Trustworthy Sayings

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Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  (2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an interesting passage, containing four couplets, each beginning with the word “if.”  What makes it interesting to me, is that the word “if” is typically the introduction to a conditional clause (if a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens), which it is in the first three couplets, but not the last one.  This should cause the reader to question why that is so, because it begs an explanation, which is given in the text.

If we died with Him, [then] we will also live with Him – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV). “Unless” also forms a conditional clause.  As with most conditional clauses, we would like to substitute our own conditions (good deeds, live a “good” life, don’t commit any “mortal” sins, etc.), but we cannot.  We must “die” with Him (accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf) in order to live (be born again) with Him.  We cannot be born again, if we have not “died.”  We die so we will not perish. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV 1984).

If we endure, [then] we will also reign with Him – John 3:16, cited above, is not a conditional clause.  Whoever believes has eternal life.  It cannot be eternal if it can be lost.  So this conditional clause must mean something else.  “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied.Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”  (Luke 19:17, NIV 1984).  How we live (endure in) this life, does not determine if we will live with Him in the next.  It determines how we will reign with Him in the next.

If we disown Him, [then] He will also disown us – This clause stands in juxtaposition to the first clause.  We can either die with (be owned by) Him, or die without Him by disowning Him. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV 1984).  If we disown Him, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. To make sure we do not misapply this clause, that having once genuinely accepted Christ we can later disown Him and lose our salvation, the final unconditional clause is added.

If we are faithless, [nevertheless] He will remain faithful – There will be times in our Christian walk that our “enduring” will be less than stellar.  We will be unfaithful at times.  But God’s faithfulness to His promise “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” is unconditional.  He cannot be unfaithful. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:16–19, NIV).  As Christians, our identity is in Christ, God’s “one and only Son” and  “he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

My Advice – Die with Him so you can live and reign with Him.  Then live a life worthy of the calling.

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Want to become a Christian (die with Him)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (endure with Him)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

Chance or Choice?

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My Musings – Many envision God as He appears to be depicted in the Old Testament as a God of wrath and judgment. In contrast, others tend to have an impression of God from the New Testament as one of compassion and grace. But God does not have a personality disorder nor has His nature changed over time (“I the Lord do not change.”Malachi 3:6, NIV 1978). God has always loved and continues to love mercy. At the same time, His Holy nature demands that He act with justice. These qualities are not contradictory. They are, in fact, quite compatible. Reconciling His love of mercy and His Holiness that demands justice is the grace bought and paid for by the sacrifice of His Son. Because of this, God is able to pardon and forgive the repentant sinner. But when the heart is not penitent, God cannot pardon and will condemn.

My Advice – “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6, NIV 1978).  An Old Testament verse on God’s compassion and grace.  “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:8, NIV 1978). A New Testament verse on God’s wrath and judgment.  God’s “scales of justice” do not balance a person’s good works against their sins.  Rather justice depends upon which side of the scales one “falls” on, grace or wrath.  Where one “falls” is not matter of chance, but rather a matter of choice.  Grace is available for all to choose.  For those who do not choose grace, only wrath and judgment remain.  One must choose wisely.

 

What Seems Right?

Screenshot (1441)My Musings – In the movie Hondo (one of my favorites), John Wayne plays a scout for the U.S. Calvary in the old west.  A man with a clear sense of what is right, honest, and just and having little tolerance for what is wrong, deceitful or unjust.  There are many memorable lines in the movie, but one in particular stands out to me.  “A man ought to do what he thinks is right.”

Unfortunately, what we think is right is not always the best guide.  In a society where right is relative, the truth is tentative and justice is just “if”, what we think might not always be the best guide.  Sad that it has come to this.  But when we think about it for awhile, it really has been like that since the garden.  The forbidden “fruit” seemed so right, but was so wrong.

For a long time now, what has seemed right to man is, if the “good” in one’s life outweighs the “bad,” then things should work out okay for the afterlife.  But in many cases, what was once considered “bad” is now considered okay or depends on the circumstances.  So what standard should one use for determining if the “good” outweighs the “bad?”  Is it a different standard for different people depending when they lived and the standards that seemed right then?  Is it a different standard for different people depending on what seems right to them?

The reality is that there is only one standard.  We are all playing in God’s “sandbox” and He made the rules.  What’s more, the rules never change.  What was right, truthful and just in the garden is right, truthful and just today.  What was wrong, deceitful and unjust when God handed down the laws, are still wrong, deceitful and unjust today.  We couldn’t keep one rule in the garden and we can’t keep a multitude of laws now.  In fact, breaking one law, even the most “insignificant,” is the same as breaking all of them, even the most “egregious.”  How could that possibly work out for the “good” outweighing the “bad?”

The reality is they never could.  They were never intended to. There is “no one who does good, no not one.”  No matter what seems right to man, it will always lead to death.  What then is the answer?  It has always been about grace, extended to man only through Jesus Christ.

My Advice – Go for the grace.  You’ll never have to wonder if your “good” was good enough.  You’ll never have to worry if Christ’s good was good enough.  If it wasn’t He would never have risen from the grave.  But He conquered the grave, He conquered death.  As a result, He can offer life to all who will believe and receive.  Now that seems right to me.

 

Sow What?

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My Musings – God cannot be deceived.  We only deceive ourselves when we think we will not reap what we sow.  When we sow to please our sinful nature, our actions will obviously follow suit.  However, if we sow to please the Spirit, the fruit will likewise follow suit.  We cannot sow one thing and expect to reap something different.  Again, if that is our expectation we are only deceiving ourselves.

My Advice – We have been crucified with Christ.  What does that mean?  It means that we are dead to our sinful nature.   So why feed something that is already dead?

Called Out Of Darkness

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My Musings – “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  (Yogi Berra).  It certainly isn’t.  Hopelessly lost and separated from our Creator, with no hope for reconciliation by our own efforts.  Facing an eternity apart from God in Hell.  No Exit. His righteousness demanded it.  That was our future.

Where there was no hope, God provided hope.  Where there was no way, God provided a way.  The possibility of being reunited with our Creator because He made it possible for us to be a new creation through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  His grace satisfied His righteousness.  The opportunity to spend eternity reunited with God in Heaven.  This can be our future.

My Advice – Which future do we want?  This should be an obvious choice.  Yet so many stumble over it.  Yes, Jesus is the only way, because His sacrifice was the only possible way to satisfy God’s righteousness.  But whoever calls on His name will be saved.  He’s calling us out of darkness.  Will we respond?

If…

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My Musings – No fine print here.  It is a small word, but it begins the sentence – “if.”  It is not a trap for the unwary, it merely establishes the sentence as a conditional clause.  When the conditions are met, the promise that follows is assured (God cannot lie, He is “faithful and just“).  He not only forgives us, but He purifies us, removing the stain of sin altogether.

Until the conditions are met, however, there is no obligation to fulfill the promise.  Confession must precede forgiveness.  Why would be expect our sins to be forgiven if we do not even admit that we have any?

My Advice – Do not let pride get in the way of forgiveness.

Why Do We Think The Unthinkable?

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My Musings – If God is a just god, . . . [fill in the blanks]?  There was a time when this sentence did not start with the word if.  It was readily accepted that God is just.  Times have changed, but God has not.  Actually, the sentence should begin with the word since.  Since God is a just God, . . . [fill in the blanks]?

Since God is a just God, He has (Jesus on the cross) and will (the Last Judgment) deal with sin and injustice that has occurred in the world.

For those who have accepted Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice has already been dealt with, and He will (in the life to come) make up for all the suffering that they have had to endure.

For those who do not accept Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice will be dealt with at the Last Judgment, and the suffering that they have endured in this life will pale in comparison.

Lest one should dare to say that God is unjust, it need not end that way.  Each and every one of us has the opportunity to avoid such a fate, only because God provided a remedy that is open to all.  He was not obligated to do so,  after all, we were the ones that chose to go our own way in the first place.  But He chose to.

But if one still wants to begin the sentence with if, the blanks should be filled in like this:  If God is a just God, why would He ever offer us grace?  Because justice and mercy intersected at the cross.

My Advice – Think about it.  Once we do think about it, it is indeed “unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.”  God did not do wrong, He became “wrong” in our place in the person of HIs Son Jesus Christ on the cross.  God did not pervert justice, He perfected justice.