by Walter Olsen
Most of us would agree that we are living in very confusing times. Many don’t know where to turn for direction and comfort. As a result, many struggle along in confusion not knowing where they are going or what will happen to them. Of course, this is true for everyone in a general way. We don’t know what a day will bring forth for any of us. Still, there are things we can know that will give us Godly direction and comfort. The things I am referring to are the various truths that are revealed to us in God’s Word, the Bible.
The following are some things that will help us find our way in the difficult times we live in. Actually, they are essential if we would know God’s peace and provision in any time. So, what are some of the things we need to know for ourselves?
The way of salvation. Of course, the truth of the Bible must be acknowledged here. So many have imagined their own way of salvation but, if persisted in, will lead to their spiritual ruin. The salvation the Bible teaches includes the following:
It is personal. Each person must decide for himself what he will do about the salvation of his soul. No one else can decide for him. Yes, others may and should pray for him, provide him with a personal testimony of salvation, and maybe share some pertinent literature. But each person must decide for himself what he will do with God’s provision of His Son to die for our sins. Salvation is always a personal decision. Note the following verses:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
It is a Person. Salvation is only and always the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone died for our sins. He alone was raised from the dead. He alone ascended back to the Father in heaven. Many today present other avenues of salvation, such as good works, a church rite, or a well lived life. All of these things only confuse and detract from God’s provision for our salvation. Jesus Himself said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47).
It is a possession. These are all related truths, but there is some special emphasis. To possess eternal life, one must possess the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Apostle John said, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I Jn. 5:11-12).
I say all of the above because there is much confusion as to how one really becomes a Christian. It is a subject that Satan does his best to distort and confuse. Remember Paul’s warning, “And marvel not; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Cor. 11:14-15). It is not religion that Satan hates, but the Person of Jesus Christ Himself. If he can distort the true way of life, he has gained a great victory for himself but at the great loss of all who are deceived by his schemes.
A practical application of this is that we must be very careful who we listen to regarding the truth of salvation. It is crucially true for ourselves but also for our families. To be misled regarding the matter of salvation is the greatest of all deceptions. A true minister of Jesus Christ presents Him as the Son of God who alone paid for our sins when He died on the cross and that He was raised again from the dead. See I Cor. 1:1-4.
The living of the Christian life. For many, the living of the Christian life is very unclear; it is not well defined for them. The truth is, if people are not really saved, they can never comprehend the Christian life because living the Christian life is dependent upon the presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. Indeed, He is the Christian life. “For I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). So, the living of the Christian life is not a matter of following the dictates of a particular church or trying our best to do the things that please God.
The living of the Christian life begins with the matter of having received the life of God; it is a life that can be found no where else except in God Himself. When we receive the Lord as our personal Savior, we receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is He who teaches us the truth of the Bible. As Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (Jn. 14:26). God uses many ways to communicate His truth to people, such as pastors, friends, tracts, books, etc., but still it is the Holy Spirit who makes the truth real to those who hear. Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is a book of knowledge, but not necessarily a book of truth to those who hear.
It is very important for those who are new believers to sit under the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, the Bible. God has ordained the local church to be the primary place for learning the truth of His Word. Of course, we learn much from other believers, the books we read, and the fellowship of true believers in many places. The local church, however, is God’s creation for the propagation of His Word. Sometimes this is confusing to people because God refers to all believers of this age as belonging to the church, that is the body of Christ. Jesus said to Peter, “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The body of Christ, then, includes all believers from the time of Pentecost to the time of the rapture, that is, the calling of the church to heaven. As one reads the various epistles, he will note that they are written to a specific group of believers in a specific location. They are local churches.
Perhaps another note is needed here. The local church is made up of people who are believers, those who have already trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Only in such a church can one find genuine Christian fellowship and begin to grow spiritually.
A true believer cannot ignore the place and importance of the local church in his or her life. The local church is so many important things to the believer. It is a place to learn, to serve, to fellowship, to give to the Lord’s work and many other things. No local church is all it should or could be. Its members are, after all, humans who still have the remnants of the old nature. If one expects perfection in a local church, he will never find it, but still it is God’s provision for all believers today!
As to some specifics. The Christian life includes hearing the Word of God, believing the Word of God, obeying and applying the truths of God’s Word. It begins with a yieldedness to the Spirit of God. It is a matter of walking in the Spirit. As Paul said, “This I say then, ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh’” (Gal. 5:16).
Unfortunately, the living of the Christian life is for many the adherence to the traditions of one’s church or family. It is not that these things are necessarily wrong, but that often they are devoid of true spiritual life. They are often practiced and passed on to new generations with no relation to the truth of the Word of God and thus are without spiritual life.
Dealing with the obstacles of living the Christian life. Living the Christian life is the great blessing of the believer, but it is not without obstacles along the way. There is the obstacle of the world system about us. The world system is all in the world that is not of God. It is the system of which Satan is the head. It is filled with things that attract the natural man, that is, the man who does not know Jesus Christ as Savior. The attractions of the world are such things as fame, wealth, power, position, and many other things. It is not that these things are necessarily wrong, but if they dominate our lives, they are wrong because they become a god in themselves. They are things that may keep even the believer from seeing and appropriating the truths of God’s word to his own heart and life. Thus the Apostle John warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15).
Sometimes there is the rejection by others who do not know the Lord and thus there is a price to pay in one’s walking with God. People who do not know the Lord cannot really understand the believer’s relationship and walk with God. To satisfy their own way of thinking, they often resort to the rejection and ridicule of those who do believe.
Knowing what to think and believe as the world changes about us. World conditions are much different than they were ten years ago, even one year ago, sometimes even an hour ago! What are we to make of all of this? Does it just happen all by itself or is there a plan and scheme behind all that is going on? Certainly if one does not know the Lord and the truths of the Bible, he may well be overwhelmed and afraid. For him, this world is all there is! The struggle then is to hang unto all he has and do his best to figure for himself what in the world is going on!
For the believer, the one who is indeed walking with God, everything is different for him. What is going on in the world is not really a surprise to him. He knows this situation of the world would come. He may be surprised, though, that it is coming on so quickly and so forcefully. A study of the Scripture reveals that ungodly living and power would one day overwhelm the world. While the world from the fall in the garden has been given to sin and corruption, such sin and corruption as we read in Romans 1:18-22 and II Tim. 3:1-5 will come into much greater prominence in the last days. The evidences of sin will be in full bloom all over the world. Actually, the world is heading to a fuller rejection of God in all facets. What was once precious to even unbelievers is now being ridiculed, rejected, and destroyed!
Of course, this blatant expression of real evil is distressing to believers as well, but there is a difference. Believers have a hope that is beyond this world. Their greatest hope is in their personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They know they are personally safe in Him no matter what happens to the world we live in.
Believers, those who know the truth of the Bible, are also aware of the coming of the Lord Jesus for the church in what is called the rapture, the catching away of all believers home to heaven to be forever with their Savior. Believers take great comfort in the word of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Fathers’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3).
So, knowing the confusion and spiritual bankruptcy of the world about us, the believer still has a glorious hope! His hope is not dependent upon the circumstances of the world but upon the character and promises of God. The hope of the world will one day be seen for what it is, a totally false hope. While believers will be enjoying the glories of heaven, unbelievers will be suffering for their rejection of the only One who could have saved them.
Standing firm in one’s faith. Faith is not a nebulous things that can be defined apart from something to have faith in. Faith always has an object. For the believer, his or her faith is in the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Word of God.
Sometimes though, the believer’s faith may wander from its moorings. An important part of the believers’s spiritual growth is his or her discipleship, their learning from the Word and their continuing walk with the Savior they have come to trust for salvation. Where there is little or no spiritual growth, wandering is the expected result. To wander in one’s faith is not to lose one’s salvation, but to lose the hope, joy, and peace of one’s salvation.
Standing firm in one’s faith includes at least the following:
A daily reading of the Bible, not as a textbook as such, but as necessary food for one’s soul. Without a daily reading of the Scriptures, one’s faith will diminish and lose its fervency. Life itself will most likely become drab and unfulfilled. If one recalls his fervency and joy when first saved, his present life of the lack of spiritual food will become all too evident.
Some time spent in prayer with God alone. It’s good to pray with others, but it very helpful to spend time with God alone in prayer. Note the words of Jesus to believers, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:6).
The dealing with any known sin in one’s life. Though one is a believer, he still has to deal with sin in his life. It would be nice if the believer never had to sin again once he was saved, but such is not the case. Though he is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, he still must deal with the old nature which is totally corrupt. There is no good in the old nature, but it is still very powerful. Paul recognized this when he said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do...For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing...” (Rom. 7:15, 18).
However, the good news is that the believer does not have to live in defeat! He can live victoriously because of the sacrifice Jesus made for the forgiveness of his sins. The Apostle John gives the way to victory, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate [lawyer, defender] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I Jn. 2:1).
The above are just a few of the blessings and challenges of living the Christian life. My purpose in writing this article is to remind all of us of the significance of the truth presented, the truth of the Bible. Many have never found the way of true spiritual life. Many others have grown cold and indifferent to the truth of God’s Word. May God awaken us to the reality of the true Christian life. The well-being of our future depends on it!!
March has been a good and interesting month. We have had a couple of rather mild snowfalls, enough to shovel and make the roads slippery.
On March 12th, we saw our first Robins! It is always such a blessing to see the spring birds return and to hear their cheerful songs.
We were privileged to help several family members celebrate their birthdays in March – much cake and ice cream!
On March 14, we were privileged to have Dennis and Peggy Robinson present their work with The Continental Baptist Mission of Rockford, MI in Sunday school. They both spoke and they both did an excellent job of presenting their ministry. While they help local churches with their building needs, they reminded us that their most important work is with people. They were such a blessing to our church, First Baptist of Woodville, when we built our new building.
We were also privileged to have Jerry Benjamin, an itinerant speaker, with us for a men’s breakfast at the Wahlquist farm on March 27 and for all the services on Sunday. Jerry’s messages are Biblical, distinct, and very helpful.
A good reminder for us in these days is David’s prayer, “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psa16:11). There may be some hardships and suffering along the way, but the joy of the Lord can never be taken from the believer. This is a reminder that we need to be walking in fellowship and harmony with Him so that His joy and presence may be a reality in our lives.
If anyone is interested, I have several articles that I have written on the believer’s walk with God. If interested, please let me know. There is no charge for anything I have written.
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