Dying to Live: The Gospel Paradox

Jesus said, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (Jn. 12:25-27).

There are glorious promises in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The King of glory offers eternal life, present companionship with Himself, and honor from God the Father. What joy must fill the heart of anyone who contemplates such rewards as these! Only consider what you (and every sinner) deserve from God, and these promised blessings will become ever so sweet.

And yet, the astute reader will notice a disturbing paradox among these pleasant words. When was it that Christ earned these blessings for His followers? It was at the troubling hour of His crucifixion! Where does Christ beckon His disciples to follow Him? It is to suffering He calls! How is it that Christ’s servants become partakers of everlasting life? It is by hating and losing life in this world!

May God grant to us all the fullness of His blessed promises in the Gospel of Christ, and may He empower us to follow the Savior with selfless abandon.

Christ wants you to die!

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).

While most people in our western culture have not had to consider what it might feel like to persecuted unto death, every Christian everywhere must resolve to die for the sake of knowing and possessing Christ. I hope you’ll take the time to re-read and consider that sentence.

The unmistakable call of Christ is to die. The thought of such a thing is so repugnant to us that we are naturally inclined to do anything to avoid it. I mean… who wants to die? However, in this paradoxical call, Christ beckons sinners to lose something lesser in order to gain something greater.

The life lived apart from Christ is death unto death. Sinners reap the bitter fruit of their wickedness in this life and in the life to come. But, the life given over to Christ is life unto life. The sinner who dies with Christ shall be raised with Him, and the one who lives on mission with Christ shall reap the savory rewards of a life well lived.

Whether it is long or short, may we live worthwhile lives for Christ.

Life from the Triune God

“God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3-4).

Christianity is unique among all the world’s religions. Many features contribute to its remarkability, but one major distinctive of Christianity is the basic nature and function of God. Only in biblical Christianity is God both transcendent and personal, other and relatable, holy and approachable. The biblical God is triune (three in one); He is Father, Son, and Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is God, and yet there is no confusion nor separation of these distinct persons.

This unique feature of Christianity is not academic or theoretical only. The plan, work, and application of salvation itself is an expression of the triune God of holy Scripture. God the Father sent His Son to scandalously beloved sinners, God the Son lived and died and rose again for those sinners, and God the Spirit brings life to those dead sinners and indwells them forever.

The life God gives is effective, it is eternal, and it is assuring like no other. Christians can rest in the life God gives, for He has planned and performed everything with divine precision and loving care.

May this God – the triune and purposefully loving God – grant us grace to worship and adore Him with the life He brought to unworthy sinners like us.

Immortality for Everyone? Yes, & No…

“Jesus said… ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…’” (John 11:25).

All humans know that death is certain, but somehow many people still seem to think that they can avoid or at least delay the inevitable. Our generation is by no means the first to crave immortality; I remember historical accounts of many European explorers losing themselves (and everything else) in search of the ‘fountain of youth’ somewhere in the South American jungle. The human race has a built-in longing for eternality, and the Bible explains our fascination in striking terms.

Jesus Christ is the only human to have ever conquered death, and this makes Him the authority on the subject. He said two things that are vital to understanding the biblical view of life, death, and immortality. First, Jesus said that life was not just something He had, but life is something He is. Jesus said, “I am the life” (Jn. 14:6); and, speaking of Himself, Jesus also said, “the Son [of God] has life in Himself” (Jn. 5:26). Second, Jesus said that everyone would exist forever, but only some would live eternally. Jesus said, “all who are in the tombs will… come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28-29).

The combination of these two things might be understood like this: Those who are connected with Jesus, who evidence this connection with goodness, will live forever. Those who are disconnected from Jesus, who evidence this disconnection with evil rebellion, will die under God’s judgment forever.

May God grant that we are counted among the former and not the latter, that we would be joined with Christ and live in Him forevermore.

Marriage: You Live What You Really Believe

While some Christians might be tempted to create a false divide between theology (perceived as sacred) and practice (perceived as secular or at least unrelated), that simply does not work. There is no such thing as a secular-sacred divide! Theology always affects practice. As a smart guy might say, “Orthodoxy produces orthopraxy,” which simply means that right belief will lead to right living. This is true of every area of life, and it is especially true in regards to marriage.

What a person really believes about marriage will always play out in their marital relationship. If a man really believes that he is only obligated to his wife as long as she stays in good physical shape, then he will eventually demonstrate this belief by leaving or looking elsewhere (adultery, pornography, etc.). If a woman really believes that she is only obligated to her husband as long as he provides an acceptable lifestyle, then she will eventually demonstrate this belief by looking elsewhere too. These are just two examples, but one could list many. The point is, what a person truly believes will affect how they live.

The Bible argues that marriage is instituted and regulated by God (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-12; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:22-33). In fact, the Bible demands that all people everywhere honor God’s design and regulations for marriage (Heb. 13:4). This more than implies that Christians are not the only ones who are responsible before God to live according to a particular standard of belief about marriage. Furthermore, it is the Christian’s duty and privilege to live as an example of such right belief, no matter what is going on in the world around them. 

You live what you really believe, and the world around you is watching…

Keep your conduct among the [non-believers] honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).