‘How can you live the Christian life if you think it’s about you?’ These words from the first sermon came to mind throughout the series and they still do even as it comes to an end. They cut deeply to the heart of someone who was aware of the evil of man-centered theology (a worldview which thinks God exists to please mankind) that was out there, yet was oblivious to the sin within his own heart that wanted to keep his Christian life comfortable and easy.
Coming from a Charismatic background, I often said and heard things like ‘Put God first’ and ‘Make Jesus the center of your <insert X here>’. As well-intentioned as these sayings are, the Christian Life series has shown me that I used these like bumper sticker phrases, not understanding how God is front and center, in large bold font, KING OF THE ENTIRE CHRISTIAN LIFE, and indeed of all life itself:
God’s election shows His sovereign choice in saving people.
God’s justification of us shows His holiness and righteous standards.
God’s resurrection shows us the hope we have for a future glory.
How can I love God unless I know God rightly? To know God is to know God’s work and His plan of salvation, that are entirely about God and His purpose in redeeming a holy people to worship Him, and to know that the Christian life is all about full obedience and submission to Christ’s Lordship as revealed in the Scriptures.
I used to think of sin as whatever made me feel guilty, and that repentance was about me trying to do better, and faith as belief in my own belief. Now that I’ve learnt of sin as being in existence that is contrary to God’s Word, and repentance as a turning towards Him and walking the narrow path, faith as putting my trust and commitment in Him and His promises, I understand what it means to truly sing ‘I am not my own’, because the Christian life is not about my standards and my progress, but God creating holiness in His people that was only possible by the work of Christ on the Cross, ending sin’s dominion over us, and the Spirit’s work in our hearts, regenerating us to new birth.
I also learnt faith is not just mere belief, because in James 2:19-20 it says: “Even the demons believe, and tremble!”. But faith without works is dead. I don’t mean that works are a prerequisite for salvation, but rather that faith and obedience to God go hand in hand. As I remembered from the “Faith in Christ (and repentance)” sermon, the three elements of faith are knowledge, assent, and trust & commitment, where knowledge and assent lead to trust & commitment.
If I claim to know God, how can I not believe and trust in Him and His work of salvation? If I truly believe and trust in Him, how can I live a life that looks pretty much the same as before, same as the world around me, chasing the same things that they do? If I truly believe in the empty tomb and the risen Christ, how can I still cling onto my life, and be afraid to lose it for His sake?
As I ask myself these questions, I see that all of my life is about being shaped by His Word— whether it’s work or church or having joy in suffering throughout the Christian life.
After all, all I really am is “Saved by God, through God, for God”.
If you wish to know God, know self, to the glory of God, come and check out The Christian Life sermon series here.