WAR ZONE

…we live in a war zone. There will be casualties

I have written in past days about my first experiences in Bosnia Herzegovina not very long after the cessation of open war. I use the term open war because the hatred and the racial and societal issues still divide the country and corruption stops any real forward progress in defeating the enemy.

It is difficult to describe a war zone. The buildings that once were homes, businesses, churches are just bombed out shells, with no life save the foraging insects and vermin that root among the remains looking for what else they can devour.

A hand painted sign reading welcome to Sarajevo covered in shrapnel caused pock-marks
Iconic Sarajevo sign 1995

Where people still reside, apartment buildings have shell holes that allow in the winter wind and the outside is pock-marked, the results of shrapnel tearing apart at the structure trying to weaken it.

There is a stark analogy between the physical war zone I witnessed in Sarajevo and remote areas of the countryside and the spiritual battles we face today. In Bosnia, no place was left untouched. Specific places had horrific stories of hate-driven carnage and we see the same in the battles Satan wages upon our world. I have felt the darkness of Satan’s demonic power more in Bosnia than anywhere else I have traveled but, it is only because there the mask of civilization was ripped away, and Satan’s plans were open for anyone to see. In the rest of our world, often, we keep the mask of civility and Satan’s attacks are, perhaps, not unseen, but unnoticed  by an uncaring society too wrapped in their own pain and secular drives to respond.

In the Bible we read, Satan is a roaring lion, prowling around seeing whom he may devour, just like the vermin crawling among the carnage of Bosnia’s war. Paul tells us our war is not against flesh and blood but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

A fierce looking lion crouched as if to pounce surrounded by a black background with the words Our Adversary the Devil

God has permitted Satan to have dominion over the world until the time He finishes it and brings Satan to destruction and all who believe in Christ are His forever in peace. God waits, not because He is cruel but because He is patient and loving. Peter explains it, writing that God is “not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”(2 Peter 3:9)

Until then, as one writer put it, “Satan’s attack means that we all are vulnerable to sickness, betrayal, financial meltdown, relational loss, emotional despair and other hardships… bad things happen to good people… we live in a war zone. There will be casualties.” (Rooted, Mariners Church 2011 p 85)

In our spiritual battles, there will be homes empty, just shells remaining where once there were families. There will be businesses and churches gone, only the few, scattered remains from a bombing by sin and failure. Where people still reside, there will be shell holes letting in the cold winter wind, chilling the soul and hardening the heart; the explosive remains of  damaged relationships, lost trust and horrific sin. The lives of those struggling to survive are pock-marked by the shrapnel of sin which has left its mark upon them.

There is hope.

The damage of war can be overcome and what was once uninhabitable shells of homes and broken down lives can come to life again like spring after a hard winter. The refreshing breeze of peace and love that comes only from Jesus Christ through His victory over death and sin.  When it coms to spiritual battles, as the ‘Rooted’ book spells out, “And (the Lord) wins. Every. Single. Time.” (p 85)

Someone once wrote how, in the darkest of places, a single candle burns brightest. I saw such a candle in Bosnia. It came in the form of a simple, unpretentious man who loved His Lord and loved every single person God sent his way in a very dark place. The flame of his candle lit many small candles which will burn for generations when the Spirit moves to set those candles within His lampstand.

A completely dark black frame with one bright flame from a candle visible in the darkness

John writes, “We know that we are children of God and that the world is under the control of the evil one.” That is disconcerting to say the least. But in context, we find hope. The verse just before this one reads, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God (that’s Jesus)keeps him (that’s you if you truly believe)and the evil one (that’s Satan) does not touch him. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world, but the Good News is that Jesus has overcome the world! He said so! Jesus doesn’t lie. Satan’s attacks will be all around us, but as believers, saved by grace through faith, even if we die because of a sinful world’s sickness, we are safe, secure, in heaven forever with Him.   

We live in a war zone. Live under the banner of the victor. Take heed to what He teaches about daily survival and keep a long-view, looking toward the completion of all things under Christ.

Through the Keyhole

Every moment is but a wisp of smoke through a keyhole and cannot be grasped and held so that it might stay longer than the brief time it is allotted.

Earlier this evening as I opened my FACEBOOK page, over on the left column it asked me to add a public ‘bio’ so I sat and penned what I thought should be said. Well, after a few minutes when I went to save it, it said that I was 2844 characters over what is permitted. So… since I cannot say it there, I will say it here! If you have a desire to read this short ‘bio’ – I hope you enjoy it. If you choose not to – I will not be offended in the least. For me it was an exercise in thinking about my priorities, so here it is my “short bio”!

First and foremost, I am a sinner saved by grace, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Without Him in my life I am nothing and I have no hope for the future. I make no boast but in Him alone. He did not save me because I deserved it but because He loved me even though I could never deserve or earn it!

After that, I am the husband of Karin for almost forty years. I have been far from a perfect husband; but, she remains my life partner whom I love with all that I have to love. I am blessed to have her in my life and blessed with four great children, all of whom are grown and married and so far we have eight grandchildren, two boys and six girls ranging in age right now from 8 years to about 1 month. yogiOur newest is the daughter of our “adopted” daughter (child number five if you are counting, who came to us not by birth but by 747 as an exchange student back in 1996.) We tried to keep her but the best we could do was share her with her own parents in the Philippines and now we share her with our ‘adopted’ son-in-law Andy!

Our not so regular kids are: Heidi with her husband Nick, Suzanne with her hubby Dave, Sarah with her husband Mike and Daniel with his wife Sarah. We have another little child who went to be with her (his?) Heavenly Father before he or she was able to be with us. We look forward to meeting him or her someday.

My work and life’s passion since my teen years has been law enforcement as well as time as a firefighter and EMT, too. I retired as a Chief of Police and now own a private investigations and security consulting agency.

After I retired, I attended seminary and for almost fifteen years Karin and I have had the joy of serving as missionaries to help care for missionaries all across Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. I have worked a great deal with them in the area of security and contingency planning. We enjoy our service in a local church with whom I will begin serving as a Deacon in January. I love to teach and do so whenever I have an opportunity.

I enjoy fishing and hunting, horseback riding and I’m a ‘ham’ radio operator since 1971! (WB8KMP)

Most of all I love to be with family whether it is babysitting grandchildren or travel.

Every moment is but a wisp of smoke through a keyhole and cannot be grasped and held so that it might stay longer than the brief time it is allotted. So I inhale deeply, as the moments go past and drink as deeply with each precious memory that is so fragile it can be lost in an instant.

I love to read and study the Bible and I enjoy reading mysteries the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. I have authored a book on policing in a new century during times of great threat. It is due to be published this winter. yogi-bear-n-boo-boo

Rather than an epitaph engraved on a cold stone over an empty grave; I much prefer to have a message written on the hearts of those I love and leave behind that says simply: Ross, He loves the Lord, his wife and his family. He tried his best and is a trophy to God’s grace.

Finding Our Place in Heaven

We can live each day, joyously, victoriously, in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

Recently we treated the topic of having only about ten minutes left in your life and knowing that it was soon to be over. The topic was spurred on by the recent crash of a Lufthansa flight into the side of the Alps, apparently on purpose. Those on the flight would have known for about ten minutes that they were about to crash. Today we want to take that a step further and consider finding our place in heaven. As we mentioned in the previous offering  there is no biblical support for St. Peter standing at the pearly gates of heaven deciding who should or should not enter.  The GOOD news is that for those who have accepted Christ as Savior, they are already in heaven! You ask how that could possibly be since every morning you wake up and you are still living and working on the mortal plain. If we read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, the Lord has already given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and predestined us to adoption. What Paul is helping the Ephesians to understand is that if they had accepted Christ’s forgiveness for their sins, then they were already citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Perhaps an analogy will help us to understand it a little bit better. God had already created a way for us to be adopted us as His children.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a child whose father was in the US Air Force stationed in Germany. When you were born you were born on the U.S. Air base but within the country of Germany. Because you are the child of a U.S. airman you are automatically a citizen of the United States even though you have never set foot in the U.S. Someday you will travel with your parents back to the U.S. and when you arrive you will have credentials that show you are a U.S. citizen even though you have never been in the U.S. and you are immediately admitted. You were, positionally, a U.S. citizen though you had never been in the U.S. That is what Paul meant when he said that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Just as the child of an American has all the freedoms and rights of every other citizen positionally without ever having been in the country or, for the believer who is positionally a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, never yet having been in the heavenly places.

Paul writes that we were preordained to adoption as sons. Let us use the same example only with an adoption. The U.S. airman and his wife are living in Germany. Both are U.S. citizens. They have an opportunity to adopt an infant who is of German descent. He is, in fact, a German citizen. Once they adopt the little German infant the boy becomes a citizen of the United States positionally because he has never been in the U.S. and was not born there. In this scenario we will make it so that as he gets older, to have his American citizenship he must renounce his German citizenship. He may still have not been inside the United States physically, in fact he may still live in Germany; but his position is one of a full U.S. citizen; adopted as a son of a citizen and given full rights as a citizen. No one will dare deny him access because he is already a citizen. Imagine if when he got to the entry point and they learned that he was the son of the president! The welcome home mat would certainly be rolled out!

When we accept our position as a child of God we will walk up to those gates as a Child of the King; a royal heir to all that is God’s! Talk about a red carpet arrival! The Bible tells us that the angels marvel at us because of what God has done for us. They have been with God since He created them, yet they can never experience being the recipient of the full love we have received and can never be adopted as God’s children. As a Christ-follower, we are children of the King with full citizenship in heaven, instilled with all the rights and responsibilities that are part of our citizenship in heaven.

That is the meaning of Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 1. I trust it will provide you with comfort knowing that you, if you have accepted Christ as Savior, have already attained your position in heaven. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself. What a spiritual blessing in the heavens we have already received that our place has been secured, Paul writes, that it is sealed by the Holy Spirit. For those who argue then that we can somehow lose our place there is to believe that we, as failed human beings, Jesus said He understood that we were dust, could take something away from God who has sealed us with the Holy Spirit! Those who live in such a way that one would say they would be in danger of losing their salvation should examine themselves to see if they ever had salvation to begin with. Like the seed that fell on shallow ground and never took root; many need to return to the cross and seek that original forgiveness and then their lives will be eternally changed. The outcome of their human life will be radically different.  Praise God for that!

We have covered a great deal of theology in one lesson but perhaps a reminder for us all. We can live each day joyously, victoriously and in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

Reflections

No matter what else I am designed to do as I shoot across the horizon of my lifetime, the most important job I could ever have is to reflect the Light of the Son.

It was another one of those nights. Winter had been a little longer than necessary, even though it was still only February, a month that should be cold; it was as if this February had gone on for about six weeks too many. I could not remember the last time I had enjoyed a full night of sleep, but then again, after spending most of my law enforcement career working the midnight shift, I still feel pretty comfortable among the wee hours of the morning. There is something about the stillness of those hours that can cause one to truly appreciate some of the finer things in life. Often, on long nights like these, if I am not sequestered in my study working on a writing project or reading something I have been wanting to catch the gist of, I would sit in my overstuffed leather chair that reclines and swivels and is made for a king. We have a matching set, one for the king and one for his queen. Sitting in the king chair in the middle of the night, one of the few sounds I can hear is my queen in the master bedroom gently sawing the kindling for tomorrow’s fire! It is then when melancholy can set in if you let it; but this night it was a feeling of great appreciation for the queen whose throne is next to mine. I hope that we can be like friends of ours and quietly pass the 90 year mark together; if our health holds out to be not too much more debilitated from where we are today!

From my throne, I can look out the French doors which are sided on each end by matching panels, all of glass to allow for the greatest amount of view possible. On this night I could look out across the snow-covered deck and have a great view of the night sky. That is when I saw it… one single very bright light, similar to a star but much brighter. It was moving rapidly across the horizon. Obviously a satellite in high orbit moving NE to SW and quite quickly. I sat there and thought about the night-time sky. It was still enough into the middle of the night that there wasn’t any glimpse of  dawn starting to break. The sun was still far beyond the horizon. I considered the satellite, its bright light shining through the night sky. My grandmother would say that I ‘sat and studied on it for awhile.’ Then I remembered something I had learned, I have no idea when. Satellites do not have lights on them to emit light down to the earth. It is not like someone on the space station left the porch light on. Satellites are covered in a very highly polished metal, as if covered in the shiniest aluminum foil ever. That bright light that I was watching was just like the stars that I see or the light of the moon at night, it was not its own. They have no light source of their own making but simply  reflect the sun; a sun that was a very long way away and on the other side of the globe from my perspective. The satellite was obviously high enough in the heavens to have a direct line of sight back to the sun – incredible. I sat there watching that satellite flash across the sky doing whatever else it was designed to do but at that moment, for me, it was principally reflecting the bright light of the sun.

As the satellite was almost out of my view, the analogy hit me dead on. No matter what else I am designed to do as I shoot across the horizon of my lifetime, the most important job I could ever have is to reflect the Light of the Son. In order for the satellite to reflect like it did several things had to be right. First, it had to be in its proper place. If it were out of its orbit, too low  in its orbit so that it was below the horizon, the earth would have blocked the sun. It had to be where its maker had designed for it to be. The same is true for me and my position. I have to be right where my designer set for me to be in order to be lined up and reflecting His Son’s Light. Second, the satellite had to be covered in that bright aluminum or whatever metal that an earth orbiting hunk of electronics is supposed to be made. I cannot be covered in the filthy rags of my sinful nature and reflect Christ. Paul talked about putting off the old and putting on the new nature and it is the new nature that will allow us to reflect Christ’s love and His nature to those around us. Not for our glory but for His. We need to be where we should be and appropriately clothed in His righteousness in order to reflect Christ’s light in a dark world. I realized that night that as starry as the sky had been earlier, when I noticed the satellite, many of the stars had already made their way across the sky and around the satellite the sky was very dark, which made its reflecting light appear even brighter. As dark as this old world is, Christ’s light can shine  brightly reflected by our actions, our words, our thoughts, the kindness we show others, and the heart we have for the lost or the hurting.

Reflections
Reflections

God has designed us for His special purposes. He has placed us where He would have us to be. Just as the satellite had no power source of its own to put out a bright light, neither do we have such a power. Our role is a reflective one. Christ supplies the bright light of His love and holiness. My prayer is that there will be nothing in my life that would prevent that light from shining its brightest and that I would always stay in God’s will so that I am right where I am supposed to be to catch as much of Christ’s light and do what the old campfire song said, ‘pass it on.’

Don’t Accept a Valentine Date to a Garage in Chicago

Sixteen hundred years later, the mob of Chicago seemed to set the capital on the holiday in a back alley garage and the entablature of romance and violence was secured.

       b valentine tommi gun

It was thirty-six years ago this coming April that Karin and I became engaged and this month twenty-six years ago we renewed our wedding vows – it was the very first time I got to see my lovely wife walk down the aisle (since I missed that part at our original wedding in 1979.) How quickly life flies past us and how quickly we see the rise and fall of those things we once thought were unchangeable. As time passes we learn one certainty and that is that the only unchangeable part of life is our God. His immutability is foundational to knowing that He will keep His promises, remaining faithful to the end of our days. With it being February and MOST IMPORTANTLY – National Women’s Heart Care Month – I thought I might speak to the history of Valentines’ Day!

Much has been made about the history associated with Valentines’ Day. Until I did the research for this blog I would have put the possessive apostrophe between the ‘e’ and the ‘s’ but I have learned that there were two martyrs named Valentine so it is more proper to use the plural possessive. That matter of grammar settled, I thought that for a few minutes we might explore the history of the holiday and then we’ll share with you some of the events coming up for our ministry. With just a peek into the history of origins of Valentines’ Day, we find that Al Capone and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was more in line with how Valentines’ Day began than we perhaps gave the gangster credit. It seems the early Romans had a most seedy and decadent holiday that involved carousing, the killing of animals and women being whipped with leather straps (with the expectation that it would keep them from being barren.) In the 3rd Century a Roman emperor, Claudius II killed two men both on the same day (but in different years), both named Valentine. It became, ‘Valentines’ Day as the Catholic Church sought to recognize their martyrdom.

As time went by, the Roman Catholic Church decided to try to eliminate the decadent Lupercadia Festival that ran from Feb 13 to 15 by tying the martyrdom of the ‘Valentines’ to the festival, hoping that one would reduce the vulgarity of the other. Noel Lenski, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, made the interesting comment that “… the Christians put clothes back on (the festival). That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”  Sixteen hundred years later, the mob of Chicago seemed to set the capital on the holiday in a back alley garage and the entablature of romance and violence was secured. Valentine Massacre photo

 So what do we make of the Roman Catholic Church  trying to squelch the blatant debauchery of the unholy  Lupercadia Festival and cover it with some vain attempt to recognize it as the martyrdom of the two men named Valentine? Does it speak to us of certain other attempts of religion to foster for itself something for which it has no regard?  Where have we permitted religion to enter into the realm of our lives that Christ Himself never intended? Perhaps into the church itself we find ‘religion’ interfering with what Christ intended.

Ministry Minute  pocket watch quarter

Christ was most protective of the Church He came to foster. Allow me to propose for a moment that Christ desired in His Church some of what was lost when Adam and Eve had to be expelled from the garden. We hear sermons preached about the effect that their being expelled from the garden had on Adam and Eve, but has anyone given much thought to what their sin cost the Triune God? It is important to go back to the earliest chapters of Genesis, the story of creation itself to find the answer.

Why did God create the world, the universe, the animals, and eventually, man? God sought the companionship of His creation. The Triune God said, “Let us make man in Our image.” They did not choose the image of some angelic being or some other created being already on the earth but in their image, a tri-part being with a body, soul and spirit. He made man so that He could commune with him and through Him. Someone once said that God created man so that He could be here among His creation through man and He could reach out to His creation through His creation. God spent hours walking in the garden, enjoying time with Adam and then with Adam and Eve. What did God lose when Adam and Eve sinned? He lost the close companionship He had so enjoyed. From that time on it would be through covenants, dispensations, prophets and priests that God related to man. That was why Christ was so necessary to come and re-create the relationship that was lost at the Fall.

Christ came for relationship, not religion. I believe that God shakes His head in despair when He sees the damage that Christians have done by labeling themselves as Christian and subdividing themselves into religions that have reinterpreted and misinterpreted what Christ taught. I believe in doctrinal position and a proper hermeneutic but I believe most strongly that Christ came and gave Himself for relationship, to heal that which was broken by our sin nature.

And now we are back with Valentines’ Day… according to the Roman Catholic Church, these two men were martyrs for the faith. For whatever the reason that Claudius II, emperor of Rome decided they should die; that they did. But the pagan festival and the perverted ‘love’ that has come to be associated with the day, is not what true love is about. Oh, yes some would say,  I am a hopeless romantic and I am very fond of romantic love, as God blesses in a marriage relationship. So this ‘Valentines’ Day let us consider two words from the Bible, one in ancient Hebrew and the other in New Testament Greek. The first is hesed and the second is agape. A selfless love and charity is the former and a selfless, unconditional love is the latter. These are two wonderful joys to celebrate this February 14th.

 

 

Thoughts on Faith

Rev. R. L. Riggs, D Min.      July 14, 2012

Seldom do I take a Minute for a theological doctrine issue; only because they usually take more than a minute. I’m not against a good theological debate. The Bible (and particularly one professor I had) says that iron sharpens iron. My reason for taking up this topic, even briefly, is that sometimes we hear things from the pulpit that, if our ear is trained – it twings a bit at the theology behind a statement. Many though, have ears that might twing a bit, but they aren’t sure why. Folks either walk away confused or worse, misled. I shall say here and now, I do not believe this young pastor meant to mislead or confuse. I believe it is more that, sometimes we use a phrase in our ‘Christian-speak’ so often it takes on a life of its own that will not really clear the hurdle of a theologically thought-out truth.

Here is the phrase: saving faith. If you have been in Christian circles, I know you have heard it. What is it? For the sake of our ‘Minute’ let’s take it logically.

Answer: faith that saves. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “By grace you are saved… through faith…” So it isn’t faith that saves, it grace.

‘Okay’, you say, that is splitting hairs. Is it? Let’s follow the thought. If faith saves, whose faith is it that saves? You answer logically, ‘the person being saved, it is their faith in God.’

I respond: How can a dead person have faith? Romans 3:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…” Ephesians 2:1 reads, “And you He has quickened (raised to life) who were dead in your trespasses and sins.” The Holy Spirit had to come to you and open your eyes so you could see your sin and repent. Then, by grace, God gives you the gift of life. Remember Ephesians 2? It is a gift. If you must have enough faith to be saved, then is it a gift?

You reply: ‘Yes, but I must respond in faith to take the gift. I must stop putting my trust for my eternity in me and put it in God.”  Ok, then will you take the faith that God is giving you and put it fully in His grace to save you? This is our act of submission to Him.

The Bible tells us that we are ‘justified by faith’ but let’s see the context: Romans 3:24 reads: “Being justified freely by his grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…”  verse 28  “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” As Hebrews outlines the ‘heroes of the faith’, verse 12:2 reads “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” ‘Justified’ is referring to the legal position in which the believer is found. The argument the author was making was to stop the Judaizers from forcing law as and rules down on believers, including circumcision, to be truly saved. Paul argues, ‘NO!’ It is by the faithfulness of God in His promise that His grace is sufficient that places the believer ‘legally justified’ in the eyes of a Holy God. If God has given that faith to a person, his life will show evidence of it.

But, how does a person get this faith? (Romans 12:3) God gives faith. Verse 22 of Romans 3 reads, “Even the righteousness of God ­which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” Follow the logic:

Either I garner up enough faith, myself, to believe in God to get the gift or

                God gives me the faith I need because of His grace at my repentant heart so I can receive the gift. Even my repentant heart comes because the Holy Spirit allowed me to see my true condition. I take the faith God gives me and put it solely on His grace to save me. This is the act of free will.

I believe the faith spoken of in Ephesians 2 is the faith of Christ that God gives to us. Galatians 2:22 reads… “Even though I am dead, yet I live. Yet not I but Christ lives within me. This life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…” (Not faith in the Son…). I agree that in speaking to the fallen woman in Luke 7:50 when Jesus said, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” I also believe that scripture is clear; she could not have had that faith had she not received it from God because of her repentant heart. There is not time nor space to go into all of the intricacies of this but it comes down to God’s grace. Yes, we need faith to believe and to act but without His grace we can neither receive the faith nor act on it.

Author and theologian John Piper’s words are instructive:

 

According to Romans 12:3, God gives varying measures of faith to his people.

Paul says that we ought “to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted

 to each a measure of faith” (emphasis added). In the context, this is not a limited

reference to the unique spiritual gift of faith which only some believers have

(1 Corinthians 12:9). For Paul says, “I say to everyone among you not to think more

highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment,

as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (emphasis added).[i]

 

‘So, what is the big deal you?’ You ask. The argument I heard from the pulpit went like this…  (Remember, this is what I heard, it may not have been what was intended, and again I believe there was no intent to confuse)…

There is a kind of faith that saves and a kind of faith that doesn’t. Your assurance of faith is actually a tool of the devil. We put our faith in a prayer instead of a person… Jesus is my genie.  I should double-check to make sure I really am saved, that I really experienced ‘saving faith’ which produces the fruit of the Spirit.

My problem (and yours) is that neither I nor you can ever have enough faith to save us on our own. God gives us faith Jesus cried over his disciples, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Were they not saved men? When by their lack of faith they fell, did they lose their salvation?

For those of who understand the clarity of so many verses where scripture shows that salvation is once for all time, our sanctification (our growing more like Christ) keeps ebbing flowing but hopefully growing daily. And 1 John 5:­13   “These things are written… so you may know you have eternal life.”

Here is why this struck that twing-twangy chord with me. If there is anything Satan has used more in my life trying to rob me of my joy in my salvation, it has been doubt. He loves to point at my past and say ‘You see what you’ve done? You called yourself a Christian! ‘How can you be one of His?’ Or sometimes he uses the present, ‘I see what you just thought, heard what you said, felt that anger inside you… you call yourself a pastor? How can you…?’

Yes, yes a thousand times yes… we need to be sure of our salvation. Certainly if there are no fruits of the Spirit we must look to be certain of our salvation. Are we saved but grieving the Spirit, as the Scripture says we, as believers can do by our actions? (Eph. 4:30)

We all need to be assured and reassured of our salvation to keep our joy high, our spirits up, our movement forward, and our face to the fight. We are in a war and in the midst of a deep dark battle we have to be able to look about and remind ourselves we are already victors on the side that has won. To regard my assurance of my salvation as a tool of the devil is to rob me of any possible joy and rest in such assurance.

I will share this with my pastor friend and he may clarify for me how I misunderstood. But even if that is the case; let us make sure we all know going out to the deployment for the war rages on; that we are carrying the cross of Christ, the Holy Spirit in our hearts and the full armor of God.