Do You Ever Justify Yourself?

At the heart of the Gospel, we have this very theological idea called “justification by faith alone”. What this means is that at our first moment of faith in Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross, we are justified, made righteous and brought into right-standing with God.

I can honestly say that for most of my life this was an abstract concept that was an “entrance thing” into Christianity, which after receiving we move onto the big stuff, the important stuff. As in, “I have my justification, I’m good with God, now lets move on.” But little did I know, this idea is profoundly central to every thing we do, everyday.

See, we are always justifying ourselves in every little thing that we do…

It ranges from:
“I took the stairs today so I can have the cookie…” and, “Watching 3 hours of TV tonight isn’t so bad, because I work hard…”

All the way to:
“I can cheat on my spouse, because I’m not loved at home…” or, “I killed a man today in a mob hit, but it was defending my family’s honor, therefore it was a just act…”

But we have a problem:

I can always justify the things I do
the things I do will never justify me.

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Love your neighbour as… yourself?

How do I love myself?

I seek my own happiness.

That is the fundamental state of the human heart… We are seeking:

Seeking joy
Seeking peace
Seeking justification

Wanted is love

This can only be found in the first commandment… Love God with all your heart soul and mind.

This is where I had it profoundly wrong…

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The 4 Axioms of the Christian Faith

As a student and teacher of mathematics, I have loved the “why”. The how or what was always secondary to the question of “why” does this work. And if you keep following any idea back far enough, you hit the axioms. The axioms are the building blocks of mathematics. The most simple nuggets of truth, that you can base a whole branch of mathematics on. The predicates for the argument.

This is what happened to me in my Christian walk. I have found the axioms that I can base the rest of my life on… and now I can’t wait to get to scripture and explore, test, prove, and be renewed. I know how to read the Bible now, because I understand the purpose… This is what it means to be a Christian: to have the answers. So I want to put forth the 4 axioms of the Bible according to Richard. This is not infallible, it is not scripture, but it has caused the book to open up to me like a flower, and I hope that this will help others as well, because more than anything else in this world, I want others to experience the joy of finding truth and meaning, and to join in this journey with me.

These 4 ideas, or axioms, or predicates, or building blocks will be with referred to here at thisisyourwoship quite often I presume, so here we go:

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My Testimony to Christ’s Grace for this Depraved Soul – Part 3

I finished my last post with the idea that God chose me to hear the Gospel. Now here I have to state with absolute force and clarity, that I am not implying that I had anything of any worth, that allowed this to happen. I did not deserve it whatsoever. I am a reluctant, sin-addicted, self-righteous, self-saving, procrastinating, nasty, angry person. Which by the way, is the only thing that qualifies you for the Kingdom of Heaven. Poor in spirit? Yes. In fact… spiritually bankrupt about sums me up, that was my condition.

And so when I said that God chose me, the only response I can have, is thank you God, that you would pick me, totally depraved me, to bestow your grace and mercy on.

And I feel that at this point I need to apologize for the sin of self-righteousness that is still in my flesh. I have been too quick to jump back into my own sin of self-right-ness: “That I am right and that is good, and you wrong and that is bad.” I give thanks to God, for those He has put in my life to caution and correct me. Lord forgive me… Lord help me… Lord teach me to point to you light ever more graciously. Forgive me for trusting too much in “isms.”

But there is one thing that I won’t stop preaching, cant stop preaching and refuse to stop preaching.

And that is this:

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My Testimony to Christ’s Grace for this Depraved Soul – Part 2

This is the continuation of Part 1 of this testimony, my testimony, wherein I explained how God enlarged my view of sin, for the purpose of enlarging the purposes of the Gospel of Christ’s work.

Ok so now let’s fast forward to a few months ago, and look back on what my new Christian life has started to look like. An experience of Grace is a great thing, but the evidence is clearly in the fruit. As I mentioned before, I will reiterate in this post now. Namely that Grace this was bearing fruit in my heart and mind and outward life. I was able to answer yes to the tests of assurance laid out in 1st John. All of the them, for the first time at the same time.

Equally amazing was how God was speaking to me through his rhema (spoken) word, and then confirming that through his written word, and through the testimonies of others, stirring up a greater faith and greater trust in what Christ had done in me. The best way I can describe what has been happening, is that God was taking me by the hand, and gently leading me on a journey, that is still continuing to this day. It started about 2 years ago, reached a turning point this summer, and is growing stronger, not diminishing. This has started the birth of an unshakable hope that his flame will continue burn brighter, and that this joy will continue to spill out.

So I want to give 3 examples of this to give glory to how God’s Grace has been continuing to work in me:

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My Testimony of Christ’s Grace for this Depraved Soul – Part 1

I know that I have so far been using controversial titles to grab the attention of those who would hear me out, but for this particular topic, I feel that it is too sacred to discuss with anything but the utmost reverence.

But first, it has been over 2 weeks since my last post, which is longer than I had hoped. This is not due to having nothing to write about, but rather it is because God has been doing so much in me that I have not been able to finish a complete thought, before the next one surges over me like a waterfall of God’s grace. So I don’t write because of lack of something to say, but rather having too much! So back to it…

There is a verse that terrifies every lukewarm, fence-sitting Christian out there, who professes to have chosen Christ as their Lord:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matt 7:21-23

If this scares you read on, if it doesn’t, then praise God! You can rest assured in your salvation. I can tell you this used to terrify me, but now it doesn’t. Interested? Read on:

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25 Years in Church and Not a Christian

I always felt weird about sharing my “faith” because I always felt that it was a dishonest trick. I actually felt guilty about it… because if I had my choice, I wouldn’t be “a Christian”. Little did I know that this was evidence that I actually wasn’t a Christian.

So you’re saying,

“Wait a minute, didn’t you have a choice? You could have stopped being a Christian, rejected the Bible and the church, and gone your own way!”

Well there are actually 2 reasons why I felt I didn’t have a choice:

  1. This is hard to admit, but if I stopped pretending to be a Christian, then I would have to start from scratch. I grew up a PK (pastor’s kid) in a Christian school, with all my friends also Christians, or at least “Christians”. So I would have had to find new friends, start over at a new school, as well as convince a whole new set of people that I was worth valuing. (More on this later) So for practical reasons, it was actually the most selfish, easy thing I could do to keep pretending.
  2. The other reason was that I was, and still am, utterly convinced of the existence of God, that the Bible is the true word of God, that Christ lived and died and rose again, that we have extremely accurate records of his sayings and teachings, and that He is coming back again. I had complete faith in the Bible and it’s teachings.

“Now wait a minute here Richard, you said in point 1, that you were pretending to be a Christian, but in point 2, you are saying you had complete Faith that Christ was the truth. So doesn’t that make you a Christian?”

Actually it doesn’t…

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