Just what is the purpose of the Christian life? Why does God leave His called-out ones in this world, in which Paul called it in Gal. 1:4 “as this present evil world?” And especially after their commitment of repentance and baptism!
Why do Christians endure strains, tests, trials and even setbacks, not only that, but we must be aware that we can stumble and fall and end up as castaways or disqualified for God’s Kingdom?
The Apostle Paul knew all about this, he wrote in I Cor. 9:26-27 “I run the race then with determination, I am no shadow boxer, I really fight! I am by body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others, I should myself be disqualified (or a castaway).”
For members of God’s True Church these are very important questions. Here are some vital issues for members of God’s Church that we must come to terms with:
What is a Christian code of conduct?
How much does God expect of us?
Why do some, even some who really have repented and receive God’s Holy Spirit abandon the Christian way of life?
How may we guard against the same tragedy? (Send for our FREE CD, “The Greatest Tragedy”)
First of all we all know that God communicates to us how we must live: Matt. 4:4 “we are to lived by every word of God.”
Most people think that the New Testament totally supersede the Old, after all didn’t Paul’s grace abrogate the Ten Commandments. Aren’t we only supposed to live by love? People have many different ideas about the Christian way of life.
Does the Lutheran have the same ideas about Christianity than the Baptist, the Catholic from the Pentecostal Churches? Sure they do. But the fact is people are fallible, fragile and people make a lot of mistakes, but people have no power in the fact of death. People can’t impart eternal life to us.
There are some real shocks and opposite of what people think or suppose is in the Bible.
“Romans 15:4: “For whatever things were written before (the Old Testament) was written for our leaning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Romans 7:25 “So then, with my mind I myself serve the law of God.” Acts 24:14 “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the Prophets.”
Notice these are direct quotes from Paul who supposedly taught against God’s law.
How many people believe what Jesus Christ said in Matt. 5:17 “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets.” People like to believe on Jesus, they don’t want to believe what He said.
Long after the death of Christ, this is what Paul wrote about the New Covenant: Heb. 8:8, 10 “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (showing that Israel and Judah are still separated today). Verse 10 tells what that covenant will involve: “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts: and I will be their God and they shall be My people.”
At almost every turn, it seems that the Bible teaches the diametric opposite of what people commonly assume. Remember, that a Christian must live by every word of God.
When we repent, one of the first things we learn is that Satan is the God of this world (II Cor. 4:4). With the mind we were born with, we were willing accomplices of Satan. Deceived by our own drives and desires. We were unwitting agents in his diabolical system of sin, hopelessness and death.
Eph. 2-3 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
What professing Christians don’t understand is that real repentance is responding to God’s call with conviction and urgency, answering God’s divine summons to flee spiritual Babylon or sin. It is God’s representatives that help bring people to real repentance.
Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Now, here is where some people stumble. We live in a world that is suspicious of all authority, and is also bothered by the fact God uses human instruments to help reconcile the world to Himself.
II Cor. 5:18 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” God uses human agents I Corth. 12:27-30. God insists that He has elected to save humanity through the “foolishness of the message preached” (I Corth. 1:21).
And Jesus Christ conferred authority upon His true ministers (Mark 16:15-15 and Matthew 28:18-20).
God’s true Church is two-fold, a spiritual organism and a physical organization as well. Christ said that the spiritual organism and physical organization would exist at the time of the end: “I will build My Church and the gates of the grave shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Today, we live in the days where people have a “form of godliness but denying its power, from such people turn away.” We must exercise prudence and caution in this age of religious confusion. But sincere people who want to seek the truth should emulate Ethiopian’s eunuch:
Acts 8:26-31 “Do you understand what you are reading, and he said, how can I unless someone guides me.” The point is this for us today; this well educated, intelligent eunuch needed human teachers. This educated man was willing to submit to God’s human agent.
Notice John 13:20 “Most assuredly, I say to you he who receives whomever I send receive Me: and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” This eunuch didn’t know it all; he needed trained agents for the Living Jesus Christ to instruct him.
So both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water to be baptized. We can’t baptize ourselves; we need the Church of God and the teaching of God’s ministers. But some people forget this after baptism. Read Acts 5:3-4 this has to do with Ananias and Sapphira.
The Holy Spirit that begets us as God’s children comes through the laying on of hands by Christ’s ministers and only through them (Acts 8:14-17). When we surrender to God at baptism, we say in effect: “God through your Word and your Church please teach me the right way to live.”
What does God tell us to orient our lives around, and what is our life’s new direction after baptism and the laying on of hands? “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13).
As we all know the one body spoken here is the Body of Christ, the Church, “which Christ purchased with His own blood.” The Church’s goals and purposes become our own. Only that one true Church possesses the keys to the Kingdom of God.
That one Church has the essential spiritual knowledge we all need to grow, to endure, to qualify for our ultimate destiny -- membership in the universal ruling -- royal Family of God. Some people forget this; they think they can achieve salvation apart from God’s Church. They have forgotten where they learned the basic truths to even understand the plan of salvation.
“You must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (II Tim. 3:14). Although we are called as individuals, we are at baptism plunged into a group, a small but highly motivated organization with an urgent task to accomplish.
No one can be a loner in God’s Church, there is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian, and this type of a person doesn’t please God. Matt. 5:15 “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel (the Lone Ranger Christian) but on a candlestick; and (notice the last part) it gives light to all who are in the house.”
Growing Christians are zealous to attend Church services; they are profitable servants, going beyond their responsibility. Others carelessly relax after baptism; they forget the urgency and commitment of real repentance.
Baptism forgives past sins, and the laying on of hands gains us access to God’s Holy Spirit, but there is much more to real Christianity. The truth is; that a real Christian can quench the Holy Spirit of God (I Thess. 5:19). Paul told Timothy to “Stir up the gift of God, which is in you” (II Tim. 1:16).
But some people just run out of steam, the urgency, the interest, the enthusiasm that produced real change starts to wane. They become victims of discouragement, of depression and despaire; these are fertile grounds for Satan the Devil. Others cover up their lack of progress by adopting a hostile attitude. They turn bitter, resentful and critical (Heb. 12:5). God told us” I will never leave or forsake you.” We forsake God, and then we begin to “neglect so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3). Real overcomers know that baptism marks only the beginning of the Christian way of life.
Some people only make outer changes after baptism, they merely change from Sunday to Saturday as their time of religious observances. Sabbath keeping, tithing, Holy Day observance are all fruits of Christian life that are necessary to please God (I John 3:22).
But real Christianity goes beyond that, remember the Pharisees, they performed external shows of obedience to God, but had not even begun the task of changing their human nature. Read Matt. 23:23.
As I said, baptism only begins the Christian life, or a race as Paul puts it. Something we should work at, get better at (II Tim. 4:7). God’s Holy Spirit gives us the power to make real progress on overcoming our problems, but the Holy Spirit must be continually stirred up. This is done by prayer, deep bible study, fasting and searching our lives for weaknesses and deficiencies. And this is what Paul tells us in (Rom. 12:1-2).
Real Christianity is deep, inner change, it is a lifelong calling to renew the mind, to recast our thoughts, rework our personality, and restructure our emotional responses. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3).
We cannot agree with God until we find out what is uppermost on His mind. To walk with God, you must actively pursue His goals. So what is No. 1 on God’s mind right now? What is it that all of Scriptures pivots around?
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that time of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before. Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets, since the world began” (Acts. 3:19-21).
There is the answer; the number one thing on God’s mind right now is the imminent return of Jesus Christ to set up the Kingdom of God! The key, then, to thinking like God thinks and to walking in harmony with Him is to do our part in helping establish the Kingdom of God on earth. And we have a part in that, dozens of scriptures reveal that a real Christian is in training during this physical life for divine rulership in the Kingdom of God (Luke 22:29-30 and Rev. 2:26; 3:21).
Right now, God wants the announcement of Christ’s coming Kingdom trumpeted to the ends of this earth (Matt. 24:14). He will not pour out awesome plagues of the book of Revelation, unless mankind is warned first (Amos 3:7).
This enormous task can only be accomplished by a group, a small but well organized and highly dedicated body of people, reaffirming their commitment to their calling every day through the power of God’s Spirit. You can read about that in II Cor. 4:16).
Just as the early apostles needed the backing and zealous support of a highly motivated Church of God, so does Christ’s modern-day Church and its leaders. This is the whole purpose of the Christian life. If there were not an elect, a group writing God’s laws inside their hearts by the power of God’s Spirit: “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tables of flesh, that is of the heart” (II Cor. 3:3).
If there were not a tiny nucleus of believers among a dying civilization who prove to God that, with His Spirit overcoming our nature is possible. If there were not such an absolutely crucial project being accomplished, what would happen?
God would allow mankind to be utterly obliterated (Matt. 24:22). We are a part of a great work, every growing Christian knows this. It is a real Christian’s motivation, their consuming interest in life, it is not our vocation (Eph. 4:1).
Without this energizing clear-cut purpose, we can lack the zeal and enthusiasm necessary to drive ourselves before God’s throne in daily prayer, and in fasting, to defeat our frustrations and ensnaring problems. A real Christian’s life is dedicated to furthering God’s grand and global Work rather than spinning off into his or her own temporary pursuits.
What is real Christiantiy, Jesus said: “I must be about My Father’s business that is real Christianity! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corth. 15:58).