Archive for theology

Walking in Truth – NT

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Last week we looked at the Old Testament understanding of Walking in Truth. This week we’ll look at the New Testament understanding of the same concept and compare the similarities and differences to see if there have been any changes in God’s program. The apostle John talks about walking in truth, and makes mention of some things of interest to our study:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

In context John is not saying that the law was not truthful, rather he is making the argument that the grace and truth found in Christ is what gives the law any benefit because it finds its fulfillment of mercy and forgiveness in Him.

John 8:31-32; 14:6 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ’s life in action and His words are placed on the same level as direct revelation from God it is Truth. But Christ goes further in the giving of truth as He also gives the Spirit for guidance and direction:

John 14:17; 16:13 Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you… Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

So now we have a direct spiritual guidance and oversight by a the third person of the Godhead who will lead us in truth. This will never be in disagreement with Christ’s revelation, but will be to prompt proper obedience to both God’s previous revelation as well as Christ’s revelation. It is truth which sanctifies. It is truth that changes. It is truth, and it is found in God’s word’s.

John 17:14-21 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Verse 20 is an amazing prayer as Christ is not just praying for His immediate disciples, but for ALL disciples that would follow. He prayed for US! He prayed that we would be sanctified by truth! How precious the truth of God’s Word should be to us! But what does that look like?

1 John 1:8; 2:4; 3:18-19 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us… 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him… 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

A life marked by sensitivity to our depravity and knowing that our nature is prone to sin. If we deny this, we deny the truth because it is exactly how God describes our condition. God’s commands are a direct admonition to us to correct our erring ways back to truth and that is way keeping His commandments are so vital. And when we can put these things into practice both in what we say and in what we do, then we will find assurance of our relationship with God.

John was a minister who established churches and brought people into relationship with Christ. As he writes to some of these we find that he takes great joy in seeing that they continue to walk in truth:

2 John 1:3-6 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.  4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

3 John 1:3-14 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well.

John’s definition of walking in truth is exactly what he learned from Christ [Mark 12:30-31] and is not so very different than David’s:“[It is] not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” [2 John 1:5-6]. So the question then is, do you follow what David and John and Christ taught? Are you walking in truth?

Walking in Truth – OT

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by Mark Hanson

How many of you think the Old Testament, for daily practical living, only applies to the Jews? This morning we’re going to explore whether this is a reality or not in one particular concept: Walking in Truth. David uses this phrase, “walking in truth,” so this week we start by looking at its use in the OT and follow up by looking at its use the NT. Both the Hebrew and the Greek roots for these words have similar definitions.

Walking conveys the meaning of acting, doing, performing, going, behaving, and living.

Truth carries the connotation of being trustworthy, faithful, truthful, and maintaining consistency over time.

David’s use of “walking in truth” really centers on his specific understanding of truth. And David’s understanding of truth is directly connected to his concept of God:

Psalm 86:10-12 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.”

David focuses on who God is. He understands God teaches man to follow after Him, and as a result of that teaching, man will have the ability to walk in truth. Walking in truth can only be accomplished by truly understanding who God is. Understanding who God is directly related to a proper walking in truth. It is only in knowing God’s way that we will be able to follow after Him properly. This then in turn produces praise that is completely focused on God’s glory. David also connects walking in truth to the privilege of being in God’s presence.

Psalm 15:1-2 “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”

While David takes time to connect truth to the person and presence of God, he also shows how we are able discover this truth:

Psalm 119:30 “I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.”

Psalm 119:142 “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Psalm 119:151 “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”

David makes a choice to both know and follow the instructions that God has revealed for us. He is following something that is intrinsically right, and that value will never change. And because God’s law is forever right and true, it is the one standard by which we can measure right and wrong, good and evil.

Psalm 25:4-8 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.  7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Psalm 51:6-12 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

In Psalm 25 and 51 (David’s Psalm after his sin with Bathsheba) one can see that David understands that God is not some distant and far off impersonal being who’s only relationship is one of correction, but rather that God desires a real change of heart which then allows for a real relationship.

These passages give a picture of David’s understanding of truth and how it is to be integrated into life. Knowing where David is coming from is critical when looking at this passage as he is stepping down handing over the throne to his son Solomon.

1 Kings 2:1-4 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: 4 That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee a man on the throne of Israel.

1 Kings 3:6, 14 And Solomon said, [to God] Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day… And [God said] if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

There are some principles that David touches on in his writings (in the broader context than the verses listed here) about truth:

  • Understanding God’s “otherness”
  • Understanding that we must learn
  • Understanding that we must be taught
  • Understanding that we must be led
  • Understanding that we must be dependent
  • Understanding our sin
  • Understanding our guilt
  • Understanding that we must humble ourselves
  • Understanding that we must seek forgiveness
  • Understanding that God demands internal change
  • Understanding this change is complete: heart, mind, soul
  • Understanding that this produces appropriate response
  • Understanding that this leads to God’s presence
  • Understanding that this change is dependent on the holy spirit
  • Understanding that this is all found written in God’s Word
  • Understanding that God’s Word IS truth and must be obeyed

Walking in Truth is what God desires from all of us. David was a man after God’s own heart and God sums it up at the end of David’s life that this entailed walking after God by keeping His commandments. And this is the very same relationship and drive that David wanted to pass on to his son. We should strive to do the same.

Christian Unity: The Manhattan Declaration

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , on November 30, 2009 by Mark Hanson

In a conversation after chapel today one of the professors mentioned the signing of The Manhattan Declaration about 10 days ago. Since I hadn’t heard of this, I thought I should read up on it. After reading the brief summary (HERE) and seeing the list those who have signed it, I was a little surprised. In light of what I read in this “declaration” it prompted this posting. The basic premise of this “declaration” is:

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

In these 3 points affirmed above, I would assume most “Christians” would be in general agreement with the tenants put forth here. However, there is a more significant issue at stake. These 3 issues take a secondary role to the Gospel. Yet in this document, they are the prominent force and purpose of its message. This raises the question of what their true purpose really is. Here are a few quotes from the document itself.

“Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace…”

What do they mean by the Gospel of costly grace? And how does is it similar to or different from the one Gospel Christ brought to mankind [1 Corinthians 15:3-5]?

“The church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.”

I would completely agree that service must be a integral part of how Christians make the Gospel visible as Jesus preached to the soul and ministered to the body [Matthew 9:35] and James exhorts that faith is seen through one’s works [James 2:22], but service is no substitute for Christ’s message which He kept distinct from His service, even though He did both.

“We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address.”

This is basically appealing to the “inherent” goodness within people. But all of these “issues” are Biblically based and to the unsaved it is foolishness [1 Corinthians 1:18], not making any sense until God has imparted the Spirit to them.

“It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness…”

After reading this statement it should be noted that there are no passages of Scripture or any other sort of clarification as to how they define the Gospel. While Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical people would all claim this duty as their primary responsibility, HOW they read Scripture to define what the Gospel encompasses is quite different, and here appears as though there is no distinction. Dan Phillips over @ teampyro.blogspot.com posited 19 questions to those who have signed this document. I have selected five of note here.

“Is the Bible your sole, sufficient, ultimate source and authority for faith and practice?”

“Do you believe that the Biblical Gospel is the good news that lost, sinful man can be reconciled to God by grace alone, through faith alone, in and because of Christ’s person and work alone, to the glory of God alone, as seen with final authority in Scripture alone?”

“Can a church be a Christian church if it has the Gospel wrong?”

“Do you believe that persuading people to assent to a vaguely-Biblical opinion about homosexuality, marriage, or abortion is more critical than clearly presenting the Gospel, as described above?”

“Which is more important and more critical in our day: to define marriage, life, and civil liberty; or to define the Gospel?”

Bottom Line

This Declaration hit at the core of why “Christianity” in general has been so fragmented with so many denominations, namely raising the issue of where the church is to stand regarding it’s role in impacting the world with the gospel and with good works. Both are commanded. Both are exemplifed in the life of Christ. Is it important that Christians take a stand for our Christian values and beliefs? Yes. Is it important for Christians to proclaim the Gospel to every creature? Yes. So where is the balance?

Personally this Declaration does very little in the way of actually impacting real lives with real values through real personal contact. As far as I can tell it gets a failing grade in its presentation of the Gospel. “Christianity” is mentioned some 37 times, while “Christ” is mentioned only 7 and several of those are Bible quotations about His deeds. Our own institutions should not find such prominent when Christ should be displayed as preeminent. This “Declaration”  seems to be more politically motivated than anything else. Christ did not directly challenge the political system, but He did challenge people. It is easy to make broad statements, but they often have little impact. It is much harder to bring the Gospel into the world of a single individual so that they not only hear the Words of Christ but feel His love through acts of service.

Do I think that life, marriage, and our religious freedom are all important? Yes I do. But I think in this Declaration these issues have placed the Gospel in a secondary role. In fact, however, these are to rather flow from a heart transformed by the Gospel.

But what does it prove if I do not sign this Declaration? If an unsaved person were to ask if I believed what was written on those pages, would I say yes or no? If asked why I have not yet signed the document (as I have not), would I tell them it is because of a theological conviction that it seems to confuse the Gospel even though I agreed with the three principles of life, marriage, and religious freedom they put forth? While it might allow me an opportunity share the Gospel, could I not just as easily affirm those three issues as important (which I do) and then point out that the best part and only reason I can hold to those truths is because of the Gospel and go on to articulate it in detail? This is what I wrestle with. And each day as we ask similar questions: how will my actions, my time, my energy be best used to direct the most attention to truth, and the most glory to God?

UPDATE >> I actually just ran across Dr. Mohler’s blog post on his signing of this document. I really do agree with him that these are fundamental civic issues Christians need to take a stand for. But it seems that it is largely a petition that will be sent to governmental leadership, and even Dr. Mohler seems to indicate that it is primarily political in nature. It really all comes down to asking at what level are we willing to work with other denominations. And I know often there is no cut and dry answer in these more practical issues. My beef, as stated above, is that the gospel seems to take a secondary role. The signatories would probably argue that this is not primarily about the gospel, and understandably so… but i can’t get around how you can make any “Christian” statement without it. Including Catholics in that arena seems to confuse the issue of what constitutes “Christianity”. This is just me being open and honest. I certainly agree that we should take these issues seriously, and do something to make our voice heard in the public realm. But my question would be did it have to be in union with Catholics just to make the statement stronger? Why not just issue a protestant declaration?

Every individual believer needs to exercise their priest-hood before God guided by their conscience. I see the dilemma when we seek to make the Gospel the priority in our interaction with the world and yet balance that with taking a stand in obeying God’s commands when they are directly attacked. Matthew 5:15 – “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” If we keep the light in our little baskets, our churches, others will never see His light in us and give glory God. But this should have never been done apart from a clear presentation of the Gospel. If the Gospel is lost or minimized because the world would see this as a religious duty motivated by political tension… then we really have failed to ultimately focus the glory back to God.

Study, Do, Teach…

Posted in theoflections with tags , on November 25, 2009 by Mark Hanson

Reading through the book of Ezra, Ezra 7:10 really caught my attention. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” For the past 8 years through college and seminary I have been setting my heart to study God’s Word. This study has had the end goal of being fulfilled in teaching, just as in this verse. But, this verse has a middle element. I really had to stop and consider if I was actually taking the time to “do” what I was consuming from God’s Word. One can study theology, quote and memorize large portions of Scripture, have the head knowledge, and yet be empty when it comes to actually living it out. Reflecting back on my course of study, were many times that I would sit and study just to file it away in my memory so at some later point in time I could reconstruct it to teach others. I found that this would be used when I “did” good things like teaching Sunday school, preaching at the retirement community, singing in the choir, or various other “ministry” type activities. But more often than not, I would not take the time to meditate on the Word for its sanctifying value in my own personal life. I would just pass it on to other people. I could say all the right words, reiterate the proper theology, and yet my own soul was wasting away from lack of deep spiritual nourishment. The head knowledge I was assimilating never really penetrated my heart. While I often thought that I was following Ezra in setting my heart towards God’s Word, I was really only engaging my mind.  I would like to change that.

A brief challenge to you as you read this:

Not only your mind, but also your heart, ENGAGE IT!

Meditate on God’s Word and put it into practice, DO IT!

Don’t keep all of that to yourself, SHARE IT!

Ezra had the proper order and God was with Him — Ezra 7:28 “I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me.”

Tempting God

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2009 by Mark Hanson

Just ran across this yesterday reading James 1:13 “… for God cannot be tempted with evil…” and then began to wonder… since Christ is God, how this could be reconciled with Matthew 4:1 when it says that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”?

How does one reconcile the apparent contradiction between James 1:13 with Matthew 4:1? There are two elements to consider:

Divinity

Christ was completely divine. Mark 1:1 testifies to record “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Claiming the title of “son” denoted essence, and family inheritance. A good example of this cultural truth is found in the story Ben-Hur. Ben-Hur is condemned to slavery in a Roman war galley. Eventually the ship sinks and he saves the life of the Roman general on board, who in return adopts Ben-Hur as his own son. This act legally accorded him all the rights and privileges associated with his adoptive father. Christ’s claim to be the Son of God is no different. Jesus is accorded all the rights and privileges of being God, sharing the same essence with Him. The reaction by the Pharisees confirms their understanding of Christ’s claim in Matthew 9:2-4,6 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?… know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Christ forgave the man’s sins, an act which is within the power of God since all sin is pardonable only by the maker of the universe. Since Christ was a physical manifestation of God in human form, holding a completely divine essence.  His divine nature could not be tempted by evil (James 1:13).  But He was also human…

Humanity

Christ was completely human. Matthew 1:23 says “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). He was physically born of a woman, and as a child was dependent on His parents.  Luke 1:80 records that Jesus as a “child grew and became strong in spirit,” just as all children normally do. He was subject to all the same elements we are.  Jesus sleeps in Matthew 8:24, eats and drinks in Matthew 26:26-27, bleeds in Luke 22:44, suffers bodily injury in Luke 22:63, and was subject to the a physical death in Luke 23:46. In all respects Christ lived a human life.  Hebrews 5:8 records “he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” With the presence of sin all life suffers, and yet in Hebrews 4:15 “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” It is in respect to this element that I think we as humans have a hard time grasping. He was perfect. It was in His humanity that He was tempted. He was tried and pushed to His physical limits just as we are every day. The only difference  is that He overcame all obstacles to be perfectly obedient to the Father.

Synthesis

The issue centers on whether in His divinity Christ had it easier with a little supernatural help. The writer of Hebrews shows us that He did not have an easy out because of His divinity. His mission was to come and demonstrate what perfect obedience looked like. He was really tempted and He genuinely demonstrated obedience. He is the only man to do so. The answer to the question about the distinction between His two natures is in the temptation by Satan himself. Satan’s temptations are centered on Christ’s humanity in Matt 4:3 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” touching on physical provision, or self-dependence. Matt 4:6 “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” touches upon the issue of pride, or self-glorification.  Matt 4;8-9 “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” touches upon the issue of possessions, or self-indulgence. Each of these issues is rooted in opposition to God with “self” supplanting God as the ultimate ruler in life. This is not  something that God could ever be tempted with because He is the the ultimate authority. Satan is, rather, directly attacking Christ’s humanity by seeking a weakness which might have set itself up against God rather than submitting to Him.

God cannot be tempted with evil. But men can be. Christ’s humanity was tempted, and so is ours.  But Christ overcame, and so can we. Temptation is an ever-present part of our human existence, always attempting to package sin as attractively as possible.  How I long for that day when all temptation will fall away. But until then, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:14

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Addictions

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , on November 20, 2009 by Mark Hanson

 

On my way to a doctor’s appointment yesterday I happened to be scanning the radio and one of the morning talks shows mentioned addiction, so I thought it might be interesting. It didn’t take  long to figure out that the addiction they were talking about was sex. This prompted me to continue scanning but I lingered for a moment as the girl being interviewed talked a little bit about what this meant to her.

Just for the record, it never got into any specifics even though the male host kept prying for all the details. That part was really sad, and he was miffed that she kept it clean.

The part that really caught my attention was this girl’s account of how it affected her life. She noted that it was just like being addicted to drugs or alcohol. Sex became the first thing she turned to when life got rough. If she had a bad day a work, she would go shack up with the first guy that was half-way interested. Whenever she had a semi-serious relationship and it started hitting the rocks, her first attempt to solve the problem was to dump the guy and find the next available warm body for instant gratification and an external emotional connection.   She never said it,  but her real longing was for genuine love.

What amazed me was how close the conversation came to letting out the dark secret of addictions: addictions are black holes.

She realized that she was just running from her problems and trying to find a new beginning, a new meaning, a new purpose life that she felt was missing. She described it as a huge hole to fill. And yet every time she filled that hole, she would always come out with the same problems and the hole would still be there, gnawing to be filled. When she gave “the answer” for how to get past  an addiction, it was that the alternative to the addiction needed to be safe and healthy, and that the definition would vary for everyone.  She never really gave an answer.

But that is just the surface issue. They never went any deeper. And while the girl on the show never went into detail about the specific issues and problems that preceded these episodes, it was obvious that she had no method of dealing with these problems.  Hence she had hit a cycle of seeking comfort in the easiest and most readily available method she could find.

The question of addictions really comes down to this question: “What are you wanting so badly that you are willing to disobey God?” People with no relationship to God never consider this question. And it is why they find no satisfaction in the different activities they seek while trying to comfort themselves. The world at large knows this, and yet can’t seem to find the answer. Take the Rolling Stones who nailed it on the head all the way back in 1965:

I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no girl reaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m a doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
‘Cause you see I’m on a losing streak
I can’t get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction

There is no satisfaction, because everyone looks in the wrong place. An eternal, spiritual, relational void is filled with temporal, physical relationships with people or things that  may initially seem to “satisfy,” but in reality have no lasting fulfillment. The void is still eternal, spiritual, and relational. The only thing that will completely fill and satisfy is a personal relationship with God through Christ:

2 Corinthians 6:18“‘I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Galatians 3:26, 4:4-5“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith… when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Matthew 11:28  – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” — Christ

John 6:35“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” — Christ

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

John 3:15“Whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD appeared to him from far away. ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love…'”

So with an addiction, with something that you turn to for comfort… are you willing to trade a fleeting love that leaves you empty, for a love that will satisfy forever?

Saved? Prove it…

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , on November 17, 2009 by Mark Hanson

I was recently challenged to prove that I was saved. To be honest, the only thing that really came to mind were two songs: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, The B-I-B-L-E” and “Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in. Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.” These both seem like pretty simplistic answers to a seemingly basic question. But as I thought about it more I wondered if just pointing to the Bible was all that was really required to prove my status as a child of God. This then leads to the question:

What are the Biblical “proofs” of one’s salvation?

Theologically

The main proof, since we were utterly incapable of performing what was necessary to gain salvation, is not in what we have done but in what Christ has accomplished in our place. Salvation is found in one person: Jesus Christ – Hebrews 12:2 “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Christ’s work recorded in the New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 17 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Everything regarding our salvation hinges on Christ and Christ alone. The question of one’s salvation dwells almost completely in the immaterial, spiritual realm, with Christ purchasing the justification of our sins before God. Hence 2 Corinthians 5:7 states “for we walk by faith, not by sight,” and we trust the work of Christ, which is unseen today, as the main proof  for salvation. But this does not erase the fact that we do operate and have responsibilities in this physical world in which we live. This then leads to some practical elements…

Practically

Attempting to transfer a spiritual reality into a tangible physicality is not simple, but neither is it complicated. James challenges all who hold to the Christian faith in James 2:18 by noting: “I will show you my faith by my works.” Jame’s statement here is not promoting a works-based righteousness, but rather advocating that the “fruit” of a saved life is manifested in visible works evidencing the changed condition of the heart. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus informs his disciples that “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” There is an element of self denial, as well as an association with the suffering Christ endured while physically present on earth. The centrality with which Christians are to emphasize Christ is also seen in Galatians 6:14 “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The demeanor of Christian living should be characterized by a genuine humility that deflects all glory towards Christ. Another critical element is brought out in 1 John 3:10 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” The issue that some might take with John here is that he seems to presents sinlessness as inherent to proper Christian living.  John is not advocating sinlessness, but rather a habitual practice of putting off  the old sinful lifestyle, and replacing it with  a true love motivated by a relationship with Christ.

So these are my initial thoughts as to how one can prove their salvation. All of these elements need to be present. Because of our imperfection the practical elements come and go as indicators to how much we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. But the theological element is completely established in the work of Christ. This is always present, never failing, and is what we can trust, whether at our initial turn to God, or at some later moment of our Christian living.  Christ is the only thing we can ever turn to, at any point of time to always prove that we are saved. Because “…the Bible tells me so.”