I Am Saved

I am Saved

The year was 1555, early morning, still dark. Two men were sitting on cold, hard stones awaiting the punishment for their crime. The two were Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, former bishops of the Catholic Church who had fully embraced the doctrines of Christ and his full atonement for sinful man. The officials of the Catholic church demanded that they recant and deny their Protestant doctrine. The outcome forseen was simple: the two would crumble under fear and would easily deny the teachings and return to their jobs. But it was not to be. The two men did not turn away, but boldly affirmed their protestant doctrine.

They were sentenced to be burned at the stake on the morning of October 15th, 1555. And here they were, crowd gathered round, the men being bound, the wood being stacked beneath them.

A friend weeped bitterly as the two were led towards their deaths, but Ridley comforted his friend by saying “quiet yourself, though my breakfast shall be somewhat sharp and painful, yet I am sure my supper will be more pleasant and sweet.”

The men were tied to the stakes.

Nicholas Ridley cried out to his friend Latimer, encouraging him on, “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage [lessen] the fury of the flame or else strengthen us to abide it.”

The fires were lit.

Latimer looked at Ridley and exclaimed “We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as, I trust, shall never be put out!”

The gospel continued to shine in that land, and the passion of those two men still inspires Christians like ourselves today. Yet can we say that we live lives that are so radical, so changed by the gospel that we are willing to go through the worst death imaginable? Are we consumed by the gospel and by the Holy Spirit?

It really brings us to our central understanding of the gospel. If our view of the gospel is cheap, it is worth nothing to us. It is not worth our lives, be it living like Christ today or dying for Christ in the end. Grace is no longer amazing to our souls, and we cannot say with certainty that we would “be of good heart” if we were being burned at the stake.

Karl Grausten describes this problem in his book Growing Up Christian:

“As church kids, we can tend to view ourselves as being pretty good and not having sinned much — at least no really awful sins. Although we would never say it aloud, we are tempted to think that God got a pretty good person when he chose us to be a part of His kingdom. We tend to erroneously see ourselves as having little sin and as having been forgiven of little sin. This way of thinking leads to a…danger church kids face: a lack of appreciation for the saving and forgiving grace of God.”

Sometimes we can wonder why we need any grace…as Jerry Bridges says in his book Transforming Grace:

“God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgement.”

We deserve nothing but eternal punishment for every single sin that we have committed in our lives. All of the lying. All of the stealing. All those times we disobeyed. All the times we’ve lusted. All the times we’ve coveted. All the times we have disobeyed our parents. All the times we have made idols of this world. All the times we’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain — perhaps by not sharing his name when we are called to do so. All the times we have not kept the sabbath holy. All of those times our minds have wandered, have been filled with filth and dirt and depravity. Every time we have murdered others with our words and actions.

I have sinned. And I have sinned again. And again. And again. Dear God, we must pray, help me. Oh, save me from sin and wickedness. I know I am saved, but I continue to sin. Even when I feel guilty that I have broken God’s law, it hasn’t been much. Recently, I heard a sermon preached by Allistair Begg, preaching from Proverbs 7. And what he said struck me hard: the biggest issue with America today is the absence of a genuine fear of God. That was me. No fear. No trembling. Not caring.

There is not hate of paining a father who loves us, said Pastor Begg. The flood of true guilt and hate of sin rushed into my heart in an instant. There I was, just God and myself — and I knew that I had not broken one law, but so many at once. I dropped to my knees and prayed long and hard, repenting and asking God to give me a holy fear. And in that moment I realized that I had to do some of the work — I had to make a clear decision and have a clear conviction. I decided that I was going to battle the evil one with God’s help, and I was convinced that whenever I fell I was paining my heavenly and holy father. How could I continue in sin?

But it seemed that it continued, on and on. One sin after another — but at least I was noticing each time I was falling short of God’s commands clearly outlined in His Word. But how was I to overcome it? What was the key to “becoming more like Christ” as so many have told me I am to become as a believer. Then I began to wonder about my salvation.

There is nothing more important than knowing that you are saved by grace through faith, knowing that you have repented of your sin, and have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior to save you from the righteous wrath of a holy God. There’s no better gift than life itself, and there is no way that we are to live our lives correctly without first being spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit. It is so important that we know for sure that we truly are regenerate believers, and are not living a double life — a life of hypocrisy.

So there I was — wondering, like so many others, whether I was a true convert. It is a scary thought, if we fully understand the gospel, that we may still be children of wrath. So I knew I had to tackle the issue head on.
“Are you reading your Bible every day?” asked one source that I referred to in my search. “Are you growing in holiness?” In that moment I knew I was getting closer to the answer.

I knew I needed to get to the heart of the gospel, and to lay it out in front of myself. The gospel, I understood, begins with sin. I understood that, and everyone must understand that. We must understand that we have broken God’s law — we’ve lied, stolen, lusted, and hated. We’ve dishonored parents and God. We’ve coveted, we’ve worshipped things other than God. A close look at our hearts reveals that we are filthy and are guilty before God, unable to escape the obvious judgment that is waiting for us: Hell. But the gospel is so amazing — although we were unable to pay our fine, one man did just that by dying for us, and taking our place. And not only did he take our place, but three days after his death he rose and conquered death.

I needed to repent and put my faith in this man: Jesus Christ. And I believed I had done that, and was assured of it. The question is for all of us: have we truly repented and put our faith in Christ, or did we really or do we really understand the gospel? When we do, we must understand what happens after our “conversion.” What is faith and what is salvation?

James speaks of a correct definition of faith and understanding of what salvation is in the highly misunderstood passage in James 2:14-26. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action,” says James. “Is dead.” My works of holiness certainly do not save me, yet they are signs that proclaim “I am saved.”

So, with that, I want to talk about a few things hopefully in the coming days about sacrificing our all in living for Christ. I want to talk about about how we should be living with a passion for Christ, living in obedience, remembering the gospel, and finally taking action.

Recap: Agent Tim’s Life

It has been too long since I have written here. Far, far too long. I promise I will not waste time telling you the many details of my absence, but will just highlight a few things I have been doing that have caused me to neglect this wonderful blog.

First, as many know, teenagers are forced into a relatively idle four years called “high school” which must be completed before they can attend any college, graduate, and enter “freedom.” That could possibly describe the time I have been having (and of course I am joking about idleness as any high school student will tell you.) The past few weeks in the area of academics have been full with math, english, essays, and the test of all tests: the SAT. Hopefully that one excuse in and of itself will pardon my absence. This studying along with a part-time job tends to take away any extra free time from me.

Secondly, I have not been idle in the writing department. Much of what I have written is on my own computer, on pages strewn about, or neatly organized in one of my special writing folders I received for a birthday a few years ago. These pages of work will not be seen to the public, except for possibly one. It is material that I may release as a very short “book” or possibly just a pamphlet that should be cheap and easy to distribute (but no promises). The topic? Well, let’s just say that at one point I told many that I would not revisit the topic, but I promise this will be the final word — and a word almost everyone will agree on. I spent many hours researching, studying, and praying over this material, and I hope that at some point you as readers can be blessed by it if God wills. Some other material I have been writing has been on a topic that is basically the mission of Agent Tim Online, or at least it will be.

Speaking of the website (or were we already?), Agent Tim Online is going to get a facelift — something else that has been taking a small portion of my time. When that happens, you will see a great many changes, better material, easier use, and a large amount of great material to read and to listen to all from Agent Tim and company (who happen to be any friends). Coinciding at launch will be a special audio presentation from Tim Sweetman and David Ketter called “Who We Want To Know: A Discussion on Postmodernism and the Emerging Church” that I am assured you will not want to miss downloading when the time comes. You can be sure to hear more about that in the coming weeks.

Now that I’ve mentioned David, I must mention that the two of us did meet in person yesterday in D.C. and had a wonderful time. I just want to thank David for being such a great friend, for helping me to grow stronger in my faith, and for the continual support and encouragement he has been to me since both of us began blogging. Sadly, we do not have any photographic proof of our meeting, so you will just have to take our words for it.

Tonight I head to Battle Cry, and it may be possible that you will hear either a wrap up late this night, or a wrap up and evaluation on sunday, monday, or tuesday. From what I have read, heard, and seen I am excited about attending this event, and hope you will pray for this weekend. Also, if you will be attending this weekend, let me know by dropping an email or comment!

I pray that this has brought you up to date and up to speed on the life of Agent Tim. I guess it’s my turn to return.