A Brief Orthodoxy: Christian Living

As a result of our salvation by Christ, we must remember that we have been bought with a great price, and saved for a purpose (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We cannot simply accept salvation and not move toward a state of holiness, or sanctification. This understanding elevates redemption in Christ to a moment of salvation coupled with the experience of the transformational value upon a person’s life. No one who has actually tasted of the Lord can continually choose to live a life as they please (Romans 13:14). Our Lord commands us to love God with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-30). This means we should be holy as our Father in heaven is holy (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15-16). We are made positionally holy by the blood of Christ, but we then allow the Spirit to make us holy experientially. This will be evident in the way we seek to let the Holy Spirit sanctify us in thoughts, words and deeds that are pleasing to the Lord. In doing so, we will strive to be led by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). We will go out of our way to minister to those in need around us as the Lord has modeled.

In addition to loving the Lord our God with all our heart we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). This calls for us to reach out to others in the body to edify them and stimulate them to good deeds (Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 10:24). It also means reaching out to those around us who are in need of Jesus Christ as their savior. If we are not sharing the good news with these people, we are not being led by the Spirit, as we all are given the gift of sharing our faith in Christ. The Gospel or Good News is the belief that the Bible is the Word of God, and this Word points to the work and person of Christ as the Messiah of mankind, as the Redeemer. He has rescued us from the certainty of death due to sin. In order for others to experience this salvation, the gospel needs to be shared. How will people hear unless there is a preacher (Romans 10:14)? Among the many things that can be said about it, salvation is, by definition, being rescued from the consequences of sin. It is not a part of man’s ability; it is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). It is not based on man’s desire, but on the mercy of God (Romans 9:16). And it has been predestined from the Father before the foundations of the world for His pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-5).

As was touched upon in the last section, the question of eternal security hasn’t been proven unequivocally through Scripture. This battle has raged for centuries with neither side being able to claim victory. As far as I am concerned, it should not be a divisive issue, but it does affect the way I lead my own life. Suffice it to say here that I believe that the Holy Spirit was given as a seal of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). His presence is not contingent upon the level of sin or obedience in our lives. Also, we come to faith in Christ through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we sin, that does not mean that we failed for a moment in time to have faith, we simply let our old nature get the better of us, which is characteristic of human nature including Paul’s (Romans 7:15). As this is my position on this debate, it directs us to live a life of confidence in Christ, not worrying that He will “pull the rug out” from under us at any moment. We cannot lose our salvation, our eternal destiny, if we have seriously, and sincerely committed our lives to Christ as our Redeemer at some point in our lives and demonstrate that by following after Him (John 14:15; Romans 8:38-39, 11:29).

For this mindset, we will incur constant spiritual battle with the enemy, and engage in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). And once again, our driving force will be to follow Christ’s command to witness for Him to all nations, to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). As such we need to be prepared and fully armed for such battles. This entails spending time in God’s Word (Psalm 1:3), the Sword of Truth, and discerning His direction. It also means we are to be relying upon the power of the Spirit of God for strength as it is beyond our physical or spiritual capabilities to go head-to-head with the enemy (Zechariah 4:6; Ephesians 6:10-18). To be fully empowered is to have the ability to obey God’s Word and Will and to live for Him in the world in a way which is pleasing to Him. Also, a glorious and successful Christian life involves being bathed in prayer on a continuous basis (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

A Brief Orthodoxy: Christian Living

As a result of our salvation by Christ, we must remember that we have been bought with a great price, and saved for a purpose (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We cannot simply accept salvation and not move toward a state of holiness, or sanctification. This understanding elevates redemption in Christ to a moment of salvation coupled with the experience of the transformational value upon a person’s life. No one who has actually tasted of the Lord can continually choose to live a life as they please (Romans 13:14). Our Lord commands us to love God with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-30). This means we should be holy as our Father in heaven is holy (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15-16). We are made positionally holy by the blood of Christ, but we then allow the Spirit to make us holy experientially. This will be evident in the way we seek to let the Holy Spirit sanctify us in thoughts, words and deeds that are pleasing to the Lord. In doing so, we will strive to be led by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). We will go out of our way to minister to those in need around us as the Lord has modeled.

In addition to loving the Lord our God with all our heart we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). This calls for us to reach out to others in the body to edify them and stimulate them to good deeds (Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 10:24). It also means reaching out to those around us who are in need of Jesus Christ as their savior. If we are not sharing the good news with these people, we are not being led by the Spirit, as we all are given the gift of sharing our faith in Christ. The Gospel or Good News is the belief that the Bible is the Word of God, and this Word points to the work and person of Christ as the Messiah of mankind, as the Redeemer. He has rescued us from the certainty of death due to sin. In order for others to experience this salvation, the gospel needs to be shared. How will people hear unless there is a preacher (Romans 10:14)? Among the many things that can be said about it, salvation is, by definition, being rescued from the consequences of sin. It is not a part of man’s ability; it is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). It is not based on man’s desire, but on the mercy of God (Romans 9:16). And it has been predestined from the Father before the foundations of the world for His pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-5).

As was touched upon in A Brief Orthodoxy: The Church, the question of eternal security hasn’t been proven unequivocally through Scripture. This battle has raged for centuries with neither side being able to claim victory. As far as I am concerned, it should not be a divisive issue, but it does affect the way I lead my own life. Suffice it to say here that I believe that the Holy Spirit was given as a seal of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). His presence is not contingent upon the level of sin or obedience in our lives. Also, we come to faith in Christ through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we sin, that does not mean that we failed for a moment in time to have faith, we simply let our old nature get the better of us, which is characteristic of human nature including Paul’s (Romans 7:15). As this is my position on this debate, it directs us to live a life of confidence in Christ, not worrying that He will “pull the rug out” from under us at any moment. We cannot lose our salvation, our eternal destiny, if we have seriously, and sincerely committed our lives to Christ as our Redeemer at some point in our lives and demonstrate that by following after Him (John 14:15; Romans 8:38-39, 11:29).

For this mindset, we will incur constant spiritual battle with the enemy, and engage in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). And once again, our driving force will be to follow Christ’s command to witness for Him to all nations, to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). As such we need to be prepared and fully armed for such battles. This entails spending time in God’s Word (Psalm 1:3), the Sword of Truth, and discerning His direction. It also means we are to be relying upon the power of the Spirit of God for strength as it is beyond our physical or spiritual capabilities to go head-to-head with the enemy (Zechariah 4:6; Ephesians 6:10-18). To be fully empowered is to have the ability to obey God’s Word and Will and to live for Him in the world in a way which is pleasing to Him. Also, a glorious and successful Christian life involves being bathed in prayer on a continuous basis (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The Anvil

I remember as a kid going to Knott’s Berry Farm. One of the memories that comes to mind is the blacksmith shop. I recall the man taking a blazing red-hot horseshoe out of the fire and placing it on the anvil close at hand. The next step in the process of formation was to strike it with a heavy hammer forging it into the desired shape. Three items were involved in the process: an anvil that in no way was willing to be reformed, a heavy hammer strategically striking down with force, and a malleable object caught between the two. Continue reading “The Anvil”

Happy or Holy?

In the classic Moby Dick the character of Father Mapple issues a quote from his famous sermon – “And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.” What profound words to be communicated regarding the battle of believers between the flesh and the spirit. In effect, he is saying that obeying God would be so much easier if it didn’t involve disobeying ourselves.

Just because a person comes to a reconciled relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that it is the end of the journey. In fact, it is just the glorious beginning – the initial step of eternity with God. But when someone lays down arms with the Almighty, when someone surrenders to their Creator, when the war between God and any individual ceases, a new war begins, that is the war between the flesh and the spirit (Romans 7). Continue reading “Happy or Holy?”

Between Two Images

Some people say that, “image is everything.” Unfortunately, that may be true in our culture. Actually, there is a lot of truth in that statement. When we were created, we were created in the image of God, in the image of the Trinity!

Genesis 1:26-27  “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”

Wow! Created in his image, but what does that mean? After all God is Spirit. The image of God does not mean that we are made in the physical likeness of God. It does mean that we share some of the characteristics, which He himself embraces. We were created rational with the ability to think and reason. We are relational. We are loving. We appreciate beauty. We are compassionate. We are emotional. We are eternal spiritual beings, though housed in a physical shell. And we were created pure, without sin. Continue reading “Between Two Images”