|Vol. 16 No. 4 April 2014||
A non-Christian must begin making certain changes in his or her life, if he or she truly seeks to obtain immortality (Romans 2:5-10; Acts 2:36-38; 1 Peter 3:21). However, some of you have already obeyed the good news of Jesus Christ. As a child of God, are you changing into what God wants? Are you seeking to stand out from the world and become more and more like your Lord (Romans 12:1-2)? How are you progressing in eliminating your sinful habits? Is your daily language appropriate for a Christian (Ephesians 4:29-31; Colossians 3:8)? How devoted are you to the truth (Ephesians 4:25, 15)? Are you working on governing your emotions (James 1:19-20; Ephesians 4:26; Colossians 3:12-15)? There are several passages to study as we begin making needed changes and adjustments (Galatians 5:1-6:10; Ephesians 4:1-6:9; Romans 12; Colossians 3:1-4:6; etc.).
What Must Not Change?
While there are many things that must change to please God, there are also many things that must not ever change, unless we are seeking God’s wrath in the final Day (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). As the Lord’s people, we must stand steadfast against the changes that are sought by so many. These changes do come from outside the body, but they often assail from within the Lord’s own church (2 Peter 2:1-ff; Jude 4). The ultimate goal of such changes is to please self. The foundational change finds its center in the nature of God. God is no longer viewed as an unchanging, infinite, complete and perfect being (James 1:17; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 6:18).
Now let us not think that this urge to mold God into what men want Him to be is revolutionary or new. God, in the Old Testament, brought the following charges and instruction: “You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:21-23).
We see that some people have always tended to change God into whomever they desire. Often in our society God’s love and grace have been molded into unconditional acceptance and unrestricted tolerance. Many seek to eliminate God’s wrath and justice from their thinking (cf. Romans 1:18-28), and then completely change the meaning of God’s grace and mercy (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:4-8).
People often portray Jesus as tolerant of sin and willing to forgive in the absence of repentance. It must be understood that Jesus loves sinners (Luke 15), but hates sin (Revelation 2:6, 15; John 8:11). He came and died to provide the opportunity for forgiveness (John 3:16), but He demands obedience (Luke 5:31-32; 13:3, 5; Hebrews 5:8-9). He preached sermons that would certainly not be considered “gentle” or “positive” by the majority of our society (cf. Matthew 5-7; 10:34-39; 11:20-24; 23). Let us never forget who spoke these charging words: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
These misconceptions in our world should easily remind one of the words of Jude concerning those who “turn the grace of God into lewdness” (Jude 4). Let us be clear; God’s Word has not and will not change (1 Peter 1:22-2:1; cf. Isaiah 40:8; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The times may be changing, but God does not change (cf. Malachi 3:6).
It is a terrible habit to strike and hit others. Sometimes we adopt the practice of imitating characters in the movies. Allowing words and habits of others to disturb us so much that we hurt others will come to an end; shouting and kicking others will cease. Striking and challenging others will not be chosen when we ‘do as we would have them do.’ The Scriptures teach us to report violence to authorities like principals and coaches, police, sheriff and parents so they can act within the law to protect you from the violence of others (Romans 13:1-7).
Romans 12:17 plainly teaches us to let God avenge for us! When it comes to the law of the land, government can punish lawbreakers. That is the proper place for us to place our anger; God and the law will execute justice.
If we get into the habit of striking others because we disagree with them, we run the risk of being under arrest and going to jail. This is proper because society needs to be protected. One of our founding fathers of great USA noted, “I disagree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to say those things.” The right to disagree with others and not be struck by them is a freedom in America which should be cherished by all (Proverbs 22:24-25).
[Editor’s Note: First Timothy 3:3 says of a candidate for appointment as a “bishop” or elder, “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous” (KJV). A “striker” is a contentious, quarrelsome person who is more than willing to follow up his boisterous behavior with physical blows. While the short article above may seem to be a strange admonition, apparently such bad conduct is not limited to the playground, but even adult Christians need to heed this instruction as well. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Accurate Overview of Christianity?
The selection process of an earthly head of a church has been highlighted by the media around the world lately. Many are getting the idea that this is the picture of Christianity. What does the Bible teach about the headship of the church?
Christ Jesus came to build his church (Matthew 16:18). In fact, the church came into existence as He promised and saved people; first Jews were added (Acts 2:47). However, with the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10), the Gentile world was added under the same conditions of salvation (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:12). Paul noted that ‘there is no difference in the Jew and the Greek, the same Lord is Lord over all and is rich unto all who call upon Him.’ Is not the ‘Him’ part of this passage very important?
Does not this passage settle who is Lord over the saved, the church? Romans 10:12 is but one passage declaring Jesus as the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23) and King over his kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14). Besides this, Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Contemporary mankind often has an earthly view of Christianity and tries to redefine this teaching. Do you accept the biblical teaching about the church or what you see on TV?