Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Urgent Call To A Serious Faith

This is the first Dave Hunt book I have read. In this book, An Urgent Call To A Serious Faith, Dave shares his thoughts of living a consistent serious faith life.  I was convicted several times as I read this book. The quotes below are both thought provoking, convicting, and in some cases controversial. I trust the quotes will make you take your faith seriously:

Prayer is petitioning God and must therefore be subject to His will. p. 49

There is a huge difference between demanding what we desire and trusting God to give us what He knows we need. p. 49

The gravest error associated with prayer is to imagine that it is essential for salvation. On the contrary, as we have seen from many scriptures, God offers salvation as a free gift. When a gift is offered, one does not beg for it, plead for it, or agonize for it. One simply receives it. To beg or plead or pray for the gift is to betray one's lack of faith in the giver in his offer. p. 53

Biblical faith, however, is believing that God will answer one's prayer. That changes everything! We could never truly believe a prayer would be answered - nor would we want it to be - unless we were certain it was God's will. Faith is not a magic power we aim at God to get Him to bless our plans, but "the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26) brings us into submission to Him as the instruments of His will. p. 81

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~Jim Elliot p. 87

Paul exhorts us, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6). Did we not receive Christ in weakness as helpless, hopeless sinners crying out to Him for mercy and grace? That, then, is the way we are to walk this path of triumph in suffering - as sinners saved by grace, weak and helpless in ourselves and trusting totally in Him. p. 90

Learn this:Greater than anything God can do through you is what He wants to do in you. What counts most is not quantity but quality, not so much your outward effort but your motive within - the purity of your heart rather than your prominence with men. p. 91

It is not one's talents or energy but the empowering of the Holy Spirit that produces genuine and lasting results: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).  p. 91

It is often in times of distress alone that God can break the hold of that which has drawn our affection away from Him, perhaps without our even knowing it. p. 98

Sadly, so many of today's praise and worship songs reflect lack of depth in current Christianity. Congregational singing often consists of empty, repetitive choruses which have taken the place of the old hymns of the faith. Phrases are repeated again and again, such as "We worship You, Lord, we praise You, Lord, we lift Your name on high, we lift our hands, we exalt You, " and so on. There is much clapping and swaying to the catchy tune and beat. Yet the congregation and the "worship team" seem oblivious of the fact that instead of truly praising and worshipping, they are merely singing words about praise and worship, without mentioning God's character, qualities, and deeds which evoke worship. p. 99

There is a growing emphasis today upon world evangelism, and surely that is needful and commendable. We ought to obey the Great Commission given to us by Christ. There is also an awakening social conscience, a concern to demonstrate practical Christianity in caring for those around us, from the unborn threatened with abortion to the homeless and deprived. And so it should be. Yet that which must come first - a deep love of God - is largely forgotten.

"Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned" (1 Corinthians 13:3) may be commendable deeds, but if they are not motivated and sanctified by an all-consuming love for God, they are of no value at all in His eyes. Have we really faced the teaching of this great love chapter? How amazing and sad that love of God is buried in the flurry of activity to serve Him. Indeed, the average Christian, while he may love much else, including even the whole world which he is forbidden to love, gives little serious thought to loving God. p. 126

Many issues of great concern legitimately occupy the attention of church leaders and their flocks. Yet the greatest commandment, and that which God desires from us above all, is scarcely mentioned, much less given the prominence it ought to have in church fellowship and individual lives. How tragic. p. 127

The choice we face is not, as many imagine, between heaven and hell. Rather, the choice is between heaven and this world. Even a fool would exchange hell for heaven; but only the wise will exchange this world for heaven. p. 142

The two key expressions, "mortify" in verse 5 (Colossians 3:5-8: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleannness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry . . . put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.") and "put on" in verse 12 (Colossians 3:12-17 "12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."), only increases the bewilderment and sense of failure. It is really possible to "put to death" ungodly desires and, shedding that body of evil, as it were, to be clothed in a resurrection body of godliness? Surely Paul, led of the Holy Spirit, is not taunting us with goals that cannot be attained and that, in fact, are not at all practical. Was he not himself an example of this kind of life, and did he not say more than once, "Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1)? Then why do we fail? From whence comes the motivation and the strength to accomplish what is at once so desirable and yet so seemingly impossible?

There is a general failure to recognize the importance of one little word that occurs in both verses 5 and 12. I holds the answer to our dilemma. Paul does not say, "Mortify your members" and "Put on bowels of mercies, kindness . . ." That would impose a"do-it-yourself" religion of gritting one's teeth in determination and struggling to live up to high moral standards - no different from the atheist's or Buddhist's attempt to do the same. That is not Christianity. Paul carefully and pointedly says, "Mortify therefore . . . Put on therefore . . ." Clearly therefore refers to something that Paul is convinced gives the Christian the motivation and power to do what he is commanding and lifts the Christian above the impossible struggle of flesh trying to live a godly life. It is, therefore, the Christian's secret to a happy, fruitful, and holy life that is pleasing to God.

The mortifying of the old deeds and the putting on of the new is possible only because, as the previous verses declare, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). pp. 172-173

The most seductive temptation Satan can devise will arouse no response from a dead man. Insult a dead man to his face and he will not retaliate in anger. As a dead man, Paul experienced a new freedom over sin that he had never known before. Yet, in spite of being dead, Paul was more alive than he had ever been: "I am crucified . . . nevertheless, I live." Dead to sin, he was alive to God through Christ. p. 174

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. Mortify therefore . . . " That was such a vibrant hope and of such certain fulfillment that Paul began this entire section with the statement, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (verse 1,2). Herein lies the secret to the godly life that Paul himself lived and expected of the Colossians as well. They were to be so heavenly minded that the things of this earth would have no appeal and thus no power over them.  pp. 174-175

Today's denominations (like the cults) all have their earthly headquarters and their traditions. They have become organizations instead of being content with being part of the organism, His body. p. 211

In the Greek, tetelestai, Christ's cry from the cross, "It is finished!" is an accounting term. In Christ's day, it was stamped upon invoices and promissory notes as proof of full satisfaction. Christ thus declared that the sinner's debt to divine justice had been paid in full. Justice had been satisfied by full payment of its penalty, and thus God could, "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). On that basis, God offers pardon and eternal life as a free gift. He cannot force it upon anyone or it would not be a gift. Nor would it be just to pardon a person who rejects the righteous basis for pardon and offers a hopelessly inadequate payment instead - or offers his works even as partial payment. p. 219

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33). p. 258
In A Christian Love Story, Zola Levitt relates that tradition and explains how beautifully it fits the promises that Jesus gave His disciples. p. 258
When that matter (of the marriage contract and price to be paid for the bride) was settled the groom would depart. He would make a little speech to his (espoused) bride, saying, "I go to prepare a place for you," and he would return to his father's house. Back at his father's house, he would build her a bridal chamber. a little mansion, in which they would have their future honeymoon . . . remain(ing) inside for seven days . . . At the end of the week, the bride and groom would make their long-awaited appearance . . . (and) there would be a . . . marriage supper, which we might refer to as the wedding reception . . . This construction project would take the better part of a year . . . and the father of the groom would be the judge of when it was finished . . . The bride, for her part, was obliged to do a lot of waiting . . . (and) she had to have an oil lamp ready in case he came late at night . . . she had to be ready to travel at a moment's notice . . . (The groom) and his young men would set out in the night, making every attempt to completely surprise the bride . . . The church is called "the bride of Christ" in the New Testament for good reason. pp. 258-259 
One of the most beautiful Old Testament pictures of the church as the bride of Christ is found in Genesis 24. Abraham's servant, a type of the Holy Spirit, had claimed Rebekah as Isaac's bride. As it is with us, however, she had to choose for herself between the husband waiting for her in a far country and the family she would have to leave in order to join him. "Wilt thou go with this man?" her family asked her. And she said, "I will go."
Such is the choice that confronts us. It is a choice that countless earthly brides have made and not regretted. No less is demanded by our Lord of His heavenly bride.  pp. 260-261
We are like a homely, small-town girl from a very poor family who is being wooed by the handsomest, wealthiest, most powerful, most intelligent, and in every way most desirable man who ever lived. She enjoys the things he gives her, but is not able fully to give herself to him and really get to know him because she finds it too much to believe that he, given the choice of all the far more attractive women in the world, really loves her. And to leave the familiar surroundings of her childhood - the friends and family that have been all she has known and loved - to go off with this one who seems to love her so much and to become a part of another world so foreign and even inconceivable to her, it is all too overwhelming. p. 266
Paul indicated that in the last days men would be "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:4). What an indictment. How it challenges us to reexamine our priorities. How ashamed we will be one day that the pitiful pleasures of this world could ever have blinded us to the infinite and eternal pleasures God has "prepared for them that love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). p. 269
Love involves unshakable commitment of oneself to another - thus it involves not just emotions but an act of the will. p. 271
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27). Love does indeed involve deep emotion, but it is first of all obedience to God's command. p. 271
Christ has committed Himself to us for eternity, and He expects us to make the same commitment to Him. And that commitment involves loving others if we truly love Him - for a lack of love for our brother is, according to Scripture, proof that we do not really love God (1 John 4:20-21).

An Urgent Call to a Serious FaithAn Urgent Call to a Serious Faith by Dave Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even though I did not agree with everything the author said, the book still was a blessing and a challenge to me. Dave Hunt made me think and a lot of what he said convicted me.

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