- - Endorsed
- - Indifferent
- - Contested
|The Nashville Statement
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.
My complete profile...
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.
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.
- Carla Rolfe
| He has given us His Spirit
1 John 4:13 - By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit [ESV]
Yesterday I explored 1 John 2:3-6, which speaks of one of the ways that we can know that we have come to know Christ: We are a witness to the obedience that Christ produces in us. If we do not have this witness, we do not know Christ.
Here John gives us another way of ascertaining whether or not we truly know Christ: the presence (or absence) of the Spirit of Christ within us.
John does not teach that we have come to know Christ because we can somehow "sense" the Spirit of Christ within us. His presence is not sensual (i.e. not something perceived by/through the senses). Our senses are natural and can only sense the natural, but His presence is spiritual. Our senses do not and cannot register the presence of the Spirit of Christ in a believer.
How then are we to know that we have the Spirit of Christ in us?
The answer is right in this chapter - and ends up being a very easy, and quite practical test of whether or not the Spirit of Christ is in you. Consider the truth of this statement, which precedes the quote above by a few verses:
1 John 4:7-8 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. [ESV]
In this text, we are told that the love that we are to have for one another is not something we generate, it is something that comes from God - such that John can say (and does say) that those who love one another know God, and those that do not, do not know God.
The word love is not describing the kind of affection our culture uses the (English) word love to describe. The text is not saying having an affection for other people comes from God. Love may be accompanied by affection, but it neither requires it nor depends upon it. The word for love does not describe an emotion - it describes a state of being. God is not "affection" but He is selflessly charitable - which is the better meaning behind the word.
The test here is not whether or not you feel affection one another - but whether or not you are selflessly charitable to one another - regardless of how you "feel". This kind of love comes only from God.
Consider the secular mindset when it comes to love. Love is the deepest, most sacred affection. You are willing to die for someone else because of it. The question is why? Well, because you really, really, want to. Why do you want to? Because you really, really like that person. You like them so much that it would hurt you to see them hurt - you'd rather hurt yourself than have them hurt.
Guess what? That is all (beginning to end) selfishness. Oh what great things we can coax ourselves to do because we selfishly are driven to avoid our own emotional pain. We want others to feel good because that makes us feel good - and we want to feel good, which is why we pursue it. If my motive (in whole or in part) is to avoid something personally unpleasant - or to experience some emotional satisfaction in seeing the results of my efforts - I am not acting selflessly - I am working to produce the effect I desire, by doing what it takes to produce that effect - and whatever benefit anyone else gets from the effort - I ultimately benefit too - and I am motivated to do it, at the root level, by the benefit I see in doing it.
The man who, planning a sweet surprise for his wife, arrives at home a few minutes before his wife is due, and rushes to place on the table, in view of the door, her favorite ice cream treat - that she is about to see when she comes home. That man may think he is serving his wife, but let her come home an hour late without a phone call - and we see what is really going on. As the minutes tick the husband begins to wonder where she is. Why isn't she home? He begins to get frustrated - even angry as the ice cream melts, and the minutes tick by. When she walks through the door an hour late, she doesn't find the man who was waiting to surprise her for the joy of her surprise - we find an angry man whose surprise was "ruined" by her tardiness, who wants to blame her for ruining "his" surprise.
Selfishness is often dressed up as selflessness if in serving ourselves we serve others. But love in the sense the Apostle is writing about is like that which Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." [ESV]
According to Paul (in the same passage) people could give away all their wealth and possessions - which would seem to be a selfless act of genuine love - but even such a thing as this could be done without love - that is, it could be done to serve yourself in some way. Even choosing to sacrifice your own life could be done without the love that Paul was writing about - and that John (in our text) is likewise describing.
Acts of selflessness spring from the Spirit of Christ within us, like "living" water from an artesian well. You don't draw water out of an artesian well - it is a spring that pours water out apart from any effort of your own. Since it does not originate in you, but in the Spirit of Christ, it is not something you muster up - it is something that you respond to. You're provoked by the Spirit of Christ within you to act - and the provocation is entirely alien to the "you" that you are at your core.
You're walking down the street and you see what looks to be a drunk sleeping face down in a pool of his own vomit. He is injured, and bloody, but you think - serves him right, he's a drunkard, and nothing I do for him now is going to change anything. He'll probably be violent if I wake him. I may get some of his blood or vomit on me if I wake him. There are other people around, one of them will check in on him - and you walk by - but somewhere inside you are provoked. Nothing about helping this person is inviting to your character, yet you feel a compulsion - which your character does its best to souse - to stop and see that all is well.
Helping when you are not going to get anything out of it - is what it means when Paul writes that love does not seek its own.
Our Lord used such an example in describing what it means to "love" your neighbor. There was no great affection for the man laying on the side of the road in either of those men who found themselves a witness to the man's needs that day. Not one of the three men in our Lord's parable was provoked by an affection for the man in need. But one man acted in love when he regarded the man as he would have regarded himself - and did for him what he would have done for himself had he found himself lying on the side of the road. That kind of love does not come from us - it comes from God.
That is what John tells us. If you find that kind of love in you, motivating you (however successful) to act, it is the love of God (i.e. God's love) in you through the Spirit of Christ - and it bears witness to the presence of Christ's Spirit in you.
If this isn't in you, then you don't know Christ, regardless of whatever you call yourself or whatever your faith means to you.
One word of caution: No one is perfectly consistent in loving others. We are still sinners, even though Christ is in us. That means that on one day the love of God in the Spirit of Christ within us may find some perfect expression in our willing obedience - but on other days, in our immaturity we may suppress our Lord's love within us as we capitulate to those sinful desires that remain within us.
Someone in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells ( i.e. a genuine Christian) is marked not by perfect success (but certainly by some success), in the same way that a good soldier is not marked by perfect success on the battlefield, but by holding their ground, and pressing onward no matter how poorly the battle is going. Christians do not abandon the war against sin in their life, because Christ in them does not - and cannot abandon that war. The person who abandons the war against sin, is not a Christian, and never was.
That is what it mean to have the Spirit of Christ - it means we have the Spirit of Him who over came both sin and death in this world. Just as the man dressed in a life preserver may be swamped by the waves of the tempest he endures - yet no matter how many times he is thrust beneath the surface, yet on account of that which is preserving his life - he surfaces again and again - not because of his own strength, but because He is clothed in someone who has overcome death, death no longer has dominion over him. Though he falls a dozen times, he rises again.
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