Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Banner of Truth Conference 2018 Slot 7


This next message, from Bill Hughes, was on discouragement in the ministry. He began with a quotation of Brash Bonsall calling discouragement a child of the devil and an acceptance that we all know discouragement.
Answers to it are everywhere in the Bible it wassuggested but we were taken to Numbers 20, 21. Two or three points were made
1. The circumstances that lead to discouragement
Examples
1 Unforeseen obstructions to progress
The unhelpfulness of the King of Edom was exacerbated by the fact Israel and Edom were brother nations. It is often those closest to us who prove untrue or lack sympathy and that leads to discouragement. In 2 Corinthians we have a clear example of this happening. The Corinthians had an uncanny ability to ascribe wrong motives to Paul. In any ministry there will be knock backs. Many of these are simply what happens but some are wounds that are deliberately made by people near to us and they hurt the most and the longest.
The lack of sympathy from Edom has its roots in the relationship between Jacob and Esau. It is also referred to throughout the rest of the Old Testament. When we are attacked by fellow believers it is good to remember Isaiah 54:17 and the fact that anyone who attacks God's people needs to beware.
Moses did not force the issue with Edom. There is a lesson there. There is a time to submit even when those who oppose us are not in the right.
Your enemies can be your best friends. They will sometimes tell you things you need to know. If the criticism is invalid then we need to commit it to the Lord. Mr Hughes shared his personal experience of discouragement - We ask "Why am I here?" The answer is for them and for Him. At other times we need to stand firm and not give in. In Acts Paul and Barnabas do leave places but they also remain at times. We need to get good advice and look to the Lord and stand firm. The aspirations of a lifetime can be washed away in a moment.

Not now, but in the coming years, It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears, And there, some time, we’ll understand.

We’ll know why clouds instead of sun Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun; ’Tis there, some time, we’ll understand.

Why what we long for most of all, Eludes so oft our eager hand;
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall, Up there, some time, we’ll understand

2 Unforeseen difficulties about the pathway
This is what comes next. It may have been the length of the journey or its hardness and knowing they cannot go back. The future is still not theirs. They react in a spirit of unbelief. That often happens in times of stress. Then they encounter the King of Arad. There is a determination to obstruct them and even destroy them. There is always opposition in the ministry. We must expect it. The common attitude today is summed up in the famous Invictus

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

A clash is inevitable then. Think of Daniel and his friends or what happened in Acts. When people are under conviction they can become really angry. Even if they are converted the problems may only just be beginning. When you find yourself in the dungeon of discouragement you need to bear in mind that there are two forces in your life that make it a battleground. On one hand God is active in your life and has a plan and purpose. However, on the other hand, the Devil also has his designs and purposes. If we forget that then we will only add to our discouragement. This is not an afternoon game of tennis but a fight against powerful forces of evil.
A recurring question for us (as seen in the Psalms) is how long? We have to be prepared to be patient. One of Satan's devices is to demoralise you. Mr Hughes once wrote in his Bibkle this reminder "Never, never be tempted to doubt in the dark what you to be right in the light". A marathon not a sprint.

2. The effects of discouragement
For times' sake this was done much more briefly
1 They dishonoured God's person and spoke against him and Moses
Flavel says "Complain to God you may but complain of God you must not"
2 They doubted God's salvation
Look to the rock from whence you were hewn
3 They doubted God's care and concern
4 They despised what God had given them
Denigration of past blessings can quickly becomes the despising of present blessings. Jonah's story is the story of one who despite God's grace to him still ends up discouraged and angry. What a contrast with the Lord weeping over Jerusalem.
5 They discovered the discipline of God

We also began on point 3. Some of the considerations in dealing with discouragement
Here it begins with prayer and contrition .Always the way to begin. The sovereignty of God is another important matter.

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