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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

On the Right Side of God

July 6, 2016 4 comments

BandwagonThese days are challenging ones for Bible-believing Christians in North America. Even needing to use the term “Bible-believing Christian” is evidence of this. It used to be that saying “Christian” assumed the “Bible-believing” part, but that’s not necessarily true these days, when even the Church is laying aside God’s Word to avoid the sting of being labelled – among other things – IRRELEVANT by a world that fancies itself to be heading in the right direction.

And the world – at first smilingly, then imperatively – is beckoning the Church to follow, inviting us onto the New World Bandwagon. In one of the many articles I’ve read on the subject lately, this invitation was accompanied by a dire warning: “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?”

It seems that our society, convinced that its ideological and theoretical revelations have given it the higher moral ground, has peered into the future and has seen that it will be right, and that those of us who do not conform will ultimately discover that we were wrong. We will disappear and be forgotten because we didn’t march forward arm in arm with the world into the dawn of a new age of enlightened thinking. If we did, we would share in our society’s glory, receiving glowing mention in children’s history books in the future. In other words, we would avoid being “on the wrong side of history”.

This would be a compelling argument if I cared about being on the wrong side of history. Actually, I am far more concerned about being on the wrong side of God.

I believe that God lovingly created humankind for relationship – with each other, yes, but primarily with Him. I believe that our earliest ancestors traded that relationship for independence from God, with serious consequences. As we cut ourselves off from our primary relationship, we became damaged, and consequently pride and arrogance made their home in the human heart. With no moral compass, we became a broken race, more naturally inclined to sin than to live righteously, and moreover, prone to justify our sin (see Romans 1:18-32). It’s a sad story. We all ended up on the wrong side of God, cutting ourselves off from His love. We all deserved to be cast from His presence forever.

But God is not like us. We are faithless; He is faithful. Even though our independence, arrogance and pride made us a wounded race with a penchant for sin, God so loved us that gave His Son, Jesus, to die for the forgiveness of our sins and reconcile us with our Heavenly Father. I believe in Jesus. I believe He paid for my sin. I believe He brought me back into right relationship with God. I believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit – God’s gift to His people – we can be transformed – less inclined to sin, and more inclined to humbly ask God for forgiveness when sin happens. There is nothing like experiencing salvation in Jesus Christ – being on the right side of God – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Which brings me back to the New World Bandwagon, with our society alternately beckoning me, shaming me and commanding me to join them on it. The truth is, I can’t.

The difficulty is that, although not all of the “new” morality is bad,  some of it contradicts God’s commands in the Bible, including some specific ones about how – and how not – to relate to each other sexually (see Leviticus 18:1-30). I believe the Bible is God’s Word, and an honest reading of these scriptures – and a number of others in the Old and New Testament – prevents me from shrugging my shoulders and jumping on the bandwagon, simply “because it’s 2016.”

So what is to be done with me? I suppose I can be labelled, judged and written off, which seems to be the common practice these days. Despite its stated values of tolerance and inclusiveness, our society is ironically adept with labels and boxes. It would be easier to judge us and dismiss us if I and other followers of Jesus were two-dimensional haters or “phobes” worthy of such labels. But we aren’t. We aren’t haters for the same reason that we aren’t jumping on the New World Bandwagon: to do so would put us on the wrong side of God. In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…

So we who are followers of Jesus are called to be compassionate and caring to all without having to call wrong right. This is a tall order, especially in a society that doesn’t understand the concept of compassion without agreement, which is true tolerance. But because of what Jesus has done for us, it is nonetheless our call – unwavering truth lived out with unwavering love.

So as the New World Bandwagon hurtles forward into a future that is less certain than we all think, and demands that I join them or end up on the wrong side of history, I will politely but not silently decline. I will offer a compassionate reminder that it is a far worse thing to end up on the wrong side of God than the wrong side of history, and I will happily extend that which God has given to all Christians to share – the good news that because of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ and the transforming work of His Spirit, anyone who humbly places their faith in Him and seeks to honour His Word can find themselves on the right side of God.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob

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Adam’s Family

Addams Family

They’re creepy and they’re kooky

Mysterious and spooky

They’re altogether ooky

The Addams Family

 Do you remember the bizarre TV family that this song refers to? Gomez and Morticia Addams, heading up a strange collection of relatives, including a dwarf-sized ball of hair with a hat, a disembodied hand, a robed uncle with his own personal electrical current, and two normal-looking children who are actually as weird as everyone else in the family.

The Bible points out that we all belong to another ooky family – Adam’s Family. Romans 5:12 says that “sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and in this way, death came to all men, because all sinned.” It seems that Adam’s sin of disobedience to God had a far-reaching consequence: an inclination towards sin and an inheritance of death for all who would come after him – the whole human family. Yes, that includes you and me. Adam started a family that would be sinners by nature, right from birth. “But”, one may protest, “can a pure, innocent little child have sin in his or her heart?” Every parent knows the answer to this question. Soon after the veneer of helpless babyness cracks, the undesirable character traits of our great, great, great, etc. grandfather become apparent, just as they did in us, and just as they will in generations to come: selfishness, coveteousness, stubborn pride, greed, jealousy… sadly, the list goes on.

So here we are, some of us displaying our sinful nature in bizarre easy-to-see ways, and others seeming outwardly normal, but nonetheless carrying and ultimately displaying the characteristic traits of Adam’s Family. Is there any escape from this hopeless generational nightmare? Paul addresses this in Romans 7:24-25, when he asks and answers this question in the same breath: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Yes, there is rescue from Adam’s Family! It is through a new Adam, so to speak – Jesus Christ, who through the Holy Spirit is establishing a family line of people who are being made free from their inheritance of sin and death in Adam by receiving salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth to do the Father’s will, which included being crucified for our sins, dying and rising again, and forced open the door to the Adam’s family mansion, allowing all who desire to escape to be rescued and renewed through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul puts it like this in Romans 5:18-19:

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass [Adam’s sin] was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness [Jesus’ death and resurrection] was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus Christ] the many will be made righteous.”

Do you suppose that there is no “ookiness” in you, that you don’t really belong to Adam’s family? Allow God to search your heart, pointing out your sin, and it will become as clear to you as it probably is to others. Or perhaps you know all too well that you are from Adam’s family line, and you can’t see any escape. If this is the case, I encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ, who has already broken down the door to Adam’s house and is willing to give you a place in God’s house, as part of His family. I encourage you to reach out in faith to Him, and truly receive a new inheritance that begins in this life with moral transformation and continues throughout eternity in fellowship with God as His dearly loved adopted sons and daughters.

Sweet.

May the Lord bless you,

Robert Baron

 

What on earth are we doing?

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment
"What on earth are you doing?"

"What on earth are you doing?"

Sometimes we can have a strange idea of what it means to be “saved”. In the minds of some, the idea of salvation in Jesus Christ is reduced to a simple business transaction – much like purchasing a holiday travel package – that books us passage to an eternal holiday destination that isn’t unseasonably hot. Of course, with this way of thinking about salvation, the only thing to do after getting your ticket to heaven is to wait.

This boiling down of salvation in Jesus Christ to a prayer and a congratulatory slap on the back misses the mark badly, giving the mistaken impression that, once saved, the believer simply needs to find a comfortable seat and wait for the celestial flight, or at least the Captain’s return. Of course, doing puzzles, wandering around and napping are encouraged to help pass the time until Sweet By and By Airlines calls your name.

Napping. Sadly, it’s what many of us as believers in Jesus are doing with our spiritual lives here on earth. This is especially tragic because being sanctified couch potatoes is so much less than our God has in mind for us who are rescued from the Dominion of Darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son He loves. Paul says it best in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” While Paul makes it clear that good works don’t save you, he makes is equally clear that saved people do good works. And not just any good works – good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Divine purpose on this earth!

This begs the question, “What on earth are we doing?” The Lord’s divine purposes for us here are varied – staged on a heart level, a community level, a city level, a national level, or even a global level. They may seem small, like conquering a bad habit, or big, like evangelizing a nation. Whatever they are, they are there, and the Lord wants us to know about His plans for us, and He wants to help us fulfill them, if we dare to say yes to the rest of what it means to be saved.

Here at West End Christian Community, that is, FireLight Christian Fellowship and LivingStones Christian Fellowship, what on earth are we doing? What divine purpose are we fulfilling together, which God prepared in advance for us to do? The answer: we are each building a Church, a local congregation that is one of many connected parts of the Body of Christ . Of course, it’s Jesus’ Church and He is ultimately doing the building, but we can’t get away from the fact that He has us working for Him. We need to read His blueprints, we need to build with His materials, and we need to work together, as He commanded us. No cutting corners. No spiritual chipboard. No selfishness. But even though it can be hard work, building the Lord’s Church is one of the greatest privileges that we can be given, and one of the most important divine purposes that we can fulfill here on earth, for two reasons: first, the Church is a visible manifestation of the advance of God’s Kingdom here on earth, and second, because the Church – God’s people in meaningful fellowship – will not pass away, but will last into eternity.

So if you’re wondering what on earth you’re doing (or to translate from Yoda-ese, what you’re doing on earth), first take heart that you weren’t saved to merely wait to go to heaven. God has set divine purpose in you – a new life of adventure in Him on this earth, at the heart level and beyond. And even if some of those purposes are a bit fuzzy right now, there’s at least one that is crystal clear, and that we share – we have been called to build His Church together.

So I hope to see you on Sunday. Overalls are fine.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)

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