Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
The question has been posed: “WITH REGARD TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE, WHICH IS THE GREATER INFLUENCE — YOUR PAST OR YOUR FUTURE?” Although a strong argument could be made with respect to our past having a great influence on our Spiritual future, I think it not Biblical. Spiritual Switch: I used to go to a men’s prayer breakfast and observed men competitively bragging about the life they had been “delivered” from. They spoke with such fondness, it almost seemed a longing for a time past. I coincidentally watched the responses and facial expressions of some younger Christians, (or non Christian attendees), and saw the bewilderment in their eyes. “Which is it? Which are you so proud of? The life you left – or the life you found?”
Surely I feel as Paul, that I am the “chief of sinners”, and unreservedly claim that in the wake of being forgiven so much, I am all the more grateful. As undeniably influencing as this is, it cannot be our motivator on a sustained basis. The predominant theme of the New Testament Church (and so the New Testament Christian) is that of “pressing toward the mark fo the prize of the high calling of God” - Phil. 3:14. In other words, to: “take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. In fact, we are regularly admonished not to look back - “hand to the plow”? “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:11. Also 2nd Cor. 5:17 = “a new creation – old things are passed away------”. There are too many verses to mention, but this is my personal favorite; Gal. 2:20 = “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Extra Credit. W/regard to the above verse, two points that make my hair stand up on end. 1) note that it is “faith of the Son”, (the “author and finisher of our faith” - Heb. 12:2), not faith in the Son. Where did it (faith) come from?
2) Often the word “for” can be translated “instead of”. Read it again.
By definition, the very essence of faith is the fact that the object of that faith has not been realized or manifested to us yet - Heb. 11. “A faith that can’t be tested, can’t be trusted” - pastor Phil Jones. How can you test faith of something you have in your pocket, or bank account? Still, the faith we have is just as palpable. Just as sure.
Guilt is no motivator. It is tantamount to a works salvation, depending on ourselves rather than the completed work of Jesus.
So who makes it (into Heaven)? It is those who persevere unto the end - Rev. 12:11.
It is notable also, that All the Biblical tests (many in John 1) with reference to whether or not you are a Christian are in the present tense. Nowhere are we instructed to look back to see if we did this, or said that, or joined those. All the tests look like this - “If any man be (is) in Christ, he looks like, does, acts like, responds like, this”. (my paraphrase).
To what end? To be Jesus’ body till he returns, with His agenda - 2nd Cor. 5:19-21 - (our Gospel Calling in a nutshell). And How? Eph. 1:3. Motivated by what? “So great a salvation” Heb. 2:3, and the ultimate motivator - “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” 2nd Cor. 5:11.
In conclusion, with regard to our personal Spiritual Walk, I think it not only fruitless to dwell on our past, but arguably dangerous. Satan tells me I am a sum of what I have done. Jesus tells me I am a new creation with a new past. What a Savior.