Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Christian life and wellbeing: Where do we begin?

Welcome to my blog. I am delighted you have taken the time to visit. 
This week starts a series on the Christian life and the wonderful promises of scripture and the benefits to us. Teleios and other authors have shown Christian belief can improve personal wellbeing. This is great! How do we get it?
Well, the answer is neatly outlined in scripture in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7. Let us spend this series of blogs following and expanding on this great passage, the basis of the Christian life, and good wellbeing.
Here is the passage! 
1 Thessalonians 1:5 - For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 
1 Thessalonians 1:6 - And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 
1 Thessalonians 1:7 - So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 

In these verses the Apostle Paul reflects warmly on the acceptance of the gospel by the Thessalonians that he presented to them and their progression through the Christian life. The verses are neatly outlined by the following:
  • Becoming a Christian Verse 5
  • Security of salvation Verse 5
  • Accepting God's Word in daily life Verse 6
  • Becoming imitators of Paul Verse 6
  • Becoming examples to others Verse 7
Let us start today with salvation. This is the obvious starting point for the Christian life as Christ said to enter through the narrow gate to life and to avoid the wide gate to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). To those who proceed through this narrow gate all the benefits of Christianity are available but one must first enter! 
How do we do this?
The basis of salvation is to understand:
  • Man sinned.
  • God is just, requiring a punishment for sin.
  • But out of love God sent His Son, Jesus Christ who by dying on the cross, provided forgiveness of sins in taking man’s deserved punishment.
  • Therefore, by faith alone in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and belief in His resurrection, man can gain eternal life.

This forgiveness is by faith alone. No work is required. When you believe, confess it to somebody else so you're able to articulate it. A person generally does not really know something until they can tell another person.
So there you have it; it’s that simple! If you have not believed in Christ as your Savior please do so now. Please tell us about it and we will be happy, if you desire, to help you in your beginning journey as a Christian.
What is the next step? Simply to believe it! We will talk about this more next week.
For questions or to view more of our research…

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What is the cure for guilt?

Welcome again to my blog. I am delighted you have taken the time to visit. 
Last week we began a discussion about Christians having a low level of guilt. This week let's discuss potential cures.
The world screams that Christians surely have guilt because of all the restrictions of scripture that must induce this emotion. Guess what? Teleios’ research indicates quite the opposite! We have shown if you know scripture, the great freedom of salvation, and live as a Christian by faith, you won’t feel guilty!
In a survey at a large secular state university, Teleios found about 70% of both evangelical and social Christians noted they felt mild guilt while still reporting high levels of wellbeing. Interestingly, those who reported to be both evangelical and born-again (as opposed to just one or the other) had greater wellbeing. Further, those who reported they were evangelical, born-again and adhered to their faith, none had bad wellbeing and similar guilt levels as other groups. 
Further, we found in a survey in a well taught evangelical church that those with greater knowledge about the Christian faith and who practiced the faith (fellowship, praise, prayer, outreach and Bible study) noted less guilt than those who did not. 
We don't know exactly all the treatments for Christian guilt, but here are a few clues that might help:
  • A good relationship with God, NOT! - Understand what your relationship with God is not. It is not based on being saved by Christ and then adding a works oriented system that gives us access to God only if we feel we deserve it. Teleios research indicates this lingering doubt of God’s acceptance and having to work for His approval is the most common cause of Christian guilt. This is not scriptural.
  • A true Bible based relationship - Realize on what a relationship with God is really based. Scripture describes a secure position before God by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, assure yourself that you have trusted by faith, once for all time, your forgiveness of sins to God to salvation (2 Peter 1:10). This belief in God’s forgiveness allows us to have unrestricted access to God by prayer, without fear of rejection (Hebrews 10:20-23). 
  • Eternally secure - Be confident in your eternal security. As we have recently covered not only does the Bible tell us we are secure (John 10:28-29; 1 Peter 1:4-6; Romans 8:29ff), but we hold positions that cannot be morphologically or legally undone (please see recent blogs). Indeed God causes us to persevere (2 Timothy 1:12).
  • Un-chargeable - No one can bring a charge against us as we are declared just; only Christ can judge (Romans 8:33)!
  • Practice your faith - Studying scripture, teaching it to others, good fellowship, praise to God, and prayer allow us to have the knowledge and the right mindset of our standing before God through Christ. When you first know what you should be knowing, and do what you should be doing, the confident knowledge of our salvation follows (Colossians 1:9-14).
Even if you have sinned as a Christian (as we all have), and even if the sin is chronic, the biblical answer is not to feel guilty but to be obedient. We are already forgiven! Otherwise, do what you should be doing and most likely you will not feel guilty.
In summary, base your relationship with God on biblical facts, not your emotions. This is a great concept!
Thanks for joining me. Visit again next week as we start a series on the Christian life and the wonderful promises of scripture and their benefits to us.
For questions or to view more of our research…

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why do I feel guilty?

Welcome again to my blog. I am grateful you have taken the time to visit. 
These last few weeks we have discussed our secure position before God as believers in Jesus Christ. These are powerful promises! Please review them if you have not read those blogs.
Our research has shown that Christians generally have better wellbeing and less depression than non-Christians. Why then are Christians known for feeling guilty?  This week let us discuss the problem and next week we will discuss the solutions.
Teleios conducted 2 surveys: one at a major secular college campus and another in a well instructed evangelical church. Approximately 70% of participants in both surveys felt guilty! Fortunately, the level of guilt was mild. 
All the causes of this affliction are not known. Indeed, in the church-based survey of adults the overwhelming reason for guilt was due to a believer thinking their current sin(s) had somehow separated them from God and hurt their relationship with Christ; they felt badly about it! In my experience, it is very common for almost every person I teach to have felt some level of guilt. 
Why is this the case? Well we do not know all the causes but below are some potentials:
  • We inflict it on our selves 
  • We induce it in each other
Some churches induce it through legalistic regulations. Indeed, one pastor once sheepishly told me it can be good for motivating people!
Why do Christians feel guilty? Our sins are forgiven! Can you name a verse in the Bible that says we should feel guilty? I certainly cannot.
An example I often tell my students is that I have studied Greek, the original language of the Bible, for 25 years. Until recently I did not even know the Greek word for ‘guilt’ despite all my studies! The Bible does just not discuss it!
Of course, because I told the story several times I learned of some examples. However, the few times it's used is in the New Testament and it is not related to believers’ guilt. We are not to feel guilty!
The problem of guilt can be a big one because it:
  • Teaches a lie about God 
  • Robs us of our joy of salvation 
  • Captures our emotions in incorrect thinking and takes us away from positive role of the Christian life
  • Minimizes the actions of the church
So, what is the cure? Let's discuss this next week. Thank you for joining me as always.

For questions or to view more of our research…

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

God's own possession, what a marvelous praise

Welcome again to my blog. I am grateful you have taken the time to visit. 

We’ve been discussing the results of personal salvation in Christ and why it might be associated with enhanced wellbeing. We have covered what happens at the time of salvation, as taught in the Bible, resulting in a steadfast new and wonderful position of a believer. This week let us discuss the great promise of our eternal possession by God. 
The wonderful story of our being the possession of God starts in Exodus 19:5-6 when God told the Israelites that He intended them to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation and His peculiar possession. They failed in their commitment to God and sinned against Him. Therefore, they did not become a kingdom of priests or a holy nation. However, God will keep His promise to Israel that the nation would be His eternal possession (Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11-17; Romans 11:26-29).
As we know, the sin of Israel under the law was to show us our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24). He has come and died for our sins, that through Him, those who believe on his death on the cross by faith will have eternal life. As believers, God has enabled us to become a kingdom of priests, a holy nation and His peculiar possession (1 Peter 2:9).
How can Christians do this when the Israelis could not? It is because we have the Holy Spirit given to us as a seal to our redemption and to mark us as His eternal possession (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Christ noted that as His chosen, we are in His hands and cannot be removed. We are also in God’s hands and cannot be removed (John 10:28-30). Several other scriptures also note that we are God’s possession (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 10:39).
We have in general, God’s promise that He will secure us in His power unto salvation (2 Timothy 1:12; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). 
We have covered many marvelous promises of our position as a believer that cannot be overturned, either because of legal, morphological reasons or through the direct power of God. These promises include: spiritual baptism, membership in the universal church, sealing by the Holy Spirit, adoption, justification, and now being made God's possession. 
Thank you for joining me this week and please come again next week as we continue to discuss the amazing power of God's word in our lives.

For questions or to view more of our research…