Two revolutions rocked the world in late 18th century. The first was in the British colonies of the New World. The colonists had grown tired of the abuses of power by the English king and after many attempts to have their grievances heard they finally voted to declare their independence from the crown. They would form a new nation without a king. Decisions would be made by the people or those elected by the people to represent them. It was a radical idea because for over a dozen centuries the countries of Europe had been ruled by kings.
Underneath this idea of a country without a king was another more radical idea: freedom of religion. Since the time of Rome, the kings had ruled by “divine right” and a single religion was the religion of the state. The church affirmed the power of the ruler. The rulers supported the church. In the colonies of the New World, there were both Catholics and varieties of Protestants that held majorities in each colony. Rather than declaring one new national church, the American decided that each person would continue to be free to worship (or not worship) according to the dictates of their conscience. It was a revolutionary concept driven by both historical forces and expediency.
Several years later in France, inspired by the Americans, the French revolted. In France, however, the situation was different and the revolution went in a different direction. The French king and the church had created an unholy alliance that made its leaders incredibly wealthy while the average French person lived in poverty. Local bishops made millions of dollars a year but spent all of their time stroking the ego of the king in Versailles while the average person was forced to pay taxes and mandatory offerings to the church. They were mired in poverty. In the French Revolution the people threw off not only the king, but the church. Church properties were confiscated and many were set up as “temples of reason”. In the period of the revolution, many believers were killed. In Vendee, France, historians estimate that over 100,000 Christians were killed (5,000 in mass drownings). Needless to say, French evangelicals are not as prone to celebrate Bastille Day as we are July 4th. Bastille Day is a day when the French celebrate their independence from both God and king. Evangelicals remember Vendée.
While the freedoms that we celebrate as Americans are important and the idea of democracy has spread around the world, we must also be aware of one of the ideas that fueled both revolutions: humanism. Humanism is a broad term, but in general it is a philosophy that puts humans in the place of authority (individually and collectively) and stresses critical thinking and evidence rather than submission to outside authority.
In modern evangelical circles the word humanism is often used with derision. But in European history humanism came to be a force several centuries before the revolutions in America and France. The Renaissance brought a breath of fresh air to the scholarly world. Academia had become stale with scholars writing endless tomes about what other scholars had written. With the Renaissance there was a renewed interest in going back to the original sources of ideas and studying them firsthand. The Renaissance brought with it the idea that each scholar was to go back to read the original works for themselves to see what they said rather than relying on what the experts had said through the centuries. This effort to examine the originals led to exciting new discoveries as old ways of thinking were challenged and sometimes discarded. It was rooted in the idea that each person could think for themselves and that by doing so humanity was progressing. This is one of the hallmarks of humanism.
This drive back to the originals and allowing each person to think for themselves rather than relying on historic beliefs is what led Luther, Calvin, and other reformers to challenge the dogma of the Catholic church. Martin Luther was a humanist when he boldly said that he would not submit to the pope or councils. He needed to be convinced based on the Bible and “cogent reasons” that he was error or he would not recant his teachings. The 16th century Protestant Reformers valued critical thinking about the text of the Bible. Applying logic and common sense to the study of Scriptures was the right of everyone and not just the Councils of the church. They valued education and translated the Bible into the common language of the people so that everyone could read it for themselves.
Humanistic thinking gave the colonists the boldness to reject the authority of the king. The authority to govern should come from the people rather than being based on the divine right of kingship. Dictatorships and monarchies were seen as inherently wrong because they violated the idea that each person is equal and should have a voice in the government. In France, humanism was carried to another level. They discarded not only the monarchy but they rejected the authority of the church and the Scriptures. Many of the key French revolutionaries rejected theism altogether and chose to place their faith in science and reason. This has had a lasting impact on France. Atheism and an anti-Christian attitude are rampant in France.
Most of America’s founders were members of Christian churches. Churches were often the hub of social life in the community as well as being houses of worship. Some of the founders were orthodox Christians. For example, John Jay was President of the American Bible Society and Patrick Henry distributed gospel tracts during his travels. Without a doubt these men were Bible-believing followers of Christ. They were humanists who believed that each person had the right to think and decide for themselves and rejected the idea of the monarchy as an absolute authority.
But many of America’s founders were impacted by a popular religious idea: deism. Deism holds that there is a god who created the world according to certain principles, but that god was not interested in humanity and had left us to figure things out for ourselves. Deists rejected the authority of the Bible. Thomas Paine called Christianity a fable, Benjamin Franklin denied that god had ever communicated anything to man, and Thomas Jefferson rejected the miracles of the Bible. Their deism allowed them to refer to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and to the Creator endowing men with rights, but just what those laws and rights were was left to humans to figure out.
These humanistic forces are still at work in our country. Our individualism is one indicator of it. Americans have a strong independent streak compared to many other cultures. We still have many who hold to an orthodox view of the faith and the Bible and stress the humanistic idea that each person is to study the Bible for themselves. American Christians tend to gather in like-minded churches and bristle at the thought of submitting to church authority if they disagree with it. At the same time, an increasing number of Americans are like the French revolutionaries or the deists of the American revolution. These humanists reject all authority except “science and logic.” They reject the authority of the church and the Bible. They reject any outside standard of morality except what makes sense to them.
Because many in America are rejecting God and the Scriptures as having ultimate authority, the culture will slowly spiral downward in the manner outlined in Romans 1. Bible believing Christians will face increasing headwinds and the belief in accountability to God and his Word will be assaulted from every angle. The temptation will be to accommodate to the ideas and “moral causes” of the day rather than to be faithful to the Bible.
We must remember that the Bible is the Word of God and not the invention of man. We are not to sit in judgment of it, but must all it to be our judge and guide. Jesus told us that we must continue in his word if we were to truly be his disciples. We must not allow the extreme form of humanism that is increasing in our culture to lead us away from the salvation that God has provided in Christ.
For America, this year has been unlike any other year in my lifetime. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is spiraling out of control. So far, a quarter million people in the United States have perished. Many more are suffering long-term symptoms. Large gatherings are a thing of the past. Some businesses have closed and others are struggling. Kids are attending school…from home. In fact, for the next four weeks, the Governor of Minnesota, at the request of our healthcare leaders, has asked us not to gather socially outside of our household.
The image of George Floyd dying on the street in Minneapolis was seared into our minds. It opened a long-festering wound that is the result of the after-effects of racism. Some citizens protested, peacefully. Others rioted and looted. Cities burned. Monuments were torn down. “Black Lives Matter” became both a rallying cry and a subject of intense debate.
Our nation is increasingly polarized, and the President appears to have lost the election by a small margin. Allegations of fraud have been hurled on websites and news programs. Rumors of nefarious plots abound online and spread like wildfire on social media websites. So far, nothing has been proven in court that would overturn the initial results, but there is growing mistrust of the election process by some of our citizens.
It’s Thanksgiving. Isn’t that jarring?
It is a day to give thanks to the Lord for the many blessings that we have received this year. Perhaps this year we need a day of giving thanks more than we ever have before. When we are in the midst of struggles, it is easy to focus on the difficulties rather than our blessings. While a quieter holiday may seem less celebratory, it may lead to deeper reflection on the many ways the Lord has sustained us during this trying year.
Let us take time this week to truly give thanks. Begin by taking a piece of paper and listing all of the blessings that you have received from the Lord this year. Salvation in Christ, to be sure, but also the many small things. The strength to make it through the day, the daily bread, and a thousand other ways he’s sustained you. Craft a prayer of thanksgiving as a gift to Him.
Take a moment to give thanks for the people in your life. Some are close at hand and others are far away. There are those who are unknown but in your life because of the work they do: scientists, medical professionals, and government officials, to name a few.
Friends, coworkers, and family members whose relationships you value are worthy of remembering. During these difficult times, it would be good to thank them and tell them how much you appreciate them. A text, email, or phone call would brighten their day, wouldn’t it? As an act of thanksgiving, connect with those who you are most grateful for or those who you think might need encouragement during this season.
So, give thanks to Him, from whom all blessings flow in a never-ending cascade. God is good, all the time, even in the midst of a difficult year.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
We are in the midst of a pandemic. The highly contagious COVID-19 spreads through both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. While many recover at home in a week or so, others require hospitalization and some even spend time in the intensive care unit. Most survive, others have lingering health problems, and some will die. Those with underlying health problems, the elderly, and the overweight are most at risk of having complications from the virus. In order to prevent patients infected with the virus from overwhelming the healthcare system, the government has issued a series of emergency orders limiting the size of gatherings, requiring masks and social distancing, etc.
Word of Life has sought to comply with these orders to the extent that they do not go against Scripture. Signs are posted requiring masks and asking people to socially distance while in our building. We dismiss by sections to avoid congregating at the exits. We have also invested in equipment to be able to stream our services online so that people can watch from home. We’ve done this to help reduce the spread of the virus while continuing to do the work of the Kingdom.
Having our services online raises a question: Should you watch from home or come to church?
Let me give you some pastoral advice as you consider your situation.
Stay home because of health concerns.
You or a family member may have a risk factor and your doctor has advised you to stay away from large gatherings, restaurants, etc. Like waiting out a long Minnesota snowstorm, you’re protecting yourself and those you love. You’re participating on Sunday morning the best you can by watching online. You are being wise. You are the reason that we live-stream our services.
At the same time, remember that watching online is not the same thing as being at church. You miss out on the extremely valuable interactions that take place naturally before, during, and after the service. There is something missing.
So let me challenge you not to simply watch online and cross “attended church” off your list. Take time to intentionally pursue those connections with the people you would have seen had you been in the building. As a start, let’s say that when you were attending services you normally left for church at 9:30 and got home at noon. That’s at total of 150 minutes. The service itself lasts about 75 minutes. Why not take the 75 minutes you “saved” by staying at home and spend them actively investing in your relationships of those in your church family?
You could call, text, email, or write them. Find out how they are doing, pray with them, encourage them, and share what the Lord is doing in your own life. Talk to your friends, but also those you don’t know well. It still won’t be the same as being there, but your church family needs to interact with you more than you realize. And you need it, too. We'll all be better off!
Don’t stay home because it is “easy.”
During the early days of the pandemic, WOL was online only. I recorded my sermon early in the week. On Sunday morning I slept in, had a nice breakfast, and then watched the service in my sweats from the comfort of my recliner. When it was over at 11:15 am, I was instantly at home and could go about my day. Easy-peasy! I even watched a different church’s service afterwards…I’m so holy!
But no one asked me about my week that morning. No one encouraged me. No one challenged me or held me accountable. No one told me that they were glad to see me. No one prayed for me. No one asked my opinion. It was just me and the TV.
Nor did I pray for anyone. I didn’t encourage anyone. I didn’t look anyone in the eye and ask how things were going. I didn’t meet anyone new. I didn’t challenge anyone. I didn’t interact with anyone about the message. I didn’t share what God was doing in my life. It was just me and the TV.
You see, watching online is a poor substitute for actually gathering with other believers on the Lord’s Day. It isn’t the best way to grow. It isn’t the best way to have an impact for the kingdom of God. You miss a huge opportunity to do the “one-anothers” that are to be a part of our lives.
So if you’ve gotten in the habit of staying home simply because it is “easier”, let this post be a kick in the rear to get you moving again. You need to be “in the game.” We need you.
So pursue Jesus with all of your might during this season.
Don’t be afraid, but walk in wisdom.
Don’t be lonely, but actively seek to love others.
Don’t hide who you are, but wear a mask.
Don’t stand too close to others, but don’t be distant relationally.
Don’t forget to wash your hands, but be willing to get dirty.
In hope he believed against hope,
that he should become the father of many nations,
as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body,
which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old),
or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God,
but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:18-21 ESV
It did not make sense that Abraham would become a father at all, much less "the father of many nations." He was old. His wife was old. They had tried to have children their entire lives and had been disappointed month after month until finally it became biologically impossible. In spite of circumstances which seemed to mock the promise of God, Abraham believed. Where did this perseverance in faith come from? Romans 4:20 gives an important clue. Abraham gave glory go to God and this caused him to grow in the capacity to believe his promises. Worship increases faith.
If we are to walk in Abraham's footsteps we need to forge the spiritual discipline of worship into our lives. Glorifying God means ascribing to him his true value. As we do that each day, we will find our faith in his promises growing stronger. So spend time meditating on the psalms, listen (and sing along!) to a worship playlist, write prayers of love to Jesus, and turn your gaze upon the Triune God. It will slowly but surely increase your "faith muscles."
Almighty Creator and Redeemer, I confess that often I have failed to discipline my heart to worship. Teach me to glorify you moment by moment. May my faith become strong like Abraham's faith. But may I not expect that growth to come without grace-infused effort on my part. I ask that you would draw me to the place of worship over and over again. In Jesus' name. Amen.
I’ve been working from home this week.
The stores do not have some of the things I want.
Strangers seem distant and suspicious. They are not interested in conversation.
I’m missing family events like birthday parties.
It seems like a different world.
I’ve been here before.
This feels familiar.
When Janet and I moved to France it was like this. No, there wasn’t a deadly pandemic hiding in the shadows, but the life seems strangely the same today as when we arrived in France.
I worked from home because there wasn’t a church office.
The stores didn’t have many of the familiar items I longed for (No cottage cheese, really?).
I couldn’t communicate very well.
As a foreigner, people were naturally suspicious of me.
I was grateful for Skype, but I couldn’t give my granddaughter a hug through the screen.
So, what are some lessons from that time that might apply today?
1. We must deal with vulnerability.
Living in a new world puts us in a scary position of weakness. This forces us to look for security. What are we turning to in those times? It exposes what we are trusting in and what we are afraid of. This can be a good thing! We want to trust in the Lord more fully, don’t we? Being placed in this situation is a training ground for trusting Jesus. Lesson: Spend time focusing on Jesus through Scripture, worship and prayer in order to build faith.
2. There is stress on our relationships.
Adjusting to life in France was difficult at times because of the stress that it put on our marriage. One day I would be up and Janet would be down. The next day it would be reversed. Sometimes I would be crabby because of what I was experiencing and found myself needing to apologize for my behavior. These difficulties were good because they forced us to work on our relationship. You might find yourself spending much more time with family members. Use this stressful time to work on those relationships. But this means working on your part in those relationships, not trying to fix other family members. Lesson: trying times can expose relational cracks that can then be fixed.
3. We want to be independent people.
We love our independence. Standing on our own two feet is something we all aspire to. I know I do. Moving to France made me incompetent in what felt like every area of life. I didn’t know how to mail a letter. I was constantly lost. I felt foolish trying to order something at the bakery. The driving laws were different. During those months I learned the value of relationships in the body of Christ. There will be times when you feel alone. Perhaps you will be quarantined at home and need something. Perhaps you will run out of toilet paper. Perhaps you will lose your job and the money is gone. Lesson: It’s okay to ask for help.
4. There is no such thing as a small act of kindness.
When I was adjusting to life in France every kindness brought tears to my eyes. I remember the clerks in the store who were patient with my poor French. The couple that dropped off chocolates on their way to work still brings a smile to my face. The friend who helped deal with an internet service problem by making a phone call relieved so much stress that I felt like I could fly. Simple gestures made life so much better. Lesson: Be intent on doing little things to help others. It’s not only the right thing to do, but each act is immeasurably valuable.
5. We are adaptable.
It took a while, but the new and awkward became familiar and comfortable. While I hope that this “Covid-19 lifestyle” doesn’t last long, if it does, we will adjust to this new way of doing things. Aspects of this new lifestyle will become increasingly routine. Lesson: New lifestyles are difficult but become easier with time.
6. We’ll dance in the streets again.
There will come a time when this epidemic passes and we will be back “home”. And when we arrive it will feel really good. We’ll feel like the sun has finally come out after a month of clouds. We will see the old things with new eyes…and we will dance!
What have you been praying for lately?
How big are your prayers? Sometimes we forget that the God we serve is the Almighty Creator of the universe. Compared to who he is, the things we ask for are not even pocket change…they are more like pocket lint!
So what is the biggest thing that you could dare ask for?
What is the biggest thing that he could give you?
Your answer is probably too small.
The biggest thing that God could give you is himself. It’s also the best thing that he could give you.
So I challenge you this week to ask him.
Ask him to give him more of himself.
Ask him to make you more aware of his presence.
Ask him to help you see his provision and power in your life.
Ask him to fill you with a greater measure of his Spirit.
Ask him to help you hear his voice.
Ask him to show you his glory.
Not only are these prayers the biggest things you can ask, but they are also prayers that he delights to answer.
Ask him. I dare you!
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
We recently launched into a study of the book of Acts on Sunday mornings. At the men’s dinner one Tuesday evening, one of the guys asked me why I picked the book of Acts. I told him that it was where I sensed the Lord wanted us to go next. For me, the decision of which book to preach through is an important matter of prayer and that is the main reason we are heading that way on Sunday mornings.
What do I expect? Why do I think the Lord wants us to go through Acts? There are several reasons.
Our study of Ephesians was highly doctrinal. Acts is action-packed with the adventures of God’s people doing what he calls them to do. The change is good for us. It will also challenge us to follow the Lord with the same intensity and passion that they did.
Acts is about church life. God designed his church to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are meant to have deep relationships with one another and with the Lord (1 John 1:1-4). But the book of Acts isn’t a glossy advertisement; it shows the messiness of church life. There can be people that are hard to work with and relationships can become frayed. We need to hear that and learn from what happened in those early churches.
Acts demonstrates what the power of the Holy Spirit can do. Churches naturally drift toward being powered by people rather than by the Holy Spirit. This is so common that many have never seen what the power of the Spirit looks like in the church. If they have, it has been the 9-volt battery variety. You know, just enough to say there is power there, but no one is going to get hurt. But the power of the Spirit in the Book of Acts is so awesome that people actually die (Acts 5). It is power that carried the gospel across the Roman Empire and turned the world upside down.
Acts chronicles believers living the Christian life in a hostile environment. Today we live in a country that is turning its back on the gospel. How do you follow Christ when people around you are indifferent to him? What do you do when people reject Jesus? How do you handle it when people reject you because of Jesus? Believers not only get mocked, but imprisoned, tortured, and killed in the book of Acts. We need to learn from them how to follow Christ in difficult places.
Finally, there is a hunger stirring in me to see the Spirit move as in days of old. I’m not talking about hyper-charismania where the emotionally-challenged seek spiritual highs. I mean the types of things you see in the book of Acts. Where the Word is proclaimed and the Spirit presses it home with power, where believers are witnessing to friends and strangers with the anointing of the Spirit, where there is an intense hatred of the sin in our lives and a panting after righteousness, where believers are passionately in love with Jesus, where missionaries are called and sent to the ends of the earth, where Scripture is studied and applied under the guidance of the Spirit, where the shackled are set free and the broken are healed, where the forces of darkness are pushed back, and where the King reigns supreme. That’s what I want to be a part of.
How about you?
- Pastor Karl
The Bible is full of heroes that inspire us by their faith-filled exploits. Daniel in the lion’s den, Noah building the ark, and Elijah calling down fire from heaven capture our imaginations and create within us a yearning to follow in their footsteps.
Perhaps no one is a greater example of the life of faith than Abraham. God called him to leave his native country and go to a new land. He and his then-childless wife would eventually have more descendants than there were stars in the sky and all of the nations of the world would be blessed through him. While far from perfect, Abraham’s faithful obedience is held up in the Scriptures as a model for all of us to follow. He is called the father of those who have faith (Galatians 3:7-9).
Romans 4:20 has a great secret that points the way to developing a faith like Abraham’s. “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” Abraham was in the habit of giving glory to God before he received the answer to the promise.
Many of us will remember to thank God afterwards for the blessings that he gives us. Our thankfulness may even turn to worship. Abraham glorified God even when it appeared that it would be impossible for God to keep his promise. And the practice of glorifying God caused his faith to grow deeper and more certain.
What does it mean to glorify God? The term “glory” means that something is weighty or honorable. When referring to the Lord, it means that which makes God impressive. Of course, each of his attributes is impressive. We cannot add to the “weight” of them, but by focusing on them and acknowledging them we bring him honor.
By developing the discipline of glorifying God, we change the “weight” which we allow things to have in our lives. We tend to focus on our problems. As we do, we give our problems “glory” and they become heavier in our minds. If we focus on God, he becomes heavier and our problems lighter.
What does this look like? How do we glorify God so that our faith grows stronger?
I find that I need to set aside time to worship. Sunday morning is a good place to start. The music team at Word of Life does a good job of setting the table for us to worship. The music is God-focused and invites us to glorify him. It’s possible to simply sing along or enjoy the quality of music, so I need to intentionally focus on the Lord and the aspect of his character that the music is highlighting. In my mind (or out loud) I say, “Yes, Lord, this is true about you. You are holy. You are powerful. You are faithful.” The music, along with the encouragement of the people around me singing, makes it easy to shift my vision from my problems to God.
But an hour on Sunday isn’t enough. We need to have regular times of private worship as well. Let me give you three tips to developing a habit of glorifying God:
As you spend time focusing on the greatness of God you will discover that your faith in him will grow. As your faith in him grows, you find that obedience to him will become easier. You will pray with more certainty and start to walk in the footsteps of Abraham
“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 89:1
In this verse Ethan the Ezrahite (the writer) declares that he will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever. Faithful lovingkindness is a fundamental aspect of the character of God and the writer’s heart is overflowing with joy as he thinks about how his life has been sustained and blessed by Lord.
But he goes beyond simply the “God and me” focus of the beginning of the verse. He commits himself to declaring God’s faithfulness to all generations, and that is something that we need to think about. As I look at Word of Life, I see a range of ages. There are children, youth, young singles and couples, young parents, middle-agers, “primetimers”, and those who have been “primetimers” for quite a while. If the psalmist were here, he would be thinking about how he could remind each of these generations about the faithfulness of God. How about you?
Regardless of the stage of life we are in, we need to be reminded of the faithfulness of God. The young mother that is exhausted from chasing toddlers and wondering where she will find strength to do it another day needs to be encouraged. The teenager who is wondering whether following Jesus is worth it needs to be reminded that God will be faithful to bless their obedience. The elderly person who is struggling because of never-ending health problems needs to be reinvigorated with stories of the faithfulness of God. Perhaps even you need to be refreshed with a first-person account of the faithfulness of God.
One of the reasons that we gather together is so that we can encourage one another. We can listen to sermons online and we can sing along with the music on our phones, but we cannot encourage one another well without being together. That’s why the writer to the Hebrews tells us to consider how to stir one another up to love and good deeds. He then tells us not to stop meeting together, but to meet to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).
Can I challenge you to do something? When you are at church next time, ask the Lord to show you someone from a different generation that needs some encouragement. Then come alongside them and share a story of the faithful loving-kindness of the Lord in your life. Make the faithfulness of the Lord known to that generation. Don’t be scared, everyone likes to be encouraged with stories of the steadfast love of the Lord!
In my last post I wrote about "the trap". It is a scheme of the evil one that ensnares many believers. He tempts the believer and seductively lures us into sin and then viciously attacks us when we sin. It is a strategy designed to keep the believer from from following after God.
There were two reactions to the article. Some people thanked me for exposing the trap. They realised that they had experienced this same thing themselves. One person even realised that the trap described exactly what they were experiencing. The image helped them get back on their feet spiritually and start walking with Jesus again. There was grace and forgiveness to be found in Christ.
Others were concerned that I was somehow condoning sin in the life of the follower of Christ. They reasoned that people would understand my article to think that sin was somehow okay and we should tolerate it in our lives. Nothing could be farther from the truth. "Sin is okay" is yet another trap of the enemy. It's a lie that he whispers to keep us from experiencing the freedom of a holy life.
Two Key Truths
There are two key truths that Paul says make up a "sure foundation". They are both extremely important.
The first is this: the Lord knows who are his.
The mystery of God's choosing is shrouded in his will. We were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1). Jesus said that he knows his sheep and that his sheep know the sound of his voice. When we come to faith in Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.
If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, you have been adopted by Him. You are a son or daughter of the Most High.
You don't become a Christian by being born into a Christian family. You become a Chrisitan, in the biblical sense, by regeneration. You have to be born again. We experience several things as we are born again: repentance and faith. We repent of our sins and we believe the gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose from the dead.
You will never be more "his" than when you were born again. However, we need to remember that regeneration (being born again) is, like physical birth, only the first step of a life with the Lord. And just as a baby grows and becomes like their parents, we are to grow and become more like Jesus.
That brings us to the second key truth:
Those who call on the Lord must turn away from wickedness.
We are called to live holy lives. Sin and rebellion against God are never okay. They diminish our fellowship with God, rob us of joy and peace, spoil our spiritual fruit, and damage relationships. We are called to be holy. We must remember that!
We are to put off the old man and put on the new. We are to get rid of sinful attitudes and actions. We are to learn to live lives of love. Read Colossians 3:1-14; Ephesians 4-5; 1 Peter 1:13-16.
There is a great deception in the land: salvation without holiness. There are people who point to some past event and say to themselves, "I've got that heaven thing taken care of so I don't have to worry about that. I might as well 'enjoy life' and live like the devil!" Some point to their infant baptism and others to a "salvation prayer" at a crusade as their "get out of hell free" card. But in either, their true hearts are exposed: they are not saved. The redeemed desire to live lives of holiness! Don't be deceived: Those who call on the Lord must turn away from wickedness!
For those that build their lives on these truths the transformation can be amazing. Drugs and alcohol lose their grip. Greed turns into generosity. Anger into patience and gentleness. Despair turns to hope.
But sometimes we fall. When we do, the enemy wants us to believe that our sin has ruined our hope of heaven. That's the trap I wrote about.
But heaven was never based on our performance. We are saved by grace through faith. Our relationship with God is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ. He died for our sins. He offers us grace and mercy. From beginning to end, our salvation is based on grace. When we sin, we need to repent, receive forgiveness, and and continue to walk the highway of holiness.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Note: This article was originally posted on pastorkarlsblog.blogspot.com on November 4, 2016
Word of Life Staff
A place for the Word of Life staff and guest writers to share of themselves in writing with the Word of Life family.