It Should Show

Friday, September 1, 2017, 5:49 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “What Blessed Communion.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 2 (Select vv. NASB).

Fellowship of the Spirit (vv. 1-4)

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within us, we enter into a personal and intimate relationship with our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. We now have a closeness of relationship with him much like a bride with her husband, or like a very close friendship. The Holy Spirit now speaks to our hearts the words of Jesus, and he gives us guidance, direction, and counsel. He teaches us all things about Jesus, and he makes known to us the will of God for our lives.

Since God now lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, we can talk with God – with Jesus – about our innermost thoughts and feelings, and we can take our needs and requests to him. We also listen to him speak his words to our hearts, at which time we sense his compassion, friendship, love, and affection towards us. During these times of fellowship with him we get to know him better, we understand more of his will for us, and he shows us the way he would have us go. Our desire is now for him, to do his will, and so we respond to his words to us with obedience and submission.

Since we now have this close relationship with our Lord, and we are daily being encouraged by his words, and by his love, tenderness and compassion towards us, we should be sharing the love Jesus has for us with those around us, but particularly with our fellow Christians. If we are united with Christ in this way, we should be united with one another in Christ in spirit, mind and heart. And, we should be likeminded with the mind of Christ, and intent on one purpose, which is the will of God for our lives. Also, we should be looking out for others, for what is in their best interest, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and what is God’s best for them.

The Same Attitude (vv. 5-11)

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If we want to be effective in our Christian walks in doing the things we have just talked about, it begins with having the correct attitude (mindset), and that is the humility of Christ. We will not have genuine fellowship with Christ or unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ if we are selfish or if we have an entitlement mindset.

So many people these days are teaching a gospel of entitlement rather than a gospel which puts sin to death in our lives so that we might live for God and his righteousness. They teach a “me-focused” gospel rather than a Christ-centered gospel message of salvation. They think that we are saved merely to escape hell (punishment) and so we have the reward of heaven one day, but they leave out the truth that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

Many of these same people are teaching that God requires nothing of us other than some non-descript “faith” in Christ, i.e. that he demands no obedience, no repentance and no submission to himself and to the cross. But, God’s Word teaches that coming to faith in Christ means death to sin (our old lives), and resurrection with Christ to new lives in him, to be lived to his righteousness. If we continue living sinful lifestyles, we will die in our sins, no matter if we have professed faith in Christ or not. If we don’t obey Christ, we don’t love him, and we don’t know him, God’s Word says.

Obey Always (vv. 12-13)

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Some people, who are teaching this “entitlement gospel,” would have you believe that if you repent of your sins and walk in obedience to Christ that it is works-based salvation. But, that is nonsense! We don’t work for God to earn or to deserve our salvation. And, it isn’t us doing things for God out of our own flesh, but it is God working in and through us for his glory, as we cooperate fully with that work of grace in our lives. If we don’t turn from our sins, and we don’t walk in obedience to him, we don’t have eternal life with God! It is that plain and simple.

What they fail to realize is that we are not saved just so we escape punishment for sin and just so we go to heaven when we die. Jesus died to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin, not just to forgive us our sins. And, he delivered us from the control of Satan so that we might come under the control of his righteousness. Jesus didn’t save us just to pardon our sins, but he died to transform us and to conform us to his likeness. Being in Christ, by faith in him, means we walk in the fear (honor, respect, and reverence) of God, we take him and his word seriously, and we don’t take his grace to us for granted.

Above Reproach (vv. 14-18)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

If we are to live such godly lives in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation to where we prove ourselves to be “above reproach,” what would that entail? Scripturally speaking, I believe it means we are walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and we are daily putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24). It doesn’t mean we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it does mean we consistently walk in obedience to our Lord, and that we are not living in sinful addiction.

It also means that we are walking in holiness, separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into Christ’s likeness. We don’t think, talk or act like the ungodly, in lifestyle, nor do we take on the world’s attitudes, philosophies or culture and make them our own. So, if we want to live lives above reproach, and we want to be holy, then we need to do some serious soul searching concerning our lifestyles and the kinds of things we do, think, say and participate in on a daily basis. In other words, if we are daily consuming the trash the world is offering us, and we don’t even blink an eye at it, with all of its immorality, then something is terribly wrong!

Instead of immersing ourselves in our culture, we need to be standing out like lights in a dark world. Yes, it will mean people will hate us, reject us, accuse us falsely, persecute us and want nothing to do with us, but in that we should rejoice, because we are sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. Instead of trying to fit in with the world, so that we talk its language, and so we talk about the latest movies, music, sports, etc., we should be holding forth the Word of Life to people. Why is it so many people who call themselves Christians shy away from talking about Jesus, but they are full of conversation about everything this world has to offer us? If we love Jesus, and we are in fellowship with him, it should show.

What Blessed Communion
An Original Work / July 11, 2011

Oh, what sweet and blessed communion
With our Lord is ours to share
When we sit at Jesus’ table,
Share His cup and eat the bread.
Sit at His feet, hear what He says,
Listen to each word He speaks;
Harken to obey His teachings;
Meet with Him throughout the week.

Oh, what grace he gives unto us
When we come to Him in faith;
Believe in His precious promise;
Free from our sins; saved by grace.
Turn from our sins; turn to our God;
Commit all our ways to Him.
Choose to live for Him each moment;
Daily cleansing us from sin.

Oh, what love He has for us that
He would die a cruel death,
So that we could be forgiven
Of our sins and live instead.
Walk with Jesus; serve Him only
As our Lord, God, priest and King.
Abide with Him; His word in us;
Bearing fruit, our offering.

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Like Christ

Saturday, July 15, 2017, 8:41 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (ESV) on the subject of Christ-likeness.

Image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18 NASB)

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The goal of our faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to be free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and to have the promise of eternal life with God in heaven. God’s purpose in saving us is that we might be conformed to (to be consistent with) the image (likeness, pattern, character) of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, what does this look like? What was/is Jesus Christ like? Well, he is God, and he is perfect (sinless), and he is holy and righteous and just. He is also kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving. He is also unselfish, and giving of himself to us to meet our legitimate needs. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he provides for our needs. Yet, his kindness and compassion is based in his justice, in his righteousness, and in his love for us. In other words, if we are Christ-like, we won’t placate (appease) sin in ourselves or in others, and we won’t lie to others just to make them feel good about themselves while they are engrossed in their sinful practices. But, we will be honest with ourselves and we will speak the truth in love to others, too.

Also, we will walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and not walk after the flesh, to please our sinful passions. God, who saved us and who called us to a holy calling, is in the process of transforming us, who have died with Christ to sin, into the image of Christ. Some people refer to this as the process of sanctification. Yet, our salvation is also a process, for we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved when Christ returns (future), and our salvation is complete.

Like Him in Death (Phil. 2:5-8; Phil. 3:10)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

When Jesus walked the earth, he told those who would come after him that they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if they held on to their old lives (of living for sin and self), they would lose their lives. But, if they would lose their lives (die with Christ to sin), they would gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). And, the Apostle Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we would live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, becoming Christ-like means that we are becoming humble, unselfish, obedient to Christ and his Word, and that by the Spirit we are putting the deeds of our flesh to death, so that sin does no longer reign in our bodies. It means that “I” am crucified (put to death) with Christ so that “I” no longer live, but that Christ lives in me to his glory and for his purposes. And, now I live by faith in Jesus Christ, meaning I now allow Christ to rule and reign supreme in my life, instead of me still having control over what I do or don’t do. I listen to his Word, I do what it says, and I follow Christ with my life. Yet, this is not saying we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that we should no longer walk in darkness (sin), but we should walk (conduct our lives) in the light (righteousness, truth, the gospel, Jesus Christ).

Imitators of Christ (1 Thess. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:1-3)

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”

We are to be imitators of Christ, not in the sense of a performance or a mockery of someone, but in the sense of following him, being his disciples, doing the things he did, saying the things he said, and taking on his character, morals, values and attitudes and actions, making them our own. When we do this, people will think us strange, out of touch with reality, crazy, or hyper-religious, because this is not the norm, not even among those who also claim to be followers of Christ, at least not in America.

Some of them will say we are too serious, and we need to lighten up, or we need to chill (relax) and enjoy life the way they do. They may think it odd that we do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they may heap abuse on us (1 Pet. 4:4). Yet, we are not to fear what others think of us.

As imitators of Christ, we should arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had about sin. He gave his life up for us so that we could go free from slavery to sin, and so we would be free to walk in his righteousness. And, we should lay down our lives by dying with him to sin so that we might live with Christ to his righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to fulfill the desires of our flesh, but we should live to please God with our lives, and to do his will. Sensuality, adultery, fornication, lust, gossip, gluttony, lying, cheating, stealing, idolatry, perjury, and deceit, etc., should have no place in our lives. We should not think and act like the world. And, we should be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.