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Repentance: Do we need shame and guilt?

Shame

In God’s grace, I’ve been thinking through what true repentance is made of and especially when it comes to the affections I feel. Most recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between shame and guilt. Both are Biblical words used in the diagnosis and punishment of sin but what do they really mean? Is there one more preferred than the other? How do they apply to repentance?

Let’s begin with understanding what these words mean. In its essence, the chief defining trait of shame, is embarrassment. Feelings of awkwardness mostly from being found out in wrongdoing. Guilt on the other hand, in its essence is about responsibility for an action. Feeling to blame for wrongdoing. Each can have some traits of the other but I think the chief difference is that of embarrassment versus responsibility.

The chief difference is that of embarrassment versus responsibility

How does this apply when we think about our sin before God and others? When we think about sin, it is not enough to simply know that something is bad and abominable before God, God cares for how we view it and what feelings it invokes in us. This is where shame and guilt come in. We need to feel both embarrassed and responsible for our sin. Embarrassed because we knew better and still went on and did it. Embarrassment because we did what we think others shouldn’t or did to others what we would not like to suffer from them – the embarrassment of our hypocrisy. The embarrassment of choosing what fails and is doomed to fail. I think this embarrassment is what God speaks about in Isaiah 1:29, when He speaks of redeeming Zion by justice. The effect is that those dwelling in Jerusalem as Isaiah is speaking will be ashamed of their idolatry because it will fail them and cause them to face God’s wrath!

But we must also feel responsible. That we deliberately took action and walked a certain path because we wanted to. That we are to blame for the choice and the consequences that followed. Guilt considers that God is right in His verdict of our sin and that we can give no defense; we are rightly accused and judged, indeed guilty! Isaiah at his call in Isaiah 6, sees God and is immediately conscious of his sin. He knows that he is guilty and deserving of judgement. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” v5. He understands and takes ownership of his sin and knows that it means he is doomed.

How then do these two feelings work together in our repentance? Let’s consider King David, in his sin with Bathsheba and how shame and guilt work together in his repentance in 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51. David sees a woman bathing, finds out she’s someone else’s wife and still calls her up to his room and sleeps with her. She gets pregnant and David devises this grand plan to have her husband sleep with her to cover up the pregnancy but when that fails, he plots Uriah’s death in war. He then takes Bathsheba to be his wife and bear his child. He does all this is secrecy thinking that he is all safe. But God’s been watching and sends him a prophet to expose his sin. The prophet quite expertly exposes David’s sin through a story of injustice. David, as the ‘righteous’ ruler is rightly angered by the injustice and proclaims the proper judgement for the sinner. Prophet Nathan then says simply, “You are this man!” and goes ahead to proclaim Yahweh’s verdict and judgement on him.

How does David respond? “I have sinned against the LORD.” This, I think, is the result of shame and guilt. He is ashamed because he gets to see himself clearly. He is able to plainly see his actions in the light of what he knows and has received from Yahweh’s hand. He sees his hypocrisy plainly – how can he judge the unjust man in the story when he has done exactly the same thing to Uriah? His shame humbles him before the LORD to hear and accept responsibility for his sin. With things now so clear, with him off his high horse, he can then take responsibility for his actions, rightly confessing, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Shame humbles the sinner and gives proper room for guilt to work to bring about confession and then hopefully godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

Shame humbles the sinner and gives proper room for guilt to work to bring about confession and then hopefully godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

Psalm 51 records David’s response to the exposure of his sin. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. . . For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement. . . Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. . . Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. . .

The shame and guilt have worked out their proper course on the road to repentance for David. We shall do well to learn from him. When God mercifully exposes our sin, in private or public, we ought not to take quickly to trying to excuse/justify our sin. There is never a good reason for sin! Then we are to have a good look at our sin – to name it (bloodguiltiness, for David) and understand what it is that we have believed, said and done that is contrary to God. Often times I’ve found that when I am aware of a sin, I want to skip this step of properly understanding and taking responsibility for it because I am so embarrassed by it. But what I’ve learnt is that, I do not properly feel the guilt of it – take proper responsibility for it, because I haven’t properly diagnosed the error. This means that I oftentimes stick at sinning because I’m busy trying to treat the symptoms and not the root of the problem. I’m busy trying to put out the fire without understanding its cause. “Let’s just move on!” yet I haven’t known what it is I am moving on/away from.

I have found that it is when I have properly understood my sin that I can clearly confess it and then seek to turn away from it, which in fact is what repentance means! How can we ever hope to confess and turn from (repent) what we do not understand? How can we be equipped to recognize sin in its different guises when we’re not humbly taking responsibility for it and understanding it at its root? True repentance involves the pain of shame and guilt followed by the real confession of sin and seeking to turn away from the sin we have just confessed as God cleanses and helps us. Skipping any step leaves us simply wallowing in sin not mortifying it!

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The Cross of Christ by John Stott

the-cross-of-christ-cover1This is a review of the Cross of Christ by one of our apprentices Ruth Waliaula. Ruth is an apprentice placed in City of Light Fellowship Church in Karen, Nairobi where she helps with administration work. 

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.’ 1 Corinthians 1:18

Many people, I included have used this verse often especially in preaching, but paying no or less attention to the seriousness of the message of the cross.

Many times we have used the cross and signs of the cross as Christians but we barely take into consideration its importance. In fact, we never ask ourselves why the cross and not another thing. We are so used to the cross that it has become cliché, sadly.

John Stott writes to bring us a deeper understanding of the cross as Christians and the importance of the cross. He writes to bring to us the basic evangelical understanding of the cross. He says there is no greater, no more challenging task for a Christian leader than to set out the meaning of the cross for the church and for the world.

The book has been written in a very systematic way that is easy to understand and follow. It is divided into four major sections namely, approaching the cross, heart of the cross, achievement of the cross and living under the cross.

The author brings to us the centrality of the cross. He shows us how the cross became the central theme and the foundational image of the Christian faith. The most amazing thing is getting to learn that there was nothing else that could represent the Christian faith other than the cross.

John explains the reason why Christ died. Many times we blame Judas, Pilate and the soldiers for killing Jesus but do not consider the bigger picture of Christ dying on the cross. In blaming ‘those people’ we have failed to see that we are the reason he died; it is because of our sins that he died.

It is until we realize this that we will grasp the seriousness of the cross. Understanding the seriousness of the cross gives us an understanding of the seriousness of sin. Sin is so serious that Christ had to shed His blood on the cross; there was no other alternative for the forgiveness of sin other than in the blood of Christ.

This book has greatly helped me to get the wider picture of the work of Christ on the cross. It offers more than what this review gives. It’s packed with so much knowledge with lots of keen and extensive explanation around this topic that is very helpful in understanding the cross of Christ.

The Cross of Christ is a must read for all Christians. I recommend it to every Christian for the understanding and appreciation of the cross and for the growth of their faith in Christ.

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Do you have the hope of heaven now? – Part 2

hope of heaven

Picking up from where we stopped in Part 1, let’s consider the second fundamental reason why Christians don’t occupy their minds with the hope of heaven now: our view of heaven has been wrongly informed. This has to do with feeding our minds with the wrong things, so that the picture of heaven we have is distorted and wrong. This happens in several ways.

Firstly, many people have fallen for the cartoon depiction of heaven – fat saints and angels seated on clouds playing harps. Having a wrong picture of heaven that falls far short of the real one means we cannot quite occupy our minds with heaven now, for it will not be heaven, as God has revealed it, neither will it work to bear any fruit in us! The heaven described by unbelievers – the pie in the sky, has no appeal and dissuades believers from occupying their minds now with heaven. Painting a picture of something boring_heaven.jpgundesirable and boring makes heaven look so ridiculous that there’s no point longing for it. In fact, although heaven as a destination would be preferred to its opposite, hell, the thing that is most to be desired, according to this narrative, is the ‘good’ life now! But does the journey make sense if we know not, nor delight in our desired destination? Doesn’t that always result in choosing a route that seems the most fun to us but that gets us to a different destination altogether?

Secondly, our hopes remain this world centered and not on God and His promise. The world is loud with its talk of “Your best life now”, that Christians have started believing it. This is the devil’s tactic to make us short-sighted. We are distracted by the loud false advertising of the enemy on how great life in this world is. We are tempted to ignore the still, small voice of God’s Spirit-breathed words that tells us of the true and sure promises God has fulfilled and will fulfill; great things that nothing in this world can compare to. We soon fall for the temporary, momentary pleasures instead of waiting for the better, eternal pleasures Yahweh has promised!

The third way the believer’s eyes are kept from the hope of heaven now is through the prosperity gospel . This, it has done in 2 ways. Firstly, it has pointed to this world as the chief place we should wait for and expect the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promises. The prosperity gospel has taken promises Yahweh has made and rather than see that their ultimate fulfillment is in heaven, the world to come, has made it a ‘get-it-now’ thing. The proponents of this false gospel therefore join in the devil’s bandwagon of fixing the believers’ eyes squarely on this world and not on heaven. If I am living for my “Best life now”, why would I occupy my mind with a city to come?

The second way the prosperity gospel diverts the believer’s attention from heaven is by painting a weak picture of heaven. Whereas some are out to make heaven seem boring, the prosperity gospeller is out to make heaven all about ‘me’. Rather than heaven being the place Yahweh has made for His own glory and worship, it becomes the place for the ‘believer’ to get all that they want and have always desired. The focus of heaven becomes about having the biggest house, driving the grandest car and living the lavish life. Heaven is simply the fulfillment of all my selfish fleshly desires! It is not about the worship of God, the wonder of intimate relationship with Him (God dwelling with man), the joy of beholding the Lamb who was slain for us or the perfection of a world where perfect righteousness reigns. My preoccupation then becomes looking at what I deem the best things in this life so that I can want them for ‘heaven’. The focus now is therefore growing my envy and covetousness, not my faith or love or hunger for all that is God’s.

Fourthly, I think we have a big view of man and this creation and a small view of Yahweh. This is the result of some of what we have already discussed earlier: a poor knowledge of God’s Word, the blinding work of the devil and from hearing false gospels. But this is also an effect of sin. Right from Genesis 3, the great characteristic of sin is that we want to be God. We want to take His place of authority and rule and do not consider how foolish this endeavor is. Just as with the kings of the nations in Psalm 2 – God only laughs at our vain efforts! We still deceive ourselves of our grandeur and deny God His (what He deserves from us not what He has in Himself). This means we are preoccupied with building things for ourselves, failing to realize that these things will not in fact last to eternity. What we need instead is to despair of our own effort and look to the great God who promises to build us a righteous dwelling with Himself that lasts forever. We can be sure of it because Jesus died and rose again from the dead, the seal of the assurance of heaven!

Heaven_Glorious

Having a wrong picture of heaven means we know not the goodness, bigness, awesomeness and glory of heaven.

Having a wrong picture of heaven means we know not the goodness, bigness, awesomeness and glory of heaven. We know not the promise of its joys, the shine of its glory nor the beauty and safety of its walls. This means that we cannot then desire and long for it. Life now becomes a shadow of what it could be because we will focus on our selfish desires and not realize that it is those things that we prioritize now that will disqualify us for life in the real heaven of God – the kingdom centered in the Father and the Son! Consider the following verses from Revelation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (21:1-5)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.(22:1-5)

Aren’t these just amazing pictures of that which awaits those who hope in Jesus Christ? Is there anything boring about these pictures? Heaven, as described in these verses, is something I long for. It represents the removal and annihilation of all that I hate on this earth – sin, suffering, darkness, death. But more than that it represents the place where I will finally be able to worship God as He deserves to be worshipped. It is the place of perfect relationship with God, where I will finally be able to remain faithful as He is faithful. It will be the place of perfect, everlasting enjoyment! There will be nothing there to take away our joy and delight! I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

These things do sound out-of-this-world, no wonder it’s so hard to occupy our minds with them now. Yet, we would do well to think through what is keeping us from thinking of them now and seek the remedy. Let’s open our Bibles and ask God to help us hear Him speak clearly about what He is done, what He is doing and what He will do. Let us keep our eyes focused on what God is saying, discarding the lies that the devil will throw our way or the lures of the world and the lusts of our flesh. Let us learn to spend time filling our minds with the truth of what God has promised so that we might bear fruit in keeping with the hope we have – faith in Jesus Christ and a love for the saints!

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Do you have the hope of heaven now? – Part 1

hope of heaven

I’ve been spending some time in Colossians chapter one. After his introduction, Paul says something interesting about the Colossians, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,” (Col. 1:3-5, ESV). Paul in these verses, introduces us to a kind of equation we might not be familiar with. The gospel (the word of truth), tells us of a hope laid up in heaven for those who believe in Jesus Christ, and knowing this hope produces in Christians, faith in Jesus and love for all the saints.

Equation_Hope = Faith + love

But is that how it works for you? I’m not sure I always work through this process or think that the hope laid up for me in heaven is so important that it produces in me faith in Jesus and a love for fellow saints. When I talk to other Christians about what they think about heaven now, for many, it is a future reality that they do not think they need to occupy their minds with now. Yet heaven is a present reality, giving us a certain future hope that has a present manifestation as Colossians 1:3-5 makes clear: hope that bears fruit in faith in Jesus and a love for the saints. So, why don’t we Christians occupy our minds with heaven now?

I think that fundamentally there are 2 main reasons why we don’t occupy our minds with the hope of heaven now. One, is that our view of heaven has been wrongly informed. The second, that we have not rightly informed our view of heaven. Although these 2 reasons sound very similar they in fact point to different causes. It’s like saying that a person is unhealthy because he eats bad food but also because he does not eat good food. Both are similar but very different and valid reasons for the person’s unhealthiness. This is also true for the reason we have an unhealthy view of heaven. I will seek to elaborate on these 2 points in turn starting with the latter in this post and then the former in the next post.

For the rest of this post, I will elaborate on the second point: we have not rightly informed our view of heaven. This has to do with our knowledge of the Bible and what it says. Firstly, we do not know what our Bibles say. Despite living in one of the most enviable times in history, when owning a Bible for ourselves is possible and not counread-bible.jpgstly, we also live in one of the worst times in history for people to know exactly what their Bibles say. What a contradiction of terms! At a time when Bibles are being handed out left, right and center, there are fewer and fewer people who are actually opening them to read for themselves what God is saying. Unfortunately, we live in a time where laziness prevails among Christians in pursuing knowledge of the word of truth.

This then affects how people know the gospel of God and what He has done through His Son Jesus Christ. The grace of God in redeeming rebels and more to that, qualifying them for an inheritance in His perfect kingdom are truths shallowly understood and almost fully ignored. This poor understanding, bordering on complete ignorance means that the hope of heaven is not known, desired or longed for! How then can something unknown occupy our minds now, let alone begin to bear fruit?

“The good food we fail to feed ourselves with. .”

Secondly, I think we have not valued what God has revealed about His priorities. This is a step up from the last point but with the angle that those who are reading God’s Word are not reading it well. Instead of hearing what God, who is speaking, is saying about Himself (the main character in His book), we make is about ourselves. We have not believed God or learnt to love Him and His great plan. This means that our theology isn’t centered on Yahweh, His Work and His plan. What this then means is that heaven, the end that God is working towards, the very reason Jesus came into the created world to secure, is almost completely missed. You have to wonder at people claiming to know and love God when they have little or no idea what He says he’s all about and what He is working towards. This therefore means heaven is not given the attention it deserves in our minds and hearts and that means we cannot occupy our minds with it now.

These 2 points are the good food we fail to feed ourselves with when we consider building up our view of heaven. We should not only be opening our Bibles and reading them, but we should read them diligently to see what God is saying especially about the hope laid up for us in heaven. A taster of what the Bible has to say of what is laid up for us in heaven:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
(Isaiah 25:6-9)

“For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
    and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Doesn’t reading these verses make you long for heaven? It is only as we read these truths and meditate on them that we can begin to occupy our minds with heaven now and for it to begin to produce in us greater faith in Jesus Christ (who has secured all of it for us) and a love for others (with whom we will want to share heaven with).

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Endurance and the Lies we Believe- Part 2

Endurance 1

Back to where we left off. . .

The third thing we misunderstood is who exactly gets to heaven – not those who simply believe in Jesus Christ but who believe in His work. This I think might be the most shocking for many people who think they have secured a place in heaven. Many people have heard the gospel taught and out of fear of judgment have accepted that they need salvation and Jesus will do. But theirs is a kind of intellectual acceptance of the need for salvation from eternal judgment, not the conviction of the ever-present need to have a Savior who has done a necessary and lasting work, and who demands fruit in us from now on to eternity. Heaven isn’t for those who made one decision about accepting Jesus for salvation, but those who daily (even hourly) believe, boast in and remain anchored in Jesus’ powerful, once-for-all work on the Cross.

Part of this misunderstanding is also in disregarding that heaven is a reward not for lifting trophythose who started the race but for those who finish the race according to the rules! Heaven isn’t like the t-shirt you get at the beginning of a race, it’s the trophy enjoyed by those who finish the race according to the rules. There are those who might think that how we run this race doesn’t matter but it matters a lot! The Kenyan runner Elijah Kemboi got disqualified from a race in which he had a medal standing position because in the middle of the race he slipped and stepped outside the running track. In the end, it didn’t matter that he had run and positioned well, it mattered that he hadn’t run according to the rules! Heaven is therefore for those who persevere in the faith by sticking to the gospel of King Jesus – not simply whatever seems to work to get them to the end. A pragmatic man-made gospel is no gospel at all and it breaks the rules of the race. Be careful you are found clinging to the true gospel, running the race as is laid out in it.

Fourthly, we have misunderstood how we get to heaven. The way this world works tells us that mostly, we get what we earn. Unfortunately, a lot of people bring this understanding to the gospel of King Jesus (and then change it from being good news of grace). Some of us think that Jesus’s work is to cleanse some of my sin and then I work hard to get to heaven. Whereas I am advocating for the perseverance of the saints, this is all meant to be rooted in the work of the Father through the Son. Col. 1:12 goes ahead to tell us that we are to give “thanks to the Father, who has qualified [us] for an inheritance with the saints in light”. We get to the end because of what God the Father has done for us in the work of God the Son. Our endurance is actually to persevere in this knowledge and assurance, being sure to let go and disbelieve any persuasion that says we get to heaven by any other means!

Fifthly, we have misunderstood what heaven actually is. We have too small a view of heaven. Many Christians have fallen for the comic strip depiction of heaven – saints and angels sitting on clouds playing harps. A good number of us see it as the boring end to what could be a fun life. This is why so many Christians have no qualms about the ‘You Only Live Once’ (YOLO) hashtag. We have spent little to no time getting a clear, Bible-centered view of heaven and therefore it is no surprise that we have not learnt to love, prize and long for heaven. It’s no wonder therefore that we will not work to endure. We only endure and wait with patience for what we believe to be precious and worth the wait.

So, now that we’ve looked at these 5 ways in which we misunderstand what God says about endurance, how can we begin fixing our understanding on endurance? I think we must begin by acknowledging that we lack the proper understanding because we cannot apply a lasting remedy to a problem we refuse to acknowledge. After this, we need to go to God in prayer and ask for His forgiveness of our ignorance and His help in helping us see and rightly understand what He is saying, in this case about endurance. We then go to God’s Word and spend our lives hearing what God is saying clearly and in context and learn from Him what we are to know and think and how we are to live our lives as pleases Him till we get to the end. This is a life-long work of storing up, chewing over, believing and living out the truth of what God says. It’s a work of endurance and steadfastness!

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Endurance and the Lies we believe- Part 1

Endurance_Ken

May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. . .” Col. 1:11 [ESV]

I love how shocking Paul’s prayers can be especially when juxtaposed with our expectations. Having become used to prosperity preaching, we have come to expect prayers that revolve around having things and position – worldly things. So coming to this verse in the 1st chapter of Colossians is very shocking. Paul prays that the Colossian Christians would “be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might”. This is something we are automatically drawn to – I mean, who doesn’t want power?

I recently had Bible study with the women at church on Colossians 1:1-14 and they too responded to the place power has in our thinking and society. They pointed to power being about control and calling all the shots and how it was something to be desired in this capacity. Yet when we come to Paul’s prayer for strengthening with amazing God-strength, its use is not in calling all the shots and being in control, it’s about endurance! Now there’s a word we don’t really want to be associated with.

I don’t know about you, but endurance for me implies that there is going to be hardship or that I am in some way weak (especially if I am to be strengthened with power to endure). Hardship and weakness aren’t words that I want to be used to describe me or the Christian faith. In my mind, the Christian faith is meant to be easy and smooth. In my idealistic mind, I am strong. Yet the more I read the Bible and get to know myself, I realize that my view of the Christian life and myself are polar opposites to what God says. But our denial of our need to be strengthened for endurance doesn’t do us any favors. If anything it puts us at great risk – like failing to take heed of a tsunami warning. But what is it that keeps us from hearing this call to endurance? Fundamentally, it is an issue with poor or erroneous understanding of what God is saying in His Word. There are five ways I think this happens. But we will only look at two today.

Firstly, we have believed the lie that getting to the end (to heaven, as this is the context of Col. 1:11, see v. 12) is obvious. We have taken for granted that we will definitely endure. This I fear has to do with how poorly we were told the gospel message. We were told something like, “All you have to do is accept Jesus into your heart and you will get eternal life.” The problem with this is that it acts like a ‘get out of hell free card’ – having no present application but good to have for when we die. We think that heaven is ours because of a box we once ticked – like getting a vaccination shot that lasts our whole life and all we need is the certificate to prove it. But getting to heaven is not like that. Getting to heaven is a matter of continued faith and not shifting from the hope laid out for us in the gospel (Col. 1:23). This means that there are things that are going to try to move us from having a steady faith and hope in heaven. We need to be aware that getting to heaven is not obvious! It is something that must occupy our minds now, moment by moment.

Secondly, we have disregarded the foundation for this endurance, the gospel. We have believed in ‘other’ gospels that are not in fact the Christ-centered gospel that we believe in and by which we are qualified to get to heaven. There are many ‘Christians’ who have believed this line, “The message of the Cross is good for unbelievers and new believers. But mature believers move on from it to better things.” In seeking maturity, we have missed it because we have removed the very foundation we are to stand on and grow. This means that we have also counted ourselves out of the very end that this foundation promises – heaven. It is only as we stick to the Cross-centered gospel, steadfastly rooted in it, that we can get to enjoy the precious inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Endurance makes sense only when grounded in the Christ-centered gospel, other gospels have no place for it.

to be continued….