How do we stay in Christ?

Once a Christian,  always a Christian?

 

Why the spiritual battle? 

 

In addition to the Word of God, there are a great many other words in our world, all vying for our affection. Are these other words sufficiently strong enough and in great enough number to rip us away from the Living God?

 

What can we do to keep this from happening?  Do we need to do anything at all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 Responses

  1. “What can we do to keep this from happening?”

    Some honest reflection and meditation on Psalm 46 might be a good place to start (I believe this was the source for Luther’s ‘A Mighty Fortress’).

  2. I’m saved by grace…that’s my confession…and I’m sticking to it!

    ohn 10:25-30 (New Living Translation)

    25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.[a] No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

  3. “The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name”

    That’s right, Nancy,
    and here’s the work:

    “We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”.

    We have the foretaste, the down-payment of that great work now –
    the fullness comes on the day of His return.

    In His Imputed Righteousness,

    Howard.

  4. Amen!

    Hebrews 10:23 (New Living Translation)

    23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

  5. Everyday can be under girded by His hold, His promises,
    because by His care, we can come boldly and with confidence
    to the mercy seat and find aid in our day of need.

    No condemnation, but peace with God through His reconciling work – that is the joy now, the life that is to come.

    That’s the fixed point to focus upon as we prepare for another day here.

  6. He will not lose any of us. But can we willingly walk away?

    How much of an effect do these other words have on us to make us want to walk away?

  7. Hebrews 7:25 (New Living Translation)

    25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

    Jude 1:24 (New Living Translation)

    A Prayer of Praise

    24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.

  8. Turn off the television! Go to church!

  9. Steve,

    I highly recommend a new book called “Theology Of The Cross – Reflections of His Cross and Ours” by Daniel Deutschlander. A nice one on this issue, at least highly related to it. I’ve been reading it and still going through it, very good. It’s a nice companion to Forde’s work on the same.

    Some thoughts distilled from this that Lord willing may be helpful:

    Here we have to be very careful because suffering itself can be taken as yet another occasion for self righteous pursuit (Dr. Nestigen points this out in his treatment on Marriage), but it is ONLY the crosses that God lays upon us as we are entirely passive of that is a true cross and it various greatly per person, time and place (even throughout our lives) and is rooted in the real and earthly. A cross that is laid upon us by God is for our benefit to drive us to Christ, but NOT morality (e.g. getting my ass wiped because I grossly sinned to ‘clean up my act’ – which is pietism’s false gospel in all its filthy forms). Rather a cross is one that comes in and tempts one to self and away from the Word of God. Tempts to self either under very hidden self-righteousness or despair, utter despair of the mercy of God and self-righteousness are two sides of the same coin. And tempts away from the mercy of God. E.g. everybody dies, this is not a cross in and of itself, but can be made into a cross when the devil comes in and whispers into your ear, “see where’s this gracious God to you now…hath God really said…”. Everybody gets sick, this is not a cross in and of itself, but can be made into a cross when the devil comes in and whispers into your ear, “see where’s this gracious God to you now…hath God really said…”.

    Anytime the devil comes in and tempts the believer to self righteousness and/or despair in the Word of God (the Gospel – FOR YOU, more on that in a minute), by some form of “see where’s this gracious God to you now…hath God really said…”. Here we see the root of the devil’s work which becomes a cross to many believers in the sacraments, as the devil offers up false doctrine by even fine and good theologians of the highest respect and caliber by falsifying God’s Word to us. E.g. they say, “Baptism doesn’t do anything, is based on faith, does not give the Spirit, etc…” Or “the Lord’s body and blood is not truly and really there, etc…”. These are all forms of “see where’s this gracious God to you now…hath God really said…”. They become temptations to the flesh unto self-righteousness and/or despair. These become crosses or gifts from God though. Luther often pointed out that the more Zwingli, the Pope, and the Enthusiast (which included the Reformed and all their modern derivatives like evangelicals and Baptist) resisted the more he was convinced of the truth of the Word of God – because the resisting doctrine warred with the very Word of God. This is part of our link, our cross, to the Cross of Christ, in which Christ is tempted even on the cross, “If you are truly the Son of God…get yourself down from there”. So the devil, world and flesh are used by God to bring about our crosses. We are reminded that “all things work to the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose”. We are tempted to leave the Word of Gospel (Word or Sacrament Word) in many ways. Sometimes by life’s pains and sufferings (e.g. sickness, death, open persecution) or more often by other doctrines against the Word (e.g. other religions, science, heterodoxy), even our own emotions and reasoning.

    Thus, faith is tempted in the real concrete of life. These are the crosses to which we are told “you must take up your cross and follow me…”. And as Deutschlander points out that very command is a CONSEQUENCE of being a Christian and NOT a CAUSE (the way 99.9% most interpret and are taught on that verse – the way I was taught as well). Jesus is NOT appealing to the will of the old man (if/then) but the new (because/therefore)! It’s an indicative encouragement, because your ARE mine, therefore…not an if/then I’ll be yours. And that is crucial to see. AND even in that misinterpretation, that heresy you see the devil’s hand and work that becomes a cross for many. The temptation to hear and receive the words of Christ there in that verse in a tempting way unto either self-righteousness or despair a, “see where’s this gracious God to you now…hath God really said…oh not unless first you fulfill the if, then he may help you”.

    Thus, when faith is so tempted to fall away from and the old man believes the devil’s words only self-righteousness and despair can ensue, there’s nothing left. This is also in the parable of the sewer, the temptation of the persecution (the hot sun) and the worries of this life (the weeds). In both of these there is that “hath God really said”, the other false word of the devil airing against the Word (the seed) itself. For faith IS ONLY where and with the Word, where the Word is not, there is no faith. There is no such thing as a faith elsewhere given as a gift – it is NEVER apart from the Word at all, not nakedly.

    And faith MUST be where the “for you/me” is of the Gospel (here we see the root and importance of the sacrament and absolution). For the idea of faith without the “for you/me” is nothing else than historical faith, the very false faith James speaks of (see how James is exactly like Paul, faith ALONE). E.g. when Baptist doctrine says any of the following: God did not baptize you, baptism is based on faith, the Spirit is not given in baptism, rebirth is not given in baptism, children are not promised anything nor to be baptized so, all these and more, all these “hath God really said” are again crosses and temptations against faith and flesh resurrecting drugs for it to keep flesh, the old man, alive. These via the devil and the devil’s doctrine seek to unhinge and remove the “for you/me” in that Gospel wet Word. And this is nothing more than an insidious sneak attack by the devil, world and flesh under the guise of “biblical, church and Christian” to move one toward that false faith James speaks of, that historical demonic faith (yes I affirm everything about Christ’s death, its just not for me). The just not for me can take form of overt or hidden self-righteousness and/or despair, remember that self-righteousness and despair are two sides of the same coin. Here the believer is disconnected from Christ and faith cannot live for the Word disappears (faith and the Word are always together), and thus the believer in whole totality falls away and is now in reality an unbeliever with nothing more than a religious veneer with Christian overtones.

    How do we stay in Christ?

    Nothing new here, Word and Sacrament. Yep, that paradoxical seems like nothing more than mere words, water, bread and wine that the world and false religion including heterodoxy denies it as really nothing more either, nothing, says the false doctrine, whereby God really touches and comes to you in a very earthly way. God is hidden here so that the world and false religion charged by emotions and/or fallen human reason cloaked in nothing more than historical faith (a tare) is blind to Him being there, thus their doctrines state this (e.g. not the body and blood of Christ really), yet revealed to the eyes of faith. Everybody wants a “vision of God”, hot water at last as our pastor just put it Sunday, God acting in a special way. Yet, as he pointed out, you come every Sunday to this seemingly unassuming water, bread and wine and are given the mysteries of God, true holy treasures, true God. And this is why we sing at the close the same song Nicodemas sang upon seeing the Christ child, right after the Lord’s Supper with His real and true body and blood, “Thy servant can depart in peace for my eyes have SEEN your salvation”. And what a joy, amongst these crosses, this is for our faith. Hence we see, I hope I’ve succeeded in bringing this out – because I’ve struggled with it too, how we may suffer yet rejoice (another paradox). And here we see the connection of Christ’s encouraging “Christian you will receive crosses to take up, they are gifts from God” and Jesus’ parallel passage, “come unto me all who are weary and heavy laiden (Cross bearers – the divine service assumes this, the ‘why’ of all true liturgy) and I will give you rest. For my burden is light and sweet…” The heaviness and pain is made light and sweet by that “for me” Gospel. E.g. I’m am burdened down by my sin and zero progress, in fact I’m going in the opposite direction. Here comes the devil and false doctrine that says, “you should be getting better…where is your gracious God now, what have you failed to do (the “if”) so that God would be “gracious” to you (the “then”)…(here it comes)…hath God really said (in the word, water, bread and wine to/for you), REALLY has he???”, hisses the devil and his false teachers. Then along comes Christ through His Word and true teachers whom alone the sheep will hear and say, “Yes I have for you, in spite of you, in My Word, My water, My body/bread, My blood/wine…’fear not for I have redeemed you, and have called you by your name (baptism), you are Mine’. And THEN notice, the heavy burden before due to the weight of sin becomes light and sweet, even taken off. And now, as Christ says, “…come unto Me and I will give you REFRESHMENT”. “Rest” is really a not so good translation Deutschlander shows, rest is more for glory, no more crosses. Refreshment is appropriate, this we do in the Word, water, bread and wine every Sunday.

    Yours,

    Larry

  10. I do believe this is exactly why God has given us His Word and Sacraments.

    Didn’t Christ command us to eat His flesh and drink His blood?

    Just as a religious exercise? No. The religious exercising usually comes from those that do not trust what the Lord has done, is doing, and will yet do for them in those Sacraments.

    Also, my pastor often speaks of the tools of faith (the fireplace tools). Prayer, Bible study, good works. Not in order to be saved, but to fan those flames of faith, to be a poker for the burning log of faith.

    The point is faith, and not the fireplace tools. Many will make the tools their focus and are in danger of putting themselves back at the center.

    Great comments, all. Howard, Nancy, Jim, Larry.

    I’ll have to get that book by Deutschlander. It sounds like a good one.

  11. I’ll have to get that book by Deutschlander. It sounds like a good one

    Same here.

    LP

  12. Steve, this one hits home for me. Thanks to a good friend and immersion in the Word (Romans 8 was HUGE for me), I began to trust the One that paid my ransom. I began to trust that He paid it all, as the old hymn states, and that I’m His now, not my own, and that nothing can separate me from the love of the Father in Him, and that there is therefore no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus!

    That was a major run-on sentence, but you get the point. Praise God for His mercy and grace!

  13. Treenewt,

    I get the point! Thanks be to God that I get the point!

    Thanks for your good words!

  14. I think that we persevere in our faith, because he is the one that gives us the strength to persevere. But we need to understand that this isn’t a passive process that we need not be concerned with. He is the one giving us the desire to strengthen ourselves in the battle.

  15. Loren,

    I do believe you are correct. He does it. But He lays out what is to be done that His Word will remain central and not fade into the background:

    Pray, Bible study, worship, receiving the sacraments, the consolation of the brethren…all tools to keep that faith fire going.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Loren.

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