Tag Archive - salvation

Universa-what?

There has been a bit of talk about Rob Bell the past few days. Actually, that is putting it mildly. Rob even took much of the internet’s attention from Charlie Sheen. Rather than commenting on Rob (for now), I wanted to post something brief about the underlying topic: Universalism.

Now, Rob didn’t actually use this word in his video, but this is the concept he seems to be promoting. At a minimum, he has raised the issue – which it seems is what Rob does best.

I’ve had a few conversations with people who didn’t really understand what the issue was, so for this post I just want to throw out some very basic definitions.

There are 4 primary views on the final state of souls.

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Losing Ground

Are you concerned you are backsliding?

Wondering about your salvation?

The fact that you are even thinking about it is a good sign.  But good intentions are ultimately meaningless.  If I am unaware that cars require oil, my car’s engine will eventually meet its doom.  If I am aware, yet do nothing about it, my car will be just as dead.

The fact that you are even thinking about it is a good sign, but what are you going to do about it?  In our relationship with God, there is no holding pattern.  We are either gaining ground or losing ground.  It is our responsibility to ‘work out our salvation‘.  That is not a passive activity.

So, you have this concern.  What are you going to do about it?  Jesus told the church in Ephesus (through John) that they had forsaken him, and must return to their first love.  How do you do that?  The same way you do in any relationship.  When things seem dry, old and routine, look back to better times.  What were you doing differently then?

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What’s Your Temperature?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23)

Have you ever noticed?  “The fruit”…  “is”…  This is singular language, not plural.  These are not fruits of the Spirit, they are fruit of the Spirit. “Fruits” come from different trees. “Fruit” speaks of one tree. There is one source of all these characteristics, and they are a package deal.  These are the true manifestations of the Spirit, and you don’t need to follow the latest “move of the Spirit” to find them.

Thinking in terms of “fruits” is like looking at the above verse as a list of superpowers.  “I have the fruit of love”, or “My fruit is self-control”.  That’s nonsense.  These are not individualized gifts. They are descriptors that will be placed on the person who lives by the Spirit.

If you are wholeheartedly following the Spirit’s leading, these characteristics will all be true of you.  If they are not, that means you are not truly entrusting your life to Christ.  That is because “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit” (vs 17), and “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (vs 24)

These are not spiritual gifts or abilities we should seek.  These are indicators of our condition.  If we notice a lack in any of these, it is an indication that we have fallen back into old patterns, or perhaps never fully trusted Christ in the first place.  Either way, the remedy is simple: “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (vs 16)

Christ-followers are marked by this evidence:   love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If you don’t see the fruit in your life, it’s an easy fix.  But don’t seek the fruit – seek the source.

Stop Thinking About Eternal Life

When I hear people talk about eternal life, it puzzles me.  They talk with a far-off look in their eye.  The same kind of longing that Lions fans used to have.  They act all nostalgic.  “Just you wait.  It’s gonna be super!”  What a bunch of maroons!

Jesus came that we might have life, but that wasn’t a distant promise.  Eternal life doesn’t start when your soul leaves earth, it starts when you leave the world behind. Jesus didn’t say “you will begin eternal life when you die” – he said “he who believes has everlasting life” (Jn 6:47)  When Jesus talked about us giving up our life so that we might gain eternal life, he wasn’t talking about us physically dying.  That would have lead to Jonestown-like massacres everywhere Jesus went.  The ending of life he talked about involved forgetting what lies behind (Phil 3:13) and becoming a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)

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Moving Past Milk

After yesterday’s post, I received some questions asking how to identify what is milk and what is meat. A good question. I guess for me it makes most sense to go about the answer two ways. One is to look at some milk/meat topics, and the other is to look at the individual. The former is like asking a pediatrician what your child should be fed, and the latter is like looking at your child’s development on a growth chart to compare where they are to where they should be.

The end of Hebrews 5 talks about milk vs. meat, and the writer laments that they have not moved past milk yet. In the beginning of the next chapter, he goes on to explain what some “milk” teachings are:

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