Friday, June 12, 2009

Page Five

My pastor came over to talk with me a couple weeks back and plopped down a book in my lap titled Spiritual-Mindedness by John Owen. He told me he wanted to get me a book to thank me for helping teach our high school and junior high classes. Pastor Fry is such a great guy.

For whatever reason I haven’t gotten around to reading anything by the famous John Owen, although his The Death of Death in the Death of Christ has been on my reading list for years. He was one of the greatest Puritans and I was sure the book would be a terrific read and an encouragement.

Once I finished the latest WoW book I was reading I began Owen’s work. By the time I made it to page 5 I felt an intense amount of conviction and knew I would write a blog about this book. As of right now I’m on page 30, and I love it. Never before have so few words impacted me this greatly, or swayed me in so many areas.

Here’s one portion from page 5:

“Many greatly deceive themselves when hearing the word preached. They agree with the holy truths in their understanding and assent to them as good ‘ideas’. But these truths are not allowed to impress themselves on their consciences nor to judge their present state and condition before God. They think they believe, but in reality they do not. They hear, understand, assent to, and often approve of the things preached, but still they do not believe them so that the truth rules in their hearts. If they really believed the truth as they say they do then they would judge themselves in the light of it. They are like a man who looks at himself in a mirror, and then goes away and immediately forgets what he has just seen (James 1:23-24). They hear the word and agree with it, but their minds are so filled with other interests that they soon forget what they have heard” (Pgs. 5-6).

I don’t know about you, but when I read those words I honestly stopped to think. I really wanted to examine my own life to see whether I truly believed or not – something I’ve done periodically throughout my adult life. If the Devil and his co-fallen angels can mentally assent to God’s truth then surely other fallen creatures can as well. I did not want that to be true of me. Not for one moment.

Owen’s application from James of the man who looks at himself in a mirror but forgets what he looks like also aided me in understanding just what that passage meant. Sure, I’ve read it before, and probably even used it in one of my lessons. But I don’t think I fully grasped what James was getting at. How many times have I read the Bible, prayed, or heard a sermon and immediately afterwards put thoughts of God out of my mind? I’m taking James’ words as a warning to those of us who let this happen, because as Owen goes on to say, the Christian naturally thinks about spiritual things.

Owen continues in a later chapter:

“The well the Samaritan woman drew water from was a lifeless, earthly thing, of no use unless buckets and ropes were used to draw the water to the surface. But the ‘living water’ Christ gives bubbles up continually within us and is for our spiritual refreshment. This is the secret of the person who is a new creation in Christ and who has a new spiritual nature. The Spirit with his graces is the source of true spiritual life in believers. This spiritual spring bubbles up of itself without the need of any outward influences to draw it into holy, heavenly, spiritual thoughts. The spiritual man has within him a spiritual spring which ‘naturally’ bubbles up spiritual thoughts and desires” (Pgs. 11-12).

Shortly after this, he makes the point that men may think about spiritual things when they have outward influences, like sermons, to give them spiritual ideas. But the true Christian needs no external influences for his thoughts to turn to God and His truth. Spiritual-mindedness is natural for the one who has been born by the Spirit.

As I’ve asked myself, let me now ask you: do your thoughts naturally turn towards spiritual things? Or do you rely on others, church, sermons, or whatever else it might be to cause you to think about God?

Pastor Fry will often say to our congregation: “I assume that you prayed throughout the course of this week…” Why would my pastor say such a thing? Because he knows that the one truly believing in Jesus will pray. Prayer is not a duty to be quickly fulfilled, but rather a joy that is as necessary as the food we eat.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith. I believe Christians today should examine themselves as well, unless they find, as Paul said, they fail the test?

“But let us not think that we can truly examine ourselves and arrive at the right conclusion about ourselves without the help of God. We need to pray with the Psalmist, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead in the way everlasting’ (Psa. 139:23-24)” (Pg. 20).

I’ll end with this: “So our thoughts are the best and surest way of showing us what we are in ourselves. ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he’ (Prov. 23:7)” (Pg. 7, Bold Mine).

Thanks for reading,

1 comment:

  1. Good word. And good stuff to think on. I often think about spiritual things throughout the week without external "spiritual" impetus, but still.... the question still arises and the need to examine comes regularly.

    Btw, The Death of Death has been on my reading list since I first heard about it, and I even HAVE it.....but I haven't managed to make it past page 5 of the actual text. Such a great amount of untranslated greek and latin that the writer simply assumes one knows and understands. Plus, the pages are photographed from an earlier edition, you can tell. So, it's somewhat hard to read. Still worth working through I assume, given its prolific nature, but simply finding the time to sit down and wrestle through the book is hard to do. The Death of Death is, apparently for good reason, considered to be one of the hardest books out there to read with solid comprehension.