Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life In Christ

Satan is constantly trying to place us in a false dilemma; he is constantly trying to get us to choose between two falsehoods. We debate nonsense questions like, "Must we work for our salvation, or can we be saved without repenting?" Neither of these is a biblical alternative. Salvation by works is clearly wrong (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation without repentance is just as clearly wrong (Luke 13:3).

Those who do not live the life Christ has prepared for them have not experienced the true grace of God (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). Those who attempt to live the Christian life, thinking that by doing so they will save themselves, are equally unacquainted with the Lord (Gal 2:16).

We ought to live lives that honor our Lord (1 Thess 2:11-12; Phil 1:27; Titus 2:esp verse 10). Those who refuse to live thus are not to be acknowledged as brothers by the church (1 Cor 5). Yet we must never pretend that we are living lives that will save us. We must not boast in our own deeds but in the righteousness, sanctification, and redemption imparted to us in Christ (1 Cor 1:30-31).

We are not saved by our (imperfectly) holy lives, but by the (perfectly) holy life of our Lord. But we must seek to live out the righteousness that he imparts. The life in which his grace is working will be a life of increasing holiness. That is the life to which he has called us, and the life for which he saves us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Put It In Perspective

Whenever I feel sorry for myself, whenever I think that I have it difficult, I remember a few people that I have known. The memory puts things into perspective.

Fikile was a young widow with two children to raise. Fikile was thankful that she had good drinking water near her house. "Nearby" and "good" are relative terms, of course. The stream was just a mile from her house.

Francis Smith was one of the hardest working men I have ever known. Francis took 1 Timothy 5:8 very seriously. He provided for his two (adopted) daughters, cared for his mother, and never complained. Francis is one of only three men who I have ever seen run a wheelbarrow load of concrete up the stairs. Francis had lost his right arm in an accident while still a youth. His wife was legally blind. And I think that I have problems?

People are such complainers these days. I remember hearing of a family who complained, "We are so poor that the baby has to sleep in the box that the color television came in." That story does not even make sense to most people today. They cannot imagine life without color television.

As Robert Fulghum said, "One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When You Near The End, Sprint

When distance runners near the end of the race they sprint. So should we.

I was ordering some tracts this week to replenish the racks in the foyer. I noticed on the web-site of Haun Publishing that Sister Haun still shows up at work everyday. I do not know her exact age, but I am pretty sure she is in her late 80s. Sister Haun is not showing up for a paycheck, but because she believes that what she is doing honors the Lord.

I have said it before, I will say it again, the biggest difference between the church of today and the church of 50 to 100 years ago is not the sound systems, the buildings, the preachers or the elders (as different as some of those things are). The biggest difference is the level of involvement. It used to be expected that every member would be involved in the work -- not just coming to worship and class, but actually involved in the work. With many Christians, that is no longer the case.

Earlier today I saw a notice of a church that wanted a preacher. The church promised to be supportive of his work! What? Since when is it the preacher's work? The work is the Lord's work and everyone who truly belongs to the Lord has a share in it. A preacher should not be promised that the church will support his work, rather, the preacher should be invited to assist the congregation in carrying out their work.

Rev. 3:15-17,19 "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. ... Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent."