As we continue on with our series on the Gospel-changed life, looking into the evidence that Scripture says is evidence of genuine salvation, I want to reiterate something to make sure that it is clear. The things discussed are not a way to earn salvation, or earn favor with God. They are simply natural occurrences that come from genuine salvation. They do not get us salvation, they are a result of our salvation. This is not splitting hairs, this is a fundamental difference that separates Christianity from all other “religions” of the world. It’s the difference between Divine Accomplishment and Human Achievement. True Christianity is about Divine Accomplishment. God does it all. He foreknew us, predestined us, called us, and glorifies us (Romans 8:29-30). There’s nothing we can do on our own that will in any way, either directly or indirectly, result in our salvation. Other religions are about Human Achievement. People can do things, obey rules, be “good” people, etc and will earn favor or salvation by causing what they are worshiping to look on them and reward them for their actions.
That being said, another evidence of a Gospel-changed life is a desire to learn. Before going further, let’s break down “learn” just a little further. Learn, in this context, means to seek with the intention of understanding. It’s not as simple as gathering and memorizing facts. Learning is seeking knowledge about something with the intention of understanding that thing more or better. For example, I am a Commercial Banker. My job, in a nutshell, is to seek business for the bank by working with business owners and helping them grow and/or become more efficient. In order to do this, I have to learn about that business. I have to seek information about that business with the intent of understanding it to the point that I am able to determine how I can help that business achieve it’s goals, and also determine if that business will be a good fit for what the bank is seeking in its portfolio. I do this by visiting with the owners and decision makers, learning who they are, what drives their decision processes, how they started in the business and how they got to where they are, and what goals they have and what challenges they have or see coming. I also look at several years of the company’s financials to see where the income comes from, and what are the typical expenses and extraordinary expenses. What are the accounting policies of the company? Is it consistently profitable? When it’s not profitable, what causes it? What parts of the overall economy and local economy effect the business and in what ways? What are the short and long term trends of the business? The list goes on and on. My point is, I’m not just looking for facts, I’m seeking information with the intent of understanding. I desire to be a good Commercial Banker to provide for my family and to be a good witness in the community, and learning about a business is essential to that accomplishment.
As a Christian, you should have a desire to learn about God. To learn who He is, what His characteristics are, what drives His thought process, how he views us compared to the rest of His creation. Again, the list goes on and on, but there’s a central reason for our desire to learn about God. We’ll discuss further later, but first, let’s look at what Scripture says about learning.
In Romans 11:36-12:2, Paul says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Basically Paul is saying that we know that God is the ultimate source of all things. Therefore, we should want to present ourselves in such a way to bring glory to God. One way we do this is by not conforming to worldly knowledge and wisdom, but by renewing our minds.
So what does renewing our minds mean? It means learning! Seeking with the intent to understand. It means to pursue with all of our power and diligence, the knowledge of God. If we are really Christians, we will want God to dominate our thinking. Not just in a way that dictates good thoughts and bad thoughts, but in a way that ponders God’s characteristics, that challenges us to know more about who he is.
Christ himself says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Loving God with your mind means that you constantly think about him, you constantly want to know him more and better.
This does two things for us. First, knowing God more, means having stronger doctrine. Paul said to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable Andy perfect”. Knowing God more means we will be able to tell what is truth about God and not truth. If you don’t think this is important, watch RC Sproul’s sermon on YouTube titled “If God is Soverign, How Can Man Be Free?” As Christians in a fallen world, we have to have sound doctrine because if we are living out our lives as Christians like we should be, then we will be questioned, and we will be challenged. And an answer like “that’s just what I was taught”, or “this is just how I believe” is a child’s answer and will in no way point anybody to Christ. We have to be able to explain who God is so that we won’t be fooled by falsities and so that others will see the truth about God through us.
Secondly, and most important. Knowing God more, means we can love him more. And by loving him more, we can worship him more and more completely. This is the central reason mentioned earlier. When we know more about God, we will love him more because we will have a better understanding of who he is. When we understand him better, we will worship him better because we will better understand what he has done for us, is doing for us, and will do for us.
So in summary, a love for Christ always produces a desire to learn about him and know him more. If you’re really saved, scripture says you will have this desire and you’re commanded to act on it. Conversely, is you’re not really saved, you will not have this desire and therefore will not seek to know God more. So here’s your chance to do a pulse check. Do you desire to learn more about God? Do you desire to learn about doctrine and theology? Does who God is and what he has done dominate your thinking?
A few tips for application.
Sunday morning service alone is not enough. Yes, you will learn about God on Sunday morning, but this service is often geared toward pointing non-believers to Christ. If you’re already a Christian, you should be sanctifying yourself (becoming more like Christ). Part of this is getting off of the milk and onto the meat; the deeper, more challenging things about God. You can’t do this on a one-hour per week, Sunday morning diet. You have to have more.
Don’t devote much (if any) time to devotionals. Devotionals are written by people who attempt to interpret a passage of scripture and then tell you how you should apply this to your life. Most of the time, the author misinterprets the scripture because he or she takes it on a stand-alone basis and not in the overall context that it was written in. The result is often a mystical or prosperity-based application on how to “be a better husband/wife” or “how to save biblically” and revert back to doing these things to earn favor with God. While there are some good, Gospel-centered devotionals out there, they are few and far between. Read scripture yourself, research the context, check against a few reputable commentaries for accuracy, and let the Holy Spirit direct you on how to apply it to your life.
Get plugged into a theology class. I’ve heard people tell me they don’t want to go to a theology class because it’s “over my head”. Lol, I have news for you...God is very much over all of our heads! But he does want us to, and commands us to know him as completely as we possibly can. A good theology class will help you grow leaps and bounds in your knowledge, and resulting love and worship of God. This is where you can have candid and deep discussions on what you’ve heard taught, what you understand, and what you’re confused about. It will go deeper than any Sunday service will. Don’t be afraid of it, embrace it and use it to grow.
Take it home with you. Don’t limit yourself to church functions for learning about God. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve grown in maturity as a Christian, is that I am becoming less attracted to and tolerant of secularism, and try to replace those things with God’s Word. I love reading Scripture. I also love reading books and watching videos by and of the great expositors of the past and of our time, such as RC Sproul, John McArthur, JD Greear, David Platt, and Francis Chan, to name a few. I find myself turning off my favorite tv shows and filling that time with YouTube videos of their sermons, or diving into their books so I can learn more about God.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, the point is, genuine salvation always produces a desire to learn more about God. If you’re really a Christian, this desire will be heavy and you will want God to dominate your thinking, constantly revealing himself through doctrine and theology. If you don’t have this desire, then you have to ask yourself, is your salvation genuine?