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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Like Cleaning Up and Putting on New Clothes

This past summer I ordered fourteen cubic yards of cedar mulch which I placed around my house in flower beds and around shrubs. The company I ordered it from came emptied their dump truck on my driveway. The pile looked like Mt. Everest. (At least it looked like it to me!) I got my wheel barrow, shovel and rake and started spreading the mulch. You can't imagine how sweaty and dirty I got. My jeans and shirt weighed several pounds heavier before I was finished. My white tennis shoes turned brown. After finishing I removed my clothes and took a long hot shower.

Afterwards I put on clean clothes. They felt so good! I never thought of putting the dirty clothes back on.  I did think of burning them. I wondered if anything would ever get them clean again.

Isn't it strange that people who have been cleansed by rebirth would return to their old way of living before becoming a Christian? Doesn't that sound like putting your dirty clothes back on after you have been washed clean?

Yet, many Christians do so. They find themselves in an extremely uncomfortable position. It is like putting on dirty clothes over a clean body. Either they will long to throw off these clothes or they have never been cleansed in the first place. The Holy Spirit who renews them will work from the inside to change them. They can't continue wearing the old clothing and walk forward in Christian maturity. They can't walk in the spirit and the flesh at the same time.

Jesus saves us so that we will be washed in our rebirth and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Salvation does not contain one of these without the other. You can't be washed in rebirth without being renewed by the Holy Spirit. He works on us as part of our salvation to become like Christ.

Of course, this does not mean that we suddenly become perfect. The pattern of this world is always pulling us back toward the flesh. It is the continual work of the Holy Spirit which empowers us to leave the flesh for the spirit. It is His work which enables us to live according to the spirit. The change in our lives toward Christ is the maturing work of the Spirit upon us. We understand spiritual things. We know the mind of God because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. Our minds are renewed, our hearts are devoted and our actions reflect Christ who lives in us.

Often Christians completely misunderstand salvation. They have been told that they cannot earn their salvation. No amount of righteous works will ever gain them salvation. This is absolutely true. However, they, therefore think that no amount of works of righteousness should be necessary in salvation. This is absolutely false. Salvation should reveal a life changing be the renewal of the Holy Spirit. The life that has never changed has no evidence of salvation.

I have made the mistake of telling people that they did not have to go to church, read their Bibles or do anything whatsoever after they were saved. I wanted them to know that they could not earn their salvation before or after making a commitment to Christ. While my motives were right my words were not. I should have said that these acts of righteousness will not earn your salvation but the believer cannot give evidence of being renewed by the Holy Spirit by refusing to do these things.

Theologians have argued that salvation does not need to include the lordship of Jesus Christ. I, personally, cannot see salvation without the lordship of Christ. What is the person doing when he or she commits to Christ for salvation if it isn't a lordship decision? Surely it isn't merely a mental assent to His existence. Agreeing that the United States is a nice place to live does not make the Taliban into Americans. A turning from a former lifestyle and allegiance to the new country is necessary. Why would we think it is different in becoming a Christian?

Becoming a Christian is not simply being cleansed. It is putting on new clean clothes. It is walking a new way. It is an admission that you are not yet what God intends you to be but that you are also not what you were. It is taking each day as a step toward becoming like Christ.

Today, I take another step.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ps Prentis for speaking up what it means to become saved. I hope you do so, in your church services too, the full works, not like many (very sad!) pastors who chose NOT to speak up for fear that, that is NOT what is popular or what the sheep want to hear.

There are then those pastors (I know it isn't exactly very nice to judge our own, pastors; but I am NOT naming names, and in fact, it is true) who do NOT speak such, because that is NOT their belief.

Recently, over the internet, I came across a site, which purports to guide believers into the Faith's truths, that effectively put it as, all believers are in fact and practise, already an overcomer without having to lift a finger. Again, the kind of "you are automatically a or an ....."! You are automatically an overcomer; you accepts Jesus as your Savior, you don't need to do anything in life!? Scriptural basis cited was this 1 John 5:5 - Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

And so, the article bashed all the "to him who overcome, ...." in the first section of the Book of Revelation, as nothing but promises to believers to get all the good things said there. To the author of the article, "to him who overcome" was simply another way of saying a believer! Utter rubbish! There was no warning, there, in those Revelation texts?! Superfluous? Cannot be.

And there are those who simply think that they can get away with "Bible said to accept Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Saviour; and I do so. The Lord is who He is, I did NOT accept Him as Lord!" If He is Lord or God, if He is NOT your Lord, and so, He is NOT Lord of Ps Prentis or bro Anthony Chia, who is He Lord of? Jesus is someone's Lord, NOT your Lord, NOT the Lord of the believers, then who is He Lord of? The non-believers? Or the non-believers only? It is ridiculous, there are believers who actually believing they can accept Jesus as their Saviour that way; so, Jesus is their Saviour, NOT their Lord, NOT their God? Yah, Obama is President, but NOT my President, because I, a Singaporean, have NOT come under the "kingdom" of USA. But when you accept Jesus Christ, you have made the decision to come under the kingdom of God, and so, Jesus Christ is your Lord, your God. What did Jesus start His ministry with; sermon, I mean?

The Kingdom of God is on hand or near.

Have you NOT entered into His Kingdom? Don't be deceived.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions