Identity Crisis

I recently discussed salvation and the Identity Concept (IC) as they relate. This discussion brought about important issues of distinction. IC is the teaching about who you are now as a Christian. The idea of IC as many ideas if improperly used, prop up a bad ideas. It will become the reason for supporting a bad idea as if proving IC legitimizes, as in this case, a bad gospel. This is the case with the IC concept when placed with the popular gospel of Cheap Grace (CG) or easy believe-ism. Cheap grace is the salvation that requires no repentance for salvation because it erroneously states simply that by “faith” in Christ you are saved. It requires nothinwhog else. You will change naturally.

I use and want to grow in my identity in Christ and I hope to encourage others to do the same. IC is encouraged after becoming a Christian. A Christian is one who trusts Christ, thus having a new King, Kingdom and Kingdom purpose. You are now a resident of the Kingdom and a royal subject of the King. You are His representative and emissary. You are now empowered by this knowledge for Kingdom living and service.

IC is improperly applied in CG and give an unfortunate support for CG. IC’s role in the context of CG is as follows. One believes in Jesus expressed in the prayer of salvation. Then one needs to be taught about their identity. It is believed that the new Christian will “naturally” grow to maturity once they have been taught their identity. I believe, that for some, it works just that way and they become wonderful and fruitful Christians. However this is the anomaly…I believe that fruitful Christians work hard for their new life. For the majority, when told they are saved through their “faith” and are Heaven bound, IC becomes irrelevant. They naturally conclude it isn’t important for salvation, so why bother. It is like a contractor being paid before the job is completed. He lacks motivation to do the job timely, if at all.

Experience shows that many of us really struggle in our evolution: sanctification. It can be very hard to change habits and take on the character of Christ. Many superficial changes are quite easy but others are demoralizing. It isn’t all that natural to change but it is inevitable to change as you “work out your faith with fear and trembling.”

From this stand point, when IC does not achieve it purported goals, it isn’t concluded that the faith was spurious but that IC hasn’t been properly grasped. They believe the individual is saved through their ”faith” so the salvation of the individual isn’t to be questioned. Is proclaiming faith in Christ enough?

IC properly placed in the acceptance of Christ is highly valuable. The foundation that IC rests is the Gospel that which teaches to submit to Jesus the King and make a commitment to adhering to the Kingdom lifestyle. As anything new, it comes through difficulty and failure.

Faith in Christ is as simple as hearing his message and as a result following his word and lifestyle. Faith is like flicking a switch and the result is the illuminance of the light. Yet, it isn’t natural to luminate as bright as Jesus but through sanctification we become brighter. IC may play an important role. The faithful will bear fruit; the fruit described in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit affect the lives of outsiders.

IC can play an important role for those of faith. Assuming one comes to faith, as Christ would define, it is the next necessary to teach them to obey Jesus (Matt 28:18-20.) Since, in this transaction, Christ is recognized as Lord, non-spurious faith will continue in its ups and downs through the end of life. In this, IC is very important. These ones will become bright lights.

IC provides, upon the foundation of Christ and the Gospel, an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. It says we are loved children and co-heirs with Christ. With the assurance of God’s power, love, and fidelity we are empowered to live as Jesus. Knowing we are on his team to be equipped and used for his eternal purpose, we are fruitful. It is like taking the jersey and given a position to play on your favorite sports team. It is incredible to be included as a full member of the family of God through Jesus Christ.

7/2 Victory

1 Cor 15:54-55When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?     Where, O death, is your sting?”

This fills life with life. You will not go down in defeat. No matter what happens in this life; the perceived victory or defeat, you end as a victor. Life is full of highs and lows, triumphs and losses but you in faith you will cross a finish line as one who completed the race. You retained your faith for salvation.

Do you see the edge you have? Keeping in mind the prize, you press on. Life is full now. This gives meaning to life and puts pain in its place. That pain, this life is temporal and will not be remembered but the victory leads to eternal glory. You have a lot to look forward to, and life has no lasting value aside from the future victory. Death is no longer defeat but a doorway to Heaven; your prize awaits you. Get happy!

4/4 Entering His Rest

Heb 4:3 Now we who believe enter that rest…

You have entered God’s promised rest through faith in Jesus. This is a gift by his work on the cross to forgive your sins and release you from acting to be blessed. You are in his blessing. Walk in it.

No effort can bring you into his rest. It was done in Jesus. He offers you freedom to do as you will under the law of love. No longer are you under the judgment of others or the burden of religious duty to please God. In Christ you are pleasing to God.

No religious observance can put you in his rest, you are in his rest by faith. Now you are free to be led by the Spirit situation-to-situation. Relax, enjoy God and what he has given you.

In prayer thank him that you are given this great gift. Think on that he loves without condition. Your performance won’t change a thing. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Soul Raker

The Devil got a boot on your neck?

When an enemy cannot beat you fighting overtly he must resort to guerrilla type warfare of subversion; destruction from the inside.  We battle as Christians.  Who is the enemy and what is at stake?
It is clear to us who the enemy is.  I think most of us are aware that our Enemy is scheming against us looking to devour us.  We know Satan is formidable.  We are warned sufficiently in the scriptures.  
But what does he want?  What is he contending for?  We often think of the lost.  Satan has blinded them, he is the ruler of this age and of the world: But only for a little while longer.  We contend through prayer and Word to awaken the lost, but what about us? 
Are our souls at risk? Do we have something to lose?  The tares say no.  The tares are those planted amongst us; the “useful idiots” referring to one used as a pawn in this celestial chess game.  They are used as religious fall-guys for Lucifer.  They use our terms and twist our theology.  This comes from theologians, pastors, elders, ministry leaders; Christian writers, magazines, radio, and TV.  The tares are listened to and given and equal voice amongst us Christians which is absurd.  Can’t we see?  Could you imagine setting up a debate between Satan and Jesus.  Why would we elevate the Devil to the height and glory of Christ?  Similarly we have permitted this subversive influence in the Church.  And as RC Sproll would state, it is the dominant voice in the Church today.  
The tares say “Do not worry.”  “Relax it was all done on the cross.”  “You are forgiven, you can’t earn it so you can’t lose it Brother.” They proudly expound.  “The Devil can do nothing to you.” they say.  With the poise of an actor they council “God wants you to be happy, comfortable, prosperous, and above all, never question your salvation.”
Can you see the danger?  Would Satan have in interest in telling you the same things?  Of course he would.  Everything mentioned has a lie tied to the truth.  Their words have a purposeful negligence of the whole truth.  Neglecting other important ideas leads you down the wrong path.  I’ve been mislead before.  My wife would give me information about one of my kids.  I would get on to them, and a few times I found out additional information which would have changed how I responded to my child.  How many times have you made choices that later on you regretted in light of newly found information?  Do you see what I mean?     
These are subversive internal battles.  They go unnoticed.  The tares work amongst us.  It is the ideas they give and perpetuate.  The unwitting and unaware are devoured.  They are misled to their destruction.
Look at how God warns us.  He teaches us that we battle with spiritual forces and there are plans being devised against us.  These enemies are waiting for the right moment to pounce.  He tells us to be strong and brave and awake.  He tells us to fight.  Remember He gave the Land to Isreal, then He said “fight;” “go get it and if you don’t you won’t get it!”  I could use an enormous amount of scriptures admonishing us to finish the race in faith and warnings to those who do not persevere.  Here are a few scriptures to put in our pipe and smoke.  
Heb 2:1-3  We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? NIV
Heb 3:6  And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. NIV
Heb 3:12-15 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. NIV
These are just the first three of many scriptures that warn us in the book of Hebrews.  We must employ the armaments of war as admonished by the scriptures.  This is our victory.  No one can take it from us.  So let us fight our battle and preserve our souls for the resurrection of the dead.  Employ Ephesian 6 warfare.

A Perverse Gospel

cowPervert! We often think of a sexual deviant but this primarily means to “alter (something) from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.” Paul warned in Galatians that to pervert the Gospel deserves eternal condemnations. Yes, “Eternal” “Condemnation.”

I have had people fight against the Gospel of Christ in the Church. They are correct to avoid Jewish law, there is no problem here, it is that they counter with a false gospel, a gospel of no re requirements. Of course, just saying “requirements” makes them react by responding “Requirement is another word for Law. As a result, they find themselves defending the gospel of oblivion, one of no action or pick and choose. They find themselves at odds with Christ and subject to the judgment pronounced by Paul, eternal condemnations for a false gospel.

Galatians illuminates faith through contrast with the Law.

Here are the germane quotes that help us see clearly from the book of Galatians.

Law:

The Jew under law separated themselves from Gentiles (2:12 separate himself from the Gentiles) and followed Jewish customs as prescribed by them (2:14 Jewish customs).

They were required to celebrate special days (4:10 special days and months and seasons and years!) and were required to be circumcised (5:3 circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.)

These are the only descriptions noted in Galatians but these are great to look at and compare to faith.

Faith:

In faith in Christ for eternal life, we take care of the poor (2:10 remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.) We live for God (2:19 Live for God.)

His Spirit resides in those of faith with a connection with God (4:6 calls out “Abba, Father.”) In Galatians, he clarifies again expressing the essence of faith (5:6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.)

Then Paul shows the goal of faith and the summation of the Law (5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”) He also identifies what the Spirit is like (5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.)

This shows the Law of Christ noting there is a requirement (or at minimum) a way to determine if you are truly in the faith. (6:2 in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.) He emphasizes the good works resulting from faith and the cost/trial (6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good.)

Finally, he draws us to a great point of clarity; what faith is like or better “is” (6:10 let us do good to all people) and (6:15-16 what counts is a new creation.)

To sum this up is easy. Law is, one fulfills superficial obligations it imposes but faith results in adherence to the Law of Love: compassion.

Faith will result to active allegiance to Christ. We become a new creation, living for and loving God. This is expressed in caring for the poor and all in need without tiring. This fulfills the law of Christ.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, he made the same contrast as Paul in Galatians.

Luke 11:42

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Matt 23:23-24

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Luke 11:39-42

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. NIV
Faith moves us beyond ritual and spiritual observance to the love Jesus exhibited, laying down His life for others: “….do likewise and you shall live.” Jesus

Paul:

Gal 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! NIV

Eanology: That’ a Big Word

If I had $1 million I would help a lot of people. If am saved I’ll go to heaven. “If” is a fulcrum that much depends. Everything pivots on it. If I believe in Jesus I’ll go to Heaven. This is true but too simplistic and misleading. Let’s look at some “if then” scriptures and fill this out a bit.

Big if huh?

The “if then statement” is a logical statement. If I have money and I have time, I’ll buy food at the store. No money or no time and I won’t be able to buy food.

The objective in this blog is to get a clear target. Many people assume too much when it comes to salvation and have over simplified it. Much like a person who shoots an arrow at the side of a barn and quickly paints a red bullseye around their arrow. “Perfect shot!” Obviously we need to paint the target first and then take our shot. Here is the target.

I John and Hebrews are the two texts I’ll focus on. The scriptures are listed at the end of this blog. The following is a synthesis of these scripture both in the negative and the positive:

If we are in the darkness, or do not love our brother, turn back, deliberately keep on sinning, disobey, do not give to the needy, love the world, or if His word doesn’t remain in us, or if we do not acknowledge the Son, do not love our brother, or give up our hope and courage, are not firm to the end, or do not continue in the faith, then we are liars, we do not know Him, His love is not in us, He doesn’t remain in us, we do not love Him, He does not live in us, we are not His house, we do not share in Christ, and we are not saved.

If we are in the light and obey, if His word remains in us, we give to those in need, acknowledge Jesus, and if we love our brother, we do not love the world, hold to the courage and the hope, firm to the end, and continue in faith then the truth is in us, we know Him, His love is made complete, the Son and Father remain in us, His love is in us, God lives in us, we truly love God, we are His house, we share in Christ, and are saved.

Here is a condensed version: If we remain in faith in Jesus that results in love for one another until we die then we truly have fellowship with God and eternal life.

If we do not remain in faith in Jesus to the end or our faith does not result in loving one another until death then we do not have fellowship with Him and will gain eternal judgment.

1 John 2:5-6 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV

Bullseye! This is the target “Walk as Jesus walked and be saved.”

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. NIV

1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? NIV

1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. NIV

Heb 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. NIV

Heb 6:6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. NIV

Heb 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. NIV

Heb 10:38-39 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. NIV

1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. NIV

1 John 2:3-4 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. NIV

1 John 2:24-25 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us — even eternal life. NIV

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. NIV

1 John 4:15-16 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. NIV

Heb 3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. NIV

Heb 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? NIV

1 John 2:5-6 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV

Big if huh?