WATERS NEVER PART UNTIL OUR FEET GET WET

Funny-Weight-loss-Cartoon-W630For about a year, I’ve prayed that God would miraculously help me lose weight. I often prayed with a Whopper in one hand and a Big Mac in the other, believing that God would transform the fat, carbs, and calories into some magical weight loss formula. Obviously, it didn’t work. Instead I received a call from the military doctor telling me I’m pre-diabetic and if I don’t revise my eating and exercise habits, I’m going to end up with actual diabetes and on medicine for the rest of my life.

Sometimes when you ask for a miracle, God gives you work. It’s been 2 weeks since I received my diagnosis and I’ve lost almost 20 pounds in that time eating like an anorexic rabbit and exercising like a hamster in its wheel. God answers prayers, and provides miracles, but it always requires obedience on our part. He doesn’t miracle away problems—He provides “a way out” and empowers us to get to work.funny-diet-picture-lunch

 

“The Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing…until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Jos 3.15-17). The waters wouldn’t part until their feet got wet. That is, God often won’t provide His promised results until we step out in faith to do our part. Jesus provided the miracle of forgiveness but only after He suffered the shame of the cross. Peter was miraculously rescued from prison, but he had to go to prison for that miracle to happen. The path to God’s blessings calls for taking His yoke upon us and not simply laying all our burdens upon Him.WeightLoss5

As is often the case, I’ve learned the hard way that God will answer all my prayers, but often those answers require me to do my part.

AM I A PERSON OF F.A.I.T.H.? (5)

TRAINABLE

hebrews58“Although he was a son, [Jesus] learned obedience through what He suffered… and became the eternal source of salvation for all who obey Him” (Heb 5.8). Jesus was trainable to God, learning obedience through the trials and tribulations planned for Him before the creation of the world. If the Eternal Son of the Creator learned from His sufferings, shouldn’t we also be willing to learn from ours?

When God disciplines us, He does so as a Father trains His children for adulthood. He’s forming us into His people, to serve as His ambassadors to this world; therefore, He needs people who are moldable both of action and of heart. Believing I know all I’ll ever need to learn about Christianity because I have a saving knowledge of Jesus is as silly as thinking I won’t drown when floating in the ocean because I know how to swim! Am I as willing to listen to Him and His people as I am for God to listen to me?

teachableBeing trainable means that I don’t just “go to Bible study” but study to share how God has trained me. I don’t just “go to church,” but should be open to opportunities to learn from anyone God places in the pew next to me. We don’t just HAVE faith, we are faithful, available and invested in the ministry of sharing our faith and training others to obey everything God has commanded us.

Jesus says, “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Lk 6.40). Paul reiterates, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Phil 3.17). Training requires repetitious replication of the patterns established by those who have trained before us; whether that’s in the world of fitness, the profession of arms, or preparation for spiritual warfare. An unwillingness to follow a pattern depicts an untrainable heart.

A trainable person is faithful to God’s Word, available to those who wish to train him, invested in training and ministry, and willing to put into practice what God commands.

LOVE DEFINING FAITH AND HOPE (2 of 4)

Defining Hope

The Greek, elpis, means “waiting expectedly” and is typically always defined appropriately by Christians. The problem is that we often us our hopes as our definition of faith. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and to give you a hope for the future” (Jer 29.11) is one of the most misused verses in the Bible for we believe that God promises to give us all that we hope. When read in context; however, we see a condition that hinges upon our willingness to put our faith in action.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8.24, 25). There is a part of salvation that is not dependent upon either faith or obedience. It's the part upon which this whole idea of “rewards,” “crowns,” and hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” exists. We believe in the promise of the resurrected Son, obey His commands, and hope that our eternal reaping will be better than what we deserve.

A great example of faith and hope working together is prayer. God has promised to answer those prayers asked in the name of His Son but He hasn't promised to answer them exactly as we desire. I know my God will work for my good but I do not know if He'll sell my house. I hope He will and believe that He loves me enough to hear my prayer; but my faith is not what leads to a buyer. Understanding how to pray in love will teach us how to put our faith in God rather than just hope He hears us when we pray.

 

DON’T BELIEVE THE SIMPLE GOSPEL (part 3)

Justification (What Jesus did for us)

Why did Jesus have to die?

why-did-jesus-have-to-die-2-1Sin is who we are but results in what we do. Eve was tempted, “Did God really say,” desired to “be like God,” and then performed the action which led to mankind’s eternal predicament. However, God’s plan was always for Jesus to become flesh, taking on the form of man—becoming the “second Adam,” and living a life devoid of sin. His example of sinless living, which resulted in dying on the cross at the hands of those whose sins condemned the innocent, became what the Bible defines as “justification.”

From Adam to Moses sinned reigned in the hearts of all mankind but “was not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law” (Rom 5.14); however sin still resulted in death because we were born in Adam’s likeness, not in perfection like the virgin-born Christ. God’s law was brought in, NOT so that we might not sin, but “so that the trespass might increase” because “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom 5.20; 3.20).

So we are sinners born and bred who cannot become righteous by obeying “the Law,” “common sense,” some cosmic concept of right and wrong, or even our own rules. The problem is that we sin—commit wrongdoing or do not commit right-doing—because by nature we are sinners (Rom 3.10-20).

There is only one solution when our very being exudes sin: death.

Why did Jesus die for me?

why-did-jesus-have-to-die“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5.8). It’s one thing to wrong someone and offer a compensatory apology or even attempt to redeem our fault by doing good, but it creates an altogether different scenario when the offended loves us enough to overlook our faults in favor of reconciling a relationship with us. God does this for us through Christ.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5.21). Through justification, we become “Christ’s ambassadors” able to stand before others as Jesus’ representatives on earth because in God’s eyes, we are declared as righteous as His own Son.

Christ’s death justified us so that we “little Christ’s” might become like Him to the world.

DON’T BELIEVE THE SIMPLE GOSPEL (part 2)

Sin—is it what we do or who we are?

john piper_what is sinIn my experience the root cause of the Gospel’s distortion stems mostly from how we define the terms used to discuss it. The simple Gospel is that we sin, Jesus died for our sins, we have faith unto salvation, and we live an eternal life for (and with) our Creator. However, bound up in that simplicity are terms that require study to understand their meaning. Although most Christians would define the Gospel using these terms (sin, faith, salvation, justification, and sanctification) they actually couldn’t explain what they mean, how they work, or why God even mandated them. That, or their definitions are at best second-hand, purely opinionated, or at worst, woefully unbiblical.

How do we define sin?

Let’s start with the first premise of the Gospel—we are sinners in need of a Savior. Sin, by most religions’ definitions, is a transgression against the divine or natural law or bad karma—an action or thought that harms self and others. Most Christians would define sin as “wrongdoing” (1John 5.17), actions that break the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule (Mt 7.12), “church rules,” or even the law of the land. However, defining sin as an action—something we do—has some inherent problems.

Is taking a life a sin? Doesn’t God command it at various times (Deut 20.13; Rom 13.4)? Is lying a sin? Doesn’t God tell Samuel to lie to Saul (1Sam 16.1-3), sends a “deceiving spirit” to trick Ahab into battle” (1Kin 22.22), and even Jesus tells His brothers, “I am not going up to the festival” and yet goes to the festival after His brothers leave (John 7.1-10)? Did God sin or command others to sin? Of course not! Instead, maybe our definition of “sin” is just wrong.

Is sin inherited from Adam?

The Biblical example of sin began with a temptation, “Did God really say?” and derived from a desire “to be like God” (Gen 3.1, 5). The “sinful act” was simply eating fruit. Therefore, it was the temptation coupled with the desire that “conceives” sin (Jas 1.15)—not the act itself (eating fruit isn’t a sin). Although Adam was created “in God’s image,” every person after Adam was born “in [Adam’s] likeness, in [Adam’s] own image” (Gen 5.3), so that all of us are, as Psalm 51 elucidates, “sinful at birth, sinful from the time [our] mother conceived [us]” (Ps 51.5).

adam-and-christ-400px“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…. Consequently, one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people… for through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners” (Rom 5.12-19).

We are sinners, born and bred. Not because of anything we have done but because of who we are: sinners in need of a new life, to become new creations, to be born again as a sons or daughters of God.

Can the Gospel exist without original sin?

Some “Christians” believe in an “original blessing,” that we were created “good” by a good God and that everyone wants to “do good.” In other words, that people, Christian or not, generally are good people who want to do what is right for themselves, their families, and everyone else. Those who are biblically literate may quote, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent” (Ezek 18.20), believing that we do not inherent Adam’s sin, rather we are sinners because of what we do—not who we are.

If we are not “sinful at birth… from the time” of conception, then sin is simply a matter of what we do and not who we are. Conversely, salvation from sin can be accomplished by what we do, not by becoming someone new. We have no need for a Savior, instead we simply need to save ourselves.

“We are sinners in need of a Savior” is simple, but how you define “sin” will determine whether you are simply saved, or simply deceived by your sin.

DON’T BELIEVE THE SIMPLE GOSPEL (PART 1)

What’s your gospel?

what is the gospelOne of the first things I like to ask professing Christians is how they would defend the Gospel—what exactly is it? Many respond with “the power of God for the salvation of believers” (Rom 1.16) or “Jesus died for our sins… was buried… [and] was raised on the third day” (1Cor 15.3). The less biblically literate may say, “Believe and be saved” or “Jesus died so we can go to Heaven.” I have even heard some say, “the Gospel makes us better people” or “God prospers us because we believe” or simply “God loves (or forgives) everyone.”

However, when confronted with the simplest “why” questions, their faith crumples into nothing more than a catch-phrase. “Why do we need salvation—is God a monster who murders children who do not sing Him praise?” “Why do good people die in sin and evil people live in Heaven if they simply believe?” “Why would God murder His innocent Son in order to justify sins He could just easily ignore?” “Why live selflessly if my selfish sins are freely forgiven?”

Simple isn’t always best

oversimplificationConvoluting the Gospel even more is the fact that many “pseudo-Christian” religions share the same simple Gospel. Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and various other “Christian” organizations all believe the Gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe,” yet when you actually peel back their beliefs surrounding this simple premise you realize that it is all too obvious that their gospel is a distortion of God’s.

Same simple gospel yet disturbingly different “good” news.

Paul warns us, “There are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1.7-9). The definition of “oversimplification” is to “bring about distortion, misunderstanding, or error through simplification.” When we simplify the Gospel, we are quite possibly deceiving, distorting, or at the very least, creating a misunderstanding of God’s truth.

God never claims His Gospel to be simple, and unless we want to be deceived, neither should we.

DID GOD REALLY SAY?

Gen 3.1 “He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'”

did god really sayMany Christians believe the first temptation was for Eve and Adam to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; however, Satan actually first tempted Eve with a simple question: “Did God really say?” All temptations stem from God’s Word: either being ignorant of what He says, disobeying what He commands, or, as Satan and Eve do here, distorting what He really says.

Notice God’s actual command to Adam was “You may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen 2.16-17). Satan’s translation distorts God’s Word into “You must not eat from any tree.” Eve, herself, takes God’s Word she likely heard from Adam and adds her ideas to it , “God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, [and] neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen 3.2-3). Like Satan, we interpret His Word until obedience to it is impractical and like Eve, we add commands that when stacked upon other traditions replace God’s Words with our own.

Many Christians are ignorant of His Word believing that they, like Eve, have already heard it from those entrusted to preach it. They don’t know what God really says because they don’t hear it themselves from God.

Some of us Christians disobey God’s Word by knowing what He says but obeying our hearts rather than His commands. Like Eve, we desire what God condemns or like Adam, we listen to they who convince us to doubt what God really says.

Worst of all, some of us Christians distort what God says by twisting His words to meet our desires or creating legalistic burdens that cause us to obey traditions instead of what He really says.

The first temptation is one we Christians face every day. Will we listen to what God really says or will we be ignorant, disobey, and distort the truths commanded by God.

REASONING FOR THE SEASON

A Disciple's Thoughts on Discipleship

  Christmas 3 

The “Meming” of Christmas

I cannot count the number of times that Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus (or anyone), singing spiritual carols, or hating Santa Claus is mentioned in the Bible. That’s likely because none of those traditions have their origin in Scripture. So why do we Christians get so hung up when people forget the “reason for the season” or take “Christ” out of Christmas? If it’s not biblical, then why do the clergy push it as if it is?

As many people already know, the term “Christmas” and the subsequent 25 December celebration didn’t occur until around 354 and was primarily a means to subvert people from celebrating pagan rituals to adopting Christianized practices of worshipping the Son of God rather than a sun god. Christmas was actually banned in the New World before America became a nation and didn’t even become a federal holiday…

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CAN YOU SERVE A GOD WHO KILLS BABIES?

Recently I read a post from an atheist asking how Christians can believe in a God that would drown babies. Of course their morality is superfluously subjective as the same who condemns our God of evil also decrees “good” the dismemberment of unborn babies.

God kills babiesOne counter to the question is this: “Can you live in a country that would use an atomic bomb on children?” Many people believe the U.S. was wrong for dropping those bombs, but few of them would ever estrange themselves from the comforts provided because of that victory over Japan.

There will always be “just war” debates over the “atrocities” of war’s collateral damage wherein noncombatants are victims, sometimes even targets, to achieve an end that ultimately saves more lives by taking a few, even “innocent” ones, along the way.

If flawed human beings more full of sin than sound judgment are able to decide the fate of thousands, even millions, then don’t you think an eternal deity who claims to be the Creator of everything might be able to the same?

“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand” (Dt 32.39).

You cannot have faith in a God who saves if you do not also believe in the God who “puts to death.”

HOW TO MAKE GOD PROUD

God exalts the humble

God tells us that He “esteems he who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His Word” (Isa 66.2). Meaning that ironically, God exalts—is proud of—the humble. A humble person does not think little of himself, rather he thinks of himself very little. A humble person does not think himself better than others, rather he finds it better when others do not think on him. And ultimately a humble person is the pride of God because as they become less, He becomes more.

Humility is one of those qualities all of us should strive for but recognizing our growth in it always leads to pride. Kind of like how the more you want to be liked, the more annoying you come across to those you long to like you! The more humble I think I am, the more proud I am for being humbler than you.

God commands us to “seek humility” (Zep 2.3), but we only find it when we have a proper perspective of ourselves, others, and God….

  • Humble, I AM

 

The word “humility” paints a picture in our mind of lowliness, of thinking oneself “less than” everyone else. A picture none of us embrace as we want to be lifted up, praised, and loved. Therein lies the paradox: we will not be praised by God until we first clothe ourselves with humility.

The first step to being humble is to see ourselves as God’s child.

Jesus says that our souls are more important than the “whole world” and that we are “His workmanship created in” Him to do His good work (Mt 16.26, Eph 2.10). We, like Israel in the Scriptures, are His elected representatives, His royal people—the apple of His eye—adopted sons who like Jesus are His ambassadors on this earth.

Yet, like Jesus, we should “have this attitude [that] equality with God [is not a] thing to be grasped, but [we must] empty ourselves taking the form of a servant… and humble ourselves by becoming obedient” (Phil 2.5-8). We aren’t humble because we think ourselves unworthy, but because we find more worth obeying an unseen Master than in being praised by those who witness our service.

We, like Jesus, are His children, His representatives on this earth, the pride of all His creation (although, Jesus was not created). Yet, like Jesus, although we know He is proud to call us His servants, we cannot be proud of our service.

The first step to being a humble child of God is to view ourselves as God’s only begotten Son viewed Himself: an “unworthy servant who has only done our duty” (Luk 17.10).

  • Humbler than you

 

God commands us to “consider others better than ourselves” (Phil 2.3, 4). For some of us this is easy because we don’t view ourselves as God does. Rather we think we’re worthless worms deserving of other’s disdain. However, if you read Paul’s words in context, you see that he refers to Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, who even though He was in very nature God—i.e. better than us—took on the form of servant and allowed Himself to be killed in service to our sins. Paul tells us to have the same attitude as Jesus, who is in every aspect imaginable BETTER THAN US, and yet “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mk 10.45) those who were inarguably inferior to God.

The second step to being humble is to see others as God sees us: worthy of love and redemption.

Instead, we like to see others as our competition—like the older brother complaining about his wayward sibling—a threat to us being the pride of God instead of them. How quickly we forget that God does not delight in those who are great, but in the least—not the first, but the last. God wisely establishes a paradoxical competition wherein “the greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Mt 23.11-12).

The only way to win the “humility race” is serve others without being exalted by them.

It’s actually ironic that the word “humbler” doesn’t actually mean to “be more humble than” but in reality refers to a sexual device used to humiliate a male. We can be humbled by others. We cannot; however, be more humble than them because humility exists only when we think more (about and of) others than we do ourselves. If I’m more humble, then I’m contradictorily believing I’m better at being less—that’s just dumb.

  • Humbled by God

 

Humility is the fear of the Lord (Pr 22.4) because it is the “beginning of all wisdom.” See, sin begins with pride—a belief that I can “be like god” apart from the commands of God. Adam was created “in God’s image,” yet when tempted to “be like God,” unwisely chose to challenge His guidance with the words, “Did God really say?” (Gen 3.1-6).

This is the paradox: we are created to be like God, yet attempt to attain that likeness through our own definitions of “good and evil” (sin) rather than, like Jesus, to “not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing… and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil 2.6-8). Jesus “became sin” for us by literally embodying our desire to be God in the flesh and exemplifying how to lay down our sinful pride through humble obedience to His commands. Therefore, through this exchange—reconciliation—we become “His ambassadors…” and the earthly representation of “the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5.18-21).

Anyone who claims to live in Jesus must “walk like Him” (1John 2.6). It is what God defines as “good:” “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic 6.8). And humility is the only way to demonstrate to God that we are proud to be called His servants (Isa 66.2).

Humility—who I am exposed by what I do

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (Jas 3.13).

The problem I used to face when contemplating humility was thinking the word meant I should consider myself worthless before God and people. I thought, “If I’m a scumbag then what’s the point in doing anything good—it won’t measure up anyway.” I assumed I was humble because people looked down on me, God could barely use me, and nothing I said or did mattered.

Then I read David’s story in 2Samuel 6. David said, “I will be humble in my own eyes” (2Sam 6.22) because he understood that it didn’t matter how Michal or others viewed his naked worship but only how David saw himself before God. The world can hate us and fellow believers can scrutinize us, but what matters more than their opinions is God’s judgment of us.

Jesus says that when we do well we should not “let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Mt 6.3). Not that we shouldn’t do good, but that WHEN we do good, we ought to have the right attitude—a desire for our deeds to be rewarded by God and not those whom we serve.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you will not despise” (Ps 51.17).

A humble heart is the one gift God is always proud to receive from His children.

THANKS FOR GIVING

Meaning of the Word

happy-eucharist-thanksgiving-turkey-alphaedThe Greek word for “thanksgiving” is eucharistia, the same word some use to denote Communion—Eucharist. Though we use the word “Thanksgiving” to describe gratitude for what we are receiving, or in the case of the Eucharist—God’s gift of salvation—the root of the Greek word actually carries with it a different connotation.

“Eucharistia” derives from “eu,” or “good/well” and “chariozomai,” which is most often translated as “forgive” and derives itself from the word “charis” or “grace.” To understand what Thanksgiving means, we need to look closer at its roots to reap the fruit of its true meaning.

The Gift of Grace

Charis, or grace, is given to us by God “from all eternity” (2Tim 1.9) in order to “save [us] through faith” (Eph 2.8,9) granting us a “measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph 4.7) so that we might be His workmanship “created to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2.10). His grace, which “brings salvation to all men,” teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” so that we might be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2.11-14).

God’s grace is exactly like the talents entrusted to three slaves from whom the Master expected a return. The two who doubled what was entrusted to them were told, “Well done” while the slave who was thankful for what he received but did nothing with it was told, “You wicked, lazy slave… you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest” (Mt 25.14-26). In other words, God’s gift of grace provokes reciprocation and how we use it will be the basis for our eternal accounting.

The best gifts are those we use, not the ones that simply make us feel better about ourselves. We all love receiving gifts, but we really love those that impact our lives because they are used–like tools to a workman, a car to a driver, or books for a scholar. But gifts that gather dust and are one day sold in a sale or tossed in the garbage are like forgotten memories of a person once loved.

God’s grace needs to be a gift we use, not a memory we lose.

Be thankful for what we can give and not for only what we have gotten

thanksgiving meme“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is… overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of this… they will glorify God for your obedience… [and] yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2Cor 9.10-15).

If the Word is correct, then we should all be thankful for what God will do through us and not just for what God has done for us. The former leads to good works, the latter to apathetic acceptance without reciprocity.

This Thanksgiving, I pray I might use the grace God has provided me to serve the saints, live His Gospel amidst the lost, and with all liberality, share the gift of eternal life in God our Savior with all God has placed in my path.

PACKING YOUR OWN CHUTE

parachuteSaved without works to do good works

A friend and I were talking about the paradox that should be apparent to every Christian who seeks to obey God: we are saved apart from works to do good works. We often believe that we should “do good” in order to become better people, or to please God, or because “it is the right thing to do;” however, all our righteous acts are just “filthy rags” in God’s eyes because ultimately, “there is no one righteous, not even one… there is no one who does good, not even one” (Isa 64.6; Rom 3.10-12). Yet, we are commanded to “do good, be rich in good deeds…. do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased…. Do good without expecting to get anything back….” And warned that “he who knows the good he ought to do and does not do it, sins” (1Tim 6.18; Heb 13.16; Luk 6.35; Jas 4.17).

In other words—we don’t “do good” to be saved. We “do good” because we are saved.


'First jump? I'm nervous, too. This is the first time I've packed a parachute.'I gave him the analogy of jumping out of an airplane whether you pack your own chute or someone else does. The action of jumping remains the same—you trust the chute will open when the ripcord is pulled—but the testing of your faith is drastically different when you’re the one who packed it. Whether I pack the chute or some Private fresh out of Basic Training or some contractor who’s simply paid for the job does it, the action remains the same—we must jump. The action (work) doesn’t result from my faith, but my faith will affect my view of the action (work).

Or imagine the difference between me driving my 15 year old daughter on the highway and my death grip on the dashboard of the car when she takes the wheel. The action is the same—we are driving—however, the doubt, fear, and hope that accompanies faith is the difference between a migraine and a calm Sunday afternoon drive.

God’s Work or My Work

The paradox is blatantly clear in Phil 2.12-13 and solidified in Eph 2.8-10:

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are… created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

The action remains the same—do good works. However, when we pack our own chute, that is do good in order to improve ourselves, make our world better, or even please God, then our faith—trust that makes the work “jump”—remains in ourselves. I am doing good because I am a good person. But when God packs the chute, that is I realize I can only do good because it is God who works through me, then my faith—the trust that makes the work “jump”—is in the promise of God that I am His workmanship.

We still read our Bibles, fellowship with believers, pray, share our faith, and obey the precepts of God’s Word, but the reason for doing so “matures” as we understand the difference between doing work for God and doing the work of God. One stems from salvation and the other, though marked “salvation this way,” leads down the path of self-faith.

WHO’S AFRAID OF HELL?

A Disciple's Thoughts on Discipleship

Hell

Those who reject God

With Halloween around the corner, I always like to ask myself, “What, besides clowns, scares me?” Jesus tells us that it should only be one thing, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10.28). Though ghosts, zombies, vampires, demons, or even clowns might freak us out for a day, the only One that should make us tremble so fiercely that we change our lives forever is God. So why don’t Christians fear Hell?

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3.36). Most Christians would define “rejection” as simply not accepting that Jesus is Lord and Savior, like how you might reject that the Broncos…

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