James Bonner, Board Member

James Bonner

I was a young Christian when the Lord gave me a verse: Matt. 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

This was an encouragement to me because, as a young Christian, I desired to please the Lord by living a righteous life, but more often than not, found that the flesh seemed to have more victories in its win column than the spirit did. I hungered for righteousness and for the fulfillment of the promise that I shall be filled. I noticed that the one who hungers was not doing the filling but someone else; namely the Lord.

One day I was at a church meeting hearing a visiting missionary named Peter Plummer. I was impressed with his personal testimony. After the meeting I spoke with Peter and confessed to him my struggles with my flesh. I said, “The Christian walk is so hard, with so many struggles.”

Peter replied, “There are no struggles in Jesus.” Then he changed the subject without explaining his baffling statement.

What in the world did he mean? David had plenty of struggles; just read the Psalms. We could easily find many examples in the word of saints who struggled with their flesh.

I appreciate now that he didn’t explain what he meant, because it made me ponder his statement for several years. I have come to realize that in Christ is rest and peace, not struggle. The only way we can enter into this blessed place is by faith.

The other day, as I prayed, the Lord rebuked me. It seemed the Lord was saying, “Do you think that seeking me makes you worthy?”
My reply was, “No Lord.”
The Lord said back to me, “The only thing that makes you worthy is the blood of Christ. You can only approach me on that merit alone.”

I began to realize that although I had a doctrine of salvation by faith and righteousness by faith, I had a mentality that was by nature works oriented. The flesh can’t comprehend the simplicity of faith. Our flesh tells us that we have to do something to please the Lord.

We know that the Lord is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Somehow deep down I trusted in my puny efforts to seek God diligently as something that would merit favor with him. Saints, this is only unbelief. The rest of the verse that I just quoted goes like this, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Like many saints, I have struggled with feelings of unworthiness. These feelings often have their root in our failure to walk consistently in the Spirit. Also we have an enemy that is called the accuser of the brethren, who tells us just how unworthy we are.

The scriptures teach that the victory that overcometh the world is faith. All that’s in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. When we see Jesus––that is, he reveals himself to us and speaks his word to us––we receive faith and grace. The flesh just melts away in his presence. We have a desire, by his grace, to put off the old man with his works and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Saints, we must seek the Lord like never before. Trusting not in our pursuit of God, but only in Christ; righteousness is by faith. We are at the end of the last days and Jesus’ sobering statement in Luke 18:8–– “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth”–– should make us stand up and take notice. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” 1 Thess. 5:4-10.