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WHERE DOES ONE BEGIN IN BEING A CHRISTIAN?

April 8, 2017

Text:   “36”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  38 This is the great and first commandment.  39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 

No, this article is not a lesson about baptism.  Actually we are exploring what the Bible asserts about the holiness that should be the very essence of your life after you have become a Christian. Perhaps  this is the most important issue in your life here on earth serving Jesus.   It is stated in several places in the Bible, albeit in slightly different words. This may well be a summation about what you believe and how you act. Some people might even call it a “world view”. Remembering this statement should keep you grounded in the Christian life.

Open your Bible to Exodus chapter 20 and verses 1 and 2. These verses are the PREAMBLE to God’s ten commandments  (laws) about to be revealed to the Israelites as the Law of God’s Covenant. John I. Durham says that this preamble is “a basic phrase of OT theological rhetoric”, and cited other scholars who called it a “primary formula” and  “a self-presentation formula”. In other words it as a model to present God to human beings as the way of understanding  Him. As the commandments proceed they disclose the Revealed God of the Law to be the only God, and in fact, the only God for them to worship.

Long ago an older preacher talking to some of us younger evangelists said, “Let me tell you the three things that you need to make a great sermon. First, begin with a really great introduction to grab their attention! Then second, lay a wonderful body of the sermon on them. Third, go all out  for a great conclusion! That is a fantastic plan!  (Easy to tell; difficult to do!) Surprisingly, that is also the formula for beginning, living, and ending a successful Christian life!

Well, here is the first great step in the plan: Get to know God. Though many new Christians think (and many mature Christians as well) they have the handle of knowing all about God. Hardly! Let me point out “rethink your present knowledge of Deity”. Paul was pleased with the progress of the growing saints in Galatia, but there was soooooooo much for them to learn. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” Galatians 4:9   

On the day the Law of Moses was read to the Israelites God presented his self revelation so Israel could advance in their perception of him. Look at Exodus 20:4: “”You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Israel is pledging herself to the one unique God. Other nations may subscribe to things they can only call “gods”, who are merely wood and stone, and can not speak or walk. He is the unique God who has delivered them from the mightiest nation of their times,  one who ruined their land and resources. And this is just “page 1” of who God is. It all begins with God’s holiness! Moses has already received his introduction. He stood one day on the rugged mountainside at Mt. Sinai, saw a bush afire but not being consumed. He heard the voice of God thunder and say, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4 Moses quaked and hid his face. He and Israel would find out in the Sinai desert for the next 40 years. That was the first chapter about God and who he is! To begin as a Christian you must begin your first chapter of Volume I with accepting the holiness of God and how to dedicate yourself to his holy character all your long life! Then grow each day in that holiness for there is no other way to serve him. ” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Luke 4:8

Now here is the second great step in the plan of always being a Christian. The great middle of the Christian’s life is abiding with God so that you can see and appreciate who he is. Let’s take Moses for an example of one who lived with and observed who God is.  He was alone with God for forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law. Think what a great opportunity that was to see the pattern of holiness for your life.! Many occasions came for Moses to familiarize himself  in the Tent of Meeting face to face with God! What unequaled experiences! And forty years as being an umpire between God and the Israelite people. Unique! Let’s catch three invaluable principles of building our lives with God. One – Live with God as your LordTwo – Walk with God as your friend. (Like Enoch. Genesis 5:24) Three – Listen to your God as your Counselor

Now the third part of the formula: the Grande Finale. (Though these things actually are part of the Christian life throughout, they must be continually believed and practiced in order to power and sustain the relationship with God until your rewards are bestowed upon you.) You must take every measure that you do not let your salvation slip away. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 1:2  Here are two principles for life-long practice and application.  1. Trust God to keep his promises. Life hurls hurts at us for all out existence. It is hard to determine what they mean, and harder still to endure some of them. The blows are so hard sometimes that they shake our faith to the core. Don’t cave in! ” And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalms 9:10   2. Lean on God for his comfort.   From here to heaven —you will need warmth and encouragement. Those God has abundantly comforted have cast themselves upon him. “…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7 

Wherever you are, get on this road to heaven and stay.

 

REM

 

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2 Comments
  1. Larry Shelley permalink

    Yes! That is an amazing summation of the Christian life. No shallowness there! Well said. Well said.–ls

  2. John K. Bixby permalink

    Good advice for anyone no matter of where they are in their walk.

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