Archive | February 2014

Stand

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

 

Since the Fall of man there has never been a time in our history where mankind was more evil than they had been previously. From the time Adam and Eve committed the first act of betrayal against God, sin has reigned in the life of every individual conceived. Our world is in the same state today as it was in the Garden of Eden as sin entered the scene. 

Time and accessibility have run a parallel course of progression as technology has ventured beyond the imagination of previous generations. The instant access we have to a plethora of resources is an incredible reality. With all the beneficial materials that we have at our disposal, it should not surprise us that there are inversely a great deal of evil of which we are made aware, as well. Due to the nature of today’s media, we are more than likely faced with a variety of issues that some people in previous days did not encounter (although they existed in some form or fashion).

The sin in our world is on display to the masses, yet those who are fallen are numb to many of them due to their sin nature. This is not shocking. Ephesians 2:1-3 states, ” And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

Sinners sin. It’s in their nature, and they can’t help but act out the rebellion within them.

Our enemy, Satan, is at-large in this world, and he is looking to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). 

The world is a bleak and hopeless place…without Jesus!

Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). He came as light, and through His Spirit, He bestows that same light unto His followers that they may go forth and combat the dark cloud of sin that envelops the world. The darkness cannot withstand Him.

Before He ascended into heaven He told His disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He called them (and subsequently us) to be witnesses! However, His witnesses would not merely go about this business in their own strength; they would receive power through the Holy Spirit to do whatever He would lead them to. This is how we push back the darkness – by His Spirit! Without it, we are power-less to accomplish this great task. 

Sin marches on with Satan at the helm, but with an inevitable defeat awaiting it. That said, our enemy will wage war until the end of time when he is finally trampled by our Victorious King. Knowing this, we must, as Ephesians 6 above commands, STAND FIRM. We must be equipped for battle daily to offend the darkness and defend against the attacks of the devil. We cannot just sit around and wait for the return of our King, nor can we merely discuss the problems that are so prevalent in the world today. As 1 Corinthians 4:20 states, “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

The Spirit within us empowers us to fight for the faith with boldness. However, we are not to feel entitled to tear down other people on account of their sin. Jesus said this in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we don’t display the love of Christ for the world to see, how will they truly see Him in all of His glory and splendor. Your evangelistic approach cannot begin with condemnation, but with grace. Use Isaiah 6 as an example. In his vision, Isaiah first encounters the Lord in all His glory and is then forced to recognize his wickedness. When people truly see God, they will have no choice but to face their sin. Begin with grace, for that’s what captured your heart. 

In a fallen world, we must stand firm for the gospel message. We cannot compromise, even though the world will tell us we are intolerable. The truth we proclaim is our salvation and firm foundation, and to back down for the sake of “peace” with the world would be a tragedy.

The gospel is offensive to sinners, for it exposes their evil heart and need for a Savior. It also is life to those who take hold of it, and that is our goal – to preach the gospel so that those dead in sin might be raised to life in Christ. 

We stand on a spiritual battlefield, with life and death in the balance. If you have chosen life, share it so that others might experience the same freedom that you have found in Jesus and be rid of the curse of sin. 

Go forth and make disciples. 

-Sean

 

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Rest for Our Souls

[4] For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. [5] Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

[8] For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not the result of works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith. It is the reliance upon someone or something to bring about a particular result that has yet to be proven. In terms of “cause-and-effect”, faith is the effect of any cause deemed worthy by an individual to warrant trust. Faith, therefore, is reactant.

There are many practical displays of faith in our day-to-day, even if those actions are “second nature” and go unlabeled as such. Let’s take you for instance…yes, you reading this post. As you’re reading this, it’s likely you are seated on a chair that has been entrusted with the task of keeping you from a painful fall onto your posterior. You have placed your complete trust (and weight) in this particular object. Without thinking about it, you have relied upon this piece of furniture to relieve you from the consequence of gravity – a great fall.

The same goes with our faith. When I place the fullness of my faith in Jesus and truly sink into and rest on His grace, I am saved from the inevitable consequence of sin – a spiritual death at the end of the sinner’s perpetual fall (infinitely worse than a bruised rear end, I might add). To say “yes” to Christ is to fully embrace Him and to go “all in”, without reservation. What this means is (to reference the example of the chair) I do not withhold some of my “weight” from the comforts of His grace, for this displays a lack of faith in the Savior. Genuine faith in Christ is an “all or nothing” matter. You either put all of your trust in Jesus, or you don’t rely upon Him at all. You either believe that He saves completely, or that He isn’t worth resting your existence upon.

Like a cozy chair, Christ is waiting for people to take a load off and fall into Him with complete abandonment. As He said to the crowds during His earthly ministry, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). Now, don’t misunderstand this passage or what I’m saying. Christ offers eternal relief for our souls when we come to Him for salvation, but following Him is not intended to be easy. You will still exist in a fallen world, and be faced with many troubles; BUT, you will have the assurance of your faith – an eternity secured by Christ’s work at Calvary. THAT is worth total surrender. HE is worth trusting.

Our faith overcomes the world. It has nothing to do with us. And everything to do with the God who bestows such faith to us in the first place. The faith of the Christ-follower is overcoming because it rests upon the Overcomer.

Christian – remember the promise of God through Christ that has won you over, from death to life. He graces you with faith. Be reminded that He initiated it all, and that you simply reacted to His lovingkindness. And although you will fail at times to trust Him, take heart; for He remains faithful in our shortcomings.

Doubters – there is a Savior waiting with arms open wide, ready to receive you and relieve you from an eternity separated from Himself. There is rest for your soul…but only IN CHRIST.

Grace and peace,

Sean

Dwell

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

 

Let’s break this down a bit…

  • The imperative“let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
  • The result“teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

The result comes about by our submission to the imperative. To put it a bit differently, when we allow “the word of Christ” (the good news, or “gospel”) to live and thrive within us, it will positively affect the way we relate to God and others. 

But how are we to gauge whether or not our lives reflect the gospel in this manner? Answer the following questions truthfully, and see if it doesn’t give you an idea.

  1. How do I view the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? Are you elated by the love of the Father, expressed by the death and resurrection of the Son, revealed by the Holy Spirit? If you greatly value this divine notion of grace and mercy, and if you are fulfilled by this truth alone, it is likely you have a biblically informed and energized view of the Magnificent Three in One.
  2. How do I view my sin? Are you genuinely humbled by the fact that God, in Christ, has covered over your transgressions (past, present, and future)? Are you deeply remorseful and repentant when you sin against God in your day-to-day experiences? If you see sin as a terrible offense against God, and that drives you to hate it as He hates it, I would submit that you are allowing the Scriptures to be the lens through which you see. 
  3. When life brings about joy or sorrow, what comes out of you? The gospel should be an all-encompassing force in our lives, reaching into every part of it and transforming us. Regardless of circumstance, the hope we find in Christ should resound above our triumphant shouts and mournful groans. We should know the Word, and the Word should overflow out of us for others to tangibly experience (verbally and non-verbally). 

Christ-follower, if you find your answers to these questions to be unsatisfactory, ask God to forgive you where you have not allowed the gospel to inform and shape you. In our flesh, we are prone to wander away from the Savior if we do not keep a careful watch over our souls. 

The gospel is our lifeline. The One whom it reveals must be our King. This must change everything.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and may that result in love for God and your fellow man. 

 

-Sean