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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Identification with Christ

Our own salvation is a difficult thing to grasp. We think of ourselves as self-contained beings. This concept means that our minds and souls remain our own. Therefore, all decisions and changes we make are made internally. But when we come to know Christ, things change.

We never lose the responsibility for our decisions but we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit who empowers us to over-ride our fleshly desires and follow Him. It is through the Holy Spirit that we identify with Christ. This identification is so strong that though we were never on the cross with Jesus, we were indeed on the cross with Him in our identification.

A woefully inadequate illustration of this is seen in a marriage. My wife will charge something on a credit card that we share. Though I was never with her during the purchase, I am with her in my identification with her so that I am responsible for that purchase. Thus, I was on the cross with Jesus because of my identification with Him. I receive my salvation by His sacrifice on the cross. I have so identified with Him that I also died with Him.

What continues to connect me with Him? My fear of God and my love for Him keep me working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Yes, i am saved by grace but I cannot possess a grace that does not cause me to identify with my Lord. Again, let me use the example of a marriage.

Let's say that I married my wife but never lived with her. I never identified as one with her. I rarely, if ever spoke to her. What kind of marriage would it be? Wouldn't the marriage ceremony itself be a sham? Too many times I have heard a groom exclaim at his wedding reception, "It's finally over!" I say, "No, it just began!" Thinking that your salvation is complete at your baptism is like thinking your marriage is complete after the reception. There is much more. Much, much more.

So, today I renew my identification with Christ. I have to do so continually. I have to remember who I am now. I am not unto myself alone. I am His and He is mine. And I had better act like it.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV)
14  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

Philippians 2:12 (ESV)
12  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The World as You Know It Will End Today

I asked my staff today what they would do if they knew they had only one hour left to live. Each of them said they would spend it with family. I asked them what they would do if they had ten years. That caused them to scratch their heads.

Each of us thinks we may have ten years left to live. It seems that some people would come to the point when they stopped believing that but, without a known terminal illness, nearly everyone acts as they will live forever. I guess they can't imagine a world without themselves. Most people see the world as never changing no matter how many times they have seen it change.

This caused me to think about the world and its change. The world will never again be like it is today. Today will cause changes that will not be undone. Today will have changes in which tomorrow will be built. The opportunities of today will be gone with today if for no other reason than they can't be done as quickly if we had started on them today.

Essentially, the world as you know it ends today.

The greatest tragedy in life is wishing that you did something when you could. The sun is setting. The opportunities are growing dim. One of your tomorrows might find you sitting in a rocking chair wishing that you did something differently. You may lie to yourself and say you did all that you could but you will know the truth no matter how many times you say it.

Just think of the things that could be done in ten years. You could write a novel or a symphony or an opera, earn a doctorate, make a disciple, start a church, lose all the weight you have been meaning to lose, learn to play the piano or be known as a completely committed follower of Jesus no matter how people see you now.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yes, I have heard that too. The road to hell is paved with missed opportunities too.

I believe the Lord has been telling me something that I must do. I have heard it from people who have walked up to me after church. The say as tears stream down their faces, "This is my last Sunday to be in church. My job requires that I work Sundays." Am I to say, "I really hurt for you," but do absolutely nothing about it?

So, I am meeting with a group of people with whom God has been speaking about this same issue. They know that we have to do something about it now. We have to provide a means that people who work on Sundays can worship. Therefore, we are working to start a Saturday night service for people who have either an impossible or hard time coming on Sundays.

I'll admit that it is easier to do nothing but how can I say that I have the love of Jesus when I simply tell people how sorry I am about their predicament when I could be doing something about it? The opportunity is right in front of me and those who are working to start this service. We have to do something.

Tomorrow today's opportunity to speak to someone about Jesus may be gone forever. There are people you may see that you will never see again. The things that the Lord leads you to do may not be available for very much longer. The world and all that is in it is changing. You have to act now.

The Bible says that the days are evil. Maybe I've been singing praise songs for so long that I have forgotten there is an enemy telling me that there is plenty of time to do whatever God has put on my heart. Maybe that's why Paul urges us to proclaim, "Now is the day of salvation." Tomorrow may be too late for some people.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.