OBEDIENCE VERSUS PRESUMPTION

Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2)

"God spoke!"

The Bible, Old and New Testaments, is not a record of religious men writing what they felt was God's will and feelings concerning man. Rather, it is the spoken Words of God. Even the Gospel accounts, which appear to be a presentation of righteous men, were guided by the Spirit of God in the minutest detail.

Since God is utterly true and utterly faithful, we can rely with utter confidence on every Word of the Scriptures.

When in Bible school, in the late 1940s, I was taught that no one had ever done God's complete will; that the world was waiting for someone to do God's will for them in every detail.

I resolved at that time, having only a couple of relatives, not married, that I would do God's perfect will, if we would show me what it is, and give me the grace to do it. This resolve was not made with any sort of grandiose expectations but only a determination to repair what I perceived to be wrong—-that no one was willing to do God's complete will.

That decision was made about seventy years ago, and, with some mistakes, has endured to the present hour.

Everything I think, say, and do, is in obedience to Jesus Christ, as far as I know. I do not know what life would be like if I was not in continual fellowship with Jesus.

It amazes me that all Christians do not seem to have the same interaction with the Lord Jesus. I do not know whether Christ speaks to me to an unusual extent (which I doubt), or whether other Christians do not believe that if they will set their minds to hearing from the Lord about everything they think, say, and do, they will enjoy the same close fellowship.

Perhaps we are entering a new phase of the Divine redemption, and now we will "see" Jesus in a manner that has not been true previously.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21)

This may not be the whole answer to the question why Jesus is not more visible in Christian circles; why the leaders do not speak more of being led by the Lord; but I really believe we are in a new day of redemption, in fulfillment of the last three of the seven Levitical observances.

It actually is not a new day, it is the logical progression of all God is doing in His plan of redemption.

Please notice carefully again our opening verses:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2)

I simply cannot express strongly enough that the Christian redemption is not a religion. A religion is the attempt of man to develop ways, particularly corporate ways, of pleasing God. This is not true of the Christian salvation.

The Christian salvation consists only of God speaking to people. I do not distinguish between the Old Testament and the New. It all, from the time God created Adam and Eve, is one plan of redemption. When God rested on the seventh day, all had been finished through to the coming down from Heaven of the New Jerusalem—-and beyond.

In actuality, in God's mind, all had been completed before, through Christ, God had created the spirit and physical worlds and the angels.

Here is another point: redemption is not for man's sake, except in a relatively minor, secondary reason. The redemption of man is for God's sake. God desires and needs a house, a home, a place of rest, and a location for His Throne among His creatures. This is why God created mankind.

Nothing of eternal significance is accomplished through man's initiative, although we are busy little helpers. The Kingdom of God is being created and is moving with unerring accuracy toward the earth entirely by God's wisdom, initiative, and power.

This is why each of us is well advised to seek at all times to enter the "rest of God." We do not know up from down. God has a precise plan for our life, for our being created, and our task is to present our body a living sacrifice in order to determine the details of that plan.

Our Lord Jesus never does anything on His own. He is the Word of God. He thinks as God is thinking. He speaks as God is speaking. He acts as God is acting.

Do you believe in your heart that such a relationship with the Lord Jesus can be true for you and me—-that we can think as Christ is thinking; that we can speak as Christ is speaking; that we can act as Christ is acting?

Well, it certainly can! Although it does not happen all at once. We have, first of all, to make fellowship with Christ our most important objective. Then we have to practice talking to Jesus throughout each day and night. As we do, bringing Christ into every aspect of our life becomes easier and more natural.

We are being made a chariot of God, and that chariot must be completely, promptly, and cheerfully responsive to God at all times.

The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; The Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. (Psalms 68:17)

If it is true that such awareness of Christ is possible to us, then to not look to the Lord at all times, making our decisions without really knowing whether the Lord approves of what we are doing, is to live a life of presumption.

We may be engaged busily in "Christian" work. But we still are being presumptuous, meaning we are thinking, speaking, and acting according to our own will rather than the will of Christ.

We must learn to slow down and wait until we are hearing from Jesus if we would avoid presumption.

The classic account of the temptation of presumption is that of the Lord Jesus on the pinnacle of the Temple. Satan reminded Jesus that the Psalms promises us that the angels will bear us up so we are not harmed by falling.

Also, Jesus, when He leaped off the pinnacle, and survived, would prove He is the Son of God.

I do not know how this story would have ended if Jesus had jumped off the roof of the Temple.

Why didn't Jesus take Satan up on the dare? Because Jesus always listens to the Father to find out what He should do. This is the way we are supposed to live—-listening to Jesus before we act.

Here is the temptation of presumption.

When the Father led Him to do so, Jesus walked on the water. If the Father had so instructed Him, the Lord Jesus could have leaped from the roof of the Temple; sailed for a while around Jerusalem; and its environs, and then settled down in His home in Galilee.

How many Christian pastors have "stepped out in faith," borrowing money to build a new church. It is for God's Glory, so God will honor my "faith."

When he defaults on the loan, the denomination will extricate themselves somehow and the pastor will receive another assignment—-perhaps!

He had expected to be complimented for daring to "step out in faith."

When we read of Moses leading Israel across the Red Sea we may notice that God directed him to do so. That is the difference between stepping out in faith, and presumption.

When Audrey and I came to Poway, some forty years ago, we resolved to keep the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Otherwise we were not going to lay our hands on the Ark of God, so to speak.

The church has remained small. But our electronic outreach has been major.

So I deduce that God is not interested in my occupying myself with a large number of local people, but to spread as much as possible the understanding He has given me, like the difference between faith and presumption. If this is what the Lord wants, then this is what the Lord gets. It is His Church, His Bride, His Word.

Sometimes an ambitious Christian can conceive of a plan to "save the world." They will fast for fifty day in order to bring world peace.

A noble idea. But if God is not in it, the only possible good coming from this honorable enterprise is that the believer loses weight. (They need to be careful they do not lose all of their weight.)

This is to add to God's plan for their life. God is not in it. They are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. God may have mercy on them and save them from such foolishness, unless they always are doing this sort of thing; in which case God may just leave them alone in their folly until they conclude they are missing God (if they ever do!).

"Obedience is better than sacrifice," the Book says.

What will it take to cause the Christian churches to turn from their own plans and listen to Jesus? No doubt many Churches are doing this already and just do not make it clear to us.

When I read of the plans of some Christian leaders to move our government to a more conservative position, I wonder if that is their own idea, or if the Lord Jesus is guiding them to do that.

I have been praying for years for our country. Having been born and grown up in New England I am sorrowful to see the moral downturn. When I pray, the Lord does not tell me if I pray He will turn things around in America. Instead, what I hear is that Divine judgment is on the way because of abortion and other sins.

Only those who live close to the Lord Jesus will save themselves and their loved ones during the holocaust that is approaching the world. Christ has been pushed to the background. Our political leaders are not looking to Jesus for guidance, in many instances. Instead, in their presumption, they are formulating plans to bring prosperity and safety to themselves; and then to their country if that proves possible.

Let me now review what I have been saying in this brief essay. The normal Christian life is one of complete, punctual, cheerful obedience to the Lord Jesus at all times and in every circumstance.

In order to think as Jesus is thinking, to speak as Jesus is speaking, and to act as Jesus is acting, requires that we continually are aware of the Presence of our Lord. We always are confiding in Him what we are thinking and propose to do.

As we are not rushing around, but are quietly listening, one way or another Jesus will make His will known to us. Best of all, we always will be aware of the Presence of the Lord.

In John 14:18-23, Jesus promises that He will make Himself known to us. The world will not see Him, but we will see Him.

Furthermore, if we walk in strict obedience to His commands, the Father will love us, and He and the Father will come to us and make Their home in us. The Holy Spirit already is in us, preparing the way for the Father and the Son.

I believe this personal revelation of Christ may be a further step in the Divine plan of redemption. Whether it is or not, it certainly is scriptural. When we embrace this kind of life, the Lord does His part and we then realize we are in Him; He is in us; and we both are in the Father.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)