Today is an auspicious date for me. Four years ago, an employer asked me to pick a termination date for myself, and I thought 11/11/11 would be as good as any. I was concerned about (once again) being without insurance or retirement benefits. Two days after I picked the date, I received a phone call asking if I could start a new full-time role (with benefits) on 11/12. It was a humbling moment of acknowledging God’s providential planning.
In the next four years, the Lord led me into a ministry role more fulfilling than anything that had gone before. He has deepened my understanding of what he is up to in my life and the church and opened doors of opportunity I never would have tried to open myself.
I hope many of my current co-workers will be encouraged by my experience as they enter their own season of uncertainty. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” (NLT)
Do your church members think discipleship and mission are optional? Perhaps it’s because the gospel they heard and accepted only talked about personal salvation from sin — disconnected from Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom.
Do you proclaim the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins apart from the context of Jesus’ good news that “the Kingdom of God is upon you”?
Paul warns and encourages the believers in Rome:
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13 NLT)
Resist temptation because not resisting will destroy you. Resist because the Spirit makes you strong enough to win. Resist because Jesus died so you could be set free. Resist because when you do resist, the devil will flee. Resist because resisting is the path to life — full, free, and forever.
The Bible says that in the beginning nothing existed but God. Then God created the world. He made the first man and woman and put them in a garden. Adam and Eve lived in perfect relationship with God. But they were tempted and did something God had forbidden. (Genesis 1-2)
That sin broke the relationship Adam and Eve had with God. A great, bottomless chasm was created between mankind and God. Today, all of us continue to disobey God, and as a result our lives and world are filled with brokenness and chaos. The Bible says that all of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23) The Bible says that sin brings death into our lives. (Romans 6:23) But that same verse in the Bible says God offers us a gift of eternal life.
So how do we get across the great, bottomless chasm that separates us from God? The Bible says God solved the problem by becoming one of us, in the man Jesus, and Jesus died on the cross so we could be reconciled to God. (Romans 5:8) The Bible says we must openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. (Romans 10:9)
Do you believe this? Are you willing to openly declare it? Tell someone about it.
I grew up in a very religious home. My father, in fact, was pastor of a Christian church. We attended all the church events, and I heard lots of clear Christian teaching from my earliest childhood.
As a child, I began to understand the awesomeness of God and his amazing goodness. I realized how perfect God is — and how none of us can ever hope to be as good as that. I began to understand that I was separated from God because he was so good and I was not.
I learned from the Bible that God sent Jesus to bridge that separation between himself and humanity. I learned that Jesus died to make it possible for me to be a friend of God, instead being alienated from him. I learned that Jesus offered me a gift of new life and freedom from my sin. I decided I wanted to accept that gift and become a follower of Jesus.
For many years now, I have grown in my relationship with God through Jesus. I have found a deep sense of meaning and God’s purpose for my life. Friendship with God has given me confidence that God has my best interests at heart — even when my circumstances are very hard. I find great joy when I experience God’s love and realize the Creator of the universe cares about me. Most importantly, my life has been completely transformed, and I have discovered that God’s power can take the brokenness of my life and make something beautiful out of it.
All of us struggle with brokenness in our own lives. There’s certainly no doubt that our whole world is badly broken. We try all sorts of superficial solutions to fix our problems, but those solutions fail because they don’t deal with the core issue: Our hearts and relationships are broken.
Jesus can heal your heart and relationships, if you are willing to admit your brokenness and need for a new life. You don’t have to earn this new life. All you have to do is trade in your broken life for the new one. Following Jesus brings healing, hope, and peace. If you need that in your life, you need him.
Your theology of salvation can be too narrow in at least two senses:
— It is a “moment of new birth” theology that has no place for obedience because salvation is not truly seen as a process that continues to work itself out in the present, toward a completion in the future. Consequently, it also has no adequate teaching about the consequences of disobedience, because “once saved, always saved.” If disobedience carries no mortal consequences in eternity, then obedience is not actually necessary to salvation.
— It is a “spiritual transformation only” theology that does not see the transformation of everyday life as an essential part of salvation. We teach that sin has broken every aspect of individual life, communal relationships, even creation itself, yet we do not have an adequate explanation of how salvation relates to those other aspects of life and existence.