing a high mountain so that you can get a feel for the lay of the land.

HUMANITY:  Christian biographies give me an understanding of people and myself

If you read more honest biographies…, you will discover that God has used some very rough instruments.  You find that the great strengths of some of the giants were also the flip side of great weaknesses and blind spots.  Men and women who were unswerving in their commitment to Christ were sometimes stubborn and ran roughshod over people.  And yet God used them greatly!…

…God did significant things with these imperfect men and women.  Thousands of lives have been changed.  In some cases, the history of nations and of western civilization has been altered through these godly, yet very human, instruments.  Maybe there’s hope that God can use even me!

I highly commend this essay to you.  But much more so, I commend all the good Christian biographies out there to you.  Read them and learn from them.  Let God inspire, challenge and teach you through them.  May you see the amazing grace of God working through imperfect and ordinary people to do great and extraordinary things to His glory and the blessing of His people among the nations!  One of my seminary professors, Dr. Hywel Jones used to say, “God draws straight lines with crooked sticks.”  However “crooked,” God can use us if we are willing to be used by Him.  That’s a valuable lesson and encouragement that you will most certainly glean from reading Christian biographies!

What Constitutes Saving Faith? Part 2

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:1 & 6).

Faith by its very nature has to do with unseen realities.  Realities that are outside of us and beyond us.  Nowhere else is this more true than in the matter of our salvation through the gospel.  The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ calls us to receive and rest in a salvation that has been worked out outside of us, apart from us and in spite of us.  I find the F.A.I.T.H. acronym below is helpful in this regard:

Forsaking

All

I

Take

Him

This is essentially what happens or what needs to happen for the sinner to receive eternal life and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Everything must be forsaken!  The sinner must turn away from his sins and his supposed righteousness and embrace Christ alone for salvation.  He must rest in Christ’s perfect righteousness and atoning sacrifice for sin on the cross.  That is what is meant by saving faith!  Remember our definition from Q & A 86 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:  “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the gospel.”  But we must also note that this faith is given to us as a gift from our gracious God and Savior.  What saves us is not our faith (our act of believing), but God who gives us that faith and offers us eternal life in Jesus’ Name.  Thus faith is only but the hand (or channel) by which we receive God’s salvation.  I like what Alistair Begg once said in his sermon on Titus 3:3-7.  He said:

This is one of the reasons that people hate the gospel.  The average person if you tell them that they can go to heaven based on philanthropy or based on their endeavors in some way, they might actually step up for that.  But if you tell them that the message of the Bible is that we are entirely dependent upon God’s grace and upon His goodness and that we contribute nothing to our salvation save the sin from which we need to be forgiven, they say, ‘Uuh, I don’t really like the sound of that.’

Our salvation is not based upon our act of believing, but rather on God’s mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.  We look away from ourselves to the perfect righteousness of Christ and His atoning death as the only sure basis for our salvation.  As Begg further says, it’s “all of grace, all in Christ, all of faith, all of God.”

The 16th Century Reformers employed the following three Latin words to define and describe saving faith:  Notitia, Assensus, Fiducia.  I am not a Latin scholar and I am not trying to be one.  So I will try to explain these terms in a layman’s language.

Notitia (Knowledge):  This refers to the intellectual aspect of saving faith.  Faith is not the antithesis of fact.  Faith is based on historical, accurate and reliable information.  Saving faith is not a blind leap into the dark as the Danish philosopher/theologian, Søren Kierkegaard said.  One does not have to lose his mind to win God as Kierkegaard suggested.  True, saving faith is founded on facts.  True, saving faith is rational.  B. B. Warfield, the old Princeton theologian was right when he said, “We do not believe even though it is irrational, we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because it is the most rational thing that we can do.”  God, through His Word, has provided everything that we need to know in order to make a credible profession of faith in Him.  Some of these facts include:  the virgin birth of Christ; His sinless perfection; His duo nature (God & Man at the same time); His death; His resurrection; His ascent into heaven; His Second Coming, etc.  For those of you who would like to explore this further, I recommend Tim Keller’s book, A Reason for God.  In that book, Keller writes about the intellectual credibility of the Christian faith.  Among other things, he gives examples of former atheists who are now Christians because they examined the facts about the Christian Faith and found that it is credible and rational.  C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity is also helpful in this regard.  But one could have the right knowledge about Christ or the Christian faith and still not be saved.  The second element (assensus) is necessary and it builds on the first (notitia):

Assensus (Assent):  This refers to the emotional aspect of saving faith.  At this stage, one is caught up in the facts of Christianity and personally acknowledges them to be true concerning himself.  It’s like walking into a room and you see a box sitting in the corner of the room.  The box contains a gift for you, but you don’t know that yet.  You notice the box, you analyze it, but you have no personal attachment to it.  It’s just another box.  But when the owner of the house takes that box and gives it to you and says, “This is for you,” everything changes!  You are now all of a sudden personally involved with the box.  The gift remains impersonal until it has been given to you.  You are not personally involved with it until it has been declared yours.  So you take the facts about Christ and make them personal.  You come to a point of saying:  Christ’s virgin birth was for me; He lived a sinless life for me; He is God and became Man for me; He died for me, He rose again from the dead for me; He ascended into heaven for me; He is coming again for me; etc.  It’s like the Psalmist saying in Psalm 56:9, “…This I know, that God is for me;” or Thomas saying to Christ in John 20:28, “My Lord and My God.”  The Apostle Paul expresses this very clearly in Galatians 2:20 where he writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Archibald Alexander (first principal and professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary) said of his conversion, that as he read more and more, his heart was hardened.  Then he says, “I had a vision of the Crucified One as has never been paralleled in my experience.  The grace of God came to me as clear as day and I understood, God accepted me.”  He had personally come to believe that these things were true for him.  But, a personal belief in all the right facts about Christ or Christianity is not enough to save anyone.  The third aspect (fiducia) is also necessary and builds on the first two (notitia and assensus).

Fiducia (Trust):  This refers to the volitional aspect of saving faith.  Trust is a required, personal response to the truth claims of Christ and of Christianity.  It’s an act of the will.  Without it, everything that you believe remains outside of you.  Until you trust in Christ, you are not born again, you are not going to heaven and you are not saved.  Trust says, “I accept Jesus Christ; I give myself to Christ; I look to Him alone for my salvation; I accept God’s forgiveness and invite Him into my life.”  If Christ is not living in you today, you are not a Christian.  I have a friend who is so afraid to fly.  The funny thing about him is that he works for Boeing.  He actually has worked in the department that manufactures and services the parts of a plane.  He knows how all the parts of a plane fit together so that it can go up in the air and be safe.  But the problem is that he can’t trust any of the planes to fly him!  Saving faith in Christ requires us to put our whole weight on Christ and trust that He will carry us through this life into a joyful eternity with God our Creator.  It is faith, faith and faith from beginning to end!  Without this third aspect of faith (trust), salvation is absolutely impossible.  The rich young ruler (in Mark 10:17-22), knew the facts about Jesus Christ and the Christian Faith.  He was even personally involved at some superficial level.  But he stumbled and failed at this third and very important step.  He could not get himself to “trust” the Lord Jesus Christ and forsake all that he had.  His wealth was too precious to him.  Christ was right there before Him.  In Christ, was his only hope for salvation!  Yet he missed it!  At Christ’s words, his face fell and “he went away sad because he had great wealth.”  May the Lord grant us the grace to trust Him alone for our salvation that we might truly “receive and rest in Christ alone as He is offered to us in the gospel.”

Forsaking       All          I       Take             Him

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7