“We are What we Eat”
I use this phrase because it is one we have all heard and can all understand. We know it means if we eat a lot of fatty, unhealthy food we will be fat, unhealthy or both. While we all spend some time in denial, we know that if we are fat it will be apparent to everyone. If we are unhealthy, it will at least be apparent to our doctor. I’m also sure we are all aware of the fact that people spend millions of dollars a year looking for that miracle pill that will overrule this reality.
This “We are What we Eat” concept is one we apply in our family all the time, to ourselves and with each other, to keep our walks faithful. From beginning to end, we are what we take in and what we take in is apparent. To be most effective, we must take this scenario to its undeniable end. If we truly believed eating all that unhealthy food would kill us, we would stop eating it. We say, “Yeah… we believe,” but what we really believe is that it will kill the other guy. Smokers never believe they will get cancer or alcoholics that they will get heart disease. Oh… they believe it could happen, it just won’t be them. This Truth is one the “Improve Life” sermon is based on: “All men think all men mortal but themselves.”
How does this apply to Salvation? If you read the posts on this site, and I hope you do, you will find this is a common thread throughout. It is addressed most thoroughly in the “Is Series.” But addressing the “Salvation Myth” is such an important thing that I wanted to bring it all together in one place and provide the complete case. So here we go!
“We are What we Believe”
Bethany has brought home a concept in education, “Backwards Design,” which means start at the end and work backwards to reveal the best path forward. “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) To “Please God” and join Him in eternity, that sounds like a good definition of the “End” we as Christians all desire. So let’s work backwards. Join God, Live Truth, Repent, Die to self, Confess, Believe He exists. So let’s reverse them and look closely at that path. This post will show that these are what Scripture says are not only the best path forward, but the Only Path Forward.
1. Believe He Exists:
Hebrews 11:6 says, “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” As Christians, we know that this “reward” is what we just stated: to join God in eternity. The King James version uses “diligently seek;” the original Greek is “ekzēteō / ek-zay-teh’-o G1567 in part to search out, crave, demand, (by Hebraism) worship: require, seek after (carefully, diligently).” So, Hebrews says to receive the “reward” we must “Crave” God, we must “Demand” God in our lives. To achieve our desired “End,” we must “Worship” God (see R.U. a Sanctuary), we must diligently search God out. Ahhh… but Hebrews 11:6 has a (excuse the language) disclaimer, “…anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists.” As you’ve heard me talk about in “The Omnipotence of Man,” far too many “Christians” faithfully believe in evolution as the real story of creation. Do they Faithfully “Believe” the God of Genesis 1 “exists” as Moses recorded? Not that I’ve met. Most, if not all, have confessed, many may have even repented and all have claimed Christ… “…anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists.” Anyone who “approaches” must first “believe that He exists.” But this is not another post on evolutionists, this is: We are What we Believe!
To the “Modern Christian” “Believe” has become quite the lazy term. To some you don’t actually have to “Believe” to be a “believer;” belief in the concept of God is enough. While studying for and writing this post we read a sermon Tozer gave to Wheaton College in 1952, “The Danger of being Almost Altogether.” This title is derived from Acts 26:28,29, “Then (King) Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost you persuade me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only you, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (KJV). Paul, in his chains (bonds) for proclaiming Christ as the Messiah, has just made his defense to the king, reminding him of the king’s “Belief in the prophets.” Paul points out to the king that everything he has said comes directly from “the prophets and Moses.” He has simply shown and declared how Christ is the fulfillment of those same prophesies. Agrippa replies, “You’ve Almost convinced me.” (95%?, 98%?) I almost Believe that Christ is who He said He is. Paul replies, “Don’t Almost Believe. Believe completely (Altogether).” Sadly, for Agrippa, he never got to the (100%) point of Believing God Is Exactly Who He says He Is, that He Exists as He defines Himself. As Tozer points out, “When Agrippa used the word “almost,” he did not know it at the time, but he had committed the greatest moral blunder of his life. History shows that the man’s blunder was fatal. Shipwrecks, earthquakes, tidal waves, epidemics and all the rest–nothing compares in sheer unrelieved tragedy with the soul that has seen the cross and turned away from it…” The Israelites spent their entire lives bouncing around in that few percent of doubt. As a result, an entire generation could Not enter the Promised Land. “These things took place as examples to keep us from craving evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6). They were a walking illustration of this kind of “infidelity,” of how Being Almost a Believer reaps the same rewards as an Unbeliever (see R.U. Wandering).
2., 3. & 4. Confess, Die to Self and Repent:
To be understood properly, it is best to look at these three steps together. It used to be said a “Penitent” Belief in Christ is required for Salvation. Modern “Salvation” seems to teach that all you have to do is “Believe” in “the Son” and you will receive “the Father’s reward.” Many will defend and say, “No, That’s Not All… We have to Confess.” Some will even manage to throw in, “We have to Repent.” But how many know these two things are not the same, much less, can define the difference? For them let me help. Confess is to state a wrong done as wrong… as a sin. To Repent is much more. In Old Testament terms it is to “turn back;” in New Testament terms it is to “regret, think differently or to reverse direction.” To Repent is to take action on your Confession and Be Different. If Repent is to “reverse direction,” it seems obvious that the direction we have just Confessed to must end; we must Die to Self. Isaiah 57:15 “…I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” Scripture also says we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) even, and maybe especially, if that first master is our self.
“But,” you say, “Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin so we wouldn’t have to die.” WRONG! Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might have a way to be “made Righteous.” Romans 10:10 “…with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” In other words, Christ died so we could be restored to a right relationship with God and enjoy Life Eternal. To receive this blessed gift, we absolutely must die and have a new life, His Life, born anew in us. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “…God has chosen you from the beginning to be saved by the sanctification (purification) of the Spirit and by faith in the truth.” Christ’s death served as “propitiation for our sins” (1John 2:2). We can confess our sins, but, as sons and daughters of Adam, we cannot satisfy what the Law demands. Christ, having been born a Man yet never breaking the Law, fulfilled the Law. Then, unstained, only He was worthy to stand in, or as Hebrews 7:22 says, to be a “surety” for us. (surety- “one who is recognized to answer for another… to pay their debt.”) “God presented Him (Christ) as an atoning sacrifice…” (Romans 3:25) to bring us from “death to life” (John 5:24).
Here’s how David M’Clure put it: “Christ is the end of the ceremonial law, as that law received its fulfillment in him. The ceremonial law was given to the ancient church at Sinai, and consisted of various typical rites & sacrifices… but they were no longer necessary after the promised Saviour had offered up himself, a sacrifice for the sins of men. Christ is the end of the moral law in two respects, first, as he perfectly kept it, and secondly as by his obedience and suffering, a righteousness is finished, by which sinners, whom the law condemns, may be saved.” “MANKIND by the guilt of sin forfeited life and fell under the condemnation of the covenant of works. The mercy of God has provided for them the milder dispensation of Grace, by the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Those who are interested in the righteousness of Jesus Christ are said to be justified.” “As the general plan of the redemption of sinners, was an act of Sovran Grace, so also is the application of that redemption to individuals. He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. And God justly leaves those who reject salvation, to the fatal consequences of their own choice.” – Sermon; The law satisfied by Jesus Christ, and sinners justified by the imputation of his righteousness.
Through His sacrifice we find absolution, we have redemption. Through our deaths, taking up our crosses daily, we are restored back to lives lived in absolute, humble surrender and joyful obedience to God as He exists… a life in Pursuit of God. We are saved from our denial of Him, from our Rebellion against Him To New Life. The Rebel cannot be cured, cannot be regenerated, cannot be saved. The Rebel cannot walk with Christ. The Rebel Must Die with and for Christ to rise and Live in Christ!
5. Live Truth:
We just talked about what True Belief is. First, you must believe that God Exists. This is more than God as a figure, but, as Merriam Webster defines exist, “to have Real Being.” In other words, to believe in God more than just in concept; we must believe in the Truth of the Word of God, that God is who He says He is. Next, we must state this Belief and Confess that we have fallen way short of Him. If our Confession is sincere, we will reverse direction. We just showed that this means to die to self, but then what? We must “walk” in Truth; we must “Obey.” If we don’t, can we really say we “Believe” in God, that He Is Who He says He Is? To get this right we must first understand what exactly “sin” is.
“But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword” (Isaiah 1:20). This is the short and not so sweet definition of “Sin.” We showed in “Faith Is” that “Faith” is a “Devoted” walk in the “Truth;” in contrast, it could be said “sin” is “Rebellion” to that same Truth. The examples of this fact are numerous: Lucifer “Rebelled,” Adam “Rebelled,” Cain “Rebelled,” Jonah “Rebelled,” etc. The list is long. This rebellion comes from unbelief in God’s Character and a “Resistance” to His Sovereignty. It is the result of not believing He exists as He defines Himself. This departure from the Word of Truth distorts our perception of God as He is, allows the Rebel to rise its head and breaks our fellowship, or connection, with Life Himself. This is why sin leads to (spiritual) death. Sin, the rise of Self in opposition to God resulting in disobedience to Him, can only lead to death. This rebellion reveals Lucifer’s claim, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God…I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) in us. In Rebelling against His Authority, we presume to take that authority upon ourselves. We presume to be able to usurp His Throne. Psalms 2:4-6 tells us how God responds to such arrogant audacity. 4 “The One enthroned in the heavens laughs; the Lord taunts them. 5 Then He rebukes them in His anger, and terrifies them in His fury: 6 ‘I have installed My King on Zion, upon My holy hill.’” Sin is a departure from Truth, from God Himself, the source of Life, of existence itself.
Now that we got sin down, let’s return to its opposite, Faith. I like Ephesians for this one: “having heard and had faith in the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (1:13). We know Faith is “walking, taking action, living in” what you believe. Ephesians tells us as Christians, who “He predestined…for adoption as His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ” (1:5), we are to have Faith in “the Word of Truth” and that this word of Truth is “the Gospel of (our) Salvation.” So, having heard the Truth of the Word of God and Walked in that Truth, we will receive our Salvation. Or, as Ephesians 3:17 says: “Christ will live in you through faith” and through Christ you will receive your Salvation.
Most look at the second part of John 3:16, “…that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” and conclude that belief in Christ is Salvation, but we should read on. John 3:17 says: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Verse 17 is clarified in Hebrews 5:10: “…having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” As we have just showed, Belief in God the Father and Christ the Son is just the first step to attaining Salvation. Obedience must follow Belief for Salvation unto Eternal Life to be secured.
To connect back to Step 1, just any old Belief won’t do. We must believe in God as He defines Himself. This requires true knowledge of Him. “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) How do we know we have come to know Him? Obedience! “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. 4 If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:3-6) This is what the LORD says: “Determine (mishpâṭ H4941) what is right and do what is right, for My salvation is coming soon, and My righteousness will be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this…” (Isaiah 56:1,2) An all too common response to this is, “But I just don’t know how.” In case you had that lie cross your mind, “…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
Romans taught us that “obedience…comes from faith.” This means we cannot fake Faith by acting obedient, but that through an “active” walk in the Truth we will be obedient. In other words, “We are What we Believe.” Just like the illustration we began with, what you Truly believe will be apparent to those around you and, in the rare event that they miss it, your Chief Physician won’t. If we truly believe God is who He says He is and that His Word is Truth, then how could we live a life of sin? Now that we have clarified sin to be any rebellion or rise of Self against God, it should be clear I am not just talking about the “Biggies,” I mean the “little white” ones as we like to call them. The Word says: “Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness…” (John 8:12). Jesus didn’t just say “believe,” He said “follows.” To follow, to live in the way Christ lived, to obey the Word of the Father as He did, to have Faith. Or: “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your devotion to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it” (3 John 1:3). In “Where Do You Live?” I provide more Scripture references and detail on this subject, but I think you get it. A person who lives like Christ, in obedience to the Father, would not only be apparent, but in this day, I would say, rather obvious.
6. Join God:
Let’s start with an illustration from “Pursuit Is:” When our “end” is to have a nice dinner somewhere, we call and make a reservation. In making the reservation we have not eaten anything; we have merely secured the opportunity to eat at a later date. If between the call and the time reserved we move to another city, break up with our fiancé, lose our job, or any of a thousand things happen causing us to miss our reservation, then we never receive our meal, we have given up our “end.” Christ is “the source” of our “Reservation;” it is “through” Him that we secure a place at the heavenly table.
1 Peter 1:5: “who through faith are protected by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter says our reservation is for “the last time.” If between our accepting Christ (our call) and this “last time” we live a life that does not “obey Him,” we have walked away from our reservation. As 1 Peter says and our previous posts have made clear, “through Faith” (an active walk in Truth) we “are protected by God’s power” (Grace) “for the salvation that is to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7 confirms: “For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness. 8 Anyone, then, who rejects this command does not reject man but God, the very One who gives you His Holy Spirit.” By rejecting God’s commandments, failing to “obey,” we reject God Himself, our reservation and our place at the table. Our “end” will not be “to Join Him in Eternity.” We showed that Faith without works is dead, and that even the demons believe and shudder. The same applies here; even the demons believe in Christ. Belief is only the first step. “Through” belief in Christ, “the source,” “all who obey Him” will receive “eternal salvation” that will be “revealed in the last time.”
So, we have firmly established what 1 Peter 1:9 says: “…now that you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” In other words, “Salvation Is:” the object, the “End,” the goal of our faith. “Salvation Is:” the reward promised by God, accessed through Christ, and received by Faith. “By sincere repentance, a cordial¹ faith in Jesus Christ and persevering obedience to his gospel men are to secure a good hope of eternal life.” (David M’Clure The Improve Life sermon) As we also know from “Pursuit Is,” “Hope Is:” the joyful expectation of the fulfillment of what God promises, and what God promises is Salvation, to Join Him in Eternity.
1. Cordial – “of or relating to the heart – vital, sincerely or deeply felt”.
Look at your life, how you live and whom you live with (1 Corinthians 15:33,34). Hold these up against Scripture and, if they match or at least show the “Pursuit,” then you can say, “I Believe in God the Father and in Christ the Son and in the Holy Spirit.” If, when you hold them up, they show the “Pursuit” of other things that are in contrast to the Word of Truth, can you say the same? Would anyone believe you if you did? More importantly, would or will God?
One of the examples we use around here is, “If you don’t believe you can swim you won’t dive in the deep end of the pool.” Action reveals what you actually believe; “if you dive into the deep end of the pool you will die because you cannot swim.” With that Truth in hand, if you truly believe that those who practice “idolatry” (putting anything before God) “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5) would you put anything or anyone before God? If you believe the Word is Truth, and it says those who get “intoxicated” and go “carousing,” “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” what could make you pick up that next drink? If you believe the Word when it says the same is true of “sexual immorality and adultery,” what could make you seek that next “Hook-up?” One last one, because it is so important to the life and choices of a Christian and to our discussion, if you Believe the Word of God when it says “heretics” “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” would you ever try to “tweek” the Scriptures to allow you to live the way you want? Heresy…another word that has lost its full meaning through “re-definition.” What is Heresy actually?
A. W. Tozer describes it like this: “Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. The heretic simply selects the parts of the Scripture he wants to emphasize and lets the rest go. This is shown by the etymology of the word heresy and by the practice of the heretic. “Beware,” an editorial scribe of the fourteenth century warned his readers in the preface to a book. “Beware thou take not one thing after thy affection and liking, and leave another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take everything with the other.” The old scribe knew well how prone we are to take to ourselves those parts of the truth that please us and ignore the other parts. And that is heresy.” – We Travel An Appointed Way.
A heretic is anyone who “cherry-picks” the word of God for what fits their desires and pretends the rest isn’t there. These days that seems like a pretty big basket. Are the Scriptures unclear about Heretics? Well Galatians 1:9 says, “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you embraced, let him be under a divine curse!” and in James 2:10 we find, “Whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” …Guess not.
Finally, Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” If we expect to share in Christ’s Resurrection, then we must first share in His crucifixion. If we truly die to ourselves with Christ, then the above paragraph will not be a concern. We will Be what We Believe. We will “Live In” obedience and “Pursuit of His Character.” There will be nothing more important than God and His Glory and we will put nothing “before” Him. It will be apparent that we honor Christ’s sacrifice and “Live In Faith” according to His Word of Truth.
The time has come:
In case that wasn’t blunt enough for your taste, I will state it directly. The “Salvation” too commonly practiced today is a “Myth.” What is the Path Forward? First, we must “Believe that He Exists.” We must believe that He Is who He says He Is. It is Not enough to merely believe in Christ as the Son of God; as Scripture says, “even the demons believe that.” It is not enough to “Confess” our sins; we must “Repent” and “go and sin no more.” But, we must know and accept what “Sin” and “Repentance” actually are. Sin is Rebellion against God’s Truth, a devotion to Resist God’s sovereign authority. To Repent is to Reverse this devotion and be completely devoted to God’s Truth in our lives. But not just the Truth we like, all of God’s word must be obeyed; otherwise, we are still in rebellion… we are “Heretics.” And as we have shown, Heretics “will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” We must believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed.”
Our Salvation is not a “get out of jail free card;” it is a reservation for a place at God’s table “in the last time.” If we do not live a life of obedience between confession and death, we will “not inherit the Kingdom of God.” “We are What we Believe.” If you Believe, you will “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). As you “Believe,” you will be “God’s adopted child, one of the Saved… a Christian.” We can lie to others, ourselves and even to God, but…We are What we Believe… and What we Believe is Apparent! Some will not like these answers. They might say, “Once saved always saved.” Really? 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard so that you will not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing.” Then what happens? “If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume all adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26,27) Oh, and… “But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38). Just one more… Hebrews 6:11,12 “We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, so that your hope may be fully assured. Then you will not be sluggish, but will imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” There is No “Miracle Pill,” No quick, “I believe” and we’re good.
Thankfully, Romans says we do not walk alone, that, in dedication to the Truth, “God’s Influence” guides us, and through this guidance we will be Saved.
Let me end with a few more of M’Clure’s words:
“May we persevere in faith and love and holy obedience, and thro’ Grace obtain admittance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom be all the glory of our salvation.”
© Scott A Caughel 1/15/2019