Friday, May 13, 2011

On the Subject of Salvation

References have been made to new believers as spiritual babes who are dependent on easily-digested milk and that over time we should mature and be ready for meatier matters. The thought occurred to me, however, that we might also go through a spiritual teenage-hood during which we fill ourselves up on junk and think we know it all. I’ve been there and hope to goodness that I’m finally emerging from that phase! During that time in my life when I was certain I had all the answers figured out, however, I did what teenagers—physical and spiritual—do: I ran my mouth. A lot. I wasn’t afraid to help everyone out by pointing out where they were obviously wrong and God and I were right. Ah, growing pains stink.

Now I’m not saying I have arrived or anything but I am getting better at being slow to speak and quick to hear. I’m playing the Holy Spirit less and opening myself up to God’s guidance instead of filling in the answer to “What would Jesus do?” with my own logic. Recently, however, a friend asked me a question and I replied with a whole-hearted 100% certain answer that I’d now like to amend. Figures! = P

The question was on the subject of someone who professes to be saved but who continues to live a lifestyle of open sin. Is that person really saved? Now, the person who asked me this had a particular sin in mind but I believe the question could apply to any sin. At the time that we discussed this my thought was somewhere along the lines of what they teach you in Bible school: Admit, Believe, Confess, right? If you believe in Him, you’re in, right? Then I got involved in a Bible study at the home of a friend on campus. The Bible study is Kay Arthur’s “Lord, I Want to Know You,” and goes through the names of God as a way of discovering God’s nature. One of the names we studied was Adonai—Master. As always I was eating it up. That is, until I came to the paragraph where she discussed Matthew 7:21 which says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” What does that mean? It seemed to me that Kay Arthur was implying that something more than simply believing was required for salvation. Hmmmm. She used several verses to explain her point.

Luke 6:46 says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Malachi 1:6 says, “’And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise my name…”

She brought up the passage where God is calling Moses to free the children of Israel and how God’s anger burned against Moses (Exodus 4:10-14). Why? Because Moses was saying, “Lord, Lord,” but not trusting and submitting to Him.

Luke 14:25-27 and Matthew 10:34-40 talk about how Jesus has to be our one and only Master—that His commands and His will but be #1 priority in our lives even over ourselves, our family, and so on.

Kay Arthur mentioned Romans 10:9-10 (Ah, I thought! The good old Roman Road! Ha!) which says, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” “Notice what it says you must confess,” the Bible study pointed out. Jesus is Lord. That word there—Lord—literally means “supreme in authority,” “controller,” “master.” How had I missed that?! I knew that verse and yet had ignored the weight of its meaning.

This explained a lot to me. See, for several years despite the fact that I believed that Jesus was God’s Son and that He died to save me and that He had risen and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, I lived in sin. Not just your everyday “oops” sin. I was deliberately telling God, “No.” Can you imagine? I justified it in lots of ways just like those who Jesus talked about in Matthew 7…”Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?” But God, I’m doing everything else RIGHT! I’m going to church and teaching the children and I’m being pretty good in everyone else’s eyes! Why, why do I have to do that one thing?

It took me 5 years to say, “Yes, God.” How sad is that? And that whole time I lived without peace and in fear, actually. I would often wonder why I was fearful of death and why I didn’t look forward to Christ’s return with the same fervency that everyone else does. I avoided reading Revelation as if it was the plague. Then one night Jackie was reading from Revelation 21 during our family Bible time. It was talking about the new heaven and the new earth and God’s people. But verse 8 says, “But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in a lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” At that moment I knew that I didn’t belong in that group because of what I knew to be true about God but at the same time my actions hadn’t been lining up with those of the group of God’s people who would thirst no longer. I submitted. I didn’t fully realize it at the time but I was letting God have His rightful place in my life as Adonai, as true MASTER.

Romans 6:16-17 says, “Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Joshua 24: 15 is the often-quoted verse that says, “…choose for yourselves today the one you will worship…As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD.” I talk with Keeleigh often about who she is choosing to worship and serve. There are only two choices: God or Satan. Satan’s sin was denial of God’s supreme authority which is the sin unto death--the sin that we hardly even consider that we’re committing. So every day I feel we must submit ourselves as slaves of God or by default we fall into the slaves of Satan category.

So what happens to those people who know the truth—who stand before the glory of the Lord like Moses did and say, “Lord, Lord,” but do not trust in His ways and in His self-sufficient sovereignty? I certainly cannot judge between anyone else and God but I would not want to hear, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” (Matthew 7:23)

And if you read all of this and thought to yourselves, “Well, DUH,” I apologize. I’m a slow learner but still wanted to share what had been on my mind lately!

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