In ourselves we have no resources for the battle and journey of life; the fact that their source is outside of ourselves pleads for our trust in Jesus. Grace is not natural to us; holiness is not innate, and our native strength is but another term for utter weakness. Where, then, are our resources? All in Jesus. 'It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell' (Col 1:19) 'Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.' (Eph 1:13). Christ is both the believer's armory and his granary. The weapons of our warfare and the supplies of our necessities are all in Christ. The life we live as warriors and as pilgrims must be a continual coming to, and trusting in, a full Christ, an all-sufficient Savior."
Apparently evangelical Christians don't, according to this.
Evangelical Christians are more skeptical than other Christians and American adults overall about the severity of global warming, a new study showed. Only 33 percent of evangelical Christians view global warming as a "major" problem facing the country compared to people of other faiths or of no religion in which over half say it's severe, according to The Barna Group.
While I agree with the article that Christians should be good stewards of all that God has given them, I resent the implication that not buying into "global warming" is contrary to that. Well, maybe resent is too strong a word. It's hard to deny that there is evidence to suggest the climate is getting warmer, but no one has proven to me that human activity is the cause of it...or even a contributor. Maybe part of my reason for not getting too excited about it, at least subconsciously, is that I am utterly convinced that Christ is coming soon.
The Lord put it on my heart to blog about something. He brought to mind a B.C. comic that I had read many years ago. One of the cavemen was chipping away at a big rock, while another caveman named Peter was posing for the sculpture. Someone asked the sculptor how he went about the process and the sculptor said, "It's easy, I just chip away everything that doesn't look like Peter." I have been rolling around in my mind what I wanted to say about it, when the Lord led me to another website. It says everything I wanted to say, but probably better.
Just outside of Atlanta Georgia is a place called Stone Mountain which is a granite mountain rising up out of the ground approximately 700 feet into the sky. Of course this natural beauty has been made into a tourist attraction that involves breathtaking views, hiking, an amusement park, camping and great restaurants, but it’s claim to fame is located on the north face. Here towering above the trees carved in great detail is a gigantic memorial to the leaders of the Confederacy: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, all on horseback. This sculpture was made by a man named Gutzon Borglum and was commissioned by the state of Georgia in 1917, but wasn’t finished and dedicated until 1970. This monstrous undertaking must have been overwhelming in the beginning. Think for a minute what had to be determined in the mind of the artist before he started. He had to seemingly be able to see into the future to get a vision of what he desired the final product to look like, he had to count the cost and determine if he could complete the task and then he had to accept the reality of the massive patience and perseverance required to go the distance.In reading about this man and his great accomplishment, something caught my eye and God stirred my heart. The artist made a statement after completing the sculpture that sums up the Christian life and our endeavor to pursue holiness. He said, “This was a process of taking FROM the mountain, not adding to it. The mountain is somewhat smaller after the completion than at its beginning, but it’s far more beautiful and meaningful.” All that had been required was 50 years of chipping and chiseling - the removal of every ounce of granite that was obscuring the images of these three leaders and their horses.
This is how we begin our walk with the Lord. We’re big in pride, large in ego and large in personal ambition and to our ‘bigness’ we expect God to add his beautifying graces thus making us larger still. But we soon become angry when we find out that God doesn’t plan to add to or bless our flesh - instead, He begins to chip away at it. If we live fully for Christ, we will more than likely end life smaller in the eyes of the world, but with far more beauty and meaning as a result of the Sculptor’s hand! All through your journey, God is chipping away everything that doesn’t look like His Son which includes everything that is obscured by our granite-like will. This is what John was talking about when he said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And like the mountain, we don’t get to choose the tools the Sculptor uses to complete His project. And I’m sure if the mountain could speak, I dare say Stone Mountain would say it didn’t like being picked at for half a century, but I also suspect that in the years since and the years ahead, it would confess to rather enjoying the pleasure it brings to those who stare at it and gaze upon it. But we differ with the mountain in that we have a choice as to whether or not we submit to the hammer - the mountain had no say in the matter. The decision to be made into a work of art all rests in our hearts. Will you give the Sculptor the freedom to start His masterpiece? Before you answer that, count the cost and consider the time it will take. Accept the fact that this could take a lifetime to complete and then ask God to give you a glimpse of what you’ll look like when He’s finished. Now THAT’S a work of art!
I just wanted to add the clarification (or maybe refinement is a better word) that this process doesn't improve our flesh. Our flesh will never get better. This is a process of turning more and more areas of our life over to the control of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Bob George has a wonderful illustration of this in his book, Classic Christianity.
Being made into a new creation is like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Originally an earthbound crawling creature, a caterpillar weaves a cocoon and is totally immersed in it. Then a marvelous process takes place, called metamorphosis. Finally a totally new creature - a butterfly - emerges. Once ground-bound, the butterfly can now soar above the earth. It now can view life from the sky downward. In the same way, as a new creature in Christ you must begin to see yourself as God sees you.
If you were to see a butterfly, it would never occur to you to say, "Hey, everybody! Come look at this good-looking converted worm!" And it was "converted." No, now it is a new creature, and you don't think of it in terms of what it was. You see it as it is now - a butterfly.
In exactly the same way, God sees you as His new creature in Christ. Although you might not always act like a good butterfly - you might land on things you shouldn't, or forget you are a butterfly and crawl around with our old worm buddies - the truth of the matter is, you are never going to be a worm again!
This is why the usual New Testament word for a person in Christ is "saint," meaning "holy one." Paul for example, in nearly all his letters addressed them to the "saints." Yet all the time I hear Christians referring to themselves as "just an old sinner saved by grace." No! That's like calling a butterfly a converted worm. We were sinners and we were saved by grace, but the Word of God calls us saints from the moment we become identified with Christ.
Some people ask, "But I still commit sins. Doesn't that make me a sinner?
I answer, "It depends on whether your identity is determined by your behavior what you do or by who you are in God's eyes." Do you see how we have continued to do as Christians what the world does by determining a person's identity based on his behavior? The only way to get free of this is to do what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-3:
'Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.'
Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which He places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfillment, then deliverance from law means that he no longer requires that from me, but Himself provides it. Law implies that God requires me to do something for Him; deliverance from law implies that He exempts me from doing it, and that in grace He does it Himself. I need do nothing for God: that is deliverance from law.
I have a dog named Tojo and he is a Jack Russell Terrier. Actually we have several dogs, but we have had Tojo the longest. He is a good dog who is getting on up in years. He is less hyper than he used to be and maybe a step slower. He is very smart and is patient with our grandson. He stays in our fenced back yard during the day and since the area is nearly an acre, he has plenty of room to run. He has food and water, companionship, and plenty of shade. It’s a good life! Or is it?
We have to be very careful how we go through our gate, because if we’re not on our toes Tojo will fly through the gate like a bolt of lightning. He has done this for years and our first inclination was to go after him, calling for him to come back. The more we chased him the farther he would run. What would cause him to do this? He has a good life and he isn’t mistreated. The problem is the fence. It takes from him the one thing he doesn’t have, his freedom.
At least from our perspective the fence is a good thing. It protects him from danger. When was the last time you heard of a dog being run over by a car while he was in his fence? It also keeps him from destroying other people’s property. From his perspective the fence represents bondage.
Another thing we noticed about Tojo is that when we stopped chasing him and went home he would come back within a few minutes and we would find him waiting at the front door. Now, when he escapes, we don’t bother to chase him; we just go inside and wait. In a few minutes he will be sitting at the front door wagging his tail and wanting to come in. It’s kind of humorous in that when we force him to stay in the fence, the only thing he wants is to escape, but when he has his freedom the only thing he wants is to do is come home.
Isn’t this a wonderful picture of the difference between Law and Grace? The Law is a fence; it defines the boundary of what is permissible and not permissible, what is evil and what is good, but the problem with the Law is that it puts us in bondage. (Galatians 5:1) Not only does the Law represent bondage, but the power of sin is in the Law. (1 Corinthians 15:56) The Law stirs up within us the desire to sin. Look what Paul said in Romans,
Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. Romans 7:7-11 NLT
Not only does the Law stir up our desire to sin, it is faulty. (Hebrews 8:7) It is important to understand that I am not saying the law is faulty in content. God's Law is perfect in content; it is holy, right and good. (Romans 7:12) The fault of the Law lies in its capability. It’s assessment of our shortcomings are right on the mark, but its ability to lift a finger to help us is nil. The Law does not have the ability to produce righteousness. It is like a mirror in that it shows us that our face is dirty, but it can’t wash our face for us.
Thanks be to God, Jesus tore down that fence (Law) when He died on the cross. He has lifted the veil that separated us from Him and has given us the privilege of being called His children. We have been given our freedom and have been set free from the chains that bound us. The Law that binds has been replaced with a new law, the Law of Liberty.
Since the Law stirs up our desire to sin, what does the Law of Liberty stir up within us? It produces same thing that freedom produces in my dog; the desire to return home. Look what the bible says,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:11-14
The grace of God produces in us the very thing that the Law could never do. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly and to do good deeds. These are the very things that were required of us by the Law, but they were only accomplished after the Law was “torn down.” Isn’t that good news? You're free! Free to live your life in complete abandon to Him. Free to run barefoot through the fields of grace. Why would you want to rebuild the fence only to spend your life plotting your next escape?