Archive for the ‘Conviction’ Category
Spending many, many years in the baptist church I heard about God being gracious and offering salvation. Grace was often talked about for salvation. But it rarely went beyond that. After being saved, the focus shifted to how I was to now live the Christian life. I was to be obedient, I was to love, I was to forgive, I was to serve, and the list goes on and on. It worked for a while but it was so exhausting. When I would begin to be worn out THEN people would say, “You just need to rely on the Lord more.” At that point, this was just one more thing I needed to do. These were all things that I kept finding were impossible for me to accomplish completely.
As we grow in our faith the I should decrease and God should increase. I have grown in my faith to realize that God doesn’t merely offer salvation. He graciously gave me the faith I needed to believe and he secured my salvation! It wasn’t anything I did. I didn’t choose of my own free will to believe and place my faith in Christ. One day I just realized that I did believe and the faith was not of my own will but it was a faith that only God could give. That is ALL grace. Being a follower of Christ is not always easy. It doesn’t make life easy or crisis free. The struggles are important. God is the one who carries us through, guides and directs,and allows us to accomplish his will in our daily living. That is ALL grace too! God grants us grace to live the way he calls us to live, to love the way he calls us to love, to serve, and on and on. I am thankful that I am now in a church that preaches our need for God’s grace in every aspect and moment of life. Without God’s grace it is all about us. The Christian life shouldn’t be about us, it is about Christ!
Remember, grace is not just for salvation. It is for every moment of every day. The Lord’s grace is what helps us to live the life he desires; to be obedient, to be forgiving, to be a light. Remember to extend grace to others who walk this path of life as well.
“For you that are parents, or to whom the education of children is comitted, I beseech you mind the duty which lies on you. … For to what purpose do we desire them before we have them, rejoice in them when we have them, value them so highly, sympathize with them so tenderly, grieve for their death so excessively, if in the meantime no care be taken what shall become of them to eternity? … If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No, no, if you will not teach them to pray, he will teach them to curse, swear and lie. If ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring up.”
~ John Flavel
There are so many thoughts running through my head right now. Between our Sunday School lessons, sermons, and conflicting viewpoints of some other Christians, I have about five posts trying to formulate in my mind. They keep running into each other and I cannot seem to separate them all.
So, that being said, I thought I would begin with just a few statements. Maybe I will expound upon them in the future, maybe not. According to some, these statements mean I am bound in legalism. Well, if that is your opinion so be it. I have a very different view on legalism than those who like to throw the term at anyone they disagree with. That being said, if these statements make me legalistic or deem me a heretic, well then, pray the Lord will reveal that to me. I am open to correction. However, I pray that those reading will examine their hearts before throwing those labels so callously about.
- That the Bible is the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit and is without error. It is the revelation of God’s truth and is authoritative and infallible. It is NOT merely a tool for Christians to use!
- We should call sin, sin, rather than minimizing it by calling it unhealthy lifestyle choices.
- Church leaders are gifts to the church, called by God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and to serve the body. They are for the most part sincere in their calling and servant-hood. They should be respected, not vilified and demonized as power hungry, spiritual abusers just because one does not always agree or does not like the convicting of the Holy Spirit and does not want to submit.
- The moral law still applies to us today. Jesus coming to fulfill the law did not rip it from the pages of the Bible and all scripture is profitable for teaching and reproof. The law does not save us but there is still a calling, I would even dare to say an obligation, to live as Christ. Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.”
- Freedom in Christ does not give us liberty to live anyway we desire. We are not simply totally free. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death. We have freedom WITHIN the boundaries of Christ. We are slaves to Christ.
- Those who most often cry out against judgment seem to be prone to dishing it out.
Yesterday, I spent five hours at the hospital. Between an OB appointment, an occupational therapy appointment for my injured thumb, scheduling, the lab, lunch, and the pharmacy it was a really long day. Of course having two different doctor appointments I received the, “How many children do you have?” question more than once. It tends to be a generic conversation starter. Of course my answer always brings a strong reaction. Sometimes I am blessed with someone who even though shocked is happy and excited for us. Sometimes I get a not so happy response. Often times though, once they get past the shock and have determined through questioning if I am really serious, they ask other questions. “So, how many are you going to have?” or “Is this the last one?” or “Are you done now?” or even “How old are you?”
My answer is always, “Whatever the Lord blesses us with we will be happy to receive.” But, I often wonder what gives people the idea that it is acceptable to question me on that front. They would likely be offended if one questioned them in such a manner. I do realize though that our family is not the accepted norm in our country and that most are truly interested. Sometimes in shock, tact can go out the window. I acknowledge that and try to be gracious in my answers even if I may be a little annoyed.
When I spoke with my hubby yesterday, he said he an interesting encounter on this same issue. He had an Afghan, who is working as an interpreter where hubby is, approach him. He mentioned that he had heard that we were expecting our 10th child. The man was amazed. He was really in shock. He said, “That is normal here but not in America.” My hubby assured him that we were not the only ones but that he was correct and that it was not normal in America. The man proceeded to ask him if it was because of our religion. My hubby told him that yes, in a way, it was. That children are a gift and blessing of the Lord and who was he to reject that gift. Hubby said the man just stared at him in amazement for several moments. He could not believe he was hearing those words from an American! It has also opened the doors for my hubby to share the gospel of Christ with the man.
The blessing of our children has opened doors even in Afghanistan. Pray for those that my hubby encounters, no matter the nationality(there are a lot of Americans that need the Gospel too), that the Gospel of Christ will be advanced.
Thank you Lord for the blessing of children and for the opportunities to give witness, praise, honor, and glory to your name.
A people who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted because their countercultural lifestyles stick out like a sore thumb. When family patterns are reformed, it is so public that everyone notices. Family, friend, co-worker and church member are easily offended by family reforms. – Scott Brown
I have read a few blogs lately that have been discussing legalism. They were actually good posts for a change! Legalism is one of those topics that I hate to even mention because it tends to bring out the nastiness in people.
I have found that it is often a word used to try and discredit another and their views or actions if one does not agree with them.
One may see the actions of another and deem them as being legalistic without taking the time to understand why one is doing what they are doing or truly knowing the individual’s heart in the matter. That is the difference between us earthly, sinful creatures and the Holy Lord.
1 Samuel 16:7b “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
It is so easy for us to look at others and think that if so and so does this or that they are sinning based on our own sinful past and struggles. Here is an excerpt from Your Sacred Calling on the subject.
Entire blogs are set up “warning” other Christians how they may spot legalistic churches or groups, or even how to judge whether or not a friend is a legalist. Most of their warnings aren’t based on Scripture or reason; most of their complaints are based upon their personal testimonies or experiences from when they, themselves, were legalists.
To me, that’s the most disturbing part. Since when are we called to superimpose our own past sins or judgmental attitudes on others? If you were a legalist at some point in your life, and thought that anyone who (insert extra-biblical teaching here) was sinning, then own your own sin; but, don’t get it in your head that all your brothers and sisters in Christ who seem to “look like you did” on the outside have the same sinful mindset on the inside!
Here are just a few examples I have personally experienced.
- One should never use a prayer book because it is rote and not personal communication.
- One should not read, quote, or adhere to confessions because they are works of men.
It can seem as if those who are continually calling for the life of grace in opposition to the life of what they perceive to be legalism is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. For one to automatically reject anything that they think might even hint at looking legalistic as being without any merit or good without consideration, is a legalism of its own.
Zealously holding to and sharing one’s convictions also can lead to opposition. Here are comments I have heard when asked to share a conviction in which someone else may disagree.
- One can only be zealous about their convictions if they do not offend me or they will at least acknowledge that my point of view is just as true.
- If one is too zealous about something I do not agree with then they are just pushing their views upon me.
My response is:
I am called to be zealous for the Lord and the things he has taught me through his Word and Spirit. I am not called to validate what another believes on the matter. Just because I do not validate and deem as just as true as my beliefs does not mean that I am pushing my beliefs upon another. I can validate that one does believe differently and I can come to understand their beliefs and still see them as inconsistent with scripture.
I am willing to listen to differing opinions on things, to hear one out, and to seek the Lord on a matter. But if I do not come to the same conviction as you does not mean that I am hard-headed, legalistic, self-righteous, or prideful. It simply means that your words have not come in agreement with what the Spirit and the Word have taught me thus far in my journey with the Lord.
Here is an excerpt from Like a Warm Cup of Coffee:
You are *not* a legalist if by faith and love for the Lord you obey His law – people will tell you you are, but you are not.
You are a legalist if you keep God’s law in order to gain or keep your salvation.
You are *not* a legalist if you believe professing Christians should obey the Lord, with love & humilty.
You are a legalist if you believe that your obedience makes you more acceptable to God than others who are not on your level.
You are *not* a legalist if you have high standards, or if you are more precise in your understanding of obedience.
You are a legalist if you think your higher standards make you more righteous.
You are *not* a legalist ifyou exhort others to obey God’s word.
You are a legalist if you bind men’s consciences to man’s tradition.
Another problem in this area is where people draw the line on what is called “personal conviction”. Today in the church is the thinking that what is right for one may not be right for another and we should just let each live as God calls accordingly. I agree to a point. However, there are some things that scripture does clearly teach. Many disagree on to what degree or how explicit things need to be taught before they are deemed important enough to really take a stand on. What one person sees as a non-essential another may see as being something that is very clearly taught in scripture.
We must always keep in mind that spiritual maturity or lack there of plays a large role in these matters. Not to hold ourselves up or to diminish another but we need to be cognizant of that fact. If we are aware and considerate of this truth then we can be evaluating our own hearts and move forward in an understanding and gracious manner(not necessitating an all encompassing acceptance). As Christians we are all traveling that narrow road which leads to Christlikeness. There is freedom along this path but the path is still the narrow way. We are all in different places and at different maturity levels along this journey. This is something to keep in mind.
Most often in discussions of legalism there are two sides. Those sides are the one who is perceived to be bound by legalism and the grace talker. The sad thing is that the grace talker is usually so busy trying to point out the other’s legalistic bondage that they do not realize they are bound as well and they forget to exercise the grace that they are proclaiming. They want grace extended to them in the manner of validating their beliefs (which are possibly less restrictive) and coming to agreement with them without extending that same grace to that one who does not, cannot and/or will not validate.