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Vol.  9  No. 9 September 2007  Page 17
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Robert JohnsonObedience of Faith

By Robert Johnson

    “…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith…” (Romans 1:5). There is no doubt God wants us to be involved in his will and in his kingdom. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24). The goal of faith is to obey the Gospel, to live in faithful obedience for eternity’s sake.

    The issue, then, is not whether you should be involved, but whether you are involved. Certainly, Scripture offers positive motivation for us to be active in serving God. God’s love should motivate us to serve, as should our love for him (John 15:10; 1 John 5:3). God’s blessings are found in those who commit themselves to him (Matthew 6:33). God is honored when others see us living for him (Matthew 5:16). We will be judged by how we have lived (2 Corinthians 5:10). These, and many more reasons, provide impetus for being involved in serving God.

    There are various avenues available for service in every congregation. There are other opportunities that wait to be opened. Where do you fit in? How are you involved? Do you need to find some area of involvement to begin? Can you do more in your involvement? Don’t be satisfied with the status quo, for that will only bring stagnation and regression. Have the kind of faith that will stretch out and obey, to be a vessel of service for God and his kingdom. What would happen if that was our prayer, our goal, our effort?

    In heaven, we will rest from our labors, but not here, not now. Now is the time to serve, as God has blessed us. Join in the work as never before, and see what God can do through you, for you. “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

I Hope That God Isn't Too Picky

By Robert Johnson

    While driving recently, I saw the above phrase on a car that pulled in front of me. The sentiment being expressed by the owner of the vehicle probably comes from all the other bumper stickers he had to go with this one, most of which were fairly vulgar. If their sentiments were a reflection of his attitude and lifestyle, then asking God not to be picky is a wish that God will overlook most of the choices he’s made in life and, as the saying goes, “just take me like I am.” It’s a view that most people are basing their lives on, that in the final analysis God will exercise his love, mercy and grace, and accept them into heaven, even though he or his Word may not have been a factor in their lives.

    The view that God’s grace will cover all sins no matter what, and so one is free to live however one wants, may be prevalent and popular, but that doesn’t make it correct. Make no mistake about it, without God’s grace no one would be saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). There are not enough good deeds we could perform on our own that would deserve or earn God’s salvation. Only by the blood of Christ can we be forgiven (1 Peter 1:18-19). However, we also understand there is a response God desires from us to receive the cleansing Christ’s blood provides. In faith (Hebrews 11:6), one must repent (Luke 13:3, 5), confess [Jesus as the Son of God] (Matthew 10:32-33) and be immersed (1 Peter 3:21). While Christ’s blood has the potential to forgive everyone’s sins, it only does in actuality for those who submit to the will of God. “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). In this, using the language of the bumper sticker, God is picky.

    Likewise, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us of our sins past the point of immersion. The sacrifice of Jesus, however, will not continue to cleanse one who continues in willful sin. The Hebrew writer warns us, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). Paul warned the Galatians, by pursuing the course they had chosen, they had fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4). John reminds us, for the blood of Christ to continue to cleanse us of our sins, we must continue to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). Only by living in the light of God’s Word, seeking to live by God’s will, does the blood of Christ continue to cleanse us. Of course, as John points out, we can repent and return whenever we are overtaken by sin (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2), but to live for Christ means we do not make a habit, or practice, of sinning (1 John 3:6). Again, in this God is picky.

    Certainly no one can be saved apart from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Having said that does not negate what he expects of us, in what one must do to be saved, and how one should live from that moment on. God is not a “good ol’ boy” or the “forgetful grandfather” who lets sin slide. There are consequences to our choices and actions. Christ has paid the price for us in his death on the cross, but we must be in Christ to receive its benefits. Without Christ there is no hope. God is very picky about this, as it makes a mockery of his Son’s death otherwise. Let us trust in the grace of God, but let us never put God to the test. As the song says, “Live for Jesus, O my brother, His disciple ever be; Render not to any other, What alone the Lord’s should be.”

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