Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford

 While flying to Omaha last Spring, I fulfilled a divine appointment with a gentleman on the plane who is deeply involved in ministry to veterans all around the country. Our conversation led him to send me a couple of interesting devotional books to read, and this one fell through the cracks for a while. Stanford evidently carried on a lively minsterial correspondence for about five decades with a large following, and this is one collection of his studies on spiritual growth. I read it slowly and carefully; it's jam packed with key concepts about our walk as Christians, and made note of a few things that leaped off the page at me.

Being one of those people who can be extremely self-critical when my performance isn't up to my exacting standards, this tidbit was particularly stinging.

"To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself."

As Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, our strength, power and true accomplishment comes from God, and God alone, not from our own skills and abilities. Anything we do in the flesh is vanity, and allowing God to work through us, despite our weakness, is the only thing in which we should glory.

Even in evangelical circles, where we know, at least in our heads, if not in our hearts, that our salvation comes through faith and not by works, we often work like crazy to be good enough for God to love us.

"Let us cease laying down to the saints long lists of 'conditions' of entering into the blessed life in Christ; and instead, as the primal preparation for leading them into the experience of this life, show them what their position, possessions, and privileges in Christ already are. Thus shall we truly work with the Holy Spirit, and thus shall we have more, and much more abiding fruit of our labors among the people of God."

Positionally, once we are saved, we have been given by God the full inheritance of Christ's position at his side, and gifted with everything necessary to fulfill His purpose in us. But we often forget this, and spend our lives chasing proficiency in "being godly."

For those of us constantly struggling with sin,

"You believe the Lord Jesus died for your sins because God said so. Now take the next step. Accept by faith the further fact that you died with Him, i.e., that your 'old man was crucified with Him'"

Our bondage to sin was broken, and its body buried with Christ, we are risen new and free.

"Sin need have no more power over the believer than he grants it through unbelief. If he is alive unto sin it will be due largely to the fact that he has failed to reckon himself dead unto sin."

I've had, for a number of years, an aversion to the addiction some churches have to the "altar call".

"How often the average congregation is put through this routine. How often the individual believer is maneuvered down front to consecrate and reconsecrate, surrender and re-surrender, commit and recommit himself to Christ! Why is it that after awhile the believer comes to dread such meetings and messages?"

I'm hoping to find some more of Standish's correspondences in my wanderings amid the stacks at used book stores. I think he'll join C.S. Lewis on my shelves as worthy of keeping and re-reading.


Anonymous said...


The only source that I know of that carries all of Mr. Stanford's writings is MJS Books:

Hope this helps!

In Friendship,

Danny Emerick
Tallahassee, Florida

Jon said...

Thanks Danny.

Laying down the Law said...

Need to read this, right at this time.