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To Seek and to Save

March 8th, 2017

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

The words of Christ are simple enough, one would think, in virtually any language to clearly teach us the purpose of His coming, the impact of His death and His life, and even the means by which He will accomplish His purpose in this world. We can break it down into simple and digestible bites.

He has come with a purpose. John 3:16 in fact says that He was sent by the Father. Philippians 2:6-10 stresses His willing participation in the Father’s plan. But it means that His very being in our world was part of the divine plan of God. So anyone whose life He impacts can say that he or she were touched by God:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV).

He has come with a mission, to save the lost. To be lost is to be under the wrath of God, according to John 3:16 and 3:36, it to perish or to abide in eternal lostness. The word translated “to be lost” is also translated “to perish.” To be lost also means to be in spiritual darkness, unable to perceive and understand the truth.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4 ESV)

To be saved means to be forgiven, included in the kingdom of God’s rule, illuminated in our souls to know God and to know His truth.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14 ESV)

He has come with a passion. He is a seeking Savior and the first step of being saved is to be found by Christ. The text above is from His visit to a tax collector named Zacchaeus, seeking him as part of the lost of Israel. While on earth He sought out people with His presence and His message, whether it was private or public the result of the invitation was the same - to turn from sin and turn in faith to trust in Christ and surrender to His authority. His Person and His message were inseparable - as the Word of God (John 1:14) He lived the message He preached and He preached the message He lived.

Today though He searches people through the voice of His church, and the lives and influence of His followers. Paul wrote, “So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed” (1 Cor. 15:11 NLT). The principle of Christ seeking is also the principle of the Father seeking - though the difference is slight it seems to indicate Christ seeking through personal means and the Father through providential means. Christ said: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44 ESV), but we should be careful about over analyzing the seeking of Christ or the drawing of the Father, for they work together, with the Spirit, to bring people to Christ.

So He sends us into the world with a purpose - that the world may know Him - and with a mission - that people may be saved and come to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God - and with a passion - to love and to seek the lost. This is the mission He entrusted to His followers in Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 24:46-49, and Acts 1:8.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 ESV)

Doctrinal Studies, missions , , , , ,

Fighting the Good Fight

February 24th, 2017

… fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19 NASB)

Is the Christian a fighter?

Yes, if Paul’s words to Timothy have meaning. Those who teach the truth must fight with the truth of God, against the lies of the devil and of the world. We are to do so in faith and a good conscience, not in anger or pride, but neither in timidness and confusion.

Keeping faith - Faith is more than confidence in His Word, though it certainly includes that. It is fidelity to the Lord Himself, to know Him and to love Him. It is evidenced by trust in Him in all circumstances and at all times. The Christian’s life is a life of faith.

A good conscience - A good conscience is one that listens to the inner voice of the Spirit, and of the New Person created like God. These are not the same - the Holy Spirit is more than our conscience, but a Christian’s conscience should be shaped and continually re-shaped by the Holy Spirit.

It is not correct to teach that the Christian has no law to obey - we are called to obey “the law of Christ” or the law of the Spirit, which is expressed from Christian to Christian through the bearing of each other’s burdens: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). And to the world as loving them for Jesus’ sake:

When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. (1 Cor. 9:21, NLT)

An essential element in our good fight is the evangelization of the world. Everyone on earth needs Christ, needs to know of His love for them, needs to hear the call to repentance and faith in His name so that they will be saved from their sin.

Love is the principle that the “law of Christ” rests upon. Yet true love does not violate the other principles of God’s moral law. Some think that love should only be expressed as patience and acceptance, giving in to the desires and wishes of others. While we should be kind in our manners toward all people, we should also speak up for what is right and moral, as the Spirit has inspired to be placed in the Bible.

It is contradictory to suggest that the Spirit may say something to our hearts today that is contrary to His inspiration in the Scripture, because He is the Author of the Book. In this dispensation of grace we still depend on the moral laws that were revealed in the Old Testament - not the ceremonial or legal Old Testament laws but the moral codes and moral principles. This has led Bible-believing Christians to renounce the slaughter of the unborn through abortion and the elevation of homosexual love as pure and harmless. Also to the upholding of the sanctity of marriage and the dignity of human life - in fact there are many moral principles in the Old Testament that we should respect - even the fair and ethical treatment of animals (See Proverbs 12:10 and Luke 12:6).

A good conscience must speak against what is false as well as uphold what is true. And it is to do so in love, with patience and gentleness but also with firmness and clarity. Our motivation must remain the love of God, but if we do not speak up then we are obeying the voice of God, not keeping faith or exercising a good conscience.

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