Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Church Perception

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

One of the most overlooked aspects of being a member of the Lord’s church is the fact that allowing God to add you to this group of the saved only occurs when one is willing to let go of the former way of life they once grasped. Many claim to be members of “the church,” but their life still resembles the world they continue to exist within, or the world that continues to exist within them. The Lord’s church is established within the person through a confession of faith that proclaims Jesus as Lord and this proclamation is going to make an impact in their lives so great that nothing will remain the same: “You shall know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:20).

Jesus came to this land with a vision of the will of God. He lived to leave a lasting impression of holiness on the people in whom He visited. He wanted to show them a life-changing love that would lead them out of the world of death and into the kingdom of life. He never forced anyone into this change, but when the people he visited decided to love Him, that decision demanded change to take place in their hearts. It is astonishing to see so many today make the claim to love Jesus, but are not willing to make Him Lord. What do they think when Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will Keep My commandments” (John 14:15)? When one loves Jesus they devote their walk of life to the guidance of His love. This desire to follow Christ is not fully revealed as the words “I love you” leave the mouth. True discipleship is fully revealed when our fleshly desires have left our heart. This is the circumcision of the heart revealed by Paul in Romans 2:25-29.

Jesus’ dream became reality in Acts 2 when His promise of the power of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. What we tend to miss in this wonderful section of Scripture is how the world was changed through the submission of authority and subjection to God’s power. In verse 38 we see Peter concluding his sermon with an invitation to change: “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” This is an amazing invitation to forgiveness, at least to the church. But to the world it has been an invitation to refuse, refute and even rebel. God has called the church out of their sin and into forgiveness through His Son’s blood. It is sad that many in the world do not have “ears that hear” because of an unwillingness to change.

Believe it or not, baptism is God’s way of washing away sin. And although there are many that believe that prayer is the way to salvation, there is not one Scripture that verifies that notion. Now, some may use Scripture out of context to prove their point, but they are seeing Scripture through eyes of flesh, and that causes great difficulties: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Satan uses our flesh to confuse us about the power of the Lord’s Spirit. But the church will always perceive God’s word through “the faith” that never questions the authority of God’s written word (2 Peter 3:16). The world remains unclear about the truth that God sent to set man free (John 8:32), but that is only because they are still in the grasp of the evil one that steals, kills and destroys the life that God prescribed (John 10:10). The church doesn’t believe because their names are written in the Book of Life, their names are written in the Book of Life because they believe (John 3:16).

In His Love,
Cub

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