Came accoss this article by Kevin DeYoung about the risk of sacrificing holiness in order to not seem fundamentalist or too religious. His concern is that we may end up abandoning the real manadate of being conformed to the image of Christ in order to fit in. Well worth the read.
Acts 16:30 (ESV)
30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Soteriology is the term that is used to describe the study of salvation. Yesterday was October 31st and while many celebrated this day as Halloween it was also celebrated as Reformation Day. Reformation Day marks the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his protest letter to the door of the Roman Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was essentially protesting the differences he saw in the way salvation was described in the Scriptures and the way salvation was being taught in the church at that time. Luther contended that the church’s teaching that salvation was obtained only if the individual did certain works or kept certain rules was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible that salvation comes from faith alone. The result of Luther’s action in 1517 forever changed Christianity. The Protestant Reformation spawned the vast denominational church system we have today. What I hope to do over the next few days is look at a few key concepts in the soteriology debate. My goal is not so much academic as it is personal. For me I am always trying answer the question of how should I live. I think a foundational answer to that question begins in understanding my relationship to God in salvation. Let me preface this for any new readers by saying that I am not a trained theologian. I am just a guy doing my best with the help of the Spirit to study the scriptures looking for God’s revelation to me. Please feel free to jump in the discussion.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and the chance to read and study it with others. I pray as we try to understand from it better how you work in our lives and how we should respond to you that you will give us revelation and insight. Father, ultimately, I desire my efforts and my time to be honoring of you. I pray that you would speak to us as we seek you. Thank you for your love. We offer you praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
BLOG TO READ:
Stumbled across this blog post today. Super great reminder of what it’s all about.
LINK TO FOLLOW:
Been revisiting the sermons from the NewSpring Leadership Conference that my brother and I attended in September. All the sermons were good, but the Driscoll, Smith, and Chan are still rocking my socks. I can’t embed the videos here but the link below will take you to the goodness.
VIDEO TO WATCH:
And since were are talking about the conference, I need to mention the praise band at NewSpring was great. Here is a video of Revelation Song.
Friends one of the good things about being a follower of Christ is the ability to be humble and admit when you’re wrong. The other day while talking to my brother Tony I made a comment to him about how I thought his blogs and some of the things he has written about were on a much higher spiritual level then a lot of people can comprehend. I think the analogy I used was that he was writing on a 4th yr college level while I was reading on a 12th grade level. Now I have a bad habit of not being able to communicate my thoughts well and make sense of them (in case you haven’t noticed) and I think I did the same here with my Brother and I was wrong! Big time! I realized this after I started reading the book “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment” by Tim Challies (which I highly recommend by the way)
In this book Tim talks about our need for Spiritual Discernment and how the lack of discernment can lead to Spiritual Immaturity, Spiritual Backsliding and Spiritual Death. Now what I want to talk about today is Spiritual Immaturity and Backsliding or falling away as it is called in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV) tells us “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
This verse really hit home for me. I have realized that I too have been slow to learn. Sure I have been a Christian for many years and have even taught Sunday school and other bible studies but I was still was living on milk instead of solid food! I have been lazy in my efforts to learn anything else other than the basics we hear every week in Church. Challies writes “We would not consider a child healthy who, at six years of age, still drinks only milk, for that child would be weak and sickly. The same is true in the spiritual realm. A person should pass quickly from spiritual milk to solid foods, from the basics to what is more advanced.”
Tim also talks about how children, especially babies will put anything they see in their mouths without evening thinking about it. I think we as Christians do the same thing. We will follow all kinds of people who we think are cool or hip, and might even pastor a mega church without even discerning what kind of spiritual food they are feeding us. I won’t mention any names but there are some preachers on TV that will only preach messages full of milk and cookies with no Solid foods. You can tell who they are by the way they smile all the time and tell you everything is going to be ok. You will never hear words like sanctification, justification or discernment which according to the Hebrew verse above means to “have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”. If we ever want to grow spiritually we need to stay away from this kind of baby food and seek something with a lot more substance.
So what’s the take away for me? Simple! Get off the milk and starting eating some real solid spiritual food. For starters I am going to get deeper in the Word and also start reading books from some of the greats in the theologian community. Guys like A.W Tozer, Bonheoffer and C.S Lewis just to name a few. I know a lot of these guys are a hard read but I feel the only way to improve your reading ability and spiritual growth is to challenge yourself and work your way through it. Also pray for God to give you understanding and wisdom along with discerment like Solomon did in 1 Kings 3:9
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
It can not be overstated enough how destructive sin is in the life of a Christian. I know for me that the times I have felt the most unstable or just downright disconnected from my relationship with Jesus has been the result of willful sinning on my part. I know that many times when I have given into temptation I always look for a way to justify my transgressions. It is really kind of silly to think that I could come up with a good excuse to submit to the Father for my willful disobedience, but yet I try. “I sinned because I was tired”. “I sinned because I was sad”. Better yet, “I sinned because the devil made me do it!”
I like the last one the best. If the devil is causing me to sin, how can it be my fault?
Of course the Bible tells a different story. While it my be true that the evil one tempts us, he doesn’t make us do anything.
Just look at the Scripture above.
How often do we forget in the moment of temptation that “God is faithful”, and that “he will also provide a way of escape”?
How often in the moment of temptation do we forget that somewhere in that moment God is providing a way out?
How often do we forget that Jesus hung a cross and bled so that we can say no?
How often do we forget that the Spirit of God is dwelling in us to protect from the schemes of the evil one?
How often do we forget the cry of Jesus in the garden to the Father. “Not my will, but your will be done”.
Heavenly Father, thank you for faithfulness. Thank you that in every trial you provide a way to overcome. Thank you Father that you love us and that your desire is that we love you back in word and action. Father, forgive us where we have been faithless. Forgive us for willfully sinning when you provide a way for us to resist. Father may your Kingdom come and may your light shine bright in this dark world. Protect us and guide us. We love you Father and it is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
42And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them,
43but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Reading these verses the other day I was struck at how focused Jesus was on the mission that the Father had given Him. I know that I am sometimes guilty of thinking if I just did this certain thing or that certain thing at my job I would rise to a position where people would honor me and I could kinda just rest on my laurels. The mere fact that there is a phrase “rest on your laurels” testifies that I’m not the first with this idea, but not so for Jesus.
At first contemplation my take away from these verses was that we need to be focused on completing the mission God has given us. But as I have chewed these verses a bit more I realize that I am very guilty of not taking the good news of the kingdom of God to the next town. How many times has someone crossed my path that really needed to hear the good news of Jesus where I just rested in my own salvation and remained quiet? Have I become complacent in my position as one who is forgiven? Jesus himself told us to go and make disciples. Right?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your purpose and your plan. Thank you for your salvation and your reconciliation. Forgive me Father where I have fallen short. I pray God that you would open my eyes to the opportunities around me to proclaim your goodness and to herald the glory of your Kingdom. Father make me bold in your mission and empower me to do your will. I pray these things in Jesus name. Amen