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The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth Paperback – June 27, 1981
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From the Back Cover
As the first book in a series of five on the Christian life, The Green Letters emphasizes both the doctrinal and experiential aspects of maturing in Christian living. The book is grounded in Scripture and enlivened by quotations from noted authors. "Not I, but Christ" is its theme. The author makes this arresting statement regarding the dynamics of the Christian life: "God . . . doesn't intend to help us live the Christian life. Immaturity considers the Lord Jesus a Helper. Maturity knows Him to be life itself." Perhaps the greatest drama in the world is the slow and subtle growth of character in the Christian. Beauty of character can be developed only through years of reflection and experience in the Word of God as the life of Christ is increasingly lived by faith. The Christian life is a healthy, robust kind of life. It advances also through trials, for in one who has faith even suffering is not wasted, but becomes a means for increasing spiritual vigor and strength.
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Stanford had some very narrow, "old-school" Dispensational views not held by the mainstream of scholars today (at least the ones I've seen),
(This is an absolutely accurate assessment of Miles' dispensational understanding. His is a classic, Lewis S. Chafer, C. H. Mackintosh, John N. Darby, Patrick Fairbairn dispensational approach to Biblical interpretation. That is not what the current staff of Dallas Seminary or its recent graduates are teaching and following. Theirs is usually called Progressive Dispensationalism.)
and it shows in the way he understood Paul (especially) and the whole of Scripture in light of his writings, and is the undercurrent for this book.
(Again, absolutely true; however, the book is a compilation of letters from his file on subjects that he repeatedly addressed in answer to inquiries from people world-wide who wrote to him for clarification and Biblical understanding.)
(This is more evident in the "Complete" version, but not as evident in the "slim" version, which I feel is a bit deceptive to the reader, since the "slim" is more widely-read.)
This statement is purely based on ignorance. The "slim" version is the first book that Miles wrote in this series under the title Principles of Spiritual Growth. It was a grand primer for a new Christian. Later, that was expanded to The Green Letters, a broader set of letters in answer to more questions than were addressed in Principles of Spiritual Growth. Yet another book was issued called The Red Letters. Those were all combined by the publishers into The Complete Green Letters. Miles originally had his small books printed in Hong Kong and distributed entirely out of his small home office.
Whatever you do with this fact, (The only "fact" that he has mentioned is that Stanford does not embrace the Progressive Dispensational interpretation, but accepts and teaches the Darby, Mackintosh, Newell, Chafer interpretation)
the practical outworking of this ideology ("This ideology" begs for definition. On the surface it appears to mean `that dispensational understanding of the Brethren who defined it' compared with the understanding that is now taught and adopted by more recent teachers and preachers. For practical purposes that would be staff additions at DTS after Chafer's death and others who hold to the ideology of Progressive Dispensationalism, Covenant/Reformed/Calvinistic/Historical Dispensationalism as compared to Doctrinal Dispensationalism as an interpretive system)
for Stanford results in a very unbiblical view of sanctification (which may be defined by . . .?)
that makes it difficult to reconcile (The writer should have added; "that makes it difficult for me to reconcile)
many New Testament passages. It is difficult for me at this point to believe that the apostle Paul would have instructed believers to walk the way that Stanford does: the classic "let go and let God" mentality. (What does the writer object to about "let go and let God"?)
Stanford dresses this in very intelligent writing, drawing a very attractive, powerful picture of his "system". But, pretty as it may be, I now believe this line of thinking to be unbiblical. (He has made a serious claim without example or definition; or, as a lawyer might say; `based on facts not in evidence.')
This kind of teaching (Again, a claim without definition that must be taken as any form of "let go and let God" do His work in you.)
can lead believers to self-deception, replacing repentance, active faith, and active seeking of God with a "seated-in-heaven-spirituality" that is not allowed to examine itself, bordering on perfectionism and deep-seated in esoteric "breaking" experiences that simply will not happen in the life of every believer. (Miles Stanford taught throughout his life and ministry that the Believer's life and walk started with his union with Christ in His death [Romans 6] and his resurrection to new creation life in the risen Jesus. Further, that the source of his life here moved from Earth to Heaven when the Lord ascended 10 days prior to Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit. His life in the Grand Assembly began on Pentecost with the indwelling Holy Spirit, who had positionally sanctified forever the believer from the world and into Jesus the moment he believed, and who now indwells every Believer accepted in the Beloved. Now that I am accepted and forgiven, and that my sins are forgotten forever; it would be more than foolish for me to believe that any thought or act of `repentance' on my part would, or could, move God to do what more on my behalf? All has been done! For the Lord said on the Cross, "It is finished.")
"Active faith"--does that, can that mean anything other than faith which emanates from within oneself? Was it my faith that actuated the grace of God that saved me, or was it the faith of the Only Begotten Son of God in the will of the Father that moved in my life to bring me to salvation? Most assuredly, as Miles himself taught me, it was the will of the Father and the faith of the Son who wrought my salvation in the eternal counsels of the past. So, I have been seated "in Him" since before the foundations of the world. John, in his first general epistle, begs us to clear thinking on this, as he states; "he who says he has no sin deceives himself."
"Active seeking of God"--There is that word "active" again; this time attached to "seeking of God." It appears to mean that there is within man some capacity to turn one's self towards God and `actively' attempt to find and reach Him. If Scripture is to be believed, `there is none righteous, no not one' [Romans 3] and `there is not the [man] that understands, there is not one that seeks after God' [Romans 3:11 Darby]. The alternative to self-searching, self-seeking, pursuit of God is to stop! And, then let God wrap you in His arms at the feet of the risen Savior in Heaven, from where your life flows in torrents of living water; sustaining you until that moment when He comes and claims His Bride and removes Her to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
"Not allowed to examine itself?"--A pitiful bit of fiction at best, an attempt to distract from central issues, perhaps; a failure to read what Miles Stanford consistently wrote, or the expression of one already committed to the Armenian view that man has within him the ability to lay hold of God and claim his salvation based on his self-assessment and relative remorse and repentance. Miles' life was a series that consisted of the Hound of Heaven, hunting him down, finding him out, and dragging him from the mire of brokenness, onto the ground of peace. He cautioned us repeatedly that becoming self-absorbed took us deeper into the woods and away from the light of instruction and growth. That would lead, said he, to self-inflicted pain, and discipline by a loving Father. Better to examine yourself (the very essence of the Lord's Table) to make sure that what you testify to before your brothers and sisters in Christ is your soul bared and His righteousness appropriated.
Be careful with this book! Don't forget that the same Paul who said, "you were made to die to the Law... to bear fruit for God" also said "I beat my body and make it my slave". Again, the same Paul who wrote so much concerning our certainty of and blessing from being "in Christ" said that he was still striving to be found Him, still striving to be conformed to His death, and still striving to be conformed to His resurrection. (But, you missed the point that he was striving against himself, against the Old Sin Nature within to which he died in Christ through union, the conformity that he wished to attain, as so with the resurrection to new creation life of which Christ was the "First fruit")
There is no lack of certainty of heaven or of being presently "in Christ" here in Paul's statements. They simply point to the reality that (Practical or conditional) sanctification is a process that MUST BE "worked out" through faithful obedience as God "works in". It doesn't just happen by "reckoning" once we "get to the end of ourselves" as "The Green Letters" describes. (Thankfully, once I `got to the end of my self by realizing that I died to sin and self, then my Position in Christ became by condition in life through declaring myself to be dead to the power of sin in my life [blessed Reckoning) free from the Law of sin and death, and free to serve God by considering (Reckoning) my life to be expendable in service of my savior--just as my late mentor was finally able to drive into my aging brain. I thank Miles J. Stanford, who is as important to our age and day as was Martin Luther to the Reformation.