I admit to selfish motives in penning this piece. How one comes to allegiance and obedience to Christ is an intensely personal story. And, others may likely find nothing in it to identify with from their own experience. But for me, at this point in my life, it is important for me to describe how my life was turned inside out if only for the benefit of my progeny if no one else. This is that story.
There is some very strange stuff going on, semantically, in the Tanakh – the Old Testament. Our English translations hide much of it, allowing us to blithely assume that unclear verses are either just poorly translated or, perhaps, intended to be purposefully obscure. But, what if their obscurity/ambiguity reveals some much deeper meaning than simply the literal texts in which they appear? And, if there is a deeper meaning, what could it be, and what is it likely to be?
God’s economy is not a traditional economy but it does have some characteristics in common with them. Both are composed of a series of “transactions” – interactions between “supplier” and “acquirer”. However, this is largely where the analogy ends. The economy of God doesn’t have a measure of value that you can denominate in quantitative units. It also isn’t constrained by a finite amount of value. Its source of value is God Himself, whose resources are inexhaustible.
Not all Christians experience the same quality of spiritual life. For some, their lives are joyful, full of confidence, full of assurance of their acceptance and eventual reward, and full to overflowing with the Spirit of God, to the point that they feel compelled to give it away to those around them.
For others, life is more measured, perhaps a bit more stressful, containing more concern, at least to a degree, for some of the things in their lives, resulting in worry. They are somewhat discouraged by the lack of spiritual “fruit” in their lives. They want to love, and to serve and to experience the joy of the Lord. But frustratingly, they just feel they’re stuck in a rut.
Why is the one life blessed so abundantly, while the other seems unfulfilled?
There appears to be in the Christian church today a profound misunderstanding of the working of Salvation in the Christian’s life.
On the one hand, we have the tried and true fundamental statement of salvation found in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (2:8):
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
When one hears and receives this glorious proclamation, he breathes a groaning sigh of relief. “I no longer have to strive to please God on my own; to be ‘good’ enough; to worry that I won’t live up to God’s expectations. I’m saved and my faithfulness to Him has saved me.”
These are all legitimate conclusions for the one who has, perhaps at long last, repented and believed. God saves from His judgment those who live faithfully to Him and His Son, Jesus, the Christ.
But what is it the Christian believes who receives this reprieve? And what is it that he has agreed to in proclaiming Christ the Lord of his life?