A farmer plows his field, sows his seed, and fertilizes and cultivates—all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For the successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God.
Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate, he cannot expect a harvest at the end of the season. In a sense he is in partnership with God, and he will reap its benefits only when he has fulfilled his responsibilities.
Farming is a joint venture between God and the farmer. The farmer cannot do what God must do, and God will not do what the farmer should do.
We can say just as accurately that the pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; He does not do that for us
“May we not endeavor, Secondly, to instruct them? to take care that every person who is under our roof have all such knowledge as is necessary to salvation?…and you should take care that they have some time every day for reading, meditation, and prayer; and you should inquire whether they do actually employ that time in the exercises for which it is allowed. Neither should any day pass without family prayer, seriously and solemnly performed.”
Sermon 94, On Family Religion Volume 7
If you feel bold, you can read all of Wesley’s sermon, “On Family Religion,” by clicking here.
Does your heart burn for God? Do you long to know him better, love him more fully, follow him more faithfully, and trust him more completely? Do you deeply desire to live a God-centered life in which God is glorified and reflected in your daily thinking, speaking, and doing? If so, you already belong to The Fellowship of the Burning Heart.
Of course, no one, save the Lord Jesus Christ, can say they fully desire any of those things, much less have arrived. The Apostle Paul himself didn’t presume he had arrived but knew he must continue to press toward the goal of such communion with God and conformity to the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Yet even the desire to desire God in such a way is a good thing.
There are those who have gone before us who have hungered and thirsted for God and they have shared wisdom from their journey with those of us who would follow them down that path. That’s all this blog is… sharing bits and pieces from those in the Fellowship who’ve finished their pilgrimage to the Celestial City and now rest from their labor. What they have left behind for the rest of us is encouragement and wisdom to help us travel the same road.
A Caveat: No quote by any of the saints of the Fellowship is meant to promote works-righteousness or a second work of the Spirit that is available to only the “super Christians” among us. The Fellowship of the Burning Heart ought to be normal Christianity that has as its foundation, the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is animated by the grace of God and the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has revealed himself and his will through his Word, the holy Bible. Excerpts, prayers, etc., that are chosen to be part of this blog are grounded and consistent with that self-disclosure of God.
“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” A.W. Tozer
Soli Deo Gloria,
But the most common of all the enthusiasts of this kind, are those who imagine themselves Christians, and are not. These abound, not only in all parts of our land, but in most parts of the habitable earth. That they are not Christians is clear and undeniable, if we believe the oracles of God. For Christians are holy; these are unholy; Christians love God; these love the world: Christians are humble, these are proud; Christians are gentle; these are passionate; Christians have the mind which was in Christ; these are at the utmost distance from it. Consequently, they are no more Christians, than they are archangels. Yet they imagine themselves so to be; and they can give several reasons for it: For they have been called so every since they can remember; they were christened many years ago; they embrace the Christian opinions, vulgarly termed the Christian or Catholic faith; they use the Christian modes of worship, as their fathers did before them; they live what is called, a good Christian life, as the rest of their neighbours do. And who shall presume to think or say that these men are not Christians? – though without one grain of true faith in Christ, or of real, inward holiness; without ever having tasted the love of God, or been “made partakers of the Holy Ghost!”
From William Law
If we are to be new creatures in Christ, we must show that we are so by new ways of living in the world. If we are to follow Christ, it must be in the way we spend each day.
For if the doctrines of Christianity were practiced, they would make a man as different from other people as a civilized man is from a savage. If the doctrines of Christianity were practiced, it would be as easy a thing to know a Christian by the outward course of his life as it is now difficult to find a person who lives the Christian life.
from Dietrich Bonhoeffer
…Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repetance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the peral of great price, to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
John Wesley’s Journal
We had a triumphant hour when the Society met. Several captives were set at liberty: one of these was Mr. Joseph Ch–. He had been an eminent man many years for cursing, swearing, drinking, and all kinds of fashionable wickedness. On Monday last he had rode fifteen miles to Tyrrels' Pass, and came thither before five in the morning. He was immediately convinced [i.e., convicted], and followed me in from the preaching. I was then examining a Class. The words cut him to the heart. He came after me to Athlone… having his eyes continually filled with tears, and being scarce able either to eat, drink, or sleep. But God now wiped away the tears from his eyes; and he returned to his house, to declare what things God had wrought.
by Richard Baxter
Take God in Christ for your only rest, and fix your heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him and delighting in him may be the work of our lives; and that neither I nor you may ever be turned from this path of life… The saint’s rest is the most happy state of a Christian. It is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the perfected saints…
by William Law
It was this general intention that made the primitive Christians such eminent examples of devotion, that made the goodly fellowship of the saints, and that made all the glorious army of martyrs and confessors. And if you will stop here and ask yourself why you are not so devoted as the primitive Christians, your own heart will tell you that is neither through ignorance nor inability but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.
Thomas a’ Kempis
But it happens that many, from frequent hearing of the Gospel, are conscious of little longing for it, because they have not the spirit of Christ. But he who wishes fully and with relish to know the words of Christ, must be zealous to bring his whole life into conformity with him.
It is vanity to hope for long life and to take little thought for a good life. It is vanity only to attend only to the present life, and not look forward to thing things to come. It is vanity to love that which passes with all speed away, and not to be hastening thither where endless joy abides.
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