Never has an age promised so much and delivered so little as ours. Modern culture assures us that pursuing boldly our individual tastes and preferences is the way to create our identities to our liking and escape confining social roles, customs, and prescriptive morality. Happiness will be ours if only we refuse to conform to readymade social roles and begin to live consistently with our inner selves. And yet, we find ourselves herded into groups whose identity is rooted in ethnicity, a political cause, gender, age, and a hundred other categories. We want to be unique as long as we are surrounded and supported by others just like us. By identifying with a group that vociferously distinguishes itself from other groups, we seek to resolve the conflict between individual and social identity. We self-deceptively adopt the group’s identity as our individual identity, assuring ourselves that we’ve done our duty to “become ourselves.” Becoming a unique individual is not as easy or as pleasant as modern culture makes it sound! Nor is becoming a Christian.
Christian people find the task of becoming an individual no less difficult and subject to self-deception than do our secular contemporaries. Identifying yourself with the Christian faith, a Christian denomination, or a local Christian congregation does not make you Christian. Although becoming a Christian involves adopting an identity that is shared by others and living as a Christian requires that we live in community with other Christians, no one else can become a Christian for you or live the Christian life in your place. The institutional church cannot do it. The clergy cannot do it. Others can guide, encourage, and provide good examples, but you must step into that bright, heavenly light alone and relate directly to your God.
To live as a Christian you must believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. No one else can believe for you. Repentance and confession of sin must come from your heart and your mouth. Identifying with a church where communal prayers and liturgies speak of repentance and forgiveness cannot replace your own inner contrition and secret confession to God. You have to change your own life. The two greatest commands are to love God and love your neighbor. To love God is to acknowledge his love for you, to place him on the throne of your heart, and to seek him as your highest good. No institution, no other person can do this for you. And you have to love your neighbor from your heart. You cannot delegate this task to someone else. No one else can pray your prayers, give your praise, and express your thanks. Experiencing God’s presence is not a group activity.
Living a good life and practicing virtue, while done in community, must be done by the individual. Faith, hope, and love cannot be inherited from your parents or distributed like communion wafers. No one can complete your God-given assignment. It’s not like such tasks as cooking dinner, washing the car, or taking out the trash, which you can have done for you. God gave the task to you, and your doing it is part of its nature. If you don’t complete it, it will not be done.
Human beings judge each other on superficial grounds, external appearance, church membership, group associations, social status, and professional accomplishments. God judges the heart. God knows us from the top of our heads to the bottoms of our feet, inside and out, down to the depths of our souls. We cannot hide from God within the crowd, in the audience. To become a Christian, you and I must first give up the self-deception that the secrets of our hearts are known only to us. We must face the fact that we have been found out, that is, we must come to realize that God has always known our sins. And then, under our own names and in our own persons, we must deal with God directly.
I really adhere to what has been brought forward above.
St Paul says it like this (KJV), ” Hast thou faith? Happy is he who condemns not himself, by that which he alloweth.”
Have recently been looking at Bishop Ryles comments on the nature of sin (from his book ” Holiness”) where he examines Hooker’s essays on sins of omission, and sins of commission. We do have to be very careful about what we seemingly and unknowingly qualify by our own ignorance. Or indeed by our inactivity.
I believe that Jesus put this same point like this, “Prepare to receive the Holy Spirit!” We shall be blessed with untold gifts and joyousness, if we really accept and follow Jesus (as mentioned above), but it is crucial that we understand that we must prepare ‘quicken’ ourselves, as He says here, in order to receive the executor(trix) of this divine power.
And, since there is little to be said from such a wonderful Ifaqtheology commentary, listen to what St Paul syas in his general epistle; ” Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things, the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient…For our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heaveny places.” Remembering that the heavenly places alluded to here references the prince of the air (air which is all around us), and indirectly, those high places to which Christ was taken in the temptation.
Finally, please allow me to conclude with an uplifting comment! For fear that this all has become too awry. Sorry if it has.
At this approaching festival of Easter, see if you can put the following message into your heart? The french epithet placed upon an invitation is often reduced to “RSVP”. And so, I would like to ask everyone to “respondez- s’il vous plait” or reply if you please to this invitation, and ask yourselves if you know enough about- REDEMPTION SALVATION VICTORY AND PROVIDENCE (RSVP)? Perhaps now might be the time to read some scripture? And I pray that you are blessed with the holy and pious knowledge that, God actually does not want your obedience (as if for slaves and written in the above translation). He wants your dependence! Amen.
Thank you for these words. I will remember your creative repurposing of RSVP.
Good Article. I may quote you (again). I never cease to be amazed at how God’s Spirit works. Your comments are so timely for me. In fact, my scheduled sermon for March 11, which is already mostly put together is addressing precisely this subject. I’ve entitled it, “Do You Take It Personally?” Even examples and wording is similar in several spots (I manuscript). Anyway, keep up the good work. I miss seeing you regularly at the Lectures. ‘Haven’t been in a while.
Thank you for the encouragement. May God speak through you on March 11!
I miss seeing you too! Let me know when you return to Malibu.
Opinions and Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions in Theology 😊
Or interesting ways to make the Gospel relevant
Thanks, RON, ya got me kick started by your post
this is kinda along the line I think on sort a kind of. The possibilities of natural law and the works of the Spirit have changed, as far as I am concerned because Newtonian physics Is all well and good for a 19th-century mindset. Rom 1:20 So “we” are without excuse…(“So then, This is why I call Pre/Late 20th Century Theology A Flat-worlder theology, or reformation ontology, A 14th-century anti-Roman Catholic Pathology”). Theology NOW (N.T.Wright, Douglas Campbell ECT.) No longer take flat-worlder ( anthropological ontological theological) Mindset! And yes I meant to say that, for the very reasons of the of the deep-seated influence of NE plutonian Styled corruption of scripture interpretation (3ed century) also the epicurean viewpoints of most of the 18th-21st.century philosophical, if not just Flat Nihilistic Idealists. I will use One example of NEW natural LAW. I although could postulate a bunch as I have been looking into this since around 1995 and continue…
Theoretical physics comes into play along with quantum mechanics.
“The Greeks had a word for it — the force behind the laws — that, as Stephen Hawking puts it — puts the fire into the equations. The Greeks called it the Logos.
It’s Jesus who makes the universe operate as it does, and for reasons known only to him, he likes for the universe to operate in ways describable mathematically.
(Col 1:16-17 NIV) 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Heb 1:3-4 ESV) 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
So science and the Bible agree. In fact, the Bible gives a far more satisfying description of the nature of things than science. The equations are just ink on paper until some power greater than the created universe makes the universe follow its laws.”
If the Bible says God reveals himself in the earth and stars, and if the earth and stars tell the story of an ancient planet in a more ancient universe, what does that teach us? But if the universe is that old, how do we reconcile that story with the story told in the Bible about the creation? Both are true. How can that be?
Oh, and if it’s true that God made the heavens and earth only 6,000 years ago but he made the earth look ancient — but ancient in a way that tells a story –shouldn’t we want to know and study and profit from a story told by God himself?
Therefore, whether you believe God made the world look old or God made a world that is now in fact old, either way, we are compelled to learn what God has to tell us from what he has made.
The more I know or where theory begins and where science fact ends. (proof) the much more I are able to praise GOD… the tipping point for me is the theory (faith) that God was faithful To His words, (a theory) until the new creation (another dimension) was implemented by a faithful (son of Man, Son of God the Father) SON. Which brings about Paul’s bosting1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . … The Resurrection of the Dead
1Co 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
1Co 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
PUT this together last night got kinda bored.
not finished what do ya think PROF…