YOU (4): As Lord or Savior?

MORE OF MY CONVERSATION OVER ON FACEBOOK:

Hello, XXXXX!  Honestly, at some level, I appreciate all three things you mention, knowing that on a *superficial level* they might be the only options in our making some kind of *temporary fix.* But, they would be just that, temporary at best, leaving the ‘heart’ of the problem untouched.

With any good treatment of standard physical ailments there needs to be a good ‘diagnosis’ first before a sound ‘prognosis’ can be had.  Without identifying THE root cause…we just end up tracking down dead-end streets, only to find ourselves in an ongoing search for better answers, or just giving up in frustration.  Nor will things get any better by our being ‘led’ by *emotions* (how we “feel” about this or that), for oftentimes they actually impair our understanding of what’s really going on.  We depend then on the facts, moving hopefully from thinking well about the symptoms to grasping well a corresponding course of action.

Therefore, it is imperative that we get to *heart* of the problem!  Anything less won’t due.  Anything other is superficial.

In the course of our looking at this scenario (drunk-of-a-husband/nag-of-a-wife), I’ve made the observation that the *heart* of the problem is…one’s first-birth problem…an inborn-identity-crisis.  To attempt to “fix” this *heart* problem by placing band-aids (i.e., tough-love, “self-love”, boundaries, etc.) on the outside is nothing short of bad medicine.

Again, I agree, there comes times when one has to “step back” (a.k.a, tough-love/boundaries), but these are mere external measures.   What remains untouched is the *heart* problem; the root problem that bore all the bad fruit.  No medicine, no talk-therapy, no manipulation will make the internal fix.  Regardless of whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, money, work, leisure, etc. that is in the picture, all of it remains very much external.  All the so-called “abuse” is a mere symptom.

And, I agree, there is something to be said about so-called “self-destructing” or “self-loathing.”  They are real, yes.  However, I don’t believe they in themselves are the *heart* problem, but again, only another way of speaking of the symptoms.

It might help if we ask questions like: Why is this person in an apparent state of self-loathing?  Could it be that they are merely feeling “sorry” for themselves?  Could it be that they are so disappointed in themselves and others for this reason or that?  Could it be that they began with too high of an opinion (expectation) of themselves, that they deserve this or that, but things didn’t turn out the way they thought they must?!  Could it be that they simply can’t bear with reality (things not going “our” way)?  Couldn’t it be they want control (of themselves, others, circumstances, etc.), but sulk (seek to suppress reality) when they realize it just ain’t so?   Could it be they are fearful and/or prideful when faced with the “control” question…they aren’t ultimately in control?  Could it be they can’t live sober (face-to-face with reality) so they mask (protect!) who they really are?

Granted, all of our inner-trouble speaks of a need for a proper self-image, but our wrongly *identifying* THE problem only creates more problems; all of which are a response that DEMANDS that others see us as we want to see ourselves.  And yet, we are afraid to face the harsh reality that we ALL are but human, not all that different, and have a BIG problem.  Nothing is ultimately fixed; the game goes on and on.

In sum, it’s always an *identity-problem.*  We’re born with it.  We struggle with it.  We mask it.  We dress it up.  We dress it down.  But, it always remains the same inside, an *identity-crisis.*  Our jobs, our cars/houses, our marriages, our children, our bank accounts, our 401K’s, our parents, our friends, our hopes, our dreams, our talk-talk-talk, our experience(s), our education, our mere-religion, our country, our name, our so-called goodness, our looks, our stuff! are never THE  solution, nor are they THE problem.  Our-selves!  Ourselves, our inner-self, our soul, this is where the problem lies and where the solution must be applied.  Anything less is artificial, a mere masking of that inner reality of soul.

So as for this notion of “self-love”…I find it never to be a remedy but always a reality (natural), regardless of how distorted it becomes, we have by birth a distorted preoccupation with ourselves.

What’s ultimately needed then?  Love from Above (vertical)!  Not from within (internal) or without (horizontal).  This is the source of everyone’s identity-crisis.  We are born with broken hearts, suffering from a distorted self-love.  We need a transplant!  Not a pace-maker.  We can’t perform it, nor can our friends and family, but only One.

LIFE & LIVING: Thru Faith in Christ

Question: “Does the Law serve ‘to correct and discipline’ Christians?”

Answer by St. John’s (abbreviated):


We are God’s children now…and hoping in Him…purifies us;

…believing in his Son Jesus Christ…is obedience.  (1Jn 3:2,3,23)


We live through Him…believing the love that God has for us

…having confidence for the day of judgment

…having no fear in love…for His perfect love casts out fear.

We love because He first loved us in Christ.  (1Jn 4:9,16-19)


We overcome the world, [flesh and devil]…by being born of God.

The victory?  Our faith…believing that Jesus is the Son of God!  (1Jn 5:4-5)

So then:  Whoever has the Son has Life! (1Jn 5:12)

We are from God!  Not as those living under the power of the evil one.  (1Jn 5:19)

My confidence:  Having faith in Christ, we know ourselves to be alive toward God and neighbor, governed by the Rule of His Spirit, even now.  (mjm)

DOGMATISM: Flesh-beat-en(-ing)

A thought or two regarding Fundamentalism.

A leading characteristic of Fundamentalism would be Dogmatism.  This is really nothing more than a Letter-driven (as opposed to Spirit-driven (Gospel-based and -contextualized)) approach.  Instead of a ‘faith’ in Christ orientation, the Dogmatist’s way is generally one rooted in ‘fear’ – though lip service is paid to the Gospel.  The latter has a way of *driving* sheep (the believer, the local church) this-way-and-that, whereas the former sees the Gospel ministry as one of *guiding* the sheep in the Way (in faith toward Christ…for all of salvation…sanctification included). 

Here’s what I’m getting at… anything that is said/done in the name of Christ that isn’t consciously and intentionally – rooted and grounded in the Gospel – is something other than a Gospel ministry, no matter how “moral”/”biblical” it sounds.  Ours is not to be “biblical” but “Christian” and I think we can be found standing in the former without possessing the latter necessarily.  We are not then to be found in Moses seat (Mt.23.2).  Subscription to “biblical norms” does not mean one is clinging in faith to Christ for each and every aspect of salvation…including His growing us up grace and knowledge of Him (i.e., sanctification, godliness). 

Paul puts it this way…there are those of us who “have the form (appearance) of godliness, but essentially deny its power” (2Tim.3.5).  For godliness is not ours to strive after as some commodity on the shelf that is just there for our taking, but the very working of God in us a faith and love, that, consistently beholds Christ’s righteousness/godliness (1Tim.1.4), and are thereby sovereignly and progressively brought into the likeness of His Image (2Cor.3.18).  In this way, Paul thought of Christ as our sanctification (1Cor.1.30).  The Gospel itself (the truth about Christ’s incarnation, righteousness, death, resurrection, and ascension…His doing not ours) is the only thing whereby God brings about the peaceable fruits of righteousness among His people (Phil.1.11; Col.1.6).

In other words, the Flesh can strive in form and yet never connect to the Source…Christ crucified and risen (Rom.8.3-15).  How we answer the following betrays our actual stance toward God and our brother:  “Are disciples of Christ made by 1) inputting the right commands, or are they 2) fashioned by beholding (Christ’s glory in the scandal of the Cross) and thereby found living in the Way?”

As I’ve said before…fundamentalism is readily found wherever people are finding their hope to be in their law-keeping and not Christ’s (even where we don’t do this in regards to justification, but more so sanctification). This is true of even we who claim to embrace the doctrines of grace.  A sounder grasp of the relationship of the Law/Gospel (particularly what the two have to do with Christ himself) genuinely and lastingly keeps things in a Christian perspective.

Just two cents worth.

Left behind…for a godly purpose

Devon Berry faithfully preached:   

“…though the incarnate Christ has physically departed this earth, he has left behind physical evidence, in fact, he has left behind his body, for the good and comfort of believers and for the proclamation of his glory to unbelievers… You are in this together. You are who Christ has left all humanity with as physical evidence that he was here! To love and serve your fellow believer is to do nothing less than show Christ to the world in a way that makes God the Father look magnificent and glorious!  …Do you want to bring him glory? Then sacrificially serve and love your fellow believer.  …May we be ever-conscious of what is temporal and what is eternal – and then live as people who realize that this world is not our home.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Depths of the Gospel

Walt Chantry writes:   

“However, concern for the nobleman’s soul (Mark 10:17-22) was not the supreme motive that moved Christ to witness to this sinner. Running even deeper within His breast was a love of God. Though induced by a desire to save men, Christ was primarily motivated by a longing to glorify His Father. You cannot carefully read the Gospels and fail to see that our Lord’s chief aim in every act was to do the will of His Father and to make His glory known to men.”

 

Reaching the Top and Depths w/ The Gospel

Elyse Fitzpatrick in an interview (re: Because He Loves Me):  “Simply put, I think that this is the most important book I’ve written because I’m finally writing about the One who is preeminent, Jesus Christ. I feel like much of my life has been spent pursuing godliness and encouraging others to do so while leaving Jesus behind. Not that I didn’t love him, just that I didn’t see how relevant he is to everything in my daily life.

“I can’t imagine ever writing on anything else again because once you’ve reached the pinnacle of God’s work in the world, what else is there to say? I’ve spent a good part of a year confining my thinking and reading (when not being silly or reading fiction!) to one topic: God’s love for us in Christ, and it’s transformed my heart. I can see how it’s been so easy for me to gloss over God’s love and move on to my responsibility, and I can see how deeply wrong that is.

Holding the Truth in Charity

Lee Irons said:  “Another point — it is true that the majority of evangelicals in the U.S. are ill-taught, doctrinally confused, and engage in a variety of questionable practices. The teaching from evangelical pulpits across America tends to confuse cult and culture, has a moralistic bent, and often strays into the realm of heresy. Most evangelicals would not be able to explain the gospel clearly and accurately if asked. So identifying as an evangelical runs the risk of sending the message that we support and identify with this mess. But rather than viewing evangelicals as part of a big mess “out there” that we want nothing to do with, charity dictates that we should view them as immature brothers and sisters in Christ who need to be lovingly taught and encouraged to be consistent with the evangelical faith that they claim to profess.”

 

Casting off Law as Covenant

Ralph Erskine:   “…the believer is delivered from the power of the law, and the power of sin too; having cast off the law as a covenant, and finding nothing to satisfy and still his conscience but the blood and righteousness of Chirst, that satisfies divine justice; as in this way he finds rest from the curse of the law, so also some rest from the rule and dominion of sin; the faith of God’s love in Christ does purify his heart, and kill his natural enmity, insomuch that he can attest, to his sweet experience, that the faith of the love of God in Christ is so far from leading him to licentiousness of life, or encouraging laziness, that he finds it the hottest fire in the world, to melt his heart for sin; and the strongest cord in the world, to bind him to duty, while the love of God is shed abroad upon him.”

 

Gospel: reveling in it together

Paul’s words to the church at Rome are engaging:

 

“For I long to [share with] you…some spiritual gift to strengthen you– that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.  So I am eager to [share] the gospel [with] you…for it is the power of God for salvation to [us both].”

(Rom.1.11-12 & 15-16 [paraphrased])

Refreshed by His love

May the Lord continue to refresh us…

Phm 1:20  …*Refresh* my heart in Christ.

Rev 21:6  And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the *spring of the water* of life without payment.

Psa 68:9  When your land was thirsty, you sent showers to *refresh* it.

Hos 6:3  Let’s do our best to know the LORD. His coming is as certain as the morning sun; he will *refresh* us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime.

Zep 3:17  The LORD your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will *refresh* your life with his love.

Indeed, let us soak in the truth and grace of the Cross.

 

THE Ultimate Gift —> unto fruitfulness

I’ve been pondering of late… What is it that we call “loving one another“? 

 

Initial thoughts:  Only as the total abandonment of Christ unto the Father sinks deeper and deeper into our consciousness, are we then likely to find ourselves being more thoroughly poured out for those around us, unto His honor.   Otherwise, we are left with merely an exchange of that which others kindly reciprocate or thankfully receive from us. 

 

We tend to “give freely” unto those who return the same.  Yet, it’s another matter when we can give for the sake of giving unto His honor and our neighbors good (regardless of whether or not they see the “good”).  He who gives all-things-ultimate won’t forget our much-lesser-giving, and even promises to bless our relatively minor reflections of His ultimate Gift.  

 

As we grasp what’s been Cross-given, we then give-out-of-the-Cross, seeking no payment, counting no wrongs.  

Eternal Love (no start/no stop)

G. Vos:  “There is still a thought lying even further back for our comfort and satisfaction. … In the unlimitable round of His timeless existence we have never been absent from nor uncared for by Him. … The best proof that He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began.  What we are for Him and what He is for us belongs to the realm of eternal values. Without this we are nothing, in it we have all.

“Married to Another”…then one another

Piper:  “God designed marriage to display the holy mercy of Christ and the happy submission of his church (see Eph. 5:21-25). Here the doctrine of justification by faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ can be a great marriage saver and sweetener.  ..There is more healing for marriage in the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness than many of us have begun to discover.”

Cause for love?

With Jesus having displayed upon the Cross the ultimate love of God for sinners (Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4-5; 1Jn 3:1) herein we find the exclusive basis for our loving one another (1Jn 4:7,9-11). Neither guilt, debt, reward or mere gratitude, but grace alone makes us to reflect back unto God and toward our neighbor (enemies too) a love He sheds abroad in our hearts by means of the Gospel. In other words, as we behold with faith this love of God revealed in the Gospel text, we too are made to love sinners such as we ourselves are, and this, with a genuinely Spirit-wrought love and gratitude which issues forth from us toward God (1Jn 4:10).

The Gospel alone (that is, the historic, redemptive, and personal work of Christ, 2000 yrs. ago) is the exclusive cause of a God-generated love in us toward others.