REFORMED WOMEN BIBLE STUDY
Current Book-Bible Study: “God’s Way of Holiness”
Book Author: Horatius Bonar
Study Author: TheologyGirl Editor, Publisher, Heavenly Notes
LESSON: Lesson#8 “Chapter 8” “My Summary”
TITLE[s]: “The True Creed & the True Life”
Chapter 8 is one in which Bonar takes us back to our foundations — Christ and His Word, “the true creed” for the “true life” in Christ. As I prepared the questions for discussion and reflection this week, I was reminded that in almost every lesson God has for us in His Word, in life practice, in belief and application, the foundation is the same, Christ and His Word. Jesus says, “without Me you can do nothing” and that “Me” not only includes Him in all of His fullness but also His gift of the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God. Knowledge of these are the “something’s” that make the life of the believer like Christ and able to live in a sinful, immoral and Christ-hating world. This is why God has written in His Word over and over again, instructions for life in godliness, the “how to” of Christian living and the hope of a future with Him in glory in perfection, without sin. The Christian life is hard and we are always called to “abound” in the work of Lord, to “grow in grace and knowledge,” to “pursue holiness” and to “do all things to the glory of God” and these things we can do, not perfectly, but as God enables us by His grace, and as we seek to be obedient children by “putting on Christ” and not making provision for the flesh. Epistles of Christ we are and we shall be even more so when we see Him face to face. Until then, we press on, “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” knowing that our work and labor of love is “not in vain” but will redound to our good and His glory.
Bonar has reminded us that we are “made partaker’s of Christ, His divine nature, partakers of the heavenly calling, partakers of the Holy Spirit and partakers of His holiness. We have learned in the previous chapters all of these things are part and parcel of our calling as Christians. We are “in Christ” and thus made “His body, the church” forever and He has given all of the tools needed to be conformed to His image in all “holy conversation and godliness” and He will perform it in all of us until we arrive at our heavenly home. This encourages us to read, study and to truly know our God in all of His fullness and to love His doctrine and that in turn teaches us who He is so that we are single-minded women who truly know the “one true and living God” of the Bible. This knowledge keeps us from error, heresy, doctrinal laziness and a life of lawlessness. It also encourages us to holiness to be “like Him” in all that we say and do. This knowledge, however, is never to become pride in us but rather humility because as we see and know more and more about Him, we see ourselves and our true lowly condition before Him. We have nothing to boast of, nothing to bring, nothing to glory in but Christ alone. Thus, the end result of our learning the “higher doctrines” is that we “glorify Him” in life and body to the praise of His glorious grace and mercy. They bring us back to the foot of the cross and teach us to “number our days” with wisdom as we serve Him with “godly fear.” To know Christ is to love Christ and to understand doctrine is to glorify Christ. We are called to it — every women, man and child that is His child. We just grow and grow if we obey His commandments and follow His Word to “know Him” and the power of His resurrection, which is, all of Christ, all of God, all of His attributes, all of His fullness. Christ has said, “to know Me” is to know God. Thus to know God is our privilege, duty and life’s work.
We are also cautioned by Bonar and Scripture that we are not to be puffed up by our knowledge but rather humbled. We are not to be “high-minded” in knowledge and live like a devil, without the law. We are to be constant and diligent, on the lookout in our own lives to be sure that we are not falling into error and thus living without the law. Many a Christian has erred in believing that “once saved” and “not under the law” has fallen away into all kinds of sin but presupposing that the law has “no dominion” over him, nor does it need to be obeyed. God’s Word always must be obeyed. That is the bottom line for the believer and the attitude in which he or she must walk. A true child of God will understand this and through that understanding will be able to discern truth from error, law from lawlessness. Living in, studying and obeying God’s Word will protect the believer from “all kinds of sin” and “error” so that he/she walks as a true “epistle of Christ.”
Bonar also calls us in this chapter to remember that we will be maligned in this life and that is especially so if we “stand for righteousness” and are bold in speech for truth. We have read it in God’s Word and in many books of the saints how they suffered for Christ for their boldness in the faith. They counted it “nothing” to suffer for His sake and were glad to “speak the truth in love” not fearing man or beast, but only God and to glorify Him in their lives. One of the biggest lies of the “Christian” church today is the lie that to “speak the truth in love” means to “shut up” and “don’t step on toes” or “don’t use the word ‘sin or hell’ or ‘elect” or that “God has a chosen people” or share God’s Word and speak about His attributes. No, they want, as the world wants, to silence the gospel and God’s Word and commands so that they can live a life of “fluffy” ignorance, bathing themselves in bubbles of doctrinal error, “touchy feely” and “prosperity madness” gospels so that men fall or “never come to the knowledge of truth.” The world and churches are filled with them and they blaspheme God because they do not show forth the truth of Him in His fullness and His true gospel — the “true creed” and “true life” of Christ and His children. May it be that we “shout” from the housetops the truth so that we are truly “children” of our Heavenly Father and never give in to the “fluff” “psychobabble” or mediocre “so-called” Christianity and error of the wicked.
Bonar continues and says, “if we would aim at a holy and useful life, let us redeem the time.” This is important especially to us today who are so busy with “business” that we put God, His Word, His doctrines, our study, devotional and prayer lives on the back burner to everything else. It is so easy for us as sinful creatures to say “I am so busy with the children” or “I have to work” or “I am just so tired” or “I don’t have a quiet place” and so on but that will not do with the Lord. He knows our days and ordains every moment of them. We have no excuses, even thought we may think we do, God knows the times we do those things that are wasteful, unimportant, idle or preferred above spending time with Christ. He knows each hair and its place and its falling. We must be “constant” and “resolute” in following after Christ. Do we not want His blessings? They are ours in Him and they are “more” glorious and abundant and our lives are more joyful and content when we have spent time with Him. We will surely miss the blessing if we “live” without Him in every waking moment of our daily life. “Putting on Christ” means an every moment, every thinking, every application and purpose being “Christ-centered” so that it reads out in our lives as our testimony of Christ in our hearts and lives as His “epistles of Christ.” Did this chapter not encourage you to godliness? I am encouraged that it has and that you are pressing on for His glory. Bonar has rightly said, “one who has “learned of Christ, who “walks with God, will not be an artificial man, not one playing a part or sustaining a character. He will be thoroughly natural in manners, words, looks, tones, and habits. He will be like that most natural of all creatures, a little child.”
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” 1 John 5:21
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Several of my favorite recommendations for further study: J.C. Ryle’s “Holiness” and R.B. Kuiper’s “The Glorious Body of Christ.” These are “must read” books. Bonar’s book is available in print at http://www.heritagebooks.org/item.asp?bookId=164
Living Coram Deo,