Gospel Gazette Online

Vol. 12 No. 5 May 2010

Page 12

Converted to Christ

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

“We’re losing our members!” is the cry of many religious groups these days. Certainly the Lord’s church is not immune to this problem, either. In Paul’s day, Demas deserted him due to being in love with the present world (2 Timothy 4:10). John speaks of those who went out from them (1 John 2:19), not really being of them. It is always a cause of concern when those who were part of the body of Christ are no longer faithful, no longer part of the work and worship, who seemingly are forfeiting the spiritual and eternal.

I recently heard George Barna discuss this issue on a talk radio program. While his research was conducted primarily among teens, I believe it applies to all age groups, including adults, who choose to leave the church. While it isn’t the only factor, it is a major one that should be of concern to us. In his study, he discovered many teens attend church services, not from a conviction about God and Christ, or a commitment to the Lord’s work, but as a place for social networking, to interact with others and to be involved with interpersonal relationships. The church was viewed as one of many places to connect with others. Especially when the school years ended, and their circle of friends went their various ways, church attendance declined and for many ceased, as church no longer provided the social connections it once did.

In other words, it wasn’t primarily a love for God that brought them to the work and worship of the church, or a commitment to the truth, but relationships with others. When those relationships ended, they moved on to other places where they could connect with other people. On hearing this, I wondered about how we in the Lord’s church sometime attract and maintain people. Specifically, I remember comments made by those who spoke with me about being in a congregation they believe no longer teaches the truth of the Gospel. When asked why they continue to stay there, the answer is almost always the same: “All our friends still attend here.”

While programs can help us reach out to the lost, or encourage those in the body, we must not convert people to programs. While fellowship is genuinely important, when we fail to commit to a relationship with God and Christ first of all, we fail to commit to what is most important of all. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Using very strong illustrations, Jesus wants us to understand no relationship can come before our relationship with Him. Or, as is recorded in Matthew, “The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

What brings us to the body of Christ, and keeps us in the body of Christ? Before anything else, our motives must be focused in the love of God and our relationship with Him through His Son. Our fellowship with each other comes from walking in the light (1 John 1:7), from having fellowship “with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We must instill God’s love, truth and lifestyle in one another, if we will are to remain faithful in the Lord’s church (Colossians 3:4). We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). To love our neighbors as ourselves, we must first “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Not even in the first century, even with the inspired apostles, could one guarantee 100% fidelity to the Gospel and the kingdom. However, perhaps we can improve the odds if we make sure others, and we ourselves, have come to Christ first and foremost of all. “And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Too Many Engineers

David A. Sargent

David A. Sargent

One of the worst train disasters in history occurred in the El Toro Tunnel in Leon, Spain, on January 3, 1944. Over five hundred people died.

The train was a long passenger train with an engine on both ends. As the train entered the El Toro Tunnel, the engine on the front end stalled. When the front engine stopped, the engineer on the back engine started up his engine to back the train out of the tunnel. As he proceeded, however, the front engineer managed to get the front engine started again and attempted to continue the journey in the opposing direction. Neither engineer had any way of communicating with the other. Both engineers thought they simply needed more power. They continued to pull in opposite directions for several minutes. Hundreds of passengers on the train in the tunnel died of carbon monoxide poisoning because the train was stuck in the tunnel since it was being pulled in two different directions! This tragic incident illustrates what can happen in our lives when we are pulled in different directions, following the lead of different “engineers”…

Many of US struggle as to which way to go with our lives. We often give in to different “engineers” like our friends, our society, our families and ourselves, even though each may be pulling in opposite directions!

Long ago, the inspired prophet Jeremiah said, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). In other words, we need direction–we need a wise engineer–to help direct our steps. In short, we need Jesus to be our Savior AND our Lord (Master, Ruler, “Engineer”). In fact, Jesus cannot be our SAVIOR unless He is our LORD! Hank Hanegraaff has written: “Christ died to be our Savior and lives to be our Lord.”

Christ died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Ephesians 1:7). We are saved from our past sins when we believe and trust Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). We continue to be cleansed from our sins as we continue to acknowledge Him as the Lord of our lives through our trusting obedience to His Word (1 John 1:7). Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

There are MANY engineers in the world that desire to control our lives, but there is only ONE Loving Lord. Won’t YOU submit your life to Him so He can lead you to an eternal home?

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