Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Is Your Salvation Insured or Assured?

I’m quickly approaching my 65th birthday, and those of you who are already there know that you are inundated daily with offers of supplemental insurance.  As I’ve been looking into this deeper, it’s obvious that Medicare doesn’t cover everything, hence an additional policy or policies are necessary to supplement what is lacking.  As with any insurance, be it homeowners, car, or health you get what you pay for, or at least that’s what we put our faith in. Beware, the cold hard facts are detailed in the very fine print.  For example, if you exceed the number of claims because of floods, fire, or natural disaster, your insurance company will more than likely terminate you.  Same thing goes for health insurance. Hello, isn’t that why you’ve paid in all those high premiums, so that you can call on the insurance to save you from financial ruin?  You can’t own a home or car without insurance, so you keep paying, keep adding on more items to be covered, and all the time living with the fear that it won’t be sufficient.

Of course you know I’m going somewhere spiritually with this line of thought, so please stay with me.  I’d like to pose this question to you today, is your salvation insured or assured?  Theologians have many “answers” concerning this query, and people have fretted about it for ages.  So, what’s the difference between the two?  The church is divided into two major camps on this vital topic, and I like to refer to them as Insured and Assured.

 The insured folks will tell you that our salvation is contingent upon us paying “premiums“ for the rest of our natural lives.  These include; adhering closely to church/religious doctrines, doing good works, keeping far from sin, in general following what is written in your policy. Those are all noble pursuits, but read the fine print, this policy can be revoked, if you miss a payment, so to speak.  Your salvation, and the promise of going to Heaven, is never assured, unless you keep paying. Sadly, you never know when you are paid in full, or if you have attained enough points to be accepted.  I have a friend, who goes to church almost every day, yet is constantly concerned with this issue, "Have I done enough, and am I good enough for God?" he laments.

Ok, let’s look at the assured group.  These people believe that Christ died for them, and all mankind, once, and paid our premium for eternity.  There is no doubt in their minds of their salvation, and future destination, they are assured. That’s too simple, you say, all I have to do is have faith in what Christ did to be saved, there has to be more to it.   My “insured” friend complains to me about this very thing, so bear with me.  Merely saying, “I believe in Christ”, isn’t complete salvation, but it’s the place we all begin.  Belief must be combined with repentance, obedience and faith to fully be assured of God’s grace.  Grace can never be purchased through religion or works, please be assured, it is freely given.  Certainly we should desire to be with fellow believers in a church, and acts of service will naturally follow as we grow in our salvation.  Can the policy ever be revoked?  I believe it can, but only if one willfully turns from God, and even then He will do everything to keep us from making that terrible decision.

So, let me ask you again, are you insured or assured?  “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.” Romans 3:27.  Please, be Assured, there is nothing we can add, or premium to pay, He paid it all.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thinking Like Jesus

After mowing some grass around the house, I returned the John Deere to its place in the shed, and later went over to talk to my husband.  Instead of receiving praise, he told me that the mower was not parked correctly, that it was blocking his scooter, and to top it off, he bluntly told me that I should start thinking like him to avoid this kind of “disaster” in the future!!!   What the hey????  I sarcastically said I was sorry, and offered to move it to the proper spot.  Luckily he wasn’t picking up my real thoughts at that particular moment, but somehow I think he got the message!  I left for town pretty quickly just to let off steam.

It was during this time of “steam release” that I got to thinking about what he said.  Not that I agreed with his approach, but being able to think like another person could come in handy.  We would be aware of what displeases someone, before venturing into hostile territory, thus avoiding potential conflicts. Or, conversely, we’d have the inside track on what they like, and could use that to our benefit.  Ah yes, if only…. While we all know how some people think, in certain scenarios, we don’t always employ that gifting. Let’s face it, it’s tedious, and if the other person isn’t thinking like you, well, why bother.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was a master at reading people’s thoughts, like I'm sure he did mine, but that’s different.  Even now, He knows our doubts, questions, and even our gripes, but he doesn’t want to think “like” us, he needs us to think like him.  Paul said this to the church at Philippi, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:1-5.

 Read that last part again.  Have the SAME mindset as Christ Jesus.  That is a powerful statement, life-changing, even world-changing, and perhaps the most important thing we can do as Christians.  We can go to church, observe religious rules and regulations, do good works and read the Bible, but if we don’t think like Jesus where are we?  The good news is, that we can all have the mind of Christ, through the power of his indwelling Holy Spirit.  If we all thought like him, we’d know exactly where to park the mower, treat our neighbors, do our jobs and so on.  Start today by asking him to direct your thoughts, that’s not to say you become robotic, but rather your own thinking is perfected by his, almost like a filter that strains out impurities. Oh what an amazing world this could be, if we all thought like Jesus. It’s possible, so start thinking!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Honoring the Family Name

I like to watch the CBS Sunday Morning Show, before I leave for church each week.  The program features segments on all kinds of interesting things including art, science, architecture, food, styles and usually an interview with a current celebrity.  This past Sunday was no exception, Miranda Lambert was in the spotlight. I’m not a Country fan, but I like finding out something about an entertainer’s life.  Miranda is very popular as it turns out.  The interviewer asked about her childhood, how she got started singing, where she lived, hobbies, marriage etc.  She is quite a character, in all respects! Putting on a live show, numerous times throughout the year, she was filmed praying with her band,  something she does before every performance. An admirable activity, indeed.  Delving deeper, the interviewer asked her why.  Miranda explained that she liked to cuss and drink, so she thought it wise to stay connected to God through this ritual, or some words to that effect.

Now I’m not here to judge this young woman, prayer is never bad, but it did send up a red flag for me.  We, who call ourselves part of God’s family, have a family name to uphold.  My husband used to tell our kids, especially as teens going out on the weekend, to make sure that they didn’t bring any shame upon the Zerrusen name.  It gave them something to think about.  If they did get into mischief it would not only reflect poorly on themselves, but also our whole family.  When we make the decision to become a child of the Father, he makes it clear what his family rules are.  For example, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Ephesians 5:3  To be involved in any of these activities, as a professing Christian, not only offends our father, but puts the whole family in a bad light.
We are to be a sanctified, called apart, people, living in the world, but not tainted by it.  The only way that’s possible is to stay clear of participating in things that we already know are on the No-No list. Sure it’s not always easy, but when you love someone, you want to please them, and you certainly don’t want to drag the proud family name through the mud of worldliness.  Praying is pleasing to God only when it’s accompanied by repentance and a turning from sinful behaviors.  It is not a spiritual stain remover by itself, and God will never accept sin no matter how much we pray around it.  Please get rid of whatever it is that is bringing shame to the family name, if you’re not feeling convicted, I’d sincerely question your “bloodline”.