Does God find our success literature amusing?

What an amazing and fearful thought: God never fails! Be it the salvation of the sinner or the judgment of the wicked, his purpose always comes to pass. Man attempts, never knowing if his efforts will succeed or not, Ecc 11.6. God works, always sure of the outcome. He must find our success literature amusing.

  • “How to Succeed in Life”
  • “The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom”
  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
  • “Laws of Success”

These are all real titles. Many success books have good things to say. I’ve benefited from not a few of them. But they are all witnesses to human floundering in life’s great adventure, even in the very pursuit of success.

God speaks and the thing is done. There is no lag, no doubt, no disconnect, between decision and production. The sure single step to spiritual success is to hook our lives to his star.

Modern man has gone from wisdom literature (in the widest sense of the phrase) of the Bible to success books by people who purport to have made it. God tells us how to succeed in what is most important. He makes it possible for us to succeed. God is success.

… My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
Isa 55.11 HCSB

¶ A new university site determines the cost of travel in the imperial Roman empire, made up of “complex networks of political power, military domination and economic exchange.” The site produces a number of maps showing not only distance; “this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity.”

Sometimes we overlook that travel in the first century to preach the gospel was an expensive project. Perhaps travel costs then were greater than they were now.

Christians sacrificed financially to preach the gospel. Many of their movements had to do with the destination of funds and the sharing of resources. The great letter to the Romans was written because Paul was on his way to Spain and hoped the Romans would help him, Rom 15.23-24. Hospitality in the first century was a function of mission, not a social or fellowship (narrowly defined) activity.

¶ I mentioned the letter to the Romans. I recall that, in studies of introduction to the testaments, writers like Donald Guthrie often devoted space to the purpose of a biblical book and to the occasion of its writing. It took me a while to understand the difference between the two. From the occasion, however, often grows the purpose. (I’m sometimes slow to pick up on things like this.)

¶ Next month, if we repeat the inaugural event of last year, is the National Prayer Writing Month — a written prayer a day for the month of November. We’ll repeat the daily prayer over on the Believing Prayer website. We invite others to join in. These suggestions still appear to be valid.

¶ It used to be common for Protestants to call Sunday the Christian Sabbath. May still be, dunno. But it was always a misnomer. The first day, as a part of the new covenant, did not replace the sabbath, in the old. Nowhere does one find such an idea in Scripture. Besides, the two days have far different purposes. The sabbath is for rest. The first day is for meeting. For eating the Lord’s supper together, Acts 20.7.

I like for people to have Sunday off. (It’s my busiest day.) An occasional rest is needed, but that is not the stated purpose of the first day. Let’s avoid confusing the two.

¶ I was part of a chain recently helping a WBS teacher find a congregation for a contact in Cameroons. From the teacher to the contact, six people on at least three continents were involved, in a matter of hours. God be praised for the Internet and the use to which Christians put it for the gospel!

¶ If you’re a Twitter person, you might be interested in this account:

We’re redoing the website behind this account. Stay tuned.

¶ Speaking of success, each man’s success ought to be a motive of celebration and thanksgiving as a sign of God’s blessing in life. The success of one is the success of all. Otherwise, it’s envy. The NLT paraphrases John the Immersor saying of Jesus in Jn 3.29, “Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.” Indeed, the success of our Lord is ours as well, and in it we rejoice.

#corollaries, #hospitality, #success