Monday, March 19, 2007

Jars of Clay -

Here's an example of honest Christian art, Robyn. Jars of Clay sang this at the concert.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

what ship are you on?

The sermon series I've been listening to lately by Alistair Begg on Hebrews has inspired a lot of pondering on my part..What does someone steeped in the Reformed tradition do with passages that warn us against falling away, passages like "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first.", Heb. 3:13 or,"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth no sacrifice for sins is left...", or, " Always watch and pray that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."?It has always been easy for me to sort of brush away these passages as not being for me. After all I believe in the perseverance of the saints. If I'm told that it is impossible that my ship will sink and then I am told where the life boats are I won't pay a lot of attention, will I? So why should I listen to the warnings of God about falling away?
The 'P' in the reformed acronym ,TULIP, perseverance of the saints, in my experience has resulted in a lot of presuming on God's grace while living how we please and I have been guilty of that more than I care to admit. Alistair Begg says it's nice to talk of the perseverance of the saints but the definition of saints is those who persevere to the end. Wait a minute. Then it is simply the perseverance of those who persevere. Not exactly comforting. I remember reading a book by Philip Johnson, Darwin on Trial. He called the term "survival of the fittest "a tautology (a use of words that repeats something already stated). What is the scientific definition of the fittest? Those that survive . So one of the foundational statements of Darwinism is the survival of those that are the survivors. Not exactly profound.
So what do I make of this? I feel like an ant on the rim of a glass; I'm going in circles and getting nowhere. I know that God promises that none shall pluck his own out of his hand and that none shall separate us from the love of God. So once his child always his child. I guess it goes like this-We still have the assurance that the ship won't sink, but the warning is to be sure we are on the right ship. One of the signs that we are on the right ship is that we persevere through trials and temptations. The one ship heading to destruction and the other one heading to the Celestial city look an awful lot alike. If you're on the ship, "Hypocrisy" you might find the people on the ship doing much the same things as those on the celestial ship so you might have to do some more careful examining to make sure what ship you're on. I'm sure Satan wouldn't have named the ship "Hypocrisy" but something more like "Celestial II". So, we should not automatically presume we are one of those who will persevere. We need to be on guard. So, "see to it,brothers and sisters that none of you has an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God".
Begg gives 3 ways to''make our calling and election sure":
Fix your eyes on Jesus
Guard your heart
Encourage one another
I won't go into these but it is worth listening to. You can go to .

One big question that begs an answer is, "How do I know if I'm slipping away?" Begg lists 10 signs
1. forgetfulness of God and the fact that one day you'll meet Him.
2.gradual loss of private prayer, private holiness, sorrow over sin.
3. avoidance of company of lively Christians
4. disinterest in public worship. (doesn't do much for you.)
5. picking faults in others, or in the church, or doctrine to justify self
6. more interested in godless entertainment (music, movies, magazines)
7. going back to old relationships or habits
8. secret sins become more and more frequent; fleshly lusts hold you in their grip.
9. start to play with sin more openly, loss of shame
10. Eventually you are lost. Some will openly admit it and leave the church others keep going fooling themselves or others

I like the analogy Tim used of the weightlifter in his last blog entry @ , and I'd like to add a little weightlifting scenario of my own: A group of young men join a gym. They all take out lifetime memberships, enthusiastic to make weightlifting a lifetime commitment. How do we know if their commitment is real? Time will tell. Only he who keeps going to the gym years later had the true commitment.
"So if you think you are standing firm, be careful lest you fall." I Cor. 10:12. Jesus said, "Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord...Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!"
Strikes a bit of fear in the heart, doesn't it? I know it does mine. It's supposed to.