Monday, December 27, 2010

Things They Didn't Tell Me

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:5-6; quoted from Proverbs 3:11,12, (ESV)

This past few days the theme of Jerry Bridges' devotional thoughts in Holiness Day by Day has been that of discipline. Regardless of whether you call it discipline, adversity, or hardship, the scripture makes it clear that God first of all, disciplines those whom he loves, in other words, His children. (Hebrews 12:3-17) Second, discipline is a key or major means by which we grow in sanctification of holiness. Another way of saying this, is without the discipline or the hardship and adversity that God directly sends into our lives or permits to come into our lives we would not grow in Christlike holiness.

God disciplines and chastises those who are his children. If you find yourself without adversity, without hardship, without pain/suffering, or without disappointment then you need to immediately do as Paul said in II Corinthians 13:5 and look to see if there is any evidence that you are truly a child of God. Remember, not all discipline, hardship, disappointment, or adversity is the result of some unconfessed and unrepented sin in our lives. Sometimes it is just because! Because it brings God glory. Because it furthers my growth in holiness.

I was thinking on this subject this past week since Bridges has emphasized it. I especially thought on this topic when he included these statements:

"But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11, (NIV)

F. F. Bruce - "The person who accepts discipline at the hand of God as something designed by his heavenly Father for his good will cease to feel resentful and rebellious; he has 'calmed and quieted' his soul [Psalm 131:2], which thus provides fertile soil for the cultivation of a righteous life, responsive to the will of God."

"The road to holiness is paved with adversity. If we want to be holy, (there is the rub, many of don't want to be holy-how about you?) we must expect the discipline of God through the heartaches and disappointments He brings or allows to come into our lives."

As I thought on these things this week it occurred to me, when the gospel was being pitched to me, I was never told this. I was told that Jesus loved me, and died for me, and had a wonderful plan for my life. All I needed to do was bow my head and repeat a prayer. Now mind you, I am not disappointed in my God, my Savior, or my salvation. Nor am I sorry I became a Christian, but as I thought on how the gospel was presented to me and how it is presented to many today, I wondered what else wasn't I told.

 Jesus gave the cost if you would for becoming his disciple in this passage - read it carefully. I think if we presented the gospel clearly with this admonition, or caveat, or qualification of what is really involved, I think there would be fewer "false professions" and less unconverted people filling our pews, pulpits, and programs in the local church. Do I think these things are important? Yes, Jesus said, "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" Luke 14:28 (context is 14:25-34), (ESV)

I thank God that he is sovereign and overcomes these deficient gospel presentations and saves his elect. I am glad that it is God who overcomes my rebellious and resistant heart and gives me the gift of salvation. But as I thought about on these things, at least five (5) things came to my mind that they did not tell me when they wanted me to sign on the dotted line and "accept Christ."

...that I would become a slave, a slave to a new Master with no will, identify, or life of my own. That my identify would result from his identity, that I am to subjugate my will to his will. That my whole life is to be given to doing his will, his bidding, and his desires.

...that the road to holiness was paved by adversity, hardship, discipline, heartache and disappointment. That although God does not punish me, nor is never angry at me, nor has occasion to remember my sin or love me any less than he always has, he will still chastise and discipline me in order to further develop me in holiness.

...that it is all about him and nothing about me. That my job is solely to reflect, magnify, and portray his glorious nature and character to this lost and dying world in hopes that someone would see the beauty of the Lord and by his grace be drawn to be a God-fearer and his child like me. That God's primary concern is his glory and not me and my comfort and wish list.

.... that this isn't my best life now. That I am not saved and brought into the kingdom of God in this present age to have every desire satisfied, every whim provided for, and every wish granted. That as Paul said in Philippians, I have been called to suffer as a believer. That reward, rest, and blessing comes in the next age.

....that there is a cost to be counted to becoming a disciple of Christ

Again, I am not complaining, nor am I ungrateful or dissatisfied for becoming a Christian. This week of devotions just caused me to think how serious discipleship really is and how lightly we at times take it.

So let me ask you:

Have we made "becoming a Christian" to easy?
Have we "changed" the gospel in any way?
Is it easier to become a Christian today than in the time of Christ and the Apostles?
What didn't "they" tell you when the gospel was presented to you?


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Very thought provoking post Gregg, I suppose we all try to be and act Christian in our own way, perhaps it's not the way some may like us to be, but to each their own.
I enjoyed the read.


Seams Inspired said...

What didn't 'they' tell me? Hmmm...that's a good question. I suppose I'd have to say, acting like a Christian is just that...acting. It's completely different from 'being' a Christian.

Great post! Happy Monday! :o)

Cathy M. said...

Have we made "becoming a Christian" to easy? I'm not certain that is within our power, although I think very few people are practiced at articulating the message clearly and completely.
Have we "changed" the gospel in any way? People are always changing it; but, at some point, it's no longer the gospel.
Is it easier to become a Christian today than in the time of Christ and the Apostles? It has always been by grace through faith in all ages.
What didn't "they" tell you when the gospel was presented to you? I'm not sure whether I wasn't told, or I didn't perceive, but there are some truths which are better understood progressively.

Thought provoking post. Have a great week!

Michelle said...

Very insightful post. I believe this is one of the most important things that is left out when we "come to Christ." No one talks about persecution. No one talks about dying to self. That would just totally ruin our culture of high self-esteem and entitlement.

It is so hard for people to comprehend how a loving Father can allow hardship and discipline in our life; I mean, especially when we are so "good." seems as if parenting here on earth is following the same path.

I really find relief in reading your thoughts. I have days when I am at home and I am frustrated. I have no joy and especially not the joy I need for my children. And I is these trials and realizations that will continue to drive me to Him.

Kansas Bob said...

Becoming a Christian in America may be easy but in other parts of the world there is a cost attached to a profession of faith. Maybe that is the message - eventually there is a cost to discipleship.. eventually faith is tested.. eventually we come to a place of denying self.. eventually we pick up our cross.. apart from that following Jesus is just a cliché.


Have we made "becoming a Christian" to easy? YES!

Have we "changed" the gospel in any way? YES!

Is it easier to become a Christian today than in the time of Christ and the Apostles?

In America YES! In Communist China and Muslim countries NO!

What didn't "they" tell you when the gospel was presented to you?

"They" told me nothing one way or the other! A fellow truck driver told me to read the Bible and listen to Christian radio. The Holy Spirit convicted me and God applied the blood of Christ to wicked evil life and He saved me! Praise be to God!!


Persis said...

Have we made "becoming a Christian" to easy? Yes. But are we truly telling what a Christian is?
Have we "changed" the gospel in any way? Yes, but then it may not be the gospel any longer.
Is it easier to become a Christian today than in the time of Christ and the Apostles? Yes and no. It's different being a Christian in American than in North Korea.
What didn't "they" tell you when the gospel was presented to you? TULIP