CENTERED ON CHRIST by Dr. Vernon Grounds

CENTERED ON CHRIST – Dr. Vernon Grounds

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Opinions differ markedly as to how far left they are. In any case, we mustn’t forget that all truth comes from Him who is the truth. And I honestly don’t know how one with precision establishes the center of orthodoxy. I’ve never forgotten the woman captured during the Spanish Civil War who, when ordered to position herself politically (right would mean conservative; left would mean liberal), replied, “I stand at extreme center.” That’s my own position too. . . provided I’m allowed to decide where the center is located.

This Christmas letter, which I hope to keep on sending out as long as possible, affords me the opportunity of sharing inspiration and insight from some of the towering individuals who have impacted my mind and heart. Oddly, they are sometimes viewed with suspicion (more often wrongly rather than rightly) because of their allegedly left-of-center theology.

Well, here’s what Karl Barth wrote as he reached his 50th milestone.

Now one knows that everything is at stake. Old age is coming  nearer and with it what comes at the end of old age—if it does not come suddenly before then. For anyone who still has time and a goal to reach, this can only mean that everything and everyone become more sharply etched: the problems and needs of one’s own position and career, as well as those of the world around, are felt more keenly. One is moved to a prudent haste, to a certain mild but dogged intensity in both work and talk. Now is the time when everything seems to be extremely serious, as indeed it is. One has to decide whether the gift of this short life also involves a responsibility and whether one has properly understood this responsibility, for all one’s stupidity and perverseness. There is also the question whether despite one’s own unfaithfulness, one has accepted this responsibility gratefully as a sign of the free grace of God.

Those, mind you, were Barth’s reflections at 50. They are far more pertinent for myself heading rapidly towards 84!

 -VCG, 1997

No Power … Except His Power

‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” ‘ Genesis 4:7

I’ve experienced seeing some believers sacrifice their lives to Christ fully, and be blessed in amazing ways. Many have seen the provisions of God in ways that they could never have imagined. I’ve experienced seeing believers sacrifice their lives, in ways that seemed to be full, that have experienced a lack of the respect and fame that they were going for. As believers in Christ, Christ followers, we should surely encourage one another. But for those that are doing what He has told us to do, our hope should be ONLY to bring Him glory and to give Him full and sincere obedience. Truth is that if we allow the sin of the world to get in our hearts and minds – the sins of a desire of fame in ministry OR a desire to be considered more important than others around us … the sin will just stay right there with us, standing at the door of our hearts controlling every move we make.

Sin is standing at the door of the hearts of many people who want to be seen as brilliant, powerful, ???. Yes, this is a strong truth! Too many of us have not taken just one moment to look our enemy in the face and tell him to “get away from me! you are not helping me! you don’t care about the same things God does. You care only about things that people think are important!” (Matthew 16:23) Oh! my brothers and sisters in Christ …. Be Careful!

Looking around us right now and seeing that we, believers in Christ, seem to be letting civil leadership all over the world make us believe that one group is better than another. Just never forget that He, The Almighty God, created us all. Just never forget that He, The Almighty God, send His Son Jesus to die for us all. Just never forget that our loyalty should be leaning toward Him alone, The Almighty God.

Right now these dangerous thoughts are truly sitting right on our shoulders. The world’s powers have jealousies of one another, and their sin has passed down to some of us – building jealousy within in Body of Christ. Just makes my heart so sad. Causes many tears for me.

I encourage you to yield and submit your life and your mind completely to Him. Whether He leads you to a place or task that you love OR if He leads you into something that you don’t even understand … yield and submit to Him. You can only give him all of you if you do it completely and sincerely. Giving Him your life in ways that you believes looks like it … will cause you tremendous pain and sorrow. And then your jealousy for those that God exalts, in His own way and time, will move you to do terrible things as you try to bring them to an end. Don’t let sin have you. Don’t think that anything that you desire should be beyond a desire to bring God glory and praise!

OUR NEED FOR A COMING KING

From the Denver Seminary Advent Devotional. Words by Dr. Vernon Grounds (1960)

Mark 13:28-37

One night in late August I sat with a friend high on a plateau overlooking Colorado Springs. Far beneath us twinkled the lights of the city, above the stars were shining, and to the west reared the huge bulk of Cheyenne Mountain. A group of young people were clustered around a campfire singing some of the plaintive spirituals and ballads of the Southland.

My friend and I, a short distance removed from them, talked together seriously about many things. He is a mature, perceptive, and forceful Christian, who spent a year in Europe and saw what communism has done and is doing in East Germany. Not long ago he participated in a Moral Leadership Workshop sponsored by our Navy Department, an opportunity not only to witness but also to observe the bewilderment of outstanding leaders in the face of mounting national decay. Moving continually among evangelical churches of many denominations, he observes firsthand the dear th of spirituality and power, to say nothing of the appalling prevalence of materialism and worldliness.

While we were talking together, someone shouted and pointed overhead. I looked up and caught my first sight of Echo, a man-made satellite, as it traveled across the sky, the symbol of a new age, the era of space exploration with all its potentialities of achievement and horror. I confess to you that I rose to my feet and stood there in silence, staring at that amazing projectile as it slowly vanished out of sight. And I thought some long and deep and unutterable thoughts. What burned itself into my mind, however, as I stood there that night was the world’s need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a day when communism menaces our freedom, when on every hand we witness degeneration, when evangelicalism is splintered, decadent, and faltering, and when mankind is making enormous technological strides that may carry us into the abyss, we must proclaim the gospel with renewed urgency and unction.

That is why continually I ask God to bless our alumni as all around the globe they are preaching Jesus Christ. And that is why I trust you will offer up supplication for us here as we seek to train students to do the very job which you are now so faithfully doing.

 -VCG, 1960

Get your devotional from their website: Denver Seminary 2020 Advent Devotional

Dressed in His Righteousness Alone

My friend, Eulalia, wrote a song that repeats these words over and over again … Dressed In His Righteousness Alone! That song is on my heart today … “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name! On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand! Dressed in His Righteousness Alone! Dressed In His Righteousness Alone!”

God offers us that we will be dressed in His righteousness alone. We, however, feel like we need benchmarks and check lists. We seek a law so that we can keep score; unknowingly separating ourselves from the unmerited favor of the LORD. And further, we have redefined a fall from grace to mean adultery, because this is more in line with our works baed, legalistic, self judging – view of our lives in Christ.

Sin is not the fall from grace! Self reliance is!

A fall from grace is a result of self righteousness!

I’m asking Our Father to help us, His children, be drawn to study His Word daily so that the lies we tell ourselves might be set straight! We are fooling ourselves into a belief that we are righteous, all the while stripping ourselves of the only righteousness that we can ever truly have. Our only confidence is in Christ’s shed blood! Almighty God, – help us to be satisfied with being dressed in Your righteousness alone. Help us to cherish this promise!