Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Balanced Christian

IN HIS BOOK, Paul, the Apostle of God's Glory in Christ, noted New Testament theologian, Dr.
Thomas Schreiner, walks the careful line between antinomianism on the one hand, and legalism on the other. A legalist believes that he earns salvation. On the other hand, antinomians believe that works are irrelevant to the Christian life.

But true grace always produces change. True grace produces growing holiness. True grace produces confidence in God's love, but it also promotes the fear of God. If these are absent it is likely that saving grace is lacking. Here is how Dr. Schreiner sums it up...

“Indeed, such holiness is imperative to obtain eternal life on the day of the Lord (cf. also Eph. 5:27; Col 1:22; 1 Thes. 3:13). Those who succumb to sin as its slave will experience not eternal life but death (Rom 6:23). God's vengeance will be inflicted on those who despise his "Holy" Spirit and live unsanctified lives (1 Thes. 4:8). Thus, the imperative to live holy lives can never be dismissed as secondary, nor can the indicative of God's grace swallow up the imperative so that it no longer exists.” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2883-2886) 

What is the appropriate conclusion? Don't presume upon the grace of God. Rather, apply yourself to godliness, holiness, and obedience, but do so in the context of God's infinite grace and love.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Its Not About Self-Discipline!

MANY THINK THAT becoming a Christian is like joining a spiritual Marine Corp. “Just a few good men." But Christianity is not primarily about self-discipline. It is about motivation. It is about a heart fully engaged in
Is Christ Your Treasure?
pursuing life's most exciting Treasure.

The Bible is all about spiritual riches. The apostle, Paul, saw the Christian religion this way. For Paul it was about the “riches of his glory” (Rom 9:23), the “riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7), and “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8-10). All of this Paul sums up in Colossians 2:3. Christ, "In whom are hidden all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge."

Many Christians think that their problem is a lack of self-discipline. But a lack of self-discipline is seldom the problem. A lack of motivation is the problem. All motivated people are disciplined. All unmotivated people are undisciplined. We all pursue with great discipline whatever we are convinced will make us the most happy.

My point is that Christianity is a treasure hunt. Christ is the Treasure, but the discipline to pursue that Treasure doesn't begin until the Believer connects knowing Christ with his or her happiness. When that happens self-discipline follows. 

Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit in the human soul that convinces us that all of our happiness is connected with knowing, loving, and serving Christ. That is why most of Paul's prayers are for illumination. For example, see Eph 1:15-22 and 3:14-21. 

So, let us pray fervently for illumination. We need to see Christ as our Treasure. To the degree that this happens the application of our self-discipline in the pursuit of our happiness in Christ will be extravagant. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Dying to Self Means

A FEW YEARS AGO someone posted this short description of what it means to die to yourself. I found it powerful and convicting. In accordance with the spirit of this essay, it was published anonymously. I am
reproducing it for your enjoyment, (if that is the right word). It is titled "What Dying to Self Means."

"When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely ignored and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer with Christ; that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed and you refused to let  anger rise in your heart or even to defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence; that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity and unpunctuality or any annoyance and you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, and spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured it; that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering and raiment, any climate and society, any solitude, any interruption, by the will of God; that is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good words or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances; that is dying to self.

When you receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly aw well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment, wise enough within your heart; that is dying to self.”[1]

[1] Anonymous, Bethany House Publishing Tract