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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Obedience to the Lord
In 1 John 2:3-6 we read:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. [ESV]
Not sure you're a Christian?  Here is the acid test: Are you keeping what Christ has commanded?

It (morbidly) fascinates me how many readers consider themselves to be sufficiently keeping the commandments (plural) of Christ - who couldn't name even a half dozen of our Lord's commandments off the top of their head.

Make no mistake, John wants to assure his readers that they are Christian - but John doesn't lay as a foundation of their assurance such fluffy nothings as having earnestly prayed a prayer, or having assented to the truths of the gospel.  Believing that the gospel is true doesn't save anyone - that just means they've been enlightened.  Judas was certainly enlightened - but that enlightenment didn't mean he was saved.  You also may be enlightened - that is, you may believe wholeheartedly that Jesus is the Messiah, and that salvation can only be found in Him.  That is certainly the good news that leads to salvation - but salvation isn't had simply by acknowledging the news to be true.

The assurance John directs us to look for is practical - are we obeying Christ or not?  If not, we aren't Christians.

Can you (off hand) name even a dozen things Christ commands in the New Testament?  This isn't a school test - but good gravy - how can you know if you're obeying Christ's commands if you can't even name a few?

To help you out, let's go over a few.

Christ commands you to Repent:
Matthew 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [ESV]

Luke 13:3: No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. [ESV]
The word translated from the Greek into English as repent literally means to change your thinking and/or behavior.  The problem with that definition is that most people stop with that and think that all you need to do in order to repent is change your thinking and/or behavior.

But the repentance our Lord calls us to, is not a change in thinking or behavior "in general"- it is a very specific call to repentance - the call is for sinners to repent (c.f. Luke 5:32).

If we were not so collectively sluggish in our understanding, I could probably leave it at that - but a great many people out there think of sin as "doing something  bad" rather than, "rebelling against God's rule over them" - so that when they see that sinners are "called to repent" - they conclude that Jesus commands them to "change their thinking and behavior" about doing bad things, and thus start doing good things.

But because sin is rebellion against God - the repentance you and I are called to is one that involves changing our thinking and behavior as it pertains to God's rule over us.  Said simply, the repentance that we are called to is a radical departure from our former way of life - where we did whatever seemed right to us - now we are called to not only know the will of God (c.f. Ephesians 5:18) but to do seek it out and to do it.

Any Christian who neglects this call to an ongoing life of repenting - that is a life of learning from the scriptures what God requires of us, and committing ourselves with our whole heart to doing his will over and against (i.e. instead of) our own will - is by no means keeping this (foundational!) command of Christ.

This next command is just another way of framing the command above:  Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.[ESV]
It helps to understand at least this much concerning the Kingdom of God:
Luke 17:20-21: "Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” [ESV]
Which ever kingdom you were born into  - that was your kingdom, and it's king was your king.  The Kingdom of God is not an earthly Kingdom - it has no borders, and it's citizens are citizens because they have chosen to accept the Lordship of Christ - that is, they have chosen to obey Christ rather than to obey themselves in whatever they choose to do.

Thus to seek Christ's kingdom is to seek to Christ's rule in your life.  Our Lord puts this plainly in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me Lord and not do what I tell you?" [ESV] - you are not in the kingdom, nor are you seeking to be in the Kingdom, if you are not doing actively seeking to obey what Christ calls you to do.

Christianity isn't about making God happy with the things we do (like going to church, calling our selves Christians, and maybe even reading our bible and praying) - it is about willingly making ourselves subject to all that Christ commands of us.  Those who are in the Kingdom of Christ willingly subject themselves to the rule of Christ - going so far as to seek out what Christ would have us do.

Next up is to: Deny Ourselves / Take Up Our Crosses/ and to Follow Christ.
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [ESV]

Matthew 10:38, And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.[ESV]

Mark 8:34, And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [ESV]
Once again - this is practically the same as the command to repent or the command to seek first the kingdom of God.

Denying yourself means you are no longer the ruler of yourself.  You stop pursuing what you want as a requisite step in pursuing what Christ wants for you.  You stop seeking for yourself the things you want to get from this world, and start seeking what Christ desires you to do.  This is what Paul means by putting to death the deeds of the body (c.f. Romans 6) - it means you stop living for yourself and the things that you want - To deny yourself is to live selflessly (serving others) rather than selfishly (serving yourself).

If you're not seeking this - trying to do this in your life - you aren't obeying the commands of Christ.

Taking up your cross.
Jesus (like every other condemned prisoner) was forced to carry his own cross to the site of his execution (Our Lord was too weak to carry the cross at one point, and Simon of Cyrene carried it for him).  The imagery of carrying your cross perfectly portrays doing something you certainly don't want to do - doing that work which assists your own demise.  Not that Christ demands you to kill your own body (suicide is murder, and you are not commanded to murder yourself) - but rather in the qualifying sense supplied - to deny yourself the liberty to do as you please even as a condemned criminal is not doing his own will in carrying the very cross upon which his life is about to be spent to the place of execution.

Following Jesus
Just as Jesus did not come to live his life according to his own desires, but lived in utter obedience to the will of God his Father - so we are called to follow Christ's example and live our lives in obedience to Christ, denying our own wills in order to obey the will of Christ.

That's just 3 commands.  -- How're you doing so far?

Listen I am not inclined to coddle believers as some people are.

It is plain from the scriptures that some of us who think we are saved are not really saved.  How do we know we're saved?  By the evidence of our salvation - one such evidence John gives us in the passage quoted above in 1 John 2 - Simply answer the question put to us - are we keeping the commandments of Christ?

If we've truly repented, truly sought the rule of Christ in our life - truly war against our own desires, that we might not be slaves to our own will, but submitting ourselves to the will of Christ by denying our own will, taking up our cross, and following our Lord in the path of obedience He has walked before us -- I'd say we have good reason to be assured of our faith.

If on the other hand we don't see this pattern in our life - but tell ourselves in its absence that it is okay, because our sins are under the blood of Christ - because we said a prayer once, and having been enlightened by the truth we have begun attending a church and our lives are a little more moral now than they were before - we have no real ground for any confidence in our own salvation - and any coddling I might add for those saints who are merely struggling in this area - would be used by those tares who would grasp at my words only to fortify themselves all the more in their neglect of our great salvation.

I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded - not by the intensity of my surety, or the integrity of my most earnest opinion about how sincere I am in wanting to be a Christian - but rather by the such evidence as John tells me to look for - I say, I am persuaded that my Lord is able to keep to the end what I've committed unto Him.  My persuasion rests not on what I have done, but on the evidence of what is being done in me.

I want you to be able to say that, because you also are keeping the commandments of Christ - not in order to prove to yourself that you are saved, or in order to get saved - but because you are enlightened, and have come to know that the response to enlightenment is obedience - and have found yourself desiring to - even always returning to - an obedience that you cannot long depart from.
posted by Daniel @ 12:17 PM  
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