Sunday, 30 November 2014

Christianity - its goal and purpose

Are you a Christian? How do you know this? Are you totally persuaded of this fact? My friend, this is too important to get wrong. Your very life and, indeed, your eternity may be at stake.  I am amazed at how many people think they are saved, go to church, and sing hymns; yet, in fact, when you look at the testimony they have and the lives they lead, the evidence suggests otherwise.
 Salvation is an event. It is the event in which you come to an understanding and believe. The guard who was keeping watch over Paul and Silas asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and Thou shalt be saved.” Nothing more, nothing less. If you are relying on a prayer you have said, a dream you have, or an experience you have had without this belief, you are sadly lost and on the way to hell fire. Jesus Himself said, “No man comes to the Father but by me.”
 The preacher Paul Washer relates a story in his book 10 Indictments of the Modern Church about a man he was witnessing to. He says:

And then, finally, just exhausted that evening there was no breakthrough, there was nothing. And I said, “Sir, let’s pray.” And we prayed.
I said, “Sir, read John 3:16 again.”
He said, “We have read this a million times.”
I said, “I know, but it is one of the greatest promises of salvation. Read that text again.”
And I will never forget. He had my Bible on his lap in those big mountainous hands of
his and he said, “Ok.” He said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave... I’m saved.
I’m saved. Brother Paul, all my sins are gone. I have eternal... I’m saved. I mean...”
I said, “How do you know?”
He said, “Haven’t you ever read this verse before?”

What happened? The Holy Spirit happened. I dread to think how many people are now in hell after saying a prayer, thinking they are saved, when what was preached to them was a false gospel. You must be wholly convinced you are helpless before a righteous God who has mercifully spared you from eternal damnation for your sin and sent His Son in your place. Think of that for a moment.
  Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, who had communion with His Father from eternity past, was born as an infant; he was unable to walk, talk or even meet His own needs. As soon as He was old enough, He realized His whole purpose for existence was to suffer, be humiliated and tortured, and finally, giving Himself up.
He was to die on a cross and, for the first time in eternity be separated from His Father. His Father was forced to turn His back on His Beloved Son who was bearing the sin of the world.

That is the Gospel and that is what you must believe. How do you know you believe? What evidence is there that makes you believe  that you have utter assurance of your eternal destiny? The Apostle John has the answer when he writes:

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4,15b)

If you have the desire to serve God, you love him with all your heart and you are continually crucifying the flesh with its desires; that is evidence of salvation.

There are many books out there giving help, advice, counsel while making all manner of claims--some of which are true, but worse, are half-truths.

The issue, dear reader, is many of us do not comprehend who we are, nor our purpose in life.  We must realize that when, in Romans 3:10, God says that there is none righteous, He certainly meant it. In fact, the Greek word for righteous has been defined as: “used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life.” Furthermore, in Isaiah 66, the LORD Jehovah made it abundantly clear that our righteousness-or what we may think as righteous-is nothing more than filthy rags, wholly disgusting to God. This is not a pleasant thing to say to anyone, but nonetheless, it is true, and we must say it. We must preach it, and we must believe it wholeheartedly. Remember, one drop of poison ruins the best of meals. After condemning false teachers in chapter one, the Apostle Paul goes on in chapter five to say:

A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church] (Galatians 5:9, Amplified Bible).

Why is this so crucial? Why is it of paramount importance to get this as totally right as we are able to? If we believe the Word of God for our salvation and eternal destiny, we must, of course, believe His Word in matters of our daily walk with Him with wanton disregard for extraneous thoughts and ideologies. Even a slight inclination to error has a ripple effect across, not only our lives, but the lives of the people we are around and interact with. And who are we to argue? Even the Apostle Paul,-arguably one of the greatest men of all time besides Jesus Himself-struggled. Great as he was, he said:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Romans 7:18-20 NASB)”

We are certainly not as good as Paul is, even in human terms, and we must realize that-just as we are helpless to save ourselves from the penalty of sin-we are also helpless to represent Christ without His power.
Salvation requires total surrender and, likewise, so do our lives. All we can do is submit to God and His will, and His Holy Spirit will guide us. To do any less would make light of our representation of the One who died for us and gave His all.
Despite our utter depravity, God in His infinite mercy gave us an awesome and sobering task.   He says:

“[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come…...Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5:17,20 NASB)

Jesus Christ through the pain, suffering and utter agony that He endured on the cross for undeserving sinners like us should move us. He bought us with such a high price and gave us such a huge responsibility. We are most certainly not our own to live as we please. Our citizenship is in heaven and when we act, speak (and even think as our thoughts will eventually come out in action) we are to be speaking for God in this world. The very thought of that awesome task despite the awfulness of our nature and how abhorrent our sin sends chills down my spine as I write this. Us? Depraved, wretched and helpless us representing a Holy, perfect and sinless God. This should be one of the most sobering thoughts on our hearts every single hour of the day!!

God Himself indwells in us, wretched, miserable, sinful complainers once we have believed and received salvation. This is an amazing and unspeakably wondrous thought. Every day, we can live our lives with Him as our Guide, our Protector, our Helper, our Comforter, our Counsellor, our Intercessor. This is our source of power despite the magnitude of our mandate that Paul states in Romans 12:

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. (Romans 12:1-2 Amplified Bible)

But what about ourselves? Suppose a person is continually and habitually not doing that and shows no desire to do so? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Read 1 John 2:3-6 again.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:  the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:7 NASB)

The simple answer is that if you are continually failing to present your bodies a living sacrifice, and are not walking in obedience to the God you claim to love, you are very likely not a believer. If you love Him, you will keep His commandments. This lack of love and following of His commandments is evidence that you are in fact not a believer, not a Christian, and are hell-bound Let me be quite clear, even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin as do all Christians. The difference is Christians feel guilty, repent, and continue in the fight, continue in the battle to crucify the flesh and are being transformed to be more Christ-like.

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