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12 September 2010

How Do You Know? Part 1

My friend Leroy and I have lately been considering the statement “Little actions reveal big things about someone’s character.” This thought was prompted by the observation of someone who’s a vocally-professing Christian being a total poo-head in a checkout lane at a store. Bad day? Probably. But that one event enabled us to look at ourselves. “Little” things in our own lives absolutely reveal major truths about who we really are.

If we’re sitting at a table together and I tell you I’m eating ice cream but you see a plate of oysters in front of me, you’re either going to think I’m joking (and you’ll marvel at my feeble attempt at humor) or stupid, or both. If I tell you over the phone that I’m eating ice cream and you happen to walk into the same restaurant I’m in and see a plate of oysters in front of me, you’re going to wonder why I lied to you.

It’s interesting that what we do in secret seems to carry more weight than what we know people are watching.

What do our actions and lifestyle reveal? Remarkably, and a very heavy truth, is that these things offer evidence that can give proof of our salvation.

With that introduction, this begins a series of posts on, believe it or not, the assurance of salvation. It’s a big topic and I don’t feel especially qualified, other than being a follower of Jesus Christ, which is more than enough to make me want to dig in. Before accusing me of teaching any heretical concepts here, I urge you to stay with me through the series. See if the Word harmonizes with itself. See if I correctly “dissect” (“unpack” is the current trendy word) the truth found in the Word. If I’m off-base, humbly and gently call me out on it. If I overlook an important element, bring it up. False teaching is serious sin.

I encourage you to click on every link in these posts (the different-colored text you’ll see), because a link will typically reference supporting Scripture passages.

1. One kind of tree can’t produce another kind of fruit (James 3:12)

And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
(James 3:10-12, NLT)

James doesn’t leave his first sentence in verse 12 as a rhetorical question. The answer is simple: “No.” His rhetorical question in James 2:14, though, has the same answer: “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

Here endeth the first lesson. It leaveth a lot of things unanswered, and I hope to cover those things in the next several posts.

Questions? Observations?

IMPORTANT: If you talk about specific situations, my request is that you address observations about your own life; not about the lives of others. What I see in Scripture is that while we’re not prohibited from judging others in the Church, the overwhelming majority of instruction on the life of a Christ-follower is intended for the reader to take to heart for himself or herself.


Preston N said...

Wow Dean what a topic and indeed this will be extracting "worms from a can". I have my own opinions on this important topic, but I usually address this topic by starting with the question "What is salvation?". Depending on how one answers this question will often give way to how they view this topic. So I guess I would ask "What IS salvation?"

Dean Lusk said...

It is a pretty daunting topic!

You're great about making sure that you talk with people in an apples-to-apples manner. Very good point, good question.

I believe that Romans 5:4-10 gives a definition better than one I'd give. "Short and to the point" is not always my forte.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.


Preston N said...

I most certainly agree with this verse, but I would go further by saying salvation is being in right RELATIONSHIP with our Lord and Savior, that results in our total submission of our heart and mind towards God.

Salvation is easily identified as a relationship by the very first and highest commandment that God gives us:

"Thou Shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all they heart, mind and strength" - for me salvation is all about a LOVE relationship with our God and King.

Would you agree with this definition also??

John King said...

Wow...I just wrote something on facebook simular to this.
My point was. most dont love Jesus with all of the heart everyday.
Sunday they do. They have a good messege. Meet with there friends for lunch. An than Monday comes. Where is there "Heart". By Thur alot are saying please friday hurry up. whats the difference between Fri. or any other day. If you love God Fully with all of your heart everyday no matter even if its a tough day. Everyday is Sunday. For me Salvation Preston. If I don't walk in his light after Ive invited him into my heart. My "Salvation could be in the lake of fire. My Salvation is all I have. Nothing else at all. If God asks me to come home tonight. I will go with a clear conscience. i've prayed an asked for forgiveness when I sin. I hope I dont sound "cocky". I dont know my true destination. Only God knows that. I strive to learn as much as I can as fast as i can do save my salvation. Does anything ive babbled make sense guys. This is a great topic and I would like to be told if im incorrect, or missing something else...john

Dean Lusk said...

Preston, I'm in agreement with that, yep. Salvation is a relationship that enables me to know and love the One who created me, but far more importantly, it's a relationship in which my Creator knows me. Doesn't matter how much I think I know Jesus ("Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord...' - Matthew 7:22) or know about Him. What matters is that He knows me. (Reminds me of a Paul Washer sermon I listened to recently.)

John, you said, "If I don't walk in his light after Ive invited him into my heart. My 'Salvation' could be in the lake of fire." That's not exactly what I'm going to wind up saying in these posts, but walking in His light is going to be the behavior of someone who knows Christ (and Christ knows him).

I want to let Scripture do all of the important speaking. I won't be able to say everything in one post, and it's likely I'll miss something along the way. That's where I'll be grateful as people chime in.

Preston N said...

Relationship is defined as:

1. the state of being related or interrelated
2. the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as
a : kinship
b : a specific instance or type of kinship
3. a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings

If we look as to what constitutes or allows me to have intimacy or a relationship with God, I would simply summarize by saying it is a changed heart or will (Born Again?). It is being in sweet submission towards God, it is living as he lives.

So if we all agree that Salvation is a relationship, then this bears asking "What can change my relationship with God?". "Is there nothing I could ever do that could alter or change my relationship with God once I have entered into that relationship?". Is the relationship static or is it suppose to change and grow? Can the relationship atrophy and die?? I'll leave these questions for now and would be interested in hearing from others. I'll of course give my 2 cents later :-)

John King said...

sorry im alittle confused. "Dean", is what I wrote completely wrong. Not just the part you pointed out. Maybe I wasn't as usual understood due to my poor articulation. My ithinking was, once im saved. I "must" do everything in my life to Glorify God. An when I fall I must ask for forgivness. By not doing any of this. I would not be walking in his light. That could destroy my Salvation. Is that still incorrect.
Preston, First the definition of relationship you wrote. To me thats a secular relationship. For me the Meanning you love God more than your spouse or anything. So i'd take the definition to the next level. my definintion would be. To Worship him only.
I think "Worship" basically covers all things as Moses said.
Lastly Preston, what can harm hurt or destroy your realtionship with God. Some might say how could God let my child die. Etc...My wife had cancer. Stage 2. Very Rare. She said, in the hospital one day. Why. I've done everything for God. Why would he let or give me cancer. God didnt give her cancer. The devil did. An he almost won Jeannie to his side. This leads to your next question. Does our relationship change. For me an my family. God has Blessed us in so many ways. Hes made it perfectly clear the more we love him. The more I pray an love him. The more he tells my heart. so my relationship with him. Is better. I can see an hear in my heart very clearly his messege. the closer you get, the more you have Faith. The stronger your Salvation becomes in my opinion. Again, I don't know my destiny. But I do pray its not the lake of fire.
am I on track at all....please dont hold back I want to learn

Preston N said...

John - notice I said "RIGHT Relationship". A "Right Relationship" is placing God at the center of our lives. When God commanded Israel to "Love the Lord thy God WITH ALL THY HEART, MIND AND STRENGTH" this is how one is in "Right Relationship". God deserves our total submission and the right to rule our lives not necessarily because of His expressed eternal power, creation priority or ability to save, gift or love us. It is founded in Who He is, not what He does. We are called not just to seek His hand (His works) but His heart – (His ways).

When you love God - is it His power you love? Is it his omniscience you love? Is it what he can do for you that you love? OR is it because of his Heart?

Therefore we love God because HE IS the HIGHEST Good in all of the universe. The very definition of Agape love -is a heartfelt supreme preference for the highest good of God and His related Universe, according to all their real, relative values.

Someone may choose as their “highest good” that which is not of greatest worth in God's evaluation; someone may prize and esteem something precious that which God condemns or hates. You can love the wrong thing John. "Love not the world" (I John 2:15) "men loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:19) "they loved the praise of men" (John 12:43) and "Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10) all use forms of agapao.

So I guess I would ask is it possible for a person who is in Right Relationship to loose their "LOVE" for God? Can we allow ourselves to CHOOSE (as Love is a choice) something lesser than God? The NT is constantly warning believers not to allow themselves to fall into the trap of placing something or someone else as our HIGHER GOOD. It is a possibility that we could return to placing ourselves as the HIGHEST GOOD rather than placing God as the Highest Good - we see this with Judas, King Saul and so many others in the Bible, who were once saved, but returned to loving themselves as the highest good, rather than God in his rightful place.

Preston N said...

By the way - not to hijack Dean's post, but a good article on this topic can be found here. It explains in detail what happens when a "Christian Sins" and addresses "Once Saved Always Saved":

John King said...

Thanks Preston for continueing to answer my questions. In my first post I said I must walk in his light. For me due to I dont as you can see articulate well. That means, yes love him for everything he is capable of. Hes is the most powerful in loving back. Before he was cruified he was beaten almost to the point of death. He went to that pole, took off his robe, an lifted his arms to be tied. He didnt struggle or beg for mercy. He did this "Willingly".
The blood that lay beneethe his feet from the beating. Is to represent he feels our pain. He has offered himself to indure the pain already for us. Some dont think about that point. Than he again "willingly" walked to where he was to be crucifide. A by stander helped him when he fell carrying the cross. Jesus didnt ask for help. He never once begged tried to get away, he went "willingly". That of course was for our sins.
So for me I love God for every reason you could come up with. not just one.
Your next point was I think you meant basically not to love anything except God. If im correct on that. When Moses finally came down from the mountain with the 10 commandents. What did he first see. Due to children may read this, lets just say a party for a golden cow. They were told rither worship God only. Or suffer Gods Hand. Alot of those people, chose the cow.
Not me. when younger yes. God was probally ranked third with me in love. But now I truly understand loving God more than your spouse or any material item. I think, for me. since being saved. Daily learning more. Repenting when I sin. Walk in his lite. I think now. He has completely blessed my family. If you saw my life 10 years ago. An compared them today. The signs would be mindboggling. I wasn't easy to be led to be saved. I didnt understand it. An those who attempted to explain it. It made me mad. If they were right. My family an friends who had passed. They were in the lake of fire. I know today that is where they are. It hurts me in a different way now.
So my slavation...Loving God more than anything else. My Faith being so strong even I could take on Golith. Lastly, Loving those around me no matter what an attempting to help them find Jesus into there heart.
Am I getting there yet...

Preston N said...

John - I certainly understand that you truly are fulfilling the greatest commandment. We are simply required by God to Love Him with our current amount of moral light and ability that we presently posses. "To much is given much is expected". Our love for God is never static but is always (or at least should be) constantly growing - as God shows us more about Himself and more about who we are - then we are simply required to respond to the "light" God has shown us. If we refuse to "Walk in the Light" then our light will begin to dim and then eventually become totally dark - a place we never want to be.

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