The Basis Of Thinking

Excerpts From Oswald Chambers’ Sermons

“Redemption is the great outside fact of the Christian faith; it has to do not only with a man’s experience of salvation, but with the basis of his thinking. The revelation of Redemption means that Jesus Christ came here in order that by means of His Death on the Cross He might put the whole human race on a redemptive basis, so making it possible for every man to get back into perfect communion with God. “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” What was finished? The redemption of the world. Men are not going to be redeemed; they are redeemed. “It is finished.” It was not the salvation of individual men and women like you and me that was finished: the whole human race was put on the basis of Redemption. Do I believe it? Let me think of the worst man I know, the man for whom I have no affinity, the man who is a continual thorn in my flesh, who is as mean as can be; can I imagine that man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”? If I can, I have got the beginning of Christian thinking. It ought to be an easy thing for the Christian who thinks to conceive of any and every kind of man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus,” but how seldom we do think! If I am an earnest evangelical preacher I may say to a man, “Oh yes, I believe God can save you,” while in my heart of hearts I don’t believe there is much hope for him. Our unbelief stands as the supreme barrier to Jesus Christ’s work in men’s souls. “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). But once let me get over my own slowness of heart to believe in Jesus Christ’s power to save, and I become a real generator of His power to men. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”—the solitary, incommunicable place of Jesus in our salvation! Are we banking in unshaken faith on the Redemption, or do we allow men’s sins and wrongs to so obliterate Jesus Christ’s power to save that we hinder His reaching them? “He that believeth on Me,” i.e., active belief based on the Redemption—out of him “shall flow rivers of living water.” We have to be so faithful to God that through us may come the awakening of those who have not yet realised that they are redeemed.

“We must distinguish between the revelation of Redemption and the experience of regeneration. We don’t experience life; we are alive. We don’t experience Redemption; we experience regeneration, that is, we experience the life of God coming into our human nature, and immediately the life of God comes in it produces a surface of consciousness, but Redemption means a great deal more than a man is conscious of. The redemption is not only for mankind, it is for the universe, for the material earth; everything that sin and the devil have touched and marred has been completely redeemed by Jesus Christ. There is a day coming when the Redemption will be actually manifested, when there will be “a new heaven and a new earth,” with a new humanity upon it. If Redemption is confounded with regeneration, we get confused. In the majority of cases men have had an experience of regeneration, but they have not thought about what producedthe experience, and when the great revelation fact of the Redemption is expounded there is misunderstanding. All that a man experiences is believing in Jesus, but that experience is the gateway into the awe and wonder of the knowledge of God. “And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God”.

“The Bible deals with the fundamental underlying things of human life, and one of these fundamental things is the presence of a disposition of sin in every man. Solidarity means oneness of interests, and the phrase, “the solidarity of the human race” indicates that there is an underlying connection running straight through human life; on the religious side this connection is the heredity of sin, which was introduced into the world through one man, not by the devil—“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world . . . for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12), and when the Apostle Paul says, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him” (rv), he is referring to this heredity. Through the Redemption we have deliverance from the disposition of sin which is within us, and severance from the body of sin to which we are connected by our “old man”; that is, we are absolutely and completely delivered from sin both in disposition and in domination “Being then made free from sin . . .” Unless the universality of sin is recognised we will never understand the need for the Redemption. What the Redemption deals with is the sin of the whole human race, not primarily with the sins of individuals, but something far more fundamental, viz.: the heredity of sin. Pseudo-evangelism singles out the individual, it prostitutes the terrific meaning of the Redemption into an individual possession, the salvation of my soul.

“The basis of Christian thinking is that God has redeemed the world from the possibility of condemnation on account of the heredity of sin, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” The revelation is not that Jesus Christ was punished for our sins, but “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” God nowhere holds a man responsible for having inherited the disposition of sin any more than he is held responsible for being born. We have nothing to do with our birth or with what we inherit, because we had no choice in either. A man will say, “If I am not held responsible for having a wrong disposition, what am I held responsible for?” God holds a man responsible for not allowing Jesus Christ to deliver him from the wrong disposition when he sees that that is what He came to do. A man gets the seal of condemnation when he sees the Light, and prefers darkness (see John 3:19).

“If you look upon Jesus Christ from the common-sense standpoint you will never discern who He is; but if you look upon Him as God “manifested in the flesh” (rv) for the purpose of putting the whole human race back to where God designed it to be, you get the meaning of Redemption. The great marvellous revelation of Redemption is that it atones for everyone; men are “condemned to salvation” through the Cross of Christ. Discipleship is another matter. There are things to be brought about in this world that can only be done through those of us who are prepared to fulfil the conditions of discipleship. On the basis of the Redemption I can, by committing myself to Jesus Christ and by receiving His Spirit as a gift, become a disciple in my actual life; that is, I can exhibit in my mortal flesh “the life also of Jesus.” (Chambers, O. (1996, c1950). Conformed to His image (electronic ed.). London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.)

“There is only one Being who loves perfectly, and that is God, yet the New Testament distinctly states that we are to love as God does; so the first step is obvious. If ever we are going to have perfect love in our hearts we must have the very nature of God in us. In Romans 5:5 the Apostle Paul tells us how this is possible; he says, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” He is speaking not of the power to love God, but of the very love of God itself which is “shed abroad”—a superabounding word, it means that the love of God takes possession of every crook and cranny of our nature. The practical question to ask therefore is, Have I received the Holy Spirit? has it ever come to an issue with me? There is nothing on earth like the love of God when once it breaks on the soul, it may break at a midnight or a dawn, but always as a great surprise, and we begin to experience the uniting of our whole being with the nature of God. Everything in that moment becomes easy, no command of Jesus is difficult to obey. It is not our power to love God that enables us to obey, but the presence of the very love of God in our heart which makes it so easy to obey Him that we don’t even know we are obeying. As you recall to your mind the touchings of the love of God in your life they are always few—you will never find it impossible to do anything He asks.

“When the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts we have to exhibit it in the strain of life; when we are saved and sanctified we are apt to think that there is no strain, but Paul speaks of the “tribulation” which “worketh patience.” I mean by strain, not effort, but the possibility of going wrong as well as of going right. There is always a risk, for this reason, that God values our obedience to Him. When God saves and sanctifies a man his personality is raised to its highest pitch of freedom, he is free now to sin if he wants to; before, he is not free, sin is impelling and urging him; when he is delivered from sin he is free not to sin, or free to sin if he chooses. The doctrine of sinless perfection and consequent freedom from temptation runs on the line that because I am sanctified, I cannot now do wrong. If that is so, you cease to be a man. If God put us in such a condition that we could not disobey, our obedience would be of no value to Him. But blessed be His Name, when by His redemption the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, He gives us something to do to manifest it. Just as human nature is put to the test in the actual circumstances of life, so the love of God in us is put to the test. “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” says Jude, that is keep your soul open not only to the fact that God loves you, but that He is in you, in you sufficiently to manifest His perfect love in every condition in which you can find yourself as you rely upon Him. The curious thing is that what we are apt, too apt, to restrain is the love of God; we have to be careless of the expression and heed only the Source. Let our Lord be allowed to give the Holy Spirit to a man, deliver him from sin, and put His own love within him, and that man will love Him personally, passionately and devotedly. It is not an earning or a working for, but a gift and a receiving.” (Chambers, O. (1996, c1950). Conformed to His image (electronic ed.). London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.)

Following is little about the human will, by Oswald Chambers’ “The Moral Foundations of Life – A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life”.

“The subject of human free will is apt to be either understated or overstated. No man has the power to act an act of pure, unadulterated, free will. God is the only Being Who can act with absolute free will. The Bible reveals that man is free to choose, but it nowhere teaches that man is fundamentally free. The freedom man has is not that of power but of choice, consequently he is accountable for choosing the course he takes. For instance, we can choose whether or not we will accept the proposition of salvation which God puts before us; whether or not we will let God rule our lives; but we have not the power to do exactly what we like. This is easily demonstrated when we think of the number of vows that are made every New Year and so quickly broken.

“Man is free to choose in so far as no human force can constrain him against his will. Pope* is often misquoted; he did not say, “Convince a man against his will, he is of the same opinion still,” but “compel a man against his will, he is of the same opinion still.” God has so constituted man that it is not possible to convince him against his will; you can compel him and crush him, but you cannot convince him against his will. Only God could exercise constraint over a man which would compel him to do what in the moment of doing it is not his own will; but that God steadily refuses to do. The reason man is not free is that within his personality there is a disposition which has been allowed to enslave his will, the disposition of sin. Man’s destiny is determined by his disposition; he cannot alter his disposition, but he can choose to let God alter it. Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin”; but He also said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” i.e. free in essence. We are only free when the Son sets us free; but we are free to choose whether or not we will be made free. In the experience of regeneration a man takes the step of choosing to let God alter his disposition. When the Holy Spirit comes into a man, He brings His own generating will power and makes a man free in will. Will simply means the whole nature active, and when the Holy Spirit comes in and energises a man’s will, he is able to do what he never could do before, viz., he is able to do God’s will (Philippians 2:13).”

Chambers, O. (1996, c1966). The Moral Foundations of Life: A series of talks on the ethical principles of the Christian life. C1966 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association. (electronic ed.). Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.

The following is an excerpt from Oswald Chambers’ “Approved Unto God”.

    • Process of Belief

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. John 1:12

    • “According to the New Testament, belief arises from intellectual conviction and goes through moral self-surrender to identification with the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Mind Reception

To as many as received Him . . .

    • “What place has the Lord Jesus Christ in your intellectual outlook? Until the Lord Jesus Christ has been received as the highest and only Authority, Bible explanations are beside the mark because they lack the one efficient seal of the Holy Spirit Who is the only interpreter of the Bible revelation, and the Holy Spirit does not seal Bible interpretation to any man who has not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as the final Authority for his life, for his mind, and for his whole outlook. John 1:12 represents the whole work of an individual soul in relationship to Jesus Christ.“Have I accepted Jesus Christ for my head as well as for my heart? Jesus Christ must be realised and accepted as the Authority as far as man is concerned.“Whether or not we are inside the pale of Christian experience, have we solved the problem of who is the final authority for our intellect? Is Jesus Christ? Is He the finest, the holiest Man that ever lived? If so, then our attitude of mind leads us to the position where we have the privilege of becoming sons of God.“If I have the right mental attitude to Jesus Christ the next step is easy: I will necessarily be led to accept what He says, and when He says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Then I will ask and receive.“Will I give a moral surrender to Jesus Christ’s authority? If so, the privilege of becoming a child of God will be a moral fact for me because the Holy Spirit will teach me how to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to my own life, and how to be identified in obedience to Him with the life of Jesus Christ in the experience of entire sanctification.
    • Moral Reception

To them gave He power to become the sons of God . . .

    • “But there is another class of people to whom the practical comes first. It is not the intellectual problem that bothers them but the personal one: conviction of sin, perplexity arising from a wrong disposition. Will you in that condition receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life? If once Jesus Christ is clear to the vision of the heart, everything else is simple. To as many as received Him, to them gave He the privilege (or the right) to become the sons of God.
    • “I accept Him not only as my Authority, I accept Him as my Saviour. I pin my faith implicitly to what He says; and looking to Him in implicit confidence, I ask God to give me the Holy Spirit according to the word of Jesus and receive Him in faith.
    • “Faith means implicit confidence in Jesus, and that requires not intellect only but a moral giving over of myself to Him. How many of us have really received from God the Spirit that ruled Jesus Christ and kept His spirit, soul and body in harmony with God? The Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin, He will reveal Jesus Christ, and He will bring in the power verse 13 describes—“which were born . . . of God,” begotten of God. He will do all that on one condition—that we surrender morally to Jesus Christ.
    • “It is this point of moral surrender that nearly every man “shies off.” We sentimentally believe, and believe, and believe, and nothing happens. We pray “Lord, increase our faith,” and we try to pump up the faith, but it does not come. What is wrong? The moral surrender has not taken place. Will I surrender from the real centre of my life, and deliberately and wilfully stake my confidence on what Jesus Christ tells me?
    • Mystic Reception

. . . even to them that believe on His name.

      • “From intellectual conviction and moral surrender to identification with the very life and joy of Jesus. A great thinker has said, “The seal and end of true conscious life is joy,” not pleasure, nor happiness. Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”—identity with Jesus Christ and with His joy.“What was the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ? His joy was in having completely finished the work His Father gave Him to do; and the same type of joy will be granted to every man and woman who is born of God the Holy Ghost and sanctified, when they fulfil the work God has given them to do. What is that work? To be a saint, a walking, talking, living, practical epistle of what God Almighty can do through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ—one in identity with the faith of Jesus, one in identity with the love of Jesus, one in identity with the Spirit of Jesus until we are so one in Him that the high-priestly prayer not only begins to be answered, but is clearly manifest in its answering—“that they may be one, even as We are.”“God grant that from intellectual insubordination and moral insubordination and spiritual insubordination we may prove that we are made one with the Lord Jesus Christ by the marvellous gift of the Holy Spirit through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so that, as Paul says, when our Lord comes He may be “marvelled at in all them that believed”.

Chambers, O. (1996, c1946). Approved unto God. C1946 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association. (electronic ed.). Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.

I’ve added the quotes in the order in which I searched and found them. This may seem out-of-order, but I had questions and then I found answers as I went along. I still have questions, but I have to stop somewhere. I hope this helps someone as much as it has me.

    • G Freeman Shepherd