Friday, May 10, 2002

Keep in mind the blogs are posted in reverse chronological order.

Assurance of Salvation

Do you ever, in private moments of despair, worry about your salvation? I do, although less often as I get older. Evangelicals (apart from those who pervert Calvinism) view good works as an effect of salvation, not a cause. Good works are viewed as evidence of a saving faith:

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:17, NASB)

I won’t get into what constitutes “good works”. But what it boils down to is a desire not only to talk-the-talk but also walk-the-walk. Anyone can go to church, but anyone, preachers included, can be guilty of merely going through the motions.

That is what used to (and still does occasionally) work on my heart: Am I sincere, or is my faith merely pro forma.

There is a lot of scripture and a lot of books devoted to obtaining an assurance. A verse that gives me great comfort, even though is not often used for this purpose, is:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:1, NAS)

When I doubt myself, I think of this verse. No matter how bad things are, I never think of the word of the cross as foolishness, which in turn prevents me from worrying about perishing. Great comfort is found here.

Protestant Work Ethic

When I was in public school (60s and 70s) it was taught that Calvinistic zeal to obtain assurance of their salvation caused Protestants to be extremely hardworking and good citizens, and so the Protestant Work Ethic was born. The success of the industrial revolution was attributed, in large measure, to this development. This strikes me as wonderfully politically incorrect. My guess is that the Protestant Work Ethic is no longer mentioned in public schools, and Christians are more likely to be blamed for the industrial revolution rather than credited.

If Islam were any more “peaceful” I couldn’t stand it.

In Indonesia, at least 12 Christians were slaughtered by Muslims.

And in that nation of our great "friends", Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian Christians were tortured.

This is just a miniscule tip of the iceberg. Christians living in the Muslim world face unspeakable persectution. Pray for them daily.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about why many Evangelicals support Israel. Clearly I forgot to mention another important reason: unlike Muslims, Jews do not massacre Christians.

Proselytizing to the Jews

Jews often do get upset (but not anywhere near to the point of slitting our throats) when we witness to them. We do this because we are told to:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, " All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt 28: 18-20, NAS)

That is our “Great Commission”. Don’t get upset – understand why we do it – Jesus commanded us. Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about it.

When done properly, it is also done out of love. Nobody exemplifies this more than the great Apostle Paul:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9:1-5, NAS)

He was willing to trade his salvation for that of his brethren (the Jews). That is a bit farther than I'm prepared to go.

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