Book Introduction

(The following will be the Introduction to the book, Beyond a Mere Christianity. As I begin the steps required for publishing this new book, I would like to do something I have never done — to share the process with our readers. It began as a series in June 2018, as we have posted what the Lord has given for this project. I appreciate all who have responded with Likes and Comments.

As I continue to write and publish, I want to start a beta group. Beta readers receive a copy of the book and read and reply with comments and critique. These read before the book’s final edit. For those who are interested in being a part of this group or of a review group, please leave a comment to let me know. Readers and reviewers receive free copies.)

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Introduction
When I began this series on my blog in June 2018, I did not know if it would become a book. Like Abram, not foreseeing what the end would be, I simply started with faith that the Lord was leading and blessing the process for me to seek His will, His instructions, and His provisions. He continues to reveal amazing things of His kingdom. Even as I write this introduction, it is with a knowledge that I did not have a year ago.

Now, I want to continue on this new course with joy and excitement to edit, and format as soon as possible. I had hoped to publish by my eightieth birthday on August 1 but decided to settle down and enjoy how the Lord would bring this to pass in His own timing. Every day in obedience, there is communion and fellowship with Him as He continues to show me His ways, teach me His paths, and lead me in His truth – for He is the God of my salvation, and I wait on Him all day (Psalm 25:5)

Why the title Beyond a Mere Christianity? C.S. Lewis’ book was the first of the two other books and a sermon that came to mind when I posted the list of chapters on the blog. Each of them is used in reference to the Christian faith, each by men who have died but whose works are still speaking to people today. After reading and studying these books by C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Oswald Chambers, and Jonathan Edward’s sermon, my memory retained much of what they taught. The Lord used each one to bring me to a greater knowledge of Him.

Though I have lived longer than these men, I can never know all they knew. But the Lord has challenged me during every decade to seek more and more of His kingdom through a committed and vibrant relationship with Him.

This treatise is meant to challenge each of us to take what we have received from all sources, to seek and add more and grow stronger in our faith. Most of the valuable works for the kingdom are by men who are no longer living but the Lord still lives to lead us beyond what we have already – so as not to be satisfied with what men give us.

He sits as our great High Priest, with the promise and power of the Holy Spirit, to teach us from His Holy Word. The more time we spend with Him personally in prayer and study of His Word, the more powerful our Christian faith becomes. From generation to generation, we learn and share with others.

Meaning of the Word Mere
Until beginning the introduction to the book, I did not do a thorough search for the meaning of the word mere.

There is a definition of mere meaning pure, simplebeing nothing more than specified.
From the same source is another definition: a small pond of standing water. Vocabulary.com

This meaning has become intriguing as the noun mere, which means lake; a shallow body of water. This definition lends itself to the meaning of this book.  Christianity is thought by some to be shallow – as a small pond of standing water. Such thoughts negate the moving of the Holy Spirit and the depth of His working in the hearts and lives of God’s people.

In a synonym study, Dictionary.com compares the words mere and bare, which imply a scant sufficiency. They are often interchangeable, but mere frequently means no more than (enough). Thus, a mere livelihood means enough to live on but no more; a bare livelihood means scarcely enough to live on

So, when I hear the title Mere Christianity, it seems from my former understanding  to mean that Christianity is nothing more than any other religion. When we try to make Christianity a common faith, we are in danger of dumbing down the power that Christ died to give us. We lose the essence of the faith that is by grace alone, the working of the Holy Spirit for revelation of the truths of God’s Word. 

Many, by reading Lewis’ book, have been encouraged to embrace Christianity even as he did. I believe God has used His work to bring many to a knowledge they never had and who may have become followers of Christ. My purpose in writing is to look beyond what he believed, spoke, and wrote, to discover a greater depth, beyond a mere Christianity; for a mere Christianity will not suffice for Christ’s followers to proclaim and live the legacy God has bestowed on His children.

Lewis may have used the word “Mere” to express the idea of the Christian faith as pure and simple. It is pure. It is simple and needs nothing added for those who embrace Christ and who live by the power of the Holy Spirit. But to those who do not know Him, Christianity is a complex, misunderstood faith. It is much, much more to those who are growing in the doctrines of the faith. It is a living faith — a powerful faith beyond any others. It is a way of life to those who have been transformed by the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Word of God – The Holy Bible.

When the gospel is watered down to satisfy everybody, we withhold the wealth that comes only by a personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, His Son. Christianity comes at a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and requires more than we are able to give in return.

To receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit working through new hearts, drawn to and committed to Him. His grace does not relieve us of duty, but binds us to it and fulfills the requirement, whereby we experience this new life, a heavenly life above and beyond what most people know.

Others have written from Lewis’ theme but from different perspectives. In the following chapters, we will incorporate many facets of the kingdom that our heavenly Father reveals to us, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, in and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through these, we pray He will make clear His role as a loving heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer, and our Life; His presence, power, His name, His kingdom, and His will.

These are His truths, promises, and blessings for a people who know Him, fear Him, love Him, obey, worship, serve, praise, pray, proclaim, and live in the power of  the good news of Christ, who are being transformed as living sacrifices and conformed to His image, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility and compassion.

This is to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) in the “fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) — “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)  here in this life, as He continues to prepare us for eternity with Him. True Christianity is separate from any other religion — and the reality of a holy life in union with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. (I know that I am repeating myself.)

He reveals Himself to and in us as Jehovah, the Lord our God. He sires children of His own who are HIs image-bearers. Though not perfect, we are His off-spring through His Son, as He continues to lead us through an imperfect world, shining through us His holiness and humility.

He calls us to discover the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). He leads us to more than a casual swim in a shallow pond. He brings us to the ocean’s edge and directs us to “Launch out into the deep.”

Gracious and glorious Father, continue to lead us in the paths of righteousness, leaving our shallow thoughts of you to plunge the depths of your grace, your love, your presence and power — to live the abundant life to which you call us in Christ. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

God’s Utmost for My Highest

 “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and how I bare you on eagles’ wings
,
and brought you unto myself
.”Exodus 19:4

When I add my comments to a familiar work, it is not to belittle the beloved author. Such was the case when I began the series Beyond a Mere Christianity in reference to C.S. Lewis’ book.

I cut my spiritual eye-teeth on My Utmost for His Highest. The thought I intend here with Oswald Chambers’ popular devotional is to share what the Lord has continued to show me through the years. With Chamber’s devotional and my studying all the books that were attributed to his lectures, there has been much more from God’s Word to lead me in my understanding of the difference in what is required of me and what God does, Himself. As I continued in my desire to serve the Lord, Andrew Murray taught me how to walk. Paul taught me to run with Christ. Christ still teaches me how to be still, to wait, to depend on Him for He is my life.

Oswald Chambers died at the age of 43 after complications from appendicitis. Learning this from his biography, I realized even as astute as he was in the Scriptures, he was still a student as we all are in this life. His books were written and published from the notes of his wife who attended his lectures. Again, I am not putting his work down but hopefully, sharing a “greater than” what I learned from him.

Man’s Inability for Total Salvation
Teachings that turn man from trusting God for total salvation to giving part of that work into the hands of man are my point. Growing up with this kind of thinking always left me needful and frustrated with my inability to perform the spiritual work that is required for this salvation. I loved the teachings of Chambers, whose mother was a follower of Charles Spurgeon, and I continued to desire my utmost for  God. However, the more I studied the Scriptures, the more I learned of my sinful nature, my depravity, and my inability to produce anything that was worthy to bring to Him. My utmost always paled in comparison to what I wanted to do and what I knew He expected. It fell even further below the standard when I began to learn what God promises to do for, in, and through me.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habahhuk 3:19

The Superior Work of the Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit did a supernatural work in my life, apart from anything I had tried to do, ask, think, or believe, I was a new creature, with a new heart and spirit, able to understand His Word, His will, and His way, apart from anything I knew I could ever do. Man is not able to do the spiritual work required for salvation; only the power of God’s Spirit within man can do what is needful for reconciliation and renewal in our relationship with Him. A dead person cannot will himself to faith and obedience. Only the power of His Holy Spirit can birth a person into His kingdom. Only as I am led, walk, and live by His Spirit, can I live separated from the world, humble and holy before Him and the world. Only a total salvation can deliver from a total depravity.

God’s Utmost for Me
God planned His utmost for me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6; Titus 3:5) through the covenant of redemption made with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). He sent Jesus at the time of His choosing (Galatians  4:3-9) as an utmost sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26) to be a propitiation for my sins (1 John 4:9). Even my faith in His working of mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-10) is His gift of grace. He convicts me of sin (John 16:8) and by His goodness brings me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every day He proves His utmost for my keeping by His power alone (1 Peter 1:1-5). As sanctified and the sanctifier, Jesus is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10-11) by His redemptive work alone.

“But this man, after he had offered
one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;”
Hebrews 10:12

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me,
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day.”
John 6:29

Dear Father in heaven, we are humbled that you quicken us from the dead in our trespasses and sin and accomplish your holy will in the lives of your children. Make us aware of our weakness and your power for all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength Isaiah 40:31 Music
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Image 2: Google