‘no place for self’

I have watched for some time how the gospel has been marketed in America. As the church has endeavored to bring the gospel to the lost, they have felt it necessary to sell the sinner a ‘Jesus Christ’ that will meet the every need of the individual. It does not matter, if it is health, wealth, or prosperity, we have convinced those in need of salvation that this is the reason God sent His Christ… “to live at your full potential” .

Now there are a couple of problems with this thought process. The first is that it is the fartherest thing from the truth of God’s word. The second is that it propagates what I call a ‘selfish gospel’. Consider what Christ said when He called the people unto Him with His disciples..

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”. Mark 8:34-38

The truths that Jesus espoused don’t seem to exhort the one considering being a disciple of Jesus to think on ones self, but quite the contrary… ones selflessness. So if this is true why does the church have trouble promoting the truth? Because in America, it is not profitable in that it is not palatable to ones flesh. Doesn’t seem to draw the croud.

I think Richard Baxter hit the nail squarely upon its head when he writes in his Treatise on Self-Denial from The Practical Works of Richard Baxter.

The principal part of selfishness consists in an inordinate self-love. This is a corruption so deep in the heart of man, that it may be called his very natural inclination, which therefore lies at the bottom, below all his actual sins whatsoever; and must be changed into a new nature, which principally consists in the love of God. This is original sin itself, even the heart of it. This speaks what man by nature is; even an inordinate self-lover; and as he is, so he will act. In this, all other vice in the world is virtually contained…

Selfishness is most contrary to God, and would rob Him of all His rights as God, and God would be no God, if the selfish sinner had his will and did not heartily consent that God should be God to him. I have formerly told you, that self is the god of wicked men, or the world’s great idol; and that the inordinate love of pleasure, profits, and honor, in trinity, are what this self-love consists of; and that the malignant trinity of God’s enemies, the flesh is the first and foundation, the world the second, and the devil the third.

When the Christian can’t get his/her focus no farther than ones own self, they will never have a vision for the selfless sacrifice that Christ demands. Consider the actions of Mary the sister of Lazarus, that was raised from the dead, when she brought forth that ointment of spikenard, very costly and precious and broke it, anointed the feet of our Lord and wiped his feet with the very hair of her head. So precious was this offering that the word of God said “the house was filled with the odor of this ointment”. John 12

Oswald Chambers says that in order for God to make us like His Christ that it will require an “anti-self-realization”…. sound like the spirit we find in Mary.

Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all. Oswald Chambers – My Utmost For His Highest

“Whether you love an immortal, holy life with God, or this earthly, fleshly life better, is the great question on which it will be resolved whether you are Christians or infidels at the heart, and whether you are heirs of heaven or Hell…” Richard Baxter


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