Joseph Byamukama sheds some light on the greatest commandment, the assurance of salvation and introduces us to a few of his faith heroes.
Reflections on Belief, Assurance, Athanasius and Alexander Mackay
God invites us to love him with everything that we are and that includes our mind.
” And so, we need to remember as Christians, as believers, as those who follow Christ, to love the Lord our God with all our mind, with all our strength, with all our heart. So that wholesomely with everything that we are, we may glorify God in Christ Jesus.”
Topics & Timestamps
0:06 – What does God care about the most, our hearts or our minds?
0:24 – What do we do with the mind God has given us?
0:52 – What does loving God with everything mean?
2:01 – The call to Christians
2:31 – Have you ever doubted your salvation?
3:58 – The assurance in the gospel
4:48 – Faith Heroes
“It seems that God invites us to love him with everything that we are and that includes our mind.”
“The call from God and the great commandment is that we should love him with our minds, our emotions, our experience, our strength, our heart.”
“I relate with God as a father, as a parent – not as a tyrant, not as an exacting master who is looking for an opportunity to judge me.”
Other Content On This Topic
5 Ways to Love God with All Your Mind
Christian, Your Salvation Is Assured
Christ Saves Us From The Penalty Of Sin
How Jesus Found Joseph Byamukama // 2022 TGC Africa Council Meeting
What does God care about the most, our hearts or our minds?
So, as a Christian, especially in Ugandan context you hear statements like, “A man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument.” Or statements like, “You do not reason out the things of God.”
And the question then becomes what do we do with the mind that God has given us? Do we love God with some aspect of our lives and not the other? And what happens to the great commandment that we meet in Matthew 22:36-38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength.” It does seem that God invites us to love him with everything that we are and that includes our mind.
What does loving God with everything mean?
But what does that really mean? It means that we need to think critically about what we believe. Not just take what we receive without thinking through it, especially thinking through it biblically. But thinking critically, thinking logically, thinking biblically is a call for Christians and believers like you and I. And so, the call for God and the great commandment is that we should love him with our minds as well as with our emotions, our experience, our strength, our heart.
And what that also means then indeed is that if the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and our mind, to not love the Lord our God with our mind is the greatest sin. Have you ever thought about that? Have you been neglecting the idea and the aspect of loving God with your intellect, with your reason, with your mind? Just thinking that perhaps what God requires of you is your heart, or your emotions, or your experience or your… you know, everything else, your wealth, your money, except thinking well about what you believe, about why you believe it and about who you believe?
The call to Christians
And so, the call for us to love God with everything we are, the call for us to experience God but also to think about what we believe, to think about what we teach is often neglected. And so, we need to remember as Christians, as believers, as those who follow Christ to love the Lord our God with all our mind, with all our strength, with all our heart so that wholesomely with everything that we are, we may glorify God in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever doubted your salvation?
In my Christian Journey there have been those moments where I have you could say, questioned whether I am saved or whether I will even make it. In short, whether I am saved- so the lack of assurance of salvation. The sort of heritage and you know Church that I grew up in especially when you’re being told to confess the sins of your forefathers, or you know, the sins of your ancestors, such kind of teachings cause you to wonder whether actually you’ve been forgiven, whether you have the assurance of the forgiveness.
So you find statements like, “If you sinned, the Holy Spirit would leave you.” And so, the question as to whether you are sure that the spirit will be with you tomorrow and that awareness deeply in the inside that you are inadequate, that you’ve sinned, that you fall, but then if you’re scared that every time you fall you will lose the Holy Spirit, or, if you do not know if you’ve been forgiven because you’re repeating the same confession again and again, it becomes hard. At least it was hard for me to live obediently. Or even to love God wholesomely. Because in a sense I related with God as though he is this most exacting parent who actually is looking for an opportunity to judge me.
The assurance found in the gospel
But then the assurance of the gospel and just reading through scripture, and seeing Jesus’s statement saying in John, “Those who are mine I shall not lose any of them. The father who gave them to me is greater than all.” Or, the assurance that I will be with you to the end of the earth, the assurance that actually because I am his child, right, I relate with him as a father, as a parent not as a tyrant, not as an exacting master who is looking for an opportunity to judge me. And that I think enriches my joy, it enriches my confidence in who he is but also it assures me of his love towards me and in that regard it gives me strength to fight and overcome sin as such.
So, do I have a hero of faith? Right now maybe two names might come to mind. One of them being an ancient, ancient name and person in the names of Athanasias. A great church father who was African actually. And I loved his tenacity, his resilience especially as he was standing for the truth. Amidst the persecution, he was exiled from his own parish or bishopric in a sense five times by different emperors that did not agree with what he stood for. But all along he stood for what is true. I love his thinking. So if you get the opportunity to read especially his common book on the incarnation as he thinks about why it was important that Jesus Christ became like us, the discussion about the nature of Jesus Christ as true God and true man or true human like us and what that means for our salvation. It’s a book that I’ve read and I continue reading.
The other one would be a recent one, Alexander John MacKay who was the missionary- the Scottish missionary that brought the gospel to Uganda. He was a Protestant mission in the 19th century. And again, I love his tenacity, the idea that one leaves their comfort- their comfortable home. Now, as they come to Uganda in the 19th century, about 1870s, I mean, Africa does not have railways, it doesn’t have highways, you don’t have an airport where you can jet in, you don’t have air-conditioned places.
As you read his autobiography, or his journal, you see how he wrestled with black and red ants right as as he’s confronting man eaters. But also, as he addresses all fights against slavery and slave trade he in Uganda and in East Africa. That tenacity to bring the gospel to the unreached people groups despite the consequences and the hardships that one would face. I feel challenged because I would not know if I would be able to do that given his circumstances. And whether I would be able to go to an unknown people group, learn their language, not knowing what I will face. In fact, not knowing if I will ever see home again. But also his doctrine was solid. And I am a Christian I could say in part precisely because of his sacrifice. And so, he’s a great hero indeed.