Perseverance of the Saints

31 days big

Apostasy. It’s kind of a scary word. The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief. Someone previously thought to be in Christ, believed to be a saint, walking away. Falling away, step by tiny step. Saying goodbye.

Ugh. It’s not fun to think about. We know people do “commit apostasy,” sometimes. Sounds so formal. It hurts. But doesn’t the Bible promise us eternal life? So why was that person’s “eternal life” only 6 months? A year? a decade? What about “eternal”?

There are a ton – a TON – of ideas all mashed up in apostasy. There’s sanctification and the eternal nature of salvation, false Christians and still more predestination. We’ll chat about perseverance of the saints today, the P in the Calvinist TULIP. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the Armenian idea of Conditional Security

The Calvinist stance on apostasy, called “Perseverance of the Saints”  is based in the fact that whoever believes believes in Him has eternal life. He promises that they will not perish, and cannot be snatched away. Indeed, what should separate us from the love of Christ?

So, Calvinists argue, those who are saved, are saved. If you are a member of the elect, you will show fruit. The saved are created for good works. The elect are justified and sanctified, and it will show.

If, according to the Calvinists, someone walks away from the church, they were always destined to do so. They were not elect, they were merely in church – like the Pharisees. After all, not everyone who claims to call upon the Lord will enter heaven. If you are a member of the elect, Calvinists posit, you will walk as such for most of your life.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[a] and will inherit eternal life

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Matthew 7:18-20 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Advertisements
Published in: on October 25, 2013 at 9:33 am  Comments (1)  

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

or Strings wants faith like Betsie.

 

Okay, so I’m going to go on a tangent here and I want you to stay with me.

On Pinterest there are these signs, right? Our family does love, our family does forgiveness, blah blah blah in 30 different fonts and words going in every readable orientation, to what amounts to a family list of rules.

Well, I want to be a family that does faith like Betsie ten Boom.

I had, before I read this, read a number of stories about Corrie. Certainly I knew her to be a pillar of faith. The story that stuck out most to me was a tale I read in a christian magazine back in LifeTeen, where she saw someone with a runny nose and prayed for a handkerchief. Despite the horrors of the jail around her, and the million other things to pray for, she prayed for a handkerchief with authority. Within a few minutes it was delivered. Someone walked over to Corrie and said, “I think you need this,” and hands her a kerchief.

I don’t even, right? Bawled.

This whole book was like that, except it was mostly about Betsie. It was interesting going in, knowing all these wonderful things about Corrie, because if you’re reading this autobiography – well, Corrie’s pretty humble. You read her innermost thoughts, her faltering, her worries, her doubts. But you SEE Betsie, and Betsie’s extraordinary faith. This woman does and says things I cannot fathom saying or doing. She just takes God at His word in every. single. situation. To a degree that is impractical. It’s jump-out-of-the-boat-and-jog faith.

Seriously, bring tissues. I’m not going to spoil it for you. I know, normally I give you complete outlines. This is not something I can do justice. All I can say is 1) read it, 2) plan to cry and 3) pray for faith like Betsie.

Lord, help me be thankful for fleas.

And when you understand that statement, leave a comment so we can cry together. Tearing up now.

Oh, and if I could be parents like the ten Booms, that would be great. I mean, Corrie’s dad is just a pillar of fatherhood. I don’t even.

 

Published in: on September 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Whoops.

So.

Don’t start Food Waste Friday and miss weeks. Just don’t. It’s….embarrassing.

food-waste-with-leaf-v2.1

I was trying to make Stories’ lunch this morning before I cleaned out the fridge, but they ended up being the same thing, as while I was making his lunch I found two spoiled cheeses (this is improbably embarrassing; we eat several pounds of cheese a week), some spoiled watermelon (Raptor was trying to pry the lid off it and eat it anyway, despite the fuzzies – definitely should have eaten it sooner), and spoiled soup (that one I did see coming). There was also some spoiled OJ and very soon there will be spoiled green juice, though I will definitely let Raptor have a couple of glasses today. That one might yet be saved.

In other news, my refrigerator is shiny now! I’ve already bought food for the week, so I don’t forsee it getting overfull this week at least.

Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Before I so much as opened this book, I suspected I’d like it. As a former Catholic, now Evangelical, I am compelled absolutely by the dichotomy of truth and grace. The Law and the Savior. I have a lot of thoughts on James 2:20.

So I was pretty sure that this was going to rock. I don’t think I was wrong.

At it’s core, this book is about the difference between justification and sanctification, and it does a really good job explaining what that even means. To condense, justification is what happens to us BY grace – we are justified by grace through faith, washed of sin. It is and was finished on the cross. However, that’s not the end of sin or the story – then there’s sanctification, which is the part where we are made to be free of sin; we can, with God’s help, stop listening to sin.

On one hand, Christians often face a problem upon conversion: we no longer believe we need to be preached the gospel. While the process of sanctification is happening, we haven’t stopped sinning, and so the need for grace is ongoing. The answer, Bridges suggests, is to preach the gospel to yourself continually, because the gospel begets grace.

A natural response to the gospel is, of course, “Won’t people be irresponsible with all that grace?” Paul famously responded “By no means!” Christ has freed us from the stain of sin, but the voice of sin is ongoing, and as children of God, we’re not obligated to listen. All too frequently we do, anyway. John Murray wrote, “To say to the slave who has not been emancipated, ‘Do not behave as a slave’ is to mock his enslavement. But to say the same to a slave who has been set free is the necessary appeal to put into effect the privileges and rights of his liberation.”

That’s where discipline and sanctification come in. Bridges reminds us that grace began something in us (justification), He will finish it (sanctification). The perfect picture of grace is justification and sanctification, a relabeling from “sinner” to “child” as well as the discipline to be free of sin.

Bridges likens sin to a civil war in the hearts and minds of believers. When we are justified through faith, Jesus wins the war on sin. It’s done – but sin doesn’t leave. Sin starts a “guerilla war of harassment and sabotage.” Amen. He reminds us that sanctification can take many forms (including ones we don’t control like exhortation), but it’s on our heads to take the initiative to pray and be in the Word. That’s the discipline part of grace.

We know that the rules of the Bible are impossible to follow perfectly. That’s the trouble with legalism, Bridges suggests: the law is available, but not the ability to follow it. Grace-initiated sanctification brings discipline to transform us; that we might follow the law because we are freed from the bondage of sin.

We must discipline ourselves (or try) but without Him, we are doomed to fail. We have to balance discipline with dependence. But what does that look like? Bridges makes a list of several disciplines he finds important: commitment, convictions, choices, watching and adversity.

By the discipline of commitment, he means the discipline of committing to holiness. Examining our lives, identifying sins, and working to rout them with His help, and repeating even after we fail.
To do that, we must discipline our convictions – and that can mean having some! He reminds us that we can’t just take the convictions of those around us, of course. We must develop biblically-based convictions. Memorization, meditation and study of scripture are the only way to do that.

The next thing to discipline is our choices – put off the bad and put on the good with each individual choice. He reminds us that taking off sin is never enough, we must also put on Christ. Here, too, grace is key – we will fail. Accept His grace, over and over and over again.

The discipline of watching is also important. We must be constantly on guard against sin entering our lives in ways we don’t expect, never be certain that we are free of a sin. David, after God’s own heart, did not expect a naked woman on a rooftop that day. We shore up our weak places, but also be constantly on the lookout for the little sins, the unexpected sins, the surprising lapses in judgement. And never, ever, ever, be too proud to admit them!

The last discipline is adversity, that all hardship is discipline.God treats us as children, and we will therefore be disciplined. If we are not experiencing a need to be disciplined we are not growing as his children; therefore we are illegitimate sons. Failure is expected and tolerated from your kids as they grow, how much more so with you and your heavenly Father who loves you?

First printed in ‘94, this book is definitely older, but it hasn’t gone out of date. Do keep your amazon wish list open – he quotes a lot of theological heavyweights, and you might be inspired to read their stuff while you’re at it! Seriously, he does justice to the truth and grace balance and is generally inspiring. You’ll also find yourself more conversant in your five-dollar church words – justification vs. sanctification, mortification, and so on. Not a bad use of your time!

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  

God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos

God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos, by Keri Wyatt Kent, is definitely designed for mothers of Littles! I read it the first time in like an hour. It’s short, it’s direct, it’s easy to read. Individual chapters can be read very quickly. Taken as a whole, it’s a good book, and it’s got some good points in it!

 

The first point she makes – and she makes it again and again, as she should! – is that life is hard and doesn’t wait. There are seasons where you can get up at the crack of dawn before your family and do your devotionals. There are also seasons where your lamp won’t go out at night. There are still more seasons where you lunch with the Lord and your version of “alone time” is doing the dishes or laundry.

 

We have to remember to be with God, and we don’t want to be with someone we don’t trust. So, we have to work on trusting Him in every situation. We must choose to accept that what he has given us right now is best for us right now.

 

We must listen. Kent recommends a couple things to help this: practice listening to people, quiet time, and decluttering our minds by decluttering our lives and spaces. I love this, all of it. She wants you holding your stuff with open hands, but I’d take it further. Hold your own thoughts, your stuff, your time. It’s all His. If He uses it in a way that’s not the way you expect – that’s okay.

 

And to be okay with that, we need to practice letting it go. It’s a little bit Zen, of course, so be careful not to idolize the Zen-ness of it. Remember that you are giving it to God, not to yourself. And it might not look like monk-on-an-open-mountain, either. You might free your schedule only to find a stream of requests flowing in your front door to fill all this free time you’ve just made. Ask God if it’s what He has for you. It’s His time, not yours.

 

And while we’re at it, our kids. They can teach us so much about Him – they have such faith in Him. And there are those parenting moments where you see God with such stunning clarity – the other day I told (okay, hollered at) my son, “If you just did what I told you to do, when I told you to do it, we wouldn’t need any other rules!” I then proceeded to cry, I was so convicted. (Also, possibly sleep-deprived).

 

She also suggests to beautify your space and your life. You don’t need to cover your shelves in knick-knacks, or have a single breakable, but paying attention to the little stuff, the tiny details, can enrich a life for so very little (money, effort, time). If the beauty you have is a bouquet of dandelions, put it in a vase and admire it. Frame scribbles. Look at bugs. Find beauty where you are.

 

“Instead of feeling guilty about how little time with God I get, I need to look at how I can connect

with God in the midst of my chaos.” Easily the most important sentence in the book. She does suggest that mornings are great, but I think about it a little differently. Just be alone with God. Find 10 minutes in your day to be alone. I can rant on this one, but I won’t. Do it when you can, how you can. Do it.

 

There is one thing I don’t like about this book, and it’s a little quibble-y (Is that a thing?) Anyway, at the beginning, her version of God is very “Boyfriend/Buddy” Jesus-y. I mean, the gospel is the gospel and God does love us and want to be with us. All He wants is our hearts, yes, alleluia!

 

But the trouble with this is that you can really take the legs off of grace when all you focus on is the grace.  It may be outside the scope of this particular book, but be sure when reading books like this to devote some time in your heart to how big, majestic and truly awesome God is. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Never forget that. We love a God who is worth fearing.

 

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver!

 

“Mama, I want to watch Buck Tooooo!”

For the record, I have no idea why my toddler calls Buck Denver “Buck Too,” but he does, and he begs for Buck all the time!

 

Phil Vischer, the maker of Veggie Tales, is back and doing something way more awesome, this time. He’s going through the Bible, book by book and point by point, telling the story of God’s Rescue Plan.

Insert the most fabulous cast here – my husband and I adore Clive and Ian, preschool and school age puppet kids asking all the hard questions, all the hilarious questions, and sometimes begging for ponies. Raptor loves Chuck Wagon best – a blue cowboy from the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” singing songs about Jesus (and if he can work in something about a steering wheel, he’s happy).

Lest you think this is “Bible: the Kids Musical,” there is also the indomitable Sunday School Lady, complete with blue hair and Magical Flannel Graph, using infographics and maps to explain everything from the way God divvied up the Promised Land to Pax Romana.

When things get too confusing, the collared Pastor Paul chimes in with a helpful definition or Scripture that everyone ought to know. But, don’t assume that the show favors one denomination over the other – Brother Louie and his gospel choir will sing you some amazing and awe-inspiring renditions of traditional church tunes, while asking and explaining why church is the way it is.

There’s also a pirate to explain all church history and sing hilarious ditties, a mad scientist to help with apologetics, a popsicle-stick theatre for showing entire stories in a sitting (like Ruth, or the Fall), and Buck Denver MAN OF NEWS to tie it all together.

And when the going gets tough, the tough ask Phil himself! He takes on tricky questions like “Why is it okay that God killed all those people?” and gives kids answers that really do make sense.

I cannot tell you how much I love this show. My babysitter loves this show. My kids adore this show (Yes, Boogaloo loves it too). If you’re looking for a show in which a vegetable demonstrates what Jesus would do, look elsewhere. This one takes on what Jesus (and Paul, and Abraham, and Nehemiah, and…) actually did. To quote the theme song, “Is there a God and if there is, what difference does it make?”

Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm  Comments (1)  

Happy Monday!

And welcome to my blog! I’m Strings, a 20-something mama married to the fabulous writer-daddy-programmer extraordinaire Stories (he won’t be posting, but he does edit some stuff for me). Our kids are 2 (a clever gent we’ll call Raptor) and 7 months (an entirely delicious girl we’ll call Boogaloo). 

I love God, I love theology, I love food and cooking. I do not love cleaning. I do not love decorating. I intensely dislike spending money. I like eating fresh-garden food, and thus tolerate gardening, but wouldn’t otherwise. I love my kids. I love my husband. That last one is the understatement of the year. So is the one about cleaning. 

I read a lot. I talk too much. 

And now I have a legitimized outlet to talk too much! Yay for you! 

Ahem. Seriously, this blog is an outlet for a couple things: God, theology, books about God and theology, food that I make, food that is local to the Eastern Iowa Corridor where I live, and generally stuff that interests me. My favorite blogs aren’t niche blogs, so this one mostly won’t be either except for the part about the books and the theology. I’ll try to keep up with that stuff for you. 

Have an awesome evening! 

Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment