Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 10]

Andrew Murray 2This week I continue “Thursdays with Murray” by concluding my study of Andrew Murray’s short book Humility. Last week, I jumped ahead and talked about the final chapter in relationship with chapter ten. So this week I return to chapter eleven, “Humility and Happiness,” as the last part of the book about which I will write.

Beginning with similar themes seen throughout this book, in this chapter Murray says “the highest lesson a believer has to learn is humility.” However, lest we begin to think that Murray is set on a bleak picture of the life of faith crowded with dark shadows, he also writes: “the place of humiliation is the place of blessing, of power, of joy.”

How can this be true? Murray helps us to understand that if humility is the expulsion of the self, it can only truly be expelled with the presence and glory of God. And if our souls are filled not with ourselves but with the fullness of the presence and glory of God, this can in no way be anything else but the experience of the greatest joy in God.

In trial and weakness and trouble He seeks to bring us low, until we so learn that His grace is all, as to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength made perfect in our weakness, His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail….

I feel as if I must once again gather up all in the two lessons: the danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think, and the grace for humility too.

These two realities underly the entire breadth of Murray’s book. He wants us as believers to experience both the depths of humility in the Cross of Christ and the heights of exaltation in the resurrection of Christ so that we might enter into the abundant life through Christ. It is his conviction that there is no other way to this great reality than to walk the pathway of humility upon which Jesus walked. That is truly the way of the disciple.

Christ humbled Himself, therefore God exalted Him. Christ will humble us, and keep us humble; let us heartily consent, let us trustfully and joyfully accept all that humbles; and the power of Christ will rest upon us. We shall find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, of a joy that nothing can destroy.

[Read the entire series of posts on Andrew Murray’s book Humility here.]

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 9]

Andrew Murray 2Continuing my series of posts on Andrew Murray‘s brief book Humility, today I look at both chapter ten, “Humility and Death to Self,” and chapter twelve, “Humility and Exaltation.” While I admit I’m pulling these two chapters slightly out of order, I believe they fit together as two book-ends around chapter eleven (which we’ll look at next week) on “Humility and Happiness.”

“Death to self” is a phrase that we don’t hear too often any longer but derives from Paul’s description of Jesus in Philippians 2:8 (“he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death”) and Jesus’ teaching on discipleship in Luke 9:23 (“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”). On this theme and its connection with humility, Andrew Murray writes:

The first and chief of the marks of the dying of the Lord Jesus, of the death-marks that show the true follower of Jesus, is humility. For these two reasons: Only humility leads to perfect death; Only death perfects humility.

This chapter comes into strong conflict with the prevailing approach to Christianity in our day as strongly as any other aspect of Murray’s book. In a time when we are focused so much on self-actualization, finding our gifts, understanding our personality, living out our uniqueness, the call toward death to self and its defining mark of humility seems like a message from another age. Read More »

W. H. Auden on the modern barbarian

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MALIN said:

But the new barbarian is no uncouth
Desert-dweller; he does not emerge
From fir forests; factories bred him;
Corporate companies college towns
Mothered his mind, and many journals
Backed his beliefs. He was born here. The
Bravura of revolvers in vogue now
And the cult of death are quite at home
Inside the city.

From W. H. AudenThe Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue, edited by Alan Jacobs (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), 16.

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 8]

Andrew Murray 2In chapter nine of his book HumilityAndrew Murray explores the connection between “Humility and Faith.” The benefits of the Christian life, according to Murray, are something we can see but not access until the gift of faith comes into our lives. Faith is not only trust in God or the ability to perceive the heavenly blessings of God, but at its root that deep sense that we need God. For, as Murray writes, faith is “the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work.”

This is where the connection between faith and humility becomes evident. Faith cannot develop until we have the humility of right perception of who we are and who we are not before God. Faith cannot take root in our lives until we fundamentally turn from ourselves and from others to God. Pride and faith are inimical to one another and, therefore, “we never can have more of true faith than we have of true humility.”

This touches upon the outlook we have in our lives. The outlook of faith is truly a looking outward from the self to God beyond the opinions of other people or our society.

As long as we take glory from one another, as long as ever we seek and love and jealously guard the glory of this life, the honor and reputation that comes from men we do not seek, and cannot receive the glory that comes from God.

Faith removes the misdirected fears of our lives into a holy fear of the Lord that shapes our living with humility.

It is humility that brings a soul to be nothing before God, that also removes every hindrance to faith, and makes it only fear lest it should dishonor Him by not trusting Him wholly.

Faith is the characteristic that enables us to truly draw near to God. This very act of drawing near aright demands a humility for entrance and an ongoing humility of dependence upon God to bear fruit.

We might as well attempt to see without eyes, or live without breath, as believe or draw night to Go or dwell in His love without an all-pervading humility and lowliness of heart.

Murray concludes this chapter with an emphasis on humility being a channel of a deeper experience of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives. There is a difference, in a sense, of having the Spirit of God move through us and the Spirit of God having ongoing residence in us.

The Holy Spirit not only working in them as a Spirit of power, but dwelling in them in the fullness of His grace, and specially that of humility, would through them communicate Himself to these convert for a life of power and holiness and steadfastness now all too little seen.

I am reminded of F. B. Meyer’s quotation:

There are three kinds of Christians out there. Christ’s Spirit is present in everybody who’s born again. Christ’s Spirit is prominent in some people. And Christ’s Spirit is preeminent in, alas, only a few.

May we be the humble in whom Christ’s Spirit is not only present, not only prominent, but preeminent.

[Read the entire series of posts on Andrew Murray’s book Humility here.]

Bibliography on Christian Identity for the “Who Am I?” series

books.jpgWhenever I study for a sermon series, I spend a lot of time far in advance of that sermon series doing research, reading books, thinking, reading articles, reflecting, reading more books, writing, and reading even more. I usually gather all of the resources I use together into a bibliography for each series. In the past I’ve shared those bibliographies here for those who are interested (access “Bibliography for the Theology of Suffering and the Life of Joseph” and “Bibliography on the Trinity”).

Here is the resource bibliography that accompanies our recent series, “Who Am I?”, on grasping our sense of identity with God through Christ. Although I utilized many commentaries for specific weekends of this series, I did not include those in this bibliography, limiting it to books specifically related to the topic of identity. The books I found particularly helpful are marked with an asterisk.

Christian Identity – Bibliography

Jerry Bridges. Who Am I?: Identity in Christ. Adelphi, MD: Cruciform Press, 2012.

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016.

Eric Geiger. Identity: Who You Are in Christ. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishers, 2008.

Timothy Keller. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.

*________. Making Sense of God. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

C. S. Lewis. The Four Loves. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1960.

Loyola McLean and Brian S. Rosner. “Theology and Human Flourishing: The Benefits of Being Known by God.” In Beyond Well-Being: Spiritual and Human Flourishing. Ed. Maureen Miner, Martin Dowson, and Stuart Devenish. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2012.Read More »