Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Believing God - Chapter One

I was not disappointed. Chapter one is all about Scripture and thus it is well stocked with Scripture. To the point, it's all about the fact that we really don't believe Scripture. We say we do. We're utterly convinced. Sproul points out a few key reasons that hit right home why we really don't believe.

First and foremost is sin. Our problem is local, right in our very own hearts. Sin is not bounded by time, culture, or environment. It started very nearly in the beginning and has been on the loose ever since. Sin takes its natural course of decay and has no respect for the occasional upticks in this world. Neither the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, or the Reformation will ever make sin or its consequences go away. I hope all readers of the book get this point and go no further until they do. We must become completely convinced of the futility of education and effort to help us become better people or better students of God's Word.

In fact, there is one element of our culture brought on by the rebellion in the Garden and lately fueled by Darwinism. Sadly, even Christians adopt this myth as firm belief and call it sancification. The evolutionists call it survival of the fittest. In the world of business it is called continuous improvement. In the Garden, the devil called it "you shall be as gods."

We really do believe that we are getting better. We really do believe that if we could just get back to the good old days prior to the 60's, or during the height of the Reformation, or some other imagined glorious day, that things would be better. And so we strive to get there by any means and we justify it by saying it is God's will. But God says we are not to wrestle against flesh and blood. God says that the wages of sin is death. Period. We will get no better in this life. Our bodies will die. Our old man of sin and death will be just as wicked and deceitful and stinking rotten until the day we die. There is not one bit of us that will improve or get better.

We are only as good as the One Who indwells us. And that work is finished. I won't go into what sanctification really is here. It is not self-improvement however. We don't get more spiritual and less sinful as we go on with Jesus. Do we learn more? Yes. Do we get to know Him better? Yes. Do we sin less and less? Hopefully. As students of the Word, we do increase in something. Sproul calls it "competence" or "completeness" according to II Timothy 3:16. Completeness for the purpose of doing the good works that God calls us to do.

We simply make the mistake of thinking that these works are on an inclining set of stairs. Each level marks a higher plane of maturity, spirituality, or again, sanctification. Yet the honest Christian you can imagine at the highest elevation will fall just as hard as the newborn Christian with the onset of just one sin. It is sin that makes us all equal. Likewise, it is Jesus who makes us all equal as well. Among and within are selves, there is to be no comparison (see II Corinthians 10:12).

Sproul does a great job of pointing out this reality in many other different ways in this chapter. I added my two cents. Readers would do well to allow the Holy Spirit to plumb their depths to shed light on what things hinder them in this area. Be prepared to experience some pain. But allow God to incise these bits of deceit and then forsake them all for the excellency of knowing Jesus.

At this point, we should take the advice of another godly man, Oswald Chambers. Here are his words in today's meditation from My Utmost for His Highest, "Are you prepared to let God take you into union with Himself, and pay no more attention to what you call the great things? Are you prepared to abandon entirely and let go? The test of abandonment is in refusing to say - "Well, what about this?" Beware of suppositions. Immediately you allow - What about this? - it means you have not abandoned, you do not really trust God. Immediately you do abandon, you think no more about what God is going to do. Abandon means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you abandon entirely to God, He says at once, "Thy life will I give thee for a prey." The reason people are tired of life is because God has not given them anything, they have not got their life as a prey. The way to get out of that state is to abandon to God. When you do get through to abandonment to God, you will be the most surprised and delighted creature on earth; God has got you absolutely and has given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience or a refusal to be simple enough."

And that is R. C. Sproul, Jrs. point. We must be simple. So simple that we believe the simple truth of God's Word. But we will never get that way until we obey and allow His Holy Spirit to shed the myths, unbeliefs, assumptions, and suppositions from our minds and hearts. Sometimes we're just too smart for our own good because we think we're getting better at this Christian life. But Jesus simply said, "Abide in me."

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