O Christian, Persevere!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)

The Christian’s Virtues

Here, we see a list of the qualities that a Christian should be pursuing. The individual qualities don’t stand alone, however—each quality is listed in order to build it onto the previous one: add virtue to your faith, be knowledgeable in your virtue, and be self-controlled in addition to your knowledge. The first time I read this, though, it was the next one that jumped out at me: that we need to supplement “self-control with steadfastness.”

Not only are we supposed to be self-controlled—being disciplined with our money and our time, building godly habits and fighting sinful ones, battling against our very flesh—but we’re supposed to be steadfast in our self-control? So not only do we have to do these things, but we have to do them consistently, perseveringly, day in and day out?

Combined with the weight of the virtues listed both before and after, it almost seems too much to bear.

The Christian’s Promise

And it would be too much to bear, if it weren’t for the promise that God gives us in the verses prior. Before the “make every effort to supplement,” there’s a “For this reason.” For what reason?

1. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” Peter says. Through human effort, to be steadfast in our self-control would be impossible; but we’ve been granted the power of God Himself to have and do everything pertaining to life and godliness. Everything, Peter says! When we’re called to be godly, God doesn’t just leave us to our own effort, or only help us partway—He promises to supply everything that we need to become like Him. How are we granted this power?

2. “…through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises….” By knowing Christ and by being saved, we receive this God-granted power purely through the immeasurable glory and excellence of God. Note how little we had to do with this! We don’t receive this power by trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Instead, God reveals Himself to us and promises us the power of sanctification purely because He is glorious and excellent.

3. “…so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” These promises that God gives us allow us to have fellowship with God and to become like Him. Not only that, but we become like Him “having escaped” our sinful corruption. Look at the past tense! The promises of God guaranteed our separation from the pull of our sinful desires, even if we don’t experience it fully yet.

So when we think about the task of becoming more godly, or becoming steadfast in our self-control, remember this: God Himself has promised to make us more like Him, and He’s promised to give us everything that we need to get there.

The Christian’s Motivation

But wait, there’s more! Not only does God promise us that this steadfast self-control is possible, but He promises two results of pursuing godliness.

1. They keep you from a meaningless life (v. 8). If you’re striving to become more godly, God promises that you’ll be neither ineffective or unfruitful. Have you ever worried that you’re not doing enough for God, or that you’re going to live and die with no legacy? God says to grow in these traits and you’ll have lived for the greatest cause there is.

2. They guarantee your salvation (v. 9-10). If you’re not trying to grow in these qualities at all, then there’s no reason to believe you’re saved. However, if you strive for these things and continue in them, “you will never fall,” says Peter. Not only that, but entrance into the kingdom of God will be “richly” provided. It may be hard to persevere in being a Christian, but God promises you’ll receive the greatest reward if you try.

The Christian’s Calling

So don’t lose hope as you try to live as a Christian, and don’t be complacent. Grow in your faith—your complete trust in God and His promises to provide for you materially and spiritually. And as you grow in your faith, become someone who is virtuous as well, trusting that the character God asks you to have is something that is worth your while. To know how to be virtuous, add knowledge, studying the Word of God to know His will. And the more you learn, the more you need to discipline yourself, growing in self-control.

And to this self-control, add steadfastness. Persevere. Endure. Don’t just be self-controlled for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a week, but strive to make godliness the pattern of your life, growing in affection and love.

Remember that you’ve been bought by God and supplied with everything you need. And remember that you have a great hope in a worthy life now and an eternal, abundant life to come.

O Christian, persevere!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Next month during one of the monthly RGC men’s gatherings, I’ll be teaching on Faithfulness in God’s Word. And although I think it is entirely necessary for us to be faithfully in His Word, I wanted to reflect on the ways that God has been faithful to us individually as distinct persons, corporately as a local church, and universally as all the believers. These are some thoughts I had as I was thinking about how to approach my lesson. I want to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness every day and I think as Christians this is something we can all be doing. This is the attitude talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:15 which says “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

As I think about God’s faithfulness to me, a few things come to mind. And they come from Romans 8:29. The first is that He has saved me. That He sent his son, Jesus Christ, down to die for my abundant sins. It was no doing of mine. It is all grace and this grace was freely given. So there is no “paying God back” in penance or pride in being one of the predestined. The second is that after He saved me, He is now sanctifying me. He is making me more and more like Christ. I know that day to day there is a growth in me and although I work at my spiritual disciplines and continue in obedience, God is really the one who produces the growth. And then thirdly I am thankful that I know where I will end up. I know that as I am growing to be Christ-like I will eventually be made like Christ. I know that it will be the end result. And I am so grateful this is promised to us in His Word.

God is not only faithful to us individually but to our church. Our local church was planted less than 5 years ago and speaking as one who has been there from almost the very beginning, God has been so good to us. God faithfully provided us with a church building, another elder, and a deacon (with hopefully more to come!). I have seen a thirst for learning and a thirst for serving. And that’s not to say that RGC is a perfect church. I’ve seen conflict within the church, abandonment from the church, and general apathy at times. But through it all I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in our church. What comes to mind is God’s faithfulness through other saints. Whether it has been through teaching events, seeing others step up and serve, or even random encouragement through conversing with others, I have been continually refreshed. So let us be “encouraging one another, and all the more as [we] see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25b)

And then we get to how God has been faithful to all believers. This is the main idea I wanted to get at that prompted this blog post. God is of course faithful to believers in many ways: giving us all of creation to enjoy, giving us the Holy Spirit to teach us, but the idea I want to get at is how God is faithful to give us His Word. So often here in the United States we take the Bible for granted. We are privileged to be able to access the Bible on our phones and our computers. We can also find concordances, study Bibles, and sermons through the use of technology. We can buy Bibles rather easily, only having to wait 2 days if we have Amazon Prime. And of course every single hotel room has a Bible located in one of the drawers. But how many proclaimed Christians neglect this great gift? How many Christians aren’t reading their Bibles? Although unassuming in its presentation, the Bible contains powerful words. In it contains the very words of God! “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible tells us what God desires of us, it tells us how to live a righteous and fruitful life, and it narrates for us the lives of heroes in the faith. God gave us His very Word and through the careful study of it we can come to a greater understanding of who He is. God is most faithful to us by gifting us with His Word.

(Note: These are just a few of my personal reflections of God’s faithfulness. This list is nowhere near a complete list of all of the ways God is faithful to us.)

So how do we cultivate thankfulness? Remember how God has saved you, reflect on how He is growing you, and eagerly anticipate how He will glorify you. Think upon how God has blessed you through someone else in the church. And think about how privileged we are to be able to read God’s Word for although authored by man, it is God-breathed. Upon doing so, we can develop a theology (study of God) that should in turn lead to our doxology (our praise to God.)

Trust the Lord by Seeking His Wisdom

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

(Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV)


As individuals who confess Christ is Lord, we believe the content of the Bible is truth. Consequently, when we, being Christian, read through the Bible or hear it preached much of what is said is easily swallowed. It goes down like water. Take the above passage as an example. Without thinking too much, or at all, we can all agree that we should trust God with all our heart, that we should acknowledge him, and that we should turn away from evil. To mix metaphors, this is the low hanging fruit we can all easily pick and pocket away. Accepting these truths seems to be a given for those who are called God’s adopted children, but it is one matter to agree with the Word and another matter entirely to put it to active use.

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. If we only glance over this passage and take just as frivolous an approach in keeping it we’d be handling the Bible like it was a textbook instead of God’s Word given to us so that we’d be equipped for every good work. Here, when we’re talking about wisdom, we’re talking about wisdom as applying knowledge. Anybody given these verses in Proverbs 3 would be able to summarize it as I have in the opening paragraph. We, as believers, have been given the Holy Spirit. This means when we come to Scripture we have the capability of applying the knowledge we read and turn it into wisdom. We have the capability to grow in Christ-likeness, pursuing our sanctification, when we take Scripture and use it to examine our hearts.

The writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account,” (Hebrews 4:12,13 ESV).

Here he is saying that Scripture is able to separate the carnal motivations from our God-glorifying ones. We, as believers, are able to see ourselves for who we are when the Holy Spirit enlightens us through the reading of the Word. Scripture is capable of exposing our sinfulness to us, and by having that sin exposed is how we grow in wisdom and Christ-imitating character, but we have to handle Scripture like it’s life changing. Put another way, we’re not just looking to have passages committed to memory for the sake of memorizing them.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The memorization of Scripture is for us to meditate on it, and as we meditate on Scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and convict us of our sinfulness, we grow ever more conscious of our absolute need and dependence on God to deliver us from our sin, and when that happens then knowledge becomes wisdom.

Let’s go back to the opening passage, and allow me to share with you the process I underwent to work through it and how God is allowing me to share with you the wisdom he’s blessed me with to bless you. When I looked at the passage in Proverbs, I had to consider my understanding of trust. I’ve always defined trust as a stock I put in people or ideas, an immaterial currency I could transfer from one account to another at will. Of course, even if that is an acceptable definition, I still needed to figuratively place that immaterial currency into something or someone. Yet, it’s not as simple as throwing money and expecting results. It’s not as simple as saying, “Yes, I trust God with all my heart.

I was born a sinner, and I live in a world that expounds a religion of self-glorification. Without taking the time to give you my testimony, suffice it to say I didn’t really understand what Christ had done for me until I was heading off to college. All that time I had been formulating ideas of how the world works, taking  bits of the human experience and mashing them up with my observations to create a worldview that was devoid of Christ. What I’m saying is that, even to this day, within myself are deep-seated beliefs that are founded on my humanist “wisdom” than what God has given me through his Word.

You might be asking yourself why the roundabout way to get to this part of this post. I was well aware of these passages before sitting down and piecing them together. I am abundantly aware of the Word’s power to convict me of my sin and of Paul’s command not to quench the Holy Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.  It is because of my sinfulness that I will divert my attention so I do not meditate on the Word. At times I do not want to be changed by God. I find myself, at times, glossing over the Word and pocketing those low hanging fruits, coming to the Word irreverently. I want to stubbornly hold fast to the “wisdom” I have made for myself. A worldview that is centered on human failure and our inability to love anybody but ourselves, a worldview that denies the hope we have in Christ in rooting out the sinfulness in our hearts. That “wisdom” didn’t fall into my lap. I earned it through heartache and the ensuing loneliness. So you can imagine why I don’t want to let it go at times. I’d identified with my suffering in a perverse way. It had become my identity.

But when I was made new in Christ, I was freed from that identity. Still though, today I have to fight that flesh everyday, putting it off and putting on the new life Christ gave me through his death. There are times when I am seduced by the thought of using Scripture to supplement my old worldview instead of wholly resting my heart on the Word of God. I want to lean on my own understanding, but I have to remind myself of Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him,/and he will make straight your paths.” To acknowledge God in all my ways means to put him foremost in my thoughts before I act. I really have to submit my life to Him entirely. Yet again, it’s easier said than done.

What I have found in reading and meditating on all these verses and examining my life is that I need to continue delving into Scripture and raising my life up for examination, so I can continue being changed and growing in Christ-likeness. When I became new in Christ, I wasn’t suddenly emptied of all my past experiences and knowledge. What has to happen is that all that I am has to be placed in subjection to God. I must discard what is unprofitable and a hindrance to the kingdom, and replace it with wisdom, God’s wisdom that will inform my actions. What has happened to me; what has happened to you is part of God’s plan. We can’t let our past and our sinfulness dictate how we spend this new life we have in Christ.

Let me leave you with these verses. I’ve found it helps to remember why God has chosen us:

“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2: 9-10 ESV)

The Need for Accountability

As a church, Redeemer’s Grace is committed to disciple-making. And we follow Jesus’ words very closely when he calls us to disciple the nations, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to proclaim the Word of God. Implicit in this mission statement is a responsibility to one another in our spiritual growth, in our sanctification. Last year I wrote about sanctification as defined in the Scriptures and our role in helping one another along in it. You can see that here.

I want to expand on that idea of helping one another along in our sanctification a little more. The manner in which I am calling us to do this is through accountability. A phrase I heard early on in college and one I use often is that “a lone Christian is a dead Christian.” Not a physical death mind you nor even a spiritual one. But the idea is that we run this race together. We share in our struggles and in our triumphs, our temptations and our resisting temptations. And we respond together in prayers of supplication and praises of overwhelming joy, to God’s faithfulness and our brothers’ and sisters’ willingness to stick together. Even in Ephesians 6 when we learn of the whole armor of God, of the weapons we have to fight against the schemes of the devil we can tell this fight is not meant to be fought alone.

In order to fight together, some of the men of RGC have even banded together in what we call “iron man groups” after the popular “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the writer of Hebrews calls us to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near…”

Accountability is vital in the battle against sin. Whatever you may call it, it is necessary. Whether it’s small groups, discipleship, accountability groups, “iron man groups”, or even the occasional meet up. Where there is accountability there are fellow believers struggling alongside one another on the battlefield. Keeping each other accountable is more than confessing failure to a brother or sister; it is going to them in the midst of the battle and asking them for help, to come alongside you and fight.

Practically this may look like some of those groups I named above. But the bottom line is this. We need to encourage each another; we need to challenge each another; we need to ask each other the tough questions; and we need to know how to pray for each other. So grab one or two fellow believers and commit to keeping each other accountable. If you’re young in the faith find someone older to help you along. If you’re a little older in the faith find someone younger to mentor or disciple. Let us be a church that is committed to accountability; committed to each other.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

Like I said earlier, at RGC we strongly believe in disciple making. We see it as the mission of the local church and we get that from the great commission. And we need accountability to do it. Try raising a child without discipline or lead an army without authority. Accountability is to the Great Commission what tracks are to a train.

Thoughts from WorshipGod 2014

So it’s been a few weeks since I went to the WorshipGod Conference in Santa Ana. But everything I learned and experienced there still feels so fresh, constantly opening my eyes in amazement as if I was hearing these things for the first time again.

The theme for this year was Triune. I know, random, right? Throughout the course of my one-and-a-half year of being a Christian, the only time I’ve heard this topic ever mentioned is that Father, Son, and Spirit make up the Holy Trinity… and that’s about the extent of it. So by the time I was leaving back to San Diego, heck, by the time I was leaving Cavalry Church after the first message, I felt smarter. It was mind-blowing, filled with those moments where I’m asking myself how I didn’t know this before because it made so much sense.

I think the biggest thing that I took away is to remember the importance of how God is the Father. This is what stuck out the most to me: the fact that our God is a trinitarian God, who is inherently a Father, makes Him an eternally life giving and loving God. And that is what makes Him God instead of god. Other gods who are not trinitarian rely on their creations, making them weak. God the Father does not rely on His creations in order to demonstrate love; He does not need us. We need Him.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NASB)

With that being said, there is no Gospel without the Trinity. Triune offers free salvation, while other gods require success. There is salvation by grace because God the Father provides a perfect sacrifice. If it were up to us to execute God’s plan, it would never succeed because our sacrifices would never meet His perfect standards. And even if we were somehow able to do so, we would not be God’s children then. Performance does not play a role in adoption. Effort makes us slaves, not children; sonship is free. (Clarification: I’m not saying we can now feel better about being lazy and doing nothing all day, but it’s the effort in trying to save ourselves that makes us slaves). Now here’s something I jotted down in my notes that’s a neat segue to my next point of elaboration:

The Father plans, the Son provides, and the Spirit fulfills.

It’s no secret that God the Father has this sovereign plan all laid out, complete and perfect. We may not know the nitty gritty details of its future, but the past occurrences have been conveniently put together in this nifty book we call the Bible. And of course, I am referring to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ AKA God the Son. The Son provides the sacrifice necessary to carry out the plan of the Father. It’s important to mention that Christ’s aim is to make the children of men the children of God because it highlights the fact that if God was not a Father, then we could not be His children. Through the execution of this plan, the Holy Spirit, who is fully God (equal in divinity, essence, and character), dwells within the believers. And all who have the Spirit share the status of the Son. And that is what justification is: clothing ourselves with Christ’s perfection before God.

Okay, that paragraph was probably full of information you’ve heard a million times, but I promise you there’s more to it. Continuing on, I don’t think the Holy Spirit gets much credit in the Trinity. Christians don’t really talk about the Spirit all that much, not in my experience, anyway. And we should give credit where credit is due, yes? Being Christian is humanly impossible. Now before you run away with your hopes crushed, let me just say that that is exactly what the Spirit’s purpose is. Because being Christian is humanly impossible, the transformation of the Spirit is needed to fulfill God’s promise of salvation. The Holy Spirit is fully necessary for salvation because it demonstrates the glory of the Father and the Son by opening our eyes, our minds, and our hearts, and then drawing them to God.

I realize this post, just like every single post I type up, has resulted in me rambling on and on and on. Oops. I’m just really bad at being short and concise, so just bear with me a little while longer. So let’s get to the point of all this, shall we?

Remember who we are and whose we are to stand firm in the grace of God.

In a message referring to 1 Peter 1:1-2:

1) We are elect exiles. “Exile” is our relation to the world, meaning it is not our home/we don’t belong here. “Elect” is our relation to God, making us God’s chosen people. Put them together: We are selected by God, and, therefore, rejected by the world.

2) We are God’s (God referring to Father, Son, Spirit). This point refers heavily to verse two regarding the Trinity. “Foreknowledge of God the Father” reveals our origin of this election, emphasizing the fact that we are chosen because we are loved by God. “Sanctification of the Spirit” reveals our new position/power of being set apart by God and for God. “Obedience to Jesus Christ” reveals our purpose of election. All this to say, God is our inheritance and our true home.

And this is only what I learned from the messages. My brain is still racking from unshared information from the workshops. As fun as the workshops with Ryan Foglesong and David Zimmer were, to keep this short, I’ll briefly talk about the two more interesting ones, which were the songwriting sessions with Steve and Vikki Cook. In the second songwriting workshop, we were asked to send in a recording of up to 2 original songs to be reviewed in class. And, let me just say, that was such a blessing to sit through. It was pretty cool to get the chance to listen to other songwriters, some who actually write songs for their church’s musical worship team to lead the congregation to sing. There are like million things to worry about when writing a song and a million more things when writing a potential worship song. Everything from lyrics to melody to meter to rhymes to rhythm can drastically change a song. For me personally, I’ve always been a lover of lyrics. When writing songs, lyrics always come before melody, and when listening to songs, a line of amazing lyrics will always win me over rather than a line of amazing music. But, after a session, I realize that I need to find more of a balance between the two. The song I submitted had celebratory lyrics (for my baptism) but the music did not match it at all dragging along at a very chill pace that communicated “life is fine” rather than “my life calls for a celebration!”

And here is where I’ll end my post with a final conclusion that’ll wrap up both topics nicely. The Trinity is what some people have deemed the “logic” for music. The Heavenly harmony of the Father, Son, and Spirit explains how everything is held together by unity. I’ve heard people say many, many times how when we’re all in Heaven singing, it’ll be this perfect harmony of a bajillion voices all layered together to create a beautiful, joyous sound. But until then, I hope you will remember that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Supreme Harmony and celebrate how awesome and perfect that is that we have a triune God.

© Copyright Redeemer's Grace Church 2014