Friday, August 22, 2014

Not a condiment...

A Ministry Report...

One of the great mistakes in Christendom is to think we can simply add Jesus to our life. No. I fear many who take that approach will hear the Father say "depart from Me" on judgment day. No, we don't add Jesus to our life. Jesus gives life to our death. If we don't get spiritual life in the place of our natural state of spiritual death we remain lost, unredeemed, undone and damned.

Consider some of Paul's counsel to the church at Ephesus...

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV, emphasis mine)

Too often, too, we make salvation a thing of knowledge, rather than a thing of Christ's life. We think salvation is some things we learn rather than someone we know. Even today, recognizing this reality, David Paul Tripp tweeted, "No one gets smart and gets saved. Blind and dead, we were all saved by sight-giving, life-giving grace alone." We're all blind and dead until we are quickened by the Spirit of God and given life in Christ Jesus.

Now, I say all this to tell you about a couple of meetings I had yesterday. I am privileged to enjoy regular discipleship meetings with young people. Let me say this, within the process of discipleship there is both evangelization of the unredeemed and edification of the redeemed; so, whether I am dealing with a "Christian kid" or a "lost" kid, it's the same process, and I push on pushing them to love God through Jesus.

We take God at His word, that Jesus is enough, and we lovingly, share that message with the world and beg the Spirit to provoke them to recognize the sufficiency of Christ, believe Him and receive Him.

Then, in community, I think all of us live a life time of figuring this out, and much of our discipling others should be helping each other understand this life from God and walk in it.

One young man I was meeting with yesterday came to the conclusion that he had no objection to believe the things of God, but that he had not received life from God. That was his own conclusion. "What holds you back from receiving life in Christ?" ----- long pause ------ he was thinking, weighing. "Is it being afraid of what you think you'll lose? Is it worry of what God will change?" I asked. ---- more thinking --- Finally, he said, "Man, I don't know what holds me back."

Do you know where that conversation started? I simply asked him to define several Christian words; for example, I asked him what it meant to be a Christian and what does it mean to be saved, etc. You see, after weeks and weeks of meeting with this young man, after weeks and weeks of listening to his story, after weeks and weeks of learning about his life, it was time to press in. He'd told me on more than one occasion he'd been a Christian "all my life" (as he put it). No one is a Christian all their life. We are born lost, born spiritually dead, born in need of redemption. But, I didn't press in until I knew where to press. I'm not even saying the young man isn't a Christian; I'm saying he keeps saying he is a Christian but doesn't seem to have Christ's life in him. Jesus, at best, is a conversation piece to him; at best, Jesus is a historical figure.

If the young man is a Christian, I want him to grow into a person who enjoys abiding in Christ and seeks to bring God glory. If he is a Christian, I want him to recognize his own conversion and learn to walk in it.

Do I believe this young man is "saved"? It doesn't matter what I believe...I am praying he comes to cast all on Christ day by day.

The other discipleship meeting I wanted to highlight came with a young man I'd spent many meetings with. I'd explained to him over and over again things like condemnation, justification, sanctification and glorification. I'd explained to him what it means to believe and receive Jesus, how trusting and believing are connected and many other things. Then, one day, this young man believed on the name of Jesus and asked to receive life from God through Jesus. Now, I'm just trying to help him learn what happened to him at conversion. Yesterday, we synchronized our mobile phones to a You Version Bible and devotion reading plan so that he and I can be in the word together each day for the next few days, even when we're not together.

There is a rich, beautiful, dynamic, flowing life that comes to those who have life from God in Christ Jesus. That's what I want from young people! I don't want anyone to think Jesus is a condiment; you know, something they sprinkle on certain portions of their lifestyle. No, Jesus is life, and if we don't receive His life, we have missed His salvation.

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