Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Bare Necessities

I woke up singing the The Bare Necessities this morning. Do you remember that song from The Jungle Book? Take a look & sing along with Baloo & Mowgli & me:

When Scott asked me what made me sing that song I told him that the Lord had been speaking to me lately (& all through last night) about the simplicity that is in Christ & His gospel. I have been contemplating the biblical mandate for humbly & faithfully sharing the truth as it is in Jesus:

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them ... Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come ... Saying to them ... Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way."
Luke 9:1-5 ,Luke 10:3

Matthew Henry comments:

Christ sent His twelve disciples abroad, who by this time were able to teach others what they had received from the Lord. They must not be anxious to commend themselves to people's esteem by outward appearance. They must go as they were. The Lord Jesus is the fountain of power and authority, to whom all creatures must, in one way or another, be subject; and if He goes with the Word of His ministers in power, to deliver sinners from Satan's bondage, they may be sure that He will care for their wants. When truth and love thus go together, and yet the message of God is rejected and despised, it leaves men without excuse, and turns to a testimony against them.

What Christ directed them to do, in prosecution of this commission at this time, when they were not to go far or be out long.
(1.) They must not be solicitous to recommend themselves to people's esteem by their outward appearance. Now that they begin to set up for themselves, they must have no dress, nor study to make any other figure than what they made while they followed Him: they must go as they were, and not change their clothes, or so much as put on a pair of new shoes.
(2.) They must depend upon Providence, and the kindness of their friends, to furnish them with what was convenient for them. They must not take with them either bread or money, and yet believe they should not want. Christ would not have His disciples shy of receiving the kindnesses of their friends, but rather to expect them. Yet St. Paul saw cause not to go by this rule, when he laboured with his hands rather than be burdensome.
(3.) They must not change their lodgings, as suspecting that those who entertained them were weary of them; they have no reason to be so, for the ark is a guest that always pays well for its entertainment: "Whatsoever house ye enter into there abide (v. 4), that people may know where to find you, that your friends may know you are not backward to serve them, and your enemies may know you are not ashamed nor afraid to face them; there abide till you depart out of that city; stay with those you are used to."
(4.) They must put on authority, and speak warning to those who refused them as well as comfort to those that received them, v. 5. "If there be any place that will not entertain you, if the magistrates deny you admission and threaten to treat you as vagrants, leave them, do not force yourselves upon them, nor run yourselves into danger among them, but at the same time bind them over to the judgment of God for it; shake off the dust of your feet for a testimony against them." This will, as it were, be produced in evidence against them, that the messengers of the gospel had been among them, to make them a fair offer of grace and peace, for this dust they left behind there; so that when they perish at last in their infidelity this will lay and leave their blood upon their own heads. Shake off the dust of your feet, as much as to say you abandon their city, and will have no more to do with them.
2. What they did, in prosecution of this commission (v. 6): They departed from their Master's presence; yet, having still His spiritual presence with them, His eye and His arm going along with them, and, thus borne up in their work, they went through the towns, some or other of them, all the towns within the circuit appointed them, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Their work was the same with their Master's, doing good both to souls and bodies.

Following Jesus & going out to the mill to fish for men. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. By the grace of Christ, that's what we do! We are not the hare, we are the tortoise. (
Hear our great Savior as He tells us to strip down to the bare necessities, saying: "Take nothing with you" Do not fall prey to thinking that you have to have special materials, extrordinary knowlege of how to help women, perfect memorization of certain scriptures. Do not worry that you do not have all manner of provision to give to the mothers right at hand. Remember Peter in Acts 3:6? When he came upon a crippled beggar the apostle looked him straight in the eye & without apology declared: "I don't have any silver or gold, but I'll give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth, walk!"

Thus, if we would attempt to good purpose the healing of men's souls, we must go forth in the name and power of Jesus Christ,
calling on helpless sinners to arise and walk in the way of holiness, by faith in Him.
How sweet the thought to our souls, that in respect to all the crippled faculties of our fallen nature,
the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth can make us whole!
~ Matthew Henry

Dear ones, do not be deceived into believing that there are any trappings, even religious trappings that are necessary to preach Christ & Him crucified to those who are perishing. Do not go out commending yourself, your 'niceness', your 'spirituality' or even 'your many prayers', for we are only unprofitable servants. Our Master speaks in Luke 17:10: "So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."

When you go out to minister to those who are perishing, do not lift up our ministry or your church or any pregnancy center or post-abortion counseling. Do not succumb to flattery & aggrandizement when you engage the aborting moms & their companions.

medieval scourge: a whip or lash, especially a multi-thong type used to inflict severe corporal punishment

“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues ..."
~ Jesus
Matthew 10:17

Several times during this week alone religionists have questioned the value of our biblical method of teaching & preaching from the Bible, calling to repentance from sin to faith in Jesus & unswervingly pointing to Christ when we minister. It's sort of ironic because very few lost people question our allegiance to the King & His Word. They seem to understand that we are Christians, doing what Christians do; pointing to the Savior! These subtle & sometimes not-so-subtle attacks come from within the visible church, some even from our our fellowship! We are admonished & even chastised by professing Christians to stop using scriptures & just speak 'peace' & practical help & leave OUT the Word of God! It is shocking until we remember that we should never be suprised because Jesus warned us from the beginning that this would happen when we went out to evangelize with the truth as it is in Jesus. The Lord was honest. He said that religious people will '... scourge you in their synagogues" That means INSIDE THE CHURCH buildings! (scourge means: ) Matthew Henry wisely taught what the Bible reveals that the purpose of the gospel is not merely for those captive by the devil OUTSIDE the church:

The design of the gospel was to conquer the devil and to cure the world ...
The devil, as an unclean spirit, is working both in doctrinal errors (Rev. 16:13),
and in practical debauchery (2 Pt. 2:10);
and in both these, ministers have a charge against him.

Resist the temptation (including RELIGIOUS pressure) to change the bare necessities of the gospel message of Christ & resort to anything less than the simply gospel mandate to call aborting mothers to repent & believe by the means of the scriptures for the Word of God is the means of special revelation of saving grace that releases sinners from the bondage of sin & death: "Faith comes by hearing & hearing comes by the Word". (Romans 10:17) It is wicked & it is sin to replace Christ & Him crucified with humanistic, woman-centered reasoning. We are great sinners & Christ is a great Savior. The Lamb of God is not only enough. He is MORE than enough.

And I, brothers, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified
... And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
... not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:
I Corinthians 2:1,2,4, 5,6,7

The indwelling sin (the law of sin & death) in our souls rises up & tempts us to turn from the good that we know to do. Romans 7:21-23 gives us an illustration of how our old nature (our flesh) wages war against the Spirit (the law of grace & life) when we prepare to minister & often continues to tempt us even while we are sharing the gospel. "I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members ..." When we are sharing the gospel, & it seems to be falling on deaf ears, even to the religious ones in our midst, remember the scripture from I Corinthians 1:18: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God." We must trust that even though what we are speaking from the scriptures is a mystery (& foolishness) to the aborting women & their companions & to the false converts in the church, IT IS ENOUGH because it is what God has ordained to win souls to Himself, & also to add to the guilt of those who refuse, resist, suppress & hate the truth & righteouness of God in Christ. (Romans 1:18) Yes, beloved, "... it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (I Corinthians 1:21)Romans 7:24,25 points us the the Author & Finisher of our faith for help in resisting the world, the flesh & the devil, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Lift up Christ! He is enough! Depend upon His Spirit! Did He not promise "If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me"? (John 12:32) We are not to lift up anyONE (a saint/icon or ourselves) or anyTHING (a pregnancy center, a church, an adoption agency, our ministry) else but CHRIST. Depend upon Jesus to quicken those goats and wolves (both within & without the visible church) by the power of His Holy Spirit. In His instructions for service in Matthew 10 Jesus warns; "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves ..." (Matthew 10:16) Our Master has already told us that we are being sent out as sheep to the slaughter, like our Savior. We will be offered up to the authorities by the religious people, who will do so believing that they are doing God a favor! Jesus promised that they will hate us as they hate Him. But let us take courage in the Lamb Who has bought our redemption with His own Body & let us never be ashamed of Him & His Word, for hath He not promised: “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. (Matthew 10:32-36)

It's not a pretty picture, is it? No, but it is the way of salvation. It is the glorious path that is narrow & leads to eternal life.

Greet no one along the way. The People's New Testament notes: 'The Jewish salutations were very formal, hypocritical, and consumed much time. It is said that it often required from one to three hours to complete these formal salutations. The disciples were not to consume thus their precious time, nor did the Savior wish them to go through with foolish and insincere forms.' Wesley notes: ' The salutations usual among the Jews took up much time. But these had so much work to do in so short a space, that they had not a moment to spare.' Matthew Henry (my personal favorite Bible commentator) writes:

Not that Christ would have His ministers to be rude, morose, and unmannerly; but,
(1.) They must go as men in haste, that had their particular places assigned them, where they must deliver their message, and in their way directly to those places must not hinder or retard themselves with needless ceremonies or compliments.
(2.) They must go as men of business, business that relates to another world, which they must be intent in, and intent upon, and therefore must not entangle themselves with conversation about secular affairs ... You are a minister of the Word; attend to your office.
(3.) They must go as serious men, and men in sorrow. It was the custom of mourners, during the first seven days of their mourning, not to salute any, Job 2:13. Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and it was fit that by this and other signs His messengers should resemble Him, and likewise show themselves affected with the calamities of mankind which they came to relieve, and touched with a feeling of them.

Do not become distracted by idle chatter & unnecessary activities (the holidays are RIFE with them). Even religious activities can be little more than formalism & distractions.When you are committed to go out to seek & save the lost with Jesus, do not look to the left or the right. Be faithful to keep your committment to witness.

Silver & gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ, rise up & walk. We don't have to have enough funds or support or people to help or anything else when we go to the aborting moms.

What we do is not glamourous. Far from it. It's not flashy. It is not a temporary 'movement' or 'happening'. It is nothing new fangled. And unlike foreign missions or big fancy conferences or crusades, it doesn't take a whole lot of money or organization to accomplish. It is the day in, day out, in season out of season ministry of the gospel, sowing the seed of life & eternity. Be ye glad that the Lord has sought you out & commissioned you for this great work of redemption, beloved.

I have excerpted some notes from Matthew Henry's comments on Matthew 10 below. I think they are GREAT. I hope they encourage you in your humble service to Christ & your neighbor. Let us all continue in prayer & study & fellowship & as Good Samaritans go out in glad-hearted obedience to the duty of the Great Commission.

Scott & I like to recall one of our favorite bumper stickers, which says: "Minimalism, it's the least you can do." : ) Let us all purpose to be preachers of Christ & depend on The Bare Nececessities of LIFE & eternity.

Together For the Glory of Christ & the Good of our Neighbors,
Patte Smith
Sanctuary Ministries

Matthew Henry on Matthew 10:
...His ... ambassadors; they were His disciples, v. 1. He had called them some time before to be disciples, His immediate followers and constant attendants, and He then told them that they should be made fishers of men ... Christ commonly confers honours and graces by degrees; the light of both, like that of the morning, shines more and more. All this while Christ had kept these twelve,

1. In a state of probation. Though He knows what is in man, though He knew from the first what was in them (Jn. 6:70), yet He took this method to give an example to his church. Note, The ministry being a great trust, it is fit that men should be tried for a time, before they are entrusted with it. Let them first be proved, 1 Tim. 3:10 ... let him first be observed as a candidate and probationer ... because some men's sins go before, others follow, 1 Tim. 5:22.

2. In a state of preparation. All this while He had been fitting them for this great work. Note, Those whom Christ intends for, and calls to, any work, He first prepares and qualifies, in some measure, for it. He prepared them,

(1.) By taking them to be with Him. Note, The best preparative for the work of the ministry, is an acquaintance and communion with Jesus Christ. They that would serve Christ, must first be with Him (Jn. 12:26). Paul had Christ revealed, not only to him, but in him, before he went to preach him among the Gentiles, Gal. 1:16. By the lively acts of faith, and the frequent exercise of prayer and meditation, that fellowship with Christ must be maintained and kept up, which is a requisite qualification for the work of the ministry.

(2.) By teaching them; they were with Him as scholars or pupils, and He taught them privately, besides the benefit they derived from His public preaching; He opened the scriptures to them, and opened their understandings to understand the scriptures: to them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and to them they were made plain. Note, They that design to be teachers must first be learners; they must receive, that they may give; they must be able to teach others, 2 Tim. 2:2. Gospel truths must be first committed to them, before they be commissioned to be gospel ministers. To give men authority to teach others, that have not an ability, is but a mockery to God and the church; it is sending a message by the hand of a fool, Prov. 26:6. Christ taught His disciples before He sent them forth (ch. 5:2), and afterwards, when He enlarged their commission, He gave them more ample instructions, Acts 1:3.

II. What the commission was that he gave them.

1. He called them to Him, v. 1. He had called them to come after Him before; now he calls them to come to Him, admits them to a greater familiarity, and will not have them to keep at such a distance as they had hitherto observed. They that humble themselves shall thus be exalted. ...

2. He gave them power ...authority in His name, to command men to obedience, and for the confirmation of that authority, to command devils too into a subjection. Note, All rightful authority is derived from Jesus Christ. All power is given to Him without limitation ... It is an undeniable proof of the fulness of power which Christ used as Mediator, that He could impart His power to those He employed, and enable them to work ... in His Name ... Note, The design of the gospel was to conquer the devil and to cure the world. These preachers were sent out destitute of all external advantages to recommend them; they had no wealth, nor learning, nor titles of honour, and they made a very mean figure; it was therefore requisite that they should have some extraordinary power to advance them above the scribes.

(1.) He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out. Note, The power that is committed to the ministers of Christ, is directly levelled against the devil and his kingdom. The devil, as an unclean spirit, is working both in doctrinal errors (Rev. 16:13), and in practical debauchery (2 Pt. 2:10); and in both these, ministers have a charge against him. Christ gave them power to cast him out of the bodies of people; but that was to signify the destruction of his spiritual kingdom, and all the works of the devil; for which purpose the Son of God was manifested ...

(2.) They are names by couples; for at first they were sent forth two and two, because two are better than one; they would be serviceable to each other, and the more serviceable jointly to Christ and souls; what one forgot the other would remember, and out of the mouth of two witnesses every word would be established. Three couple of them were brethren; Peter and Andrew, James and John, and the other James and Lebbeus. Note, Friendship and fellowship ought to be kept up among relations, and to be made serviceable to religion. It is an excellent thing, when brethren by nature are brethren by grace, and those two bonds strengthen each other.