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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How to Stay Sheep

All we like sheep 

I love evangelism and I believe it is in our job description as Christians to carry the gospel to all the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:16-20). It's a beautiful thing that we have the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with the lost as the Holy Spirit changes their hearts. However, what happens after salvation? Do the sheep stay sheep? This year, I have shared with people close to me how much it breaks my heart to see people who have had the privilege to hear the truth of the gospel yet choose not to live by it. And I say this from a place of deep love and care, many of us declare we are saved but in reality, we really aren't because nothing changes. And to be honest, this scares me more.

Every time I pray for the "lost sheep", I pray even harder for the stray/sleeping ones. Why you may ask?
"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”- Mark 2:16
So let me give a quick illustration. In school, a teacher teaches his students a topic and assumes they understand except they come out to say otherwise right? In fact a good teacher may even go ahead to ask about their comprehension and if there are no objections, the next reasonable thing would be to test their knowledge right?
As long as we keep up appearances, go to church here and there, drop some money in the tithe basket and try to be "good", we have been able to convince ourselves that "we are saved" We put on a facade of salvation when on the inside we are sick and slowly rotting away (Matthew 23:27). We don't get help because we tell everyone we are healthy and even manage to act like it.`
So I pray harder for the stray because not many people are praying for them, not many people even know they are asleep. Help will come for the absolute ignorant (Matthew 24:14) but for those who have had their hearts hardened without even realizing it, things may be difficult.

The equation of salvation 
Dallas Willard in his book: "Renovation of the heart" (ROTH)  puts forward a break down of what salvation should look like. He makes a great point about salvation that is often being neglected today. The power of salvation is in two folds: Justification and Sanctification.

Justification- Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God."- Romans 5:1-2

"Death had reigned because of sin, which came into the human world by one man(Adam). Yes, but much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one Jesus Christ- Romans 5:17 PAR" ( Dallas Willard in ROTH) 

Sanctification- We are therefore justified that we may also be sanctified by and for Christ (God).

"We are given the option of walking in the new, different life (Ephesians 2:4-6) that is already "doing things" in us. "Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, " Paul said, "so we too might walk in newness of life". Walk in it, as a steadily moving force, not just feel it in spurts and starts." ( Dallas Willard in ROTH) 

The summary of all I have said above is simply, we have been justified by faith through Christ and the evidence of this is our renewed minds through sanctification-we are being continually transformed to be more like Christ. While justification is emphasized, sanctification is rarely touched on.These 2 things go hand in hand and if one is missing, one may need to check again if truly, salvation is present.

Questions to ask  
A friend sent a link to me recently of Timothy Keller charging us as Christians to check the condition of our hearts. I believe these are questions EVERY Christian should ask themselves frequently regardless of how long they have been saved- church leaders and members alike
  1. Is there evidence of God's presence in your life?
  2. Is there evidence of scripture changing you?
  3. Is there evidence of growing appreciation for God's mercy?
These questions are only stepping stones to open us up to many other questions. Some of the questions I also try to ask myself on a regular include: 
  1. Is God really Lord over my life ? 
  2. Do I truly desire more of God ? 
  3. Has my response to day-to-day life and livelihood changed to reflect Christ since I've been saved?
 The heart behind this is to make sure we are not at any point in our lives content with where we are at with God. It can always get better- our lives and relationship with Him is supposed to tend towards perfection with every passing day. 

No stones
I live you with a charge to check where you stand. The goal of this post isn't to throw stones or to even declare myself free of the possibility of going astray ( I have, many times but for the grace of God that brings me to awareness). I write this with a heavy heart as I see my brothers and sisters living in "pseudo-salvation" There is no shame in recognizing this and realizing that we all need each other to spur one another on. This race is not for one person, so please if you ever find yourself slipping away from the truth, SCREAM and CRY for help! it is better to accept that reality now than to realize it when it is too late. And if you know someone who you think is in this situation, please do all you can to help them get back on track. God help us all.
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness"- Matthew 7:21-23

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