Josh Christophersen

Reign In Life

Saved By Shiny New Gadgets

iPhone Savior

We live in a broken, fallen world. It’s all around us and within us. Deep down, everyone desires to be saved from the effects of it and our own contribution to those effects.

We don’t like the pain, sadness, shame, heartache, boredom, disappointment, loneliness, and loss we feel, so we look for a way out, something to save us.

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Freedom To Lose

scoreboard

I have really been inspired and moved by some recent comments from Tullian Tchividjian in a recent apology he issued on his blog. Here’s a few highlights:

“One of the things that the gospel frees you to do is to never have to bear the burden of defending yourself… When you feel the need to respond to criticism, it reveals how much you’ve built your identity on being right… Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose…and last week I fought to win. I’m sorry you had to see that. Lord have mercy…” -Tullian Tchividjian

The particular phrase “Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose.” was particularly impactful to me.

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Why A Lot Of Christian Accountability Is Lame And What To Do About It

two_guys_talking

Is it just me or is a lot of what’s done in the name of Christian accountability super lame?

This is a typical Christian accountability conversation:

“How are you doing?”

“I’m struggling with XYZ.”

“Me too.  Let’s feel bad together and do nothing to change.” OR “Let me lecture you and/or try to fix you.”

This is lame #1

Asking someone how they are doing is a bad question.

You hear it all the time, right?

“I heard Jimmy is doing bad.”

“Do you know how Jimmy is doing?”

“Oh he’s doing really good right now.”

The reason that talking this way is lame is that it implies that “doing” is what is most important, and whatever constitutes “doing good” or “doing bad” is completely subjective depending on the one who’s saying it.

This is lame #2

Accountability centered around what I’m “struggling” with puts the focus on me and creates fertile ground for condemnation and self righteousness.  The last thing a person needs is more self focus.

This is lame #3

There’s nothing worse than taking the time and effort to bear your soul with another person for accountability, only to leave feeling worse than when you started, or convicted with no clue of how to get out of what your in.

Consider An Alternative Approach

How about approaching it like this:

“What is God currently saving you from?”

“God is saving me from XYZ.”

“How is he doing it?  How are you accessing gospel power to save you from the power of sin?”

The bible teaches that salvation isn’t just a past and future event, but a present one as well. (1 Cor 1:18, 15:2, 2 Cor 2:15, Acts 2:47).  Everyone who has put their faith in Christ is “being saved” from the power of sin.  This is also called sanctification. (2 Thess 2:13)

If that’s true and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16), then we should testify of God’s current saving power.

Truly effective accountability emphasizes the need for salvation and the way to receive it now.  Truly effective accountability should result in a person leaving the conversation full of faith in Christ.

Just the words themselves make a difference: “I’m struggling with” vs. “God is saving me from” puts the focus on God and off of us.  Talking about our sin with the focus on us brings shame.  Talking about our sin with the focus on God’s saving power brings humility, joy, and liberation.

Instead of the focus being on how I’m doing, it needs to be on what I’m believing.  We access the power of the gospel now in the same way that we accessed it when we first met Jesus – by faith.

It’s no longer “how are you doing?” but rather “how are you believing?”.

The bible says that the saints conquered the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev 12:10-11).

What if our times of Christian accountability consisted of testifying about the precious blood of Jesus’ power to save us from the present power of sin and how we practically access that by faith?

(Image Credit: SDASM Archives)

Your Sin Is Wicked, Vile, Dirty, And Gross, But You Don’t Think So

WelcomeToWilderdomMudJames

How do you view your sin?

How you view your sin is one of the most important views you can have.

The greater the sin, the greater the savior that saves you from your sin, and therefore, the greater the response to that savior.

And I’m not implying a need to embellish the wicked nature of our sin.  I’m advocating an accurate view.

What is an accurate view?

The magnitude of our sin is determined by the magnitude of God’s holiness.  Because God is infinitely holy, our sin is infinitely wicked.

But that’s not how we look at it, is it?

We categorize sins into differing degrees of wickedness to coddle our least detected sin of self righteousness.  We justify ourselves, because our sins, in our minds, aren’t as bad as pedophilia, murder, or rape (which proves our sin of self righteousness).

But that’s our problem.  Our most exalted thoughts of God’s holiness fall dreadfully short of how holy he is, because our finite minds can barely even begin to comprehend the magnitude.  In the same way it’s not even possible to comprehend how wicked, vile, disgusting, and gross our sins are.

Our safest bet is to think of the sins we deem as most wicked and know that ALL of our sins are worse before an infinitely HOLY GOD.

How would your life change if you started viewing lying, gluttony, laziness, fear of man, not keeping your word, worry, and selfishness with the same level of disgust as pedophilia?  This was one of the main points of Jesus’ sermon on the mount: Lust is adultery, hatred is murder, etc.

All of your sin is wickedly appalling.

There is no one who is righteous.  Not even one.  (Rom 3:11)

Your self righteous belief that you are more deserving of God’s grace because of sins you haven’t committed or because the sins you have committed aren’t that bad, is like a filthy, bloody tampon to God (Is 64:6).  It’s disgusting.

Your unrighteousness and self righteousness are sins that are appallingly great.

“But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20)

The greater your sin, the greater your savior.  The appallingly wicked nature of your sin magnifies the incredibly wonderful greatness of God’s grace to save you.

The greater your sin, the more amazing his grace.

The more radical his grace, the more radical your response to that grace.

How do you view your sin?

(Image Credit: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha)

25 Reasons The Gospel Is Good News

good_news

The bad news of who and where we were without Christ, magnifies the goodness of the good news of life in Christ.  Here’s a reminder to those who’ve put their faith in Jesus of why the gospel is good news.

  1. You were alienated, hostile, and enemies in your minds.
    He reconciled you.  (Rom 5:10-11, 2 Cor 5:18-21, Col 1:20-23)
  2. You were held hostage.
    He paid your ransom.  (1 Tim 2:5-6, 1 Pet 1:18-19)
  3. You were cursed.
    He redeemed you.  (Rom 3:24, Gal 3:13, Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, Tit 2:14, Heb 9:11-12)
  4. You were a sinner.
    He forgave you.  (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, 2:13, 1 John 1:9, 2:12)
  5. You were in darkness.
    He brought you into light.  (John 12:46, 8:12, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:8, Col 1:13, 1 Pet 2:9)
  6. You were an orphan and a slave.
    He adopted you as his child.  (John 14:18, Rom 8:14-17,23, Gal 4:4-7, Eph 1:5)
  7. You were wicked.
    He justified you.  (Rom 3:24,26, 4:5, 5:1,9,16,18, 8:30, 10:10 1 Cor 6:11, Tit 3:7)
  8. You were unrighteous.
    He made you righteous. (Rom 5:17-19, Gal 5:5, Phil 3:8-9)
  9. You were enslaved to sin.
    He set you free. (Rom 6:17-18,22, 8:2, Rev 1:5)
  10. You were guilty.
    He made you innocent.  (Rom 4:8, 1 Cor 1:8, 2 Cor 5:19)
  11. You were full of shame.
    He took your shame.  (Rom 9:33, 10:11, 1 Pet 2:6, Heb 12:2)
  12. You were empty.
    He filled you up.  (Col 2:10)
  13. You were dead.
    He made you alive.  (Rom 8:10-11, Eph 2:4, Col 2:13)
  14. You were in debt.
    He cancelled your debt.  (Col 2:14)
  15. You were far off.
    He brought you near. (Eph 2:12-13, 1 Pet 3:18)
  16. You were rejected.
    He accepted you.  (Rom 15:7)
  17. You were lost.
    He found you.  (Phil 3:8-9)
  18. You were born into sin.
    He rebirthed you and made you new.  (1 Pet 1:3-5,23-25, 1 John 3:9, 2 Cor 5:17)
  19. You were blind.
    He gave you sight. (2 Cor 3:14-16)
  20. You were poor.
    He made you rich.  (Rom 8:32,10:12, 2 Cor 8:9, Eph 1:17-18)
  21. You were condemned.
    He removed your condemnation.  (Rom 8:1)
  22. You were under wrath.
    He saved you from his wrath.  (John 3:36, Rom 3:24-25, 5:9, 1 Thess 1:10, 5:9, 1 John 2:2, 4:10)
  23. You were weary and heavy laden.
    He gave you a light and easy yoke. (Matt 11:28-30)
  24. You were flawed.
    He made you perfect.  (Heb 10:14, 12:23)
  25. You were dirty.
    He washed you clean.  (1 Cor 6:11, Tit 3:5, 1 John 1:7-9, 2 Pet 1:9)

God Is Not Santa

Santa Claus

Tis the season to give and receive gifts.

For many, gift giving is acquainted with the jolly old fat guy in the red and white suit: Santa.

But is it really fair to call what Santa gives, gifts?

As the old song goes:  “He sees you when your sleeping.  He knows when you’re awake.  He knows when you’ve been bad or good.  So be good for goodness sake!”  “He’s making a list.  He’s checking it twice.  He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.”  If you’re nice, you get presents.  If you’re naughty, well, not so much.

This is how millions of kids grow up, equating a “gift” as a reward for good behavior.

But that’s not a gift.  A true gift has nothing to do with whether you’re naughty or nice, bad or good.  A true gift is not earned and has nothing to do with the gift recipient, but rather everything to do with the gift giver.

This is why this is important to talk about.  We have to have a right understanding of the word “gift”.  Why?  Because God uses the word gift numerous times in the scriptures.  God is a gift giver.  But he’s no Santa.  His gifts are not earned.

The Gift Of God’s Son

The greatest gift of all is the gift we celebrate every Christmas: the gift of God’s son.  But what does the gift of God’s son teach us?  It reiterates the true meaning of a gift.  Those who receive the gift of God’s son Jesus, have no good thing in them meriting the gift. (Rom 3:11-12)  There is nothing in them that draws him to them.  They don’t work for this gift. (Rom 4:4)  God justifies the ungodly, not the godly. (Rom 4:5)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)  Grace by it’s very definition is undeserved forgiving love.  Paul says it plainly that “if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom 11:6)  You can’t earn a gift and call it grace.  At any given point that a gift is earned, it ceases to be a gift.

God is not Santa

Like Santa, God sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. (Ps 139:1-2)  But unlike Santa, he gives gifts to naughty, arrogant, wicked people like you and me.  This is the good news of the gospel!  God didn’t die for good people.  He died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6-7)  “God show’s his love for us in that while we were sill sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)

Like Santa, God had a “naughty list”, but unlike Santa, God nailed it to a cross, cancelling the record of debt that stood against us. (Col 2:14)

Like Santa, God has a chair that he sits on where we can meet with him, but unlike Santa, his chair is called “grace” and we can approach it, even though we’ve been bad, without him asking us if we’ve been good.  We can come like a child, and sit on his lap with confidence “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. (Heb 4:16)

This Christmas

This Christmas, consider whether you truly view the salvation that Jesus paid for as a gift, or whether you are somehow cheapening his gift and your response by futile attempts at self righteousness, earned acceptance, and counterfeit religious security, in a self-made Santa-Jesus.


SEE ALSO:
God Is Not Santa Sermon Audio