The Sonshine
Walter Olsen
October 2020
 

Introduction

We have the truth of the Bible, but we sometimes wonder about our own walk with God. As believers, we often have many questions about Is it what it should be, is our life really pleasing to Him? How do we really know if we are growing in the Lord? Maybe we have all had the experience of traveling on the wrong road, a road that takes us to a place we don’t want to go to. Sadly, many believers have not yet found the right spiritual road to travel on. They are saved, but are still in the dark as to the true way of light.

Such a life is really not a life of satisfaction, of true blessing, or of ministry to the needs of others. We may know what the Bible says about our walk with God, but as we look at our lives, see so many inconsistencies. We can identify with Paul who said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Rom. 7:15). The result is, we often feel defeated and discouraged. We may become indifferent to the Lord and His Word and even going to church. 

The question, then, is, how can I know that I am walking in harmony and fellowship with God? In this article I would like to suggest a few things that are in evidence in the life of one who is truly and consistently walking with God.

They can define their salvation

First, they can define their salvation Biblically. They know what the Bible says about being saved. This includes seeing ourselves as sinners before a holy and righteous God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). I think it is possible to know the words of this verse and yet not know the reality of it. We agree with our mind but not with our heart! Until there is a Holy Spirit conviction for our own sins, there is no salvation. We must see what we truly are before a holy and righteous God.  We must see that He came into the world to die for sins, for our sins! Just knowing the verses of salvation is not salvation! One who comes to Jesus for salvation is convinced by the Holy Spirit that, “...the wages of sin is death...” (Rom. 6:23).

He is also convinced that salvation is found in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself. That is why he must personally come to Jesus Christ in personal faith seeking His salvation. There is no other path to being saved. He knows that “..the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

I have concern at this point. I wonder if maybe some  think this kind of gospel does not belong to our modern age. We have our church and are content with whatever it teaches. Hopefully churches are teaching and preaching salvation by faith alone, but I’m afraid many are not. The Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy are so pertinent here,

I charge ye therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:1-4).

Is it not true that in our “modern” era many people do not want to hear the truth of the gospel? They want teaching that will “tickle their ears,” that is, that will make them feel good! They don’t want to be disturbed by the truth of the gospel. The truth is, when people get saved, the gospel is the prized possession of their souls! Of course, Jesus Himself is the Gospel.

I emphasize the above because I believe so many are missing the way of the true Christian life and eventually the way to heaven! What could be a greater loss than to have Jesus say to one, “...I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23).

Secondly, they can define their salvation experientially. They know what it is to personally come to Jesus Christ by faith, personally calling upon Him for salvation, for the forgiveness of sin. They know what it is to have the witness of the Spirit within. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom 8:16). Note that this is the witness of God Himself, not the witness of a person or religion! This indeed is comforting! Thus, the believer can say with the Apostle Paul “…I know whom I have believed...” (II Tim. 2:12).

Further, we know that we have passed from death unto life for Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24).

The word of God comes alive to them.

The Bible is not just a dry book of ancient words, but a living word from God Himself! Again, Paul puts it very succinctly,

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things, also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the  Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto them: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [understood]” (I Cor. 2:12-14).

To the unbeliever, the Bible is just a book with little relevance or interest to them. They do not seek for themselves the truth of the Bible nor do they grasp it when they hear it proclaimed. They may take some interest in the various stories of the Bible or even in some of the history presented, but they see nothing of value for their own souls. Not only do they not receive the truth for themselves, but they often forcibly reject it.

Many people have no problem accepting the knowledge presented them by a denomination. The difference is, such knowledge usually makes no claim on one’s soul. They may have been taught that if they just identify with a certain denomination, they are spiritually safe.

It is only when people hear the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and repent of their sin that the Bible comes alive to them. Then they become hungry for more of what God has said in His Word!

Before Paul had his encounter with God and became a believer, he was very zealous for his own religion. Indeed, he went about persecuting those who disagreed with him! He considered himself blameless according to the teaching of his religion. Then he could say,

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung [refuse], that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which of God by faith” (Phil. 3:7-9)

Consider, if one is physically healthy, he has a desire for food. If one is spiritually healthy, he has a hunger for the spiritual food of the Word of God. There will be a desire to sit under the Spirit filled preaching of the Word of God as well as a personal study of the Bible. The interest is beyond just sitting in church or maybe even fellowship with other people. It is getting to know God, His Word, and having genuine spiritual fellowship with other believers. For our 55th wedding anniversary, my wife and I went to Olive Garden in Eau Claire. However, we did more than just go to the restaurant and sit down, though the restaurant was quite attractive. We ordered food and when it came, we enjoyed it very much. Even so, it is going to church to hear the Word of God.

There is a change of heart.

The heart is the seat of our emotions, of the things we value in life. It determines what we give our time, attention, energy, and resources to. Before salvation, we give our time and energy to the things that please ourselves, the things that we think will bring us the most good and satisfaction in life. In the parable of the rich man we read, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease; eat, drink, and be merry’” (Luke 12:19). He had set his heart upon the things of this life that he thought would bring him the most happiness. He did not take God into consideration and thus he lost all that had been so important to him!

Likewise, all who set their hearts upon things of the world will eventually lose all that seemed so important to them in life. In truth, all of our hearts are set upon things of self before salvation. That does not mean that we cannot do some very good things, but all that we do comes from a heart governed by self and not by God.

It is God alone who can change our hearts so that we begin to see things as He sees them. We begin to value what He values. Indeed, it is with our hearts that we believe unto salvation. Note Paul’s’ words, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness...” (Rom. 10:9-10). There is no salvation apart from believing with the heart! Education and good works by themselves do not change one’s heart.

The change of heart only comes when God intervenes in one’s heart. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins and moves us to trust His Son for the forgiveness of our sins. Without the ministry of God in one’s life, his heart remains in darkness. It is thus that Paul speaks of the unsaved, “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).

This change of heart is comprehended by the believer himself but not by others who do not know Jesus as their Savior. They often think the new believer is forsaking the more important things of life because that is all they can see. Only God can change the heart to see as He sees. Of course, no believer sees all as God sees in this life.

There is a resetting of the focus of life. Because one’s heart has been changed when he trusted Jesus as Savior, his focus of life has also been changed. What may have been so important before salvation may not be as important as before. Yes, one has to work to make a living and he still has to live in a fallen world, but his focus is now set upon things of God, things that make a difference for eternity.

Paul encourages believers, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). Note that this is not a normal or natural thing to do. It is dependent upon being risen with Christ. Further, it is dependent upon Christ being our life, v. 3. Christ becomes our life when we trust Him as our Savior.

The focus of the believer’s life is further revealed  by Paul, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” ( II Cor. 418). The attractions of the flesh, the believer’s old nature, are very appealing sometimes. It is thus that we are exhorted, “...Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). This is a very important and marvelous truth, but can only be comprehended by believers. Unbelievers comprehend only what is of the natural life, not the spiritual.

The essential factor in one’s change of focus is the Word of God, the Bible. It is in the Bible that one learns of the Person and character of God. It is there that one learns the truth about the Christian life, about what is sin, and what is righteousness. The Bible is essential in living a life pleasing to God. The Psalmist said, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psa. 119:9). He further said, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sins against Thee” (Psa. 119:8).

There is a seeking after God, that is, God Himself.

Many people seek religious trappings and experiences, but they are not the essence of who God is. Jesus made this clear when he said, “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24). The believer’s heart is akin to David who said, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psa. 119:1-2). The growing believer identifies with David when he said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him” (Psa. 119:5).

The point is, the growing believer has a personal relationship with God that he could not have before he came to the cross for salvation. Further, the carnal believer does not really seek God for himself. He walks more by his own wits than by faith in God and in the truth of God’s Word.

There is a working out of the life of Christ.

This is more than knowledge and form. It is a giving of our life to Christ so that, in reality, He lives His life in and through us. The message of Jesus is so important,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5).

This can only take place at the cross as we yield ourselves to Him. It is a matter of obedience, of yielding, of faith.

It is more than a matter of living a good life. Goodness is not of itself Godliness! Godliness in our lives is the presence and working of God Himself.

There is a struggle between the Spirit and the flesh.

Only the believer really comprehends this struggle. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other...” (Gal. 5:17). If one does not know this struggle, he or she would be wise to consider his or her relationship with God.

There is a resting in the Lord.

The resting is for salvation and the living of the Christian life. The believer has this confidence that he is truly a child of God. He looks nowhere else for salvation. There is a resting in God’s presence and purpose for our lives. There is a resting in Him during times of suffering and trials. He is always assured of God’s love and care for Him because he is indeed a child of the heavenly Father.

Conclusion

Again, there is so much more to the subject at hand than space permits. However, what we have discussed is both wonderful and essential. The point is, we can know we are walking with God as these things are evident in our lives. Without them, one is either still in spiritual darkness or is walking far from God. I trust each one of us will examine our lives to see if these things are evident, not so much because we work at them, but because they are the evidence of God in our lives.


On September 11th, we attended the funeral service for Connie Benson at First Calvary Baptist Church in Inver Grove Heights, MN. Connie had been a long time member of the church with a Godly testimony for all of those years. It was a blessing to meet some of her family again. After the service, Harold and Ingrid Carpenter took us to Applebee’s for a delicious lunch.

We have been blessed to have our son, Tim, come every Tuesday evening to cut and trim our grass for us. Family is such a wonderful blessing!

We have taken a couple of longer drives in the country lately. It is so interesting to observe the change of season, but it is also a reminder of what is to come!

We have been grateful for our continuing mostly good health. Every day is a special blessing from God.

The following observation by Charles Stanley is interesting: “The Holy Spirit speaks to neutral hearts. By that, I do not mean passive or indifferent hearts. God gave us the ability to dream dreams and make plans. Many of the Old and New Testament leaders were men and women of vision and ambition. By neutral, I mean being consumed with discovering what pleases the Holy Spirit rather than working to convince Him of the wisdom and brilliance of our plans. I’m afraid many of us pray with the goal of talking God into things rather than trying to discover His will. As a result, we never hear Him.”

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