Continuing to Bear Witness

Sarah Dixon Young

The twenty-four eggs in my incubator prove that progress results in either new life or a stinking mess.

Christians continually face the same truth: Will we let progress turn our lives into a stinking mess or surrender our lives to the Lord’s work of progress within — resulting in new life?

Progressive author Rachel Held Evans wrote in her book Faith Unraveled, “If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that faith can survive just about anything, so long as it’s able to evolve.”

Evans and others point to issues such as slavery, gender roles, war, and genocide as reasons why truth and faith need to remain flexible. They believe that truth and aspects of God’s character are constantly evolving and that believers must accept every change. This belief is commonly referred to as Progressive Christianity.

Oswald Chambers wrote during the First World War that, “The greatest fear a Christian has is not a personal fear, but the fear that His hero won’t get through, that God will not be able to clear His character.”

Many come to this crisis of faith crying, “Is God able?” Crises tempt us to think a change is necessary in the foundations of what we believe; but if we are wise, we will build on foundations that don’t shift with the sands of time.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, there were many witnesses. Many people had questions: “If you had been here…” the sisters lamented. “Couldn’t this man have kept Lazarus from dying?” However, no one forgot what happened that day. It wasn’t a circumstance that could be interpreted as anything other than what it was: Jesus had the power over life and death. He was able.

John records, “The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised Him from the dead continued to bear witness.”

They clung to the foundational truth of what they had seen and heard! A man had been dead for four days, and Jesus made him alive again. They didn’t need a shift of faith; they needed a shift of self!

When we have seen Him raise the dead- “for you were dead in your trespasses and sins”- to new life- “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ,” we never forget it!

And we continue to bear witness.

Instead of our faith, or Truth, or God’s character evolving, we quickly realize that we are “being conformed to the image of His Son” in a process known as Progressive Sanctification.

Progressive Christianity says faith must evolve to fit the shifting, difficult questions that expose parts of God’s character we may object to.

Progressive sanctification says faith in Christ, who raises the dead, helps me trust in God’s mercy, love, and faithfulness so that even through times of doubt, He is helping me to become more like Him.

Chambers wrote, “Our Lord always dealt with the ‘basement’ of life, that is, with the real problem; if we only deal with the ‘upper story’ we do not realize the need of redemption; but once we hit on the elemental line, as this War has hit people, everything becomes different. Real suffering comes when a man’s statement of his belief in God is divorced from his personal relationship to God.”

Those who have that personal relationship with Jesus need to continue to bear witness to what they have seen and heard — resulting in less mess and more new life.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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