Opinions on faith and life

Now What?

2006-06-01

So we learn who Jesus is and what he did for us, then place our confidence in him alone for our salvation. Is that all there is? Not at all. Being born is not the end but the beginning!

I tend to focus on the theoretical, but every now and then I do (believe it or not) leave the computer and venture out into the world. Yes, even we geeks need some fresh air sometimes. And it’s there, in our encounters with the real world, that theories are put to the test.

But before any new believer goes out practicing what’s being preached, s/he must understand that this is not a solo journey. Remember that the Holy Spirit lives within every believer and is our guarantee of eternal life. But he doesn’t just sit there and watch us live, he gives us the power to do what we cannot do on our own. Does this mean we are guaranteed to live up to the highest standards without effort? Of course not. We can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) by failing to listen to his voice, and he doesn’t shout. Persisting in going our own way will get us exactly what we want: a powerless, lackluster, stilted spiritual life.

Hence the warnings, the pep talks throughout the NT (New Testament): warnings against ignoring the Bible and the Spirit that can result in loss of rewards; encouragement to strive and contend and reach for the prize. It’s a partnership, not to get saved but to grow. We do have work cut out for us, and the first thing is to spend time in the Bible. Don’t go out to battle in your jammies!

Ephesians 6 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
It is God’s power, not ours. These are spiritual protectors and weapons that we must learn to use well. But when the battle gets especially tough, one of the first arrows shot against us is doubt. We think we’re alone and we have no strength left. But at times like those it’s good to recall scriptures like these:
Philippians 4:6-7, 13, 19 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. ... I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. ... And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:12b, 2:11-13 But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day. ... This saying is trustworthy: If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.

Psalm 27:1-2

The Lord delivers and vindicates me! I fear no one! The Lord protects my life! I am afraid of no one! When evil men attack me to devour my flesh, when my adversaries and enemies attack me, they stumble and fall.

Matthew 28 28:18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 28:20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Hebrews 13:5b ... God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

There are many others, but it should be obvious that God has made unilateral promises to us. We can ignore him, deny him, and run away from him, but even the most prodigal of sons (see Luke 15:11-32) can be restored. The most precious of gifts has been given to you, so don’t keep it in a box and bury it out of fear or neglect. Don’t keep your sword in its sheath. God longs to help you and protect you, if you’ll just let him.
Luke 12 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 12:23 For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! 12:25 And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? 12:26 So if you cannot do such a very little thing as this, why do you worry about the rest? 12:27 Consider how the flowers grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 12:28 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you people of little faith! 12:29 So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. 12:30 For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 12:31 Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

12:32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out, a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

God supplies the power and safety, but we must supply the action. He can’t steer a car that’s stuck in park. But neither does he just sit and look out the window. Ask him for directions! He’ll even pay for the gas.