A deeper look at the human need for change

Humans are not a people safe to themselves or to their environment.

Although there are notable examples of progress in human history, it is largely one of war and destruction. The earth given to us to inhabit is on the edge of potential destruction at our own hands.

I am not referring to a theory of global warming but to the horrific potential of nuclear global destruction. If this sounds apocalyptic to you, I suggest a little research. There are currently enough strategically placed nuclear weapons to destroy every major city in the northern hemisphere.

It’s sadly notable that the most progressive century of human history (the 20th) was also the most violent. Human capacity for violence and evil appears to be limitless.

Human beings have an “empirically demonstrable bias toward evil. We are both complicitous in and molested by the evil of our race. We both discover evil and invent it; we both ratify and extend it…. By disposition, practice, and habit, human beings let loose a great, rolling momentum of evil across generations” (Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.).

All human beings live with an internal duality of good and evil. This is why our history is one of both heroism and terrorism. We are a people of love and war; of dignity and depravity. Heartwarming acts of benevolence and shockingly disturbing evil can come from the same person. Our nature itself is corrupted by an infectious and pervasive depravity.

But how can we name acts of evil and what solutions can we bring to the table?

Politics, Culture and Law as agents of change

Politics, culture and the role of law are agents of change that seem essential to our existence. These means offer limited solutions to some of our problems and offer the potential to promote human flourishing. But we have a deeper need that cannot be addressed through these agents of change.

Ontological and teleological change

These are big words but they’re important to understand. There is a need for a deeper level of change beyond the natural and external means provided through politics, culture and law.

We need an ontological change based on a teleological focus.

Ontological refers to a change to our being or nature. Teleological offers a future focus that provides hope to fuel change.

The teleological dimension is God’s provision of purpose and hope beyond the temporal world. It involves things that matter (at some level) to most rational people.

Laws, customs, culture and politics will not address the depth of the human problem. These external pressures are necessary (even divinely ordained) but not adequate. Making external adjustments by creating new laws or putting the “right” party in political office will not address our deepest needs.

Scripture reveals our need for an ontological transformation (a regeneration of our nature or a new heart). But we cannot produce this change in ourselves or in others (in fact, ontologically, our children inherited their problem from us, a corrupt nature). Parents cannot give their children a new nature. We ask them to consider matters of the “heart” but (in New Covenant terms) we cannot give them a new heart.

God said, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

Need for change

An example of this need for deeper (ontological) change would be King David’s confession of adultery. He acknowledged that his problem is far more than a matter of act and consequence. While confessing the wrong he had done, he said, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). He acknowledged a very long history with sin far beyond his current actions. He confessed an inborn condition.

New Creation:

We need a recreation or new creation by the renewing of God through His Spirit (Titus 3:5) with the aim of restoring the image of God in us (II Corinthians 3:18). We need the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” “to make his light shine in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). We need to be reconciled to God to become a “new creation” in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).This is ontological change.

We receive this change as a gift from God based in His mercy and unmerited love. “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

This change is only a beginning but it comes with the “confidence that we will inherit eternal life” (Titus 3:7). This is the teleological focus that we desperately need in a world filled with suffering and death.

This also means that God’s gift in this life doesn’t erase or eradicate the fallen nature we battle against. Yet it changes the focal point for change from law to grace. “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).

So then the change we need is ontological (“being” not just behavior). Just as this change is a gift from God, so the ability to grow in conformity to God’s image is the work of God. It requires a life of humble dependence through diligent application of the means God has provided by His Spirit.

The question Paul raised to the believers in Galatia is fitting: “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3).

While we actively engage in all the means of change available to us, I invite you to turn to God to acknowledge your need for His gift and for His grace to be conformed to His image.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Addiction, Anthropology, Atheism, Behavior, Change, Character, Christian life, Christian worldview, Church and State, Common grace, Counseling, Earth, Evil in the world, God's Love, God's power, Gospel, Government, Guidelines for living, Hope?, Human depravity, Human dignity, Main problem, Politics, Regeneration, Salvation, Sin, Spiritual growth, Spiritual transformation, Worldview | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

People in heaven prior to the resurrection

If a believer dies before the time of the resurrection of his body, will he exist in heaven as a disembodied spirit or will he be given a temporary body until the time of the resurrection of his body?

While we cannot be definitive about everything on this subject, it seems that we can be certain that the souls of believers who die before the resurrection enter into conscious fellowship with God in heaven. 

We can also be certain that their existence will be personal and identifiable. Further, they are not in a state of soul sleep as taught by some groups.

Sleep and death

Scripture refers to those who have died as “falling asleep” or “those who sleep,” but the expression is used of the body, not of the soul. And it is a metaphoric expression designed to communicate the temporary nature of bodily death (as sleep is only temporary; see, Matthew 9:24; 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 5:10)

When Jesus spoke to His disciples about the death of Lazarus, He said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11).  We should notice that Jesus does not say, “The soul of Lazarus is sleeping,” nor, in fact, does any passage in Scripture say that the soul of a person is sleeping or unconscious (a statement that would be necessary to prove the doctrine of soul sleep).  

Rather Jesus simply says that Lazarus has fallen asleep. Then John explains, “Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (John 11:12-13). Sleep is a metaphoric expression to teach that death is temporary.

Descriptions of people in heaven prior to the resurrection of the body

Luke 16:19-26 The story of the rich man and Lazarus

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

Hebrews 12:22-24

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

Revelation 6:9-11

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”

Revelation 7:9-10

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

II Corinthians 5:1-8

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Matthew 22:31-32

But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Long after their physical deaths, Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the “living.” We know that they are alive, in conscious fellowship with God and with all other inhabitants of heaven. (Note that the destiny of unbelievers will also be conscious existence: Matthew 25:41, 46).

What Jesus said in Matthew 22:31-32 also indicates that individual identity in heaven will be preserved (identity continuous with our earthly identity).  (See also Matthew 8:11 and Matthew 17:1-4 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Hope and comfort

We can celebrate victory over death through Jesus. He said, “Because I live you also will live” (John 14:19). He promised that, “… everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). 

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:1-2).

Posted in Death, Fear of death, Gospel, Heaven, Resurrection | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Three approaches to communication and leadership

Sometimes relationships are difficult because we approach them with the wrong method of communication. In a recent series of sermons, we’ve been looking at three approaches to relationships or leadership. 

  1. Directive 
  2. Consultive 
  3. Free-Rein

Sometimes we’re not seeing the results we desire in relationships because we fail to recognize that different situations call for different approaches to communication and leadership. 

Maturity requires of us the ability to identify the best approach for each situation and to adjust our natural tendency so that we can use the most effective approach.

Take a few moments to look more closely at the three approaches. 

  1. Directive or Authoritative  the aim here is obedience. This approach is leader centered and commonly involves giving orders and directions. 

Advantages

  • Quick decision-making
  • Crisis situations; where there is immaturity, right answers needed; addresses indecisiveness
  • Might yield better results when quick decisions are necessary

Disadvantages

  • Centralizes in one person – the leader
  • encourages others to use less creativity and take less initiative
  • Fails to draw from the strengths of others
  • Doesn’t multiply through others
  1. Consultive – the aim here is commitment 

Decentralizes leadership and delegates decisions and authority. Leader makes a final decision after consultation with others. Could still involve limits within which people function.

Advantages

  • Recognizes value in others – encourages positive attitudes,
  • Reduces resistance to change
  • Exchanges ideas, improves job satisfaction and individual and group morale.
  • Shared ownership and responsibility
  • Follows the multiplication principle (Matthew 28:18-20)

Disadvantages

  • Time consuming and slower decision-making.
  • Could create problems when unwisely practiced
  • Requires more maturity from leaders and participants
  • Possibly opens a door to antagonistic people
  1. Free-reign – the aim here is initiative. This approach gives freedom and decision-making to others to operate as a group or individual independently. The leader uses this approach to allow free-flow of communication and he replaces authority with availability.

Advantages

  • Increases satisfaction and morale of others
  • Encourages initiative and ownership
  • Develops leadership in others

Disadvantages

  • Insufficient leadership
  • Insufficient guidance and support
  • Working at cross purposes – creating confusion, disunity and discouragement

Free-rein style is appropriate when others are well trained, knowledgeable, skilled. It is used with those who are self-motivated and prepared to take responsibility.

Application

Ask yourself which of the three is your natural or learned tendency. Once again, we must recognize that maturity often requires of us the ability to restrain our natural tendency when a different approach is necessary for reaching the best results. 

For example, parents of small children must be more directional with them. As children grow older, the consultive approach teaches them to become involved, responsible and committed to doing what is best. 

Three words

Use the three words below to help you when faced with different situations.

  1. Pause don’t react naturally
  1. Identify – the desired results
  1. Adjustyour response to produce the appropriate communication/leadership style

For a closer look at this through an audio series, see here and here

Scripture to relate – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

Note – The categories above do not all originate from me but have been adapted from a number of different sources that have been widely used over the years. Please use this material as a discussion item with others.

Steve Cornell

 

Posted in Church Leadership, Communication, Community, Conflict, Counseling, Difficult people, Discernment, Disciple-making, Family life, Fellowship, Leadership, Marriage, Relationships, Small Group leaders, Speech, Teenagers, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Transformed pain…

Pain that is not transformed is transmitted. Pain that is transformed is recycled for the good of others.

Let God transform your pain so you can become a transformer of pain for others.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

Steve Cornell

 

Posted in Blessed by God, Encouragement, God as Potter, God's control, God's Heart, Pain, Sanctification, Suffering, Trials, Wisdom | Leave a comment

The Problem in Your Marriage Isn’t What You Think

4 ways we may be destroying our marriages.

In today’s world, so many fingers point to “the number one marriage killer.” Some are quick to attack technology while others blame children or infertility as the cause. Experts cite pornography, work stress and financial problems as the top reasons why so many couples choose divorce.

But, in reality, marriages aren’t failing because of any of those reasons. The number one marriage killer is us. Here are four ways we may be destroying our marriages:

  1. We Embrace the Bare Minimum

We watch the movie instead of reading the book. We agree to a single session with the counselor and select the one-day seminar, hoping the easy way will revitalize our marriages. But a week later when we are back in the grind, we demand the money-back guarantee because the change didn’t happen overnight.

We don’t want to commit to a year of therapy, regular date nights or reading all 31 chapters of the book. We expect our spouse to change, to do the hard work, to make the sacrifice. We desire a thriving marriage without the work. Sadly, we prefer the life of ease over effort.

2. We Are Impatient

We require everything microwaved, instant and delivered overnight. If there was an Amazon NOW for relationships, we would download it, because we don’t want to wait for anything. We expect our spouse to change, to do the hard work, to make the sacrifice. We desire a thriving marriage without the work.

We dream that our spouse will drop 20 pounds, become a gourmet chef, find a better job, make more money, anticipate our every need, and read our mind in the bedroom—yesterday. If there are hurts in the relationship, we demand immediate change instead of embracing the process. But all of our expectations actually sabotage any sincere effort because they are both ridiculous and unattainable. Instead of slow and steady we expect fast and flawless.

3. We Fear Conflict

We prefer distraction over conversation. When there is potential for a meaningful exchange, we steer it in the other direction because we don’t want to risk vulnerability.

We never discuss the tough things, like porn or money problems. Instead, we whisper our feelings once a year, on Valentine’s Day, over dinner and cheap wine, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. We are convinced that if we reveal what’s really bothering us, we will end in an explosive argument. So we endure instead of engaging one another, burying our concerns deeper and deeper.

4. We Don’t Like to Admit Weakness

We are prideful. We hate to disappoint people, and we cringe to think of them muttering “I told you so” about the guy they labeled a loser or the girl they begged us to “get to know better” before rushing to get married.

Admitting marital problems is even more terrifying if we ourselves are children of divorced parents. There is also the dread of ruining our kids’ lives with the truth that “mommy and daddy are having problems.” So we plod along, raising children, vacationing and running successful businesses in what appears to be an amazing life. But the truth is, we are silently killing our marriage in our people pleasing.

So what can we do? How do we keep from thwarting the thing we committed to “until death do us part”

We try. We get back in the game, realizing there will be hard work ahead. We stop taking each other for granted, showing our spouses we love and cherish them instead of assuming they already know. We close our mouths when it’s easy to blame and instead shower them with kindness and respect. We touch—we hold hands and give back rubs and recall the fun in flirting and dating.

We prefer honesty—even if it hurts. We unapologetically ask the difficult questions and bring up the topics we previously skirted around. We pray. We listen, we make goals and we come up with a plan.

We recognize that change does not happen overnight, and a thriving marriage is not made by solely observing anniversaries.

We give space and grace for our spouses to be vulnerable and for lasting growth to occur. We applaud the small steps and celebrate the giant efforts.

We work hard and choose patience. We embrace conflict and admit weakness. We reflect on the vows we exchanged and the covenant we entered into together.

We remember the promise we made for a marriage that thrives, and we never settle for mediocre.

By Malinda Fuller

Posted in Dating, Engagement, Husbands, Love, Marital Separation, Marriage, marriage problems, Wisdom, Wives | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Amazing footage of Mecury

NASA got some amazing footage of Mercury making its way between us and the sun, something that happens just 13 times each century.

Posted in Wisdom | Leave a comment

Is eternal salvation secure for believers?

I once had an encounter with an Amish man who told me he was shunned by the Amish Church for belief in assurance of salvation.

I learned that he opposed the teaching of eternal security of salvation but embraced a personal assurance of his standing with God. This was enough to cause him to be shunned.

I made a number of attempts to help him understand that personal assurance can only be based on God’s promises of security in Christ. It is very instructive to understand why the Amish oppose assurance of salvation.

Two factors hold the Amish back from speaking of a secure salvation.

  1. The individual is accountable to the community.

This is the belief that an individual must not make claims that remove him from the assessment and accountability of the community. Claiming certainty of one’s standing with God is viewed as presumptuously removing oneself from answering to the community — particularly to the authority of the elders.

One historian on Amish faith wrote,

“I realize that in an age of individualism, and an evangelicalism that stresses a private experience of salvation, Amish faith of communal solidarity in discipleship makes no sense, and the judgments you make about “works salvation” seem totally right to you.” The professor encouraged me to take “time to understand how an Anabaptist theology such as the Amish profess expresses a radically different way of claiming the grace of God as a community of the Spirit.”

“One of the virtues Amish prize, the professor wrote, “is humility–humility as a practice not as a nice attitude–and one aspect of that humility is to make no arrogant claims about their confidence of special status with God. An Amish bishop was visited by a new minister in the neighborhood who was quite fundamental and inquired repeatedly whether the bishop was saved. Finally he asked, ‘Are you truly born again? Do you know for certain that you are saved?’

The bishop answered, ‘You are asking the wrong person. I will give you the names of people who know me well, of persons with whom I have differed, of my sharpest critics and you can go ask them whether I am saved.’ That is Amish humility.”

  1. God is judge and we must not presume on His judgment.

God has appointed a time for His judgment and when we speak with confidence about our eternal destiny, the Amish believe we are wrongly assuming God’s role as Judge.

A man who lived among the Amish informed me that, “Their problem with evangelicals who profess eternal security comes from the belief that God has his appointed time to judge each person. Their belief is that God only saves through grace and mercy, but that it is not proper to make a judgment or proclamation of one’s salvation until that appointed Day of Judgment. In other words, God is offended when we assume his judgment.”

How should we think about these two issues?

  1. The individual is accountable to the community

There should be little doubt that we live in “an age of individualism, and an evangelicalism that stresses a private experience of salvation.” I also recognize that the evangelical Church is weak when it comes to the New Testament vision of a “faith of communal solidarity in discipleship” and “claiming the grace of God as a community of the Spirit.” On these matters, we have drifted from the Biblical vision for the life of the redeemed.

A few examples.

Philippians 1:6 is a verse often used to claim assurance of eternal salvation.

This verse, however, is about what God is doing and will continue to do in and through the community of believers in Philippi. The apostle wrote: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you (plural) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The good work he refers to is their “partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” with the apostle Paul (1:5).

Philippians 2:12-13

Another example in the book of Philippians is the call to “continue to work out your (plural) salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you (plural) to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Certainly this is a call to cultivating stronger discipleship to Jesus. Did the original recipients hear this with the ears of Western individualism? No. They would have heard it as a work that happens in the context of community.

This doesn’t foreclose on personal applications but it does encourage us to see how far many of us have moved from the New Testament emphasis on community. This emphasis can be found in many places.

Body life imagery

“… in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”(Romans 12:5) “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ…. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 26-27)

I John 2:19

Another very strong focus on community is found in the writings of the apostle John. Continuing with the community of believers or rejecting it had defining implications.

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (I John 2:19).

Three essentials to Christian community

Community life for believers was meant to involve mutual accountability, encouragement and leadership.

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” (Hebrews 3:12-14; 13:17).

Faith in community?

While community emphasis is badly needed in evangelicalism (particularly in the West), I do not trust any human community with final verdicts about individual salvation.

This is not to say that the community must never make judgments about the spiritual condition of others. The command “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14) and the contrasts that follow, imply a need to make judgments.

When warning about false prophets, Jesus said, “by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:20). Sometimes we must be “fruit inspectors.”

To help us, we find many evidences of genuine salvation as well as indicators of non-kingdom lifestyles provided in Scripture (e.g. Galatians 5:19-22; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:3-8; I John).

Like the apostle Paul, we sometimes feel the need to say, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” (II Corinthians 13:5). There is clearly not enough emphasis on this in the evangelical Church!

Yet ultimately we must say, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (II Timothy 2:19). Further, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:13).

  1. God is judge and we must not presume on His judgment

Agreed. If God has not spoken, we must not presume on His word or will. But if God has spoken, we must submit to His verdicts. It is the opposite of humility to act as if God has not spoken when He has. It is an act of refusal to submit to God’s judgment. For example, when God’s word says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), we dare not attribute condemnation to those in Christ.

Five verdicts of judgment God already made with reference to salvation.

To reject any one of these is to presume upon God’s judgment.

  1. I stand condemned before God as one guilty of sin and deserving of God’s judgment (Romans 3:10,23:6:23a; James 2:10)
  2. Apart from the mercy and grace of God, I remain forever under God’s just condemnation (Titus 3:5).
  3. I cannot by any effort of my own improve my standing before God (Romans 4:5; 5:6; Galatians 2:16, 21; Ephesians 2:8-9).
  4. What I cannot do, God did for me when Jesus Christ bore the just judgment my sin deserved (Romans 5:8; 8:3-4; II Corinthians 5:17,18,21; Galatians 3:13).
  5. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1, 32-39).

Conclusion

The Amish wrongly think that salvation is within their grasp. Even if they claim to believe that they cannot earn God’s favor with works, they believe that they can use their free will to choose God by faith. This implies that the will of man is not corrupted by evil.

But according to Scripture, the human will is bound to sin. “… every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9; cf. Romans 3:10-23).

  • According to the Bible, the human will is so corrupt that we need the Holy Spirit to remove our blindness to see what Christ has done for us and to believe in Him (See: II Corinthians 4:3-6).
  • Jesus said, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them” (John 6:65). We are enabled by the Holy Spirit to see our need for Christ (II Corinthians 1:21-22; 3:14-18).
  • “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29).
  • “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Steve Cornell

 

Posted in Amish, Assurance, Christianity, Eternal life, Eternal security, Salvation, Security of salvation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment