|Volume 23 Number 12 December 2021
Christianity is supposed to be a whole, new way of life from what one was prior to becoming a Christian! Obviously, the overt public sinful ways – immoralities, filthy language, drunkenness, lying, addictions, dishonesty – must be replaced with godliness – a whole, new way of life. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV).
Even good, moral people must exchange their way of living for a whole, new way of life. Yes, though children may be raised by Christian mothers and fathers, they, too, must recognize that Christianity demands of them a whole, new way of life. “There were certain characteristics of the former life that remain no more in the new life in Christ. We, at one time, lived only to fulfill our lustful pleasures. We were led by the spirit of disobedience rather than a spirit of submission. We, indeed, were led about by the course of the world, just like everybody else” (Robison).
Christianity cannot be inherited; sons and daughters must embrace Christianity fully on their own. The conviction and conversion of parents cannot be bestowed upon their offspring. Each child becoming accountable must act out his or her own conviction and conversion. The thrust of the hymn, True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted, must resonate within each child of God.
How the Christian transformation occurs is clearly manifest in Romans 6:3-6, which reads as follows.
…as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
The apostle Paul referred to the same activity in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where he penned, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” These passages refer to the process of the new birth about which Jesus preached. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
The distinction between the old man of sin before immersion in water for the remission of sins and the new man after Christian baptism is a central theme to the Gospel of Christ. “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).
“…Just as Christ died for our sins, we die to sin; as Christ was buried in the grave, we are buried in the waters of baptism; as He was resurrected from the tomb, we are resurrected from the watery grave of baptism to live a new life” (Choate 38). “We are raised to a new life when, and only when, we are baptized in a proper way. The proper way is by immersion, into Christ, for the remission of sins” (Petty 5). Besides the Greek definition of the word translated as baptism (which means immersion), the words “buried with Him in baptism” (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4) indicate immersion in water.
A number of actions precede Christian baptism. A soul must resort to or hear God’s Word from which one draws Christian faith (Romans 10:17), repent of past sins (Luke 13:5) and acknowledge or confess Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ – the Messiah, the Son of God, the Anointed One – (Romans 10:9-10). Then, Christian baptism is the point at which one’s past sins are forgiven (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21) and he or she is added by our Lord to the body of the saved – the church (Acts 2:47).
There is no aspect of one’s life that becoming a Christian does not reorganize according to God’s rulebook, the Bible (specifically for our time – the New Testament). Christianity is supposed to be a whole, new way of life! “When a person is baptized into Christ, he dies and is resurrected again to a new life. He comes up out of that water, a new person. He’s supposed to change. The new Christian is supposed to think differently. …When you were baptized, did you come out and begin living a new life? Or, did you go back to the old one?” (Cozort). “Part of being a Christian is abandoning the things that characterize our old lives and behaving in a manner that is appropriate for a new life” (Price).
Halfhearted Christianity in the lives of many Christians is also completely unacceptable to God (Revelation 3:16). A Christian harms himself spiritually (and sometimes physically) by not practicing Christianity wholeheartedly. Further, a Christian discourages other Christians by his or her lackadaisical or haphazard practice of Christianity (i.e., it is harder to be a faithful Christian when surrounded by deficient Christians). Unfortunately, halfhearted Christianity in the lives of Christians also discourages non-Christians from becoming Christians.
We need to sing more songs more often like True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted, and really mean them with all of our being. Phrases like “faithful and loyal, King of our lives” need to be exemplified by the lives Christians live daily. Phrases like “loving obedience, Freely and joyously” need to be the disposition of Christian minds that determine to follow Jesus in everything. Phrases like “Take Thy great power and reign there alone, Over our wills and affections victorious, Freely surrendered and wholly Thine own” need to represent the Christian’s submissiveness to the Sovereign of the universe.
The apostle Paul emphasized that Christians must live differently than how the same persons lived prior to becoming Christians. Christians are those who may have been guilty of the most heinous sins, but who through the blood of Jesus Christ have been cleansed from their past sins. For instance, Christians at Corinth had previously been guilty of a wide spectrum of awful sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Sinner or saint, whoever commits sins, though commonly practiced by humanity, will not enter the eternal kingdom of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).
Christians simply cannot allow sinfulness to continue as a way of life, expecting that God’s grace and mercy will erase it (Romans 6:1-2). Yes, God’s grace and mercy erases sins from one’s life that cannot be removed in any other way (i.e., with God’s grace and mercy, Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5). However, God’s grace and mercy are only available to obedient souls, imperfect yes, but nevertheless obedient (Hebrews 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 1 Peter 4:17). Christians must not provide opportunities for temptations in their lives, setting themselves up to fail miserably in sin (Romans 13:14).
Instead, Christians must live sacrificial lives, imitating the greatest sacrifice of all made by Jesus Christ for humanity. Christian lives are to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). We betray our profession to be Christians when we continue to or again live like the ungodly world (1 Peter 1:14). Not the fleshly lust of men, but the will of God must dominate our minds and direct our actions (1 Peter 4:2). Christians simply cannot run to the same excess of sinful conduct characteristic of their former lives that is still demonstrated by lost souls everywhere (1 Peter 4:3-4).
True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted Christians allow Christianity to consume their lives. Faithful Christians do not exhibit a guise of Christianity while excusing themselves from thoroughly implementing Christianity in their lives (1 Peter 2:16). Furthermore, Christianity must be continually practiced, rather than essentially adopting the attitude of once saved always saved.
Jesus Christ Himself condemned pious religious persons who made a mere pretense of being holy and righteous (Matthew 23:14); faithful Christians must be much more than publicly religious. “Many will be rejected because they now fail to take seriously the new life they have been called into. They will not give the more earnest heed to the Word of God. …We take our new life seriously by taking the Word of God seriously. The Lord does not regard mere lip-service about respect for His Word” (McDaniel 307).
Instead, our lives as Christians are to be “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). In consequence of the cross of Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us, as Christians, we are obligated to live as though we are dead to sins and living to personify righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
There must be an obvious difference between the way faithful Christians live their lives and the ways in which non-Christians live their lives (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15). The ungodly world knows those who are its fellows, and Christians ought not to kid themselves that they are Christ’s if their affections and actions betray them as friends of the ungodly world (John 15:19; 17:14). Faithful Christians no longer pursue ungodliness (Ephesians 2:1-3; James 4:4).
Christianity in Action
True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted Christianity demands of Christians that they fully throw themselves into the practice and spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted Christians actively promote the spread of pure Christianity in any and every way that they possibly can. There is nothing – I repeat, nothing and no one! – on planet earth that ought to mean more to the practicing Christian than glorying in the cross of Christ and all for which it stands (Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:7-11). First, we must not be ashamed to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ or tell it to others (Romans 1:16).
True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted Christianity is not something that ought to wane with the passing of time or from which we can retire when the years roll in. Though our bodies may slow as we age, inwardly lively Christians grow stronger day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). We do all we can for the cause of Christ until we die or otherwise are completely incapacitated. Even then, as long as one can still think, one can at least pray. Some of God’s most useful servants were senior citizens (e.g., Noah, 500 years old at the flood; Moses, 80 at the Exodus).
Practical Application of Christianity
Christianity hasn’t become important enough to any Christian who has not made the practice of Christianity a way of life. Christianity is not some social club with which a person can innocently amuse himself from time to time when he feels like it. For instance, if one’s Christianity is only vibrant on those occasions he congregates for worship and assembles for Bible classes with other Christians, then his Christianity has no practical application in his life, and his version of Christianity will not transport him from this habitation to an eternal Heaven with God. For one’s Christianity to be of much use in this life and in preparation for eternity, it must be the driving force, the overriding principle and the single-mindedness that governs one’s every waking moment.
Truly, one fully converted is no longer the person he or she once was, but the Christian is one whose life has been transformed into something that it was not formerly (Romans 12:2). To be “conformed” is to be fashioned like something else, but to be “transformed” is to become something else. The Greek word for “transformed” in Romans 12:2 is metamorphoo, from which we have the English word metamorphose, which describes the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will not argue with the Lord Who bought him with His life’s blood (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20) but will do what He says without quibbling (Luke 6:46). When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will attend gladly every assembly of the saints that he possibly can (Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:25). When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will praise God unreservedly in public and private worship (Hebrews 2:12; 13:15), knowing that all those who enter the throne room of God do so without end (Revelation 5:11-14; 19:5-6). When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will evaluate his actions regularly by the Holy Word of God and make any course corrections accordingly required to keep himself trained wholly on the eternal destination (2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 11:10, 15-16).
When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will concern himself foremost with the mission of the Lord’s church, having a sense of urgency with which through all lawful means the Gospel must evangelize the world (Acts 8:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:8). When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he or she will prepare to teach others the fundamentals of the Christian faith (Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Peter 2:2). When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will evaluate the use of his time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and that on which he spends money of which he is merely a steward for God (Psalms 24:1; 50:10, 12; Luke 16:1-2; 19:12-26).
When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, truly he will follow Jesus Christ, the Captain of his salvation (Hebrews 2:10). For the wholly converted, “Christian” is not a name to be worn, but it is every bit of everything he is – every waking moment of every day all the days of his life. When Christianity becomes a way of life with a person, he will be the best possible person he can be – as a man or a woman, as a mother or as a father, as a husband or as a wife, as an employee or as a boss, as a citizen, as a debtor or as a creditor, etc. Has Christianity become a way of life with you?
After a person has left the world of darkness and entered into the kingdom of God’s dear Son with all its glorious light, he is to act in a completely different manner. The former acts are to be left behind; a whole new way of life should begin and continue until death or the second coming of Christ. What does this new life entail? …A New Ruler… A New Mindset… New Goals… New Conduct… (Eckstein 43-44)
Christianity doesn’t mean enough to you if it does not mean everything to you! Christianity doesn’t mean enough to you if it does not materially and fundamentally affect every aspect of your life. There is no better quotation and forming words into a brief summary of the proper application of Christianity than what sister Cindy Colley penned:
Children who grow up thinking that Christianity is only a part of life will find it increasingly easy to separate Christianity from academics, friends, career, and other pursuits. Parents must show children from infancy that God is the foundation of all of the family’s decisions. He is central in all our activities. (15)
Call to Action
Is Christianity your everything, evidenced before all the world to see? Christianity is not your everything if you have never become a Christian (Mark 16:16; Acts 11:26). Christianity is not your everything if you are an unfaithful or a lax Christian (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-9). If you haven’t done so yet, make Christianity your whole, new way of life.
Choate, J.C. “What Is the Gospel.” The Voice of Truth International. Vol. 63: 37-38.
Colley, Cindy. “I Have a Hair Appointment.” Think August 2006: 14-15.
Cozort, Aaron. “What Changes Are Supposed to Happen When One Becomes a Christian?” Gospel Gazette Online Mar 2020. 25 Nov 2021. <https://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2020/mar/page12.html>.
Eckstein, Stephen D. “The New Life.” The Voice of Truth International Vol. 52: 43-44.
McDaniel, Wayne. “Take It Seriously.” Gospel Guardian 20 Sep 1973: 307.
Petty, Don. Did You Know that All Spiritual Blessings Are in Christ? Lewisville, TX: Lewisville Church of Christ, 1-6.
Price, Bobby. “Our Most Excellent Call.” Gospel Gazette Online Oct 2018. 25 Nov 2021. <https://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2018/oct/page8.html#article2>.
Robison, Andy. “Responsibilities.” Gospel Gazette Online Jan 2000. 25 Nov 2021. <https://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/jan/page19.shtml>.
I Love the Lord
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Sometimes in the midst of discipleship, the most fundamental and most important facet is lost, the need to love the Lord. Although it may sound a bit elementary at first, loving the Lord is at the heart of everything we do or do not do as disciples (Matthew 22:37-40). Some view only discipleship as a bunch of “do and do nots.” Viewing our service to God considering just “rules” makes our Christianity very mechanical and ritualistic. Quite clearly, that attitude takes away the joy of serving God. This was the greatest downfall of the Pharisees. They viewed their following God as a removal of the heart and volition, as they boiled their relationship to God down to simply a bunch of rules (Matthew 23:23).
Why are you a disciple? Why have you made the choice to follow Jesus? The Psalmist summed up an amazing reason for us to consider.
I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. (Psalm 116:1-6 NKJV)
Like the Psalmist, I love the Lord because of His care. “I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me…” (Psalm 116:1-2a). Wonderfully and encouragingly, God’s ears are available to us day and night! God never grows weary or tired of hearing His children or their problems and heartaches. David so wonderfully penned, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17). “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me – A prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8). I love the Lord because He really does care!
Like the Psalmist, I love the Lord because of His capability.“The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!’” (Psalm 116:3-4). Not only is God willing to hear us and cares for us, but He is the only One Who can fix my sorrows! Life is sometimes filled with distress, trouble and sorrow. Who can really help you when you hear your doctor say, “There is nothing we can do”? Who can really help you when you feel all alone? Who can truly calm your spirit in the midst of anxiety and worry? My God is capable! He is the only truly capable One Who can turn the night into day, the sorrow into celebration and the pain into power. “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:9-10). Still further, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). I love the Lord because He is capable!
Like the Psalmist, I love the Lord because of His compassion. “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me” (Psalm 116:5-6). Compassion is such a wonderful characteristic to behold, especially if you are on the receiving end of it. Compassion comes from a Latin word that means “to suffer with.” The very truth that the Creator cares for the creation is compassion! The Perfect caring for the imperfect is compassion! God, Who needs nothing, extending His mercy and help to us, who need everything, is by far the greatest example of compassion ever seen. God’s compassion and help are evident in the sending of His Son to die for a lost race (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:6-8). God’s love and compassion are motivating reasons to love the Lord (1 John 4:10). Viewing a destroyed city, with tear-filled eyes, Jeremiah focused on God’s compassion. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Serving God is not only about rules – dos and don’ts. Sadly, some live their entire Christian lives and never really stop to think about why they are His disciples. While Satan wants us to forget, may we always remember God cares, is capable and is compassionate. I love the Lord! How about you?