竭力往前与安息

“竭力追求。。。努力面前的,向着标杆直跑。。。”  腓立比书 3:12-14。

“你们要安息,要知道我是 神。”  诗篇 46:10。

我们如何可以即竭力往前,又安息呢?有弟兄说的好,我们是“手忙心不忙“。

但同时,我们读 神的话,要小心不被字句所捆绑。神的话在灵意里,不在字句里。死抠字眼抠不出生命来。词汇本身常有模糊性的局限,需要上下文和场景的限制才清楚。 Continue reading “竭力往前与安息”

基督之大

叫了这个标题,心里很踌躇,因为 “大” 这个词,是一个很含糊,甚至有些俗气的词。然而我们认识基督后,发现我们一生都在发现基督之大,不仅是基督身位的尊大,也有基督里丰富广阔之大。

认识基督之大,是我们信心的内涵。这地上唯有认识基督的人,才明白“自信(confidence)” 和“信心(faith)” 之间的区别。

T. Austin Sparks 弟兄曾说 “我們不能滿足于自己里面那個小小的、我們感到能完全理解和有把握的基督。” Continue reading “基督之大”

至亲的亲属

在聚会交通中,忽然为与主的一种实际的亲情关系而心里大大受感动。

我们平常喊主啊,主啊,但并不总能感到或记得他是我们至亲的亲属。他是我们的约瑟。他真的爱我们,不是因为我们好,而是因为我们是他的弟兄。

地上最好的亲情,也只是天上关系的某一部分的一个影子而已 (并不是本体,甚至不是全部整体的影子,只是某一侧面的影子)。 Continue reading “至亲的亲属”

Spiritual pride

One of the most paradoxical and troubling experiences I have had in my Christian life is the existence of spiritual pride.  Pride as a human behavior is common, and is a very basic aspect of sinful human nature.  But spiritual pride is much harder to understand, and even harder to deal with.

It’s easy to categorically say that any spiritual revelation that leads to pride is not true spiritual revelation. The real life experience, however, tells you that it’s far more complicated than that.  

Often, you see terrible and hurtful pride in some men and women who have such profound spiritual knowledge.  The spiritual knowledge demonstrated by such individuals are so profound and admirable, yet the person is so evidently and hurtfully prideful, condescending, and self-important, it challenges a normal definition of “pride”.
Continue reading “Spiritual pride”

箴言读经笔记

I.  箴言与普通智慧的区别

(1) 箴言教我们如何生活,但箴言主要的目的并非为了帮助我们在地上的生存。如果箴言是为了帮助我们属地的生存的话,亚伯(创世纪 4:8)的经历就足以证明智慧是软弱无力的。就人的经历来讲,亚伯是信心生活的开始,是智慧首次显现。但亚伯很快就被杀了。如果单从生存的角度讲,还有什么比亚伯更软弱更失败的呢?

有一种讲法,说艺术和文学是“源于生活, 但高于生活。”这也许听上去很有灵感,但只是人的一种想法而已。若真的是完全出自于人的生活的事物,绝没有一样可以真正超越生活。

出自尘土的,必归于尘土 (创 3:19)。

然而箴言并非“出自生活且高于生活”的艺术和文学。箴言是来自天上,进入生活,又回到天上的属天智慧。人若不明白并接受这个基本点,就无法进入箴言,并食之为天粮。

(2) 箴言是智慧,但并非普通智慧。首先需要认识到,普通智慧中也有真实的智慧,这样的智慧归根也是来自 神的。普通智慧出自人的良知和对 神的记忆。尽管那个记忆可能是何等地遥远,但却是属于 神的。人的良知见证 神和 神的律法,“他們的是非之心同作見證,並且他們的思念互相較量,或以為是,或以為非。”(罗 2:14-15) 。既有是非之心并相互较量,就表明人的思想中是有正确的成分的,即有智慧的。

因此箴言并非立足于和普通智慧完全对立的位置。换言之,神的儿女不需要和普通的智慧对抗争辩,好像非得要证明人的普通智慧全都是错误的或非智慧的。在这个层面上的争吵是不必要的。事实上,我们若坚持那样的立场,不仅是对人不尊重,也是对 神自己的不尊重。

然而,这样讲并非是把普通智慧提升到箴言的高度,或把箴言降低到普通智慧的地步。箴言与普通智慧有极大区别。一是度的区别,二是质的区别。

有度的区别,是因为箴言是纯净的真理和智慧,而不像一般的智慧最好也只是一个混合体。

更重要的是有质的区别,因为箴言不只是真理的影子,而是那位“为真理者”(I am the Truth, Jesus said) 的启示。箴言起始于 神给一个人的启示 – 不是给随便一个人的启示,而是给一个 神特别拣选的人的启示,即所罗门。这世上的人,或多或少都由于被造而曾得到一些智慧,但所罗门却是唯一的一个人,被 神直接承诺,明确向 神要智慧并得以兑现的。

同时,箴言被讲出来,不是流传于普天下的至理名言,而是 神特意要说给祂的选民听的“家训”。

求主让我读箴言看见基督,免得错过了 神的教导和心意。

II. 在箴言里看见基督:

(1) 箴言以一个生命的关系为基础。箴言是父亲讲给儿子听的话。箴言不是被搜集的民间智慧,好像他方遥远的古人曾讲过的一些至理名言,现今又被一些碰巧认同其中道理(却仍然是无生命关系的人) 所读所欣赏。不是的。箴言是家书。

最突出的,箴言是有关儿子的名份。

“智慧的儿子让父亲欢喜” (箴言 10:1)。这绝非一句普通的智慧话,因为这是智慧的定义,是检验什么是智慧的试金石。这世上没有任何智慧言语有如此的深度和品质。这与说话的人有多聪明多有思想没有关系,而是完全取决于是谁在说话,即说话的那位是谁

谁都可以讲出这样一句简单的道理,但若出自人口,就是一个普通的道德愿望,而出自耶和华天地万物之主的口,则是一个终极真理的表达,因为 神的胸怀和意念与人的不同。在人心可以看到并接受 神的话的美善之前,人必须承认并把自己的心智伏在 神的话的权威之下 (submit to the authority of the Word of God)。

神从来不发表“意见”让人来商榷。神的话是“意义”的根基所在。因此,箴言 (如 10:1) 在根基上定义什么是智慧。

照此定义,其一,只有儿子(泛指儿女)才可以具备真智慧,因为智慧是出自父亲并且专门传给儿子的。 父亲没有心意将智慧随便给别人。 其二,如果儿子即具备此智慧就让父亲欢喜,则表明此为真智慧。如果不能,即不是真智慧。就是这么简单的一个检验。我们为天父儿女的人,与父亲的关系是我们生活之道的权威检验,也是我们智慧生活的目标。

父的心,远超过指导我们实际的生活。全宇宙最重要的一件事,是神的独生爱子的品行,以及他在父心中的喜悦。那真儿子的品质,以及他在父心中的喜悦,乃是全宇宙最高的品质和最重要的事。 神必让此事彰显,并且现今已经让其彰显。

“这是我的爱子,是我所喜悦的”(马太 3:17)。父神在新约里很少亲自讲话,因为祂已经把所有的话都装在了基督里面,并由基督来讲话。但当父神的确讲话时,祂就讲了这一句,并且讲了两遍。

如果这件事还不能告诉我们 神的儿女箴言对我们的生活之重要,还有别的什么能够呢?

(2)  箴言说出基督的性情。箴言 3:3-6 为例, 如果把其中的“你”变为“他”,并把祈使句换成直述句,就说出主耶稣在地上时如何行走:”慈爱、诚实从不离开他,系在他颈项上,刻在他心版上。 他在 神和世人眼前蒙恩宠,有聪明。 他专心仰赖耶和华,不倚靠自己的聪明, 在他一切所行的事上都要认定耶和华,由祂指引他的路。“  这就是我们的主。

(3)  箴言说出 神的公义,仇敌的破坏以及在基督里的救赎。“詭詐的天平為耶和華所憎惡;公平的法碼為他所喜悅。” (箴言 11:1)  这里说出一个比人间交易的公平更深远的故事。这个世界的堕落开始于那恶者用诡诈的“天平”所钻营的不法“贸易”;而世界的拯救却是因为那义者“公平的砝码”,因为他在十字架上付了足价。

撒旦当初在天上进行贸易,就在他里面查出不义。(以西结 28:15-17)。

贸易。我们都知道任何的贸易都至少要声称是公平的,否则没有谁会与之交易。撒旦用诡诈的天平欺骗了诸多天使并导致他们堕落(这个事实并不为堕落的天使开脱罪),因为他用来换取天使对他的称赞所承诺他们的,是他并不拥有的。他是个撒谎者,并且又因此成了凶杀者。他是这世上一切恶人的父。恶人如他们的父一样,也行同样的事。 他们慷慨应许“公平”却不愿,也无力,付上合理的价钱,而只能用暴力窃取 (大到这世上一次次的暴力革命,小到人界诸多不法不公之事,都同出一辙)。这是“诡诈的天平”,是耶和华所憎恶的。

与其鲜明对照,基督承诺了平安,并且付了足价,好赎回那失丧的,并让他们和天父和好。基督就是那“公平的砝码”。

(4) 箴言和主的心相连,显明祂对属祂的人的心意。读箴言,很难不看到其与主耶稣在山上的教训的对照(马太 5:3-16)。 主在山上的教训,如果被看做是“新约的箴言”的话,像是立足于一个不同的,并且是更高之地,其中蕴藏着新约和旧约的反差和对照。

箴言和主在山上的教训的确是不一样的。后者是说给一群被拣选的特别的人,这些人是属天的,是天上的国民,但暂时留在地上完成一个过渡时期的使命。这些人犹如从上面来的“伞兵”空降在敌占区。与此对照,箴言是讲给一个在地上的民,他们生活在这个属地的世界却寄望于一个在永世里更美好的未来。他们犹如敌占区当地的抵抗力量,和入侵者抗争。

换个方式表达,一个是从上往下的光照(山上的教训),另一个是从下往上的寻求(箴言)。

然而两者都是 神的话语整体的部分,讲给 神的儿女所听的。人常常误解主在山上的教训,认为要求太过分,无法成为普世的道德。但主并没有意思把那些话讲给这个世界听,他是讲给父神给他的那些特别的人的,他们就是那些和基督同患难,直等到主再回来的人。愿我们都在其中。

人也常常误解箴言,以为只是一些旧约的道理,对在新约时代 神的儿女不太实用。但岂不知箴言的实际已在主耶稣身上得以成全,今天要成为跟随耶稣的人行走的法则。

我们需要箴言。如果我们以为我们即属于新约时代,就超越了箴言,那我们就是愚昧的。空降的伞兵,一旦着陆后即需要学习在周边区域生存的智慧(虽然他们着陆的目的不是为了生存,否则他们就不需要来),直到使命完成的那日。

Reflections of Proverbs – Seeing Christ in Proverbs

I. Proverbs is not common wisdom:

(1) Proverbs teaches us how to live, but this book is not primarily about practical social skills for survival in this world. If it were about survival, Abel would have been a powerful example to prove the feebleness of wisdom. But Abel is the beginning of the life of faith, and the first sign of wisdom. Genesis 4:8.

There is a saying that the arts and literature come from living but transcend living. That may sound glorious, but it’s just a human concept. Nothing that truly is originated from this life transcends this life. What comes from dust goes back to dust. But Proverbs is not arts and literature. It comes from above, goes through living, and returns to above. Unless we understand this viewpoint, we will never eat Proverbs as heavenly food, the Word of God.

(2) Proverbs is about wisdom, but it is not common wisdom. It is important to note that even common wisdom, as far as the part that is truly wise, is fundamentally a gift from God, not something that man can take credit for.  Common wisdom springs from man’s conscience and his memory of God, no matter how distance it may be. Man’s conscience bears witness of God and witness to the law of God, and their thoughts either accusing or excusing themselves (Romans 2:14-15). This speaks of the fact that though man’s common wisdom is imperfect, it has a part that testifies about the truth, which is fundamentally not an invention of man, but a gift from God. In this sense, Proverbs is not completely opposing to the common wisdom.

In other words, God’s children need not to argue that everything said by man in common wisdom is wrong or not wise. There is no need of a controversy at this level. In fact, insisting on that is a disrespect to God, not just to man made by God.

Nevertheless, Proverbs is fundamentally different from common wisdom. This is so not only in the sense that Proverbs is pure truth while common wisdom is a mixture at best, but more importantly in the sense that Proverbs is not a shadow of truth but a revelation of the Truth Himself, because it is the revelation of God to man (not just any man but the chosen man Solomon) and meant to be given to a peculiar people (not just any people, but the elect of God).

May the Lord allow me to see Christ in Proverbs, lest I miss the instructions.

II.  Seeing Christ in Proverbs:

(1)  Proverbs is based on a life relationship. They are words spoken by the father to a son. It’s not merely wise sayings collected from distant wise people to be used by anyone who happens to like the teachings contained in them.

Most prominently, Proverbs is about sonship.  A wise son makes a glad father (Proverbs 10:1).  This is not a common wise saying, because it is the very definition and the touchstone of what wisdom is. No other wise saying has this depth and quality. Before our heart can recognize the goodness of God’s word, we must recognize and subject our heart and intellect to the authority of God’s word.  God never gives an opinion. What God says provides the very basis of the meaning itself. Therefore, Proverbs 10:1 profoundly defines what wisdom is. According to this definition, first, the true wisdom can only be had by a son, because it is intended by the father to the son. Second, if by possessing the quality of it the son would make the father glad, it is then proved to be true wisdom. If not, it is not true wisdom. As simple as that. This relationship with the heavenly Father is an ultimate test for God’s children’s way of living, the goal of our practical wisdom.

But God’s heart on the sonship reaches far beyond giving guidance to our practical living. The real quality of the Son, and His delightfulness of the Father is the most important thing in the entire universe. It has been, and it must be, fulfilled in our Lord.  “This is my beloved son, in whom I have found my delight.” (Matthew 3:17).  We must remember that God the Father seldom spoke directly in the New Testament because he spoke through and in his son Jesus Christ.  But when the Father did speak, he only spoke those words, twice.

If this doesn’t tell us we the children of God why Proverbs are important to our lives, nothing else would.

(2)  Proverbs is about the character of Christ. Change “you” to “he (Christ)” in Proverbs 3:3-6, one sees a description of the life on earth of our Lord as the Son of God.

“The loving-kindness and truth never leave him; he binds them about his neck, write them upon the tablet of his heart: He finds favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.  He confides in Jehovah with all his heart, and leans not unto his own intelligence; in all his ways he acknowledge the Father, and the Father makes plain his paths.”

(3)  Proverbs is about the nature of a just God and salvation through Christ. “A false balance is an abomination to Jehovah; but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1) The world was brought into a fallen state by a “business” conducted by the evil one with a false balance, but was later redeemed by a “just weight” (the true price paid on the cross) bore by the Righteous One.  Lucifer engaged into a certain kind of business in the heavens, and iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:15-17).  A business. We know that any business must purport the principle of “balance” which is fairness. But Lucifer deceived many angels using a false balance, by promising what he did not possess. He was a liar, and then a murderer.  Like their father, man promises equity but pays no price for it (think about communism as an example). It’s a false balance, and an abomination to Jehovah.

In contrast, Christ promised peace and paid the full price for it to redeem the ones who are lost and bring them to reconciliation with the Father. Jesus is the “Just Weight”.

(4)  Proverbs connects to what the Lord has in his heart for his people. Reading Proverbs with a spiritual mind, it is hard not to see a contrast between Proverbs and Beatitudes spoken by the Lord in Matthew 5:3-16.  If Beatitudes may be regarded as “the Proverbs of the New Testament”, it seems that they are on a different ground, a higher ground it may seem.

They are different. The latter is given to a peculiar people who already belong to the heavenly kingdom but temporarily remain in this sinful world for a transitional purpose. In a sense, they are parachute troops descended from above to the enemy territory.  In comparison, Proverbs are given to a people who lived in this world but had faith in a better future in eternity. In a sense, they are the local resisting force fighting against an occupying enemy.

In other words, one is shining downward from above (Beatitudes), while the other is reaching upward from below (Proverbs).

But both are integral parts of God’s Word speaking to the hearts of God’s children today.

We need Proverbs, and it would be utterly foolish to think that we are somehow above and beyond Proverbs because we belong to the New Testament time.  Even the parachute troops need to learn how to live wisely in the local territory once they have landed, until the mission is accomplished.

The Lord’s Table

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. ” John 13:1.

“… that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;  and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.“ 1 Corinthians 11:23b-26.

“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:29.

The night when the Lord Jesus was betrayed, he set up a supper table for his disciples. He even served them as a servant standing while they were sitting. He then commanded the disciples to do the same often to remember him until the day he returns.

The Lord did not teach the disciples doctrines that night, even though as their teacher, he had taught them for three years and the word he spoke was life. We all know that our Lord loved the disciples. But he seldom expressed his love in words. His love is mostly in what he is and what he does. On that last night, however, the Lord made a rare expression of his love and a showing of affection. He knew he would be soon separated from the disciples whom he loved. He also knew that he would return one day to receive his beloved. So the Lord was concerned with the period in between, which is from his departure to his return. He wasn’t primarily concerned of the teaching of the truth that night, because the Lord also knew that the Holy Spirit would come to teach us and guide us into truth after he has departed.

But there is one aspect of his relationship with his people that only he himself can express to us. And so he set up the table that night to express his love.

Oh, how he expressed his love. He will soon die for us. How much more love can you give to a person than dying for him? But our Lord did not just die for us, he died for our sin. If you would put it in a very straightforward language, he died because of our sin. It is our sin that sent him to death. But even more than that, the Lord did not just die as a consequence of our sin, but in fact died for the sake of paying off the debt of our sin to purchase us, who were enslaved because of sin, and to liberate us from the bondage of darkness and death. So he gave his body to us, broken for our sake, eaten and taken into our life so we would partake his life, a new life that has no sin, knows no sin, and conquers sin and death; a life that is the only thing in this universe that could genuinely unite us and give us oneness with him and in him, something that our Lord knows cannot be accomplished by any doctrine and teaching.

But that was not all the Lord Jesus did for us that night. He also gave us the cup of covenant, a covenant of blood.

Why a covenant?

Since the time of Genesis, Jehovah our God has been a God of covenant. He covenanted with the people he chose. He so humbled himself to a point that he would voluntarily make his promise legally binding on him. If God is just being God himself, he has neither any need nor any obligation to bind himself by a covenant with anyone.  But God reached out to us.  That was the Old Testament, which from the very beginning from Adam, Able, later Noah, Abraham and eventually Moses, was guaranteed by the shedding of blood. But we all know that the bloodshed in the Old Testament time was but a type, pointing to the blood of Jesus. Now, Jesus gave us the reality. He gave us the new covenant which is guaranteed by his blood.

If you are to make a promise to someone else, and want to safeguard your promise so that the person you are promising to can have the maximum level of assurance of your promise, what do you need to show? You need to guarantee two things. First, your sincerity. Second, your ability. You must be both sincere and able in order to deliver a promise. A sincere person who is unable to fulfill cannot be trusted. Likewise, neither can an able person who is insincere be trusted.

That’s why the Lord gave us the cup of the covenant in his blood. This blood is the guarantee of both his sincerity and his ability. What can be more sincere than a person who is willing to shed blood for you? It is a very common ancient practice that people would shed blood to express their sincerity, loyalty and determination. But they only shed blood symbolically. Our Lord shed blood to his death. But more important, the blood of our Lord is the very guarantee that he has the ability to fulfill his promise. He promised us salvation. But there is a huge debt due to our sinful condition. The debt has to be paid in full amount by an able and sufficient payment. There is nothing in this world that can pay off the debt of sin except for the blood of our Lord, the Lamb of God and the true sacrifice that propitiates between a holy God and a sinful man.

So you see how marvelously complete our Lord’s love is when he expressed it in the bread and the cup that night.

A covenant is always made between two different parties. In this case, the covenant is made between Jehovah God and His people. But if two different parties are involved, why only one who sheds his blood? It is because our Lord is the mediator between God and us.  He approaches us on behalf of God as the Son of God, but at the same time, he approaches God on behalf of us as the Son of Man. As a result, the covenant that is made in his blood both satisfies the holy demand of God, and gives support to the feeble heart of a sinner so the sinner may have faith.

Still, this does not cover the complete meaning of the Lord’s Table, because the Lord’s Table is much more than a general representation of our salvation, but a special expression of his relationship with us.

In Luke 22-13b:15, it says ” … and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

At the table, the Lord sits down, and we sit with him.  Brothers and sisters, how often and how deeply do we really think about this? Do you realize how extraordinary it is that the Lord and we should and can sit at the same table?  The Lord has conquered death, and ascended to heaven as a victor to sit at the right side of God. There, is the seat of Christ, and the eternal seat. There, is also the place he prepares for us, and to receive us when the time is fulfilled. On that day, all battles and wars are over, and the Victor is none other than our Lord, the Prince of Peace. What is the right thing and a fitting thing for a victorious King to do to celebrate the victory?  He will spread a table for a splendor feast to honor those who fought the war along with him and won the victory with him.  That’s what the song “God and Man at Table are Sat down” depicts.

1:  O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold.
God and man at table are sat down.

2.  Worship in the presence of the Lord
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.
And let our Host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down.

3.  Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;
Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round.
What angels longed to see now man has found:
God and man at table are sat down.

5. Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast?
Who is this who makes our warring cease?
Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.
God and man at table are sat down.

6.  When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day.
God and man at table are sat down.

That is also what the Lord meant that night when he said “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

But today, the Lord has not returned yet. He is among us in spirit, and set up such a seemingly small feast on such a humble table, a table that is despised by the world, and even disrespected by the many who are saved by grace. But we who are loved by Lord come to this humble table and see in our spirit the other splendid Table in heaven.  Today’s feast and the table is set on this earth that is passing away, and in the midst of this unseemly, miserable and even disgusting battlefield.  We are in the battle zone, fighting at various positions with various duties, so feeble and weak and even disheartened, crying out for peace, but every time when we hear the voice of the Lord calling us, we come sit at his table, seeing that the King of Kings and the glorious Prince of Peace himself comes to the mist of us, spread the table and sit with us, how can our hearts not be melted!

Our Lord, we thank you.

We really are thankful. He loves us so much. He set this humble feast, not for calling us to come near to him to examine our faults and ask us to confess our iniquities (even though we do have so much to repent). He does this to express his love. This love is the love that the Lord has toward us when he said, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”

At the same time, the table is also for us to express our love toward him.  We must remember, that in that night the Lord knew the hour has come that he should depart from this world to the Father, and therefore he arranged the feast to express his appreciation to disciples. He does the same today to us.

What did the disciples do that our Lord should thank them? What did we do that our Lord should thank us? The Lord said it himself:  “you are those who have continued with me in my trials”.  He expressed his appreciation at a time when the disciples were loudly quarreling among themselves about who was the greatest among them. He did that in the night when the disciples could not even keep awake praying with him to give him support in his most agonizing moment on earth.

This is our Lord.  He genuinely appreciates those who are willing to accompany him at his trials.  The disciples really did not do anything great for him, and in fact were incapable of doing anything great for him.  Even in that very night, when the real trial of the Lord arrived, they were all scattered and run away, leaving the Lord alone taking his own suffering.  The Lord knew that, yet he genuinely thanked them for their being willing to be with him in his trial.

Very often we feel that the Lord cannot possibly need us, and therefore we think that his appreciation of the disciples must be out of his generosity and politeness, not because he truly felt that the companionship of the disciples was helpful.  No, brothers and sisters, not so. The Lord truly genuinely appreciated the companionship of the disciples, because he needed the companionship of his beloved. This need is not because the Lord himself is lacking, but because of love. He loved us so much, that he genuinely desires, and appreciates even a feeblest response to his great love.

In the Son of Songs 8:6, the bride (not the groom) said:  “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave…”

That is the right position of the bride.  She loves her husband, and depends on her husband. She cannot do without her husband. That is the position of the church as the bride of Christ. This is natural and goes without saying. That we cannot be away from the Lord, and therefore asking him to remember us in his heart is only natural. It would be unnatural and against the nature of the spiritual life if we don’t ask, and even worse if we feel it’s not that big a deal if we are not remembered by the Lord.

But that night, when the Lord set the table, with what extraordinary love the table was set!  It was the Lord himself who asked us to remember him, not the other way around. Lord may rightfully command us to do anything, and all his requirement would be justified. Usually, his commandment is to ask us to follow him, to walk the righteous way and the heavenly way.  However, only that night, that singularly unique occasion, the Lord asked us to remember him, and even to do so often until he returns.

The bridegroom was about to depart for a while and he requested his bride to remember him while he’s away. The same request extends to us today.  This is not a sentimental request. This is the underpinning mode that defines the relationship between Christ and his church before he returns. His bride will wait for him, will remember him, will be faithful, and will yearn for his return. If the bride despises the table, how can she claim that she remembers her bridegroom? If she does not remember her bridegroom, how can she claim that she loves him? If she doesn’t love him, how can she justify her position as being the bride?

Will his bride satisfy him this request?

If that is too big a question to ask, let me ask myself, will I satisfy my Lord his loving request? Will you satisfy your Lord his loving request?

The Lord did not come to this world to be praised and adored. He came to suffer, and he suffered unto the death on the cross. While he was in this world, the most his ears heard were complaints and even contradictions, all the way to the hateful words of “crucify him! crucify him!” on that day. And even today, he still suffers the contradictions of the sinners, even us sinners saved by grace. But he forgives us, and never holds grudges against us.

But when those who love the Lord sit around the Lord’s Table, led by the Holy Spirit, in one accord give thanks to our Lord who loves us, how beautiful and sweet is the sound of such praise and adoration to his ears.

Worship in the presence of the Lord
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.
And let our Host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down.

The sound of praise and adoration by his beloved! This is the sweetest sound the Lord can and is willing to hear on earth today.  And this is a rare sound, a very rare new song found on earth. On that final day comes, when our Lord returns, when the victorious King of Kings spreads his amazing table, all the redeemed creation will make the most wonderful sound of praise and adoration. At that time, our voice will be just one of the hosts of voices. But today, surrounding the lowly table, the sweet sound of remembering the Lord is the sound of those who are companions of the Lord in this temporary darkness before the morning breaks.  It is a rare thing, but so precious. It is a very small sound, almost completely drown in the loud noises of this world. Only those who know the heart of the Lord can join the song, and they are not with the crowd of the world.

Although the trials of the Lord in his physical body all ended when he died on cross and was later resurrected, the trials of his corporate body (his church) has begun and would last until he returns. The Lord, the head of the church, takes the trials and suffering of the church as his own trials and suffering. Indeed, it is his own trials and suffering, because that the church is his body is reality, not a mere metaphor. And in these trials, how the Lord desires to have the companionship of his beloved!

Blessed is he who understands and joins this quiet song.  Only when a person experiences this can he start to understand what special relationship it is between the Lord and his beloved church, and to understand why the Lord commanded us to remember him, unto the day that he returns.

主的爱单独就是足够的理由

数年前,为一个弟兄的低落光景忧伤也困惑。这是一个原来清楚得救并且有心爱主的弟兄。但他后来搬到一个新的地方,被那里的负责弟兄绊倒了。不是因着一个具体的事情或误解(要是那样也就好办),而是由于那个负责弟兄的整个人品为人。他是一个颇有名气的弟兄,写过相当有影响的属灵书籍,有很属灵的讲论。但在被绊倒的弟兄眼里,那位负责弟兄却是一个非常属世界、属肉体的人。在讲台上讲的是一个样子,在实际生活里却是截然不同的样子。

那位在主里还尚且年幼的弟兄被绊倒了,由此对一系列他原本向往、尊敬的真理讲论产生了一个深深的失望,随后甚至是厌倦。直到如今,这个弟兄再也没有完全站起来过。撒旦的毁坏是如此厉害。

我的心那时被这个毁坏的见证深深刺着了。我真不知,若不是我的主对我特殊的怜悯,我的心里会长出什么样的坏果子来。

都是主的怜悯!让人能在尘土中再起来 (raises man from dust),从死亡中重生 (lifts man above death)。我只能感激并敬拜耶和华我的 神,爱我的主。

在我们属灵年幼时,我们在感觉里找真理,在别人的见证中找依据,但是直到有一天,你看到基督的大爱,“爱即如此奇妙神圣,当得我心、我命、所有!“ 这是 Isaac Watts 在他著名的诗歌“每当我观看那神奇十架 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross“ (通常译为“我每靜念那十字架”)中所宣告的。

祂的爱单独就是我充足的理由 (the love of the Lord alone is sufficient reason) 、足够的依据、可以不倒下的支持。我不用惧怕撒旦拿人的软弱和失败(甚至我自己的软弱和失败)作为“证据”来和我争论,试图挫折我心。我可以告诉撒旦:“爱即如此奇妙神圣,当得我心、我命、所有!”

爱即如此奇妙神圣,当得我心、我命、所有

聚会中,心被主的爱所夺。那首 “每当我细看那神奇十架 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross“ (通常译为“我每靜念那十字架”)最能说出这个爱的感动。 Isaac Watts 这首著名的诗歌,曾在英国的属灵复兴中成为信仰的一面旗帜。歌词直译(不考虑音律):

“每当我细看那神奇十架, 荣耀的王子死在其上,我便将我的最大利益当做损失,并将蔑视倾倒在我自己的骄傲之上。“

“主, 禁止我有任何的夸口,除了我 主基督死在十架!前所最爱的虚空荣华,今为袮血情愿撇下。”

“看,从祂头,祂手,祂脚,忧伤和爱合流直下!何时爱忧曾如此相沟?何时荆棘曾编成如此冕旒?”

“看祂身体挂在树上,死时朱红血水如同长袍披在身上,于是我与世界断绝,世界向我也像已死。”

“即使宇宙都属我有,尽都奉主仍是不够;爱即如此奇妙神圣,有权要求我心、我命、所有。“

(如上是英文的直译,没有考虑诗词雅韵和音律。如果是作为一首要唱的诗歌,则目前通常熟知的中文翻译版本如“圣徒诗歌”是极好的翻译。)

谁会将蔑视倾倒在自己的骄傲之上 (pour contempt on all my pride)? 唯有那看到尊贵荣耀的耶稣背负众人的罪孽被钉死在十字架上的人! 首次听到英国的史柏克弟兄 (T. A. Sparks)口中倾倒出这一句,那个 “倾倒 (poured)”一词的分量就多年来一直压在我的心上。这是心所受的割礼,从此后我视我的骄傲不再仅是人品的一个瑕疵,而是对我主的蔑视! 我岂能不将愤怒倾倒在自己的骄傲之上!

然而今天,主却藉着另一句歌词夺了我心:“爱即如此奇妙神圣,当得我心、我命、所有 (Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life by all.)” 这里原文中 “demands”一词,被翻译为“当得”几乎不足够描绘出作诗的人的心。爱如此的大,有权利要求我的一切!

主曾藉着死亡,下到阴间,付了极重的代价,把我们这些罪的奴仆买赎了回来。即买赎了回来,我在合法的权利上就是属于祂的。 祂真是我的主。然而主却从来不使用祂合法的权利来要求我。祂等待一个完全的时间到来, 好让我情愿回答,我是完全属祂。 (在旧约里,若希伯来人做奴仆,作六年,第七年时他可以自由,但是若奴仆明说,“我爱我的主人,不愿为自由离开”,他就可以成为情愿永远服侍主人的奴仆,bondservant。出埃及记 21:2-6。)

恩主啊,你好像从来都把我放在第七年头,一直给我那第七年时的自由选择,从未按照律例要求过你该得的那头六年。可在我这小信的人身上,让主在恩典中期盼的年日却变得如此之长,都因为我的软弱和拖延。主,你一再保留我的机会,虽然过期,但却不作废。求你再施怜悯,再延长你的耐心,但也更愿你施行你的权力,让眼前的日子就是这个期限。

抱怨的灵

你见过抱怨的人吗?我们中没有人能够做到凡事没有任何的抱怨。不信主的人抱怨似乎是常事,但信主的人也抱怨,久了、多了好像也会感到是平常事。

或许真的是平常事,但却不是正常的事。

多年前,一位 神的仆人 Devern Fromke 讲过的一句话,一直留在了我心里: “Every complaint finds its way back to God.”  每一个抱怨最后都是针对着 神的。这是真理。当然这话的目的不是给我们每一个小小的抱怨都加一个大罪名,而是让我们明白抱怨背后的实质。

对于世人来讲,抱怨只是一个生活的态度,如果再深入一点是一个人性格和人品的一部分。但对一个 神的儿女来讲,抱怨反映出我们对爱我们的父和爱我们的主的基本态度和关系上的不正常。神儿女的抱怨使得父神和主脸上蒙羞 (God’s children’s complaint dishonors the Father and the Lord)。

而这正是为什么 神的仇敌那样地费尽心思为着要你这属 神的人能够抱怨。当你的抱怨从心里发出时(不用等到从口里出来),撒旦已经得逞一大半了,他已经在你身上做成一个不信靠 神的实例,他可以靠着夸口。而那抱怨从你口中出来后,撒旦就完全得逞了,因为你已经向着众人见证了撒旦在你里面得逞的。

有一个人,常常抱怨 神不公平。他实在是一个抱怨最多的人。如果说抱怨对一般人来讲像是一时在皮肤上生出的疹子,那个人的就是全身的大麻风。 

他是一个可怜可悲的人。很年轻时就在专业上很出色,但后来并没有能够在事业上谋得一个满意的发展机会。结果,他年轻时的成功,反过来成了他的咒诅,使他成了一个抱怨的人。 他总喜欢就说按照当初他的成绩,今天会如何如何。而他如此讲的目的,倒不是为了自夸,而是为了说明一件事,即他得出一个结论:神不仅不公平,而且专门喜欢捉弄人。

这是他数十年生活的结论。甚至更严重,他愿意别人相信这是他生命的最终结论。似乎他要每个人听他宣称,他生命余下的目标就在于向着凡他认识的人见证:神不好。神不仅不公平,而且专门喜欢捉弄人。

而同时,他并不是一个那么不幸的人。他有个贤惠、温柔又能干的妻子。家里不仅家务、养育儿女是他妻子的事,家庭的收入也是,当然这本身又是他抱怨的理由之一。他有一个聪明听话的孩子,学习成绩优秀,被一所一流的大学录取,当然这也是他抱怨的理由之一,因为学费之高,命运在和他开玩笑。

奇特的是,他并不相信 神,更不接受耶稣基督的救恩,却把一切的抱怨都泼到 神的身上。

抱怨的灵抓住了他,蹂躏他,折磨他,戏弄他,而他自己却以为能很“精彩”地抱怨 神是他一种能力 – 只有他才能够那样清楚地分析并推断出 “神不公平,捉弄了他“的结论,并且让别人无法再说服他,这是一个他自己值得骄傲的能力。他坚守着最后的那个机关,就是撒旦用来捆锁他的机关。撒旦骗他说至少这个机关是他可以自豪的,因为别人都没有能力胜过这个机关。可悲的是他竟然相信这个,并且努力地坚持着。

和他在一起的人,何等难。与他有一点对话都很艰难。到最后都是他自己一个人的声音,抱怨、抱怨、抱怨,一同伴随的是自以为聪明的推理、推理、推理。别人都无言以对,他却以为他又赢了一场辩论。他的心思里只有自己,并从自己利益出发的抱怨。从没有听到他口中发出一个赞美和感谢的声音来,更不用说一句建树别人的话。

但正是这个朋友,使得我看到了赤裸裸的抱怨的灵!我明白了抱怨背后可怕的灵。我看到了以色列人在旷野数十年,他们那抵挡 神的灵(“抵挡”本是撒旦的名字)。

抱怨的灵是不信的灵,是“无信之辈 (faithless generation)”的基本特征。那灵在人里面时苦害那人,但跳出来显示在众人面前时,你就看见,原来就是那个高声叫着 “钉他十字架!钉他十字架!”的灵,是以色列那个从抱怨到完全不信,最后又到以暴力弃绝 神的灵。它们是一个线上的,是一家的。他们的主人是撒旦。

主常常藉着见证人来正面鼓励我们。但有时主也藉着反面的见证撞击我们的心门,让我们意识到一件事的反面,反过来为自己羞愧。时常,我们的抱怨是被掩盖在许多的包装之下,让我们不容易看到其本相 (听到或意识到一个抱怨的存在,和认清抱怨背后的真相,不是一回事)。直到有一天,主藉着一个赤裸裸的、毫无遮掩、像面团发起来一发不可收拾的那样一个专门抱怨的人,让你看到抱怨的本相, 那时你就不会庆幸你比他好的多,而是看到你里面有个东西和他的一样丑陋,一样地有辱主面!你就要一面痛悔,一面感谢 神,靠祂的怜悯你看到了抱怨背后那个灵的可憎。

但愿主施怜悯!人以为这也不公平,那也不公平,似乎 神欠了我们的债,夺去了本来是我们理所当得的好处。但岂不知自从亚当犯罪后,人的账上已经一文不值,不仅完全破产,而且负了一个巨大的债。每个人都如此,并没有例外。从亚当之后,人所得的,全都是出自神的怜悯和恩典;人未得的,没有一样是神欠人的。

再看到我们的主,耶稣基督。他原本是万有的主人。他是何等的富足。他不欠任何人任何的事物,反而万有的一切资本都是从他得来,即使在人和这个宇宙因着罪落入罪债的重压之下以前都是如此,更何况在那以后。

但正是这位耶稣,他道成肉身,来到地上,从万有的主人变成一无所有!他出身在马槽,一个卑贱又肮脏的地方,在地上时连个枕头的地方也没有。

就是这位耶稣,他原本拥有万有 (而一个抱怨者原本却什么都没有),却被剥夺了一切,而他的灵却是抱怨的灵的反面。如果这世上曾有过一个人有权利、有资格抱怨,他就是。但他却没有发出过一句的怨言。不是为着显示他的大度,乃是为着以重价赎回那在罪中堕落的人 (抱怨的声音是那堕落者的一个表征),抵消所欠的债,全胜过撒旦那杀害的灵。

就是这位耶稣,他最后为拯救众人的缘故情愿被钉在十字架上,让那 “钉他十字架!钉他十字架!”的罪恶声音尽都落在他身上,再也没有任何的回音,没有反弹。那声音曾在人类历史中回旋,在众人之间相互反射,被放大,直到来到这位被钉在十字架上的耶稣身上,像是找到了其最后抱怨的对象,一并倾倒在他身上。然而那声音却被耶稣的身体完全吸入而消灭了。。。

唯有一个声音,从他口中发出:“父啊,赦免他们,因为他们不知道他们所做的!”