Do you have a life?

I heard some of the New Year’s performances that were broadcast last night.  Beyonce singing about how she wants people to know and never forget that she was here.  Another artist singing about how they just want to celebrate and “live [their] life”.  There’s a lot of “pride of life” going on in these songs.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  (1 John 2:16)

One of the major themes of the first angel’s message in Revelation 14:6-7 is that God calls human beings to recognize the distinction between their Creator and themselves.  Worship God as the Creator and Source of life.  God calls us to acknowledge that we are not equal to Him as part of our act of worshipping Him.  After all, you can’t worship God if you don’t also acknowledge that He is greater than you.  And yet, people like Beyonce blast the message that they equate themselves with God.  If that sounds exaggerated, take a thoughtful look at the song lyrics of some popular songs.  Far from worshipping God, popular artists frequently worship themselves (and each other).

In a very real way, we can’t really say, like Bon Jovi, “It’s my life.”  It’s not our life.  Sorry to break it to any of these famous artists, or anyone else for that matter, but we really don’t own our lives.  As much as those who don’t choose to love, worship, and give their lives to God might want to express their rebellion and disdain toward Him, they still can’t escape the fact that their every waking moment happens only by His power and because of His grace, that they draw every breath they breathe from His nostrils.  The God they despise and seek to disgrace is the only reason they can exist.  There is no possibility of life apart from Christ, because He is life.  Every human life is a tangible, visible monument to the continued grace of God.

Sorry, Beyonce, Bon Jovi, and anybody else who uses the expression, “It’s my life,” to excuse their wrong behavior.  It’s not your life you’re living.  Your life is borrowed, not owned.  It’s ownership resides with the One who made it.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  (John 1:4)

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  (1 John 5:11-12)

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  (Genesis 2:7)

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Cut my life into pieces … this is my last resort

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4, NASB

 

Many, many years ago, I passed through the darkest period of my life. It was a time in which the end of a bad relationship left me without the will to live.

I remember feeling that the pain was so unbearable that I wanted to crawl out of my own skin to escape it. I remember the desperate feeling of hopelessness. I recall the tears, the heart-rending agony, the prayers that did not seem to escape my dorm room walls. Most of all, I remember equating existence with unspeakable pain.

I remember wishing to die.

Its such an unimaginable thought. Wishing for death? If you sit at an outdoor booth in Manhattan, you’ll see all varieties of people rushing by. They’re all trying to live as long as they can. They see doctors. They exercise. They eat celery. Even those who don’t would still take most any action if their lives depended on it.

And yet there I was, in a place I pray very few people go. Its so strange when you come to that precipice. I remember with high-definition clarity that overcast day when I crossed the street from my dorm room to the Village Market, almost praying to be struck by a car. A dark moment in the middle of the night spent staring at a knife set in the middle of a hotel kitchen. My face was drenched with tears by the time I was close enough to touch them. I cried because I felt God’s longing for me to take a look at where I’d gotten myself.

Why am I saying this? Because the other day, I recalled those moments and marveled. My despair was so complete. My life seemed so empty, devoid of love and hope. It all seemed so horrific that I actually thought it would be preferable to give up living.

I don’t know how Jesus saved me from that experience. But He did.

He saved me. I didn’t feel a lightning bolt of relief. I didn’t heal quickly. But now, looking back, I can joyfully say, I KNOW my Redeemer lives. He gave me the oil of joy for sadness. He gave me beauty for ashes. In all my life, I have never known such love and happiness. Once upon a time, I lost myself. My life felt completely hopeless. But now, I have found my life in Jesus Christ. I’ve never felt more complete.

Why do I share this? I share it for you. I don’t know what you’re going through. But if you feel like you’re all out of hope, I’ve been there. I’ve brooded in misery with headphones in my ears, listening to hard rock songs about suicide; I’ve sung the words as if they were written just for me.

“Would you even care if I die bleeding? Would it be wrong, would it be right, if I took my life tonight? Chances are that I might. Mutilation out of sight, and I’m contemplating suicide. Cuz I’m losing my sight, losing my mind, wish somebody would tell me I’m fine… “

And then the climax of the song would come, and he would scream: “I can’t go on living this way!”

If that’s how you feel, the next word I’m going to write can change your life forever.

But. But not just any but. But Jesus.

There may not appear to be hope in your life. You might be feeling like life has pushed you into a dark alleyway corner with a knife pushed up against your throat. There may not be light at the end of the tunnel.

But there is Jesus.

Satan might say, “You can’t go on living this way,” but the Bible says,

“But anyone still alive has hope…” Ecclesiastes 9:4, NCV

And so, if you’re still alive, no matter how hopeless you feel, the almighty God of the universe says you have hope.

A doctor can heal your body. Medicine can numb your pain. Drugs can get you out of your head so you can ignore the desolation in your heart. But only Jesus can heal you on the inside. When you’ve tried it all and you think your only option is death, God invites you to choose life. You can do that simply by choosing Him.

If you don’t know how He can possibly heal you, it doesn’t matter. You may not know how Aleve makes your headache go away, but that does not for a moment stop it from working, does it? The GOOD NEWS is that your lack of knowledge is incapable of making Him incapable of saving you.

Jesus, I don’t know how you saved me. But You did. And for that, my life, my love, and my adoration will always belong to You.

¡¡¡Te amo!!!

Javier

Click here for a quick view of all the Bible verses in this blog post on my tumblr page.

Rebuttal: “Does the Bible Teach Eternal Security…?”

 

Grafting of olive tree (Olea europaea) Mallorca.

Image via Wikipedia

 

I came across a blog post promoting the concept of eternal security, or “once saved, always saved,” and I wanted to share my response with our readers. I gave other biblical evidence to support what I believe to be the true biblical position on this topic here.

I think a lot of the verses you mentioned do indicate that a person must abide in Christ in order to remain saved. Just as entering into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ requires a choice on our part to give our hearts and lives to Him, each day we must choose to remain in that relationship much the way a married person must choose each day to remain in that relationship and honor the vows they made on their wedding day. It’s a commitment which lasts a lifetime, so long as both people choose daily to honor the commitment.

Consider Christ’s use of the vine and branches in John 15 as an analogy of our lifelong relationship with Him. I pose that all the branches who are connected to Him are saved. How can a branch who is drawing his or her life from the Vine, Jesus Christ, be anything but saved? Indeed, Jesus says in verse 2, “Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit, He [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” Thus the people who are branches are people who are *in Him.*

And yet, even though they were once saved – connected to the Vine – Jesus says,

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” John 15:5-6.

What does abide mean if not to remain in Him?  And we me must already be in Him in order to remain in Him.  Once we are saved/connected to Him, we still have a choice: remain in Christ, or don’t remain in Christ. If we choose not to abide in Christ, we are cut off from the Vine, apart from which there is no life as per John 15:6.

Consider also Romans 11, in which Paul uses the imagery of the grafting in of branches into an olive tree to talk about salvation (verses 17-23):

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Paul said we were grafted in (saved) by our faith (this is the same concept of righteousness by faith taught by Paul in Romans 3:22, 24-25, 28). “Do not be conceited, but fear,” Paul warns. He’s saying, don’t be haughty, don’t be presumptuous, but fear – for “if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either”; if we do not “continue in His kindness,” we will be “cut off”. If we later lose our faith in Christ, we will *not* be spared. This shows a clear picture of how a saved person can choose to stop abiding in Christ, to separate him/herself from His kindness, and in so doing, lose his/her salvation. For there is no salvation apart from Christ.

This does not mean that just because a saved person makes a mistake and falls, that they have lost their salvation. It’s only if they abandon the faith and start living a life of habitual sin with no more regard for Jesus’ commandments, and they completely grieve away the Holy Spirit, that their name can be blotted out of Christ’s book. If we taste the best that God can give, if we partake of the heavenly Gift, and then fall away (not meaning stumbling and getting back up, but again, meaning abandoning the faith), Hebrews 6:6 says “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”, for “ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Lest anyone misunderstand, the Bible does teach that we can have assurance of our salvation. But we have no assurance of salvation apart from Christ. We must ABIDE in Him, and as long as our very lives are as intimately dependent on Jesus Christ as the life of the branches depends on the Vine, the Root of that divine tree, we have full and complete assurance of salvation. We just can’t trample Jesus underfoot (Hebrews 10:29) by abandoning our faith in Him and returning to an unrepentant life of brazen, abandoned, habitual sin and claim to still have salvation in Him. To say that because we once verbally accepted Christ we can now never be lost is tantamount to saying the same thing that the Jews said in Jeremiah 7:9-10:

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–that you may do all these abominations?”

The obvious answer is, of course not. Salvation is not a license to sin. And although I know that wasn’t your premise, can it honestly be said that the doctrine of eternal security doesn’t lead down a slippery slope that ends with just such a license?

What do you think?

(Note: The author of the above site deleted my comment without responding to any of my points.)