From the Editor’s Notebook: Secrets to a Blessed New Year

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Secrets To A Blessed New Year

It goes without saying that every dedicated child of God desires sincerely to live for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, true believers soon realize we are engaged in a great spiritual conflict (Eph. 6:12), and that we have an adversary, Satan, who seeks constantly to sidetrack and defeat us. In fact, it was the late Paul E. Little who referred to the Christian life as “the victorious Christian conflict.”

Speaking of victory, it’s true that today God’s people rest on a victory already won through Christ on the cross (1 Cor. 15:57), but the question is asked, and rightly so, “What can be done to translate that victory into everyday life and living, involving the home, the neighbourhood, the marketplace and the local church?” In other words, how can we become true overcomers on a daily basis?

As a manifold answer to this key question, here are seven secrets to being a victorious Christian throughout this New Year, the first secret being:

1. Yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ

(Luke 9:23; see 1 Pet. 3:15)

“And He (Christ) said to their’ all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23) .

Having “come unto” Christ for deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin (Matt. 11:28), and we prayerfully trust you have done that, the next step for the Christian is to “come after” Christ and thereby become his disciple. Among other things, this involves a supreme love for the Lord Jesus, a love that supersedes every earthly tie and relationship (Luke 14:26). It also involves denying one’s self and, as William MacDonald has written: “Denial of self is not the same as self-denial. The latter means foregoing certain foods, pleasures, or possessions. But denial of self means such complete submission to the Lordship of Christ that self has no rights or authority at all. It means that self abdicates the throne.”1 On the matter of taking up one’s cross daily, he has further stated: “The cross is not some physical infirmity or mental anguish; these things are common to all men. The cross is a pathway that is deliberately chosen. It is ‘a path which so far as this world goes is one of dishonour and reproach’ — C. A. Coates. The cross symbolizes the shame, persecution and abuse which the world heaped upon the Son of God, and which the world will heap on all who choose to stand against the tide. Any believer can avoid the cross simply by being conformed to the world and its ways.”2

To follow the Lord Jesus means, of course, to live a life of obedience to the revealed will of God. This is what perfectly and totally characterized our Lord’s life, and as Peter has told us, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

It was Borden of Yale who said, “Lord Jesus, I take hands off, as far as my life is concerned. I put Thee on the throne in my heart. Change, cleanse, use me as thou shalt choose.’

Can you and I prayerfully say that? The second secret is:

2. Pray Daily

(Psa. 86:3; 88:9, see 1 Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18 with Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2)

“Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily” (Psa. 86:3).

Every child of God needs to commune with the Lord daily. In this way He can impart to us His wisdom and strength, as well as provide all our other needs. The problem is, as once expressed by Lewis Sperry Chafer: “Prayer is hard work and we are inherently lazy.”

For your own spiritual blessing and profit, consider several of the practical byproducts of prayer:

1. Fortifying peace (Isa. 26:3 with Phil. 4:6-7).

2. Renewed spiritual strength (Isa. 40:31).

3. Every need supplied (Matt. 7:7-8).

4. Abounding joy (John 16:24).

5. All-sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9).

6. Divine wisdom (James 1:5).

7. An increased sense of the presence of God (James 4:8).

The next secret is:

3. Read God’s Word Daily

(Acts 17:11; see Josh, 1:8; Psa. 1:1-3)

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Handley C. G. Moule, the Bishop of Durham, wrote: “I place, of course, the secret study, of the holy written Word of God supreme among the helps to secret prayer. Read the Bible on your knees, at least on the knees of your spirit.

Read it to reassure, to regulate, to feed, to kindle, to give your secret prayer body and soul. Read it that you may hold faster your certainty of being heard. Read it that you may know with blessed definiteness whom you have believed, and what you have in Him, and how He is able to keep your deposit safe. Read it in the attitude of mind which the Apostles read it, in which the Lord read it.”

G. R. Harding Wood of Great Britain has suggested that we should read the Bible:

1. COMPLETELY, as part of the Bride of Jesus (just as a bride reads a love letter).

2. CONSTANTLY, as a traveller to the home of Jesus.

3. CAREFULLY, as a scholar in the school of Jesus.

4. CONSCIENTIOUSLY, as a soldier in the army of Jesus.3

The fourth secret to being a victorious Christian throughout this New Year is:

4. Fellowship With God’s People

(Heb. 10:25)

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).

It is God’s clear will that every believer align himself or herself with a local assembly of Christians which exalts the Lord Jesus and preaches the BOOK, the BLOOD, and the BLESSED HOPE.

The idea of a “loner” in the service of Christ is utterly foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. The fifth secret is:

5. Be Filled With The Holy Spirit

(Eph. 5:18)

“Be (being) filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

In proportion as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He will fill us with God’s love and power and enable us to manifest His fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23).

Remember, the filling of the Spirit and the lordship of Christ are two sides of the same coin of truth. Yieldedness is the key.

The next secret is:

6. Witness To Others

(Jer. 7:25; Acts 2:46-47; 5:42; 16:5)

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).

It is our daily responsibility not only to keep the faith but to share it.

It was Charles H. Spurgeon who said, “Even if I were utterly selfish and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner, for never did I know perfect overflowing, unutterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling order till I first heard of one who had sought and found the Saviour through my means. No young mother ever so rejoiced over her first-born child, no warrior was so exultant over a hard-won victory.”

What is a witness? The dictionary definition is “a person who saw, or can give a firsthand account of, something … to testify to … to serve as evidence of.”4 One thing, being a witness is not something complicated. As a fitting reminder of this, someone has said, “Too many Christians think they are called to be lawyers for Christ instead of witnesses. Just testify concerning the things you know about Him!”

It goes without saying that if our witness is to have any weight, then it must be backed up by a consistent life. Richard C. Halverston, United States Senate Chaplain, has appropriately said, “Let every serious-minded Christian who would be an effective witness for Christ live as though he had the right to be heard.”

Actually, there is no set prescription for witnessing. Any method can be used provided it is in keeping with Christ’s character and has as its objective the pointing of men and women to Him. Reuben A. Torrey was led to Christ through the witness of a godly mother; Sam Jones, the noted southern evangelist, through the witness of his father; George Mueller through the witness of a friend; John R. Mott through the witness of a teacher; George Whitefield through the witness of a book!

Above all else, remember that the primary requirement for witnessing is first by being, then by doing!

Finally, we come to our seventh and last secret to being a victorious Christian throughout this New Year:

7. Look For Christ’s Return

(Phil. 3:20; Tit. 2:13 with James 5:8)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

The Greek verb for “we look” is in the present tense, instructing us to continually look for the Lord Jesus who at any moment may return.

Among his last words, the Apostle Paul spoke of the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). This reward is within the reach of every believer, the condition being that we love Christ’s appearing. The verb for “love” is in the perfect tense, an accurate translation being, “that have loved and continue to love His appearing.” In other words, there is a durative quality about the Christian’s attitude toward the Lord’s return. If in that day we are to receive the reward, then we must love his appearing with steadfastness and consistency.

Here, then, are seven secrets to realizing in everyday experience what it is to be a truly triumphant Christian throughout this New Year: YIELD TO THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, PRAY DAILY, READ GOD’S WORD DAILY, FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD’S PEOPLE, BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, WITNESS TO OTHERS, and LOOK FOR CHRIST’S RETURN.

As for New Year’s resolutions, consider those of Jonathan Edwards:

1. Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.

2. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, to improve it in the most profitable way I can.

3. Resolved, never to do anything which I should despise or think meanly of in another.

4. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

5. Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

(Editor’s note: In our Lord’s will, the series of studies on Jude will be resumed in the next issue.)

1 William MacDonald, True Discipleship, p. 6.

2 Ibid., pp. 6-7.

3 G. R. Harding Wood, Enjoy Your Bible, pp. 17-21.

4 Webster’s New World Dictionary, p. 1634.