Religion

Monday, June 14, 2010

Representing the Redeemer

Heinrich Heine, a 19th century German philosopher said, “Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.”

The impetus behind his statement is fair to each and every one of us that claims the name of Christ. But what does a redeemed life look like?

The great commission as stated by Jesus Himself was for each of us to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But just speaking the gospel without a demonstrable effect in our lives leaves our words empty and meaningless.

Jonathan Edwards once said, “There are plenty of people who have false affections for self-interest, but the saved have true and deep affections. They are marked by a holy life manifested in a holy love. They love God, they love Christ, they thus are pursuing the fulfillment of the greatest commandment, to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

This sounds simple on the surface but a life that belongs to Christ continually displays a selfless love that makes the world sit up and take notice. The world will always respect us if we pursue it, and it will not take offense if we openly reject it based on anger or disillusionment, but it will hate us if we simply take no notice of its priorities, values, or affections. Such is a life that is lost in Christ. It is a radical departure from the norm.

At the core a Christian is a lover of Christ and His cross. This fact alone is generally repulsive to the world who comprehend the meaning of the cross in a variety of ways. Some see it as a symbol of a humiliating execution. Others view it as a picture of a pitiful man who claimed to be God but died as a criminal. For others it represents a denial of all the sensual pleasures they enjoy in life. And some simply perceive it as a piece of jewelry to be displayed around one’s neck. For the Christian, however, the cross is not only the symbol of our salvation, it is the blueprint for our lives. It is at the cross that we understand unconditional love, the true cost of sin and its ultimate defeat.

Quite simply, the redeemed life will appear as the countercultural lifestyle. Our dependence on God, willful forsaking of sin, and obedience to the gospel are the marks of a life changed by Jesus Christ Himself. But the truth is a redeemed life on display will not draw the world in as Heine presupposes because it is the very antithesis of the world system. It is also the opposite of the prosperity gospel that is prevalent today which promises a life of riches and success in return for one’s belief in Jesus.

The sad fact is people only want the idea of the redeemed life on the basis that it has no cost. They want Christ and His love but they don’t want to let go of anything. Jesus said that He would be our provision but on the condition that we seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33).

According to John MacArthur, the distinguishing mark of a true believer is “not the love for the things of the world but a consuming love for God that’s borne out of the testimony of Scripture. Salvation is a regeneration. It is a real transformation, turning a person from loving self to loving God, from pride to humility, from the reigning power of sin to the reigning power of righteousness. That’s the bottom line. A holy life is the chief sign of grace.”

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” - I Corinthians 1:18, 22-25

4 comments:

God Made Playdough said...

"A holy life is the chief sign of grace" I love that! Thanks for sharing it! (well, and I don't love that it convicts me! :) )

Anne Marie Donadio said...

I agree. It is a great truth that is tough to take. MacArthur also often says that it is not the perfection of our lives but the direction. If we are seeking to serve and honor the Lord even though we fail, the Lord sees the direction/intent of our hearts and keeps us on the path of holiness.

Unknown said...

With respect, I agree with almost everything stated in this blog, Representing the Redeemer. However, I find MacArthur's quote that "a holy life is the chief sign of grace" to be absurd. Jesus' forgiveness, crucifixion and resurrection is the chief sign of grace. A holy life, such as it is, is a reflection of His love and our repentance. A holy life, at best, is in response to His grace. Don't idolize our understanding of Him! Through His Holy Spirit, we are witnesses in service to His perfect will, in likeness to His sinless, fully man/fully divine, repairing, righteous-sharing son Jesus. (e.g. 2 Corinthians 10:12-18) HIS holy life is the chief sign of grace! We are merely imitations transforming into His image.
My apologies if I offend anyone. I respect MacArthur's experience and intent, but take issue with some of his doctrine. As Christians, it is our responsibility to respond according to His Holy Spirit. God bless you and keep you, may He continue to reveal His complete sovereignty, grace and peace.

Anne Marie Donadio said...

Hi Blake,

I think you may have misunderstood MacArthur's quote as you only quoted the last sentence not the full quote which states, "the distinguishing mark of a true believer is “not the love for the things of the world but a consuming love for God that’s borne out of the testimony of Scripture. Salvation is a regeneration. It is a real transformation, turning a person from loving self to loving God, from pride to humility, from the reigning power of sin to the reigning power of righteousness. That’s the bottom line. A holy life is the chief sign of grace.”

MacArthur is talking about the process of regeneration and how that looks practically in a believer's life who has professed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. James says faith without works is dead so we demonstrate the salvation that we possess in our life. That is what MacArthur is saying here. We are transformed at the moment of our regeneration and begin moving away from loving self and the world to loving God. It is the transformation into a life lived for God that is the evidence that salvation/grace has taken place.