Posts Tagged ‘savior’
Lenten Meditation from the third week in Lent:
God’s Holiness and Grace AND Our Repentance, Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration
From my journal notes (jb):
Tom Oden writes the following:
“The terms of salvation are conditions of the personal appropriation of God’s saving action—repentance and faith. They are the simple terms of the earliest Christian preaching: repent and believe.” ~~Thomas C. Oden, Life in the Spirit (HarperCollins, 1992), page 79.
“The Order of the Terms of Salvation. The characteristic order of the apostolic teaching of the call to salvation is as follows:
- Be Baptized
- For the remission of sins
- Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
“Regrettably the term salvation has been cheapened by an extensive history of abuse. To understand what it means to be saved, one must first understand what it means to be lost… True contrition cannot be feigned. Nor can it lack the intent to forsake sin altogether… Repentance requires a decisive reversal of the previous sin-laden course of mind, heart, and will.” ~~Thomas C. Oden
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9
Vs 1 — “is anyone thirsty?”
** infers “anyone” must recognize their need (take note in the similarity of the blessings found in the Beatitudes of Christ; blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the humble/meek… We are “blessed” when we recognize our need for Him, that we are “broken” and in need of a Rescuer-Savior). We need the “WATER” that will truly satisfy our spiritual thirst; Jesus.
Vs 2 — “listen to me…”
** infers obedience is a necessary prerequisite
Vs 3 –- “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen and you will find life.”
** emphasizes the point made in vs 2, and again infers that obedience is a necessary and prerequisite qualification to enter into the covenant. The covenant exists and is open to all who would come, but to “come” requires recognizing “our” need…and responding with obedience and repentance (as we will see).
Vs 6 -– “seek the Lord (while you can find Him); call on Him (while He is near).”
** infers action is required on the part of the human; “he” must seek God, “he” must “call on Him.” Also indicates that our action has an urgency driven by an unknown timeline-deadline (while you can find Him- while He is near).
Vs 7 -– “wicked change their ways”
“banish their evil thoughts…”
“turn to the Lord.”
“turn to our God.”
“He will forgive…”
** Once again, the inference is that action is necessary on the part of the human. “He” must “change,” “banish,” and “turn…” True repentance precedes forgiveness (Lk 17:3).
- (vs3) “…and you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.”
- (vs5) “…I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish too.”
Further considerations (all passages should be considered in their full context):
- (Luke 13:6) – The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
- (Mark 11:12) – Jesus Curses the Barren Fig Tree
- (Luke 8:9) – The Parable of the Sower
- (John 15:1) – The “Chosen” are expected to bear fruit for God…
- (John 3:7) – “Repent and turn to God…produce fruit in keeping with repentance”
On 1 Corinthians 10…
- (vs1-5) “Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
- (vs6-11) “These things happened to them as examples for us…”
My thoughts (jb)
I think, on the whole, most “professing Christians” are deluding themselves with a false sense of security; not unlike the ancient Israelites to whom Paul refers in the passage from 1 Corinthians 10. My personal experience and observation are that we do not bear the fruit that is expected of us. Survey after survey and poll after poll indicate that we (Christians) are no different than non-Christians. Simply put, we are not bearing godly fruit. There are exceptions to this rule, and that is indicative of Jesus’ words (Matthew 7) that the gate is narrow and “few” find it. So yes, there are some Christians who bear the fruit that is lasting and glorifying to God. However, there are many (most) that are not. These are the “professing, but non-practicing, Christians to whom I refer. I realize my judgment here sounds sanctimonious, but it is not. Our role as believing (practicing) Christians is to recognize a tree’s fruit (Matthew 7:17-19) and to help that tree to bear good fruit (1 Corinthians 5:12 and James 5:20).
“Be careful how you treat God, my friends. You may say to yourself, ‘I can sin against God and then, of course, I can repent and go back and find God whenever I want him.’ You try it. And you will sometimes find that not only can you not find God but that you do not even want to. You will be aware of a terrible hardness in your heart. And you can do nothing about it. And then you suddenly realize that it is God punishing you in order to reveal your sinfulness and your vileness to you. And there is only one thing to do. You turn back to him and you say, ‘O God, do not go on dealing with me judicially, though I deserve it. Soften my heart. Melt me. I cannot do it myself.’ You cast yourself utterly upon his mercy and upon his compassion.”
~~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Westchester, 1987), page 300.
Or, you simply become so hardened by your sin that you never turn back to God at all. (Heb. 3:12-14)
The point that is evidencing itself through my meditations this week on this collection of Scripture is that repentance is the key. There is no following Jesus or forgiveness of sin without repentance; harsh, but true. And, even harsher is this truth, most professing Christians have not repented… this is a problem. The message of grace is the message that most professing Christians love to hear preached, but God’s grace is not a limitless checking account to be squandered on the idol of self (Hebrews 10:26-31). It is a dangerous thing to think that our selfish actions are going unnoticed (Galatians 6:7). For this reason, Paul warns us that we should not have attitudes like those of the ancient Israelites who thought because they were “chosen,” because they were “delivered,” because they ate the spiritual food, and drank the miracle water…they were ok. They were, after all, God’s people… “We’re golden! Yay!” Not so. The facts are that their bodies were strewn through the desert and they died because they did not honor God; they never repented of their own selfish ways…and sought only to satisfy their own needs. Jesus reminds us of the dire consequences if we do not heed the warnings; “…and you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God” (Luke 13:3) and “…I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish too” (Luke 13:5). As we are reminded in the passage from Luke 13:6-13, Jesus argues for our defense. He wants us to bear fruit and has complete confidence that we are capable of producing lasting fruit for God. Humble repentance is the “Miracle Grow®” we desperately need though… submission to pruning and Christlike fertilization of our heart is our only hope; without repentance there is no forgiveness of sin (Luke 17:3).
John Cassian and Dietrich Bonhoeffer remind us that…
“True repentance refuses to be comforted until the work of conviction is thoroughly experienced. It is a radical act of self-examination reaching into every chamber of the house of willed experience.”
“O that I could repent!
O that I could believe!
Thou, by thy voice the marble rent,
The rock in sunder cleave.
Thou, by thy two-edged sword,
My soul and spirit part;
Strike with the hammer of thy word,
And break my stubborn heart.”
Advent: Remembering and Longing for Eden…
Remembering…pondering from beginning to end
(Genesis 1-2) God created the heavens and the earth and it was good. And God created human beings, man and woman, then He blessed them and said:
“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground… See, I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life…” Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:27-31)
It was good. It was right. It was perfect… God and man walking together in perfect unity, and it was very good. The tragedy is that we (mankind) weren’t satisfied with God’s very good. In our effort to improve His Creation (Genesis 3) we created a “fail” of epic proportion. While our nature and soul have been created with Divine and Eternal DNA (Genesis 1:27 and Ecclesiastes 3:11), we have been doomed to disease, deterioration, destruction, and death because of our disobedience and rebellion against God, our Creator-Sustainer. We have struggled…groaning laboriously for the day of reconciliation since we became outcasts and enemies of God. And so, we long for Eden…we long for true reconciliation; we long for the ultimate and eternal City of God, the New Jerusalem where God will live with and alongside man as Friend, Father, Savior, King, Creator, and Sustainer (Revelation 21:1-8). This is the hope looking forward.
Advent: Remembering and longing with repentance… Hope; looking forward (Isaiah 11:1-10)
“In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will really to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.” (Isaiah 11:10)
Joan Chittister writes in her book, The Liturgical Year:
“Advent, from the Latin, means “coming.” But Advent is not about one coming; it is about three comings. The great spiritual question the season poses for each of us is, which coming are you and I waiting for now? At this moment of our lives, at this present stage of our spiritual development, what we’re waiting for surely determines how we will wait for it… Advent asks the question, what is it for which you are spending your life? What is the star you are following now?”
I’ve shared some thoughts about a musical release from Phil Wickham that has really moved me in recent months. As I remember and long for my Savior’s return and His righting of all things, I am drawn even more to this song, Eden. I cannot imagine what Adam must have thought, how he must have felt after breaking union with God…remembering when the stars were young…meeting His Friend and Creator at the gates of Eden to play and converse with God about the mysteries of the universe. Yes, I long for ultimate reconciliation…I want to be naked and unashamed with my God…in Eden.
I must be slow…
I’m usually not too far behind with what’s happening in the webworld, but I missed this site (http://iamsecond.com). If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. There are some very powerful testimonies recorded there. Check out this one from Brian “Head” Welch formerly of the rock group Korn.