What Shapes Your Life?

What Shapes My Life? That is the question I have been asking and answering the last few months. After having surgery and radiation for aggressive prostate cancer and finding out that I have a chronic, low-grade lymphoma, I have naturally pondered what my life is all about and how I will face death when it comes. And it will come one day - to me and to all of us, unless or Lord comes back first.

My simple answer to the question, "What shapes my life?" is that Christ has shaped my life in the past. Christ is shaping my life daily. And Christ will continue to shape my life forever. I affirm with Paul who said to the Philippians when he was facing his own possible death, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) With Paul I can say that Christ is my life now - while I live in this physical body. And He will be my life in the fullest sense when I die or when He comes back for me.

Let me be more specific by what I mean when I say that Christ shapes my life. He shapes what I believe about God, about life, about myself and about others. He shapes how I think and make decisions. He affects my attitudes and actions.

How has being shaped by Christ come about in my life? I will answer in term of five statements. These statements have some Latin words in them, but they are easily understood since our equivalent English words are very similar. These statements were coined in the 1500's by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Together, they summarize the doctrines of the Bible. Together, these truths shape my life. And it is my prayer that they will also shape your life.

I. My life is based on Sola Scriptura.
Sola means only or alone. We get our English word solo from it. When a person sings a solo, he is singing alone. So by saying that my life is based on Sola Scriptura, I mean that it is based on the truths of Scripture alone. I may learn from others and their writings, but the basis of my life is what God has revealed in His written Word. Scripture alone is the source of truth that shapes who I am.

Why can I base my life on Scripture alone? Paul answers that question in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. "All scripture (the written record of God's revelation) is given by inspiration of God (literally: God breathed or given by God Himself) and is profitable (beneficial) for doctrine (what we believe about God, life and mankind), for reproof (refuting sin in our lives) for correction (straitening us out), for instruction in righteousness (instructing us in how to live righteous lives) (17) that the man of God may be complete (in his understanding of the faith) and thoroughly equipped for every good work"

I believe in and seek to practice what the Scriptures clearly teach. The doctrinal truths of the Scriptures have and continue to transform and shape my life. The foundation of my life (its basis) is on Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone.

I challenge you to base your life on Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) both as individual believers and as a church body. Don't say you believe the Bible is God's only source of truth and then refuse to live by it. That is like slapping God in the face. Rather, submit your life to Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone - as the shaping influence of your life.

II. My life is centered on Sola Christus (Christ alone).
In fact, Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) teaches that salvation and truth are found in Sola Christus (Christ alone). He alone is qualified to save sinner, from his sins. This is the truth of the gospel that was preached by the Apostle Peter to a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem just a few days after the death and resurrection of Christ. He said, "There is salvation in no one else (speaking of Christ), for there is no other name (Person) under heaven given to people by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Why am I saved and kept saved by Christ alone? Because He alone lived a perfect life in my place. He alone died as the perfect and final sacrifice for my sin. He alone paid the penalty of death that I deserved. He alone rose from death the third day. He alone ascended to heaven. He alone sits exalted at the right hand of God, the Father. He alone is my salvation, my life, my certain hope for eternal life.

I am not only saved and kept by Christ alone, My life is directed by Christ alone. The Holy Spirit points me to Christ as the Lord and Master of my life. He shapes and transforms my life into His likeness as I walk with Him, trust Him and obey Him.

I challenge you as individuals a to center your life in Christ alone - Sola Christus. I challenge you to center your church life on Christ alone. Submit to Him as the Potter to shape your life into His likeness. That is what being a Christian and a church is all about.

III. My salvation is totally dependent on Sola Gratia (God's grace alone).
I am a sinner my nature and by choice. I deserve everlasting condemnation for my sinfulness. Without God's grace, I would still be dead in my sinfulness. That is, I would be dead to the things of God. But I can say with Paul, "But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loves [me], even when [I] was dead in trespasses, made me alive together with Christ, (For by grace I have been saved)." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Because of God's love, grace and mercy, He came to me in my deadness and raised me a new life in Christ. Had he not done so, I would still be in my sins.

I challenge you as individuals and as a church body to make sure that your salvation and acceptance before God is based on His grace alone, Sola gratia. His grace alone both brings you salvation and continues to shape and sustain you throughout your life.

IV. I have received my salvation through Sola Fide (faith alone).
Fide is the Latin word for faith. So Sola Fide means Faith Alone. I can say with Paul, "And be found in Him (in Christ), not having my own righteousness, which is from the law (becoming right in God's sight by obeying His laws that are found in the Bible), but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith." (Philippians 3:9). I do not put my trust in any good deeds I may do or in my achievements. Such things, in and of themselves, are like filthy rags in the sight of a Holy God. I receive my salvation and acceptance before God through faith alone in Christ alone - not faith in Christ, plus what I can do for God.

Even though my salvation is received through faith in Christ alone, this faith is never alone. I seek to do good works and honor Him, but not as the way to receive salvation nor to continue to be saved. I seek to do good works and honor Him because my salvation has come to me through faith in Christ alone as a free gift. Therefore, it is faith in Christ alone, plus nothing. Because of my love and gratitude for Him, I seek to do good works and deeds in His name.

I challenge you both as individuals and as a church body to make sure that you have received salvation through faith in Christ alone. If you are trusting in Christ, plus anything else, you are not really trusting in Christ. By adding to Christ, you are really subtracting from Him!

V. I seek to live my life Soli Deo Gloria.
Deo is the Latin word for God. Gloria is the Latin word for glory and Soli is the Latin word alone. So I seek to live my life for God's glory alone. Why? Because I was made by God and for God. I was made in His image so that I might share in His life. Therefore, I say with Paul, "Whatever [I] do in word or deed, I do for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) The chief purpose of my life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Since He is my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, He alone deserves my praise.

Do I forget at times to live my life Soli Deo Gloria, for God's glory alone? Yes, because of the remnant of sin in my flesh, I sometimes forget to bring honor and glory to God alone. But I am a new creation in Christ. I base my life on Scripture alone. I trust in Christ alone for my salvation. I am saved because of God's grace alone. I have received salvation through faith alone. Therefore, I seek to live for God's glory alone. Anything less than this is unacceptable.

I challenge you as individuals and as a church to seek to live your lives Soli Deo Gloria, for God's glory alone. It will shape you into becoming who God calls and empowers you to become. It will enable you to live life as He intended for you to live.

Pastor Jim Hensley

What Shapes YOUR Life?