Hubby is not working these last few weeks of chemo. As such, I am enjoying some time with my family all home together more during the day. He and I got into an interesting discussion yesterday on our way to Michaels. I needed some jewelry-making supplies and some para-cord. We also ran into our (now) former-neighbor Barbara, you know the one I’ve told you about whom our family is so close with, but who has had to move out and go live with her son in the wake of her husband’s (Johnny’s) passing last year. It was great to see her!
Well, anyway, I asked Garrett if he ever had concerns about dying and being one of those people who thought they were all set for heaven, only to hear “depart from me, I never knew you”. Lots of Christians might say “that’s a silly question”, but I don’t think it is. I think it is a question we all ought to ask ourselves once in a while.
Garrett and I do believe that Salvation, which can’t be earned by being good, also can’t be lost, (while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, so how could sin negate the sacrifice? Our freedom from the penalty of death has been bought once and for all, Jesus paid that ransom, for those who believe and have called upon Him for salvation).
We also do not subscribe to the belief that only some Christians are going up in the rapture and others will not. But here is the tricky part: Only God knows who the true Christians are. Now, hear me out. I think there is an important point in this. There is a concept in Christianity that has possibly done more damage than just about any other one, and that is the idea of “assurance of salvation”. The Bible indicates that any assurance we can only come from some effort on our part. Adding effort (works) to our faith, gives it life!
(Ever feel like your faith is on life-support?) Maybe because you haven’t “exercised it” in so long that your faith has become a slug-like couch potato! What good is that?
When doubts start crowding in, and God seems far away, maybe it’s because you “dozed off” in your Spiritual awareness, instead of remaining sober and vigilant as the Bible commands.
What does our day-to-day faith have to do with the one-time decision to trust Christ as our Savior?
Let me be clear: I believe we can have an assurance of our salvation within, but the assurance of salvation that “knows that it knows it is saved” does not come easy. And no one should ever (can ever) offer “assurance” or re-assurance to another person that they are saved, because only God and that person can know that about them.
I don’t feel all that compelled to debate with people who believe you can lose your salvation once you gain it, because it is more common than not, these days, that the majority of people who think they know what Christianity is, are woefully and tragically mistaken.
The general term “Christian” is a very “broad-brush”, taken to paint as Christian; Roman Catholicism, Latter-Days-Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and for some people, anyone born in America or to parents who joined s Protestant church at some point in their lives.
One reader commented this morning that they have come to hate the label and be embarrassed by it, because of the behaviors of many who claim the title.
This is what our Lord had to say about the Kingdom of God:
Often, in the Bible, fowls refer to evil spirits; the raven, the owl, buzzards, crows. These are “unclean” scavenger birds.
There are numerous passages in the New Testament that speak to the fact that there will be those “among the brethren” who are not authentic followers of Christ. The parable of the man who came to the wedding supper but was not properly clothed (In Matthew 22:11), and of course the tares among the wheat, which we are told not to try and “weed out”, because we may remove some true wheat by accident.
We do know that it is even possible for someone to be “chaff” who believes himself to be “wheat” (the real deal) because the Bible tells us there will be those who will say “but I cast out demons and healed the sick in Your name” but whom will hear Jesus say “depart, I knew you not”!
So, we can’t assure anyone else of their salvation, and it’s a tall enough order to be confident of our own. How do we get that confidence?
I think Romans 1:28 holds a clue. In fact, it is a perfect “companion verse” to the piece of scripture that today’s blog title is taken from, which is Romans 8:6-10.
Romans 1:28 should be pretty familiar; it says
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
(Remember, the human spirit is the apparatus within our make-up by which man is able to interact with God, who Himself is Spirit). When we don’t retain God in our knowledge, the spirit withers and if left that way, will die. All sickness lies on a continuum, the endpoint of which is death. The Spirit (God) is life, so any move away from God is in the direction of death, spiritually (and eventually even physically) speaking!)
Whereas Romans 8:6-10 has this to say:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Our standing with God, once we are saved, is no longer under the condemnation of the law, even though technically we are still guilty of transgressing the law, because the penalty for sin is death, but it’s already been paid by Christ and there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
But how do I know this? I know it, quite simply and boiled down to it’s essence, because I choose to retain God in my knowledge.
Therein lies the difference.
To retain God in my knowledge, means I long after the things of God enough to continue seeking after Him. I am in my Bible on a regular and on-going basis, reading, studying, and striving to glean more and greater understanding. In my minutes and in my hours, God is never far from my thoughts. When something comes up, an irritation, a crisis, I am aware of Him, aware of my obligations to Him, and apt to turn to Him for guidance, or help in any need.
It is a way of life. That is not to say, by any stretch of the imagination, that I have “arrived” at Spiritual perfection. Only that I am walking in the right direction.
I love the illustration of our faith-walk being like a cup of water. Our mind and our spirit are effected by whether our mind is carnally-oriented or spiritually-oriented. So think of that cup of water as your (whole) self. What are you pouring in there? Out of your 24 hours each day, minus lets say 7, for sleep, that leaves 17 conscious hours. What occupies your mind? (Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and note renewing is on-going and present-tense). Even when you are at work, your mind often has room to wander or think on other things not directly related to what you are working on.
If I take a small juice glass and set it inside a very large bowl, and drop several drops of black food coloring in the glass, the liquid in the glass will be black. If I add some clean water, it will lighten to gray. If I continue to add “clean water” the fluid in the juice glass will eventually run fairly clear, as the darker water overflows and is displaced by the cleaner water, though microscopically, the traces of that black coloring would still probably be there. On the flip side, if I then start adding more dark dye to the juice glass, the water will get murky again.
Life on this cursed earth, pollutes us. Our mind drags itself through all sorts of uninvited sinful stuff just on the commute to work.
Retaining God in our knowledge requires intention. This world is a sin-filled place. We are to strive and “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” because to be mistaken about whether or not we are reconciled with God, is an error with dire eternal consequences.
I never argue with people who believe they can lose their salvation, or for that matter, who think sincere Christians might be left behind at the rapture. You can be as sincere as the day is long, and be sincerely wrong about something. Better to believe those things and for that to act as a motivator, than to believe you’re all set, and find out after you exhale your last breath, that you were fooling yourself.
The bottom line is that the more you know the Word, the greater will be your urgency and drive to make your calling and election sure, and the greater your motivation to “retain God in your knowledge”, to keep pouring more and more clean water into your cup. What is the source of the clean spiritual water which can cleanses us in Spirit?
Ephesians 5:26 Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Jesus said that He came that we may have life.
The life is in the blood.
He shed His blood as atonement for our sin.
When His blood is applied over our sin, we are cleansed.
Jesus is the Word.
(Oh, wow, this is an example of how God absolutely writes these posts and all I do is type! I just went to look up a thought on this, and here I found a thorough explanation that fits right in, therefore I am cutting and pasting (in green) directly from versebyverseministry.org)
Bible Questions – VBVM Staff – July 23, 2010
John’s Gospel says that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God…” I don’t understand the meaning of “the Word?” Is the “Word” a person? How can a word be God? – C.B.
The prologue of John’s gospel is an important work within the New Testament, because it provides perhaps the clearest statement of Who Jesus was in spiritual terms. Essentially, John’s prologue states that Jesus was God, but it also seeks to explain, to a certain extent, the nature of Jesus’ existence and His role within the Godhead.
Let’s start by examining the opening verses in John’s Gospel:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
John 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
John uses the Greek word logos to describe Jesus “in the beginning,” or before creation and time began. Logos means word, but specifically it means the spoken word or a statement. Jesus is God’s spoken word, according to John.
John then explains that the Word (Jesus) was “with” God and “was” God. This statement yields two important conclusions regarding Jesus and the Trinity: Jesus is God and existed from the beginning as God, yet Jesus’ existence is somehow distinct from God the Father. Jesus was “with” God and “was” God at the same time. This is the mystery of the Trinity: all three Persons in the Godhead are One God and yet all are distinct from one another.
Moving to verse 3, John says that it was the Word (Him) that created all things. From this statement, we begin to see why Jesus is called the “Word” by John. Consider these facts we learn from John’s Gospel and elsewhere in Scripture:
First, we know from scripture that God the Father is Spirit (John 4:24), meaning He doesn’t exist in physical form. So, there is no physical substance to God the Father. The Creation cannot experience the Father as He truly is, since we are bound to a physical dimension yet He is not physical.
Secondly, we know that God’s Spirit is likewise invisible (John 3:6-8). He can only be known by observing His work in the Creation.
On the other hand, Jesus is the member of the Godhead responsible for all physical matter. As John said, all things were made by and through Jesus. Paul says the same thing in Col 1:15-17.
More over, Paul teaches in Colossians that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.” Therefore, He is the only Person in the Godhead Who has entered into and become a part of the physical creation. Jesus can be seen in a physical sense, because He is the One Who entered into the Creation and become a part of it (i.e., became incarnate).
Therefore, Jesus is the One within the Trinity Who is associated with Creation, both as its source and as an ambassador of the Godhead to that creation.
Next, consider how the Creation itself was established in Genesis 1. Genesis 1 teaches that the world was created by the spoken word of God (note the repeating phrase in Genesis 1, “Then God said…”). So when God the Father determined to created the universe and everything in it, He “spoke” it into existence. But as John said in verse 3, Jesus was the One who made all things, therefore we can say that Jesus was God’s logos, or spoken Word.
We can begin to understand this partnership (at least to some degree) by drawing an analogy to how our own thoughts and words reach into the physical word. When we desire to command something to happen in the world around us, we must first conceive the idea in our minds. No one can see our thoughts. They are invisible, yet they certainly exist. Without our thoughts, we could purpose to do nothing at all.
If our thoughts are to become visible in some way, they must move from the invisible realm of our mind and into the physical world. The progression from invisible to visible requires we transfer our invisible thoughts into a spoken command. The brain communicates our thoughts to our mouth where it becomes logos: spoken words.
Once the spoken word leaves our mouth, it enters the physical world and yields its intended effect. This simple analogy helps explain how God the Father worked with God the Son (i.e., the Word) to establish Creation.
This is John’s meaning when he says that Jesus is the Word. He meant that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God the Father, just as a spoken word is the physical manifestation of our inner thoughts. Until Jesus took action and created the universe, there was no physical reality to God’s presence. But when God “spoke” (i.e., when Jesus took action), the Creation came into existence.
Later, Jesus arrived in Person to meet with His creation, and as Jesus spoke His words to His disciples, He fulfilled the Father’s purpose by providing a physical representation of the Godhead to His creation. Hebrews says it this way:
Heb. 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
Heb. 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Heb. 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power…
Paul reiterates this same thought in Colossians when he says:
Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Col. 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Jesus is the Word because He was the means through which the Father brought all physical reality into existence and because He is the One Who represents the Father’s invisible nature and character to that creation. Just as your spoken word is the physical manifestation of your thoughts and personality, Jesus is the “Word” of the invisible God to His creation.
(End of material from versebyverseministry.org)
(I would like to interject, here, that as in the description of how our thoughts don’t enter the realm of actuality until we speak them out loud AND act on them, in the same way, faith with the addition of speaking it out in confidence of the Truth of it, and then acting upon it, is what “gives life” to our faith. I.E, take it out of the realm of imagination, into the physical and real world where we then see it in action!)
So, you see, this really all ties in with the posts I’ve been doing all week, starting with the differences and connections between the spirit, physical flesh, mind, soul, etc and even the question of whether there is any hope for America. America will continue to change, probably for the worse, but if every individual who calls themselves a Christian, were continually to retain God in their knowledge (and it must be accurate Biblical knowledge) we each would be oriented toward God, the moral compass would right itself.
Neither an individual, nor a nation, can have peace, can do any real good, can have wisdom, outside of God and a right relationship with Him, and the only way to God is through Jesus.
Unsaved individuals can’t dwell “in the spirit”. Saved individuals can dwell in the spirit or they can continue to dwell essentially in their own flesh and the world, with little to no thought of God “retained” in their mind “in realtime” in the day-to-day of life. They don’t consider God in their actions, their decisions, their thoughts, their relationships, their spending, their language, (I could do this all day…..
I know only a very few Christians who are so full of the Spirit that it is extremely rare they get “down” or stay down long. I am not talking about those clueless and deluded folks who go around rebuking this and claiming that, and boasting about how God has rewarded them with prosperity. In my experience, many of them have “helped God along quite a bit” in gaining that prosperity, and often by means God would not sanction. I have asked the Lord to teach me how to live in such a way that I have peace that transcends every circumstance, and real joy! I’m starting to be able to conceive of it, not saying I have it mastered, but I have hope.
The more we are in the Word, the more we discuss the Word with others, the more we pray the Word in our prayers, the more we meditate on the Word in our thoughts, the cleaner the water in our cup, the fuller the joy and peace in our hearts. The more we fellowship with other believers, focused on the Word, on God, and partake in entertainment that is edifying and glorifies the Lord, be it music, movies, games, it all comes down to Jesus/Spirit/Word- God first, God foremost, God in good times, God in bad times, God at work, God in class, God at home, God when we are mad, God when we are happy, God when we are angry, God when we are sick, God when we are scared, God when we are brought down, God when we are raised up, God when we are celebrating, God when we are mourning. All God. All the time, in all things, Christ preeminent!
Be filled with the spirit, by being full of the Word. Walk in, and dwell in the Spirit at all times. It is a choice that has to be made again and again, as we tend to drift and we tend to spring leaks from time to time. A bucket with a hole can still carry water, but it has to be topped off frequently. When your feet hit the floor in the morning, choose! Living that way day in and day out, over time, if we are diligent, it might turn into a habit we perform without having to think about it. But God knows that for the most part, we are prone to wander and falter as poor dumb sheep.
Study to show thyself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed. There is nothing you can do to save yourself, but once you have come to Jesus for salvation through faith, remaining on the path of truth, advancing along the path and climbing to higher heights of understanding, and also of close relationship with the Lord, entails effort on our part. When you attain one summit, that raises you “above circumstances” gives you an occasional glimpse of the “bigger picture” outlook. For every mountain, there is a valley we also have to pass through. So don’t let the fiery trials of life be a setback for you. Remind yourself of that last view from the mountaintop, even when that mountaintop seems long ago and distant. That is just the descent into the next valley, which will lead you to the next mountain.
It is a pilgrimage, after all!